Čvn 01

UK’s Most Popular Investment Platform to Offer Bitcoin

· June 1, 2017 · 8:30 am

UK’s most popular investment platform, Hargreaves Lansdown, will soon allow its clients to invest in Bitcoin.


Hargreaves Lansdown

Hargreaves Lansdown, the administer £70bn of investor money with 876,000 clients, has announced it will allow customers access to invest in Bitcoin.

“By adding self-service, online dealing, the team at Hargreaves Lansdown is providing UK investors with professional and quick access to bitcoin in the UK and greater Europe,”  Ryan Radloff, XBT’s head of investor relations told the Telegraph.

This follows the recent news that the American financial services corporation, Fidelity Investments, will soon allow their clients the ability to view their cryptocurrency holdings on the Coinbase website.

However, Hargreaves Lansdown, are using a fund offered by a Swedish company, XBT Provider, which is structured as an ETN or exchange-traded note. These funds are listed on the stock exchange meaning Bitcoin can be bought and sold as a share.

“The value of and any amount payable under the certificates will be strongly affected by the performance of Bitcoin and the US dollar/krona exchange rate,” XBT Provider explains. “As such an investment in the certificates is likely to be highly volatile and thus risky.”

In other words, British Bitcoin investors will be exposed to two areas of risk, not just the famous volatility of the cryptocurrency itself, but also to the US dollar/Swedish Krona exchange rate.

Clients Asked to Invest in Bitcoin

Danny Cox, head of communications at Lansdown noted that the decision to add Bitcoin as an investment option was driven in part by customer demand.

Cox:

We have seen a handful of clients asking for the ETN, so it’s not purely driven by a provider wanting to be listed.

This interest, although written off as a handful, demonstrates that the demand must surely have been significant among traditional investors for the company to include it.

Despite the potential risks, Bitcoin has (again) been outperforming every asset and fiat currency in 2017, and smart money is starting to pay attention. This is a major step for Bitcoin towards mainstream adoption and becoming a legitimate asset for traditional finance.

Is Bitcoin finally breaking into mainstream finance? Will other brokers follow suite? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock, moneytothemasses.com

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Kvě 08

24 Million Australians can now pay their bills with Bitcoin

· May 8, 2017 · 4:00 pm

As Bitcoin grows in popularity, more use cases for the cryptocurrency pop up every day. This time, an Australia-based startup has created a service that allows citizens in the country to pay their household bills with Bitcoin.


Paying Bills with Bitcoin

Dubbed the Living Room of Satoshi, the Australian startup allows users to pay their bills with Bitcoin by entering the details of the payment, choosing a payment system (bank account or BPay) and sending their coins to the BTC address shown.

Yesterday Living Room of Satoshi tweeted:

The Living Room of Satoshi’s new service supports payment for any type of utilities like telecommunications, electricity, gas, school fees, water and credit cards. What’s more is that the company charges no extra fees for the BTC payments. The service also features a point system, where every $1 spent in bills awards users with 1 point that can be turned into gifts.

Daniel Alexiuc, CEO of the  Living Room of Satoshi said in an interview:

Daniel Alexiuc, CEO of the Living Room of Satoshi Bitcoin Bill Pay

As the first truly international, decentralised and peer to peer currency, Bitcoin is perfectly suited to bill payments in Australia,” he said. “It also enables new possibilities, like parents in foreign countries being able to easily support their children studying in Australia by paying some of their bills.

Bitcoin in Australia

Australia is generally thought of as a Bitcoin-friendly place. However, the country does have a double-tax issue where the cryptocurrency is considered barter and not money, which means that companies must pay both a tax when receiving cryptocurrencies as a payment and a goods-and-services tax (GST) when selling them for fiat.

However, the Australian government announced plans to solve this issue in March last year Now, according to a statement released last week, the government is working with the FinTech Advisory Group to solve the double taxation problem. The statement reads:

The Government agrees that consumers should not be subject to the GST twice when using digital currency to purchase goods or services. For this reason, the Government has already committed, through its Backing Australian FinTech statement, released on 21 March 2016, to address the ‘double taxation’ of digital currencies.

Other than the absurd double taxation problem which is being taken care of, Bitcoin seems to have a bright future ahead in Australia. The $AUD currently ranks 12th on Bitcoin’s daily trading volume with multiple BTC exchanges and Bitcoin ATMs providing services in the country. Electricity is also cheap, allowing citizens to access Bitcoin through mining.

Not only is Bitcoin easily accessible and popular among the country’s citizen, Australia’s Central Bank has also taken a notice to Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the Blockchain. The bank published a report dubbed  Developments in the Financial System Architecture. It reads:

One aspect of fintech that has been examined closely is the emergence of distributed ledger technology (DLT), often referred to as ‘blockchain’ technology. The Bank is participating in a working group of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures examining DLT and its implications. In February, the working group published an analytical framework for authorities wishing to review and analyse the use of this technology for payments, clearing and settlement.

What can you do with Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is becoming increasingly popular and as more people start working with it, new and exciting use cases and services for the cryptocurrency arise. What was once a “worthless” internet currency can now be used to pay for goods and services across the world, allowing merchants to save money on credit card fees and more.

