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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 11:29 am

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

Venezuela’s On-and-Off Love Affair With Cryptocurrency Mining: It’s Complicated

If you want to see first hand how cryptocurrency functions in a market outside of speculative investing, right now, Venezuela is an interesting place to look.

“Venezuela could become a case study repeated all over the world under certain conditions,” said Jeffrey A. Tucker, editorial director of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER), in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. “Crypto is there as the escape hatch, the way out, a tool of emancipation. If you have a power source, you can mine. If you need to save or trade or move your wealth, crypto is there for you.”

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

Venezuela has been in economic recession for more than a decade. As a result, the government has maintained strict control over its currency, the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF), since 2003.

Venezuela’s most abundant resource is oil. It is the fifth largest oil exporting country in the world, with the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world. Ultimately, it is oil which has catalyzed Venezuela’s cryptocurrency boom.

Falling oil prices since 2014 have spurred the country’s current economic depression. The government’s response has been to increase state control over the economy at the expense of the private sector. In 2017, inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF) exceeded 650 percent. As the exchange rate continued to tumble, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 12 percent by the end of 2017.

“Many people are leaving Venezuela. The country doesn’t have enough money to provide food, medicine and other necessities for its people,” a Venezuelan programmer aware of cryptocurrency mining procedures in Venezuela told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview, under condition of anonymity.

Power to Mine

In this economically desperate climate, cryptocurrency has found one of its most sustaining use cases as an immutable store of value and currency for individuals who cannot trust their own government. The last two years have seen an enormous spike in cryptocurrency earning and mining, most notably for bitcoin.

Because the Venezuelan government subsidizes electricity past the point of negligibility, the country has become a geopolitical hotspot for mining. Antminer S9s are the most popular computer used to mine bitcoin in Venezuela. They cost about $3,000 each (plus shipping) and usually come from China by way of a covert middle country.

According to our source’s approximation, “Having three S9 miners is about 30 cents a month to pay for electricity. Three devices would be one bitcoin-ish in 10 months.”  The beginning price for mining has made it an effective way to supplement income, with two to three devices per household, though many have scaled their operations to the point where they are able to independently support themselves.

“There must be tens of thousands of people mining in Venezuela,” said Randy Brito, founder of the non-profit website BitcoinVenezuela.com. “People that are earning cryptos, either mining or working, usually use them to buy abroad — they buy food, medicine, car parts, other machinery parts; but the most common thing people buy are foreign currencies in other platforms where they can load cards that they can use to buy on Amazon and other stores that only accept cards and not cryptos directly.”

In Venezuela, bitcoin is the most commonly mined cryptocurrency because it was the first, and it is still currently the most widely used. LocalBitcoins has also given bitcoin the advantage in Venezuela because it does not trade other cryptocurrencies; it is able to operate more safely than other local exchanges because it’s not based within the country.

However, Brito also admitted that Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and Bitcoin Cash as well as other altcoins are being used more and more often.

According to our anonymous source, there are two main problems with mining cryptocurrency in Venezuela: In a country where the national currency has essentially no value, people are willing to get currency with value at the cost of committing violent crimes; and the government is not on your side.

2017: A Year of Contradiction

2017 was a particularly confusing and uneasy time to mine cryptocurrency in Venezuela. The year began with a government authority crackdown on large scale cryptocurrency mining operations.

Miners were jailed for a laundry list of crimes: "the legitimacy of capital, illicit enrichment, computer crimes, financing of terrorism, exchange fraud and damage to the national electricity system."

By October 2017, authorities were even cracking down on small “household” mining operations. The congruity in all of these raids is that arrested miners could almost always get out of jail through bribes or fines, but they could never get their equipment back.

Brito doesn’t live in Venezuela anymore, but, as a self-described “anarchocapitalist” and libertarian, he is still very critical of its government.

Most of the big mining farms with thousands of ASICs or rigs are run by people close to the government, those that are not and are caught with several devices, end up being raided and the devices subtracted. Regular people buy the devices with foreign currency they have saved or they acquire in the free (black) market, or buy them from others that import them using bolivars inside the country.

