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 23

Large Tokyo Bitcoin Meetup Turnout Includes Jihan Wu, Core Supporters

· March 23, 2017 · 6:00 pm

1,980 views

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


‘No Arguments’ Despite Core, Unlimited Presence

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

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

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

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

Focus on Eastern Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images courtesy of Bitkan, Shutterstock

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Led 17

Japan Rises to Become 2nd Biggest Bitcoin Trader in the World

· January 17, 2017 · 5:00 am

Counterparty Foundation Community Director Koji Higashi has agreed that Japan’s future in Bitcoin is an “upward trend” and could challenge China in trading volume.


Japan: World’s #2 Bitcoin Trader

His comments follow mainstream media alleging the number of Japanese outlets accepting Bitcoin had quadrupled to over 4,000 in 2016 alone.

In a blog post Monday, Higashi said that in contrast to China’s falling trading volumes due to exchange inspections and uncertainty over legislation, Japan’s legal setup was fostering increased crypto adoption.

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“…It seems to me few people are aware of what’s happening in Japan now, especially its ever increasing bitcoin trading volume and signs of wider bitcoin adoption,” he wrote.

In terms of trading volume, in fact, yen is already the second biggest currency after Chinese yuan.

The figures Higashi highlights make for surprising reading. Data from Cryptocompare supports his findings, with Japan’s volume just a hair above the US at present. It should be noted, however, that not all exchanges are accounted for in the charts available.

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Japan’s daily trading volumes are now between 120,000 and 150,000 BTC (excluding OTC and P2P trading) – still only around 15% of China, yet enough to support a solid trend, he states.

“Japan is not quite there to challenge the China’s spot yet but it’s notable that about 10% of the bitcoin trading in the world comes from Japan now,” he continued.

Future Uncertain… But Better Than China

A recent Bitcoinist article highlighting purportedly huge increases in merchant adoption in the country meanwhile met with criticism from locals, who said that despite the claims made by Japanese media outlet NHK, the reality remained that using Bitcoin even in Tokyo was next to impossible.

However, a list of where you can spend your bits in Tokyo was compiled by Japanese exchange Coincheck here.

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Still, Higashi too errs on the side of caution, adding that the current status quo did not necessarily signal a flood of adoption – and could ultimately mean the opposite.

“I think the new virtual currency law in Japan will turn out worse than Bitlicense in some aspects contrary to popular media narratives,” he said about the latest Japanese legislation which should come into effect in Spring.

Under this legislation, businesses getting into the cryptocurrency sphere will have the “entry barrier lowered,” Higashi said, leading to increased participation and trading. He predicts that,

At the end of this year, Japan may end up becoming the Number 1 country for Bitcoin trading officially.

Bitcoin Business Gets Ready

Meanwhile, the country’s Bitcoin ecosystem is wasting no time in grabbing the public’s attention amid a more favorable climate.

Tech company GMO Internet announced Tuesday that it would enter the Japanese Bitcoin market with a wallet and exchange service specifically due to the regulatory changes.

Extant exchange BitFlyer is even advertising on major television networks, producing a pitch which is decidedly Japanese in nature, complete with a jingle users have been translating on Reddit.

What do you think about Higashi’s forecasts and the future of Bitcoin in Japan? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, cryptocompare.com, counterparty foundation

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Úno 24

 The Vanbex Report: Digital Revolution, Will Bitcoin Survive?

Source: bitcoin

Vanbex

The Vanbex Report is a periodic summary of the blockchain industry’s top news stories from the biggest companies, as well as the most promising newcomers.

The ‘one currency to rule them all’ debate has existed ever since the first set of altcoins — Bitcoin alternatives — started appearing in the digital currency ecosystem.

Also Read: IBM Joins with Linux Foundation’s HyperLedger Project to Advance Open-Source Blockchain Tech

The typical argument ranges between the necessity, or not, to further decentralization through incorporation of altcoins. Bitcoin enthusiasts rely on the cryptocurrency’s infrastructure as the single most important reason why no other digital currency could rival it.

However there’s another, more organized, surmounting challenge: Governments, worldwide.

As the past week of news and headlines illustrates, banks and governments are pursuing, or have already pursued, their own digital currencies. If this doesn’t present a greater threat to Bitcoin’s existence or subsistence than anything else, it should.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan’s largest bank, revealed a couple of weeks ago that it was developing its own digital currency called MUFG-coin, which went on trial in fall. Attached to it will be a smartphone application also nearing its completed state.

Similarly, China’s central bank the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) revealed in late January it too is considering issuing its own digital currency, with no particular timeframe but specific wants and qualms (see news story below).

In addition, countries have exhibited the wherewithal to push ahead of the digital curve, in particular, Ecuador. The South American nation of over 15 million citizens pioneered the national adoption of digital dollars in December 2014.

As reported in TechTimes.com, the system is not complicated , “People can simply walk into participating banks and exchange their money for electric currency, which is storable on their smartphones. That currency can then be used to purchase goods or services.”

There are also whispers that Mexico may be developing its own digital currency, a digital peso. As well as the Phillipines’ and its discussed “e-Peso” to be used in online exchanges. Both are also rumoured to be used in conjunction with blockchain technology.

With financial sectors as well as administrations across the globe continuing to explore blockchain technology, the pursuit of a digital evolution in finance, commerce and more is on.

To anti-establishment folk this shouldn’t grate at the prospects for Bitcoin, but to those that hope the cryptocurrency will push into even greater mainstream use, these developments, especially in the wake of Bitcoin’s civil war, should be alarming.

