Čvn 07

MIT Grads Envision a Future Where Anyone Can Start a Bitcoin Fund

· June 7, 2017 · 1:00 pm

A new machine-based investing platform called Catalyst aims to allow cryptocurrency investors to become bitcoin fund managers.


Disruptive Trends in Finance

Enigma is a start-up run by MIT graduates and their current project is an online financial platform called Catalyst. According to the platform’s whitepaper, “Algorithmic trading and machine learning are proving to be disruptive trends in investment management.”

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have a large barrier of entry for those looking to invest the smart way. Many current, non-traditional investors got in as early Bitcoin adopters. These cryptocurrency enthusiasts have a wealth of knowledge and experience that gives them a familiarity with the market as well. Algorithmic trading and machine learning are yet another facet of what drives the current cryptocurrency ecosystem but are currently only utilized by a select few in this field rather than in a structured fund managed way.

The technical knowledge required for successful high-frequency trading in volatile markets is a hurdle when it comes to investment and trading. There is also very little existing data and information consolidation to trade on, never mind utilize, to drive advanced techniques using algorithmic and machine learning in gaining a trading advantage.

Automated for the People

Data-driven automated processes generally excel over human operators in terms of speed and, given the right datasets, potentially results. Site API access means that investors are able to execute trades in a much more streamlined way, which is particularly advantageous when an exchange may be suffering from high traffic loads. Such occurrences are common on existing cryptocurrency trading platforms, especially when interest approaches fever pitch causing site outages created by demand surges.

Automated trading is not new, it is used on traditional exchanges outside of cryptocurrency where it is already proving to be a disruptive technology. As the Catalyst whitepaper says, it is a disruptive trend for what has traditionally been a human-driven system.

For those wanting to make low maintenance investments that leverage the power of automated bots it is an attractive option. The average user’s reality, however, can be quite different. Most trading bots, if successful, are likely to be based on proprietary technology and unavailable for purchase.

There are open-source versions available online but they are quite simplistic, require a modicum of programming skills and most definitely a degree of algorithmic fine tuning to get the best results from them. Mistakes in the programming can also be costly. A seemingly low maintenance solution soon starts to look less attractive, unless of course, someone is already managing that fund for you to invest in.

Building a Better Financial Ecosystem

Enigma co-founder and CEO Guy Zyskind explains the current interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general:

A lot of people are starting to look into it, and invest in it, but it’s still very much kind of like the Wild West.

Zyskind is interested in creating an online ecosystem where users can not only become cryptocurrency traders but can also find and potentially become fund managers. Fund managers will be ranked in terms of their performances on leaderboards, enabling others to follow their lead. Catalyst comes in as a platform for people to leverage the kind of data that drives automated trades. This data, in turn, could be used by a fund manager to drive a successful Bitcoin fund for others to invest in.

Blockchain Banking App Humaniq Reschedules ICO, Offers Solidarity to Chinese Investors

Fast Company’s Steven Melendez writes:

In Catalyst, Enigma plans to make various datasets available for use in automated trading decisions, from historic price information to analyses of the overall sentiment of news stories and social media posts about cryptocurrencies. The company plans to also invite users to create their own datasets and make them available—perhaps for a fee—to those setting up funds and looking for mathematical indicators of how and when to trade.

The Catalyst Whitepaper contains the following more direct information of the datasets:

Catalyst bitcoin fund investing platform

“Since the ecosystem surrounding crypto-markets is still in its early days, relevant data sources are scarce and fragmented,” write the Enigma founders in the white paper. “We plan to change the landscape, bringing it to the level of more mature financial markets.”

This kind of development hints that Bitcoin may not need to secure the Winklevoss ETF with regulatory bodies and that it could again potentially enable itself outside traditional finance regulation.

Winklevoss

Are we seeing more an increase in this entrepreneurial development of fund management in the cryptocurrency field? Will this be the next entry point for a more mainstream investor approach? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of MIT, Shutterstock 

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Dub 08

Cambridge University: Cryptocurrency Use Seeing ‘Significant Growth’

· April 8, 2017 · 12:00 pm

A report by Cambridge University’s CCAF reveals that the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.


Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has recently published a research paper called Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study, which examines several sectors of the global cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, wallets, payment providers, mining and more.

The study was led by Dr.Garrick Hileman, senior research associate at the CCAF and a researcher at the Centre for Macroeconomics. According to the CCAF, it’s the first global research of its kind to systematically investigate all key cryptocurrency industry sectors based on non-public “off-chain” data.