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

On December 3, 2017, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that the Venezuelan government would create its own official cryptocurrency called the Petro. He then went on to highlight the benefits of cryptocurrency mining, introducing a representative from the newly formed National Association of Cryptocurrency Miners.

Less than two weeks later, however, police raids on cryptocurrency mining operations proceeded as though it were still as illegal as ever.

“We are building the Blockchain Observatory for the possibility of a registry for all those who are exercising digital mining in Venezuela. We want to know who they are, we want to know where they are, we want to know what equipment they are using. We want to move toward the regularization of digital mining in Venezuela,” announced the recently appointed superintendent of cryptocurrency, Carlos Vargas, in December 2017.

In January 2018, the Venezuelan government opened online registration for those interested in mining cryptocurrency legally. While Petro is clearly the main focus, authorities have said that those involved in the program can mine other cryptocurrencies so long as they are approved by the state.

There is very limited third-party confidence in the Petro’s success. While some cryptocurrency champions might say, “Wait, a decentralized token representing a finite oil supply could be very interesting, if done right,” most remain skeptical.

“It [Petro] is backed by nothing but the promise of a government that have already defaulted,” said Brito.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:21 am

Uphold Eyes Expansion With Mobile Payments Startup Acquisition

Digital payments platform Uphold has acquired Cortex MCP, a mobile commerce platform.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

The government of Spain is preparing blockchain-friendly legislation including possible tax breaks to attract companies in the emerging blockchain technology sector, Bloomberg Politics reports.

“We hope to get the legislation ready this year,” said MP Teodoro Garcia Egea, who is preparing a comprehensive cryptocurrency-related bill. “We want to set up Europe’s safest framework to invest in ICOs.”

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and token sales are one of the latest blockchain-related hot trends and have permitted several companies to raise tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in a short space of time, bypassing the need for prior regulatory approval.

ICOs can be very appealing to speculators because the value of a successful token can rise spectacularly, but regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the U.S., are beginning to clamp down on token sales, claiming that crypto-tokens are equivalent to company shares traded on the stock market. According to the SEC, some ICOs are essentially Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), and should be subject to similar regulations for the protection of investors.

At the same time, too much regulation could stifle innovation and push promising blockchain-based firms to relocate to less restrictive jurisdictions offshore. According to Garcia Egea and the Popular Party, the ruling political party of Spain to which the lawmaker belongs, it’s in Spain’s interest to attract and keep those firms, and, therefore, the country should adopt a blockchain-friendly regulatory approach.

Garcia Egea added that the bill in preparation was inspired by existing blockchain-friendly regulatory frameworks such as those that enable the Crypto Valley in Switzerland. It could include ways to attract investment in blockchain technologies, such as a threshold below which a cryptocurrency investment wouldn’t need to be reported to the regulator, and specific regulations to make it attractive for entrepreneurs to use a blockchain to carry out initial coin offerings, or ICOs, as a financing tool.

As shown by a series of recent posts (in Spanish) published in his personal website, Garcia Egea wants to introduce a whole range of emerging technologies in the Spanish economy, including digital administration, cybersecurity, 3D printing and blockchain technology.

For example, Garcia Egea supports the Alastria consortium focused on the establishment of a semi-public, permissioned national blockchain infrastructure and digital identity system.

“Smart contracts, ensuring the traceability and unchangeability of specific information, raising funds through ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), etc. is possible through this new network [Alastria],” said Garcia Egea (translated by this writer).

“The time has come to establish a legal framework for individuals and firms to execute [smart-contract based] financial transactions in a protected and secure way, using the best available technology,” added Garcia Egea. “This will not only provide legal security to financial investments done through this channel, but it will also place Spain in a privileged position to attract capital, talent and future-oriented projects, and an ecosystem upon which to build the future of the internet of value.”

It seems likely that, if Garcia Egea and the Popular Party manage to convert their vision into law, Spain could become one of the few crypto-havens in the Eurozone, which could result in many innovative technology developers and ICO operators relocating to Spain.