Bitcoin currently sits atop the pyramid in terms of digital currency market cap at around USD$6.5 billion. In other words, one Bitcoin (BTC) is worth about $434 U.S.

Centralized efforts as seen in Ecuador and developing elsewhere around the world increasingly undermine the value of BTC as a legitimate currency, pushing it into the realm of commodities, to be traded like gold or iron (an argument which could also hold some sway under current conditions).

The underlying technology of Bitcoin, the use of a decentralized network that successfully achieves consensus without a central authority, i.e. the blockchain, must be held separate in value to Bitcoin as money.

Money is a medium of exchange to trade for goods and services; must hold some store of value. Volatility is duly problematic in a currency.

With governments developing their own currencies, what value will there be, besides black market use, to possess Bitcoin or any quantity of altcoins?

Presumably, payment for work, goods and services will all be conducted using the centrally regulated national digital currency. The desire, the need, to possess Bitcoin will diminish in the face of digital currencies that possess similar, if not identical, qualities.

Add to that the factor of a centralized, government-backed digital currency to afford a greater level of stability and trust, and it grows difficult to see ordinary citizens wishing to flock to the unregulated counterpart(s).

The worth of currency, like any other good or service, is predicated on the demand and pursuant supply. But demand is crucial to prescribing value.

At the moment there is no other currency that can match the value and infrastructure Bitcoin provides. It has value, as a currency, because you can buy goods and services discreetly, and as an investment capable of converting into “real” currency.

But this can all be rearranged, reordered.

If governments like China, Ecuador and others, move to provide the same convenience and security as Bitcoin affords digital users, and then tie it to widespread, government-approved use there would be little point to possess unregulated or “convertible” virtual currencies save for anonymity or for illicit purposes.

See the trend?

Currencies that are subject to volatility and with no economy, no government, and minimal regulation behind it will be a hard-sell if there are more trusted and secure alternatives.

This would likely contribute in reducing BTC’s value as a currency and perhaps as a commodity.

Further to even suggest Bitcoin as a widespread currency would mean deflating its value because of the current supply constraints placed on the currency. While money supply presents its own set of issues, the limited supply of Bitcoin does as well.

So the current divide in Bitcoin’s development must reach consensus because copycat governments can and are seemingly shifting the balance and discussion from the traditional to digital. In order to survive the Bitcoin community needs to come to an agreement.

The only certainty, invest in hardware wallets, because digital currency is coming, but just like driverless cars, the most popular make and model is yet to be seen, and Bitcoin could play a role, but that role needs to be defined, and quick.

Here were some top news stories from this past week:

China Eyes Digital Currency

PBoC not too enamoured with blockchain tech of today

The PBoC opened up on its initial January 20 announcement in an interview with Caixin Weekly last week.

Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said mobile payments were being considered, cloud computation, secure chip and blockchain tech as a means to create and operate an electronic cash network.

However, Xiaochuan indicated that blockchains today consume “too many resources” in terms of computation and data storage not capable of handling desired transaction volumes, as reported by fintechlab.com.

“We need to wait and see whether this problem can be solved in the future,” Xiaochuan said.

The PBoC did acknowledge Bitcoin’s degree of privacy as something it wants to emulate in its digital currency.

No timeframe was given and assurances that paper-money will coexist with digital money for some time.

IBM Moves Toward ‘Blockchain-as-a-Service’

American corporation looks outside fintech

Computer hardware giant IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) is looking beyond Bitcoin and the financial industry.

The American corporation seeks to bring “blockchain-as-a-service,” that is, the tools necessary to build, launch and manage blockchain application via its IBM Cloud service.

Blockchain applications remove the necessity of a centralized database, which essentially can be applied across multiple industries.

Successful industry-specific application however will still require experimentation and testing.

Microsoft is also in the business of offering blockchain-as-a-service with Azure.

Four FinTech MBA Programs on Blockchain

Research deals with Citigroup, KPMG and CME Group reached

The blockchain finds its way into schools.

Two of the UK’s top business schools, London Imperial College and Judge business schools are looking to expand its fintech content within MBA programs.

The schools acquired research and funding deals with Citigroup, KPMG and CME Group.

Courses could start as early as later this year.

For more Information: Blockchain Buzz at UK Schools

A Few Upcoming Events…

Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2016

The Financial Cryptography and Data Security event is an international forum for research, advanced development, education, exploration, and debate regarding information assurance, with a specific focus on financial, economic and commercial transaction security. The event will be hosted at Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Barbados from Feb 22-26, 2016.

Satoshi Roundtable

A small group of leaders involved in blockchain technology —  developers, CEOs, investors early adopters — will meet Feb. 26 to 28 for a private retreat at undisclosed location in North America. It is limited to 60 members.

Blockchain Conference San Francisco

The Blockchain Conference will take place Mar. 7, 2016 in San Francisco at the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center and will feature a host of speakers including our own Lisa Cheng, CEO of Vanbex Group. The conferences promises attendees will “Hear first hand from the people that are creating the future” and to “Expect a day of inspiration, talks, panels, demos and plenty of time to engage with attendees and speakers.”

About The Vanbex Group

Formed in 2013, The Vanbex Group is a leading strategic consulting and communications firm working exclusively with early-stage and venture backed cryptocurrency and blockchain-related companies.

Media Contact

Kevin Hobbs

Director

The Vanbex Group

K@vanbex.com

+1 604-379-9032

The post  The Vanbex Report: Digital Revolution, Will Bitcoin Survive? appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

 The Vanbex Report: Digital Revolution, Will Bitcoin Survive?

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