So, what can you do with Bitcoin? The use cases are extensive: You can buy houses, boats, cars. You can rent a hotel room with Expedia or an apartment, buy millions of items from OverStock, buy gift cards, pay your electricity bills in Japan, pay your college tuition in multiple countries (including Australia). You can even get a Bitcoin IRA, get a Bitcoin loan, and buy and sell gold with BTC on the Vaultoro exchange.

Shut Up and Take My Bitcoin

There’s a lot we can do with Bitcoin nowadays. So much that we are currently running at full capacity. With the infrastructure in place, now all Bitcoin needs in order to continue to grow is the ability to do so in terms of scalability.

Will we continue to see interesting use cases for Bitcoin, like the one discussed here, show up with time? Can the scaling issues in Bitcoin, stop its infrastructure’s progress? Let us know in the comment section.


Images courtesy of LinkedIn, BitcoinTalk, Pixabay

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Dub 21

7 Reasons Why BTC Price is Now Climbing to $1300

· April 21, 2017 · 9:00 am

Bitcoin price now appears to be shrugging off politics that have split the community as it looks to test the critical $1,300 mark yet again.


Key Resistance Level at $1,300

BTC price is again coming within striking distance of the critical $1,300 mark, currently sitting at $1,250 at press time. 

Back on March 6, Bitcoin set the all-time closing high of $1,277 with a record-high spike of around $1,330 a few days later fueled by ETF hype before crashing more than 25% after the rejection by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency has rallied since its March 24 low of $960 when divisive politics and heightened fears of a hard fork put downward pressure on the price. 

What’s more, the resurgence also comes at a time when Chinese exchanges have still not resumed their Bitcoin withdrawals.

In addition to being up 30% so far in 2017, Bitcoin’s market capitalization is now looking to break its all-time high of about $20.6 billion as it climbs towards the critical $1,300 resistance level.

“$1300 is a significant psychological price point,” Civic CEO, Vinny Lingham, wrote back in February. “This is the point that arguably no one who had previously bought coins during the last ‘bubble’ is under water.”

7 Positive Trends Driving BTC Price

With Litecoin coming closer to SegWit activation, many hope that the ‘silver to Bitcoin’s gold’ will become a testbed for this promising technology. This has made Litecoin price rise significantly in recent weeks while also raising hopes for SegWit activation on Bitcoin while allaying fears of a contentious hardfork.

However, this is only one positive factor in what has been a string of good news for Bitcoin in recent weeks.

First, Japanese businesses and several major retailers already seem enthusiastic about experimenting with Bitcoin payments following their legalization in the country on April 1st.

Second, Bitcoin adoption appears to be growing everywhere in the world from P2P trading to remittances to the amount of people actually using it for payments, according to a recent Cambridge University study, which noted:

[T]he number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.

Third, following increasing regulatory clarity from China, Russia may also be planning to ‘legalize’ Bitcoin by as early as 2018. Meanwhile, another major economy, India, is seeing major growth with people increasingly using Bitcoin as a store-of-value and for online purchases in the wake of the demonetization disaster.

Fourth, the traditional global banking system including SWIFT appears to be under constant attack from hackers, not to mention the NSA. As a rule, any weakness and uncertainty in the traditional financial spells good for a potentially better alternative that’s more secure due to its decentralized, pseudonymous natures and immutability aspect.

Fifth, major companies such as Microsoft are beginning to actually use the Bitcoin blockchain for other things besides money such as record time-stamping and document verification. This could introduce more use cases for the Bitcoin network, boosting its development, growth, and overall value as a result. 

Bitfinex Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb

Another major factor in the upward pressure on BTC price is Bitcoin exchange Bitfinex, which seems to be experiencing problems on the fiat side due to recent complications with partner banks. There also seem to be problems with liquidating the USDT (Tether) cryptocurrency token that replaces the USD currency on the Poloniex exchange.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Bitcoin on Bitfinex is trading at nearly $1,330 or $80 above market price as traders seek safety. Of course, the solvency of the Bitfinex exchange is also coming increasingly under question despite official statements to the contrary.

[Editor’s note: It remains to be seen whether this is a positive or a negative factor for the BTC price in the short term. However, shaking out insolvent businesses should be a healthy step for the Bitcoin economy moving forward.] 

In any case, Bitcoin should continue to chug along as its overall growth since 2014 has made it more resilient and much more capable of withstanding another ‘Mt.Gox’ scenario if it arises.

Will Bitcoin finally break the $1300 psychological barrier? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of coinmarketcap.com, shutterstock 

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Dub 17

Bitcoin is Booming in India as ‘Digital Gold’ Among Other Underlying Benefits

· April 17, 2017 · 8:30 am

Bitcoin is gaining a lot traction in India. Bitcoinist spoke with Sunny Ray, co-founder of India’s Bitcoin exchange UnoCoin, to better understand what is fueling this growing trend in the country.


Bitcoin Goes Mainstream in India

Bitcoin is going places. After conquering China and catapulting it to the front line of Bitcoin’s trading and mining sector, it is now starting to get traction in other countries like Japan and South Korea.

Now, Bitcoin is also showing signs of a growing adoption rate in India, a country that has been deeply impacted by the demonetization policies implemented.

