Čvc 28

HODLing Bitcoin? Got an Email Address? Here are 3 More Ways to Get Free Money

· July 28, 2017 · 4:45 pm

A few days ago, we showed you how to grab some extra cryptocurrencies for free by simply holding Bitcoin. Today, we’re going to show you that you can do so not only by holding Bitcoin but also by simply having an email address.


Previously, we explained how you could claim free lumens from Stellar and bytes from Byteball. Those are just two methods of getting free money. This time, we’re bringing you three ways!

Free Money? Tell me more!

Free ICO Tokens Just for Signing Up

Currently, two upcoming Initial Coin Offerings are distributing free tokens to users that sign up for their platform. Although this is usually a practice used by pyramid schemes or multi-level marketing schemes, in this case, there doesn’t seem to be any danger involved at all.

Digital Currency Exchange

WCX is a platform with an upcoming ICO and it brands itself as being a “Global Low-Cost Digital Currency Exchange” that aims to “offer a pro experience and 10x lower fees”. WCX is an interesting concept – users will be rewarded with 50 WCX tokens – roughly $5 USD – when they sign up. Although this platform doesn’t have a whitepaper yet, the most interesting part about the project is that they plan to distribute part of their fee profits as dividends to WCX token holders, so why not hodl on and see what happens?

Coin Starter logo

Coinstarter is a platform which aims to be the Kickstarter for ICOs and crowdfunding campaigns related to cryptocurrency. Ironically, they haven’t even launched – they’re planning their ICO soon. They will reward you with 50 Coinstarter Tokens (technically equivalent to 0.0625 BTC, or $168!) if you simply sign up for the platform. There is no need to invest any BTC or ETH to receive this bonus – it is virtually risk-free.

Altcoins That Give You Coins if You Hold Bitcoin

How to Get Your Free CLAMS

CLAM is an altcoin created back on May 12th, 2014. If you held any BTC/LTC/DOGE at that time, you’re in luck! CLAM had a unique distribution method: All BTC, LTC and DOGE addresses that held coins back on that date are entitled to 4.60545574 CLAM – which is equivalent to about 0.0065 BTC, or around 17 USD. The CLAM project explains their reasoning behind this as being:

Giveaways are notoriously susceptible to cheating and bias those who happen to hear of them. We DON’T like tit-for-tat arrangements.

Many intelligent people are aware that Bitcoin’s most valuable asset is the blockchain itself. The blockchain represents the combined efforts, commitment, and participation of the entire community. It is the revolution that sets cryptocurrency apart from other value systems. It is trust-less and wonderful. We DO like the trust-less blockchain.

So! We took the BTC, LTC, and DOGE blockchains, found every address with a balance above dust, and sent each and every one of them a little over 4.6 CLAMS. It isn’t perfect, but it includes everyone.

Despite this, please note that this method of claiming ‘free money’ does involve risk – even though their wallet is open source and their code has been deemed to be safe, you have to expose your private key, so it would be advisable to move your coins elsewhere before claiming the CLAMs.

All you have to do is download their wallet from here, and import your BTC/LTC/DOGE wallet.dat or private key.

Download the CLAM Wallet

That’s all there is to it to obtain your free money! If you received more than 4.6 CLAM, don’t be too surprised; remember that every address that held coins on the date above will receive this reward. This means that if you were using many addresses at the same time, you would probably receive a lot of CLAMs!

What do you think about these new methods of getting free money? Are you going to try them, or are you skeptical? Let us know your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of WCX, CoinStarter, the CLAM Project, iStockPhoto

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Kvě 18

Bitcoin is Still Illegal in These 6 Countries

· May 18, 2017 · 9:30 am

As the Bitcoin revolution continues to spread throughout the world, there are still some places where buying or using Bitcoin is illegal and can get you in trouble.


Bitcoin Still Illegal in Some Countries

As Bitcoin’s popularity continues to grow throughout the world, some governments are beginning to realize its benefits and potential and are integrating Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in their economy, rather than trying to punish those that use it with restrictive policies and exaggerated taxes.

Japan, for example, has recently passed a law that makes Bitcoin a legal form of online payment, removing taxes and setting up a regulatory framework for Bitcoin-based businesses. Australia has also taken a stance in favor of cryptocurrencies and removed the double-tax that was penalizing average Bitcoin users.

