Bře 31

Adam Back to Jihan Wu: SegWit Not ‘Complicated,’ Fixes Satoshi’s Bug

· March 31, 2017 · 8:00 am

3,425 views

Hashcash inventor Adam Back has said Segregated Witness (SegWit) “fixes” an original bug in Bitcoin from creator Satoshi Nakamoto.


Back: SegWit ‘Fixes Satoshi Bug’

As part of a Twitter exchange Friday, Back rebuffed criticism from Bitcoin Unlimited proponent Jihan Wu, demonstrating how SegWit is beneficial to the virtual currency’s core protocol.

Wu, who is a co-founder of mining conglomerate Bitmain, had said that the technology would make the network “more complicated.”

adam-back

“SegWit is not more complicated,” Back wrote.

“It fixes Satoshi’s bug that txid=H(tx,sig) to txid=H(tx) this is not complicated, and it is necessary to fix.”

What’s more, if implemented, SegWit can can actually help reduce the so-called “technical debt” burden of complicated code albeit having its own tradeoffs, which are assessed here.

The segwit code has been heavily reviewed, which helps resist the introduction of technical debt at both a code and design level…Segwit has multiple independent reimplementations, which helps discover any unnecessary complexity and technical debt at the point that it can still be avoided.

SegWit: Complicated & Straightforward

Wu’s stance echoes a broader opinion from the Chinese community in particular that SegWit creates unnecessary complexity within Bitcoin.

In an interview with Bitcoinist this month, for example, Leon Liu, CEO of P2P trading service Bitkan, said that this was a reason why the technology “is not the best solution for Bitcoin scaling.”

“Segwit will not be the best solution for Bitcoin scaling, it will make the Bitcoin network more complicated,” he stated.

At the same time, efforts have been made to allay such fears, Blocktrail CTO Ruben De Vries commenting last year that SegWit “is not very complicated if you already know the ins and outs of the Bitcoin protocol.”

segregated-witness

Back meanwhile has praised attempts at educating the wider community on the nature of scaling solutions without resorting to ‘political’ siding.

An explainer on SegWit by Andreas Antonopoulos garnered considerable praise, Back describing it as “the best he’d seen on the topic.”

On its benefits, Antonopoulos wrote in the blog post, which originally came out in August last year:

“Firstly, segregated witness reduces the overall cost of transactions by discounting witness data and increasing the capacity of the bitcoin blockchain.

“Secondly, segregated witness’ discount on witness data corrects a misalignment of incentives that may have inadvertently created more bloat in the UTXO set.”

Litecoin Bounce on SegWit Rumors?

SegWit is traditionally considered ‘complicated’ compared to merely increasing the Bitcoin block size, despite the latter requiring a hard fork of the virtual currency.

Currently, the proposal is still behind Bitcoin Unlimited though both need at least 95% to activate.

12121212

Outside the Bitcoin debate, rumors surfacing that Litecoin is to activate SegWit may have led to a surprise expansion in value of the altcoin by around 30%.

What do you think about the contrasting opinions on SegWit? Will it add complexity to Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Bře 30

SpectroCoin Announces Altcoin Support for Bitcoin Debit Cards

· March 30, 2017 · 3:30 pm

1,568 views

Leading London-based Bitcoin service provider SpectroCoin has rolled out a major update to its prepaid Bitcoin debit card. Beginning March 2017, the SpectroCoin prepaid Bitcoin debit card supports a total of 41 Cryptocurrencies.


SpectroCoin entered the market three years ago with their Bitcoin debit card, to help meet the everyday needs of Bitcoin users. Since then the company has been working towards large-scale support for multiple currencies and an increased focus on expanding payment methods and services.

The SpectroCoin prepaid Bitcoin debit card acts as a practical alternative to traditional fiat debit cards as they can offer the same flexibility. The Bitcoin debit card can be used at any ATM or terminal that accepts VISA or MasterCard and is available in over 120 different countries across the globe. The service offers users a very attractive fee structure, with no loading fees, a monthly fee of $1.00 USD, and a cost of $9.00 USD for the physical debit card.

spectrocoin

SpectroCoin’s new announcement follows the recently added support for popular cryptocurrency DASH. Users of SpectroCoin can now take advantage of the DASH wallet to send, receive payments and top-up their prepaid cards with the currency.

