Bře 30

Algeria Embroiled in Political and Economic Unrest – Time to Lift Bitcoin Ban?

Algeria, one of North Africa’s largest producers of oil and gas, is currently going through serious political and economic turmoil.  Amid the current unrest, it’s perhaps high-time for the country to reconsider its position on Bitcoin as it has proven itself as a viable alternative during times of upheaval. 


Algeria: Arab Spring 2.0?

Algeria, officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is going through major political and economic turmoil. The country is the largest in Africa and it’s also amongst the biggest producers of oil and gas in the world. However, for the past few weeks, waves of protests and demonstrations have attempted to block the possible re-election of the current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who’s been serving on the post for 20 years.

Even though the president has promised to step down following the next elections scheduled for April 18th, demonstrations continued.

Algeria protests bitcoin

The current situation in Algeria painfully reminds of what happened in neighboring Tunisia as well as in Egypt back in 2011, which became known as the ‘Arab Spring.’ In Egypt in particular, millions of protesters from a broad range of socio-economic, as well as religious backgrounds, demanded the resignation of the long-standing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was an acting president from 1981 to 2011 – a total of 30 years.

Looking at Algeria, there’s a similar pattern when it comes to the current political structures. The country is run by an old president, supported by a reportedly corrupt political party, while Algeria’s economy is struggling. Problems such as mismanagement, paternalistic political views, as well as clientism are all at the forefront.

This comes in spite of the fact that Algeria is a large oil producer, having 12.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. The country exports about 540,000 barrels per day (b/d) or roughly half of its total production of about 1.1 million b/d.

Time to Lift Ban on Bitcoin

Following similar steps taken by its neighbor Morocco, Algeria banned bitcoin back in 2018 with the introduction of the country’s yearly Finance Act. Per the reports, not only is it prohibited to transact using Bitcoin, but also to hold it.

However, Bitcoin has managed to prove itself as a viable alternative to fiat currencies in times of political and economic unrest.

One such example would be Iran. Economic instability in the country due to US sanctions has led to hyperinflation of its national currency, the rial. This has resulted in some citizens seeking alternatives to access to the global economy as well as preserve wealth. Fortunately, Iran has relaxed its stance on Bitcoin earlier this year as it makes way for its own national digital currency, according to reports.

But perhaps the most notable example would be that of Venezuela. Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela is going through a political and economic crisis and severe hyperinflation, which reached a staggering 2.30 million percent in February.

Capital controls and a shortage of foreign currency have left residents with the only choice to secure their wealth through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As such, trading on peer-to-peer platform LocalBitcoins has surged in the country.

It also shows that Bitcoin is a lot more than just a speculative asset to people in countries facing economic and political instability. Therefore, perhaps it’s high time for the government in Algeria to reconsider its ban on Bitcoin and give its citizen the freedom to use an alternative to the Dinar, which has lost almost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar over the past 5 years.

What’s more, despite the official ban, the LocalBitcoins trading platform still works in Algeria, proving the politically neutral, decentralized and borderless nature of Bitcoin.

Would Algeria benefit from lifting the ban on Bitcoin? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock, xe.com

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Bře 09

US Regulators Should Give Bitcoin Some Breathing Space

The voices of a growing number of influential politicians and innovators are more loudly proclaiming the importance of preserving the United States’ supposed lead in the cryptocurrency industry. 


‘The US Cannot Afford to Lose Its Place as the Front-Runner in Crypto’

The importance of maintaining world technological supremacy is gaining momentum. In the United States, defenders of innovation and job creation are pushing for giving Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies some breathing space.

In this regard, Thomas W. Hodge, Senior Associate Attorney at Brock & Scott PLLC and founder of Crypto and Policy, argues that the US has always nurtured the growth of new technologies entering the market. “We foster its growth rather than stifle it with burdensome regulations,” he said, adding:

Today there are many new technologies on the horizon: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and perhaps most importantly, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, which will change the way we conduct our lives — from banking to voting […] Simply put, the United States cannot afford to lose its place as the front-runner in crypto.

To this end, Hodge joins the congressman for Minnesota, Tom Emmer, in asking to not stifle free market competition and have government regulatory bodies to provide transparency on their regulatory intentions.

Hodge hopes for renewed leadership in the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and changes at the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). According to Hodge, these developments will encourage cryptocurrency companies “to continue to drive innovations in ‘fintech’ around the world.”

‘The SEC Must Open Its Doors to Innovation’

At the SEC, key officials are moving towards improving the treatment of crypto technologies. For some time, Commissioner Hester Peirce has been proposing to open the SEC to innovation and free enterprise. She complains:

[W]e regulate an industry that is a key gatekeeper for progress and productivity in the rest of the economy.