The paper makes several key findings that challenge some of the erroneous concepts that many have regarding the cryptocurrency space and shows that digital currencies are becoming an increasingly important part of our society. Dr.Garrick Hileman wrote:

Dr.Garrick Hileman

“The growing usage and range of capabilities we document in this study indicate that cryptocurrencies are taking on an ever more important role in the lives of a growing number of people (and machines” around the world. As we show in this study, the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.”

According to Dr. Hileman, a second paper by the CCAF focusing blockchain technology will also be launched in the following weeks. The paper is centered around the use of blockchain technology by more established industry players as well as at public sector institutions such as central banks.

What’s in it

The study collected data from nearly 150 cryptocurrency companies and individuals, covering 38 countries from five world regions, including names like Peter Smith from Blockchain.info, Roger Ver from Bitcoin.com and companies like Coinbase, Bitmain, BTCC, Unocoin, and others.

The CCAF carried out four online surveys from September 2016 to January 2017 and communicated with the companies and individuals involved in order to collect this data. For companies that did not contribute to the study, the dataset was supplemented with additional research and web scraping using commonly applied methods.

The 114-page report counts with four sections, each covering one of the aforementioned industry sectors: exchanges, wallets, payments and mining. There are also three appendixes; the first one is an introduction to cryptocurrencies, the second offers a more detailed intro to the cryptocurrency industry and the third covers the geographical dispersion of cryptocurrency users.

Key Findings

The CCAF highlights the following findings as the key points of the paper:

  • The current number of unique active users of cryptocurrency wallets is estimated to be between 2.9 million and 5.8 million. (The majority of which are located in North America and Europe)

Cryptocurrency wallet users donut chart

  • The lines between the different cryptocurrency industry sectors are increasingly blurred: 31 percent of cryptocurrency companies surveyed are operating across two cryptocurrency industry sectors or more, giving rise to an increasing number of universal cryptocurrency companies.
  • At least 1,876 people are working full- time in the cryptocurrency industry and the actual total figure is likely well above two thousand when large mining organizations and other organizations that did not provide headcount figures are added.
  • Average security headcount and costs for payment companies and exchanges as a percentage of total headcount/operating expenses are similar but significantly higher for wallets.

Exchanges

  • The exchanges sector has the highest number of operating entities and employs more people than any other industry sector covered in the study; a significant geographical dispersion of exchanges is observed.
  • 52% of the small exchanges hold a formal government license compared to only 35% of large exchanges.
  • On average, security headcount corresponds to 13% of total employees and 17% of the budget is spend on security.

Cryptocurrency exchanges chart

Wallets

  • The lines between wallets and exchanges are increasingly blurred; 52% of wallets surveyed provide an integrated currency exchange features, of which 80% offer a national-to-cryptocurrency exchange service. In contrast with exchanges, the majority of wallets do not control access to user keys.

Payments

  • While 79% of payment companies have existing relationships with banking institutions and payment networks, the difficulty of obtaining and maintaining these relationships is cited as this sector’s biggest challenges.
  • On average, national-to-cryptocurrency payments constitute two-thirds of total payment company transaction volume, whereas national-to-national currency transfers and cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency payments account for 27% and 6% respectively.

National-to-cryptocurrency transactions vs other transactions

Mining

  • 70% of large miners rate their influence on protocol development as high or very high, compared to 51% of small miners.
  • The cryptocurrency mining map shows that publicly known mining facilities are dispersed, but a significant concentration can be observed in certain Chinese provinces.

Cryptocurrency mining by country

Do you think cryptocurrency use is growing? Have you seen indicators of increased mainstream adoption? Let us know in the comments below!


Images Courtesy of CCAF, AdobeStock

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Čvn 06

Poloniex Exchange Confirms Funds Are Safe Despite Outage

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Datacenter Outage

Popular cryptocurrency exchange Poloniex is currently affected by an unexpected outage. According to the company’s social media accounts, a datacenter outage is to blame. All coins are safe, though, which is the most important news.

Also read: Chinko Project Asks Reddit How To Best Spend Bitcoin Donations

It is not the first time. Bitcoin companies are dealing with downtime these days. Just yesterday, BitGo was dealing with a severe DDoS attack, which made their services inaccessible. Moreover, all of the companies relying on their infrastructure were affected by this attack as well.

Temporary Issue Affects Poloniex Servers

But in the world of exchanges, things are very different. Every time a platform goes down temporarily, there is a significant cause for concern. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts have been burned in the past when exchanges suddenly went down or disappeared.Strangely enough, this usually seems to happen to some of the largest exchanges in the world at that time.

