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661  Bitcoin / Press / Re: 2013-07-01 Mkshft.org - Thin Wire (Hawala networks) on: July 03, 2013, 12:12:32 AM
Imagine, billions of impoverished people around the world able to purchase goods and services with their phones or other portable e-wallet device.

Helping to bridge the gap:

Convert bitcoins to M-PESA. Convert M-PESA to bitcoins. Remittances into Kenya today, thanks to @KipochiPay:
 - http://kipochi.com/blog/kipochi-launches-first-bitcoin-wallet-in-africa-with-m-pesa-integration
662  Bitcoin / Press / Re: 2013-07-01 Mkshft.org - Thin Wire (Hawala networks) on: July 02, 2013, 11:42:54 PM
And a recent thread on the topic:


Bitcoin essentially displaces hawala.  With hawala there is this set of transactions in two locations which is only possible due to a linkage of trust between the two parties facilitating the "transfer".  With bitcoin, a transfer of fiat is simplified into two domestic exchange transactions, independent from each other.  One is the buying of bitcoins at one location and the other transaction is cashing out the bitcoins at another.

Ever hawalder essentially can essentially go independent and offer Bitcoin exchange service, ... up to a point.

At most it would mean finding trustworthy people who already have the capital to invest.       

The problem is the street-level hawalder agent handling the cash-out needs to quickly turn over the bitcoins received right back into fiat.   So the street-level hawalder needs a nearby low-cost exchanger who will buy the hawalders bitcoins and pay out cash.  

So there is a capital requirement is essentially for providing exchange service where held is an inventory of cash to be able to buy every bitcoin that the street-level hawalder wishes to sell.

When I see how there are 50,000 M-Pesa agents in Kenya who earn income to supplement their income, (including many who earn so much from it that's all they do), it is a natural that individuals looking to earn a little money by providing bitcoin exchange will figure it out.  But what they need help with to get started is a way to turn the bitcoins they bought back into cash.

Down the road this will probably be like a hierarchy.  You have the street-level exchangers buying bitcoins and paying maybe 8% below spot.  That level may seem a little high but it is necessary due to the time involved to provide this service (arranging and meeting face-to-face is time consuming) and to protect against the risks -- exchange rate risk where the value fluctuates after the exchanger buys the coins after completing a buy from a customer but has not yet sold them.   Other risks include receiving counterfeit bills (though with proper training that risk can be lowered) and physical security (i.e., handling cash can be dangerous).

But then if that street exchanger can visit (or get a visit) from a broker-dealer who will convert those bitcoins back to cash at about a 2% to 3% fee then the amount of money earned makes it worth it for the street exchanger to provide the service.   The broker-dealer itself might have a trusted party that the coins are flipped to immediately (wholesale, close to spot rate) so that there is no exchange rate risk exposure and exists is a fairly quick method of replenishing the dealer's inventory of cash.  

The reason the street-level exchanger doesn't just send the coins to an exchange is because that would involve the banking system, and either the costs or the settlement delays associated with the banking system are prohibitive.  And exchange is probably a regulated activity so the street-level exchanger wouldn't use a bank regardless.  Even the broker-dealer probably won't use the banking system either.  

So essentially, this eventually has tiers like any supply chain.  The street-level exchanger buys coins from the public and sells them to a broker-dealer (the next level up in the hierarchy).  Then the broker-dealer trades those coins up to a wholesaler (who has the banking relationships and / or relationships with large buyers.)

But this hierarchy isn't necessary to get things started.  All that is needed are for the two parties (prospective buyer and prospective seller) to learn that each other exists.  These relationships can be learned from attending a local meetup, or from a classified ad on craigslist even.