However, not all countries are as forward thinking especially when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Believe it or not, Bitcoin is still illegal in some countries, which says a lot about Bitcoin as a disruptive technology.

To be clear though, the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency is not illegal because it poses any risk to the citizens of the countries we will list. Rather, it provides an alternative, open, P2P monetary system — and an exit for some  — which is seen as a threat to their centrally-controlled, legacy monetary system.

All of the countries listed below banned Bitcoin in 2014, following the Mt. Gox disaster. As Bitcoin begins to gain traction throughout the world, it’s possible that these countries may eventually change their stance on Bitcoin and digital currencies.

Vietnam

Although Bitcoin can be freely used by citizens, the State Bank of Vietnam issued a statement in February 2014 warning against the use of Bitcoin and prohibiting credit institutions to deal with the cryptocurrency.

The statement reads:

All bitcoin exchanges that allow users to trade anonymously, therefore, can be used to launder dirty money, sell drugs, hide from paying taxes, exchange and pay for illegal activities.

In December 2016, the government of Vietnam stated that it will consolidate cryptocurrency regulations as its current provisions “fall short.”

Iceland

Bitcoin’s legality in Iceland is not very clear. According to a statement issued in March 2014 by the Central Bank of Iceland, dealing with Bitcoin may violate the Icelandic Foreign Exchange Act, which specifies that Icelandic currency cannot leave the country and that foreign currency cannot be used in the country.

iceland

Bitcoin mining is legal in the country and so is transacting with Bitcoin, but apparently if those Bitcoins cannot be purchased from a foreign exchange or have to be mined in Iceland. This leaves a lot of room for questions. The statement reads:

There is no authorization to purchase foreign currency from financial institutions in Iceland or to transfer foreign currency across borders on the basis of transactions with virtual currency. For this reason alone, transactions with virtual currency are subject to restrictions in Iceland.

Bolivia

In May 2014, the country’s central bank, El Banco Central de Bolivia, officially banned any and all currencies not issued and/or regulated by the government, specifying Bitcoin, a few other altcoins and any other currencies that do not belong to a state or economic zone.

The statement reads:

It is illegal to use any kind of currency that is not issued and controlled by a government or an authorized entity.

Ecuador

Ecuador not only banned Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies, but it did so while establishing guidelines for the creation of their own virtual currency.

The National Assembly of Ecuador passed a bill that amends the country’s monetary laws in July 2014, banning cryptocurrencies and allowing the government to issue and transact in its asset-backed “electronic money.”

Kyrgyzstan

In Kyrgyzstan, using Bitcoin as a form of payment is illegal, although no law prohibits users from buying, selling and using. In August 2014, the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic, issued a statement in which it noted that the use of Bitcoin and other cryptos as a form of payment is illegal given that the only legal tender in the country is the country’s Kyrgystani Som (KGS).

The statement reads:

Under the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, the sole legal tender on the territory of our country is the national currency of Kyrgyzstan som. The use of ‘virtual currency’, bitcoins, in particular, as a means of payment in the Kyrgyz Republic, will be a violation of the law of our state.

Bangladesh

Bitcoin is not legal in Bangladesh. Transacting with any type of decentralized cryptocurrency can get you up to 12 years in jail and it has been so for almost three years.

In September 2014, the Bangladesh Bank issued a statement regarding the use of Bitcoin and warning that it is punishable by law. Bank officials said that anyone found guilty of dealing with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency could be jailed for up to 12 years under current anti-money laundering laws. The central bank went as far as to request citizens not to “spread information about it.”

The statement reads:

Bitcoin is not a legal tender of any country. Any transaction through bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is a punishable offense.

Do you believe these countries will change their stance on Bitcoin and build a regulatory framework around it? Let us know in the comments.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Dub 13

Why National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Beat Bitcoin

· April 13, 2017 · 2:00 pm

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

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


National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Be Global

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outsourcing Sovereignty?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitcoin Devs Won’t Waste Time With Other Blockchains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KYC/AML is Dying

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

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

I wrote about this several times previously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Lulz

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images courtesy of elementsproject.org, Twitter, Shutterstock 

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Dub 12

‘The Blockchain and Us’: A New Documentary on Bitcoin Tech Changing the World

· April 12, 2017 · 7:00 am

A new documentary film called The Blockchain and Us was released last week exploring how Blockchain technology can change the world in a meaningful way.


