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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.

Bitcoin Latest News

Money Manager Josh Brown: 'ICOs Are Where The Frauds Will Take Place'

Josh Brown, the money manager and bitcoin bear-turned-bull, had some harsh words for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in a new blog post.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:31 pm

EU Budget Amendments Call For Millions in Blockchain Funding

As many as four blockchain-related amendments, funding various initiatives, could find their way into the European Union's 2018 budget.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 1:00 pm

Bitcoin is like Tulipmania, says ECB vice-president - Financial Times


Financial Times

Bitcoin is like Tulipmania, says ECB vice-president
Financial Times
One of the eurozone's most senior central bankers has waded into the debate over bitcoin, dismissing the cryptocurrency as “an instrument of speculation” and saying its sharp rise in value was akin to the 17th century tulip craze. The views of Vítor ...
ECB Vice President: Bitcoin Is Not A Threat To Central Bank PolicyETHNews

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 11:13 am

Ethereum's Byzantium Hard Fork Postponed For Further Testing

The planned roll-out date for ethereum's "Byzantium" network upgrade is being postponed to October 17.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 11:00 am

Strategist predicts bitcoin, digital currency trading volume will 'soon surpass' Apple's - CNBC


CNBC

Strategist predicts bitcoin, digital currency trading volume will 'soon surpass' Apple's
CNBC
Global daily trading volume between bitcoin and ethereum into traditional currencies has multiplied eight times this year, according to Jens Nordvig, founder and CEO of Exante Data. Cryptocurrency trading volume has topped $3 billion a day on average ...
Currency Guru Gets His Head Around Bitcoin's Capital Flow SignalBloomberg

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 10:27 am

Investor Doug Casey: Bitcoin May Be Money, But It Still Might Fail

Investor and anarcho-capitalist Doug Casey recently argued that bitcoin qualifies as money – but he's not sure it'll last in the long term.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 10:00 am

Why are countries so afraid of bitcoin? - Marketplace.org


Marketplace.org

Why are countries so afraid of bitcoin?
Marketplace.org
Bitcoin has had a very tumultuous summer. As the valuation of the cryptocurrency climbed, experts opined about the potential “bitcoin bubble.” Bitcoin's value, however, stumbled a bit over the past few weeks as Chinese regulators took steps to regulate ...
Go Ahead and Ignore Bitcoin--with These 4 ExceptionsInc.com
Bitcoin is sinkingBusiness Insider
Key questions you need answered about bitcoinSouth China Morning Post
CoinTelegraph -CoinDesk -TNW
all 93 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 9:37 am

CFTC Sues New York Man Over Alleged $600k Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has filed a lawsuit against a New York-based man and his company for allegedly running a bitcoin scam.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 9:00 am

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro, a bitcoin-to-gold exchange, has secured funding from Finlab AG, a fintech company based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Vaultoro co-founder Joshua Scigala stated that the funding from Finlab will allow them to reach their goals faster. The first upgrade the company plans to implement will be a real-time gold-backed debit card. The card will allow the customers of the firm to hold their allocated gold — stored in a high-security Swiss bullion vault — while they can easily spend the funds anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted.

This latest funding announcement is in keeping with Vaultoro’s history of seeking funding and support from venture capitalists and established players in the space, rather than following the recent ICO trend.

In 2015, Vaultoro conducted a BnkToTheFuture raise. The funds were raised primarily from VCs, as opposed to ICOs. That same year, it hit its first $1 million in gold traded on the platform and was one of three finalists from the blockchain space to compete for the BBVA Open Talent Competition in Barcelona, Spain. Most recently, Vaultoro was selected as one of eight startups for the 2017 Techstars Berlin program.

“We decided against an ICO because coins that pay a dividend are not really legal yet, equity taken absolutely illegal[ly], and we didn’t want to confuse the product with a utility coin when we don’t need one. Also, we found that so many ICOs are scams and we didn’t want to be associated with this kind of hype. We have been solidly working on making Vaultoro a name people can trust, a brand with the highest principles.”

However, Scigala is not opposed to ICOs in general:

“I’m not saying ICOs are bad,” he added. “In fact, I love them, I think they are the future of fundraising because they enable anyone to invest in startups. In fact, we want to launch an ICO later to enable our users to profit from our success, but we want it well thought-out and fully legal for our investors. For this reason, we decided on a standard VC funding round that would not only bring us money but also strategic contacts that will help us grow as quick as possible.”

Gold on the Blockchain

According to Vaultoro, the latest financial crises have been a cause for concern for citizens around the world. People are worried about leaving their fiat funds in a bank account while earning low or no interest. The Vaultoro debit card will allow its customers to hold their funds in gold without the need for a bank.

