Led 11

Who Needs ATMs? This iOS App Cashes Out Your Bits at Retail Stores

· January 11, 2017 · 3:00 am

Spare app has added Bitcoin payment support, allowing users to cash out in national currencies in select U.S. regions using any iOS device.


Spare: Cash Out Bits at Your Local Store

Spare, an alternative finance app that allows users to withdrawal cash on-the-go through various merchant locations, now supports Bitcoin.

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Using the Spare app, users can now cash out their bitcoin at certain local stores. The services is currently available in certain parts of the U.S, including New York, Colorado, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

While there are currently a few alternatives to cash out bitcoins such as exchanges and Bitcoin ‘ATMs’, Spare bypasses these legacy methods using a secure QR code that is shown to a pre-designated merchant, who will then give you cash in exchange once approved.

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Spare founder and CEO D’ontra Hughes told Bitcoinist,

SPARE is mainly solving the issue of liquidity with your own bitcoin balance. So, when you don’t have a bitcoin ATM nearby – you would use our merchant network. The merchant does not have to accept bitcoin, as the technology converts and issues a market value that can be redeemed in cash.

The Santa Monica-based service also claims to benefit small businesses by “increasing foot traffic” and reducing the liability of having extra cash on hand while reducing the operating and security costs of housing a Bitcoin ATM.

“I get people asking if I have an ATM all the time. Now I can finally help them with SPARE and do it all from my iPad,” reads one review from a merchant called Rose Market. U.S. residents can download the app right now to see how many participating merchants are nearby.

Bitcoin ATMs: Few and Far Between

The Bitcoin infrastructure has growing immensely throughout the years, with a growing number of merchants and services accepting Bitcoin, alongside online exchanges enabling users to convert into almost any currency.

Bitcoin ATMs have also evolved and grown in popularity since the first one was placed in Canada in 2013. There are currently 945 ATMs throughout 55 countries according to Coin ATM Radar with the highest density in North America and Europe. Additionally, not all machines are “two-way,” i.e. you can only buy bitcoins but not receive cash for your bitcoin deposit.

bitcoinist_atm_map_usaDespite the growing numbers however, their availability is still just a drop in the ocean when compared to regular ATM networks and legacy banking infrastructure. Even if there is one in your hometown, they can be hard to find and more often than not, you’ll have to travel to reach it.

Bitcoinist_ebtm withdrawal

“No more you have to waste time searching for Bitcoin ATMs, as everything can be done directly from your iOS device,” adds Hughes.

The Underbanked & Unbanked

Bitcoin enables peoples to transact directly without involvement of governments and middlemen with limited infrastructure — only an internet connection is needed.

Thus, it can also help the unbanked and underbanked population who do not have access to financial services. Currently, there are an estimated 2-3 billion people in the planet with little or no access to financial services. Moreover, more than half of adults in the poorest 40% of households in developing countries lack a bank account.

remittance bitcoinist

But while Bitcoin can be used to transfer money internationally for much lower fees than traditional payment methods, converting them into cash can be a problem. This is commonly known as the “last mile” problem in remittances.

Spare’s approach of ‘crowdsourcing’ merchants to replace ATMs could prove to be a helpful tool in getting cash into peoples’ hands from their received bitcoins.

Meanwhile, the company has also announced it will be extending its services internationally to Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, and Nicaragua. Therefore, such a solution has the potential to close the loop, and deliver on the promise of much cheaper blockchain-based remittances compared to legacy services like Western Union.

Can merchants be a better solution for cashing out than Bitcoin ATMs? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinatmradar, Spare

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Led 09

Circle in Hot Water Again as Users Flag 50+ Fake App Reviews

· January 9, 2017 · 4:00 am

Circle Financial’s images problems continue after its iOS app received over 50 five-star reviews in three days after a sling of one-star feedback.


Circle Reviews: ‘So Quick, So Easy, So Fun’

The UK-based wallet provider, which made the news in December after CEO Jeremy Allaire announced a move away from Bitcoin, is already suspected of being party to fake reviews.

