Led 18

Goldman Sachs-Backed Startup Unveils Cold Storage Cryptocurrency Trading

Palo Alto-based blockchain security company BitGo has developed a platform which will enable traders to buy and sell cryptocurrencies without having to take it out of cold-storage. 


A Focus on Security

Days after the cryptocurrency exchange Cryptopia got hacked, Palo Alto-based security company, BitGo, announced that it has developed a platform allowing traders to buy and sell digital assets right from BitGo’s cold storage custody.

BitGo closed a Series B funding round in October 2018, bringing in $58.5 million and attracting investors such as Novogratz’ Galaxy Digital Ventures and Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs logo

BitGo will team up with SEC and FINRA-regulated OTC trading platform Genesis Global Trading to establish the necessary infrastructure, liquidity, and compliance.

Genesis Trading will essentially match BitGo customer’s buy and sell orders, according to the platform’s CEO, Michael Moro. The assets will never leave cold-storage since Genesis has a cold wallet with BitGo.

The cryptocurrencies, which will be available initially through the new solution include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Ripple, and ZCash.

The move is geared toward satisfying the custodial requirements for attracting institutional investors.

The Need for Custody

The need for institutional-grade custody solution has been highlighted more than once and by more than one industry experts.

Novogratz himself said last year that a solution of the kind could propel the next bull run.

“I think the next move up is going to need custody from a trusting source,” he explained. “It’s going to need a little more regulatory clarity. […] We wouldn’t take out $10,000 without those two things because that’s what brings the institutional investors in. But we’re going to get there.”

A serious development in this regard would be Bakkt’s warehousing solution if it gets the pending regulatory approval. Besides elevated measures for physical security, Bakkt wants to enable pre-funded purchases and sales of Bitcoin futures, essentially eliminating the risk of default.

At the same time, its clearinghouse will also have a dedicated guaranty fund, entirely funded by Bakkt, to cover the platform’s holdings.

What do you think of BitGo’s new platform? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 16

You Can Now Buy Tokenized Apple Shares With Bitcoin and Ethereum

A Belarus-based startup has launched a tokenized securities trading platform enabling investors to buy into traditional markets with bitcoin and ethereum.


Tokenized Securities

Blockchain tech company Currency.com has announced the launch of its trading platform for tokenized securities. The Belarus-based platform is intended to enable investors to trade and invest in common financial instruments such as equities, commodities, and indices directly, without having to convert their cryptocurrencies in fiat.

According to the official release, it will eventually issue over 10,000 tokenized securities but will start with over 150, including everything from popular stocks to silver, oil and natural gas.

Users will be able to purchase tokens, which mirror the performance of certain conventional assets such as Apple shares listed on NASDAQ. It will cost the same price as an actual Apple share and can be bought with BTC or ETH.

Currency.com is the very first blockchain-based business licensed by Belarus’ High Technology Park (HTP) under the country’s Decree No. 8 “On The Development of a Digital Economy.”

Apart from being compliant with local legislation, the platform imposes strict KYC and AML requirements aided by blockchain intelligence services such as Elliptic, Chainanalysis, and Coinfirm. In other words, blockchain tracking software will be used to monitor transactions.

Additionally, Currency.com is going to use its FCA and CySEC regulated sister platform to offer access to the tokenized versions of a contract for the exchange of a specific index, commodity or equity.

Tokenized Assets: A Trend in The Making?

Earlier this month, Bitcoinist reported that an Estonian-based platform called DX Exchange would offer users to trade big-name stocks using tokens on the Ethereum blockchain through smart contracts.

Meanwhile, back in 2018, Singapore’s Monetary Authority (MAS) – the country’s de-facto central bank, teamed up with major firms like Deloitte, Anquan, and NASDAQ, to develop solutions for simultaneous exchange and settlement of tokenized digital currencies and security assets.

It appears that the tokenization of traditional assets like stocks is becoming a growing trend as the number of platforms enabling this is increasing with each day.

What do you think of token-based traditional assets? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 12

Lightning Network Without Invoices Brings Us Closer to Streaming Money

A new feature for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) implementation allows users to send funds instantly without needing to first create an invoice.