“We see gold as a gateway to crypto. Many people don’t trust crypto, they don’t understand it, but they understand the 3000+ years of value that gold has held. We are currently building an easy-to-use euro/gold wallet so people can easily buy and save in gold. But here is the kicker. They will see a little button, spend your gold as SEPA, SWIFT, debit card or bitcoin. So, many people will want to see what that is,” he said.

A Secure Store of Value

“Our goal is to have real asset vaulting,” said Scigala. “We have always been a bitcoin-only business but we will bring some other promising digital assets on board. IOTA, ETHEREUM and DASH will be the first. We will also be adding silver, platinum and palladium. The wallet software will enable you to tell the card which asset you would like to spend from.”

The firm emphasized that all gold is allocated in the users’ name as their legal property so that even if Vaultoro were to experience a negative event, users’ gold holdings would be protected: even liquidators wouldn’t be able to touch the assets of the company’s clients.

“The most important thing about Vaultoro is that all physical assets are allocated to the user and are not on the company balance sheet. That means if anything happens to Vaultoro as a company, no one, not even liquidators, can touch our clients’ property because it has nothing to do with us. It’s the full property of our clients. We are figuring out if digital currencies can also be allocated under bailment laws,” Scigala said.

By allowing users to purchase gold for bitcoins and back, Vaultoro customers can benefit from the ease of BTC payments while investing in a stable asset. Unlike bitcoin or a lot of fiat currencies, gold has a very low volatility rate. Investors can invest and trade in cryptocurrencies; however, many of them dislike the volatility associated with them — especially when there is an event that drives the prices toward the bottom, like the recent Chinese regulations on bitcoin exchanges and ICOs.

“We are also working on a maker-taker trading fee model for the marketplace so people that place orders into the market don’t pay as much fee[s] as people taking an order from the order book. We hope to lift liquidity drastically.”

The post Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 8:44 am

Mastercard Hints at Plans for Blockchain Settlement System

A new patent application from Mastercard indicates that the payments giant may be looking to integrate blockchain into its payments infrastructure.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 7:00 am

Governments will close down bitcoin and cryptocurrencies if they get too big, warns Jamie Dimon - CNBC


CNBC

Governments will close down bitcoin and cryptocurrencies if they get too big, warns Jamie Dimon
CNBC
JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon has laid into bitcoin and digital currencies once again, warning that governments will shut them down if they grow too large. "Right now these crypto things are kind of a novelty. People think they're kind of ...
4 Reasons Why Bitcoin May Still Blow UpForbes
Jamie Dimon bashes bitcoin again, says cryptocurrencies 'are kind of a novelty'Business Insider
Jamie Dimon Says the Whole Bitcoin Craze Will 'End Badly'Fortune
Seeking Alpha -CoinDesk -Investor's Business Daily
all 51 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 6:23 am

Uruguay's Central Bank Announces New Digital Currency Pilot

Uruguay is the latest country to see its central bank start experimenting with its own digital currency, according to statements from its president.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 6:00 am

Dimon Knocks Bitcoin Again: Crackdown Likely on 'Worthless' Cryptocurrency

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase bank, has expanded on his recent criticism of bitcoin, warning "it will end badly" for the tech.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 5:40 am

Radical Academy: Amir Taaki's New Hacker Team Is Spreading Bitcoin in Syria - CoinDesk


Radical Academy: Amir Taaki's New Hacker Team Is Spreading Bitcoin in Syria
CoinDesk
But, through it all, the hacker – best known for writing crypto code in abandoned London flats and creating one of the earliest dark markets powered by bitcoin – has kept the technology at the forefront of his mind. Now, emerging from his latest ...

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 5:09 am

Former US Futures Commission Chair Says Regulation Solves ... - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Former US Futures Commission Chair Says Regulation Solves ...
CoinTelegraph
Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton: Bitcoin needs regulation.

and more »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:43 am

Bitcoin Developers Reveal Roadmap for 'Dandelion' Privacy Project

The developers behind a bitcoin privacy solution called Dandelion have unveiled a new roadmap that addresses previously discovered code issues.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:00 am

Raiden ICO: Ethereum Scaling Solution to Launch Publicly Traded Token

Ethereum's answer to bitcoin's Lightning Network will have one notable difference – a publicly traded token to be sold in a Dutch auction in October.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 2:00 am

Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin Volatility

Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Bart Chilton wrote that bitcoin's volatility indicates artificial inflation of its price.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 4:20 pm

Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World

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To a complete outsider, the worlds of art and cryptocurrency do not appear to be linked. But for content creators of all kinds, blockchain technology provides an ideal solution to preserve intellectual property, create demand and increase value for digital content.