Specifically, Pierce calls for an innovative and improved regulatory framework that is more adaptable to the cryptocurrency industry.

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, crypto enthusiasts are eager to spot Bitcoin-friendly candidates and to know how their policies will foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Already, one candidate has declared he will be accepting campaign donations in cryptocurrencies. Andrew Yang is a presidential candidate and proponent of a universal basic income. He recently announced that he accepts donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and any other cryptocurrency complying with the ERC20 standard, as well as Venmo payments.

Do you think the US government should foster the growth of the crypto industry to maintain technological supremacy? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of  Twitter/@RepTomEmmer, Shutterstock.

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Úno 25

‘Very Sad’: Lightning Torch Creator Laments Exclusion of Iranian Bitcoin User

The Lightning Network (LN) faced unusual censorship allegations this weekend after it emerged a participant in the Lightning Torch event refused to include a member from Iran.


Sending Transaction To Iran ‘Very Difficult’

In a debacle which continues to unfold on social media, Coinex executive Ziya Sadr confirmed Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati declined his request to be involved.

Lightning Torch is a transaction relay in which users join or use LN to receive and contribute to a single Bitcoin (BTC) payment.

Similar to the Olympic Flame, the Torch has gained considerable publicity since it began in January, involving the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Blockstream CEO Adam Back.

iran

As a US resident, however, Boyapati expressed concern that ‘sending’ the Torch – which in reality involves sending a payment – to Sadr would draw the attention of authorities. Iran is currently subject to a host of new US economic sanctions.

“I really really REALLY wanted to send it to (Sadr) but US law makes it very risky for me as a citizen,” he claimed.

Very sad that two peaceful people cannot transact with each other across the world because of the state.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care?

Sadr responded by avoiding calls to label Boyapati a “moron” for his decision, only confirming the legitimacy of the events.

The Twitter user known as hodlonaut, who started Lightning Torch, described Sadr’s predicament as “very sad.”

The Torch currently resides with Adam Back as of press time Monday. He joined the list of holders behind Charlie Shrem and major US broker Fidelity, which accepted it last week.

Lightning itself continues to grow, with momentum building to take the network’s overall capacity to an all-time high of almost 725 BTC ($2.74 million). The size of the Lightning Torch transaction, by contrast, is 3.6 million satoshis ($137.13).

What do you think about Vijay Boyapati’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Srp 09

Pantera Capital CEO Says Investors ‘Overreacting’ to Bitcoin ETF Delay

Dan Morehead, CEO of Pantera Capital, calls for calm in light of the delayed SEC decision on Bitcoin ETF.


In a continuing saga between investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dan Morehead calls for long-term thinking. This assurance comes amidst a tumultuous affair involving legislators, regulators, and investors alike.

10,000 Years?

According to CNBC, Morehead says the following in regards to Tuesday’s SEC decision:

I still think it will be quite a long time until an ETF is approved. The last asset class to be approved for ETF certification was copper, and copper has been on earth for 10,000 years.

After the SEC postponed its decision on a Bitcoin 00 ETF Wednesday, a bearish dip ensued. Subsequently, Morehead went on to acknowledge the following regarding the dip and ensuing fears:

The main thing to remember is that bitcoin is very early-stage venture, but has real-time price feed — and that’s a unique thing. People get excited about the price and overreact

Rather than feeling pessimistic, the Pantera Capital man pointed towards new ventures like the Starbucks Bakkt project saying:

That is going to be a very profound impact over the next five or 10 years for the markets, and, to my mind, that’s what people should be focused on.

A Positive Outlook

Morehead says “It’s all perspective,” as he pointed towards the fact that cryptocurrencies retain an 82% consistency. CNBC’s Chloe Aiello notes that,

Bitcoin was last down 6.3 percent at $6,288.30, which still makes it about 82 percent higher year on year[…]

Regardless of bearish markets and often unstable outlooks, Morehead remains a proponent of optimism in an ever-changing financial landscape.

What do you think about Dan Morehead’s insight? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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Srp 08

First U.S. Congress Member Reveals Owning Bitcoin, Ethereum

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives, recently disclosed his personal cryptocurrency holdings. The revelation comes amidst rule changes mandating disclosure for members of the House.


Cryptocurrencies Stepping In Congress

Cryptocurrencies have made their way up in the high ranks of US politics. Congressman Bob Goodlatte filed his annual Financial Disclosure Statement on May 10, disclosing that he owns between $17,000 and $80,000 in digital currencies.