SpectroCoin also helps businesses to receive DASH payments from customers and receive the settlement in fiat currencies (USD/GBP/EUR), through the application of merchant APIs and shopping cart plugins. DASH solutions have gained a lot of traction in the recent days following an increase in adoption.

Users will now be able to choose from an extensive range of alternative currencies when they load their Bitcoin debit cards via their SpectroCoin online wallets. Users will also be able to top up their SpectroCoin debit cards with their preferred cryptocurrency and use it at ATMs, pay vendors, or withdraw using any of the multiple available methods. Some of the popular altcoins supported by the new service include the likes of Ethereum, Monero, LiteCoin, ZCash, Auger and of course DASH.

SpectroCoin Finance Ltd is committed to developing innovations for electronic payments to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding industry. The company plans to monitor developments in the cryptocurrency industry while progressing the company’s mission to deploy more payment solutions and extend support to new currencies as the demand increases. The introduction of new altcoins is a huge step for SpectroCoin towards achieving its vision.


Images courtesy of SpectroCoin, AdobeStock

Show comments

Share
Bře 29

India: Zebpay Refutes Reports Minister Said Bitcoin is Illegal

· March 29, 2017 · 2:30 pm

India is the scene of conflicting reports over Bitcoin’s legality following suspicious statements from the government.


Minister: Virtual Currencies Lack ‘Regulatory Approval’

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said that use of virtual currencies “could subject the users to unintentional breaches of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism laws.”

On the creation of virtual currencies, the bank spokesman added that “No regulatory approval, registration or authorization is stated to have been obtained by the entities concerned for carrying on such activities.”

Bitcoin India

While not explicitly stating that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin were therefore not legally sanctioned, reports suggested that such a message was implied.

The local Bitcoin industry was quick to dispute such conclusions. Indian exchange Zebpay published a dedicated response to the episode in which it stated its belief that Bitcoin in India “is not illegal.”

A blog post reads:

Nothing has changed regarding bitcoin’s legal status in India this week. In our opinion, bitcoin is not illegal. Bitcoin is legal under all existing laws. It’s business as usual at all Indian bitcoin exchanges, including Zebpay.

Nonetheless, a word of caution accompanied the rebuttal.

“As per media reports, inter-ministerial committee has been setup to study the legality of bitcoins. They will give a response on 20th April 2017,” an update announced.

Bad Actors Give A Bad Name

Recent illicit use of Bitcoin by scam actors was widely reported in the media, with Zebpay commenting at the time that such parties posed a persistent problem to uneducated consumers.

A forgiving perspective was also given to the minister, the exchange taking the stance that regulators were trying to “protect” the public.

“A respectable MP raised the issue that bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. Certain sections of the media reported this as if bitcoin has been declared illegal,” it summarized.

Additionally, Bitcoin is considered a commodity and falls in the Neutral/Alegal bracket, according to information portal Coin.dance.

India’s Bitcoin ecosystem had seen a surge in usage following the country’s sudden currency reforms introduced in November last year.

Zebpay_interview_article_1_Bitcoinist

Zebpay and fellow exchanges witnessed record trading, part of a wave of Bitcoin interest, which even saw the market become the second largest on Purse.io’s Amazon discount platform behind the US.

Blockchain innovation is also active locally, with crypto investor Tim Draper in February announcing his return to the Indian market, injecting venture capital through the newly acquired Blume Ventures.

What do you think about India’s current stance on virtual currencies? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Zebpay

Show comments

Share
Bře 29

World-Renowned Blockchain Experts Set Course For Moscow

· March 29, 2017 · 6:43 am

On April 19, the most well-known global specialists in the sphere of blockchain technologies will come to Moscow. Together with Russian bankers and entrepreneurs they will discuss Russian and foreign blockchain projects in financial and non-financial spheres.

[Note: This is a press release] 





The meeting will be driven by the annual Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Russia that features presentations from the representatives of IBM, Microsoft, Sberbank, NRU HSE, and State Duma.

The last Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference, which took place at Digital October on November 10, brought together 500 players of blockchain and bitcoin markets.

This year, organizers, Smile-Expo event company, are expecting to see even more foreign attendees.

blockchain-russia-800_500-eng

“Many speakers, with whom we are in discussions now, actively present at blockchain conferences on the West, but have never visited similar events in Russia,” said conference curator Pavel Likhomanov.