LocalBitcoins is essentially the closest thing to a hawala network that exists with Bitcoin today as I can (and have) used that to do a three-party transaction.  I as the seller contacted the buyer in a far away location.  The buyer met with the person who was to receive the cash.    That person sent me a text saying the buyer was there with the cash, I released the funds, and the buyer handed over the cash.     My recipient of the funds didn't know anything about Bitcoin, except that Bitcoin had made it possible for some person to show up at a certain time and hand over some cash -- no names, no phone numbers, no ID, no nothing.  The only technology that was needed at the hand over of the cash was a couple text messages between me and the person receiving the funds.
663  Bitcoin / Press / 2013-07-01 Mkshft.org - Thin Wire (Hawala networks) on: July 02, 2013, 11:39:28 PM
Thin Wire
by Philippa Young

This article doesn't mention bitcoin whatsoever, but describes an industry that is begging for the arrival of Bitcoin.

Quote
Hawala, hundi, chiti, chop, and dozens of other names describe a system that moves billions of dollars across grey and black markets, faster and cheaper than your local bank."
-
Before insurance and high-speed travel, moving large amounts of bullion by sea or camel-led caravan was not only slow but also incredibly risky. The answer? Never move the money.
-
In its infancy, hawala created a safe and smooth journey for long-distance merchants, facilitating the first movements of globalized trade. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and hawala has a less celebrated reputation.
-
For families in developing countries supported by diaspora relatives, hawala is a lifeline.
-
Hawala is recordless. With just a name and telephone number, you can transfer thousands of dollars across continents.
-
Just one month from now, First Somali Bank will launch a system to allow diaspora communities of Minnesota and London to send remittances from their mobile phones directly to a recipient’s debit card in Somalia— signs of attempts to formalize hawala’s informal success.
-
The system differs from neighboring Kenya’s M-PESA system in that the money goes directly into the recipient’s bank account. Each person becomes his or her own hawaladar.
-
If money makes the world go round, then hawala is the undervalued engine coughing out a cloak of grey-black smoke.
   
 - http://mkshft.org/2013/07/thin-wire
664  Bitcoin / Legal / Re: Bitcoin Foundation receives cease and desist order from California on: July 02, 2013, 08:46:20 PM
Foundation's response to the State of CA:

Quote
The Bitcoin Foundation does not engage in any of these regulated activities.  Furthermore, even if it did engage in these activities, it does not have any business operations in California that would subject it to the Department of Financial Institution's ("DFI") jurisdiction.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation does not have business operations in California that would subject it to the DFI's jurisdiction. [...] The Bitcoin Foundation provides no direct money services to any California consumers.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation is not in the business of selling bitcoin to consumers and does not otherwise operate a bitcoin exchange.
-
Bitcoins are not written or signed notes or drafts, and therefore, are not payment instruments regulated by the California Money Transmitter Act.
-
There is no issuer of bitcoin that would be subject to licensure as a money transmitter under California law.
-
The fact that bitcoin does not fit within the definition of payment instruments or stored value does not mean it is automatically regulated by the money transmission prong.
-
The same rationale that applied to the sale of a peso should prevail under the California statute with regard to the sale of a bitcoin.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation requests that your office issue an opinion that [...] the sale of a bitcoin is not regulated under the California Money Transmitter Act.

 - http://www.scribd.com/doc/151346841/Bitcoin-Foundation-Response-to-California-DFI
665  Bitcoin / Press / 2013-07-02 BitcoinFoundation.org - Response to CA DFI Warning Letter on: July 02, 2013, 08:43:15 PM
From Bitcoin Foundation's legal representative:

Quote
The Bitcoin Foundation does not engage in any of these regulated activities.  Furthermore, even if it did engage in these activities, it does not have any business operations in California that would subject it to the Department of Financial Institution's ("DFI") jurisdiction.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation does not have business operations in California that would subject it to the DFI's jurisdiction. [...] The Bitcoin Foundation provides no direct money services to any California consumers.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation is not in the business of selling bitcoin to consumers and does not otherwise operate a bitcoin exchange.
-
Bitcoins are not written or signed notes or drafts, and therefore, are not payment instruments regulated by the California Money Transmitter Act.
-
There is no issuer of bitcoin that would be subject to licensure as a money transmitter under California law.
-
The fact that bitcoin does not fit within the definition of payment instruments or stored value does not mean it is automatically regulated by the money transmission prong.
-
The same rationale that applied to the sale of a peso should prevail under the California statute with regard to the sale of a bitcoin.
-
The Bitcoin Foundation requests that your office issue an opinion that [...] the sale of a bitcoin is not regulated under the California Money Transmitter Act.

