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 12

Coinbase Slammed For Venezuela ZCash Airdrop Being an ‘Advertising Strategy’

US cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has received intense criticism for giving Venezuelan families a grand total of $1 per day – in altcoin ZCash, which it added to its books days previously.


Scroogebase?

In a blog post December 11, executives claimed that the initiative dubbed the “12 Days of Coinbase,” was meant to “empower those who don’t have enough.”

Coinbase completed a rollout of ZCash 00 to its own traders December 5, the price of which currently sits at its lowest since April 2017.

“Recipients can purchase food and basic supplies at a local store that accepts payments in crypto, subsidizing everyday expenses — this $1 USD equivalent per day can buy 1–2 kilos of protein or 2-kilos of starches and vegetables,” the post reads.

The initiative will award 100 families $1 daily for three months via GiveCrypto, a spin-off enterprise from Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

As soon as the plans went public, however, both Coinbase and Armstrong himself faced a barrage of negative publicity ranging from skepticism over their efficacy to outright disgust.

Starving Venezuelans Turn to Bitcoin Mining in Desperation

On Twitter, commentators, including those living in poverty-stricken Venezuela, said the priority of schemes such as this and that of fellow altcoin Dash 00 was not to help those in need but rather to market altcoins.

Venezuela, they suggested, was being used by $8 billion Coinbase as a guinea pig to serve its own aims.

“I do not see how donations from # cryptocurrencies help individuals in (Venezuela),” José Rafael Peña, editor of Spanish-language cryptocurrency news outlet CryptoNoticias wrote.

I have seen so many campaigns to give away crypts to individuals, that I only see it as an advertising strategy for those who plan to donate them.

‘You Piece Of Sh*t’

Others were much more damning.

Addressing Armstrong, software developer Udi Wertheimer lambasted what he viewed as a display of miserliness.

“The ‘Venezuela meme’ has been overused by ‘crypto’ scammers for years now, but I’m shocked to see Brian do the same,” he tweeted.

“Giving $1-worth of Zcash to Venezuelan families? (Get the f*ck out). Give them USD cash you piece of shit. Unbelievable[.]”

Coinbase’s publicity woes had continued from last week. Publishing an article about the exchange’s plans to introduce 30 new altcoins to its books, TechCrunch – perhaps inadvertently – gave it a URL describing Coinbase as “dabbling in shitcoins.”

The move became an incongruous hit on social media, seeing comments from some of the cryptocurrency industry’s best-known names.

What do you think about Coinbase’s charity giveaway? Let us know in the comments below!


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Pro 03

Bitcoin, Blockchain Jobs Openings Are Booming Hitting 18-Month High

The Bitcoin and Blockchain jobs industry is booming despite price deflation, a new survey from Glassdoor has revealed.


1775 Bitcoin, Blockchain Jobs In August

The findings, which originally appeared in mid-October, covered an 18-month period from April 2017 through August 2018.

In that time, the number of job openings “related” to both Bitcoin and Blockchain grew almost every month – even as the Bitcoin price began to fall after December last year.

Most came from cryptocurrency names, with Ethereum cofounder Joseph Lubin’s ConsenSys and exchange Coinbase among the top players.

Contrary to expectations, as of August 2018, there were more vacancies in the two sectors than ever before, even as BTC/USD 00 fell lower and lower.

“As more employers become interested and invest in the technology, the professionalization of the space has accelerated as well,” Glassdoor researchers wrote expounding the data.

Cryptocurrency prices began rising across the board around May 2017. In that month, just 234 jobs were on offer in the US.

Fast forward a year and a half and the Bitcoin price was circling $6500 – around three times higher – yet the number of jobs had multiplied well beyond that figure, reaching 1775 this August.

Glassdoor also lists the top markets for the job openings with New York City and Silicon Valley (unsurprisingly) in the top three.