Documentary: ‘The Blockchain and Us’

A documentary film dubbed “The Blockchain and Us” by Manuel Stagars has been released last week. The 8-part documentary focuses on what blockchain technology is and the social and economic impact it can have in the world, if its potential is successfully harnessed.

the-blockchain-and-us_still-airport-after-rain

The preview description reads:

Economist and filmmaker Manuel Stagars portrays this exciting technology in interviews with software developers, cryptologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, consultants, VCs, authors, politicians, and futurists from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia.

The 30-minute long documentary features cuts from several interviews with industry leaders like Christian Decker from Blockstream, Perianne Boring Founder & President at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Taylor Gerring Co-Founder at Ethereum, Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, and many more.

The documentary does not focus on the technical aspects of blockchain technology and should not be viewed as an introductory video. Instead, the film seeks to give a high-level view of the blockchain “far from hype” and “starts a conversation about its wider implications” in several aspects of our society.

Chapter 1: First Contact With The Blockchain

In the first segment, the interviewees describe their first contact with blockchain technology. An experience that has changed many lives but usually starts off with a pinch of disbelief. Most people were quick to dismiss Bitcoin and the blockchain once they run into it for the first time, but many return to it after understanding how it works and the potential it has to change the world.

Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, shared his experience:

I did what most people do the first moment they are exposed to Bitcoin. I discounted it. I thought this was silly internet money, you could mine it, it’s like a golden goose and it took me about an year to really re-explore the technology…

Chapter 2: Blockchain Technology

Here, the documentary delves into a high-level explanation of what blockchain technology is and what makes it tick, and what we can do with it.

Image result for R. Jesse McWaters

R. Jesse McWaters Financial Innovation Lead at the World Economic Forum, explained:

You have the ability to create records that are indelible. You have the ability to transfer value by making updates to those records. And you have the ability to automate updates to the records through these things called smart contracts. That means potentially that you could transform the structure of financial services.

Chapter 3: Influence Of The Blockchain

This chapter focuses on how blockchain technology can influence various industries and aspects of our society like financial inclusion, identity, and IoT.

Image result for Rik Willard

Rik Willard, Founder & Managing Director at Agentic Group, said:

As the blockchain became more influential in our thinking we began to realize that it was a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and how it could be used to enfranchise and include people in global finance.

Chapter 4: New Business Opportunities

Chapter 4 talks about the infrastructure that is being built around blockchain technology, the business opportunities that arise from it and how traditional industries are dealing with and adapting to this disruptive new technology.

Image result for Paul Meeusen

Paul Meeusen, Head Finance and Treasury Services at Swiss Re, stated:

We are all, also in the financial services industry trying to recognize that we don’t have to be defensive but we rather have to embrace not just this technology but this enabler that it brings us to access a vastly underutilized or undiscovered market that we have to do business with on an eye-to-eye level.

Chapter 5: The Blockchain and Banks

This segment explores how big financial institutions will implement blockchain technology through slow upgrade processes and how some of these institutions are reluctant to accept this technological shift, while others are actively researching and testing the technology to stay ahead of the curve.

Image result for Caitlin Long

Caitlin Long, Chairman of the Board & President at Symbiont.io, explained:

I know how big financial institutions work. They’re not going to do something reckless with technology. This is people’s money and livelihood they’re working with.These are slow upgrade processes. These systems, once they get implemented, will run in parallel with the old systems for a while before you have a switch over to the new one. That’s standard in technology upgrade.  knew this was going to take time. But there are antagonists, players who are threatened. It’s the AT&T/Verizon/Kodak analogy again. Their business model is threatened by this and they’re going to do things to slow down and water down the transformational networks. There is a game theory approach to how the technology is being rolled out in the markets, for sure.

Chapter 6: The Blockchain And Financial Inclusion

An estimated 74% of the world population (according to the World Bank) do not have access to basic financial services provided by Banks. Chapter 6 explores how Blockchain technology can drastically change the financial inclusion landscape and allow people to interact with the world economy in a much more meaningful way than micro-finance institutions and other alternatives.