The statement was filed just before the House Ethics Committee passed new rules which required the members of the House to officially disclose in their annual reports whether or not they own cryptocurrencies. They also have to report on the holdings of their spouse’s if they amount to more than $1,000. Members of the House also have to report transactions involving more than $1,000 of crypto within 45 days of the event.

According to the statement, Goodlatte has invested in Bitcoin00, Bitcoin Cash, and Ethereum. The Sludge reports that his son, Bobby Goodlatte Jr., is an angel investor in Coinbase. His financial involvement in the company, though, is not disclosed.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who is the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives, may become the first member of Congress to disclose that he owns cryptocurrencies.

Things Are Getting Serious

The last few months have marked interesting developments involving cryptocurrencies and politics. In May, fellow Democrats Dave Min and Brian Forde clashed over accepting cryptocurrencies as donations for the 45th Congressional race.

Earlier in January, former Republican Ron Paul said he’s in favor of legalizing alternative currencies so long as they are not used for fraudulent purposes.

Just a few days ago, Bitcoinist reported that a 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang will be accepting cryptocurrencies as official forms of donations for his campaign.

While the US Government remains uncertain on its position towards cryptocurrencies and the way they are treated, all of the above signals that they are beginning to have an impact on the American political landscape.

What do you think of Bob Goodlatte’s cryptocurrency holdings? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Srp 02

North Carolina Bans Crypto Donations for Political Campaigns

The electoral campaign finance board of North Carolina will not allow election candidates to accept crypto donations in order to fund their campaigns.


Although the Federal Election Commission in 2014 allowed candidates for federal office to accept Bitcoin donations, U.S state campaign finance offices are free to set their own rules for state election candidates.

A problem of valuation

A Republican candidate running in the 2018 U.S midterm Legislature elections, Emmanuel Wilder, asked the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement earlier this year if he could accept cryptocurrency or Bitcoin donations for his campaign funds. He also made suggestions as to how these donations could be valued, no doubt expecting this to be an issue the state would consider.

In an email to the elections board Wilder said:

“I know that this is new, but there is a great opportunity to show that North Carolina is truly open to new emerging markets.”

Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board of Elections Executive Director for North Carolina, responded to Wilder this month. She outlined its refusal as the monetary limits detailed in state campaign finance regulations are provided in U.S dollars, and cryptocurrencies cannot be reliably valued. Westbrook Strach said:

“We do not have the confidence that we could adequately regulate contributions to a political campaign in North Carolina in the form of cryptocurrency.”

Wilder replied with his disappointment, but appreciation for the decision expressing how blockchain and other technology can improve the operation of businesses and public institutions and predicting:

“Although it might not be today, there will be a day when this technology will have a place in the political process.”

The electoral campaign finance board of North Carolina will not allow election candidates to accept donations in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Anonymity is also an issue for donations

The pseudo-anonymous nature of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is also a consideration for electoral campaigns and associated finance regulators in the U.S. Jen Jones, a spokesperson for regional campaign finance watchdog Democracy North Carolina gave her advice prior to the decision. Jones said the State Board should consider, “whether it’s possible for candidates to receive campaign donations via cryptocurrency while also complying with state disclosure requirements.”

The state of Kansas also declined a request to accept cryptocurrency donations in 2017.

In June 2018 a Republican candidate in Missouri had to refuse a donation of $130,276 worth of Bitcoin as it exceeded the $5400 individual donation limit. The candidate, Austin Petersen, is one of a handful of U.S politicians looking to cryptocurrency as a source of campaign funding.

Do you think cryptocurrencies should now be accepted as a source of election campaign funding?


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Čvc 01

Germany Creates Official Organization for Public Advocacy of Blockchain Tech

· July 1, 2017 · 12:30 pm

Officially named the  ‘Blockchain Bundesverband’, the new German advisory panel, which is focusing on public advocacy of blockchain technology in Germany, was launched at the German Reichstag with the help of local politicians, blockchain advocates, and startup leaders.


Encryption in Germany

On June 20, 2017, the German government voted into law a new bill which would effectively allow police and other government agencies to install a ‘state trojan’ onto suspects’ electronic devices. The ‘state trojan’ would give governmental bodies the ability to monitor encrypted traffic, like popular messaging apps Whatsapp and Single, that use encryption for secure communication between users.

Many security experts raised concerns that this bill could potentially hinder technological innovation and be damaging for startups and corporations that use p2p encryption for their services. Bitcoin and blockchain experts expressed regarding the privacy of cryptocurrency users and traders as well, fearing that the bill could be used to spy on cryptocurrency traders and startups that use blockchain technology for their services.