Rapid Growth ‘Set To Continue’

“The surge in open jobs has well outpaced the 200 percent increase in value that cryptocurrencies have undergone since August 2017,” Glassdoor noted.

Despite the price volatility over the last year, continued growth in job openings suggests that blockchain employers remain confident in the market opportunity and continue to make long-term investments in their teams.

The survey was not the only one to identify the increasing trend. In September, analysts found the number of Asian opportunities had increased 50 percent since 2017.

Going forward, despite the blockchain industry, in particular, attracting mixed publicity recently, its longer-term growth seems somewhat more assured, says Glassdoor, adding:

While the ultimate staying power of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies remains to be seen, the blockchain job market seems primed to continue its rapid growth into the near future.

What do you think about the rise in Bitcoin and Blockchain jobs? Let us know in the comments below!


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Lis 28

First Bitcoin ATM Installed in ECB’s Own Backyard

Germany has just got its second Bitcoin ATM in Frankfurt, home of the European Central Bank, as the total worldwide machine count hits 4000 for the first time.


Bitcoin ATM Arrives in Frankfurt

As local media reported November 23, Bitcoin-Store Frankfurt in Germany’s financial center and home of the European Central Bank (ECB) is now home to one of only two BTMs currently operational in the country.

Under the auspices of founder Oliver Pangratz, Bitcoin-Store exists as a brick-and-mortar cryptocurrency guide, offering in-person assistance with all aspects of Bitcoin including helping consumers open wallets and send transactions.

“A relatively small group of people have knowledge of cryptocurrencies in Germany at present,” Pangratz told local news program Hessenschau Monday.

…At Bitcoin-Store we want to get people a bit more enthused about the topic.

coinatmradar Bitcoin ATM

Unlike the US, which now boasts 2370 BTMs according to data from CoinATMRadar, Germany is one of the most sparsely-populated jurisdictions for Bitcoin buying and selling options.

The reason behind the lack of progress remains regulation. As Bitcoinist reported, only a court decision allowed legitimate operation of machines this month, a situation which finance regulator BaFin has suggested may not last.

“Whether the ATM will be found in Munich for a longer period remains unclear and depends on how long the judgment can remain in force,” media reported after the BTM appeared in a Munich casino.

Coinsource Pushes For US-Wide Presence

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the competitive push to cast BTMs far and wide has continued in recent months.

Coinsource, one operator which has installed around 200 machines in various US states, finally received its BitLicense from New York regulators at the start of November.

BitLicense Revisions

Planning a presence in all 50 states, the company is one of several laying the foundations for a future surge in consumer-level interest.

“This expansion is not only a step in the right direction for mainstream adoption, but should also be seen as a case study for other companies to make every effort to remain compliant with current regulations,” LeapRate quoted Coinsource general counsel Arnold Spencer as saying Wednesday.

What do you think about Bitcoin ATMs in Germany and further afield? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives, CoinATMradar.com

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Lis 18

Switzerland Approves First Bitcoin-Cryptocurrency ETF with Ticker $HODL

The Bitcoin ETF $HODL, offered by Amun Crypto, will begin trading on Switzerland’s Six Swiss Exchange beginning next week. The ETF’s earnings will be linked to five different cryptocurrencies.


The ETF is being offered by Amun Crypto, a U.K. based fintech company. It will begin trading on Six Swiss Exchange next week. Six is Switzerland’s chief stock exchange, as well as the fourth largest in Europe.

According to the Financial Times, the ETF “[…] has been designed to track an index based on the movements of five leading cryptocurrencies.”

Roughly half (48%) of the ETF’s assets will be invested in Bitcoin (BTC) 00. The rest will be put towards bitcoin cash, XRP (30%), ethereum, and litecoin.

New Kid On the Block

Financial Times‘ writer Matt Flood notes that the ETF has been crafted in close accordance with the standards expected from traditional exchange-traded funds. This is according Hany Rashwan, Amun’s top executive.