“Circle makes sending money so quick, so easy, so fun,” an example suspect review posted to Reddit begins.

Another describes the app as “Easy peasy lemon squeezey.”

The overtly commercial language is cited by users as another factor, in addition to the sheer number of top ratings, that suggests the latest reviews are not genuine.

Reviews

“I usually… cash out myself in under 30 seconds (and that includes rumaging (sic) through their wonderful gif library to send a personal touch to a friend),” another review text reads.

Circle Feels Bitcoin’s Wrath

After announcing its move away from Bitcoin to focus on international fiat transfers, Circle received harsh criticism from cryptocurrency users, who accused the company of doing a U-turn on its USP.

Older, less complimentary reviews of the Circle Pay app meanwhile regularly feature the lack of Bitcoin support as a major downside.

Pass on this app now, no more Bitcoin option, useless. Bring it back,” one review reads, while another states that “Circle is now just one more also-ran wannabe digital payments middleman.”

Its removal of Bitcoin support meanwhile is also plaguing Allaire himself, with even his tweets attracting negative publicity.

No Regrets

Nonetheless, it appears the company’s Bitcoin-free future is set in stone.

“Using bitcoin for speculative trading or people buying and selling bitcoin because they think it’s fun -that’s not an interesting business for us,” Allaire told Reuters in the beginning of December.

He added that,

It’s a distraction to have to support these customers given that our growth has been on our social payments business.

Such a distraction may well have grown larger had Circle not been so hasty in its policy, for just one month later Bitcoin had surged to over $1,000 and transactions spiked over the New Year period – while the fiat world slept.

The alleged rogue reviews will meanwhile likely be inspected by Apple if they arouse too much suspicion, users note, with u/Stu describing the stunt as “very short sighted.”

What do you think about the Circle Pay iOS reviews? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Circle, Twitter

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LoafWallet Is the First Server-Free Litecoin Wallet for iOS

Source: bitcoin

Litecoin

Litecoin users with iOS devices finally have a server-free SPV wallet to call their own, with the release of LoafWallet on the App Store.

Also read: Move Over Pokémon: AR Game ‘Takara’ Gives Players Real Money

Although Android users have used the standard Litecoin Wallet app for years, there has never been a widely-used mobile option for iOS. Hive wallet supported LTC sending and receiving, but required central servers.

LoafWallet is based on the popular Bread Wallet for bitcoin, made by developer Aaron Voisine. It is designed to be simple and lightweight, and the code is open source. An Android version is also on the way.

Loshan T, Lead Developer of the Litecoin Association development team, told Bitcoinist the new wallet represents a previously missing piece in Litecoin’s consumer infrastructure that could give Litecoin a greater place in its users’ daily life.

“The community and developers felt we were missing a critical market — mobile would allow more and more users to easily send and receive Litecoin,” Loshan said. “Most people don’t carry around iMacs everywhere. It also allows merchants at retail stores to accept Litecoin, which in the long-term could lead to widespread adoption of the cryptocurrency.”

HD, No Central Servers

LoafWallet is a HD, SPV (single payment verfication) wallet, meaning it synchronizes with nodes that verify the blockchain. This avoids having to download the entire blockchain, while also avoiding the need for accounts, logins and central servers.

All private key data is generated and kept locally on the device, and can be recovered if the device is lost or broken.

It uses AES hardware encryption and app sandboxing as well as keychain and code signatures, to protect users’ litecoins from malware and browser flaws.

Development Team

The wallet’s development was overseen by Loshan T, Lead Developer of the Litecoin Association development team, who also implemented the changes and transitioned the code to Apple’s XCode.

Franklyn Richards (MLPFrank) worked on the UI/UX side, which included redesigning the user interface from the initial launch tutorial to the menus, some of which are coming soon. Core developer Adrian Gallagher (thrasher-au) helped implement some Litecoin-specific parameters. Other team members are listed on the project’s GitHub page.