The digital revolution is often blamed for making life harder than ever for artists. We are always hearing stories of artists realizing their work has been ripped off by a major brand or that they are not being paid or credited for the content they create.

However, thanks to blockchains, ownership rights can be restored in favor of artists. The very digital landscape that proves so difficult for artists could well increase the possibility of profits for artists online.

Physical art was one of the first big applications of blockchain technology.

The concept of integrating blockchain technology into the art industry is not untested. Blockchains have already been a part of the physical art world for a few years now as a reliable way to verify creation and ownership details. The application of a trustworthy system of verification like the blockchain to artworks makes perfect sense.

A number of companies are actually already authenticating artwork with blockchain technology, including Verisart in Los Angeles, Tagsmart in London and Ascribe in Berlin. For both collectors and artists, they provide digital certificates of authenticity and provenance records that enable buyers to verify the authenticity of the artwork they purchase while creating an accredited ownership history for the artwork over time.  

What blockchain technology provides is its unmodifiable digital ledger which logs every single digital transaction. More importantly, this ledger is public so everyone can see its history. This means, for example, that you can see that the painting you are interested in has been purchased three times from buyers in London, Madrid and Milan. Because the log is decentralized and cannot be edited, there is no potential for lies or trickery — no one can sell you a fake copy if a digital record of the authentic piece exists.

By allowing records like provenance, authorship and ownership to be unmodifiable, blockchain technology potentially solves the issue of forgeries and thefts in the art world. According to the FBI, billions of dollars worth of art and cultural property go missing every year. Being able to prove and track the ownership of artwork could make it almost impossible to resell stolen artwork in the future.

By increasing trust in the art world, blockchain technology could also help increase the value of art. One important factor in art is scarcity — it is what drives demand. People covet beautiful things: the more unique, the better. The Mona Lisa wouldn’t likely be worth $2 billion if there were 10 originals on the market.

Blockchain technology may pave the way for a robust new market of digital art.

It is no secret that life for digital artists can be difficult. In the music world, for example, physical sales are almost non-existent. Artists earn less than a cent from each time their music is played. At Spotify, the average payout for a stream to labels and publishers is between $0.006 and $0.0084. By the time the label has taken its share, artists receive an estimated $0.001128.

The digital art and design world is arguably just as bad — or worse. While individuals can easily download a music file from a file-sharing website, it is even easier to screenshot or share digital art without any attribution or financial benefit for the artist. As long as people don’t consider digital assets “objects,” digital artists won’t be paid what their work is worth. However, being able to certify the ownership of digital assets through the blockchain could assure the value of digital art and change the behavior that it is okay to swipe art from the web without a thought. People already consume all kinds of creative content on digital screens, be it books, movies, media, or music. The time has come for them to value digital art they can appreciate just as thoroughly on their devices.

A new generation of blockchain-based art collections is bringing the digital art and cryptocurrency worlds together.

For many people, a painting on the wall is worth money; but a digital work of art online has no financial value. A new business model, however, is now emerging for digital art that could alter this perspective.

CryptoPunks by Larva Labs is one known example. The company has created 10,000 computer-generated digital characters, each one unique, with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each one is owned by a single person and verified by a smart contract. As the blockchain data is public, you can see exactly which of the characters have been purchased and which remain available. Some people have spent 10 ETH (around $3,000) on the rarest types of CryptoPunks on the secondary market.

Another example is the selling of “Rare Pepes,” crude depictions of the meme often used online as an alt-right symbol. Meme artists previously tried to watermark their memes; nevertheless, they continued to be downloaded and shared. The solution was to use the Counterparty platform, which allows users to make anything into a unique digital token. Now the Pepes can be bought and sold — the rarest costing $11,589 — with RarePepeWallet.com.

This is just the tip of the creative iceberg. Imagine the possibilities with digital art created by actual artists becoming desirable and more valuable. In addition, artists who otherwise would have been forced to use a large-scale centralized company to distribute their work are now able to distribute their work in a decentralized way and receive fair compensation.

Soon, people may begin collecting digital art in the very same way they collect it in its physical form. This may also require a cultural shift in the perception of digital art and its value, but this cultural shift could well be instigated by applying technology, thereby adding financial value and scarcity to digital art. This may well turn out to be a significant boon in the lives of artists all over the world who will be able to profit and take control of their creative output and their intellectual property in a dynamic, budding market.