Eric Van der Kleij, Founder OF Adeptra, London Tech City, Level39 and adviser to the UKGovernment expressed his opinion on the subject:

I don’t like to think that we’re creating so much prosperity for the less than one percent. I like to think of purpose-led businesses. By the way, that’s the trick, I think, for large corporations: to understand that the cost/efficiency of embracing this new technology will potentially widen their accessible markets at a cost, that’s reasonable. That in itself will create prosperity in different areas. Something that we should think about.

Chapter 7: The Real Revolution

Blockchain technology can be considered the fourth technological revolution. With it come the same concerns, which is the loss of jobs due to automation. Blockchain technology has the power to cut out institutions that act as intermediaries or “middlemen”, including banks themselves.

This chapter delves into this concern and how various people perceive it. Dolfi Müller, Mayor of the City of Zug stated:

It’s called the ‘fourth technological revolution’ and I think we are at the beginning of such a revolution just now. That’s why we don’t close our eyes. Some people say ‘There will be much trouble, people will lose their work,’ and so on. I’m sure it will happen but it’s better we face it than deny it.

Chapter 8: The Blockchain and Us

In the eighth and final chapter of the Blockchain and Us documentary, interviewees express their thoughts on how blockchain technology can be implemented on a larger scale and how it can affect our lives. From an idea to a full-scale revolution, blockchain technology is here to stay and has the potential to change the world in a meaningful way.

Guido Rudolphi, Founder of Cryptocash:

Everything will change. In my opinion, the possibilities are endless.

The documentary can be seen here.

Full interviews can be seen here.

Do you think Blockchain can truly change the world for the better? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Angel.co, Linkedin, Blockchain-newyork.com, Caitlin-long.com, Twitter, Shutterstock

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Bře 26

7 Ways Criminals Can Steal Your Bitcoins

· March 26, 2017 · 3:00 am

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. We have compiled a list of  7 ways criminals can steal your Bitcoins and how you can protect yourself from them.


Top 7 Threats to You Bitcoin

One of the defining aspects of Bitcoin is that it puts you in charge of your own finances. No one but you will dictate where you can spend your money or who to send it to. There is no censorship, there is only complete financial freedom. But freedom comes at a cost. If you lose your Bitcoins, send them somewhere by accident or if they’re stolen, there is no entity that will return them to you, they are lost for good.

This is one of the reasons why Bitcoin has become a hub for all types of scams and cons. Cyber criminals are now becoming more sophisticated and finding new ways of stealing your hard-earned bits out from under your nose. Long-time users have seen their fair share of scams and are usually not drawn to them, but new users may be easily fooled by the prospect of making an easy profit.

Bitcoinist_Security Vulnerabilities

This is a huge problem for Bitcoin. Although variations of the same scams also exist with national currencies, these have a certain trust factor that is provided by the government that issues them. No one will stop using a national currency like the US Dollar just because they were scammed out of their dollars. With Bitcoin, however, users may feel like the fault is in the network and distance themselves from it. 

Bitcoinist has compiled a list of the most common methods cybercriminals use to steal your Bitcoins. If you’re getting started with Bitcoin, then this article may save you some money and heartache.

Ransomware

We’re going to start off with what can be considered one of the most profitable practices for cyber criminals, ransomware. Ransomware is not new, but Bitcoin has made it popular among hackers due to its efficiency as a decentralized payment system.

So, what is Ransomware? Ransomware is basically a virus that will encrypt all (or part of) your files. The program will then give you the option of paying a certain amount of money in order for the files to be decrypted. This type of malware has become highly popular due to its effectiveness and could even leave Vegas with you.

hackers-hacking-hacks

Hackers will usually target companies or organizations that cannot afford to be unavailable to their customers, ensuring a high success rate for the cyber criminals. 

However, anyone can fall victim to ransomware and individual users may be more vulnerable to them as they will often lack the tools or knowledge to try to decrypt their files on their own. Remember to always backup your important files and not to open or download any suspicious file. Having a good antivirus program in place is also advised.

Fake Wallets

This method is much less popular but has successfully scammed unknowing users out of their coins. Fake wallets are basically apps that initially look like a real wallet until it has the chance to steal your coins. These fake wallets are usually endorsed as being another legitimate wallet, often using the real wallet’s logo and name to fool users. They are basically like phishing (which we’ll also talk about) for wallets instead of websites or emails.