Find out more about cryptocurrency regulation around the world in our feature, Cryptocurrency Regulation in 2018: Where the World Stands Now.



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:38 am

Tezos Board Reshuffled As Johann Gevers Steps Down

Johann Gevers and Diego Pons, the last original members of the Tezos Foundation Board, have voluntarily stepped down from their positions.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:15 am

What Is Bitcoin? - GameSpot


GameSpot

What Is Bitcoin?
GameSpot
You might be aware that GPU prices have skyrocketed in recent months. This is due in large part to the rise of cryptocurrencies, to which there are many. Bitcoin is the first and leading one, but what is Bitcoin? We're here to demystify the topic for ...

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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:00 am

Your bitcoin may be lost for good if you die without a plan for it - CNBC


CNBC

Your bitcoin may be lost for good if you die without a plan for it
CNBC
... to access cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, one of the assets that's most at risk of vanishing. "It's all going to slip through the cracks unless someone knows about it," Walsh said. If you don't leave the private key, a number that enables the ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:38 am

Bitcoin: More Trustworthy than Some Academic Critics - Cato Institute (blog)


Cato Institute (blog)

Bitcoin: More Trustworthy than Some Academic Critics
Cato Institute (blog)
Historian Harold James of Princeton University, known for his scholarly writings on the gold exchange standard and on the euro, has turned his attention to Bitcoin in a recent Project Syndicate commentary on “The Bitcoin Threat.” His commentary labors ...
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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:08 am

Investing App Robinhood Launches Crypto Trading in 5 US States

Stock brokerage company Robinhood has officially launched its cryptocurrency trading platform, rolling the service out to five states today.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:00 am

Litecoin Cash Has Forked But It's Hardly Trading

A scheduled plan to launch a new cryptocurrency by forking the litecoin blockchain is finding little love from major data aggregators and exchanges.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 7:30 am

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip
CoinDesk
Signs of bull market exhaustion in the bitcoin market may be having a knock-on effect across cryptocurrencies in general. All of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization - bar nano, dentacoin and tether - are in the red today, according to ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:14 am

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip

The wider cryptocurrency market may be feeling the heat of a decline in bitcoin prices today.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Oil Data Firm Platts Rolls Out Commercial Blockchain Platform

Energy markets data provider S&P Global Platts has announced the commercial deployment of a blockchain network for sharing oil inventories.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 5:10 am

UK Treasury Launches Inquiry Into Cryptocurrency

The U.K. Treasury Committee has today announced that it will conduct an investigation into issues around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 4:00 am

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out
CoinDesk
Bitcoin's failure to find acceptance above the $11,000 mark this week has neutralized the immediate bullish outlook. However, the rally from Feb. 6 lows could resume if prices break above $11,250, the technical charts indicate. As of writing, CoinDesk ...

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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 3:07 am

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out

Bitcoin bulls need a convincing break above $11,250 to revive the recent price rally after prices dip once more.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Why energy-sapping bitcoin mining is here to stay - The Conversation UK


The Conversation UK

Why energy-sapping bitcoin mining is here to stay
The Conversation UK
The enormous use of energy needed to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is proving to be very contentious, but alternative methods pose far too much of a security risk. The recent warning that electricity use at bitcoin mining facilities in ...

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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:04 am

NASSCOM Teams with Blockchain Institute for Digital Economy

India's tech industry is working with Canada's Blockchain Research Institute to integrate blockchain into Indian businesses and government.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin is good - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily


University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

Bitcoin is good
University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily
To quote a famous meta-economics scholar on the subject of Bitcoin, “Buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buyb uyb uby buby bubyb buy buy buy buy buy buyb u buy buy buy.” I agree wholeheartedly. That is my ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 12:02 am

Lightning's Watchtower: How Laolu Is Fighting Future Fraud

With all eyes on the Lightning Network, bitcoin developer Laolu is working on a technology which takes fraud watching off the hands of users.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 9:44 pm

The Legal Risk to ICOs That No One's Talking About

Even if the SEC doesn't pursue an enforcement action against a token seller, buyers can sue privately under U.S. securities laws to unwind the sale.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 8:21 pm

Venezuela's Cryptocurrency Is Here, But Who's Involved Isn't Clear

Several companies have been so far linked to Venezuela's petro cryptocurrency initiative in the wake of this week's launch.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:45 pm

This Upstart Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Making Inroads in Canada

Coinsquare

Cryptocurrency and precious metals exchange Coinsquare is taking steps toward its goal of leading the cryptocurrency exchange market in Canada. On February 20, 2018, it announced a new partnership with Processing.com, after wrapping up a recent investment of $30 million, for a total $47 million raised in the last four months.

