Čvc 21

Bitcoin Gaining Commercial Traction In India Through Bollywood and Online Portals

· July 21, 2017 · 4:30 pm

With the Indian government contemplating the regulation and legalization of Bitcoins, Bollywood celebrities are endorsing the digital currency which is now accepted by an ever-growing number of online portals and stores.


Bitcoin Legal Status in India

Although Bitcoin is not illegal in India, its jurisdiction falls under a gray area. An interdisciplinary committee comprising officials from the country’s finance ministry, IT ministry, NITI Aayog, and Reserve Bank was tasked with examining the framework on virtual currencies with a view to regulating and legalizing its use within 6 months.

Over 4000 comments and suggestions were received on the MyGov forum which was used to assess public opinion on digital currencies. Bitcoin trade analyst Chris Burniske reported that India is the fourth highest Bitcoin trading market, with over 1 million users accounting for 16,764.76 Bitcoins trades by volume.

The legalization of Bitcoin will expand its scope of usage in India and ameliorate the public fears regarding its reliability and safety. It will also provide a way for the government to monitor potential financial, security and legal risks since the use of Bitcoins has been associated with money laundering and funding terrorism in the country.

Bollywood Endorsement

Bollywood celebrities are always quick to capitalize wherever an opportunity for publicity arises. Just last month, Shah Rukh Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui were in the limelight for being the brand ambassadors of Webwork Trade Links, a company under probe by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly duping investors for over $772 Million by running a Ponzi scheme that involved the use of Bitcoin.

Amit Bhardwaj, founder of GBMiners, AmazeMiners, CoinBank and former co-founder of HighKart.com is a self-proclaimed Bitcoin guru and has written three books on cryptocurrency. His latest book titled Cryptocurrency For Beginners has been promoted on Twitter by various Bollywood celebrities such as Shilpa Shetty, R. Madhavan, Prachi Desai, Bipasha Basu, Vir Das, Neha Dhupia and Nargis Fakhri to name a few.

This clearly looks like a coordinated campaign by the author to boost sales after he also bought a front-page advertisement in one of the biggest newspapers in the country, The Hindu. It is worth noting that although Bhardwaj has been accused of running a cryptocurrency scam and Ponzi scheme, Bollywood celebrities have wasted no time in jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon through him. Bitcoin’s strong performance in 2017 has even caught the fascination of the technologically handicapped Indian film industry.

Online Portals And Stores Accepting Bitcoin Payments

Unocoin and Zebpay, two of India’s biggest Bitcoin exchanges, started out by providing users with the option to use the digital currency as a method of payment for mobile and DTH bills, as well as for online shopping. Over time, the list of merchants has grown to include several online portals that cover a wide spectrum of domains such as book stores, bus/flight ticket and holiday booking, mobile recharge, web hosting, software management, online clothes and home décor, and training and recruitment.

This week saw Cyankart.com become India’s first fashion and lifestyle store to accept Bitcoin payments on their website. Abhay Bajaj, one of the Founding Partners of Cyankart was quoted saying:

This is a big move for us. We believe the cryptocurrency movement is just starting to pick up the pace in India and it won’t be much time before we’ll start seeing people using Bitcoin as regularly as they use mobile wallets at the moment.

India has the potential to become a global leader in the Bitcoin market

The Road Ahead

In the absence of central regulation, Indian Bitcoin startups have formed the Digital Assets and Blockchain Foundation of India (DABFI) that will act as a self-regulatory body that brings in uniform rules. The founders of both Unocoin and Zebpay believe that India can become one of the global leaders for the Bitcoin market as demonstrated by the steep growth experienced by Indian Bitcoin startups in trade volume and user base, which is set to increase further.