Bitcoinist coin wallet

Some fake wallets have even appeared on Apple’s App Store after successfully slipping through its vetting process. These misleading apps give both the real wallet and Bitcoin itself a bad name. Users can avoid this by downloading only from trustworthy sources like the wallet’s website and by confirming the name of the apps closely before downloading them. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the community on Reddit, Bitcointalk, and so forth.

Bitcoin Phishing

Phishing is basically a means of extracting sensitive information from victims. There are variations to the scheme but the most common ones are e-mails and fake websites. Scammers will try to trick the victim into giving them sensitive information regarding their Bitcoins like login details from an exchange or online wallet.

They will often do this by sending an email from an email address that looks official or by buying a domain name that is almost identical to the real website. An example of this would be the fake blocklchain[.]info.

Ponzi Schemes

Yes, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are riddled with popular Ponzi schemes also known as pyramid schemes. These involve getting people to invest money and inviting more people to invest money, thus creating the pyramid effect. The new money is used to repay old investments and “the wheel keeps turning” until it can turn no more.

Pyramid / Ponzi Scheme

At a certain point, the scammers will walk away with everyone’s money. The best time to leave is usually accessed by the amount of money that the cybercriminals are currently holding and by the reputation the website has earned so far.

These schemes come in all shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common, they want your coins and promise high returns for them. Two of the most popular disguises for these schemes are cloud mining websites that offer unrealistic returns and websites that claim to be employing some sort of automated trading algorithm to earn money on every trade.

To avoid being tricked by these, simply stay away from websites that seem to have unrealistic returns like 1% per day or 100% per month and so on. Avoid any vague business model that doesn’t really explain how the company makes profit and only trust websites after doing intensive research. There are ways of earning interest on your bitcoin like margin or p2p loans, but these will never yield as much as promised by pyramid schemes.

Fake Cryptocurrencies

There are some scams like this out there, the most famous of which is Onecoin. This scheme works by convincing victims that they are buying units of a successful cryptocurrency when they are in fact just paying for numbers to show up on a website. There is no actual Onecoin blockchain or network of miners.

onecoin

Fake cryptocurrency schemes will often sell coins in the form of educational packages or mining spots and they will also offer nonsensical promotions like splitting coins to double them. Although it sounds ridiculous, many users have fallen victim to this scam and some have lost entire life savings to it.

If you’re looking for a cryptocurrency to invest in, choose wisely and don’t be swayed with “developers” that promise the price of the coin will increase x times. A good rule to avoid these scams is to check if the coin exists on comparison websites like CryptoCompare or Coinmarketcap.

Scam ICOs

ICO, short for Initial Coin Offering, is a type of crowdfunding mechanism that is becoming increasingly popular within the blockchain space. The team behind a certain project will launch an ICO to sell tokens related to their project in exchange for Bitcoin, fiat or other cryptocurrencies. These tokens are usually equity based or they act like fuel to the platform, like Ether in the Ethereum platform.

Given the momentum that ICOs currently have, it’s no wonder that some cyber criminals are trying to trick investors with fake projects. Scam ICOs can be hosted by scam artists with no more than a convincing logo, website, fictional team and a few other tricks.

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Often times, the “company” will be able to gather considerable amounts of BTC without an actual product or nothing more than vaporware. A perfect example would be DeClouds, a scam that managed to steal 300 Bitcoins from unknowing investors who though they were investing in a cryptocurrency backed by precious metals.

Avoiding scam ICOs can be tricky and there are several things to look out for – Check out this guide on how to avoid scam ICOs.

Scammers on P2p Exchanges

These scams take place on peer-to-peer exchanges like LocalBitcoins and Paxful and they basically consist of people trying to rip you off during a currency exchange. These p2p exchanges allow users to trade coins directly between themselves using an external payment system like cash deposit, PayPal, credit cards and others. Unlike Bitcoin, these payment methods usually allow the user to dispute a transaction for various reasons.

Scammers will often use these markets to cash out hacked PayPal accounts or stolen credit cards in these markets. Some users will even use their real accounts but since most payment systems don’t offer seller protection for digital items, there isn’t much you can do in case of a chargeback.