The partnership with Processing.com will allow Coinsquare to facilitate instant fiat currency payments of digital currencies for the general public through debit and credit card transactions.

In a release, Processing.com’s James Bergman said:

“We are very excited to partner with such a respected and fast-growing trading platform as Coinsquare. As digital currencies increasingly make their way into the mainstream conscious, service providers have a responsibility to ensure the broader public can access the rapidly growing blockchain ecosystem.”

Marketing Strategy

Besides increasing its Canadian market share, Coinsquare also has plans to move on to establishing new exchanges internationally, initially in the U.S. and the U.K.

Coinsquare CEO Cole Diamond acknowledges that he is continuing original owner Virgile Rostand’s marketing strategy of emphasizing Coinsquare’s Canadian foundations, with its economic and political stability and relatively light regulatory environment.

Diamond said: “Virgile Rostand, Coinsquare's founder, was an early industry pioneer and blue-chip banking industry veteran. He built a custom platform that is unrivaled in Canada, boasting extremely high security standards."

Coinsquare is also continuing Rostand’s unprecedented service to the French-speaking community.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Diamond noted: “We are the only trading platform that we know of that has a French website. Five percent of our users view our website in French, and we have been commended for it and are proud of it.”

A recent review of exchanges by education website Blockgeeks, placed Coinsquare in the top 10 exchanges. Forex also reviewed Coinsquare and gave it a thumbs up.

Despite positive reviews, however, there have been some dissatisfied customers who have voiced concerns on social platforms and below the Forex review. Common complaints cite long wait times, lost funds, high fees and a non-responsive staff. Comments on other sites also mentioned an unclear fee structure and lack of customer support. Coinsquare has not responded to request for comment from Bitcoin Magazine regarding these concerns.

Canadian compliance expert, Amber D. Scott, CEO of Outlier Solutions told Bitcoin Magazine: "With price volatility and a massive influx of new clients, most exchanges are likely having some growing pains and Coinsquare is likely no exception."

Diversification as a Priority

Coinsquare, based in Toronto, Canada, wants to diversify its business beyond cryptocurrency holdings.

The company already has its own mining operation with 2 MW of power and 1700 mining units in operation.

They are planning to invest in two more mines. Canada, particularly the province of Quebec, is attracting lots of interest from mining companies based on inexpensive electricity and cooler temperatures.

“Canada is about to become a central source,” explained Diamond in a recent interview with Global News. “I think there’s definitely a rush happening now. I think we’re going to have a significant amount of mining in the next few months.”

Trading precious metals is also a part of Coinsquare’s diversified holdings. They trade in silver coins and silver and gold bars.

Coinsquare is planning a Trading and Arbitrage division to take advantage of cross exchange and hedge opportunities.

Also in the works is the launch of CoinCap Funds, a group of funds focused on investments across the digital asset landscape.

Security

According to Coinsquare, they store 98 percent of their assets in cold storage and their trading platform is based on the same technology as that used by the NYSE.

While Bitfinex and Coinbase announced recently they are adopting SegWit, Coinsquare does not have any plans to follow suit just yet.“The decision to use Segwit is an ongoing discussion at Coinsquare and we are not for or against it at this time,” said Diamond.

Meanwhile, they are working on developing trading platforms for international markets and white labelling and licensing its technology for markets around the world.

Coinsquare offers trading in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dash, Dogecoin and Litecoin and has a special OTC service for those wanting to trade large amounts.