Part of the Litecoin Renaissance

Releasing HD wallets for Litecoin is a key feature of the Litecoin Association’s recently-released roadmap document, designed to show a way forward and breathe new life into the currency.

According to Loshan, releasing the roadmap last month has raised more interest in Litecoin and reminded everyone it is still going strong into the future.

“Many were uncertain about the future of Litecoin, and the roadmap built a clear foundation of objectives,” he said. “Overall it has seemed to rebuild confidence in most users.”

“Since the release of the roadmap,” Loshan continued, “the /r/Litecoin subreddit has also seen increased user views, which seems to indicate an uptick in interest in LTC.”

A long-standing number two to Bitcoin in terms of market cap and overall awareness, Litecoin has recently slipped to 4th-5th place in cryptocurrency rankings, as projects with more compelling use-cases like Ethereum and Steem soaked up attention and saw their respective values rise.

Its total cap is still over $185 million, though, and the currency is a favorite on Chinese exchanges where it is actively traded.

Are you planning to try out LoafWallet? Do you think it will bring Litecoin into everyday life?


Images courtesy of BTC Keychain via Flickr.

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Sandjacking iOS Exploit Threatens Bitcoin and Ethereum Wallets

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Mobile Vulnerability

Albeit Bitcoin and Ethereum wallets have only recently started appearing on the iOS App Store; cryptocurrency users will need to be extra vigilant. A new hack allows attackers to switch legitimate applications with malicious versions. This also means we may very well see fake bitcoin and Ethereum wallet releases in the future.

Also read: Allwinner Leaves Root Exploit in Linux Kernel, Putting ARM Devices at Risk

It has to be said, however, this attack requires the assailant to have physical access to the device in question. To a lot of people, this may apparently mitigate the attack vector, but do not be fooled into thinking the threat is over all of a sudden. The vulnerability was disclosed last week during the Hack in the Box conference and has still not been patched by Apple. Moreover, this attack works on non-jailbroken iOS devices as well.

So What Does This iOS Vulnerability Do Exactly?

Apparently, this iOS vulnerability has been around since January 27 of 2016. Although Apple tried to fix this vulnerability in the meantime, their patch was incomplete. To this very day, there are several factors which allow for this vulnerability to be exploited. Attackers need a restricted developers certificate, which requires an email address and Apple ID.

Sandjacking, as this attack is called, grants an assailant access to an application’s sandbox content. Sandjacking works by backing up the device and removing the original application to replace it with a rogue version. Once the device owner initiates the “restore from backup” function, the corrupted application will automatically be installed. While the user will need to manually approve on these apps, it is very likely they will just go through the list without giving it a second thought.

Some people may argue that obtaining physical access to an iOS device is tough. At the same time, there are so many repair shops, family members, and friends who have access to our devices. While no one is saying no one should be trusted with one’s device, the chance of getting attacked is a lot bigger than most people anticipate.

This poses a significant risk for cryptocurrency wallet users owning an iOS device. So far, Apple has not reported any hijacked applications making use of this vulnerability. But it is not unlikely we may see malicious Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet apps appear at some point in the future. Users need to be careful when handing over their device to someone else.

What are your thoughts on this iOS vulnerability? Will it affect cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Threatpost

Images courtesy of Apple, Shutterstock

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Kvě 24

Tim Cook: “Coding Needs To Be A Part Of Education”

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Coding Education

The topic of coding has been kicked around several times, as there is no dedicated educational program in place which teaches codes how to code. Apple CEO Tim Cook feels there is a growing need for such a platform, as it is equally as important as learning a secondary language.

Also read: Blockchain-based Remittance App AirPocket Comes To Latin America

Coding At A Young Age Needs To Be Stimulated

Earlier today, Startup Fest was kicked off in Amsterdam, and Apple CEO Tim Cook was one of the prominent speakers for the day. It did not take long before he touched upon the subject of stimulating children to learn coding at a very early age, and how schools need to develop an educational course on programming.