Rashwan describes the aims of the ETF:

The Amun ETP will give institutional investors that are restricted to investing only in securities or do not want to set up custody for digital assets exposure to cryptocurrencies. It will also provide access for retail investors that currently have no access to crypto exchanges due to local regulatory impediments

The Times reports that while competitors like CoinShares and Grayscale exist, they differ in legal form, whilst only being linked to one cryptocurrency. Seeding for the ETF will be fostered by Jane Street and Flow Traders, and it will trade using the ticker $HODL.

The Financial Times highlights the ETF’s arrival amid the lowest drop in BTC price 00 in over a year. The ETF is has been particularly the source of much hype in the cryptocurrency space. An exchange-traded fund product is expected to facilitate institutional buying of bitcoin.

Switzerland seems to be perpetually fixed in the crypto news cycle whether its happenings in Crypto Valley or the present ETF. Progress seems to abound.

In October, Bitcoinist reported on Crypto AG’s recently-granted cryptocurrency asset management license. A month earlier, Bitcoinist also wrote on Switzerland’s status as a top global Bitcoin destination.

What are your thoughts on the Bitcoin ETF $HODL? Share your thoughts below!


Images and media courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter (@boscryptocnn, @MANT121266), YouTube (ThinkCrypto).

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Lis 11

Bitcoin ATMs Have Spread to 4,000 Locations Globally

Numerous signs of maturity can be noted across the cryptocurrency industry. A growing number of Bitcoin ATMs is making their mark on the world. This month, the number is expected to surpass the 4,000 milestone.


Another Milestone for Bitcoin ATMs

Making cryptocurrency more accessible remains a key priority. Bitcoin ATMs have their role to play in this regard. These machines make it easier to buy bitcoin and altcoins with fiat currencies. Nearly 4,000 of these devices can be accessed on a global scale.

It is a low number compared to bank ATMs, but more devices are brought online every single day. Currently over 6 Bitcoin ATMs come online every single day.

Bitcoin ATMs Spring up Across Utah... ish

In May, Bitcoinist reported on the 3,000 location milestone for Bitcoin ATMs worldwide.

North America is the place to be for accessing Bitcoin ATMs. The continent controls 71.3% of the market at this time. Europe is the somewhat surprising second entrant on the list. Nearly one in four devices can be found in top European cities. Asia, while quite prominent in cryptocurrency trading, only houses 2.56% of all Bitcoin ATMs. Oceania, South America, and Africa are even further down the rankings.

One peculiar trend is how operators are not just focusing on Bitcoin. Over six in ten machines support altcoins in various degrees. Litecoin is the most popular altcoin offering, followed by Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. Support for Dash, Monero, Dogecoin, and ZCash also appears to be on the rise. Additionally, nearly four in ten Bitcoin ATMs let users both buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Manufacturer Competition Heats up

In the early days of the Bitcoin ATM industry, Lamassu was the most prominent company. That situation has changed over time. Its current market share sits at 10.96%, making it the third-most common manufacturer. Genesis Coin currently maintains a small lead over General Bytes.

Further down the list, names such as BitAccess, Coinsource, Covault, and OrderbobATM are also trying to increase their market position. New producers have also come to market over the years. BitxATM, CoinOutlet, Bitnovo, and DOBI ATM are just some of the up-and-coming manufacturers. This level of competition is another sign of Bitcoin’s maturity. Increasing exposure for cryptocurrency will be a vital aspect of reaching mainstream adoption.

One aspect of Bitcoin ATM services which needs to be improved upon is transaction fees. Buying cryptocurrency remains subject to an average fee of 8.85%. Selling cryptocurrency is slightly cheaper, at a cost of 7.9%. Compared to using normal exchanges, these costs are quite steep. At the same time, the level of convenience is very different. More convenience usually leads to higher premium fees in the financial industry.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, coinatmradar.com

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Lis 09

Bitcoin to $250K by 2023 Prediction is ‘Absolutely Solid,’ Says Tim Draper

Serial cryptocurrency investor and billionaire Tim Draper has said his Bitcoin price prediction of $250,000 by 2022 is “absolutely solid.”