The post Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:54 pm

Op Ed: Four Challenges to Consider When Launching Your Fund Raise on the Blockchain

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ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) or token sales have seen a dramatic increase over the past year as a method for raising capital. According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin market capitalization sits at around $70 billion at the time of writing (even after the China ICO market correction), up from $11 billion in June 2016. Overall, the cryptocurrency market cap is now over $150 billion, roughly the size of Algeria or Iraq’s GDP.

Many organizations have, therefore, become interested in using token sales (aka ICOs and token generation events) as a way of raising capital. Mostly, companies look at token sales as a way to raise startup capital; they issue “utility tokens” to avoid being classified as a security. This method is in line with traditional “crowdfunding” that companies have been doing for many years.

I also believe there is a lot of pent up demand from traditional asset classes and established companies to utilize the blockchain to raise capital and conduct their business. This is because there are a many benefits for both the issuer and the investor.

For the issuer, it’s a frictionless process of raising capital that opens up a global market of potential investors. Costs of raising capital via this process can be a fraction of what it may cost to address the same size market with a traditional raise.

For the investor, it provides access to a wider range of investment opportunities, which a regular person may never otherwise have access to. Typically, there are zero or very low investment minimums, and one can easily participate in a token sale anywhere on the globe — just set up a wallet, buy some bitcoin or ether, and get in on time. As a bonus, there’s also often the existence of a secondary market where tokens can be traded after the initial token sale, thus providing fast liquidity to those that desire it.

However, the process is not without its challenges, and there are several things to consider when launching your next fund offering on the blockchain.

What are traditional asset classes and why may a blockchain be of benefit to them?

Traditional asset classes are those that generally come up when people talk about investments. They include stocks, commodities, real estate, private equity funds and derivatives, VC funds, REITs and others.

Most, if not all, traditional assets would fall under the SEC’s definition of a security, as stipulated by the Howey test. However, due to the decentralized nature of blockchains, the U.S. is not the only jurisdiction where tokens can be sold from; many countries around the world such as Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Estonia and others are stepping up to welcome ICOs, be they utilities or a securities.

So, how is blockchain technology and tokenization beneficial to traditional asset classes? Consider this example based on the logic illustrated by Stephen McKeon. If we take real estate as an example, it’s estimated that the size of commercial real estate in the U.S. alone is about $11 trillion. Let’s say 10 percent of that can be tokenized; that immediately puts over $1 trillion of liquidity back into the marketplace and removes an “illiquidity premium” which issuers are forced to pay because investors have no way to exit their investment for a number of years. This is a win-win for both the issuer and the investor.

Challenge #1 – Jurisdiction

Even if one decides to tokenize an existing asset, there are several challenges that must be addressed, and finding the right home for your fund is key.  Since most traditional assets may be considered a security, finding the right jurisdiction will be very important during and immediately following your token generating event. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to us today.

The State of Delaware has a newly invoked law that will allow businesses to maintain shareholder lists and other corporate records on the blockchain. This move is even more significant when you consider that this jurisdiction is the corporate domicile capital of America, with 66% of Fortune 500 companies calling it home. If your plan is to make token holders Limited Partners or equity holders of your new fund, this may be a reasonable option.

Also in the U.S., Regulation A, Regulation A+ and Regulation D contain rules that could exempt entities selling securities from registering with the SEC, including a specific look at equity crowdfunding. These rules can be applied to any crowd sale, and potentially encompass token sales as well. It’s also possible to raise under Regulation S, which would exclude U.S. investors altogether, thereby removing the need for protection of unaccredited investors.

Switzerland, one of the leading centers of capital in Europe and known for recently abolishing its banking secrecy laws, has become a fintech hub and is considered a friendly jurisdiction. A number of leading Swiss companies have formed an alliance called Crypto Valley, where one of the most prominent law firms, MME, hosted a recent conversation about the legalities of token sales and what may constitute a security under Swiss law.

The Cayman Islands, a leading offshore jurisdiction with a 0 percent tax rate for foreign-controlled companies, have seen an uptick in ICOs lately. Recent token sales events from the Caymans include EOS, Domain Developers Fund and others. The Cayman Islands and other offshore jurisdictions have taken a friendly view on blockchain assets and have the service provider infrastructure in place, with lots of experience creating and operating traditional funds. I believe incorporating in the Caymans and other offshore jurisdictions have many benefits and is a practice that will continue to increase.