The collapse of Mt. Gox was the first major shock wave to hit the Bitcoin world many years ago. Ever since platforms such as Cryptsy and MintPal were all forced to shut down as well. Smaller exchanges have seen their fair share of data breaches and hacks too, which puts the community on edge every time there is a temporary outage.

Poloniex is the largest altcoin exchange in the world today, as they continue to dominate nearly every alternative cryptocurrency trading market. Especially Ethereum and The DAO tokens are seeing a lot of daily trading volume on these platforms. But now that Poloniex is temporarily offline, a lot of traders are panicking and show concerns over their funds.

Luckily, it looks like these worries are unfounded, as the Poloniex Twitter account states:

For the time being, it is unclear as to how long this outage may take, and what the potential consequences could be. While it is good to see Poloniex confirm all user funds are safe, users will remain edgy until they can access their accounts once again. It is positive to see the company warn people on social media, though, to avoid most of the panicking.

Do you have funds stored in Poloniex wallets, and if so, which currencies do you trade? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Twitter

Images courtesy of Poloniex, Shutterstock

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Kvě 25

Deloitte Blockchain Lab in Dublin Will Create Fifty Jobs

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Dublin Blockchain Lab

Blockchain technology is captivating audiences all over the world, and Deloitte wants to bring even more attention to this industry. The company unveiled its plans to create a new European blockchain lab in Dublin, which brings fifty new jobs the region as well.

With so many companies all over the world exploring the boundaries of blockchain technology, more dedicated research labs are more than welcome. Accountancy firm Deloitte has been thinking along the same lines, and they will be rolling out a new blockchain technology lab in Dublin over the next 18 months.

Deloitte Launches Blockchain Lab

This initiative will bring fifty jobs to the table by the time this hub is fully operational, and the blockchain lab will house a mix of developers and designers. In the end, the goal is to come up with new proofs of concept, and eventually turn some of them into functioning prototypes. Deloitte also mentioned how they plan to target Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa with these projects,  which is quite exciting.

Deloitte Ireland managing partner Brendan Jennings told the media:

“We are proud that Ireland has been chosen as the location for this lab. Not only was the strength, expertise, and proven capability of the Deloitte Ireland blockchain team recognised, but the proximity to the headquarters of many global technology companies, our strong focus on innovation and R&D, and the support from governmental institutions, academia, and the local FinTech industry were all key factors in securing this investment.”

It is kind of interesting to note how the Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation O’Connor admitted how the blockchain technology industry has been a “powerhouse’ over the past few years. In fact, she welcomes the Deloitte blockchain lab, as this technology has brought many new jobs to the region already, and this new initiative will keep the trend going.

Bringing this initiative to Ireland is an endorsement of the technical expertise available in the country. Rather than choosing London or the US, Deloitte is very confident Dublin has the potential to become one of the new hubs for blockchain innovation and development. Additionally, the blockchain lab will complement the existing and developing professional services firms active in the country.

What are your thoughts on Deloitte bringing a blockchain lab to Dublin? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Irish Times

Images courtesy of Deloitte, Shutterstock

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Kvě 23

Rumors Regarding Overstock.com no Longer Accepting Bitcoin Are False

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Overstock.com

There are rumors floating around on the Internet stating how Overstock.com would no longer be accepting Bitcoin payments. That is not the case, as the payment method is still listed on their checkout page. Judd Bagley of Overstock has also confirmed the company will keep accepting Bitcoin payments.

Also read: Ether to Blame for Bitcoin’s Decline?

No Reason To Panic For Overstock.com Users

The confusion started becoming more apparent when one Reddit user posted a screenshot of a chat conversation with one of the Overstock.com representatives. However, this conversation was “from a friend”, and evidence like that always has to be taken with several pinches of salt. As you can see in the discussion below, the representative mentioned how Bitcoin is no longer an accepted payment method.

This caused quite a bit of consternation among Bitcoin enthusiasts on Reddit, although these claims were deemed invalid when someone pointed out how Bitcoin is still on the checkout page. After a different company representative had checked with the marketing supervisor, it turned out Bitcoin is still accepted, but the company removed their rewards pay option.

Some users may have experienced issues when trying to complete a Bitcoin purchase on Overstock.com, which may return an error regarding an invalid certificate. However, this doesn’t seem to be a problem on the end of the company, but rather an unknown issue with their payment processor, which is Coinbase.