Draper: Destination Clear, Path Uncertain

Speaking during the giant Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon which ended November 8, Draper, who is well known for his optimistic outlook on Bitcoin, in particular, doubled down on his price forecast few others have dared rival.

“I have a pretty good sense of what’s going on four, five, six ten years from now because that’s my business – to meet with young entrepreneurs who are putting a future into my mind,” he told a panel which also featured Blockchain CEO Peter Smith and Managing Capital co-founder Garry Tan.

…My prediction for $250,000 by 2022 – maybe 2023 but in that range – is absolutely solid, but I’m not so sure how we’re going to get there[.]

Cryptocurrency became an increasingly focal topic at this year’s Summit, which with almost 70,000 attendees constitutes the largest such conference in Europe.

Smith’s Blockchain, announcing a partnership with payment network Stellar at the event, has begun giving away $125 million in the latter’s Lumen tokens in a bid to increase awareness and adoption of cryptoassets.

‘Just Go Do It’

While touching on different aspects of how the industry should grow in future, both Smith and Draper agreed on the need to continue placing financial sovereignty in users’ hands.

“Why we aren’t all… creating Bitcoin, putting together a wallet – just go do it so you get the feel for it because it’s so much better than what we have today,” Draper told the audience.

All three panelists, with varying degrees of reluctance, meanwhile agreed that BTC/USD 00 should trade higher this time next year, Smith additionally confirming he was still accumulating bitcoin.

Anticipation of an end to what Tan among many others referred to as the “crypto winter” continues to run high across the community, with markets yet to provide hints of an imminent end to bear market conditions.

Tan added he was uncertain whether the ‘winter’ would be over by the end of 2019.

What do you think about Tim Draper’s price prediction reiteration? Let us know in the comments below!


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Lis 01

Bithumb Launching US Securities Exchange with SeriesOne Partnership

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has joined the league of exchanges diversifying their international offerings by setting up a US securities trading platform. 


Preempting ‘Global’ Blockchain Asset Tokenization

Through a partnership with blockchain fundraising platform SeriesOne, Bithumb seeks to speed up its growth into a “global financial firm” by cornering the securities token market, local South Korean media outlet Yonhap News Agency reported Nov 1.

The announcement comes days after US exchanges Bittrex and Coinbase announced they were preparing to launch international versions of their exchanges catering to non-US residents in a bid to bypass the country’s complex regulations.

“SeriesOne actively sought to strike a deal with Bithumb after assessing it as the most suitable partner,” Yonhap quotes an unnamed Bithumb official as saying.

Bithumb will ramp up efforts to develop into a global financial firm as the blockchain-based asset tokenization is expected to spread globally down the road.

Bithumb

Platform To Launch By Q3 2019

The partnership will leverage SeriesOne’s license to operate as an environment for trading cryptocurrency tokens deemed to be securities by US regulators. The joint platform, Yonhap says quoting anonymous “sources,” should debut “during the first half of next year.”

In a tit-for-tat move, SeriesOne has already expanded into the South Korean market, where it also plans to trade securities.

The country continues to modify its stance on the cryptocurrency industry, authorities nonetheless opting not to end the country’s fourteen-month-old ban on ICOs.

“Although many people call for the government to allow initial coin offerings, there are still uncertainties related to such a move as well as the possibility of serious fallouts,” Financial Services Commission (FSC) Chairman Choi Jong-ku said during a parliamentary meeting earlier in October.

At the same time, Bithumb saw a change of ownership place it in the hands of Singapore investor BK Consortium, which purchased the exchange for $353 million.

What do you think about Bithumb’s US exchange? Let us know in the comments below! 


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Říj 31

Why Did Bitmain’s Antpool ‘Stop Mining’ SegWit Blocks?