Estonia is another interesting example of a jurisdiction where several ICOs — which would almost certainly be considered securities in the U.S. — have been domiciled. Recently, Agrello, Polybius and a number of other companies completed successful token sales. Estonia is unique because of its e-government initiatives, which encompass e-citizenship, e-voting, e-tax and government blockchains. Further, Estonia recently announced its own cryptocurrency called Estcoin. Estonia currently doesn’t regulate crowdfunding (though some EU laws may apply) and is one of the top friendly jurisdictions for launching tokenized funds.

Challenge #2 – Knowing Your Customer

Another roadblock to conducting legal and compliant token sales is the issuer’s ability to follow KYC and AML regulations effectively. KYC (Know Your Customer) is the method in which issuers verify the identity of its investors. Many cryptocurrencies of choice for token generation events have anonymity features built in (cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Zcash are prime examples, and bitcoin can be anonymized as well). Further, the crypto investment community likes the idea of not having to go through lengthy and intrusive KYC processes. This practice doesn’t bode well for the issuer, however, since KYC is a key requirement for many banks. Strong KYC during the token generating event will make it easier to work with banks and follow AML (Anti Money Laundering) regulations.

Challenge #3 – Tax, Compliance and Custody

There are further complications with taxes, compliance and custody. There are not yet clear standards for cryptocurrency compliance to be followed. Further, if your fund is going to be holding crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies, security and custody needs to be considered. Luckily, there are some players such as Gemini that offer crypto-custody services; some reputable banks such as the Swiss Falcon Private Bank are also starting to offer bank-level cryptocurrency trading services. There are still more challenges around custody and compliance for altcoins.

On the tax side, there are open questions about treatment of virtual currencies. IRS guidance 2014-12 classifies cryptocurrencies as an asset class, imposing capital gains taxes on profits in certain situations. Some other countries such as Vietnam have proposed making digital currencies like bitcoin a form of currency. The world tax authorities still need more time to figure out how to tax this new asset class.

Challenge #4 – What Happens Next?

Once you’ve jumped through a lot of hoops and successfully executed a tokenization event for your fund, the real work starts. If you accepted U.S. investors, think about how you can prevent them from selling your tokens in the first 12 months (if you raised under Regulation D). If you didn’t accept U.S. investors, how do you prevent them from buying your tokens in the future? What exchanges do you want to list on to make sure you can comply with AML and other regulations? This is a complex process that needs to be thought of before you start planning your token generation event.

Looking to the Past

Launching a tokenized fund on the blockchain is a relatively new concept; however, we have some successful precedents. The biggest and most interesting example is Blockchain Capital, founded by Brock Pierce. Their token, BCAP, was sold under Regulation D exemption to 99 accredited U.S. investors (and unlimited foreign investors with many exceptions), who, per SEC regulation, can’t sell their tokens for 12 months. Blockchain Capital has a complex structure, with entities in Singapore, the Cayman Islands and the U.S. According to their memorandum, they spent up to 10 percent of their raise on legal expenses (they raised $10 million), which is a hefty sum. Also, questions remain: What prevents non-accredited U.S. investors from buying BCAP tokens post ICO? How are the 99 accredited investors forced to comply with the requirement to hold these tokens for the time allotted?

Conclusion

Launching token generation events for your fund can be a worthwhile activity, but you need to plan carefully and entrust your process to qualified professionals.

Some things to think about before going ahead with launching a tokenized fund:

  • Is your token a security (Howey test)?

  • Have you chosen the right jurisdiction?

  • Do you comply with the applicable regulations, including KYC and AML?

  • What are tax and custody implications for your cryptocurrency?

  • What happens after the token sale is over?



The post Op Ed: Four Challenges to Consider When Launching Your Fund Raise on the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:48 pm

Nebraska Lawyers Accept Bitcoin Following Ethics Board Approval

The lawyer who asked a Nebraska state ethics board about accepting bitcoin says his practice will soon begin taking the cryptocurrency.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:31 pm

It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot—Bart Chilton—commentary - CNBC


CNBC

It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot—Bart Chilton—commentary
CNBC
Former financial regulator Bart Chilton says if bitcoin's wild swings happened on his watch, he would've launched an investigation.
Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin ...CoinDesk

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 1:10 pm

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Why Bitcoin Could Split Into Three in November: QuickTake Q&A - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Why Bitcoin Could Split Into Three in November: QuickTake Q&A
Bloomberg
Bitcoin has become so successful that the way it operates needs upgrading, and fast. Trouble is, there are opposing views on how to do that and no all-powerful administrative body to determine which method to adopt. After all, part of bitcoin's allure ...
McAfee at Shape The Future; “Pandora's box has been opened”Bitcoin News (press release)

all 26 news articles »

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 12:33 pm

Gold Investor John Hathaway: Cryptocurrencies Are 'Garbage'

A notable asset manager who focuses primarily on gold had a harsh word for the cryptocurrency market craze this week: "garbage."