Sphinx Enables ‘New Use Cases’

The latest upgrade, ‘Sphinx,’ which developers describe as being a “work in progress,” is nonetheless already available to anyone.

“The coolest part about this new feature is that it can be used today in the wild as long as both nodes are updated to this branch!” author Olaoluwa Osuntokun wrote in a Github repository dedicated to the project.

The Lightning Network is a protocol currently active for Bitcoin and Litecoin which allows users to send tokens instantly and for a fee averaging less than 1 US cent.

The technology debuted on the Bitcoin network a year ago, and has grown rapidly, but remains in an experimental state as developers iron out stability and reliability issues.

At present, sending or receiving a transaction still requires some technical understanding, which has made Lightning an unattractive option for entry-level users despite its time and cost benefits.

Lightning’s ‘Best’ Feature Yet?

Sphinx, which Osuntokun says “allows users to start exploring a new set of use cases,” aims to solve that predicament.

It removes the need to create a payment invoice for a transaction, allowing more “spontaneous” activity and sidelining a major technical element potentially off-putting for novices.

“This is only a draft implementation and while it works today on mainnet out of the box (if both sides are upgraded) much this will likely change,” he added.

Sphinx caps a frenetic development period for LN which continued throughout 2018. Despite fluctuations, capacity, node and channel numbers have all reached new highs in recent weeks.

According to data from monitoring resource 1ML, Bitcoin Lightning’s capacity is now 571 BTC ($2,076,000) among 5234 nodes and 19,500 channels.

Sphinx meanwhile has already begun to see a warm reception, commentators variously saying it had attracted them to start using Lightning and that it was now the network’s “best” feature.

What do you think about the Lightning Network’s Sphinx? Let us know in the comments below!


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Led 10

Nick Szabo: Central Banks Might Switch From ‘Physically Vulnerable’ Gold to Bitcoin

Central Banks might resort to cryptocurrency reserves as means of supplementing national gold reserves according to veteran cryptographer Nick Szabo. He also holds that the use of digital currencies will rise in countries with distraught economies. 


Cryptocurrency Over Gold

Speaking at the Israel Bitcoin Summit at Tel Aviv University on January 8th, legendary cryptographer, Nick Szabo, said that national central banks might resort to cryptocurrency reserves as means of supplementing existing national gold reserves.

One of the reasons for this to happen, according to Szabo, is the potential lack of trust between foreign banks or governments:

There’s going to be some situations where a central bank can’t trust a foreign central bank or government with their bonds for example. […] One solution that’s been developed is to have the Swiss government hold it for you – that’s not a trust minimized solution. The Swiss government itself is subject to political pressures and so a more trust minimized solution is cryptocurrency.

In addition, Szabo also notes that gold reserves are “physically vulnerable,” saying:

The other problem with gold reserves is that they’re physically vulnerable. When the Nazis conquered countries in Europe, the first place they went to was a central bank’s gold reserves.

Bitcoinist reported on the uncanny resemblance in the historical performance of gold and Bitcoin in the past. Unlike gold, however, Bitcoin “has more utility” admitted US economist and Bitcoin-critic Paul Krugman.

The Winklevoss twins also recently stated that “Bitcoin is better at being gold than gold,” predicting that it should surpass the precious metal’s $7 trillion dollar market cap in the future.

Helping Distraught Economies

Another thing the Bitcoin pioneer shared was that censorship-resistant cryptocurrencies will grow in popularity in countries, which suffer from failed monetary planning, as well as those which have been blacklisted from trade.

There seems to be substantial merit to his thoughts. Venezuela, for example, is a country which is currently being torn by hyperinflation. In fact, the Director of the Western Hemisphere Department of the International Monetary Fund, Alejandro Werner, said that 10 million percent inflation rate is not out of the picture:

Yes, 10 million percent because prices in Venezuela are doubling or tripling every month. And that, when you take it to 12 months, generates an exponential inflation rate.

As Bitcoinist reported in late December, the country saw its biggest jump in bitcoin volume on LocalBitcoins.