This has created a market, where some users will sell Bitcoin for a considerable premium. However, users that do this have experience with these scams and have methods for verifying the buyer’s identity and so on.

To avoid this, only sell Bitcoin to established p2p traders and try to stay clear of chargeback-enabled payment methods like PayPal and Skrill. Remember that only those who control their private keys control their bitcoin. 

For a comprehensive list of fraudulent Bitcoin-related website, you can check out the Bad List here.

Are we missing any methods employed by cyber criminals? If so, let us know in the comment section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, AdobeStock

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Úno 12

Three Easy Ways to Improve Your Bitcoin Privacy & Security

· February 12, 2017 · 6:00 am

As the world of Bitcoin becomes bigger, more lucrative and more mainstream, there are going to be more eyes on the industry. Here are three easy ways to boost your privacy and security.


Spotlight On Your Security

Whether its surveillance from government agencies or hackers looking for bitcoins and information, here are three ways to improve your Bitcoin privacy that you may know, but aren’t exploiting.

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Using Bitcoin is not anonymous, as most current users already know. The public Bitcoin blockchain will not reveal your identity directly, but your Bitcoin transfers can be tracked with block explorers. Some of the best ways to improve your privacy – at least until the protocol itself is upgraded with more privacy-enhancing applications – is by upgrading how you interact with the internet itself.

1) Tor Browser

Tor takes the proxy concept to your browser, directly. It’s a free option; you just have to download the browser. Tor is originally a government concept, so if you are trying to avoid government surveillance, it may not be right for you, but it is the first layer of protection and can give you peace of mind against the low-level online hacker.

Bitcoinist_Transparency Tor

This is a far better option than using the same IP every day, in your hometown, for your online banking and your Bitcoin usage. If you are just using your local network’s IP, you need to step up your game and step into the 21st century.

2) Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

This is something I have used for years that most people online, or who use Bitcoin, do not use. A VPN is a great way to use the internet more freely, and Bitcoin as well. The main benefit is these networks provide you with an encrypted service, just like Bitcoin does. Think of it as the most advanced proxy service you can buy.

circumventing the ban is easy with virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxies

A VPN gives you a choice of servers and IP addresses to choose from. The number of choices will depend upon your choice of VPN network, but the best provide hundreds of thousands of IPs that you can switch between on demand, or at any interval you choose. I set mine to switch every hour, automatically. Try to shop for a no-log VPN provider, so the VPNs themselves cannot track you. You may want to look into providers like Firetrust and Pritunl

And a VPN can give you better internet access. Maybe the servers in your area are not the fastest, or you live in an area where you have restricted access. With a VPN, you can test all the servers on their network, see which ones are the fastest, or in a less surveilled area, and you are getting more security and faster downloads. A win-win. It’s a great investment in your online peace of mind for $60 a year or so, and many of these services even accept Bitcoin for payment, too.

3) Take Your Bitcoins Offline

If you have all your Bitcoins in a common online wallet like Coinbase, it’s hard to say you are really taking Bitcoin privacy and security seriously. No offense to Coinbase or Blockchain, but no one should keep all their bitcoins in one basket.

It is hard to find an online wallet provider that hasn’t been hacked, or isn’t under attack every day for the next decade. Maybe they have outstanding security, but the criminals are coming up with new ways to steal every day, so why take the chance?

KeepKey

Only store Bitcoin in online wallets that you are comfortable losing to theft. A wise Bitcoin user with any real cache of bitcoins would keep 80-90% offline in a paper wallet or hardware wallet, such as Case wallet, Ledger, Trezor or KeepKey.

You only access these bitcoins when you choose to, and can take your wallet on the road with you, or keep it in a safe, offline. Take your Bitcoin wealth on the plane and not get harassed by customs. A $60-$99 investment that should give you peace of mind no matter where you roam.

What do you think is the best way to maintain your privacy and Bitcoin security? Let us know in the comments below!


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Led 29

Big Changes in 2017 Will Shape the Future of Cryptocurrencies

· January 29, 2017 · 5:00 am

2017 will be the year where many more substantial changes happen. These changes will affect the future of cryptocurrencies.


Big Changes in 2017

We’ve seen some great developments across the cryptocurrency landscape these past few years. Recent changes have made the cryptocurrency scene even livelier than anticipated.