Speakers will include many prominent members of the Bitcoin community including:

  • Alejandro De La Torre, Business Development Manager at BTC.com
  • Alakanani Itireleng, Public Relations Director at Humaniq
  • Tone Vays, Researcher at LibertyLifeTrial.com
  • Edgar Bers, Partner Relations Manager at HashCoins

Participants will be able to attend two concurrent streams – for financiers and representatives of non-financial sphere.

Topics of the Finance stream will include: blockchain application in banking sphere and state administration, as well as legislative issues.

Speakers will summarize the first real steps to move banking processes to blockchain and discuss changes in the bitcoin market. What will be the results of strengthening the bitcoin policy in China; what shape will the draft on cryptocurrency regulation offered by the Russian Ministry of Finance take; which factors will influence the bitcoin rate and what price for 1 BTC can be expected by the end of the year.




The Pro stream will be dedicated to the use of blockchain in business not connected to finances: e-commerce, retail, logistics, media. Discussion topics will be interesting for both entrepreneurs and developers. Practical issues will be discussed here: in what projects blockchain will be useful, what tasks it will solve and how to promote a new product in the market.

Alongside the conference there will be an exhibition, where developers will showcase hardware and software for mining, crypto wallets, payment systems and other products for B2B and B2C segments.

News about the project and results of the events held in 2014-2016 are available on the website Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Russia.   


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference

Show comments



Share
Bře 28

Prague to Host Major Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Conference




· March 28, 2017 · 5:40 am

On May 19, the capital of the Czech Republic will host Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Prague.

[Note: This is a press release]


Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Prague

The event will be dedicated to the development of cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Guests will meet supporters of a decentralized economy, successful blockchain developers and entrepreneurs and enjoy the exhibition of equipment for the industry.

Prague is one of the most important bitcoin centers in Europe. The city has around a hundred places which receive bitcoins (including only bitcoins without fiat currencies). Employees in such places often receive salary in cryptocurrencies and that’s why they are interested in attracting more clients.

A bitcoin owner can have a lunch, stay in a hotel and pay for educational and domestic services in Prague. A number of shops will accept a bitcoin card alongside with a traditional currency.

tn_4_14884392026289_image_1

Implementation of contactless chips which can also be used for bitcoin transactions is quite popular among citizens of the Czech Republic.

These and other issues will be discussed at the conference.

Topics include the development of cryptocurrencies, blockchain in Govtech, blockchain services in Fintech as well as legal issues. Participants will study existing projects – from the idea to the moment of entering the market and monetization.

The organizer is Smile-Expo Company famous for its successful blockchain conferences in Tallinn, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kyiv.

You can register and find details on the Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Prague website.





Images courtesy of Smile-Expo, Shutterstock

Show comments




Share
Bře 27

Vision of No Future? Bitcoin Unlimited Token Dives 30% in 7 Days

· March 27, 2017 · 6:00 am

Bitcoin Unlimited’s ghostly new asset BCU is already evaporating on the two exchanges hosting it, having reached an all-time low since its launch.


BCU Drops 30% in a Week

Its two trade venues, exchanges Bitfinex and HitBTC, have both recorded falls in the price of the BCU token, with Bitfinex seeing a near 30% deterioration versus USD.

BCU is currently trading at $180 per coin, or 0.177 BTC, versus $254 and 0.254 BTC respectively seven days ago.

12121212

The underwhelming performance appears to have done little to alter the mindset of the Bitcoin scaling debate’s major parties, with Bitcoin Unlimited proponents dismissing Bitfinex’s trading pair when it launched.

With HitBTC now following suit, however, it appears the natural trend for BCU is down prior to its actual conception, which would only occur in the event of a hard fork March 31.

In a blog post over the weekend, HitBTC explained the reasoning behind adding the pair was to “provide [users] with the tools for avoiding any risk.”

The exchange has further blocked withdrawals until around 48 hours after the deadline, ostensibly to avoid exposure to replay attacks. Existing and future user balances are currently duplicated in BCU as well as BTC, effective immediately.

The move attracted criticism from Reddit commentators, along with the content of the blog post itself, which stated Bitcoin Unlimited pool support “could become the majority.”

Core nodes currently account for over 90% of the network.