Although Bitcoin has been the preferred choice of payment for hackers who recently launched a barrage of ransomware attacks that has been plaguing the IT sector, proper regulatory oversight by the government can go a long way in building public trust in the cryptocurrency and assuaging fears that stem from a lack of awareness regarding the technology and its benefits. For the world’s second most populated country with over 1.34 billion people, a Bitcoin user base of 1 million represents a mere drop in the bucket.

Taking Bitcoin mainstream would require promotion from the country’s most influential people who are in the public eye, namely cricketers and actors. Acceptance of the digital currency from the more popular retailers and stores would also go a long way towards widespread adoption, while at the same time truly fulfilling current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a cashless India.

Do you think Bollywood endorsements can take Bitcoin mainstream in India? What line of products/services should start accepting payments in Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of the Bitcoinist archives

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Čvc 13

Bitcoin’s Retail Acceptance Continues to Drop

· July 13, 2017 · 2:00 pm

Bitcoin’s progression as a digital currency appears to be foundering as adoption by major retailers as a payment method is decreasing despite its recent rise in popularity and value.


One Step Forward – Two Steps Back

With record-breaking price surges and mainstream interest in digital currencies at an all time high, one would think that retailers would be lining up to accept Bitcoin as a payment method. It is no wonder, then, that it comes as a shock to many that the exact opposite seems to be happening. Retailers are more skeptical than ever about letting customers shop with Bitcoin.

In a report released on Wednesday by Morgan Stanley payments analyst James Faucette, it was revealed that Bitcoin is accepted by just three of the top 500 online retailers in the world.  That figure is down from last year’s report in which there were five retailers that accepted the digital currency.

Bitcoin not accepted

Retailers are Only Part of the Problem

While it might be convenient to blame retailers for Bitcoin’s sluggish rate of mainstream adoption, the finger should not be solely pointed in their direction. Bitcoin users are also playing a direct role in slowing its growth as a currency.

According to Faucette:

Bitcoin owners are reluctant to use the cryptocurrency given its rate of appreciation, more evidence that bitcoin is more asset than currency. […] Way easier to trade speculatively than convince new merchants to accept the cryptocurrency.

Many of the newcomers who are buying digital currencies such as Bitcoin are doing so in order to hold on to them, with the hopes of seeing more astronomical gains in the near future. As a result, although there is a much bigger marketplace of Bitcoin users, they are not necessarily active spenders of the currency.

Bitcoin Growing Pains

Bitcoin Growing Pains

Other factors that could have retailers withholding their acceptance of digital currency are the scaling challenges that are facing Bitcoin. Issues like slow transaction times and increased transaction fees are problems that will affect the retailer far more than the customer. The inconvenience of longer waiting times and transaction fees nearing $5 is hugely off-putting, especially in the case of smaller value purchases.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Atlantic Financial founder and Bitcoin Foundation board member Bruce Fenton explained:

There’s a problem with the fees being so high,  it does price out certain things. […] There are some micro transaction uses cases, like a cup of coffee is the big analogy everybody uses, that are being sort of priced out just because bitcoin is going up so much.

Looking Up and Looking Ahead

Looking Up and Looking Ahead

Despite the setbacks in the acceptance of Bitcoin as a currency, there are success stories. In Japan, consumer electronics retailer Bic Camera has begun accepting Bitcoin at some of its camera shops while retail giant Recruit Lifestyle recently introduced a Point of Sale system that is Bitcoin-ready already available at over 260,000 retail stores and eateries across the country.

Overstock.com, a large online retailer that is championing Bitcoin, said in May that the number of Bitcoin transactions has tripled since they started accepting digital currency back in 2014. Furthermore, those transactions account for as much as $5 million per year for the online retailer according to Overstock.com Inc. board member Jonathan Johnson.

Have you bought anything online from major retailers? Would you be willing to part with Bitcoin as easily as if it were cash? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Max Pixels

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Čvc 09

Takeaway.com Bitcoin Acceptance Opens Crypto Food Orders To Millions

· July 9, 2017 · 2:30 pm

Hundreds of millions of potential online food portal customers can now pay their orders with Bitcoin following some major European partnerships.