Antpool, the Bitcoin mining pool owned by hardware manufacturer Bitmain, has stopped mining Segregated Witness (‘SegWit’) blocks.


A Question Of ‘Charity’?

In a move which has sparked suspicion among cryptocurrency figures, data from the past seven days of block mining shows Bitmain mining blocks of under 1 megabyte – smaller than SegWit blocks mined by other pools.

“AntPool no longer includes SegWit txs in Bitcoin (BTC) blocks,” one Twitter account confirmed October 30.

If there are enough non-SW transactions to fill up Core’s 1MB base blocks and they pay higher fees than the SW transactions, why should (it) be charitable?

The curious statistics contrast with Bitmain’s desire to increase the Bitcoin block size limit as an alternative to the off-chain scaling options favored by SegWit proponents.

The apparent conflict was not lost on the industry, the research team of Hong Kong-based trading platform BitMEX also highlighting the sub-megabyte blocks on Twitter.

“Despite Bitmain’s strong support for larger blocks, Antpool has recently been producing smaller blocks (below 1MB), while other pools produce larger blocks,” staff commented.

Worst Of Both Worlds

Reactions to BitMEX included claims Bitmain, through excluding SegWit, could continue to use the highly-controversial Covert ASICBoost mining technique it had previously claimed was “not practical.”

Last month, the company began rolling out Overt ASICBoost for its Antminer hardware family, a move which similarly drew suspicion from commentators.

Bitmain 135 Watt Data Center

In a further nuance meanwhile, Blockstream’s Warren Togami noted that despite non-SegWit blocks ostensibly having a higher fee attached, the blocks Antpool had chosen to mine in fact contained less in fees than the SegWit blocks it was avoiding.

Bitmain continues to hold a monopoly on Bitcoin mining through control of Antpool and BTC.com, the latter regularly mining the most blocks on a given day.

The proportion of transactions using SegWit had continued to climb in recent months, reaching an all-time high of 48 percent in early October before dropping.

What do you think about Antpool’s mining behavior? Let us know in the comments below!


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Říj 29

UK Fintech Industry Slams Govt’s ‘Blunt Instrument Approach’ To Cryptocurrency

The UK could compromise its fintech sector with “very blunt instrument” regulation currently under consideration, a new report from several industry entities warns.


‘Ashamedly Geared Around Bitcoin’

As local news outlet the Telegraph reports October 29, the report criticizes plans to award more power to regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and says treating all cryptoassets in the same way as Bitcoin was counterproductive.

“Bad regulation is worse than no regulation at all,” the Telegraph quotes it as reading, adding that the extant proposals are “ashamedly geared around Bitcoin.”

Politicians had lobbied for wider FCA jurisdiction in September, six months after the regulator had launched a dedicated “task force” with the remit of formalizing the domestic space.

Far from increasing security and consumer protection, however, one of the report’s authors argues a laissez-faire attitude would be considerably more beneficial for a sector which is only just beginning to mature.

“It is a very blunt instrument approach and I haven’t seen this in other countries,” Patrick Curry, chief executive of the British Business Federation Authority (BBFA) commented about the plans.

The use of this technology is still a voyage of discovery and these technologies are being refined for different types of use. My concern is the law of unintended consequences.

Overreaching?

The government had pledged to make London a home for fintech in the coming years, sounding out concerns that Brexit would make the city an unattractive place for innovative newcomers.

Blockchain Expo - Crypto La La land

At the same time, the Bank of England has said it is open to the concept of a self-issued national digital currency while also claiming that cryptocurrency poses “reputational risks.”

“Crypto-assets also raise concerns related to misconduct and market integrity,” Deputy Governor Sam Woods wrote in June.

Many appear vulnerable to fraud and manipulation, as well as money-laundering and terrorist financing risks.

What do you think about the UK’s cryptocurrency regulation plans? Let us know in the comments below!


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