Led 20

Australian Bitcoin ATM Startup Says Its Raking in $360,000 Per Week

A Bitcoin ATM company from Australia has reported a weekly turnover of $500,000 AUD (roughly $360,000 USD) despite the cryptocurrency bear market. 


$360,000 Weekly Turnaround

Auscoin, an Australian bitcoin ATM company, has reported a weekly turnaround of $360,000 in 2018. According to the reports, it’s currently operating 31 ATMs throughout Australia but it’s planning to expand.

Speaking on the matter, Sam Karagiozis, founder at Auscoin, said:

We currently have 31 Auscoin ATMs in Australia… and our turnover is $500,000 a week, which is just insane considering how much the price of Bitcoin has dropped. […] It just shows there really is a market for it and cryptocurrency is seen as a way of the future for many.

bitcoin atm

Auscoin bitcoin ATM

The company had an underwhelming ICO in 2018 after it managed to raise only $2 million of the projected $30 million. However, it hopes to expand to a network of more than 1200 bitcoin ATMs across Australia.

It’s Getting Easier to Buy Bitcoin

It’s becoming increasingly easier for people to buy Bitcoin at a range of physical locations. According to Karagiozis, accessibility is the main barrier to entry for regular people:

We believe the most significant barrier to entry for everyday people in the cryptocurrency market is accessibility.

Bitcoinist reported that the number of Bitcoin ATMs has doubled in 2018, growing to more than 4,000 in 76 different countries. According to the tracking website Coinatmradar, Australia has 54 Bitcoin ATMs in operation.

At the beginning of the month, France started selling Bitcoin at tobacco shops. The plan is to expand buying bitcoin to 24,000 tobacco kiosks across the country in the near future.

Just a couple of days ago, US-based Bitcoin ATM company Coinme partnered up with international coin counter Coinstar. The initiative has enabled users to buy Bitcoin at 20,000 Coinstar kiosk locations.

Meanwhile, Venezuela is also expected to see its first bitcoin vending machine go live within the next two weeks.

What do you think of the growing popularity of Bitcoin ATMs? Will this have a positive impact on its widespread adoption? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 19

Venezuela: First Bitcoin ATM Opens ‘In 2 Weeks’ Amid Localbitcoins Shutdown Reports

Venezuela, the country seeing new Bitcoin trade volume records on an almost weekly basis, is to get its first ever Bitcoin ATM.


Cryptobuyer: ATM Already In Caracas

In an interview with local radio and news media network Union Radio, Jorge Farias, CEO of Panama-based Cryptobuyer, said the machine had already arrived in the country’s capital Caracas.

“We are going to install the first cryptocurrency ATM in Venezuela over the course of the next two weeks,” he told the network.

…We already have the equipment physically installed in Venezuela, in Caracas; it’s in its final test stage and we will then be making an announcement on social networks.

The pioneering move comes amid ever more difficult times for Venezuelans.

Venezuela's Central Bank Unveils App to Convert New Crypto-Pegged ‘Sovereign Bolivar’

As Bitcoinist variously reported, a toxic mixture of hyperinflation, travel and forex restrictions has made life for the average citizen often impossible.

At the same time, Venezuela’s government has pushed an agenda involving its state-issued cryptocurrency Petro, recently beginning to require certain payments – such as passports – only use the asset.

Petro has had a dubious reputation since inception, reports claiming that despite its peg to Venezuela’s $6 billion oil float, its backer in the form of state oil company PDVSA has $45 billion debts which undermine its status as a store of value.

Localbitcoins ‘Not Working’

It is thus little surprise that P2P Bitcoin trading has exploded, especially over the last six months of 2018.

According to the latest data from Coin Dance, the week ending January 5 was the second busiest on record for the Venezuelan Bolivar (VES) on Localbitcoins, with a total of 5.15 billion changing hands.

This was followed a dramatic drop for the week ending January 12, will social media commentators reporting the service was no longer accessible from inside Venezuela.

Cryptobuyer is first and foremost a merchant acceptance platform for Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Dash (DASH), and at present only lists a modest network of five ATMs in Panama City. Its operational machines cater to all three cryptocurrencies.

Worldwide, the number of Bitcoin ATMs continues to expand. A deal announced this week between the first US operator, Coinme, and change counter Coinstar, could see up to 20,000 extra locations appear in the US soon.

What do you think about Venezuela’s Bitcoin ATM? Let us know in the comments below!


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Led 18

ShapeShift Aided 60 Law Enforcement Inquiries in 2018, Erik Voorhees Reveals

It seems like ShapeShift has done exactly as its name suggests, changing form almost beyond recognition. Founder, CEO, and no fan of the SEC, Erik Voorhees’ exchange once existed without accounts. Now they have full KYC and hand over customer data upon request.