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 11:15 am

Y Combinator President Calls ICOs A 'Bubble' – But His Firm Might Use Blockchain

Y Combinator, Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator, is looking at blockchain in order to boost access to startups for investors.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 10:15 am

Germany's Central Bank: Consumers Won't Use Blockchain for Payments

Germany's central bank has published a new blockchain research paper.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 9:00 am

Weak Demand? Bitcoin's Price Rebound May Be Starting to Fade

The rebound in bitcoin's price from the recent low of $2,980 has stalled, raising doubts as to whether the rally will continue.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 8:00 am

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation - CNBC


CNBC

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation
CNBC
A major problem for bitcoin is its extreme volatility, which is a cause of concern for many investors. A lack of liquidity may be to blame for the cryptocurrency's volatile nature, an expert tells CNBC. "The high volatility I think is due to the low ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 5:52 am

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

 Stellar, a nonprofit decentralized financial network, and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the country’s dedicated fintech platform, have published a joint report on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, organizations have raised over $1.8 billion through ICOs since January 2017. As this popular new fundraising method provides a simple and fast method to acquire serious funding, there has been “tremendous momentum” growing around ICO launches among new businesses in the blockchain industry, the report said.

On the other hand, the report also detailed that there are high risks associated with ICO investments. Since there is still a lack of regulation and control surrounding the industry, Stellar and LHoFT compared the current ICO sphere to the “Wild West” — a term that has become rather popular of late in reference to ICOs.

“ICOs raise issues for consumer protection, combating money laundering, and other regulatory compliance goals. Complications may arise from several sources, including the mechanism through which ICOs are conducted, the teams spearheading ICOs, the identities of contributors to ICOs, the quantity of money that is raised, the validity of ICOs’ technology and processes, marketing claims, and the impact that ICOs have on the greater cryptocurrency markets. All these factors must be scrutinized so that the heralded benefits of ICOs are balanced against market and legal risks as the model matures and gains broader acceptance,” the report states.

LHoFT and Stellar addressed both the upsides and the downsides of ICO fundraising. Organizations launching ICOs benefit from a built-in customer base, a committed group of customers that will stay with the product or service until it officially launches. Furthermore, according to the report, the fundraising method has positive effects on the network, can target global investors (or donors) in a non-discriminatory manner while providing a fast and easy fundraising mechanism. Additionally, retail investors are keen on participating in ICOs, and open-source projects can benefit from the fundraising method too.

Similarly, investors can benefit from the high liquidity of the tokens (sold during ICOs), in addition to being able to sell them through cryptocurrency exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, which would allow the investors to transfer the tokens easily without the authorization of the token issuer (the organization launching the ICO).

Token holders are often offered bonuses, such as “gift cards” or “licenses” that will incentivize them to support the growth and the development of the project. ICO investors also benefit from the lack of “geo-lock” — they can invest in the project no matter the location (unless specified otherwise). Most importantly, ICOs have a high potential for big gains.

On the other hand, there are plenty of risks associated with ICOs, according to the report. Firstly, ICOs lack the formal process for auditing the organizations.The writers of the study highlighted a potential problem with smart contracts: If the contract is not programmed correctly, it could lead to unexpected transfers without the authorization of the token owner. Some tokens are not based on any fundamental value, thus, may facilitate bubbles and Ponzi schemes.

Furthermore, Stellar and LHoFT emphasized the issue of “investor education” — some investors are not informed well enough about an ICO project before investing in it. The report also detailed security problems, such as phishing scams and the loss of private keys, which can result in the investors losing their tokens.

As with most cryptocurrencies, tokens also tend to be volatile. According to the report, ICO cashouts may create price distortions on the market. Furthermore, the market can be subjected to manipulation, such as the “Whales” method, in which the token issuer organization holds back a percentage of the tokens and distributes them between the team members. Both investors and organizations can experience network lag during popular ICOs, while some token distribution mechanisms can cause unpredicted difficulties for both parties.

The lack of regulations within the ICO space presents various problems for both the investors and the organizations, such as being subject to the financial regulations of multiple jurisdictions. The anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency sphere can result in many of the investors being seen only as pseudonyms, which could cause issues for law enforcement and regulators. Since there is uncertainty about the taxation of tokens, both investors and organizations could face legal issues, such as tax evasion charges. Furthermore, the report discusses that there is an increasing concern that ICOs can be used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.