Bitcoin Food Ordering Comes To Mainland Europe

Last week saw Germany’s largest portal Lieferando add the virtual currency, news which followed a similar announcement from Poland’s leader Pyszne and others.

The outlets are owned by Amsterdam-based parent company Takeaway.com, which operates in markets throughout the world and serves 8.9 million customers.

The websites function as a one-stop shop for various takeouts and restaurants, allowing customers to order from anywhere via the same gateway. Users also benefit from discounts and loyalty schemes not available from restaurants themselves.

Lieferando unveiled the Bitcoin addition in a circular to customers Wednesday as part of a range of updates to its product. Bitcoin payments now appear alongside extant payment options on the website’s order page.

In future, the service will also add the option to its app. Other updates included multilingual ordering and menu interfaces and improvements to delivery time estimates.

Ordering Food w/ Bitcoin

Bitcoin Orders Get Effective 6% Discount

According to Takeaway.com’s website, Bitcoin payment is now available in all its European markets, in many of which its service is the most popular in an increasingly competitive sector.

Interestingly, Bitcoin payments were previously available for users of the service’s UK operation as far back as 2013, but the entire branch was shut down in August last year.

The benefits to customers in all regions meanwhile are obvious at a glance: the hefty 6% order fee applied to PayPal and credit card payments does not apply to Bitcoin, which is free.

In doing so, Takeaway.com follows in the footsteps of other European companies experimenting with Bitcoin earlier, such as Latvia’s airline Air Baltic, which waives its booking fee for Bitcoin customers.

Alza Offers Bitcoin Teslas

…While Alza Offers Bitcoin Teslas

While Air Baltic has dealt in Bitcoin for several years, 2017 has seen more prominent commitments from European retail giants.

In May, Europe’s Czech-headquartered answer to Amazon, Alza, also implemented Bitcoin payments across its multinational order platform in a move its head of internet marketing said was befitting of the capital Prague’s status as a crypto mecca.

Alza’s head of internet marketing, Jan Sadilek, told local news portal, Lupa:

Prague is already one of the most important hubs for Bitcoin in Europe today. […] By adding Bitcoin trading we’re showing support for this form of payment becoming more popular and for the potential this technology holds.

Among its almost infinite range of products, Alza offers hardware wallets and even a Tesla, all available for purchase with Bitcoin.

What do you think about Takeaway.com adding Bitcoin? Have you tried it out? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pexels, Lieferando, Alza

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Čvc 05

Dartz Debuts New Black Alligator SUV, Only Accepts Bitcoin and Ethereum

· July 5, 2017 · 3:00 pm

Latvian automotive company Dartz announced that they plan to debut their new Black Alligator SUV at the 2017 Gumball 3000 rally in Riga, Latvia and that they will only be accepting Bitcoin or Ethereum as payment.


The company’s move to sell the luxury SUV for Bitcoin and Ethereum seems to be a first for cryptocurrency, which has previously been accepted in the luxury market more in regards to property than the automotive industry. Hopefully, the acceptance of Bitcoin for the vehicle will prove to be more than just a sales gimmick, as there is a real demand among Bitcoin adopters for items they can spend their investment rewards on without first converting to fiat currency. Whether or not this is a vehicle that Bitcoin owners will want remains to be seen.

A Vehicle as Distinctive as its Name

Distinctive. Aggressive.  Tough. These are all apt descriptions of the new Black Alligator. Sporting the angular armor of the Dark Knight-era Batmobile, the Black Alligator will be introduced during the 2017 Gumball 3000 rally in Riga, Latvia. Dartz, in keeping their military theme, says that the names of their vehicles are based on Russian Helicopters nicknames.