A look at yesterday’s Times of India publication shows that Bitcoin is featured on the front page. The publication tells the story of a man who unknowingly exchanged, what would now be, a Bitcoin fortune for extra lives on an online game, something that he obviously regrets.

The article also provides some facts about the cryptocurrency, its price, and regulatory standing. It also mentions the Interdisciplinary Committee created to assess the current state of existing global regulatory and legal structures as a means to apply the best regulatory framework possible for Bitcoin in India.

The paper reads:

Finance ministry has set up a committee that will look at global regulatory frameworks for Bitcoin and suggest measures for India.

Bitcoin adoption in the country can be seen, not just in media reports, but also in the data provided by Unocoin, India’s most popular Bitcoin Exchange. Co-founder Sunny Ray recently noted that:

It took 2 years and 10 months for Unocoin to reach 100,000 users. It only took another 6 months to reach 200,000 users.

Why is Bitcoin Booming in India?

Bitcoin’s received a lot of attention after the demonetization policies that saw India’s highest denomination banknotes removed from the economy were implemented in November 2016.

Since then, however, much has changed. Unocoin’s Sunny Ray explained what’s fueling Bitcoin’s growing popularity in the country:

We think it’s less to do with demonetization and more to do with its underlying benefits. The uses range from: store of value is the number one use case (digital gold), second is inward remittance (as opposed to losing 4 days and 10% in fees), p2p payments, buying things online (mobile top up, etc), and it keeps going.

Furthermore, it’s not just Unocoin that is seeing an increasing adoption in Bitcoin within the country.

Trading volume from p2p exchange LocalBitcoins reveals this growing trend, for example, as does the global INR market data provided by CryptoCompare:

“We conclude that, while the demonetization itself may have been a catalyst for Bitcoin’s growth in India, it simply revealed one of the many advantages that Bitcoin brings, in this case, the lack of centralized control and the superior privacy provided by the cryptocurrency,” he added.

India’s Government is Studying Bitcoin

Earlier this month, the Indian government established an Interdisciplinary Committee chaired by various institutions like the country’s central bank and ministry of home affairs.

The committee’s main functions are

  • to take stock of the present status of virtual currencies (VCs) in and outside of India;
  • examine existing global regulatory and legal structures for VCs;
  • suggest measures for dealing with such VCs including issues relating to consumer protection, money laundering, etc;
  • and to examine any other matter related to VCs that may be considered as relevant.

Bitcoin India

The committee is expected to release a report on its findings by July of this year. 

It is unclear what changes the committee will bring about but Ray hopes that the creation of this organization will help citizens better understand virtual currencies, their benefits and risks.

Ray told Bitcoinist:

Our only hope is to try and educate the public. We are working with the best law firm in the country. The same law firm that’s helped to establish the largest self regulatory body in India, they helped enable payment processing and ecommerce to emerge and many many other seemingly disruptive change to the country:  Nishith Desai & Associates. All we can do is try. And the fact that some journalists in India are writing sensationalist articles to pry on people’s fears is not helping the cause.

The “largest self regulatory body in India” mentioned by Ray is the Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI). The self-regulatory body is comprised of Bitcoin startups in the country such as Unocoin, Zebpay, Coinsecure, and Searchtrade.

The organization will focus on creating standard guidelines for trading blockchain based assets, KYC/AML and STR norms, while collaborating with regulators, creating awareness about the benefits and risks of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and producing an environment that will stimulate the creation of other blockchain startups. DABFI will also publish reports regarding cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Will the new Interdisciplinary Committee help advance Bitcoin’s adoption in the country? Let us know in the comment section!


Images courtesy of Times of India, CryptoCompare, Shutterstock

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Dub 13

Why National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Beat Bitcoin

· April 13, 2017 · 2:00 pm

National cryptocurrencies will never be able to compete with Bitcoin because no one will trust a system that requires advance permission from and which is controlled by a government to use it. 

[Note: This is an op-ed, edited by Allen Scott] 


National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Be Global

News is just in that the mint of a very important, historic sovereign nation has just hired a company in a separate nation to help it launch its own “Blockchain not Bitcoin” attempt to ride the Bitcoin wave. This is extraordinary in several ways, and allows a general principle to be explored.

First off, this mint doesn’t understand how Bitcoin works. That is clear. They’ve made the common error of believing what computer illiterates in well regarded newspapers mistakenly repeat verbatim about Bitcoin; that you can have “Blockchain without Bitcoin”. And this is only the first of their many errors in this project.

Even if their technical and economic assumptions were correct, there is no way that their private money system can beat the market. The Russians and the Chinese will never accept domination of a global e-money by a single foreign nation coded by a second party.

They will at a minimum, launch their own central bank altcoin, or more likely, settle on Bitcoin as the civilized global standard. These people have made the fundamental error of thinking that they can beat the market. It is the same error the Americans made thinking that everyone would use CDMA instead of GSM.

This new money will never be international. No one will trust a system that requires advance permission from and which is controlled by a government to use it, that can exclude any actor based on arbitrary rules of a hostile government when Bitcoin is available. There is no logical reason to trust anyone when Bitcoin exists; any system that is tainted by the requirement of trust is inferior to Bitcoin, and will make rational actors choose Bitcoin over those other, broken systems every time.