Although this shows how not all of the Overstock.com support agents are informed about the Bitcoin situation, the important thing is that cryptocurrency payments are still possible. There may be some training left to do in regards to customer support staff and the payment methods Overstock.com is accepting, though, but that is a topic for a different discussion.

Judd Bagley, the Communications Director of Overstock.com, was notified of this confusion on Reddit and weighed in on the current bitcoin situation. He stated how “Bitcoin remains in our DNA, and on our checkout page”, which puts all of the speculation to rest. He later on confirmed that statement on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on this story? Was the Bitcoin transaction issue a problem due to a Coinbase SSL bug? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Reddit

Images courtesy of Overstock.com, Shutterstock

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Kvě 05

UK Law Enforcement Sources Hint At Impending Craig Wright Arrest

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Craig Wright

With all of the discussion regarding Craig Wright these days, the rest of the world is looking at this news with raised eyebrows. In fact, the UK government has not taken kindly to his “revelation”, as Wright might be facing jail time for outing himself as Satoshi Nakamoto.

Also read: I Am Satoshi: Will Dr. Wright Cause Panic in the Bitcoin Markets?

Craig Wright Remains On The Law Enforcement Radar

People who have been following the Craig Wright – Satoshi Nakamoto connection for quite some time now, will have noticed law enforcement agencies are targeting the man. Last December, when the media connected him to creating Bitcoin, his house and office were raided by Australian police. Back then, this was connected a tax advantage he had received for holding Bitcoin, which Wright claimed to have lost later on.

As one would come to expect from such a move by law enforcement, everything in his house and office was gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Given Craig Wright’s involvement in the Australian technology sector throughout the years, he has been a high-profile person in the country for quite some time now.

But Australia is not the only country in the world keeping a very close eye on what Craig Wright is doing, as the UK police have intentions to arrest him using the anti-terror legislation. Although this has not been confirmed by officials just yet, anonymous sources have leaked this information to the press.

Considering how Craig Wright was able to “show” he is Satoshi Nakamoto to the BBC and two other main media outlets, he has brought a lot of attention to himself in the past few days. This remains rather strange for someone who claims to have no interest in fame or media attention, though, but that is a topic for a different discussion.

Under the anti-terrorism legislation in the United Kingdom, the Home Secretary can impose “control orders’ on any individual suspected of involvement in terrorism. Whether or not this act can be enforced when dealing with the alleged creator of Bitcoin – which has often been associated with terrorist funding – remains to be seen, though.

One thing’s for sure; outing himself as the alleged creator of Bitcoin has painted a bullseye on the back of Craig Wright. In the end, this decision may come back to bite him in the rear, assuming the UK police wants to go through with these plans to arrest him. Moreover, it is still doubtful Wright is the actual creator of Bitcoin, as there has been no conclusive evidence so far.

What are your thoughts on these unconfirmed rumors about an impending Craig Wright arrest? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Siliconangle

Images courtesy of Truthvoice, Shutterstock

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Dub 28

Study Shows 44% of Consumers in Germany Know What Bitcoin Is

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Bitcoin Adoption Germany

It should come as no surprise to find out a lot of people have heard of Bitcoin by now, even though very few consumers have used the cryptocurrency so far. A new German Consumer Payment Study shows 1% of participants have ever used Bitcoin, which is a disappointing number.

Also read: Andreas Antonopoulos Makes Bold Prediction on Bitcoin Consensus

Bitcoin Has Not Yet Gained Much Traction In Germany

Although these types of studies do not paint the complete picture of consumerism in Germany, there are some telling signs regarding Bitcoin adoption in the country to be found. Considering how there are so many different payment options available in the country, it should come as no surprise to know Bitcoin is not all that popular in Germany right now.

To be more precise, the study shows how only 1% of participants knows what Bitcoin is, and have used the cryptocurrency in the past. While this is a rather low number, there is nothing to worry about just yet, as only 26% of respondents indicated they had never heard of Bitcoin before they were shown a video on what it is all about.

What is rather surprising, however, is how a significant portion – 44% – of participants indicated they know what Bitcoin is, but have not used it yet. This is a promising sign for cryptocurrency adoption in the country over the coming years, as there seem to be educational efforts taking place to promote the benefits of Bitcoin in general. However, 29% indicated they heard of it but are uncertain as to what Bitcoin is or does.

Another interesting piece of information comes in the form of how people seem likely to use Bitcoin in the next year. Especially the ones who haven’t used it yet, 12% seems willing to give Bitcoin a try in the next 12 months. If this were to be the case, Bitcoin adoption in Germany would get a significant boost.