ShapeShift Shocked Crypto World With KYC

In what can only be described as a seismic shift in ethos, ShapeShift started implementing KYC in September 2018. They first sugarcoated it as a “membership program,” for which users would have to provide “basic personal details.” This would allow the exchange to reward them in the form of higher trading limits, cheaper fees, and the like.

Whichever way you spin it, however, the company was paving the way for full KYC/AML. And all customers would have to undergo it by the end of the year. Voorhees later admitted the decision was largely due to “regulatory hurdles.” It also stung the company financially, forcing them to lay off some 37 employees.

ShapeShift made a name for itself as a frictionless way to move crypto funds. But if the company was to compete in a regulatory environment that’s increasingly heating up, it would have to get compliant. Plain and simple.

ShapeShift and Law Enforcement

A blog post tweeted out by Voorhees yesterday may shock its users who thought they had complete anonymity before Q3. Making a reference to Kraken and how their transparency with law enforcement inspired ShapeShift to also help, they say that in 2018, the exchange aided in 60 law enforcement requests.

The below charts depict the various types of law enforcement requests that come in different forms from governments around the world.

ShapeShift Law Enforcement Requests

The company says:

In the United States, they often take the form of subpoenas… What probably won’t come as a surprise is that the United States makes up the largest number of these requests.

A subpoena is a court-ordered request that essentially forces a person or entity to take an action. This could either be to testify before a court or hand over documents. Voorhees is no stranger to these.

What’s interesting is that there was an influx of requests towards the end of quarter three and moving into quarter four. The company says that this is congruous with other crypto companies in the industry, citing Market Watch.

ShapeShift No Longer Anonymous in Anyway

For users who thought that moving crypto through ShapeShift was a viable way of facilitating criminal activity, KYC clipped their wings. And if they had any notion that their transactions were anonymous on ShapeShift at any point last year, they just go a wakeup call.

There’s a lot of scrutiny on cryptocurrencies as the technology and use evolves. ShapeShift has always held financial transparency as a core principle, and for this reason, we felt the world should know that these types of law enforcement requests happen – almost continuously.

What do you think about Shapeshift aiding law enforcement? Share your thoughts below!


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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 15

XRP Overtakes Ethereum Despite Looming ‘Constantinople’ Upgrade

XRP has reclaimed the position of the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap from ETH just days before Ethereum’s ‘Constantinople’ hard-fork upgrade. 


Pre-Fork Drop

On January 16th, Ethereum is scheduled to undergo a network-wide system update called ‘Constantinople’. Among other things, the implementation of the upgrade will reduce the block reward from 3 ETH/block to 2 ETH/block.

Days before the event, however, Ethereum’s (ETH) 00 price experienced a notable decline.

In a matter of minutes, ETH price dropped by about 8 percent.

The movement caused ETH to fall behind Ripple (XRP), which reclaimed its spot as the second largest cryptocurrency by means of market capitalization, less than two weeks after Ethereum regained the number two spot from XRP.

In fact, the two have been neck and neck over the past few months in cryptocurrency market cap rankings.

XRP 00 also experienced a decrease around the same time, but the cryptocurrency experienced a relatively smaller loss of 2.5 percent against the USD.

Ethereum’s ‘Constantinople’

Constantinople is a system upgrade scheduled for implementation at block 7,080,000. Given the current average block time, the event should take place on January 16th, 2019.

One of the most discussed changes that the upgrade will cause is the reduction of block reward from the current 3 ETH/block to 2 ETH/block. This is also referred to as the “thirdening.” It’s the second time Ethereum’s block rewards have been reduced.

The first one was called “Byzantium” and it took place on October 16th, 2017. Back then, ETH surged by about 6 percent during the day, followed by the cryptocurrency’s late 2017 rally to an all-time high of about $1,400.

In total, the upgrade will integrate 5 Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), which are geared toward tackling cost, speed, functionality, and mining issues.

Support For ‘Constantinople’

Several cryptocurrency exchanges have announced their support for the upcoming network upgrade.

Binance, HitBTC, Huobi, Bittrex, OKEx, CEX.IO, Cryptopia, and Poloniex, have all announced that they will support the Constantinople hard-fork.

Most of them advise users to give sufficient time for their deposits to be processed prior to the upgrade.

At the time of writing this, Gemini, Coinbase, and Bitfinex, haven’t yet declared their support for the upgrade.