Armory Signals Core Support

Bitcoin Core meanwhile has compiled a list of known companies and services which have signalled or are already preparing for Segregated Witness activation.

112 names from throughout cryptocurrency, including Coinbase and Armory in addition to Bitfinex, are currently registered.

Of the total, 57 are described as “Segwit ready,” 30 as being in a state of “work in progress” and the remaining 25 “planned.”

Armory

Armory itself released a dedicated announcement on its Core adherence, stating it “does not support any controversial hard forks such as Bitcoin Unlimited and will continue to support Segregated Witness and Bitcoin Core.”

In the event BU becomes a bonafide chain, however, developer Andrew Chow said the service would be compatible.

“…The Armory wallet software does not perform any consensus checks as it relies on its connection to a local Bitcoin node. This node is typically Bitcoin Core, but anything based upon that will work as well; this includes Bitcoin Unlimited,” he said.

“Thus should a hard fork occur, […] Armory will be compatible with the hard fork and will allow users to continue to transact on the forked network.”

Chances of a hard fork actually occurring are at the same time themselves decreasing. Wang Chun, head of major mining pool F2pool, tweeted Monday that he – and therefore his pool – would not countenance such a change.

What do you think about BCU’s performance? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Armory, cryptocoincharts. Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Bře 26

7 Ways Criminals Can Steal Your Bitcoins

· March 26, 2017 · 3:00 am

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. We have compiled a list of  7 ways criminals can steal your Bitcoins and how you can protect yourself from them.


Top 7 Threats to You Bitcoin

One of the defining aspects of Bitcoin is that it puts you in charge of your own finances. No one but you will dictate where you can spend your money or who to send it to. There is no censorship, there is only complete financial freedom. But freedom comes at a cost. If you lose your Bitcoins, send them somewhere by accident or if they’re stolen, there is no entity that will return them to you, they are lost for good.

This is one of the reasons why Bitcoin has become a hub for all types of scams and cons. Cyber criminals are now becoming more sophisticated and finding new ways of stealing your hard-earned bits out from under your nose. Long-time users have seen their fair share of scams and are usually not drawn to them, but new users may be easily fooled by the prospect of making an easy profit.

Bitcoinist_Security Vulnerabilities

This is a huge problem for Bitcoin. Although variations of the same scams also exist with national currencies, these have a certain trust factor that is provided by the government that issues them. No one will stop using a national currency like the US Dollar just because they were scammed out of their dollars. With Bitcoin, however, users may feel like the fault is in the network and distance themselves from it. 

Bitcoinist has compiled a list of the most common methods cybercriminals use to steal your Bitcoins. If you’re getting started with Bitcoin, then this article may save you some money and heartache.

Ransomware

We’re going to start off with what can be considered one of the most profitable practices for cyber criminals, ransomware. Ransomware is not new, but Bitcoin has made it popular among hackers due to its efficiency as a decentralized payment system.

So, what is Ransomware? Ransomware is basically a virus that will encrypt all (or part of) your files. The program will then give you the option of paying a certain amount of money in order for the files to be decrypted. This type of malware has become highly popular due to its effectiveness and could even leave Vegas with you.

hackers-hacking-hacks

Hackers will usually target companies or organizations that cannot afford to be unavailable to their customers, ensuring a high success rate for the cyber criminals. 

However, anyone can fall victim to ransomware and individual users may be more vulnerable to them as they will often lack the tools or knowledge to try to decrypt their files on their own. Remember to always backup your important files and not to open or download any suspicious file. Having a good antivirus program in place is also advised.

Fake Wallets

This method is much less popular but has successfully scammed unknowing users out of their coins. Fake wallets are basically apps that initially look like a real wallet until it has the chance to steal your coins. These fake wallets are usually endorsed as being another legitimate wallet, often using the real wallet’s logo and name to fool users. They are basically like phishing (which we’ll also talk about) for wallets instead of websites or emails.

Bitcoinist coin wallet

Some fake wallets have even appeared on Apple’s App Store after successfully slipping through its vetting process. These misleading apps give both the real wallet and Bitcoin itself a bad name. Users can avoid this by downloading only from trustworthy sources like the wallet’s website and by confirming the name of the apps closely before downloading them. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the community on Reddit, Bitcointalk, and so forth.