There are other problems with this new project, some of which will be of concern to the State. With a software simulation of money, the company providing the service is the mint, with absolute control over the money and its operation, not the mint.

In order to be the mint, you must directly control the levers of the machinery, you cannot outsource that control to other men, and certainly never to men from a foreign country; these foreigners de facto control everything if no one in the mint can understand how anything works. They seem to have forgotten what the word “Sovereign” means.

If you’re going to outsource the creation of a new e-money, and cede control over its development to foreigners, why not go all the way and give it to the global experts: Bitcoin Core?

You get all the benefits of the hundreds of developers working on Bitcoin, and access to the global Bitcoin network, its first mover advantage, huge ecosystem and its network effects. You are already willing to give up control, so you may as well give it up for something and not for nothing.

Outsourcing Sovereignty?

This is another example of the global Computer Literacy Crisis, where the ‘aparatchicks’ don’t understand how anything works, and are rendered helpless, delegating all responsibility to software developers who are now one of the top global powers on Earth as a class.

We saw this with government departments around the globe accepting Microsoft Windows as “the standard” for decades, with the late realization that this gives control (and back-door NSA espionage access) to a foreign company. Much better to use Linux that belongs to no one, is transparent and infinitely more secure and controllable. Just like Bitcoin.

For 7 years I’ve been talking about the book “Good Money” by George Selgin:

If you are interested in Bitcoin and why “private Blockchain” is junk, you should read this book. What is fascinating about this news of a sovereign mint hiring a foreign company to create a system for them is that the private money vs State money is turned on its head in the Bitcoin era.

In the 1700s, button makers switched to minting coins for private use, because the Royal Mint couldn’t supply the demand for small change. Now, government mints are turning to bespoke “Blockchain not Bitcoin Tokens” while Bitcoin becomes the sovereign money of the world.

The picture is entirely reversed; the state is minting private money to fill an (imaginary) need while Bitcoin is the money everyone uses but has trouble getting a hold of. Azteco is a service that aims to solve that problem.

Like many projects with no hope of traction because they are fundamentally flawed, this new platform has put its software up on GitHub, hoping to attract developers to work on it for free. This will not happen.

Bitcoin Devs Won’t Waste Time With Other Blockchains

First of all, the number of developers with the skill to hack cryptocurrencies in C is extremely small, and all of them are working on Bitcoin. They’re all doing so mostly without compensation, for the good of society, just like Linux kernel developers do. There is no way you are going to persuade these ethical men to stop working on Bitcoin and to devote that time to a bogus “permissioned ledger” project run by a company on behalf of a nation state.

Bitcoin devs simply aren’t going to split their limited time between projects like Corda or any anti-Bitcoin project. And of course, Corda has conceded defeat and given up on “making blockchains programmable” and other fanciful hand-waving nonsense.

“GitHub Open Source” isn’t a magic wand that will cause men to flock to your repo and software to be written for you for nothing, and no, you can’t hire developers to do this work either; there are none available.

Developers at this skill, experience and knowledge level are an extremely rare breed, and they are all working on Bitcoin, and will never contract to work on unethical software, for any amount of money.

Every year the State wastes time on vanity projects they can’t even understand, Bitcoin grows, spreads and strengthens. The number of new, fundamental features coming to Bitcoin is not matched by any other project, and how these will synergise is anyone’s guess.

(From The Elements Project, new features coming to Bitcoin https://elementsproject.org/elements/ SegWit will activate, on Litecoin first and then Bitcoin. Then everything will change.)

Every software project has a use case. The developers are eager to make their case so they can gain users. When they won’t make the case clearly, something is very wrong. There is no use case for a sovereign nation to launch its own altcoin that is inferior to Bitcoin.

Its like launching a new mobile phone network standard; no manufacturer is going to incorporate another set of protocols, chips, transceiver and antennae into its phone to accommodate you, and yet, this is exactly what these people believe they can do with Bitcoin. All rational nation State actors are now running to embrace and profit from the inevitable domination by Bitcoin and not betting against it.

We can be sure of this. No “permissioned,” “BlockChain,” alt-coin reality denying project launched by a Nation State that has outsourced development of its software to a private company in a foreign land can ever hope to outperform Bitcoin on any level.

Incredibly, the lessons of the doomed and fundamentally flawed Canadian “Mint Chip” have not been learned yet. This is a good thing, believe it or not. The longer Bitcoin’s enemies think they can reinvent the wheel and beat Bitcoin, the better it is for Bitcoin. By the time they figure all of this out, it will be too late. In fact, it already is too late.

KYC/AML is Dying

There has been some very good news on the Bitcoin perception front. Another judge, this time in of all jurisdictions, New York, has ruled that Bitcoin is not Money.

[…] a federal judge in New York has recommended that money-laundering charges be dropped in a local case, based on his determination that Bitcoin doesn’t qualify as money. Instead, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott has opined that Bitcoin more closely resembles a commodity. While he noted that Bitcoin might one day become so acceptable that it could be considered as money, Scott suggested that it currently has more in common with collectibles – like trading cards and other novelty items.

I wrote about this several times previously.

Any business in Bitcoin, if it is run by competent men, should now destroy their “compliance” data and stop all KYC/AML work immediately. They can rely on these two judgements as pretext, and if any prosecutor or three letter agency wants to take them to court, they should accept the challenge, because they will win.