Scott is optimistic about the future for Coinsquare: “At this stage, Canada has taken a relatively light touch from a regulatory perspective. This has been a boon for exchanges like Coinsquare in many ways. They’ve been able to focus on managing their risks and building their business, rather than fitting into paradigms that weren’t built with them in mind.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 2:02 pm

US Government Arrests Bitcoin Stock Exchange Founder

The owner of BitFunder, a long-defunct bitcoin investment platform, has been hit with two lawsuits filed by the U.S. government.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 1:35 pm

What Venezuelans Are Saying About the Petro

The South American country's plan to launch its own cryptocurrency has sparked global headlines and a range of commentary on social media.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 12:05 pm

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

With crushing debt and a starving population, the Maduro government in Venezuela is launching what it says is the world's first sovereign cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency is designed to bypass U.S. government sanctions against the socialist regime. The “Petros” cryptocurrency will have an initial value tied to the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil in mid-January, which was $60 per barrel, with a target of 100 million Petros to be sold.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned that the move may violate last year’s sanctions, while Venezuelan opposition leaders say the sale constitutes an illegal issuing of debt.

After the first day of trading, President Maduro claimed to have raised $735 million. State officials are claiming a 5x increase in traffic to the website, but some critics, including Venezuelan product designer and cryptocurrency writer Alejandro Machado, are skeptical.

In speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Machado commented that he was unable to find any transactions on the blockchain regarding Petros and, while the token was originally slated to be released on the Ethereum network, it since has transitioned to NEM.

“The government hasn't confirmed that this is the address, but they confirmed they're using NEM, and it's the only mosaic matching the Petro description,” Machado said. “The mosaic's metadata also uses similar phrasing to the white paper.”

Machado has been writing about the upcoming Petros since early December 2017, remarking, “Many think it’s yet another episode of empty propaganda, but I profoundly disagree: chavismo is facing the existential danger of running out of funds, and they’re betting heavily on the Petro.”

His skepticism about the plan runs deep: “No doubt aware of their terrible track record, the government is incentivizing participation in the private sale by offering a 60% discount. What company in the world would sell 38 million units of a product for less than half their market value? A company that doesn’t intend to ship you the product after you buy, of course.”

With $150 billion in foreign debt, quadruple-digit inflation, the collapse of their oil output, and crushing sanctions by the U.S. and the EU, the Venezuelan government has become increasingly creative in ways to generate revenue. Petros represent nothing more than a promise against the 300 million barrels of oil that Venezuela believes they can recover but have yet to pull from the ground. There is an additional problem that U.S.-based investors purchasing the Petros would be in violation of American sanctions and could find themselves in trouble with Uncle Sam.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 11:25 am

Crypto Nodes Are One Step Closer to Legal Protection in Arizona

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill protecting blockchain node operators from local restrictions.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Ripple Adds 5 New Clients Across 4 Countries

Two banks and three money remittance firms across four different countries are turning to Ripple's blockchain networks for cross-border payments.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 8:05 am

SegWit is Coming to Coinbase and Bitfinex’s Bitcoin Exchanges

SegWit is Coming to Coinbase and Bitfinex’s Bitcoin Exchanges

Today, two of the world’s largest cryptocurrency investment platforms, Coinbase and Bitfinex, both announced that they were adopting support for Segregated Witness (SegWit) protocols for bitcoin (BTC) traded on their exchanges.

In its announcement, Bitfinex stated, “The SegWit implementation means Bitfinex users can benefit from lower BTC withdrawal fees (approximately 15 percent) and improved processing times on transactions across the Bitcoin network.” The exchange did make clear that the support for bitcoin deposits and withdrawals using pay-to-script-hash (P2SH) SegWit addresses were the only ones thus far slated for bitcoin and not applicable to bitcoin cash (BCH).

Coinbase, on the other hand, tweeted that it had finished testing for SegWit for Bitcoin. It will phase in the launch, with the goal of “targeting a 100% launch to all customers by mid next week.” Coinbase affirmed its plan for a 2018 SegWit implementation on December 15, 2017 and seemingly delivered on the SegWit statements it made on February 13, 2018.