What is more, a Russian university lecturer with ties to the government, Vladislav Ginko, has recently revealed that the country is planning to invest in Bitcoin as a means of avoiding US sanctions.

Whether this is true remains to be seen, but US sanctions indeed have little effect on a neutral global digital currency like Bitcoin

“Because of US sanctions, Russia’s elite is forced to dump US assets and US dollars and invest hugely into Bitcoins. The central bank of Russia sits on $466 billion of reserves and has to diversify in case there are limited opportunities to do it (in the future),” Ginko said.

What do you think of Nick Szabo’s statements? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 01

Bluewallet Lets You Send Bitcoin Lightning Payments from Your iPhone

Bluewallet appears to be setting the bar for the next generation of Bitcoin wallets. Available for both Android and iOS, it is the first to integrate the Lightning Network (LN) for super-quick and “unfairly cheap” transactions.


First Bitcoin Lightning Wallet on iOS

It should be mentioned that this review is largely aimed at users who are either not tech-savvy enough or don’t have have the time or both (like me) to set up their own Lightning nodes.

I’ve used a few iOS Bitcoin wallet apps over the years and all of these have their pros and cons. However, as far as simplicity, ease-of-use, and security are concerned, I can confidently say that Bluewallet is the best iOS Bitcoin wallet app I ever used. 

It combines the latest Bitcoin technology (SegWit, LN, Replace-by-fee etc.) with some nifty security features (plausible deniability) alongside the simplest user experience to date.

Note: Bluewallet did not pay me for this review and never contacted me.

I recently found out about this app, which was launched in early December, on Twitter. The wallet caught my attention since this is the first open-source Bitcoin wallet for iOS that supports Lightning Network so I decided to check it out.

As far as I can tell, it is the first wallet that allows you to:

  • Refill the LN wallet with an on-chain transaction without closing/opening a new one
  • Backup (export) the LN wallet with a QR code/URL
  • Use the same LN wallet across multiple devices

It should also be mentioned that while you control the BTC wallet’s private keys, the LN part is custodial by default running Bluewallet’s LNHUB+LND. But, if you already have your own LND node, you can run LNHUB software yourself (it’s open-source) by entering your URL in the Lightning wallet settings.

Not Many Options for iOS

Just like many other people, my first ever Bitcoin wallet experience was with Blockchain wallet in 2014. It was one of the first Bitcoin wallets available for both Android and iOS mobile platforms.

Currently, I’ve been using Edge wallet (formerly known as Airbitz) for the sole reasons that it is ‘secure’ (you control the private keys) and one of the few that supports SegWit (cheaper transactions) along with many altcoins like Monero and Ethereum.

While I believe Edge is one of the best wallets available for iOS today, I miss the watch-only address feature that Blockchain wallet always had — so there were always tradeoffs.

Watch-only addresses let you — as the name implies — only see the balance of your cold-storage wallets. So even if your Ledger Nano S is buried in a nuclear bunker, you could still safely monitor its balance from afar.

However, security should be paramount to every Bitcoin user. Thus, controlling your own private keys is a must and since there weren’t a lot of options for iOS – Edge wallet it was. (I’ve also tried the popular BRD wallet but I wasn’t a fan).

Blown Away By Simplicity

Setting up a wallet in Bluewallet took less than 20 seconds and you have a choice between a regular HD (hierarchical deterministic) wallet or SegWit. You can also import an existing wallet using your seed.

Done. Creating the Lightning wallet is just as quick.

You then have an option to encrypt (recommended) your wallet’s privet keys with a single password. This makes the experience similar to signing up for a new Gmail account — which makes the entire process very easy and familiar, particularly for those new to Bitcoin.

There’s also a genius feature against $5 wrench attacks called Plausible Deniability.

Next, you’ll need some coin to play with. So refill your Bluewallet by sending an on-chain transaction with some BTC from another wallet. If you don’t have any — it’s possible to buy bitcoin (from Changelly) right from the Options menu.

The whole interface is the cleanest and most intuitive I’ve used to date. The wallet also lets you set a custom transaction fee when sending bitcoin.