Coinbase, for example, has been asked for a database dump of all their customers who transferred Bitcoin from 2013 to 2015. They are going to fight this in court, and it may cost them millions to defend this outrageous attack.

Instead of going to court to defend handing over customer data, Coinbase should permanently destroy the data, and fight in court to prove Bitcoin is not money, and not subject to any law any more than Linden Labs “Linden Dollars” are.

Doing this, they will forever be unable to hand over data they don’t have, and will not be asked for it again. They will streamline their service, and increase their profitability. Or burn rate. Either way, the way out of their current problems is to embrace these two judgements and amplify them so that the entire industry is both protected and relieved of onerous administrative burdens simultaneously.

Stopping KYC/AML will increase on ramp speeds, increase profits, increase Bitcoin throughput and midwife “The Transformation”. You are already in a fight with the State, who are using your own data against you; data that you did not have to collect in the first place, that you volunteered to collect, expecting a pat on the head.

Doing this will also turn you from an unethical company into an ethical one. Its a no brainer.

For the Lulz

Finally, for some lulz. People love predicting the collapse of things. Its like a perverted spectator sport, where you’re betting on which gladiator is going to die first. Y2K hysteria Twitter and even the internet have been predicted to “collapse” and these predictions failed.

We all remember Clifford Stoll. No surprise then, when people pop up to predict that Bitcoin will have a “complete and total collapse” for no given reason whatsoever.

What we can see emerging is the fact that the vast majority of men have reached their intellectual limit in 2017. Most of the things are incomprehensible to them. Bitcoin is one of those most things. As time goes on, this problem is going to get much worse. Its like the familiar tale of Artificial Intelligence making new versions of itself that man has no capacity to understand.

The problem isn’t that people don’t understand new technology. This has always been true since man started forging steel, and of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The problem is that these ignorant people insist on forcing other people who do understand the new tools, to conform to their mistaken ideas of how they should work with them and present it to the market.

Bitcoin has been suffering this for a few years now, but with the recent court decisions, Japanese “Legitimization” (remember when everyone kept saying “legitimacy” is what Bitcoin needs? Now its “adoption” and “scale”) and increase market penetration through great services like Local Bitcoins, it is now clear that Bitcoin will win. No matter what you want.

Lastly…

Finally, some good news. Samson Mow, notorious milliner, Bitcoin thinker, expert analyst, conference organizer, East West bridger, Ubisoft expander, organizer of the “Scaling Bitcoin” event and meme manipulator extraordinary, has just been hired by Blockstream.

Normally hirings of this sort would not be worth comment, but this one is given what is under discussion in this piece. Some were calling for this very useful man to be fired over his very amusing tweets and totally accurate analysis. This is not good thinking.

Because people conflated Bitcoin with money, there is an underlying assumption that the men involved in Bitcoin must emulate the behavior of stuffy, stiff, humorless bankers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We know that Bitcoin is not money and in properly designed businesses, no one needs to be trusted; Bitcoin itself is the infallible guarantor. All the social signals that men used to use to assess trust (ties, logos, and all the trappings of banking) have been replaced with software. This leaves people behind the levers to “let it all hang out” and be totally honest, because the software is what you trust, not the men who wrote it. This is another benefit of Bitcoin, that is slowly starting to emerge.

The people stuck in the 20th Century are the same ones who never encrypted their email and think that Bitcoin is for buying Starbucks on chain. They’re the ones doing the speech policing, and calling internet culture “toxic.”

Samson Mow being hired is an explicit rejection of these wrong ideas; he is being hired because he merits the job, and nothing else. Bitcoin is not about illusions, it is about MATHEMATICAL FACTS.

[Full disclosure: The author of this piece is the founder of Azteco]

Do you agree with this assessment of Bitcoin? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of elementsproject.org, Twitter, Shutterstock 

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Dub 05

Japan: Bitcoin Payments Could See 260,000 Stores by Summer

· April 5, 2017 · 5:00 am

Bitcoin payments may be accepted at over 260,000 stores in Japan by this summer following partnerships between the country’s Bitcoin exchanges and major retailers.


Bic Camera to Trial Bitcoin Payments

Japanese electronics chain Bic Camera has partnered with Tokyo-based bitFlyer, which runs the country’s largest bitcoin exchange that currently comprises about 10% of the Bitcoin market.

This Friday, Bic Camera’s flagship shop in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district along with Bicqlo Bic Camera, a hybrid outlet with Uniqlo, will begin a trial run using bitFlyer’s bitcoin payment system, according to the official release.

Customers will be able to pay up to 100,000 yen (~$900 USD) with Bitcoin, which will also include reward points at the same rate as for cash payments. The trial will determine if Bic Camera will expand Bitcoin payments to its other 39 nationwide locations.

260,000 Merchants Can Now Accept Bitcoin

Meanwhile, another Tokyo bitcoin exchange, Coincheck, has partnered with Recruit Lifestyle, the retail support arm of human resources conglomerate Recruit Holdings.

Coincheck, which currently holds 99% of the bitcoin payment market share in Japan, will bring Bitcoin payments to shops that use AirRegi, a point-of-sale app developed by Recruit Lifestyle, by this summer.