Response of Bitcoin Foundation to May 30, 2013 Warning Letter
 - http://www.scribd.com/doc/151346841/Bitcoin-Foundation-Response-to-California-DFI
666  Bitcoin / Technical Support / Re: 9 Hours and BTC Transfer is still 0 Confirmations on: July 02, 2013, 08:41:56 AM
How could there not be a single confirmation in the past 9 hours?

One explanation could be that your client isn't updated to the most recent block, and thus isn't showing the confirmations that might have occurred.  Check the transaction ID with Blockchain.info for a second source to verify that the transaction has been broadcast and does not yet have any confirmations.

Additionally, if the transaction uses INPUTs that themselves haven't confirmed yet, then even if your transaction has a fee paid it won't get confirmed until those INPUTs it relies on have confirmed.

Is the problem persisting yet?
667  Economy / Goods / Re: TheBitMunchies.com is back up and running! *Under new management* on: July 02, 2013, 02:20:19 AM
This is great news! I've always loved thebitmunchies !  Wink

Was it BitMunchies.com or TheBitMunchies.com before?
668  Bitcoin / Press / Re: 2013-07-01 TechCrunch.com - Cameron And Tyler Winklevoss File For $20 Million IP on: July 01, 2013, 11:11:24 PM
Heh, ... this is probably the first time ever this has appeared in an S-1:

Quote
The Trust’s loss of access to its private keys or its experience of a data loss relating to the Trust’s Bitcoins could adversely affect an investment in the Shares.


 - http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1579346/000119312513279830/d562329ds1.htm
669  Bitcoin / Press / 2013-07-01 TechCrunch.com - Cameron And Tyler Winklevoss File For $20 Million IP on: July 01, 2013, 11:10:07 PM
Cameron And Tyler Winklevoss File For $20 Million IPO Of Their ‘Bitcoin Trust’

 - http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/01/cameron-and-tyler-winklevoss-file-for-20-million-ipo-of-their-bitcoin-trust/
670  Economy / Goods / Re: NEFT Vodka and Bitcoin on: July 01, 2013, 10:03:23 PM
Anyone know, is it possible to get this in the USA?

Coming soon to a BevMo near you (at least that's what the importer at Bitcoin 2013 was saying).

Neft is registered as a Liquor brand with the State of NY:
 - http://www.sla.ny.gov/system/files/registeredbrandsbyname_liquor-060113.pdf
671  Bitcoin / Legal / Re: What's to stop fully licenced bitcoin exchanges from trading fiat pairs? on: July 01, 2013, 09:58:53 PM
I was wondering less about brokerages and more about actual fiat exchanges

Most every U.S. state has regulations for currency exchangers (e.g., converting USD to EUR, or other currency).
672  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Re: State of the Real Bitcoin Economy on: July 01, 2013, 08:39:45 PM
So, what do you guys think is the way forward?

Bitcoin was used in online gaming but no service really had been "killing it".  Then on April, 17th 2012, fireduck realized he was on to something.  His new gambling site, 1209k was attracting more users than he felt comfortable handling so he sold the service which the new owner rebranded as SatoshiDICE and in a couple weeks the blockchain transaction chart started to hockey stick.

Within 30 days a "killer app" (online gambling seeing its "drop" hit millions of dollars worth each month) went from "could happen" to "happening before our very eyes".