Bitcoin Phishing

Phishing is basically a means of extracting sensitive information from victims. There are variations to the scheme but the most common ones are e-mails and fake websites. Scammers will try to trick the victim into giving them sensitive information regarding their Bitcoins like login details from an exchange or online wallet.

They will often do this by sending an email from an email address that looks official or by buying a domain name that is almost identical to the real website. An example of this would be the fake blocklchain[.]info.

Ponzi Schemes

Yes, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are riddled with popular Ponzi schemes also known as pyramid schemes. These involve getting people to invest money and inviting more people to invest money, thus creating the pyramid effect. The new money is used to repay old investments and “the wheel keeps turning” until it can turn no more.

Pyramid / Ponzi Scheme

At a certain point, the scammers will walk away with everyone’s money. The best time to leave is usually accessed by the amount of money that the cybercriminals are currently holding and by the reputation the website has earned so far.

These schemes come in all shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common, they want your coins and promise high returns for them. Two of the most popular disguises for these schemes are cloud mining websites that offer unrealistic returns and websites that claim to be employing some sort of automated trading algorithm to earn money on every trade.

To avoid being tricked by these, simply stay away from websites that seem to have unrealistic returns like 1% per day or 100% per month and so on. Avoid any vague business model that doesn’t really explain how the company makes profit and only trust websites after doing intensive research. There are ways of earning interest on your bitcoin like margin or p2p loans, but these will never yield as much as promised by pyramid schemes.

Fake Cryptocurrencies

There are some scams like this out there, the most famous of which is Onecoin. This scheme works by convincing victims that they are buying units of a successful cryptocurrency when they are in fact just paying for numbers to show up on a website. There is no actual Onecoin blockchain or network of miners.

onecoin

Fake cryptocurrency schemes will often sell coins in the form of educational packages or mining spots and they will also offer nonsensical promotions like splitting coins to double them. Although it sounds ridiculous, many users have fallen victim to this scam and some have lost entire life savings to it.

If you’re looking for a cryptocurrency to invest in, choose wisely and don’t be swayed with “developers” that promise the price of the coin will increase x times. A good rule to avoid these scams is to check if the coin exists on comparison websites like CryptoCompare or Coinmarketcap.

Scam ICOs

ICO, short for Initial Coin Offering, is a type of crowdfunding mechanism that is becoming increasingly popular within the blockchain space. The team behind a certain project will launch an ICO to sell tokens related to their project in exchange for Bitcoin, fiat or other cryptocurrencies. These tokens are usually equity based or they act like fuel to the platform, like Ether in the Ethereum platform.

Given the momentum that ICOs currently have, it’s no wonder that some cyber criminals are trying to trick investors with fake projects. Scam ICOs can be hosted by scam artists with no more than a convincing logo, website, fictional team and a few other tricks.

crowdfunding-for-events

Often times, the “company” will be able to gather considerable amounts of BTC without an actual product or nothing more than vaporware. A perfect example would be DeClouds, a scam that managed to steal 300 Bitcoins from unknowing investors who though they were investing in a cryptocurrency backed by precious metals.

Avoiding scam ICOs can be tricky and there are several things to look out for – Check out this guide on how to avoid scam ICOs.

Scammers on P2p Exchanges

These scams take place on peer-to-peer exchanges like LocalBitcoins and Paxful and they basically consist of people trying to rip you off during a currency exchange. These p2p exchanges allow users to trade coins directly between themselves using an external payment system like cash deposit, PayPal, credit cards and others. Unlike Bitcoin, these payment methods usually allow the user to dispute a transaction for various reasons.

Scammers will often use these markets to cash out hacked PayPal accounts or stolen credit cards in these markets. Some users will even use their real accounts but since most payment systems don’t offer seller protection for digital items, there isn’t much you can do in case of a chargeback.

This has created a market, where some users will sell Bitcoin for a considerable premium. However, users that do this have experience with these scams and have methods for verifying the buyer’s identity and so on.

To avoid this, only sell Bitcoin to established p2p traders and try to stay clear of chargeback-enabled payment methods like PayPal and Skrill. Remember that only those who control their private keys control their bitcoin. 

For a comprehensive list of fraudulent Bitcoin-related website, you can check out the Bad List here.