To pay with bitcoin, customers can simply scan the barcode displayed on the app. Coincheck will process the transaction, converting the bitcoin into yen for the merchant.

Additionally, the app also supports Alipay, China’s leading third-party payment solution. However, Chinese tourists visiting Japan will be able to finally spend their bitcoin, something they cannot do in their home country.

Today, the most popular electronic payment options in Japan include Suica and Rakuten’s Edy, which are accepted at 380,000 and 470,000 locations, respectively. But with these recent moves, virtual currency could soon enter their ranks as AirRegi terminals are already used at 260,000 eateries and other retail locations nationwide.

Japan: Land of the Rising Bits

Bitcoin transaction volume in Japan began to increase significantly since 2016, and in January 2017 its volume exceeded 541.1 billion yen (about 20 times compared to the same period last year).

Just recently, on April 1, 2017, Japan’s Payment Services Act for virtual currencies went into effect, recognizing Bitcoin as a legal payment option while forcing cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the government. Starting in July, purchases of virtual currency will be exempt from the consumption tax.

Overall, the new regulations and tax incentives are expected to boost consumer confidence and growth of the domestic virtual currency market, which already had over 4,000 locations accepting bitcoin.

Will these new partnership make Bitcoin a mainstream payment method in the country? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, air-regi.com, 

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Bře 14

Any Bitcoin ETF Gaining Approval in 2017? Don’t Bet On It. Here’s Why

· March 14, 2017 · 4:00 am

The defeat of the COIN Bitcoin ETF turned out to be the story that wasn’t. Yes, it caused a sharp dip in the market, but this was filled within hours on Friday evening. Some say this is not a big deal because other ETF proposals wait in the wings. But the evidence says they will suffer a similar fate.


‘Significant Markets for Bitcoin are Unregulated’

Let’s take you back to Friday afternoon. The decision on the Bitcoin ETF was set to come down by Saturday, March 11th, so the SEC held up their end of the bargain. They did not delay the decision again, but said they will not approve the proposal. The deeper issue is why it was not approved.

4

“Based on the record before it, the (SEC) Commission believes that the significant markets for bitcoin are unregulated,” the SEC said in a statement. “The Commission notes that bitcoin is still in the relatively early stages of its development and that, over time, regulated bitcoin-related markets of significant size may develop.”

Bitcoin ETF a ‘Cause for a Pause’

This does not sound like a problem based on The Winklevoss Twins actual proposal, or a technicality. The problem the SEC seems to have is with the Bitcoin market overall. They specifically mentioned multiple global markets, plus a long time view of their progression towards regulation, which really isn’t in the offing.

bak

“The SEC made a strong statement and it listed its concerns, and I thought it did a very good job of explaining its rationale,” Phil Bak, the former head of ETF listings at the New York Stock Exchange told MarketWatch.

Bitcoin will mature as an investment over the coming years, but I don’t think we’ll see a change in how the SEC views it over that time. For the other firms trying to bring one to market, I’m trying to think of a nice way to say, ‘no chance in hell’ for their approval.

The Winklevoss Twins have been on this mission for almost four years and they have decided not to give up on the process. However, the reasons for denial have virtually nothing to do with the proposal, so where do they go from here?

Winklevoss Twins

“They can obviously try again, and SEC membership continually changes, but getting rejected is usually a stop, or at least cause for a pause. I don’t know what the next steps would be,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at CFRA.

“The SEC highlighted the unregulated market for bitcoin, and I don’t think the filers could do anything to change that,” Rosenbluth said.

Therefore, it appears that similar filings such as Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust will share a similar fate as COIN or at least until regulators get better oversight of Bitcoin and its related markets.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, LinkedIn

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Bře 11

6 Reasons Why The ETF Defeat is a Major Win For Bitcoin

· March 11, 2017 · 1:00 pm

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Many within the Bitcoin community are pretty upset about the Winklevoss ETF being turned away by the SEC. If you are among them, buck up, little camper! I’m going to reveal several reasons why Bitcoin is better off without the passage of the COIN ETF.

[This is an op-ed article. Viewer discretion is advised.]


Bitcoin Must Be Regulated…to Be Regulated

First things first, let’s review yesterday’s ruling by the Securities Exchange Commission. Here is the text from their 38-page statement:

As discussed further below, the Commission is disapproving this proposed rule change because it does not find the proposal to be consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Exchange Act, which requires, among other things, that the rules of a national securities exchange be designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices and to protect investors and the public interest.

The Commission believes that, in order to meet this standard, an exchange that lists and trades shares of commodity-trust exchange-traded products (“ETPs”) must, in addition to other applicable requirements, satisfy two requirements that are dispositive in this matter. First, the exchange must have surveillance sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity. And second, those markets must be regulated.

The way this is phrased, with their approval based “surveillance,” it doesn’t sound a Bitcoin ETF is going to be approved, by the Winklevoss Twins or anyone else, anytime soon. This leads to my first issue with the ETF and the first reason this defeat is a win for Bitcoin.

An ETF will require copious amounts of banking and/or government “surveillance,” according to the SEC statement. Is that what you, a lifer within the Bitcoin community, want? 