Reasons for the support of using SegWit addresses are clear.  Prior to the activation of the Segregated Witness soft fork in August 2017, there were concerns about the scalability and malleability of Bitcoin due to the size limit of the blocks and a potential manipulation of the transaction ID. These concerns had been a source of debate for years until the “soft fork” allowed for protocol upgrades to the software.

While many hard and soft wallets already adopted support for SegWit protocols, the move by both companies is huge given the volume of bitcoin traded on each platform. At the time of this writing, both Bitfinex and Coinbase’s exchange, GDAX, accounted for nearly one tenth of global bitcoin trades over the previous 24 hours. This number underestimates the impact on BTC trading volume as it does not include Coinbase’s wallet platform. Both Bitfinex and GDAX are ranked as top 10 exchanges in the world by trading volume, at 5th and 8th, respectively.

The positive news for both exchanges comes at a time of mounting pressure from the public. Coinbase has faced community backlash on higher Bitcoin transaction fees, customers’ inability to withdraw funds to PayPal accounts and credit cards being disabled as a payment method for U.S. customers.

Bitfinex’s announcement comes on the heels of a tumultuous end to 2017 and a rough start to 2018, inclusive of new account registration issues, a CFTC subpoena and firing of auditor Friedman LLP.

With the announcements of SegWit adoption for Bitcoin, it seems that Coinbase has addressed a major issue for its consumer base, and Bitfinex has been able to release some much-needed positive news for its customers amidst its recent controversies.

For more information on Segregated Witness, check out our earlier articles on Bitcoin Magazine.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 3:26 pm

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

In a watershed moment for United States blockchain and cryptocurrency law, Wyoming’s House of Representatives unanimously voted “aye” to pass two blockchain bills – HB 70 the “utility token bill” and HB 19 the “bitcoin bill” –  sending them to the State Senate for consideration. HB 70 defines utility tokens as neither traditional money nor securities; HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the 2003 Wyoming Money Transmitter Act (passed in the state before Bitcoin’s invention in 2008).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-founder, and 22-year Wall Street veteran, Caitlin Long, attributed much of the bills’ successes so far to teamwork between Wyoming banking and security regulators and the efforts of House of Representatives member Tyler Lindholm, who is a co-sponsor and advocate of all five blockchain-related bills.

Wyoming aims to set the standard for blockchain-friendly regulation in the U.S. and to become a hub for blockchain-based innovation with these two bills. Long explained, “There are already bitcoin miners setting up shop because of [Wyoming’s] cheap electricity, no income tax and no franchise tax.”

HB 70: Utility Token Definition

The Wyoming HB 70 defines a utility token, or “open blockchain token,” as neither traditional money nor a security if it meets the following conditions:

  1. The token has not been marketed by the protocol developers as an investment opportunity.
  2. The token is exchangeable for goods or services. (This implies that protocols must offer a working product or service before tokens are issued, similar to Switzerland’s recent ICO framework.)
  3. The protocol developer has not entered into a repurchase agreement of any kind or entered into an agreement to locate buyers for the token.

Similarly, people who facilitate the exchange of an “open blockchain token” are not deemed traditional broker-dealers of securities.

HB 19: Cryptocurrency Exemption

HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act. A 2015 interpretation of this act by the Wyoming Division of Banking made it impractical for cryptocurrency exchanges to operate in the state. As a result, Coinbase suspended operations in Wyoming indefinitely in June 2015.

The passage of HB 19 moves Wyoming one step closer to cryptocurrency-friendly exchange regulation. Should the bill receive a majority vote in the Senate, exchanges such as Coinbase could resume operation in Wyoming.

Other Bills in the Pipeline

The Wyoming House of Representatives is also reviewing bills HB 101 and HB 126 in the House and SF 111 in the Senate.

HB 101, the “blockchain filings bill,” promises to update Wyoming’s Business Corporations Act to authorize the creation and use of blockchains to store records, the use of a network address to identify a corporation's shareholder and the acceptance of shareholder votes signed by network signatures.