Replace-by-fee is another useful feature. If you ever set a fee that is too low — you now have the option to set a higher fee (after you already clicked ‘send’) and speed up the transaction. 

Lightning Network Works But…

So I sent about $4 to my new BTC wallet. About 20 minutes lates after all the confirmations (at least 2), I sent about a few bucks in bitcoin to ‘refill’ my new Lightning address.

Bluewallet notes that your LN wallet is intended for day-to-day transactions because they’re faster and “unfairly cheap.”

After about five confirmations, the LN wallet had satoshis in it and was ready to strike. However, since only one LN wallet can be set up in the app (for now), it was impossible for me to try sending sats back and forth within the app.

So I told my friend to try it. Unfortunately, the LN wallet doesn’t yet support receiving (invoicing) lightning payments yet, so we were unable to send any Satoshis between each other.

Luckily, I did manage to send an LN payment of six cents to read a full article on Yalls.org. This went through instantly and without a problem as clicking ‘check payment’ on Yalls immediately showed that the payment has been sent.

A Glimpse into the Future of LN Payments

Using this wallet gives a glimpse into the future of paying with Bitcoin as LN grows and all the software issues are ironed out. Once LN payments will become seamless, using it should become second nature as transactions are literally instant at almost zero cost.

This should provide a great solution for merchants and in-store payments (e.g. Starbucks) as it eliminates the problem of having to wait for on-chain confirmations – a common criticism of using Bitcoin at brick-n-mortar locations.

Moreover, legacy digital payments (credit cards, Venmo etc.) are already instant and ‘cheap’ for users so the breakthrough will not come from speed. However, LN is not only “unfairly cheap” but also allows sending less than a satoshi – the smallest unit in Bitcoin. This means users are already sending tiny fractions of a penny, as recently reported by Bitcoinist.

Therefore, I believe, this technology will create new opportunities for online micro-payments and monetization of digital content, which could be a game-changer in the Information Age. In the meantime, however, this wallet will make it possible to ride a Lightning scooter.

Or maybe a Lightning beer?

Shortfalls

There are admittedly some shortfalls with Bluewallet. Though most of these gaps are expected to be filled later.

For example, the biggest problem right now is the inability to receive LN payments and make withdrawals from the LN wallet back to the BTC wallet. Therefore, you should only test the LN wallet with a small sum since you will not be able to get the satoshis back to your on-chain Bitcoin wallet (for now).

Software developer Irek Zielinski explains that upcoming versions of Bluewallet will support invoicing, which means bidirectional LN transactions.

Another issue is the lack of PIN or Touch-ID/Face-ID support. Though understandably, a lack of PIN code make it easier to use for the average joe, I’d like to at least have the option to set up a PIN code for accessing the app or some kind of 2-factor authentication for extra security.

Other features in the pipeline include:

  • Batch TX – the ability to pay multiple addresses with a single transaction, saving on fees and optimizing blockspace usage.
  • MultiSig TX – enhanced security as each transaction requires M of N signatures (with keys stored on different physical devices with BlueWallet).
  • Plugging in your Bitcoin Core node for “maximum sovereignty.”

These additions should make Bluewallet, hand down, the best wallet for both iOS and Android users and Bitcoin businesses, in particular. In whole, this is a great wallet if you’re looking to have the latest security features, ease-of-use, Lightning payments, and tired of waiting for Samourai Wallet to be released for iOS.

Have you tried Bluewallet? Share your experience below! 


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Pro 28

The Federal Reserve Could Launch a ‘FedCoin’- But There’s Really No Point

It seems as if the Federal Reserve really understands the core values of Bitcoin and that launching a national cryptocurrency is pointless.


Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde spoke out about the benefits of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) this November. She said that they could improve security, accelerate financial inclusion, reduce poverty, and afford greater privacy. She even made a reference to cryptocurrencies as a “contender” in our cashless society.

And many crypto enthusiasts took heart. It seemed that finally, aging institutions were coming around to the technology and understanding its value. After all, cryptocurrencies can already achieve most of the things that Lagarde suggested. They can lower the cost of international remittances, streamline efficiencies, and protect the identity of their users.