Twins

Bitcoin transactions are already more transparent and open-source than any global economic system on the planet. They are so public that many developers are writing scripts and apps to make the system more private. Many mainstream investors and institutions avoid using Bitcoin because of its lack of privacy. Others use altcoins like Dash and Monero instead, but this tentacle of government wants, even more, oversight and “surveillance?”

Now, I’m sure the Winklevoss Twins are decent gentlemen, but who wants them having so much control over Bitcoin?

They own the Gemini exchange in New York and it is estimated that they have over 100,000 BTC themselves. Now they get full access to a Wall Street fund full of Bitcoins as well? Is that level of Bitcoin hoarding and centralization serving them or the greater Bitcoin good? Do you, or I, need the rich getting richer? I don’t. 

OTHER ETF’s PROBABLY A NO-GO TOO

I spoke with Charles Hayter, CEO & Founder of Crypto Compare in the aftermath of this decision and shared his views on the situation. We agreed that Bitcoin was better off without the ETF, with him saying,

Whether other jurisdictions will allow a Bitcoin ETF remains to be seen – but for the time being all is not well – and it seems as if the other ETF’s in the pipeline for the SEC are facing the same stone wall.

Another reason is why throw out the baby with the bathwater? Why make Bitcoin change, for the worse, so that mainstream investors get a free ride into Bitcoin’s economic system?

Why can’t they earn it like I and many of you have? Why can’t they go to an exchange and buy BTC, and move it into a hardware wallet? Why does Bitcoin’s greatness have to be compromised for the bourgeoisie? Where I come from, those who are late do not fruit cup!

DID I LOSE ANY REAL VALUE?

Next, let’s look at Bitcoin price, one of the main reasons for the despair of so many, as their precious digital investment will not “go to the moon” as quickly now. Look at the price this morning. What did you really lose?

Many were rightfully predicting that the price would nosedive to around $1,000 USD, but it is trading at almost $1,200, not much different than it was just 24 hours ago, before “the decision.”

Here is the chart over the last 24 hours, provided by Bitcoin Average:

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Do you know what I did? I bought in on Ethereum last month, before the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance caused a huge bump in value. I thought it might double the value, but it ended up adding 50% in a couple of weeks. Very happy with my gains, I cleaned out my ETH for BTC when it dipped to $1080. That’s what good investors do. They buy undervalued assets low and go long with them. I’ve already made 10% on my money because a good investor makes money when they buy, not when they sell. Go and do likewise, gents. The chart above says that many of you have, as well.

So the ETF fail just kicked out all the speculators, all the bandwagon babies, all the Johnny-come-lately’s, and what have you lost? Fifteen bucks? Big deal! In effect, the Bitcoin community has gone down to the river, beaten out digital currency with a rock, cleaned out all the dirt, and you have a legitimate Bitcoin market price, sans the inflation from day-trading pump-and-dumpers.

So what if it lost $230 in ten minutes? You know damn well you can’t kill Bitcoin, baby! It’s like “The Walking Dead!”

The free market in Bitcoin, which definitely does not exist in Gold, Silver, or FOREX, has shown you the actual market value of Bitcoin. That’s pretty damn sweet, and it’s a lot higher than much released. Bitcoin took the mainstream’s best shot and is still kicking like Bruce Lee, or Bruce Leroy (Barry Gordy’s “The Last Dragon”, circa 1985, highly recommended)!

WHO SAYS BITCOIN CAN HANDLE THE MIGRATION?

The rally in Bitcoin prices over the past several months has shown in a significant increase in the number of transactions. This increase is testing the limits of the network and resulting in much slower than normal transaction times.

For crying out loud, it takes 45 minutes for me to get an on-chain transaction done! Many people have complained to me on Twitter, and on Reddit, that their transactions aren’t going through in 3 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours? What would an ETF flood of mainstreamers do to those lead times? Is Bitcoin’s infrastructure ready for that influx? Not seeing that.

Bitcoinist_Bitcoin Donations

Like a Muslim migration flood into Sweden, I’ve seen this movie before, and it doesn’t end well. Bitcoin could become a “no-go zone” very quickly. Bitcoin is not ready for such mainstream movement into the system.

If Wall Street hit Bitcoin right now, man, you’d be sorry. I would personally recommend that Bitcoin is not ready for any such thing until this block size/SegWit/Lightning Network upgrade is full resolved and ceded in the protocol, and that’s not happening anytime soon.

YOUR INVESTMENT NOT REQUIRED FOR SUCCESS

Finally, Bitcoin has been the world’s best-performing currency over three of the last four years, without any ETF or even the incentive to gain one.

Last year, Bitcoin rose 126.2% in value without Wall Street’s help. I view the ETF as just some nitrous oxide being added to a McLaren P1. Bitcoin is going to be worth a minimum of $1,500 USD by year’s end, with or without an ETF, and 2k is still on the table.

In my opinion, Wall Street needs a Bitcoin ETF far more than Bitcoin needs Wall Street.

Wall Street

So, in closing, you’ve found a true market value, you’ve gotten rid of the financial jock sniffers, the government and banks left you because they can’t hardwire in more surveillance, and you only lost $15 in the cleansing?

Like The Rock in the 2004 flick, Bitcoin is walking tall this morning. The SEC has actually done Bitcoin a favor and cleaned up this town. Bitcoin has a lot more pressing issues to worry about. Let us begin addressing them and forget about shine from Wall Street. If that’s what you are after, you are surely missing the point of Bitcoin’s ethos.