Are we missing any methods employed by cyber criminals? If so, let us know in the comment section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock

Show comments

Share
Bře 24

Why The Bitcoin Miners Are Destined To Lose The Forking Wars

· March 24, 2017 · 6:00 pm

2,706 views

Excuse me for indulging myself, but there are many points of view towards what may be an impending hard fork for Bitcoin. This may come across as a loosely coherent ramble, but at least it is short and sweet. There is enough here to put it on wax, so here’s what I see, in the big picture.


This is in response to the Medium post created by Peter Rizun yesterday, outlining how this hard fork may play out, and essentially showing a way BTU wins, in the long run. (Roger Ver tweeted his support for this post, so I read it and posted most of these thoughts in the comments section, and here we are.)

In my humble opinion, the problem I see coming is if BCU breaks off, it will become an altcoin, as has been established by the Bitcoin exchange establishment. These miners can mine all the blocks they want, if the greater community doesn’t trust their developers, doesn’t want an altcoin, and isn’t buying BCU, it is irrelevant by design.

The market will decide who wins, and anybody who is not a miner wants to stick with Core and their chain. The miners are one thing, the market is something else. The miners might win a battle, but they would lose that war. They should keep that in mind.

Without those miners, BTC would definitely take a hit, but the Core developers could then quickly move to a 2MB upgrade and get SegWit and The Lightning Network approved, creating greater Bitcoin functionality, from a trusted group of developers, and an incredible upside in off-chain scalability that an on-chain approach would be hard pressed to match. All without the centralization and control of the miners.

segwit-logo

Users will follow anyone who is going to implement SegWit. The market is sold on this concept as a boon to Bitcoin functionality. BTU has not done a very good sales job at all regarding their position. Scaling away from miners will hurt mining, but it will let Bitcoin reach its full potential.

BTU needs to sell their mined Bitcoins to a market. I’m not seeing much of a market for BTU, outside of the miners and BTU investors, themselves. The miners do not control Bitcoin, and even Core does not control Bitcoin. Maybe, just maybe, The People control Bitcoin’s future growth? Anyone who thinks the market doesn’t have a handle on who each side is looking out for here is fooling themselves.

Just seeing how the community is responding, keeping my ear to the ground, the greater community will not follow the miners, who are primarily looking to turn a digital buck in Bitcoin. They will follow Core, who is looking after the greater good. Miners will lose that tug of war.

Bitcoin miners vs Bitcoin core

It has become clear that BTU developers cannot replace BTC developers, as the recent bugs have shown the world, but BTC miners can be replaced. There are plenty of people around the world who want that job and can do it just as well.

This power struggle is really temporary in nature. People will not follow miners looking for profit first, and who want to hijack the entire system, from now on, in order to get it. That is not leadership.

At the end of the day, The People will decide to back Core. The only question is when will the dissenting miners, clouded by visions of endless Bitcoin profiteering, figure this fact out?

If the miners didn’t get the memo, that the vast majority of the market will stick with Core and not dump BTC for any BTU altcoin, use this. Like Bitcoin itself, it’s far from perfect, but it’ll do just fine.

How do you think a hard fork would play out? Should there be an increase in block size? Let us know what you think below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoin Core, AdobeStock

Show comments

Share
Bře 23

Large Tokyo Bitcoin Meetup Turnout Includes Jihan Wu, Core Supporters

· March 23, 2017 · 6:00 pm

1,980 views

Wednesday saw the largest Tokyo Bitcoin meetup “in years” take place at the Pink Cow in the Japanese capital’s Minato district.


‘No Arguments’ Despite Core, Unlimited Presence

Featuring appearances from Roger Ver, Jihan Wu and others, the meetup, organized by Chinese platform Bitkan, focused only lightly on the current Bitcoin scaling problem, with speakers presenting a range of opinions on the current and future state of Bitcoin.

Ver himself spoke on “the importance of Bitcoin’s economic code,” while Wu’s presentation titled “What does Satoshi said [sic] about scaling Bitcoin?” was focused on the global Bitcoin ecosystem.

img_4964

Other speakers included Bitkan MD Ruby Chen, Local exchange BTCBOX whose CEO David Zhang focused on Bitcoin business development, as well as journalist Jon Southurst, who presented on Bitcoin trading and business. 

“Overall the atmosphere was pretty cordial. There were some big bitcoin heavy-hitters there like Roger Ver, Jihan Wu, Chandler Guo, plus a number of devs and project managers representing both sides of the BU/Core debate,” Southurst told Bitcoinist. “We were expecting some arguments but there weren’t any big ones.”