Blockchain Advisory Panel

The ‘Blockchain Bundesverband’ was initiated by blockchain enthusiasts, startup founders and local politicians from the CDU, SPD, Die Linke, Die Grünen and  FDP party. The most prominent startups that joined this blockchain organization are Slock.it, IOTA and Jolokom which are also based in Germany.

According to the official blog post of the ‘Blockchain Bundesverband’, the organization’s main goal is to help German startups and government institutions to integrate blockchain technology into their services and systems.  Another significant milestone for the organization is the official acknowledgment of blockchain verified documents, timestamps, and IDs by the German government.

Additional goals that the blockchain advisory panel plans to address include the following:

  • Usage of blockchain technology in a public office system by 2020.
  • Implementation of proper government regulation for blockchain and bitcoin.
  • Creation of a blockchain commission that will support the German government regarding the technological transition of government functions.

Do you think that the formation of this new blockchain advisory panel will enable Germany to properly promote blockchain innovation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  Pixabay, Bundesblock

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Bře 24

Why The Bitcoin Miners Are Destined To Lose The Forking Wars

· March 24, 2017 · 6:00 pm

2,706 views

Excuse me for indulging myself, but there are many points of view towards what may be an impending hard fork for Bitcoin. This may come across as a loosely coherent ramble, but at least it is short and sweet. There is enough here to put it on wax, so here’s what I see, in the big picture.


This is in response to the Medium post created by Peter Rizun yesterday, outlining how this hard fork may play out, and essentially showing a way BTU wins, in the long run. (Roger Ver tweeted his support for this post, so I read it and posted most of these thoughts in the comments section, and here we are.)

In my humble opinion, the problem I see coming is if BCU breaks off, it will become an altcoin, as has been established by the Bitcoin exchange establishment. These miners can mine all the blocks they want, if the greater community doesn’t trust their developers, doesn’t want an altcoin, and isn’t buying BCU, it is irrelevant by design.

The market will decide who wins, and anybody who is not a miner wants to stick with Core and their chain. The miners are one thing, the market is something else. The miners might win a battle, but they would lose that war. They should keep that in mind.

Without those miners, BTC would definitely take a hit, but the Core developers could then quickly move to a 2MB upgrade and get SegWit and The Lightning Network approved, creating greater Bitcoin functionality, from a trusted group of developers, and an incredible upside in off-chain scalability that an on-chain approach would be hard pressed to match. All without the centralization and control of the miners.

segwit-logo

Users will follow anyone who is going to implement SegWit. The market is sold on this concept as a boon to Bitcoin functionality. BTU has not done a very good sales job at all regarding their position. Scaling away from miners will hurt mining, but it will let Bitcoin reach its full potential.

BTU needs to sell their mined Bitcoins to a market. I’m not seeing much of a market for BTU, outside of the miners and BTU investors, themselves. The miners do not control Bitcoin, and even Core does not control Bitcoin. Maybe, just maybe, The People control Bitcoin’s future growth? Anyone who thinks the market doesn’t have a handle on who each side is looking out for here is fooling themselves.

Just seeing how the community is responding, keeping my ear to the ground, the greater community will not follow the miners, who are primarily looking to turn a digital buck in Bitcoin. They will follow Core, who is looking after the greater good. Miners will lose that tug of war.

Bitcoin miners vs Bitcoin core

It has become clear that BTU developers cannot replace BTC developers, as the recent bugs have shown the world, but BTC miners can be replaced. There are plenty of people around the world who want that job and can do it just as well.

This power struggle is really temporary in nature. People will not follow miners looking for profit first, and who want to hijack the entire system, from now on, in order to get it. That is not leadership.

At the end of the day, The People will decide to back Core. The only question is when will the dissenting miners, clouded by visions of endless Bitcoin profiteering, figure this fact out?

If the miners didn’t get the memo, that the vast majority of the market will stick with Core and not dump BTC for any BTU altcoin, use this. Like Bitcoin itself, it’s far from perfect, but it’ll do just fine.

How do you think a hard fork would play out? Should there be an increase in block size? Let us know what you think below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoin Core, AdobeStock

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Úno 13

VP Mike Pence’s New Chief Economist is a Bitcoin Supporter

· February 13, 2017 · 8:00 am

Bitcoin supporter Mark Calabria from the Cato Institute has been selected to serve as Chief Economist for Vice President Mike Pence.


Bitcoin-Supporter to Advise Mike Pence

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, has selected a well-known libertarian and Bitcoin advocate, Mark Calabria, as his chief economist.

calabria

Having also previously worked for the Senate Banking Committee, Calabria is best known as the former director of financial regulation studies at the Cato Institute. He is also an outspoken advocate of free markets, housing reform and alternative currencies.