The post Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 12:35 pm

GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership

GoldMint Header

Reflecting gold’s historical repute as a scarce and valued resource, Bitcoin has become known in many investment circles as “digital gold.” With its unprecedented rise, Bitcoin’s worth is now estimated to be about twice that of an ounce of physical gold.

On August 7, 2017, the startup GoldMint was launched with the intent of ushering in a new digital era of gold as a store of value. This project aims to provide a unique set of gold ownership solutions for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts worldwide. It is holding an initial coin offering (ICO) that starts in less than 12 hours. 

The GoldMint project reaffirms the notion that physical gold is a respected method of payment and wealth preservation, all tied to its value and scarcity. Gold ownership, however, requires expensive security, safekeeping and insurance. GoldMint’s innovative approach seeks to address these inherent issues.

GoldMint purchases, sells and repurchases their native digital asset called

“GOLD,” which is 100 percent backed by physical gold. It features an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) which can be utilized as a payment and investment tool for both companies and individuals in hedging risk.

Capitalizing off of the inherent advantages of its physical counterpart,

GOLD tokens offer a stable, transparent, non-volatile means of buffering one’s crypto portfolio from wild market swings. Here, GoldMint is committed to ensuring that GOLD delivers consistent value through paper assets like ETFs and futures as well as through physical assets. Moreover, GOLD owners will be able to use their tokens to secure guarantees, loans and escrow services, all at a modest 5 percent purchase and 3 percent sale fee.

GoldMint will also deliver a utility token known as “MNT” to facilitate operations, implement smart contracts and incentivize block creation and transaction confirmation.

During the early stages of this project, MNT will be sold and distributed on the Ethereum blockchain. After the MNT distribution has taken place, Goldmint will launch its own Graphene -based Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that offers a safer, more productive and faster experience.

Minting the Blockchain

GoldMint utilizes a blockchain ledger to execute trades, loans and investments for profit. The following are what make the GOLD crypto asset unique:

  • 100 percent information transparency relative to all GoldMint GOLD. The company discloses its gold reserves, fostering the opportunity to buy back GOLD at its current trading price.
  • GoldMint utilizes the decentralized blockchain for smart contracts and for its crypto assets.
  • ETFs are used for liquidity and elasticity facilitating gold trades which are far faster than those of physical gold.
  • Secured loans can be leveraged with GOLD, like jewelry or coins. GoldMint assists in the storage of this collateral through its unique Custody Bot, a blockchain-connected robot used for inspection, temporary and long-term storage and the transfer of physical gold, jewelry, coins or gold bullion.
  • Members have the ability to earn passive income as the market price of GOLD rises.
  • An option which allows for the buyback of GOLD for fiat according to the current price of GOLD.
  • A fast and efficient user registration and identification system.

To support merchants and developers, GoldMint is in the process of releasing an application programming interface (API) for the development of third-party apps and other interfaces. Use of this API will allow online stores to accept GOLD as a payment method, enable loans to be secured by banks and provide access to services such as escrow accounts and financial guarantees.

The Goldmint Team

Goldmint is led by CEO Dmitry Plutschevsky, who co-founded Lot-Zoloto — a gold trading company based in Russia with trading transactions totaling $100 million in 2017 — with former banker Konstantin Romanov. Serg Umansky, head of portfolio management at Whiteridge Investment Funds, Alex Butmanov, managing partner at DTI and Julian Zegelman, managing partner at Velton Zegelman, are among the advisors of the company

GoldMint founders predict that its unique value proposition will disrupt the billion-dollar gold market, allowing GoldMint to establish itself as a market leader in the coming cryptocurrency revolution.

To learn more about GoldMint and participate in its token sale, visit its website, read the white paper and follow the company’s social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

The post GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 September 2017 | 3:51 pm

Uncertainty Dominates as China Continues to Clamp Down on Cryptocurrencies

Uncertainty Dominates as China Clamps Down on Cryptocurrency

China is clamping down on cryptocurrency, that much is clear. But while the developing story dominates headlines, a notable trend is the lack of official information. Chinese officials seem to systematically decline requests for comments, local sources are willing to provide information on condition of anonymity only, while leaked documents remain unverified.

Despite this lack of clarity, here’s what’s known so far.

Effects on Trading

The most important thing we know for sure is that Chinese bitcoin exchanges will be closing down, or at least exiting China.

BTCC — the oldest bitcoin exchange in the world — was the first exchange to announce they’d be closing shop within the Asian country, by the end of this month. The exchange cited guidelines published by the Chinese central bank (the People’s Bank of China; PBOC), which initially appeared to only affect ICOs, as its reason for closing down.