Tim Cook explained his vision for education as follows:

“Software development should be a mandatory class. We need to invest in the educational system, and people who can teach young kids how to code. We can’t expect our children to learn coding overnight, as they will need the proper guidance and environment to do so. Children aged nine to ten are the perfect demographic for stimulating an interest in coding and programming.”

This is quite an interesting statement, considering the educational system has not scaled well with the Information Age we live in right now. The methods of passing on knowledge have not changed much over the past thirty years, and children are not being prepared for the future that awaits. Coders are in high demand already, and it is expected that demand will only continue to grow.

Tim Cook also mentioned how there are plenty of opportunities for iOS developers in the enterprise sector. Most employees of big companies use their smartphone for emails and browsing the Internet, because there is a lack of enterprise apps.. The number of iOS apps for the enterprise sector is still relatively small, and Apple sees a lot of opportunities in this segment.

It is impossible to deny the educational system will need to change sooner or later. Coding has become a part of our society, and we need to prepare future generations for the challenges that await. Not everyone will take a liking to coding, and there is nothing wrong with that. But education needs to evolve over time, and it has failed miserably in doing so over the past few decades.

What are your thoughts on sparking an interest in coding at a young age? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Tweakers (Dutch)

Images courtesy of Tim Cook, Shutterstock

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Led 22

Bitcoin Crowdfunding Can Learn From Kickstarter Android App

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Mobile Crowdfunding

Kickstarter has been the center of attention for quite some time now in the crowdfunding world, despite some obvious flaws with the way business is handled at certain times. At the same time, there are far too many users who see this platform as a cheap shopping mall for the latest gadgets, which is far from the case. Now that Kickstarter released its Android app, consumers will have additional options to back innovative projects. Bitcoin-based crowdfunding platforms could use such an app too in the future.

Also read: A Q&A With Kalpesh Patel: Bringing Bitcoin to the Hotel Industry With BookWithBit

Supporting Kickstarter Campaigns With an Android Phone

Financially contributing to your favorite crowdfunding campaign requires users to log onto a computer, and fill in their credit card information when making a contribution. The new Kickstarter Android application looks to streamline that process, as the main goal of this release is to make crowdfunding that more convenient than it has ever been before.

By giving users the options to pledge funds to any crowdfunding campaign from the comfort of their mobile device, things will get a lot more interesting for Kickstarter. At the same time, one could argue the point this will also hurt consumers wallets all the more, as impulse purchases take place through mobile devices more often compared to other payment solutions.

As one would come to expect from such an Android app, the main focus lies on discovering new projects, as well as showcasing Kickstarter’s activity feed. By using this feed, users will see updates from their favorite campaigns, as well as which projects any of their friends have shown an interest in. Now that Kickstarter users can browse the platform on both iOS and Android, things are looking quite good for crowdfunding in general.

However, some educational efforts regarding Kickstarter campaigns are still needed. Consumers need to be aware of the fact that pledging financial aid to a project is not without its share of risks. Not every campaign is successful in delivering the advertised product or service, and getting funds back can be quite the hassle. Not all campaigns are spelling doom and gloom, though, as most of them turn out just fine.

Bitcoin Crowdfunding Needs A Mobile App

The concept of crowdfunding has crossed over the world of Bitcoin and digital currencies, although efforts have not been as successful as Kickstarter for example. Equity crowdfunding platforms seem to do fairly well so far, primarily because they let any qualified investors back a company in exchange for a share of their equity.

Converting this experience to the mobile ecosystem might help put Bitcoin crowdfunding on the global map in the years to come. Not just the equity crowdfunding part itself, but also making regular contributions to art projects, video game developers, and the likes.

What are your thoughts on Bitcoin crowdfunding in general? Should there be more options that just equity crowdfunding? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Engadget

Images credit of Kickstarter, Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Crowdfunding Can Learn From Kickstarter Android App

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