We know there are dozens of "killer apps".   The remittance industry is another one.  Even if just the hawalders figured out the opportunity that Bitcoin provides them with, there's a huge amount of Bitcoin transactions that would result.  Hawalders transfer money in which there is required trust between the intermediaries.   Bitcoin disintermediates hawala -- breaking it down into there being simply two independent exchange transactions (i.e., bitcoins bought in one location, and bitcoins exchanged back to fiat in another).

Personally, I think the place Bitcoin will have the largest impact is with cyber-equities markets.  This is currently the category known as "equity crowdfunding" but that is a category that today essentially does not exist due to regulatory friction.   The JOBS act was passed more than a year ago and the SEC still is at least a half year away from finishing the rulemaking they are tasked with.  Even then, what is available today on BitFunder, Cryptostocks, Picostocks, (or funds like Havelock offers) will not qualify for use in the U.S. due to various reasons, including how investment in those vehicles for speculation can be made anonymously -- and thus there is no method for the authorities to enforce tax laws.

But look at ASICMINER, which is possibly the most highly valued company ever to go the "equity crowdfunding" route.  When there are more and more successes in companies who raised capital through these cyber-equities markets I expect that to be the catalyst for an unprecedented level of transaction activity for bitcoins.
673  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / Re: State of the Real Bitcoin Economy on: July 01, 2013, 08:05:55 PM
It's too useful as a store of value, and that utility will inevitably drive it into more people's hands, driving up the price, stabilizing the price with larger volume, boosting mining incentive to make the system more secure, and increasing development and infrastructural investment in a virtuous cycle.

I couldn't disagree more.

The reason bitcoin is valued in double digits currently is due to speculation that there will be greater demand for holding coins in the future and thus the current exchange rate is justified or undervalued even.

But what causes this demand to hold coins?   

Simply as a store of value?  Certainly, those who bought in early April and still hold those coins don't think bitcoin is such a great store of value.   There are a number of stores of value with less risk than Bitcoin at these exchange rates.

When Bitcoin is used as a medium of exchange that creates demand for coins.  You can't send a Bitcoin payment without first acquiring those coins.  If a business receives coins as revenue and then will be using bitcoins in the future for purchasing goods and services, or paying out dividends, then the merchant is likely to hold a balance of coins for the short duration between when the revenue transaction occurred and when the spending will occur.     Holding the coins for that short amount of time, though, decreases the quantity available for sale at the exchanges and, in aggregate, bitcoin gaining traction as a currency causes the exchange rate to rise.

It doesn't matter where the demand for bitcoins comes from ...   whether it be as a means of exchange, remittance payments, speculation (hoarding), forex trading, etc., .... any coin that doesn't end up being sold means less resistance to a rising exchange rate.

The reason traction in retail and e-commerce is seen as so important by many is because of what it will do to the exchange rate if it happens.   If it happens, a BTC/USD of $10,000 is not crazy talk.  Without it, a BTC/USD of $2 might be the more fair valuation.

674  Local / India / Re: Mt Gox Gets a MSB License on: July 01, 2013, 09:53:21 AM

Doh!

Mt Gox registered with FinCEN as a money service business (MSB) that serves as a money transmitter.

They did not "get a license".

There is no such thing as an MSB license.

There are some states that require Money Transmitters to be licensed.   Mt. Gox has not received any money transmiter licenses yet, apparently, and it isn't known if they'll even do that (it is very expensive to do).
675  Economy / Service Discussion / Re: Read this before you invest with icbit on: July 01, 2013, 09:46:52 AM
in other words influences that are not anything to do with bitcoin

There definitely are trades occurring due to forced margin selling, and if there aren't enough contracts bid that selling will go low, below current spot even if that is still within the trading range.

But you can't fault ICBIT.se for there not being sufficient bids.  It's just the result of a long, protracted slide in which many traders on the long side who were margined are basically just adding more funds to hang on and not buying a greater position, regardless of the price.

It shouldn't be surprising that there isn't a huge level of liquidity in the trading of futures contracts on an exchange with properties unlike any other (specifically, the counterparty risk where your position can get closed even without you getting a margin call due to the losses of others).