But It’s Not Interesting to The Federal Reserve

At the height of bitcoin’s price explosion last year, when crypto entered the mainstream, many people called it the future of money. In fact, a former governor at the Federal Reserve Kevin Walsh, who was among the candidates to become chairman, said that if he were elected he would allocate resources to explore the creation of Fedcoin–a national cryptocurrency.

St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank: 3 Qualities Bitcoin and Cash Share

Why? Because it could improve transparency, increase efficiency, and allow the Fed to access negative interest rates and other financial tools.

But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, none of these things are of interest to the Fed, the banks, or national governments.

Sorry, No National Cryptocurrency for Now

The IMF is famous for imposing loans on struggling countries and crippling them with exorbitant interest rates. So it seems unlikely that such an institution would race to adopt a technology that would unchain the downtrodden from their shackles.

Moreover, researchers at the St. Louis Fed, Fabian Schar and Aleksander Berentsen, noted that a central bank “could easily” create its own crypto:

However, the key characteristics of cryptocurrencies are a red flag for central banks.

The red flags, they argued, were that law enforcers must be able to monitor who is using a currency at all times, which means that they would need strict identification requirements to eliminate fraudsters and money launderers.

They fail to mention that some two-thirds of all $100 US dollar bills are outside of the United States–and that no one has any idea who is using them.

They do make some very valid points, however, that underpin the reason there may never be a Fedcoin or any other national cryptocurrency:

Once you add a central bank and remove the “permissionless” network—with nodes that can leave and join as they wish, there isn’t much left to the cryptocurrency you started with.

In fact, a centralized cryptocurrency isn’t really a ‘cryptocurrency’ at all. It’s just centralized electronic money, which they’ve already got bucketloads of.

The two St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve researchers further pointed out that this kind of centralized electronic money doesn’t even need a blockchain to work, in fact:

The technology for issuing virtual money in a centralized way existed long before the invention of the blockchain.

The Old Money Laundering Argument Again

A Federal Reserve Board governor Lael Brainard tore the concept of CBDCs apart at San Francisco’s Decoding Digital Currency Conference. While praising blockchain’s innovation, she went on to note that crypto’s volatility made it unsuitable as a unit of currency or store of value and that it was susceptible to hacks and money laundering.

She repeated Schar and Berentsen’s red flag of identity management and noted how a national digital currency would affect banks–again, pointing out that we do, indeed, already have electronic money.

So, while its certainly true that the Fed could digitize the US dollar and turn it into a cryptocurrency, it would only work against the interests of existing institutions and essentially be totally pointless.

Could There Be a Middle Ground?

It’s interesting to note that while adding centralized authorities to crypto does, in fact, seem to be missing the point, that doesn’t render crypto entirely useless for national purposes. Neither does it make fiat any more suitable. Cryptographer Peter Todd noted that:

It’s fashionable to criticise all blockchain stuff when applied to centralized systems as nonsense, because most of the solutions peddled have been nonsense. But the truth is somewhere in between.

Which means there may be some middle ground. But perhaps the main takeaway is this:

That the Federal Reserve wants nothing to do with a national cryptocurrency should be about as surprising as the Vatican failing to embrace gay marriage or abortion. Or if you want a further comparison, asking Jamie Dimon about bitcoin is like asking a taxi driver about Uber.

It’s still a young technology, and we’ve got a long way to go. So for now, it’s really no shocker that the old institutions aren’t diving in to expose their ills and remove their controls.

Do you agree with the Fed’s position on national cryptocurrencies? Share below!


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Pro 23

Bitcoin Price to $17K in 2020, Says ‘Unorthodox’ Mining Difficulty Prediction

An ‘unorthodox prediction’ of mining difficulty increases puts the bitcoin price somewhere around $17,000 in 2020 — due to the possible power law relationship between the two.


Bitcoin price and difficulty ‘power law relationship’

Twitter user @100trillionUSD is back again with another intriguing chart — this time plotting the relationship between BTC price 00 and expected bitcoin mining difficulty in the coming years.