As reported before, more than 2.3 billion people can now shop on Amazon using Bitcoin. New regulations are being put in place by Europol, Interpol and the Basel Institute to protect Bitcoin exchanges and users.

2017 will be the year where many more substantial changes happen. These changes will affect the future of cryptocurrencies. To help you prepare for this exciting year, here are some of the biggest changes to anticipate.

More Emphasis on Privacy

Bitcoin was never the most private cryptocurrency on the market. The nature of Bitcoin means each Bitcoin address can still be tied to an individual if the address is linked to an account or other identifiable information. When this happens, it is easy to dig up a lot of information about the owner of the Bitcoin address.

Bitcoin Privacy

A recent discussion in Bitcointalk Forum revealed that a payment recipient can find out more about the sender’s spending habits and calculate the amount of Bitcoin the sender actually has just by retracing a single payment. All that is needed is a linked Bitcoin address. This is a problem that has been haunting Bitcoin for a while.

In the future, cryptocurrencies such as Monero will gain more traction due to the way they are set up for maximum privacy. Monero is already enjoying a boost in value due to its immensely private nature. More merchants in the Dark Web are now using Monero to handle their transactions.

Cryptocurrency in Education

It is also interesting to note that cryptocurrencies are beginning to be seen as investment opportunities and legitimate transaction methods beyond their digital boundaries. Universities such as Ohio University and the master of financial economics programs they provide are already hosting classes about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. Some colleges are also allowing students to pay for their online MFE degree using bitcoin.

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The move is a good sign that cryptocurrency is going mainstream. We already have thousands of offline merchants accepting Bitcoin payments today. It won’t be long before major corporations and brands begin to integrate cryptocurrencies into their transaction workflows.

The rapid growth of Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum, and other popular currencies has also attracted investors who are buying into cryptocurrencies solely for investment purposes. These investments are yet to make a big impact on the value of cryptocurrencies, but this year’s addition may change that.

Bigger Capacity

One last potential issue that has been looming over the use of cryptocurrencies is capacity. The blockchain issues we had earlier last year already showed how capacity can still be an issue. Fortunately, newer algorithms and better programming loops are being implemented to expand the reach of cryptocurrencies outside its current limitations.

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All of these changes are very good for the future of cryptocurrency and they will be taking shape in 2017. There are still more steps to complete before cryptocurrencies can truly go mainstream, but we’ll be seeing a lot of progress happening this year.

Will these three areas be the main focus for cryptocurrencies in 2017? Share your thoughts below!


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Led 08

Banking on Bitcoin: A Movie About Bitcoin, Its Past & Future

· January 8, 2017 · 3:00 am

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The movie, titled “Banking on Bitcoin” has been released on January 6, 2017, in select theaters across the United States. It’s also available on VOD for those who can’t make it to the theaters.


Banking on Bitcoin, The Movie

Bitcoin is one of the most spoken about financial assets of this year. As the cryptocurrency’ price continues to soar, Gravitas Ventures takes moviegoers to a trip through the cryptocurrency’s timeline with its upcoming feature film.

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Banking on Bitcoin is filmed to offer a comprehensive view of Bitcoin’s past as well as the future. The most disruptive technology of this century has been embroiled in an ideological battle between fringe utopists and mainstream capitalism. While Bitcoin has the potential to offer financial liberation to its followers, the mainstream banking and financial institutions and governments are not too happy with it. Banking on Bitcoin offers in-depth coverage of some of the key players in the ecosystem.

Few cryptocurrency heavyweights featured in the film includes the likes of Charlie Shrem, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Barry Silbert, Erik Voorhees, Nathanial Popper, and Alex Winter. It offers an insight into how these personalities think about the revolutionary technology and what they believe lies ahead for it in the future.

Helping Clear Up Misconceptions

Gravitas Venture is one of the leading all rights distributor of independent cinema in the region. The company has working relations with over 500 content partners and it has a long list of movie titles across genres under its belt.

Gravitas Venture and the team behind Banking on Bitcoin are very happy with the outcome of the movie. The movie is expected to offer a better understanding of the cryptocurrency, the principle and ideology behind it, its benefits and more to moviegoers.