There is much risk when you combine leverage with volatility, so if there's more that could be done it would be to educate traders on those risks. 
676  Bitcoin / Mining speculation / Re: Anyway to block miners in China? on: July 01, 2013, 05:25:04 AM
Then no cryptocurrency will ever be successful.

It's an evolutionary process. Bitcoin will die and a better cryptocurrency will be created.

OK, now it's apparent this was just trolling.
677  Bitcoin / Mining speculation / Re: Anyway to block miners in China? on: July 01, 2013, 05:22:53 AM
As the diffculty increases, less individuals get involved in Bitcoin mining and it turns into a corporate venture.

I remember when CPU miners were whining that GPUs meant the end of bitcoin due to the "home user" being shut out of mining.  

Remember one thing.  Miners work for those who buy the bitcoins.   The least efficient workers (i.e., power-hungy GPU miners) are being displaced with more efficient workers (ASICs).

This was telegraphed well in advance, and getting to this point actually took much longer than many of us expected.  But progress from here (i.e, difficulty continues shooting up) is right on cue:



If you are still GPU mining on bitcoin, please do not be deluded into thinking this is something that will blow over.  If you haven't done so already, prepare to shut down your GPU rigs -- and the sooner the better.

As far as blocking mined blocks based on geographic area, Bitcoin was architected to protect against this type of corruption.  Miners relay their mined blocks to their peers, so every peer would need to reject an IP range.   That would never happen.
678  Economy / Service Discussion / Re: Read this before you invest with icbit on: July 01, 2013, 01:58:36 AM
Today with spot at $100 or so a reasonable premium might be, very roughly, $60 to $80. If it is much out of that range it is a warning that something needs to be investigated. If it is below zero than it is much more than a warning.

Or a lack of buyers at that price.   It is an open market.  You are free to put in a BUY order for contracts at that price.
679  Bitcoin / Alternative clients / Re: Does such a thing even exist?! on: July 01, 2013, 01:01:49 AM
Blockchain.info seems to have some of this functionality, but I'm not too sure I would trust it too much, and I'm not sure I can pick the originating address for sending bitcoin.

You can from the Web client.  You choose "custom" when sending.

Also, the Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet client (Android) provides an easy method for importing (scanning) a private key.  (It is new, beta software yet and was just recently made available so use care such as only dealing with paper keys with small amounts, for now.):
 - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mycelium.wallet
680  Bitcoin / Legal / Re: What's to stop fully licenced bitcoin exchanges from trading fiat pairs? on: July 01, 2013, 12:56:22 AM
I was referring to this case. Out of interest, what regulator and regulations are there for allowing the exchange of fiat currencies?

From the FinCEN guidance:

Quote
Dealers in Foreign Exchange

A person must exchange the currency of two or more countries to be considered a dealer in foreign exchange.19 Virtual currency does not meet the criteria to be considered "currency" under the BSA, because it is not legal tender. Therefore, a person who accepts real currency in exchange for virtual currency, or vice versa, is not a dealer in foreign exchange under FinCEN's regulations.
- http://fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/FIN-2013-G001.html


So from that is seems reasonable that one could, from the U.S., accept EUR in exchange for BTC (and vice-versa) and not be considered a dealer in foreign exchange.    There might still be the requirement to register as an MSB, but not as a "dealer of foreign exchange".    Now if you try to go USD --> BTC, then those BTC --> EUR, then that effectively is a USD --> EUR trade and those transactions might cause you to be considered a dealer in foreign exchange.

As far as what regulators exists for a forex brokerage?  Here's a snippet from a forex brokerage:

Quote
In American the main Forex regulatory commissions are the National Futures Association (NFA), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These bodies regulate Forex brokers in the US and ensure that only registered brokers are able to operate in the country, and that transparency in all transactions are maintained.
- http://www.etoro.com/education/american-forex-regulation.aspx
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