At a high level, HB 101 specifies requirements for all corporations using electronic network or (blockchain) databases. HB 101 has passed the first reading in the House.

HB 126, the “series LLC bill” allows for the creation of “series LLCs.” This type of LLC structure is favorable towards decentralized protocols, as it enables LLCs to establish a compartmentalized series of members/managers, transferable interests or assets, and distributions to members.

HB 126 has also passed the first reading in the House.

SF 111, the “crypto property tax exemption bill,” has already been approved in the House, and its goal is to exempt cryptocurrency from Wyoming state property taxes. The bill is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Nothing Is Carved in Stone

While HB 70 and HB 19 have both passed in the House by a vote of 60–0, they must also pass in the Senate to be recognized as official acts.

Long expressed her optimism, while acknowledging the difficulties that lie ahead:

I don’t want to sugar-coat that it won’t be difficult. The Senate is a more uncertain chamber. But, we have incredible momentum, and all we need [for the bills to become acts] is a majority vote in the Senate.

Should the bill pass in the Senate and become an act in Wyoming, federal regulation and the SEC Howey Test could still nullify all of the advocates’ blood, sweat and tears. However, Long believes that Federal Law with regards to utility hasn’t been established yet — and, that there are people in the blockchain/cryptocurrency industry “flush with cash, interested in litigating this issue.”

Long and other Wyoming blockchain proponents hope for a final Senate outcome on HB 70, the “utility token bill,” and HB 19, the “Bitcoin bill,” as early as the middle next week.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:42 am

NASA, ESA Considering Innovative Applications of Blockchain Technology

NASA, ESA Considering Innovative Applications of Blockchain Technology

NASA and other space agencies, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), are considering potential applications of blockchain technology to space missions and internal operations.

According to a NASA presentation titled “Bitcoin, Blockchains and Efficient Distributed Spacecraft Mission Control,” blockchain technology could have useful applications in distributed spacecraft missions involving multiple elements. Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies could be further integrated to make space-based sensor networks more efficient and responsive.

In September 2017, NASA awarded a $333,000 grant to University of Akron (UA) Assistant Professor Jin Wei to research how to make space hardware smarter and more autonomous. The research program, titled “RNCP: A Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm for NASA Space Exploration,” wants to improve the automation, environment awareness and intelligence of NASA space probes, which is an important requirement for deep space missions.

“The objective here is the application of blockchain and distributed intelligence to our space and ground network communication assets,” said Thomas Kacpura, advanced communications program manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. “If successful, the overall objective will be to incorporate Dr. Wei’s research in our overall portfolio to ultimately optimize our communication networks."

ESA is also quietly researching innovative blockchain-powered solutions. Recently, the Agency has been investigating the applicability of blockchain technologies to key challenges for ESA’s space activities and administrative areas. A position paper titled “Distributed Ledger Technology: Leveraging Blockchain for ESA's Success,” authored by trainee Torben David and senior coordinator Gianluigi Baldesi, offers a concise summary of blockchain technology and its main applications, and then goes on to list several potential applications to the Agency’s mission.

In particular, the paper mentions faster and more accurate payments, blockchain-based smart contracts applications to streamlining procurement, audit processes and record-keeping, data traceability and access rights, and voting and direct democracy.

It’s worth noting that the ESA paper focuses on blockchain technology applications to administrative processes but doesn’t address embedded blockchain technology for space hardware and software, which is covered by NASA’s RNCP. However, since ESA’s exploration of blockchain technology is just beginning, it seems likely that applications to space missions will be considered in due course.

In conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Baldesi confirmed that the Agency is considering potential applications of blockchain technology with keen interest and a forward-looking approach. In the framework of “the Space 4.0 era” with diverse space actors around the world, including emerging private companies and citizen groups empowered by digital technologies, ESA launched the “Exploring Threats and Opportunities through Mega Trends in the Space 4.0 Era” initiative with the support of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, and hosted a related workshop at the ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on October 23, 2017.

“In the era of Space 4.0 — as in our own lives — we have to be adaptive to change and nurture a culture of pro-activeness and open-mindedness to both disruption and opportunity,” said Baldesi.