The military comparisons don’t stop there, however, as the vehicle features a Kevlar and carbon fiber body which can be upgraded, for the security conscious, to Kevlar-coated titanium. This bulletproof nature is colorfully emphasized on the company website:

Bulletproof opulence trusted by billionaires, Tzars, superstars, generals and dictators since 1869

But How Much Does it Cost?

While Dartz has not revealed the price of the Black Alligator, they have gone on record as saying that it will make Bugatti drivers “feel like a beggar“. The fact that nearly every aspect of the vehicle’s design – from body panels to interior trip –  is tailored to each individual customer no doubt accounts for the lack of a publicized price. In fact, the vehicles are so customized that Dartz has implemented a new Department of Opulence to help you really pimp your ride.

According to a report by Motorauthority:

If you have to know the price, Dartz says it’s somewhere in the seven figures, and the company will happily accept cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Etherium as payment. The company doesn’t like to reveal pricing out of courtesy of not making owners of other high-end vehicles feel envious.

What do you think of the Black Alligator? Have you ever purchase a vehicle or other luxury item using Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Dartz

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Čvc 03

More Donors Give Bitcoin and Noncash Assets to Charities Than Actual Cash

· July 3, 2017 · 2:30 pm

With Bitcoin gaining traction worldwide, charities have been seeing donations of the alternate currency skyrocket in recent years. Its use aims to streamline and cut costs for people trying to fund causes they care about.


Charity Begins…With Bitcoin?

As with all new technologies, Bitcoin’s rise in both price and adoption rate is causing industries to find niche uses for cryptocurrencies in ways previously unthought of. One of these niches is charitable giving. Charities around the world are able to revolutionize how they can accept funds from patrons willing to support their cause, and many are already moving towards integrating support for Bitcoin in their current systems.

World renowned charities such as the American Red Cross and Save The Children, set up right after the First World War to protect children in warring nations, have been benefiting from Bitcoin donations for years, having accepted Bitcoin since 2014. Partnering with payment processing companies such as BitPay further legitimizes Bitcoin’s effectiveness in this industry and entices other companies to accept it to fund their causes.

According to Fidelity Charitable, a donor-advised fund and the United States’ second-largest grantmaker, people gave a record-breaking $796 million in noncash assets last year. This includes Bitcoin as well as other alternate cryptocurrencies (altcoins).

American Red Cross and Save the Children

The Benefits of Bitcoin-based Giving

Using traditional means of charitable giving, fees and taxes can quickly whittle away much of a donation. This means that only a portion of the giver’s donation will actually go towards their supported charity. Let’s use PayPal as an example. Every time a donor uses PayPal to make a donation, the payment processor automatically takes 2.2% along with a $0.30 fee whenever a donation is made.

So if you were to donate $100 to your favorite cause using PayPal, the charity would actually receive $97.50. That may not sound like a lot from the standpoint of an individual donation, but over the course of hundreds – if not thousands – of donations, it can really add up.

Donating with Bitcoin

Bitcoin solves this problem because there are no payment processing fees associated with donating the cryptocurrency. If you donate 0.25 BTC to a charity, they will receive the full amount of bitcoin.

Another issue with most current donation models is the difficulty of cross-border donations. Generally speaking, a charity is limited to accepting donations in their home currency. This inability to accept donations from other countries can severely limit the pool of potential donors.

The current alternative is using a service to convert your money to the charity’s local currency, however, that incurs its own set of fees and taxes, often to the point where sometimes only half of what you originally gave reaches people in need.

Because Bitcoin is classified as an asset by most countries rather than a currency, donations using the cryptocurrency are not restricted by borders. Donors can give using bitcoin and the charities can then convert the donation to their countries’ home currency without paying any currency exchange fees.

Bitcoin donations also provide a level of anonymity for anyone who wishes to hide their identity. While this isn’t always wanted, for those who do not want to reveal who they are it allows more options for people looking to make a charitable contribution.

Do you think crypto-payments will take over as the primary form of donations for charities? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of American Red Cross, AdobeStock

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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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