The previous graph visualized the relationship between the bitcoin mining reward halving and its impact on price over time, plotting the months before the halving event took place. This time the focus was on mining difficulty and price, since many analysts consider it to be inextricably linked to network hash rate.

 “Price follows hashrate,” said Max Keiser earlier this year. Adding that it’s been his “mantra” since bitcoin was at $3.

Mining is undoubtedly profitable when the hash rate is rising. It also means miners are confident in the future of Bitcoin if they are adding hardware to scale up their operations. However, a high hash rate also causes the Bitcoin mining difficulty to increase. This makes the mining process more resource-intensive as more hash power is needed to achieve the same results as at lower difficulty levels.

If the hash rate is too high relative to the price at which miners can sell their mined bitcoin (as we’ve seen this year), the most unprofitable miners will likely drop out. They may sell their equipment or simply turn off their rigs until the price recovers or it becomes easier to mine as difficulty adjusts. 

“Based on the poll results on bitcoin difficulty and the possible power law relationship between bitcoin price and difficulty (see formula below), an unorthodox prediction of the 2020 bitcoin price would be: $17,317,” explains 100trillionUSD.

Overall, 85 percent of respondents believe the difficulty will increase 10-100 times in the next two years. Meanwhile, only 10 percent think this is the beginning of the end for Bitcoin mining frequently referred to as the ‘death spiral’ (more about this later).

The biggest share of respondents (59 percent) expects the difficulty to rise 10x between today and the end of 2020. A smaller group (27 percent), however, believe the increase could be as high as 100X, which would translate into a price above $28,000.

Granted, the poll sample size was rather small with just over 250 votes. Nevertheless, mining difficulty is an important factor to consider for not only predicting BTC price but also evaluating the state of the network as a whole.

Difficulty Drops But No ‘Death Spiral’

Bitcoinist recently reported that the Bitcoin network mining difficulty just had another downward adjustment to lower price. The biggest in seven years, in fact, amid a year-long bear market that saw an 85 percent drop in market capitalization from its all-time high in late 2017.

But contrary to many ‘experts’ equating a break in the trend to the start of a mining ‘death spiral,’ the difficulty adjustment is an important counterbalance for the Bitcoin network. In other words, the adjusting difficulty (every 2016 blocks) relative to hash rate is a feature that enables the Bitcoin network to find the equilibrium for mining profitability.

What’s more, this is similar to what central banks do by raising and lowering interest rates with changing market conditions. However, in Bitcoin’s case, the adjustment is entirely baked into the code and thus, entirely predictable. 

Is mining difficulty a good metric to consider when predicting price? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, blockchain.info, @100trillionUSD.

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Pro 18

Blockstream Satellite Now Means Most Of The World Can Use Bitcoin Without Internet

Blockchain technology company Blockstream revealed the second phase of its satellite-based Bitcoin communications project Blockstream Satellite this week.


Satellite Coverage Expands To Asia Pacific

Part of a plan to provide free private Bitcoin sending and receiving without the need for an internet connection, the company now provides satellite coverage of the Asia Pacific region, an accompanying blog post confirmed December 17.

Phase one of the project covered North and South America, Europe, and Africa.

A major proponent of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network (LN) implementation, Blockstream also unveiled an API to allow broadcast of data via Blockchain Satellite with fees paid via the protocol.

Developers promised the API would go live for users in January 2019.

“While satellite communications are traditionally cost-prohibitive, Blockstream Satellite will finally allow developers to adopt satellite communications in their applications,” head of Blockstream Satellite Chris Cook commented in the blog post.

…Natural disaster notifications, secure personal messaging, and sending bitcoin market data to remote locations are just some of the exciting examples of the power of this service.

blockstream satellite coverage

Battling Government Internet Control

The Satellite project originally launched in August 2017. It works via a series of Earth-based ground stations linked to the Bitcoin network transmitting blocks to a series of orbiting satellites. The satellites then rebroadcast the data to the coverage area.

At present, users running a node require only a small satellite antenna and USB receiver to keep it in sync with the network without an internet connection.

Asked about the location and “government-resistance” of the Earth-based equipment, CEO Adam Back acknowledged the trade-offs in the current status quo.