What do you think about Constantinople and its impact on Ethereum? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


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Led 13

Our Man At CES 2019 – Part One: Finding Crypto

Where better to check out all the latest crypto-tech than the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Actually, as it turned out, finding crypto at CES wasn’t as easy as first expected.


Technology Unveiled at CES 2019

The Sunday before the show hosts a media event called CES Unveiled, featuring the Best of Innovation awards.

After three hours feigning interested in a whole range of tech startups latest offerings, I was beginning to lose hope. The closest I’d come to anything blockchain related was a point-of-sale device, which the exhibitor said: “could develop to include cryptocurrency payments in the future.”

CES

Just as the event was finishing I stumbled across the Archos booth, where they were showing a new hardware wallet, the Safe-T touch. I arranged to meet them again during the show proper, with the possibility that they might be able to source a review model.

On exiting the hall I was sequestered by a youth holding a sign saying CoinAgenda. Apparently there was a crypto-afterparty a short bus ride away. A quick straw poll of the guests suggested that nobody really knew what the party had to do with crypto. But there was an open bar, so nobody seemed overly concerned.

Conference Tracks

Monday was spent exploring Vegas, but I did chance upon this Bitcoin ATM in a Love Boutique.

Then Tuesday saw a full day of hosted panel-type discussions in the ‘Digital Money’ conference track. Access to these conference tracks required the purchase of an additional pass over and above the registration for the main event. Whilst I hadn’t found much to report from the Unveiled show, there was a rich vein of cryptocurrency and blockchain, playing a prominent part in events.

A diverse range of speakers and panel guests included Brock Pierce, Tim Draper, Michael Terpin of Transform group, and the Prince of the Netherlands. Sessions covered topics such as security, blockchain in the entertainment industry, regulation, and decentralization.

Last on the schedule was ‘The Second Annual Token Slugfest’, in which six companies gave four-minute pitches for their ICOs. This concluded with a clap-o-meter type judging of the pitches, and the crowning of an eventual winner.

Having spent the day bathed in the warm fuzzy glow of all things crypto, my spirits were rejuvenated. I planned to hit the show floor the next day to continue my search. Actually the (many) show floors. I hadn’t realized quite how big this CES thing was.


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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 12

Crypto Conference Industry Remains in Bull Market, New Data Shows

More often than not, the first thing to be cut out of the budget is marketing. When the going gets tough and the coffers start emptying, the first head on the chopping block is usually the marketing intern. Followed by PR and event organization. But while the industry’s certainly seen a few layoffs in 2018, crypto conferences are still going strong.


Crypto Conferences Bucking a Trend

According to cryptocurrency researcher TradeBlock, even in the crypto bear market, when you may have expected to see a correlating decline in conferences, that was far from the case.

In fact, with the exception of December, crypto conferences hit their highest numbers toward the end of the year in October and November.

What Does This Mean?

Even in a bear market, industry events did not die out (in fact, there were some 53 and 52 conferences in November and December respectively).

The other month with the highest number of crypto conferences in 2018 was May. This saw some of the industry’s best-known and highest-attended conferences, such as Consensus in New York and Silicon Valley’s Global Disruptive.

Bitcoin conference in Prague, 2018

The conference scene slowed down a little throughout the summer unsurprisingly, but picked up speed again in September, with some 39 conferences. These included World Blockchain Forum in London and Berlin’s Dezentral.

October and November saw conferences with more focus on regulation. The hotly-awaited Malta Blockchain Summit saw an attendance of around 8,500 delegates. And Web Sumit in Lisbon as the world’s largest tech conference pulled in some 70,000.

Despite many studies pointing to a dwindling interest in crypto from the public, it seems the industry is still keeping the home fires burning.

Crypto conferences are not cheap either. A regular ticket at a mass event like Consensus or Web Summit will set you back around $2,000.

That the crypto conference bull run didn’t end in 2018 is a positive sign for the industry. There may be less popular interest, but more and more industry investors are keen on entering the market.

According to the annual SFOX Volatility Report:

While public discussion about crypto has waned since the start of the year, we’re seeing sustained interest at SFOX from institutional investors who want exposure to crypto.

Crypto Is Alive and Kicking

The same report places the crypto market at ‘moderately bearish’ as we enter 2019. But while prices look to be on a downward spiral once more, blockchain companies are busy building key infrastructure.

Solutions for scaling will find real use cases this year, Walmart and Wall Street will place more confidence in blockchain tech, and clearer regulation in the US should help ease uncertainty. So let’s hope the conferences keep up the pace throughout 2019 as well. And that they keep on serving free drinks.

Will 2019 see a change in the bull market trend for conferences? Share your thoughts!


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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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