Other exchanges quickly followed BTCC's lead. ViaBTC and Yunbi both announced that they’d be ceasing operations by the end of this month. Huobi and OKCoin, the two other major Chinese exchanges, announced they would be shutting down too, though not until the end of October. And BitKan, a big over-the-counter (OTC) trading service rather than an order-book exchange, announced it would be shutting down as well.

While the cited guidelines initially did not seem to concern bitcoin, it is likely that Chinese officials have made it clear through separate channels that they do apply to the cryptocurrency. Bloomberg (among others) reports that exchange operators decided to close down after in-person meetings with PBOC officials, and the Wall Street Journal reports — based on anonymous sources — that the PBOC has prepared a set of “draft instructions” that would ban cryptocurrency trading altogether. These draft instructions have also been leaked (translation) but have so far not been verified for authenticity.

The content of the leaked documents is also consistent with warnings issued by a Chinese quasi-regulatory body — the National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA) — regarding cryptocurrency trading, published shortly before exchanges announced that they would be shutting down.

According to the NIFA, Bitcoin exchanges lack “legal basis” to operate in the country. Additionally, NIFA official Li Lihui told a technology conference in Shanghai on Friday that a goal of China’s monetary regulation is to ensure that “the source and destination of every piece of money can be tracked.”

The Status of Bitcoin

As far as official statements go, Bitcoin itself is not banned in China. Owning, using, and — most importantly — mining bitcoin should technically not be affected by the published guidelines.

However, more unverified reports (translation) consistent with reporting from the Wall Street Journal, claim that Bitcoin itself will be blocked by the so-called “great firewall of China.” Specifically, seed addresses, which help to bootstrap any new Bitcoin node, and Bitcoin blocks, necessary to construct the blockchain, would be filtered from internet traffic into China, using deep packet inspection.

Additionally, major foreign Bitcoin exchanges like Coinbase, Bitfinex and LocalBitcoins would be added to the list of banned domains, which already includes sites like Google and Facebook. And even private trading of cryptocurrency arranged through chat-apps like Telegram and WeChat, for example, could fall under scrutiny, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This much stricter stance on Bitcoin, beyond just exchanges but also concerning Bitcoin itself, seem consistent with comments from PBOC Counselor Sheng Songcheng, as reported by local news sources like Shanghai Securities News. Songcheng was quoted to have said that Bitcoin poses a challenge to China, mentioning money laundering and its potential to curb the nation’s economic policy.

Furthermore, very recent reports indicate that cryptocurrency exchange operators are currently not allowed to leave Beijing. Local news outlet BJ News writes:

“[According to] a number of informed sources, the current special currency trading platform executives and so on are not allowed to leave Beijing, [in order] to cooperate with the investigation. In accordance with regulatory requirements, the trading platform shareholders, the actual controller, executives, financial executives [must] fully cooperate with the relevant work in the clean-up period in Beijing.” (Rough translation.)

What This Means…

Trading bitcoin via dedicated exchange platforms in China is off the table for now — that is clear.

But it’s not yet clear how successful a full Chinese Bitcoin blockade could be. It would technically only require a single Bitcoin block of a maximum of four megabytes to make it into China about once every 10 minutes, potentially even through satellite, for the entire country to be able to access the blockchain. As such, banning individual Chinese citizens from owning and using bitcoin might prove difficult, even if exchange platforms close down.

Perhaps an even more important question is what will happen to Bitcoin mining: It’s likely that most of Bitcoin’s hash power is currently situated in the Asian country. While miners should able to connect to the rest of the world, according to ViaBTC CEO Haipo Yang, it’s unclear if this connection will be allowed for much longer. If Chinese authorities indeed intend to ban Bitcoin from the country entirely, some Bitcoin mining operations — both mining pools and hash power data centers — will be easy targets to shut down.

On the other hand, this is not the first time that fears of China “banning Bitcoin” have been raised. In the past, such concerns have simply been a prelude to stricter regulations by local authorities.

It has been suggested by Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu, perhaps a bit optimistically, that exchanges will simply require a new license to continue operation. Similarly, it’s been speculated that the PBOC may introduce a national digital currency as a sort of gateway to cryptocurrency: This would allow the central bank to better track the flow of funds in and out of bitcoin in order to counter money laundering and capital flight.

Then again, it could make more sense to introduce such a national digital currency as a substitute for Bitcoin, once Bitcoin is effectively banned, as suggested by ZeroHedge.

For now, uncertainty prevails.

The post Uncertainty Dominates as China Continues to Clamp Down on Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 September 2017 | 2:40 pm

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September 22, 2017 -
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