“[A]s a geopolitical neutral money Bitcoin needs to work robustly,” he wrote on Twitter.

[F]or today it depends which country, there is some diversity of ownership of the satellites. [B]ut there are 195 countries in the world, some of which have disabled internet & mobile phone service in times of turmoil.

What do you think about Blockstream Satellite? Let us know in the comments below!


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Pro 14

To The Moon! Bitcoin Space Travel Gets Closer As Virgin Galactic Takes Flight

Billionaire Richard Branson appeared to cry tears of joy when his ‘Bitcoin-friendly’ Virgin Galactic reached the edge of space for the first time December 13.


World Sees First Commercial Space Flight

Branson, who revealed himself as a Bitcoin believer and investor in 2013, watched as SpaceShipTwo, the latest vehicle from the Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, broke free of Earth to mark a “momentous achievement” for crewed space travel.

“SpaceShipTwo is now the first crewed vehicle built for commercial service to reach space. (With due credit of course to the amazing SpaceShipOne prototype for paving the way),” he wrote in a dedicated blog post.

Virgin Galactic aims to make both space tourism and long-distance point-to-point travel using rocket power a viable commercial enterprise.

In 2013, Branson announced the project would accept Bitcoin for flights, calling the cryptocurrency a “brilliantly conceived idea.”

“Sometime in the future, innovative payment models such as… Bitcoin will become serious challengers to traditional banks, which will spur more competition and give customers even more options,” he forecast at the time.

Galactic is a company looking into the future, so is Bitcoin. So it makes sense we would offer Bitcoin as a way to pay for your journey to space.

Bitcoin To The Moon

Like the Bitcoin ecosystem, the project has had its ups and downs. In 2014, a crash during the fourth test flight of SpaceShipTwo resulted in the death of its copilot, while its pilot sustained serious injuries.

In the intervening years, Blockchain technology has meanwhile become the focus of a more general push to advance space exploration.

As Bitcoinist reported, NASA is among the entities looking to enhance their operations using both Blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), specifically within the field of communications.

Blockstream satellite

Bitcoin transactions can also be broadcasted via satellite. Four have been launched by Blockstream to date, covering a large part of the earth to protect against network interruptions and providing anyone in the world with the opportunity to use Bitcoin.

Virgin Galactic, meanwhile, will now continue to conduct tests on SpaceShipTwo with aim of creating longer fights and “creating thousands of private astronauts.”

What do you think about Virgin Galactic? Let us know in the comments below!


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Pro 07

Six EU Nations Sign Agreement to Regulate Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)

The Government of Malta this week announced the signing of a joint declaration of cooperation on Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT). They joined a group of six other Southern European countries; France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Cyprus.


Transformative Technology

The countries released a joint-statement noting a shared view that the digital sphere is an ideal policy area for future cooperation. It also claims that DLT (a.k.a. blockchain technology) and other emerging technologies, such as 5G and artificial intelligence, could transform the countries economies.

The Digital Economy and Society Index shows that Southern European countries have huge potential for growth in the sector. The countries believe that a cooperative approach can lead to an expansion of their digital ecosystems, making the region a leader in this industry.

Game Changer

Distributed Ledger Technology is particularly singled out for its potential to further democratize the European economic model. The trust-based technology could transform services in areas as diverse as education, shipping, land registry, and healthcare.

This would increase transparency and accountability, whilst reducing administrative burdens. The promotion of blockchain enhanced solutions could empower citizens to take control of their personal data and online privacy.

Plan Of Action

The signees of the statement believe it is a government responsibility to promote emerging technologies and pledge to do so. This will be through educational programs at all levels to ensure citizens understand the technologies potential.

They state that “any legislation on Distributed Ledger Technologies should take into account the decentralized nature of such technology and should be based on European fundamental principles and technological neutrality.”

The countries plan to hold regular technical meetings, sharing best practices in the sector and exploring potential cross-border DLT projects. They commit to regular progress reviews and call upon the European Commission to continue working on the European Blockchain Partnership.

Go Southern Europe!

The full text of the statement (in English) is available here.

Will regulation of DLT help boost adoption or hinder it? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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