Bitcoinist_F2Pool Confusing Statement

The cryptocurrency, since its launch, has been struggling with slow adoption rate due to various misconceptions among the population. The mainstream media hasn’t been helping much either as most of them carry mixed views about the future of money.

Banking on Bitcoin is expected to help clear these misconceptions to an extent and potentially increase the adoption as well.

The movie is available for pre-order on the iTunes store.

You can also check out the trailer below:

Will you be watching Banking on Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


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Led 07

6 Reasons Your Business Should Be Accepting Bitcoin

· January 7, 2017 · 3:00 am

With over 80,000 companies already accepting Bitcoin payments as of 2014 and that number rapidly growing, business owners can no longer afford to ignore the world’s most popular decentralized currency. So let’s check out six reasons why accepting the virtual currency is a great idea.

[Note: This article was submitted by a guest author]


Multiple Reasons to Accept Bitcoin

Around the world, forward-thinking merchants from small shops to large corporations are joining the Bitcoin trend, with many of them doing so in order to improve cash flow by cutting costs and boosting their bottom line. But, is doing business in Bitcoin a worthwhile endeavor?

We’ve put together a list of some of the main benefits that you could experience from accepting Bitcoin payments.

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Lower Transaction Fees

If you’re hoping to reduce costs, accepting Bitcoin payments is definitely worth trying since per transaction fees for accepting this currency tend to be cheaper than those for conventional credit or debit cards. According to Adam White, Coinbase’s director of business development and strategy, this is the one main reason why many smaller businesses are joining the bitcoin payment trend. On average, small businesses tend to pay higher credit card fees than the bigger companies, since they lack the scale needed to negotiate the cheaper rates. Because of this, Bitcoin is often an easier and cheaper alternative.

Get Paid Quickly

Getting paid on time is important for businesses of all sizes, but no more so than for small businesses, which often rely on prompt invoice payments in order to maintain a positive cash flow and stay afloat. Along with using an invoice factoring company such as BlueVine to keep the payments coming in, accepting Bitcoin payments can actually make it easier for clients to make prompt payments.

Unlike credit card payments, which are often kept on hold for up to a week or more in case a chargeback is requested, Bitcoin payments tend to arrive in merchants’ bank accounts within just a couple of days, meaning that you could have access to your money a lot faster.

Avoid Chargebacks

One of the biggest advantages of Bitcoin for merchants is that payments made with this currency are final, meaning that there are no chargebacks or returns, unlike when dealing with regular credit and debit card payments. Credit card chargebacks occur when the cardholder disputes a purchase that they have made with the card, often due to reasons such as the item being defective, or perhaps they were a victim of credit card fraud. Either way, credit card chargebacks are both inconvenient and costly to merchants, with a fee set at around $5-15 each.

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Prevent Fraud

Bitcoin is gaining more and more popularity as an online currency as when a customer pays a company using Bitcoin, they are able to do so without divulging any personal details such as their name, address, date of birth, etc. Unlike when paying with a debit or credit card when this kind of personal data must be given in order for the transaction to be successfully processed, when paying with Bitcoin, customers can do so completely anonymously, giving them a practically fool-proof layer of identity protection that no other payment method can offer.

Accept International Payments

If your company has been putting off accepting international payments simply due to expensive cross-border transaction fees, accepting Bitcoin as a payment method could be the answer to your problem. Although going global is great for business, many small independent consultants and online retailers are unable to sell their services or products internationally due to a high cost that they are unable to afford. But, Bitcoin breaks down all these obstacles and borders with much lower transaction fees, allowing businesses to trade internationally and accept payments from anybody, in any part of the world, at just a click of a button. 

Customer Satisfaction

Last but not least, accepting Bitcoin as a payment method could lead to increased levels of client and customer satisfaction. With Bitcoin rapidly growing in popularity, it will be unsurprising if over the coming years, businesses will be expected to accept this currency as default. Offering your clients and customers the option to make payments with Bitcoin allows you to give them more choice, and therefore more control over the way they make payments and interact with your business. And, the added layer of protection from fraud and identity theft offered by Bitcoin can make this payment method a very attractive one to online customers who want to be as safe as possible.

If you’re not currently accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, there are many reasons to think about making and accepting transactions in this increasingly popular digital currency.

Will your business accept bitcoin? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!


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