It’s not about Wall Street. It’s about us. Grow Bitcoin by word-of-mouth, the world’s most effective marketing campaign. On the side of the Bitcoin box, it should clearly state “Wall Street not included.”

What do you think? Has the SEC done the Bitcoin community a favor or did it just take a major hit? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinaverage

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Bře 02

Bitcoin Global Market Value Grows to $20 Billion for First Time Ever

· March 2, 2017 · 11:00 am

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In what is shaping up to a historic year for the controversial, decentralized, global digital currency Bitcoin has reached the next plateau of market acceptance and value, as its is now worth over $20 Billion for the first time in history.


Bitcoin was born in a log cabin in Illinois….wait a minute, that’s my Abraham Lincoln intro. Well, they both were beacons of personal liberty and freedom, so not so much of a non-sequitur.

Bitcoin has come a long way since hitting the Internet on January 3rd, 2009, and being traded between Satoshi Nakamoto and the late Hal Finney. It is now used in most of the countries on this planet, with thousands of nodes and hundreds of thousands of miners, creating this digital token of value.

What the Hell is a Market Cap Anyway?

Not everyone knows what ‘market cap’ means, as it is an economic term used for company size, not a word of common parlance. ‘Market cap’ is short for market capitalization, which is when all the assets of a company or entity are valued and multiplied by their overall quantity to give a total market capitalization value.

So you can give anything a market cap value, even nations, so let’s take a look at how Bitcoin’s value would compare to the average nation.

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It turns out that it does pretty darn well. In fact, if Bitcoin’s $20 Billion market cap were a nation, it would now have cracked the top 50 nations in the world, according to World Bank data from 2015.

It fits right in between the nation of Bahrain and Sri Lanka, which is a major city in India. It has a higher market cap than countries like Hungary, Iceland, and Bermuda. Bitcoin has long since passed Silver in total market cap, as well.

Moreover, it’s now bigger than Hilton hotels ($19.18B), Viacom ($16.73B), Hershey ($16.57B), Best Buy ($14B), Ferrari ($12.46B), and Twitter ($11.2B).

Bitcoin coins

Bitcoin wouldn’t rank very well if it were an American city, however. Buffalo, New York, not exactly a beehive of economic activity, has a market cap of over $80 Billion. The largest company, Apple, has a market cap of over $540 Billion, so Bitcoin is still a small guppy in a huge ocean of value, but it is growing.

These values may change significantly about ten days from now, with the decision by the Securities Exchange Commission on the approval of the Winklevoss ETF. An estimated $300 million can move into the Bitcoin market after the first week of approval.

Is this a major psychological milestone for the Bitcoin community? Share your thoughts below!


Image provided by World Bank, Shutterstock

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Úno 28

PayPal on Blockchain: ‘Why Don’t We Just Use a Database?’

· February 28, 2017 · 9:00 am

If something works, why change it? PayPal’s Harper Reed has dismissed “boring” Blockchain technology, choosing to stick to the traditional databases.


‘Why Don’t We Just Use a Database?’

In the midst of the “chainwashing” trend, some companies seem to be taking the high road and staying clear of Bitcoin’s underlying Blockchain technology. This is the case with PayPal which, despite its ambitions to become the dominant global online payments platform, has distanced itself from this prospect.

reed

When asked about the potential for blockchain technology at the 4YFN conference, Harper Reed, the Director of Software Development for PayPal, dismissed it stating:

Whenever people say why don’t we use the blockchain to do this, I think why don’t we just use a database?

This is, in fact what PayPal has been doing all along with its own centralized online payments app Venmo, which is now processing nearly $20 billion USD per year and is much in vogue among millennials, in particular.

Reed went on to reference Bitcoin’s “dark market” image as the medium of exchange for the deep web economy, suggesting that the technology would benefit from a rebrand:

When I think of blockchain I think of drugs, and I’m not really a drug user so I find it really boring.

PayPal & Bitcoin

However, this comes as a relatively refreshing stance towards Blockchain, despite Reed’s misconception regarding Bitcoin being a “drug currency.”

PayPal seems to be more focused on results and on the user-experience itself, rather than on hype and the technology that works in the background, which was the key point of Harper Reed’s talk at 4YFN, the startup spin-off of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Nevertheless, PayPal has had several “encounters” with blockchain technology and Bitcoin itself. In June 2016, PayPal partnered with the digital asset exchange and wallet Coinbase, allowing users to sell bitcoin and cash out to their PayPal accounts.

thiel

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder and close adviser to President Donald Trump, has also expressed his interest in the technology, having invested in several Bitcoin startups himself.

He once stated:

PayPal had these goals of creating a new currency. We failed at that, and we just created a new payment system. I think Bitcoin has succeeded on the level of a new currency.

Thiel is becoming an extremely important adviser for Donald Trump, who is increasingly being associated with Bitcoin supporters like 21 Inc. CEO Balaji S. Srinivasan and the recently appointed U.S. Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney, also known as “Bitcoin Congressman.”

Will PayPal retain its competitive edge in the future despite shunning blockchain technology? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, queerty.com, wikipedia.com

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