Focus on Eastern Promise

Host Bitkan was particularly buoyant on the future of Bitcoin in Japan as nearly one hundred people attended the event. Bitkan’s Operations Director Sandy Liang noted that the market would be of particular interest in terms of traders in the near term.

img_4965

“During the event, we met many Japanese companies,” she subsequently commented to Bitcoinist.

The whole market is growing rapidly. Bitcoin is becoming more and more popular in Japan. We are also aware that there will be a cryptocurrency law in April to regulate the whole Japanese Bitcoin market.

While Bitkan maintains a neutral stance on scaling, the mood in the air regarding the current stalemate in Bitcoin regarding how to proceed was palpable at the meetup.

This nonetheless contrasted with the considerably more upfront rhetoric witnessed from some attendees and others online over the past months.

img_4963

Ver has been especially vocal on the part of Bitcoin Unlimited, stating in an interview with Mad Bitcoins at the weekend he would sell his entire BTC holdings in return for BTU in future.

He also appeared to accept an offer from Bitcoin ‘whale’ Loaded this week, who offered a BTC-BTU trade agreement worth “up to” 130,000 bitcoins.

“This sounds like a great deal for both of us,” he replied.  “I look forward to ironing out the exact details and terms.  I’m super busy for the next 48 hours,  but would love to connect after that.”

The final decision is thus due following culmination of the Tokyo meetup.

Were you at the meetup? What are your thoughts on the presentations and comments? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitkan, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Bře 23

The China Syndrome: Are California’s Bitcoin Exchanges Doomed?

· March 23, 2017 · 4:30 am

Increasing regulatory pressures have eviscerated trading volumes across Bitcoin exchanges in China. Bitcoin’s shifting volumes and price are signaling that further disintermediation is inevitable, which could also spell trouble for Western exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken.


China Regulates Bitcoin Exchanges

Increasing regulation of the Bitcoin market in China by the People’s Bank (PBoC) has characterized the first Quarter of 2017.

First they banned margin-trading. Then they halted withdrawals of Bitcoin from Chinese exchanges in February. The latest news is that withdrawals are expected to resume soon provided a strict set of KYC/AML conditions are met.

The nature of the ban on withdrawals has been widely misunderstood.

Note that bitcoins were not trapped. Trading continued the whole time on Chinese exchanges – purchases and sales were allowed. The PBoC never disallowed the withdrawal of cash from Chinese exchanges. So Chinese who wanted to exit could simply sell their Bitcoins and withdraw their renminbi.

The China Syndrome

That said, there were several consequences of the Chinese regulation in the global Bitcoin market. I call this set of results or symptoms that occur in tandem ‘the China Syndrome’.

China Bitcoin Core attack

We can expect more and more financial regulators to intervene ever more intrusively into Bitcoin markets globally, and we can expect to see a similar syndrome of effects every time.

So, as the IRS demands that Coinbase reveal all its customer records, we can expect the same China Syndrome set of consequences.

What were the results of increased regulation of exchanges in China?

  1. The share of global trading volumes of Chinese exchanges collapsed.
  2. There was terrific disintermediation. Over The Counter (OTC) trading volumes in China exploded. This is trading that is done P2P, off-exchange. The two most popular OTC platforms in China are LocalBitcoins and Bitkan.
  3. Bitcoins started to trade on Chinese exchanges at a significant discount to global prices. Previously Bitcoin had nearly always traded at a small premium on China exchanges to the global price. (Zerohedge claimed ad nauseam this was evidence of demand for Bitcoin as a vehicle for capital flight, though that’s refuted by BTCC CEO Bobby Lee.)
  4. Bitcoin traded OTC in China has achieved a premium over both the price on Chinese exchanges and indeed over global prices. It is the most expensive Bitcoin in the world!
  5. Bitcoin has recently started to trade on LocalBitcoins at a premium to exchanges worldwide where previously there was a discount.
  6. The logical endgame of disintermediation is a black market. For example, what naturally happens in an economy such as Venezuela or Nigeria where banks (the middleman) fail to provide the market-clearing price for dollars as a result of capital controls? People will disintermediate their asses and sell on the black market of course!