He expressed his support for Bitcoin on multiple occasions. In an interview, Calabria said:

While I’m an economist, not a tech guy, I’m very excited about Bitcoin, as I am about alternative currencies in general, and perhaps even more interested in the blockchain.

According to Jim Parrot, a senior adviser to Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, Calabria provides the Trump administration with “a voice around the table that will give them their philosophical true North.”

Moreover, Calabria even acknowledged in 2015 that “pretty much everyone at Cato, to varying degrees, is supportive of Bitcoin.” In fact, a few even own bitcoin, “as well as a few other alt-currencies.”

Bitcoin-Advocates Fill Administration

Mark Calabria is not the first Bitcoin advocate to join the ranks of the Trump administration. The president’s Bitcoin-friendly entourage is one of the main reasons why many Bitcoinists are optimistic about the Trump presidency.

Among these is Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and initial financier of Facebook. Thiel has been part of Trump’s transitional team for over a year and has invested millions of dollars in Bitcoin businesses over the years.

Greater

Senator Mick Mulvaney, also known as ‘Bitcoin Congressman,’ has been chosen as Trump’s budget chief. Mulvaney has been actively promoting Bitcoin education in Washington for several years.

Most notable, however, is perhaps Balaji Srinivasan, an executive at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and founder of the Bitcoin startup 21.co, who is contending to lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bitcoin Gaining Ground in Washington D.C.

Furthermore, the U.S. Government is taking other steps to better understand Blockchain and its industry. This is the case with the new Congressional Blockchain Caucus, an initiative spearheaded by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.).

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In 2015, Calabria expressed his concern with regards to Bitcoin regulations, saying:

I don’t think the Bitcoin community should be complacent about the current regulatory environment. The potential to get a lot worse is definitely there.

The Congressional Blockchain Caucus hopes to improve the approach to regulating cryptocurrencies through education about Bitcoin and blockchain technology. Hopefully, Calabria’s libertarian and laissez-faire approach can help lawmakers establish a sensible policy towards Bitcoin regulation in the near future.

Will the addition of Mark Calabria as Chief Economist help push Bitcoin adoption forward? Will it be good for the American Economy? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Cato.org

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Úno 10

U.S. Congress Creates New Blockchain Caucus in Washington

· February 10, 2017 · 8:00 am

What is constantly an issue, both now and in the future, is the concept of regulating and understanding blockchain and digital currency technology at a government level. The U.S. Government is taking steps to better understand this industry with their new Congressional Blockchain Caucus.


Blockchain Caucus Will Educate Lawmakers

Spearheaded by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), this will create a soundboard for future policy creation dealing with blockchain technology and the growing world of digital currency.

The term caucus might imply that this might be a one-off meeting, however this will be a continuing forum for ongoing education and policy reform in the field of distributed ledger technology.

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“Blockchain has the potential to transform the 21st-century economy,” Polis said. “Lawmakers need to understand that as the world rapidly changes, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we craft policies and adopt laws that match our ingenuity.”

Blockchain’s potential to reshape everything from the financial industry, to supply chains, to cyber security, to health care is something we should embrace.

Mulvaney Replaced by Schweikert

This blockchain technology initiative has actually been in the making for over a year, led by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) who has to spend much of the last two years looking to get Washington politicians educated on the industry. With Mulvaney currently undergoing confirmation in the Senate as President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Schweikert replaces Mulvaney.

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“Open blockchain networks and distributed ledger technologies are still new, but it’s critical for members of Congress to begin comprehending both their current applications and future use cases,” Rep. Schweikert said. “It is critically important the United States remain competitive regarding emerging technologies, and distributed ledger technology is the open, secure, efficient technology backbone we’ve been looking for.”

Building this platform will also allow a clearer path for members of the Bitcoin community to add value and education to a group of governors who will truly need their expertise, going forward. This moves in marked contrast to how Japan has mishandled the adoption of digital currency and blockchain technology without proper input from industry leaders.

The move was applauded by influencers such as Jerry Brito of Coin Center and Perianne Boring, Founder and President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.

Perianne Boring

“Blockchain technology is one of the most important inventions in modern finance,” stated Perianne Boring. “[The] key to unleashing the power of this technology is collaboration and engagement between the industry and policy makers. [We] look forward to playing a significant role in the development of this sector by working with Rep. Polis, Rep, Schweikert and the Blockchain Caucus towards building a legal environment that fosters innovation, jobs, and investment.”

Will the Blockchain Caucus have a positive impact on Bitcoin adoption? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Wikimedia, Shutterstock, CDC

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