If there is one thing to take away from this survey, it is how it is difficult to get a complete grasp of how people feel about Bitcoin in Germany. However, there seems to be a growing awareness of cryptocurrency in general, which can only be seen as a positive trend. But there is still a long way to go before mainstream adoption will be achieved in this country, as well as the rest of the world.

Whether this is due to a lack of educational efforts, or not making Bitcoin accessible enough for general consumers, remains a big mystery for now. One thing is for sure, though: both types of solutions are direly needed. With a healthy portion of participants indicating their knowledge on Bitcoin, new ways have to be found to get cryptocurrency into the hands of these people in a convenient manner.

What are your thoughts on this German consumer study? Would you expect to see similar statistics in your country? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tsys

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tsys 

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Úno 07

Is Russia Going Soft on Bitcoin? – Paying for Phone and Internet Bills via Bitcoin Now made Available in the Country

Source: bitcoin

Is Russia Going Soft on Bitcoin? – Paying for Phone and Internet Bills via Bitcoin Now made Available in the Country

Russia has always been referred as a bitcoin unfriendly country. However, the crypto industry is growing stronger than ever and despite the old stigma that bitcoin is only used by cyber criminals and for money laundering, the industry is still booming in the country.

Also Read:  Russia Blocks Online Bitcoin Exchange in Midst of Blockchain Reform

Since the last submission of a bitcoin ban draft law presented to the Russia’s legislative assembly, the Duma, many deemed as uncertain the future of the digital currency industry. Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency industry continues to flourish and is now introducing new solutions to payment services.

Bitcoin payments made simple

Russian mobile operators such as Tele2, MTS, Megafon and Beeline are now allowing bitcoin payments via two Cryptonator and 7pay.in. These companies have set their aim on the future and have enabled Russians to pay for their Internet and phone bills with bitcoin. This way Russian have now the possibility of using bitcoin payments for Internet and phone bills indirectly since the payment is only done after a conversion into rubles within the platform’s internal price rate. According to Cryptonator, the service’s main advantage is the fact that it does not charge any fees and it greatly simplifies the use of digital currency.

In an effort to increase awareness in Russia, both companies believe that bitcoin payments should be made simple and that’s why they are allowing these new kinds of services to spread across the country.  They are trying to attract the most common users and for that to happen, Bitcoin payments should be made simple. People need to know that bitcoin allows for cheaper and more convenient payments than the conventional payments systems.

The service providers

7pay.in. is an online payment service provider that enables its customers to buy and sell bitcoin and now introduced the freedom to pay for Internet and mobile phone bills using cryptocurrency. The company offers its clients bullet-proof security while maintaining a transparent “modus operandi” and allows audit access to the sites statistics of all processed operations.

Cryptonator is an online multicurrency wallet that combines usability with a high level of privacy, anonymity, and security. This online wallet offers a free multi-cryptocurrency account and accepts online payments for popular games such as World of Tanks, and many others.

Paying indirectly with bitcoin

These two payment service providers enable easy direct transactions and instant exchange between different currencies. This feature is used to automatically exchange bitcoin for Russian ruble and pay the bills. The method is an indirect on-time way of paying for online services with bitcoin.

Russian digital currency-related companies are now seeking to make the use of bitcoin much simpler around the country and this way they are also helping Russians to get more acquainted with bitcoin. Cryptonator and 7pay.in services will now allow Russians to be able to pay their bills with bitcoin, however, when the customer wants to pay with bitcoin the service immediately exchanges them for rubles and automatically pays the bill. The great thing is that the service doesn’t charge extra fees and works pretty fast.

Regulation in Russia

The government even proposed a jail sentence to those using bitcoin. Since the last proposed ban draft in the country, many of the bitcoin enthusiasts and entrepreneurs  have been fearful that if these services become too popular regulators can start to impose sanctions to these companies and start to stifle the industry.  Even so, and for now, there is no reason for alarm as it seems clear that the industry is healthier by the day. The deal about this kind of services is that they only convert bitcoin into rubles and execute payments by using the national Russian currency and so there are no reasons for the Russian government to consider it illegal.

It’s becoming usual to find this sort of payment solutions in many countries. It is a clear sign that bitcoin has now surpassed the first level of adoption, and is already going full mainstream across the globe.

What’s your take on the increasing cryptocurrency establishment in Russia? Let us know in the comments bellow!


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