[Data verifying these statements about prices is at my website, Blocklink.info. Select the ‘Black Market FX’ tab.]

Disintermediation is Inevitable

Definition from Investopedia:

Disintermediation, in finance, is the withdrawal of funds from intermediary financial institutions, such as banks and savings and loan associations, to invest them directly. Generally, disintermediation is the process of removing the middleman or intermediary from future transactions.

There remains a powerful need among Chinese to trade Bitcoin that the PBoC cannot stifle. PBoC tries to block one avenue and wily Chinese users disintermediate their way through. It is like the funfair game of whack-a-mole.

As the middleman  – the Chinese exchanges – was failing to meet the need to freely trade Bitcoin, Chinese users cut out the middleman. Here are two charts to illustrate the extent of the disintermediation. Chinese exchanges have become the sick men of global exchanges, and LocalBitcoins China is experiencing explosive growth..

12

coin-dance-localbitcoins-cny-volume

Note that this second chart greatly understates OTC trading in China for several reasons.

One, it’s possible that the Bitkan platform is even more popular than LocalBitcoins in China. Bitkan reported a twelvefold increase in trading volumes in Q1 2017 in this interview with Bitcoinist.

Two, once buyer and and seller establish a relationship through LocalBitcoins or Bitkan, those two parties might choose to transact thereafter privately, without using the platform, so saving on escrow and platform fees.

Three, you also tend to get P2P Bitcoin deals being negotiated on popular financial and exchange forums, like the Chinese equivalents of Craigslist.

Effects of Disintermediation on Prices

This effect has received less attention than the effect on volumes. In Q1 2017 Bitcoins have traded on Chinese exchanges at a significant discount to global prices. Previously Chinese Bitcoin had always traded at a small premium to the global price.

Premium before Q1 201713

Discount after the actions of the PBOC:

My research shows that a) Bitcoin traded OTC in China has achieved a premium over both the price on Chinese exchanges and over global prices and b) Bitcoin has started to trade on LocalBitcoins as a premium to exchange prices worldwide where previously there had been a discount.

china2

There is not the space here to go into the details, which can be viewed at my site Blocklink.info. In summary, at a snapshot on March 22, 2017 07:00 GMT, these prices prevailed when the Global Bitcoin price was $1,064 USD:

China

  • Chinese exchanges: $1,038 (discount to Global price)
  • Chinese LocalBitcoins: $1,114 ($76 premium to CN Exchanges’ price, or 7.3%)

America

  • US Exchanges: $1,064 (same as Global price)
  • US Local Bitcoins: $1103 ($38 premium to global price, or 3.6%)

Previously analysts argued that there was naturally a discount on OTC markets as a result of the greater convenience that the exchanges offered their clients, and of the greater counterparty risk intrinsic in an OTC trade. But it now seems to be the case that the force is with OTC trading, and that users are prepared to pay a premium OTC to achieve greater privacy and control over their Bitcoins.

Decentralized Exchange is the Future

Exchanges in the San Francisco, Japan and Europe have been doing terrific business in 2017 and the money is rolling into their coffers in the form of trading fees and the income they derive from their Bid-Offer spread.

Oh, they are living the life of Riley in San Francisco’s Financial District! Knocking back the $20 libations at Rickhouse Bar on Kearny Street and at Comstock Saloon. They think nothing of buying $75 steaks. The toilets are dusty with cocaine powder. But threats similar to those that have hit the solvency of OKCoin, BTCC etc. await Coinbase, Kraken, Bitfinex and the other big hitters. There will be blood.

coin-dance-bitsquare-all-volume

The future looks rosier for the more decentralized avenues like Bitsquare, whose global volumes have been rising steadily, and for wallets with greater privacy like Samourai.

Further disintermediation in Bitcoin trading is inevitable. That is what the shifting volumes and the price mechanism in the Bitcoin market are signaling.

And note this: the ultimate disintermediation is black market/criminal activity. For example, drug users disintermediate the failure of pharmacies to provide Grade A meth and crack by buying from the street corner or on Dark Markets. That is where we might buy our Bitcoin 3-5 years from now, possibly from wild-eyed, shaggy-haired ex-employees of Kraken.

Do you agree that centralized exchanges will become obsolete and unable to compete with decentralized avenues? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy Coin.dance, Twitter, Shutterstock, Blocklink.info

Show comments

Share