The workshop was live-streamed and is now available for public viewing. Several presentations discuss blockchain technology as a key enabler of disruptive innovation in a wide range of industries, including space. Potential space applications of blockchain technology include  mission data; smart contracts and smart procurement to optimize the supply chain; and information management where applications may include virtual spacecraft (traceability and configuration consistency) and configuration control (hardware and documentation).

Baldesi explained that the Agency is awarding exploratory research contracts related to blockchain technology, such as a Satcom Maker Space initiative that includes Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for satellite telecommunications and a “Testbed for Blockchain supporting satellite M2M/IoT,” as well as an intended “Blockchain for Space Activities” study and an intended “fintech” initiative for innovative fintech-related applications and services based on the integration of space and non-space technology.

The governance and “direct democracy” applications mentioned in the position paper are especially interesting. Baldesi explained that the current Director General of the Agency, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, known for his vigorous support of bold, visionary initiatives such as the “Moon Village,” is determined to systematically use tools such as Kahoot for crowdsourced decision making and has launched several pilot e-voting initiatives, not only internally but also with the participation of external actors.

Blockchain-based e-voting platforms are, according to Baldesi, especially promising and in line with the desired openness and inclusiveness of Space 4.0.

These sorts of Space 4.0 citizen initiatives are growing in popularity; projects like Space Decentral project are moving in a similar direction.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:33 am

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Tests Pivotal Resistance Levels Following Strong Rally

Bitcoin Price Analysis

After a strong rally from the $6,000s, bitcoin ultimately saw a near 100% growth in market value as it now sits atop its rally in the low $11,000s. Currently, the market is testing well-known, strong resistance levels and is seeing quite turbulent shakeouts and rallies as it decides what the next market move will be. On a macro view, we can see that bitcoin is testing the strength of the daily 50 EMA:

fig1Figure 1: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Macro Trend

The red square at the top of the trend represents a macro distribution trading range that ultimately led to the decline in value of the last couple months. At the time of this article, we are currently testing the lower boundary of this trading range:

fig2Figure 2: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Retest of Distribution Trading Range

In a typical markdown phase of a market cycle, it is quite common for a distribution trading range to break down through the bottom, see a strong drop in price, and then see a rally that leads to a retest of the lower limits of the prior distribution trading range.

The markdown from the top of the market cycle has been well defined by the red, dotted channel sloping downward in the image above. This current rally has the price pushing beyond the limits of the channel and shows a break of the current downward trend.

One thing that should be noted however is that a breakdown of a downward trend doesn’t necessarily mean that it will become an uptrend. It’s entirely possible that a break from the downward trend could lead into a consolidation period that yields a new downward trend — we’ve seen this time and time again.

At the time of this article we are currently seeing turbulent swings in price as the market decides what its next move will be. At the top of this rally from $6,000 to the $11,000s, we see a trading range starting to form:

fig3Figure 3: BTC-USD, 30min Candles, Possible Trading Range

A bullish case for this trading range could be considered if we manage to break above it and find support on the top of the trading range. This sign of support would be a bullish signal to the market that we are no longer interested in lower values and that the market is ready to continue its markup campaign.

However, if we break above this trading range and fall back inside the trading range, it would be a very bearish sign that the we are actually forming another distribution trading range, indicating that the top of the current rally is over. At that point we could expect to begin a new markdown campaign in the following days and weeks.

Thus, this current resistance level is pivotal and will serve to mark either the end of the uptrend or the beginning of an even stronger move to higher values.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin has seen a strong rally since it bottomed out around $6,000.
  2. Currently, it is finding turbulent market activity as it tests well-known and established resistance levels.
  3. If we manage to find support on the trading range outlined in Figure 3, this will be a strong indication of a continuation to higher highs. However, if pushing upward we don’t find support on the top of the trading range and manage to fall back inside the trading range, this is a strong bearish signal that a potential markdown in price is in store in the next few days and weeks.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 3:20 pm

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

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There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

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February 22, 2018 -
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