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March 04, 2014, 02:07:28 PM
 #181

Japan Mulls Bitcoin Tax Following Mt. Gox Failure
Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on March 4, 2014 at 11:00 GMT | Asia, Crime, Law, Mt. Gox, News, Regulation

Japan is taking the Mt. Gox collapse seriously and is already looking into measures to address the digital currency conundrum – one of which is to levy taxes on bitcoin transactions.

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, Japan’s ministry of finance and the national tax agency are studying “possible rules” that could govern digital currency transactions.

It appears that Japanese authorities think purchases made with digital currencies could be subject to existing consumption and corporate taxes.

As AFP points out, the Yomiuri Shimbun does not cite any sources in its report. The newspaper does say, though, that Japan and many other countries simply lack the regulatory framework to levy taxes on bitcoin transactions.

Catching up

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso confirmed on Tuesday that the country is still trying to understand what led to the Mt. Gox collapse and whether criminal activity was involved.

According to Reuters, Aso told reporters that authorities still do not have a “clear grasp of the situation”. He added:

“(We) don’t know if it was a crime or just a bankruptcy.”

However, Aso stopped short of commenting on possible regulation or taxes.

Regulation inevitable?

Although Aso did not say anything that would confirm the Yomiuri Shimbun report, it should be noted that he has made some interesting statements in the past.

Following the Mt. Gox collapse, Aso said he had been “thinking it would collapse sometime”, adding that Japan is very advanced in the field of digital currencies.

“I was thinking that we might face a situation where Japan has to act, but I’d say it came earlier than I thought,” he said.

In essence, it seems as if Japan was going to act with or without the Mt. Gox collapse – the embarrassing failure and bankruptcy of the Tokyo-based exchange will simply shift things into a higher gear.

The big question is how Japan plans to go about it. As the Yomiuri Shimbun points out, authorities are looking into “consumption and corporate taxes,” which is puzzling in itself. If bitcoin is treated as a commodity, even simple transactions could be taxed, much like the sale or resale of everyday goods. That would render digital currencies more or less pointless, as it would allow authorities to tax every transaction, so this is an unlikely scenario to say the least.

If bitcoin was treated as a currency, this would be a non-issue. However, as Japan does not consider bitcoin a currency, it needs to find an alternative way of taxing bitcoin transactions – that is the crux of the problem. Corporate taxes would not apply to consumers.

International effort needed

However, Japan cannot regulate bitcoin on its own. Just last week the country’s Senior Vice Finance Minister Jiro Aichi said international collaboration would be necessary if a viable regulatory framework was to be introduced.

Aichi suggested that international coordination is necessary to prevent criminals from exploiting loopholes. National regulators cannot do it on their own, because the framework has to be harmonized.

Aichi went on to stress that Japan does not consider bitcoin a currency, which is another problem legislators need to address in order to apply existing legislation to bitcoin transactions.

The Bank of Japan said it is keeping track of developments in the world of digital currencies, but so far it has not made any statements about their use.

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March 04, 2014, 02:08:47 PM
 #182

Polish Soccer Club to Accept Bitcoin for Tickets and Merchandise
Jaroslaw Adamowski | Published on March 4, 2014 at 11:42 GMT | Lifestyle, News

In a bid to boost its popularity and endorse the cryptocurrency in the process, Polish soccer club GKS Katowice has announced plans to enable bitcoin payments for tickets and club-related merchandise.

The club’s supporters can now make donations to their favourite side in the digital currency, GKS Katowice said in a statement.

“We are open to new technologies. We want to be innovative and [...] show our fans that we have great ambitions,” said Wojciech Cygan, chief executive of GKS Katowice.

Under the plan, the fans will be able to pay in the digital currency through customized bitcoin wallets.

First soccer club to endorse bitcoin

Maciej Ziółkowski, an expert from local news site Satoshi.pl, was quoted in the statement saying that GKS Katowice is the first professional soccer club in the world to endorse the digital currency. Ziółkowski said:

“In Poland, there are now sixty outlets [which accept payments in bitcoin]. This area is rapidly developing.”

Ziółkowski pointed to the experience of US basketball team Sacramento Kings which in January became the first NBA team to accept bitcoin for products sold online and at its home stadium.

According to Marcin Ćwikła, the club’s press officer, the next step for GKS Katowice will be to sell match tickets and club-related merchandise such as squad jerseys and gadgets with the use of cryptocurrency payments.

Set up in 1964 and based in Katowice, in Poland’s Silesia region, GKS Katowice has a significant following in the country’s south-west.

The club is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment. Some of the major achievements of GKS Katowice include three Cups of Poland in 1986, 1991 and 1993, as well as two Super Cups of Poland in 1991 and 1995.

Marketing strategy

After its rise to prominence in the early 1990s, the soccer club experienced a downfall which resulted in its relegation from the Ekstraklasa to the I Liga, the second tier of Poland’s professional soccer league.

Despite this, the club has remained highly popular both in Katowice and a number of neighbouring municipalities, and maintains a budget which matches those of some of the clubs which compete in the country’s top soccer league.

Warta Poznan
The GKS Katowice squad in 2011. Image credit: Roger Gor
The latest move to introduce digital currency donations is one of a wide range of initiatives designed to bolster the club’s media presence and lure new supporters.

After the first half of the 2013/2014 season, GKS Katowice is currently ranked third out of the 18 clubs which play in Poland’s I Liga. This means that the club still has a chance of being promoted to the Ekstraklasa, which will accept the top two squads of the I Liga to its ranks in the next season.

GKS Katowice’s last season in the top tier of Poland’s professional soccer league ended in 2005. The supporters of the Katowice-based side can now show appreciation of their club’s efforts to return to the Ekstraklasa with donations made with the cryptocurrency.

GKS Katowice’s stadium has a seating capacity of more than 10,000. The city of Katowice is its majority shareholder, with a 52.78% stake in the Polish club.

Bitcoin in Poland

Despite the lack of official recognition of bitcoin by the Polish government, Poles trade digital currencies on local platforms.

The question of bitcoin’s legal status was addressed in a policy document signed by the country’s Deputy Minister of Finance Wojciech Kowalczyk and released in July 2013, as earlier reported.

Under the current regulatory framework, all transactions made in bitcoins are to be considered as a result of two parties agreeing contractually to use the digital currency in settling their dealings, according to the document.

According to figures obtained from Bitcoincharts, local bitcoin exchange Bitcurex.pl had, on 3rd of March, a 30-day volume of some 17,009.7 BTC and 32.79m PLN ($10.76m). Bitcoin had a weighted price of 1927.5 PLN ($632.7).

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March 04, 2014, 02:11:07 PM
 #183

he Non-Expert’s Guide to the Mt. Gox Fiasco
Arianna Simpson (@ariannasimpson) | Published on March 4, 2014 at 12:13 GMT | Analysis, Mt. Gox

After being bombarded with questions about Mt. Gox, bitcoin blogger Arianna Simpson decided to explain “all this hot wallet cold storage transaction malleability business” in layman’s terms, once and for all. Read on to get the lowdown on the bitcoin story of the moment.

First, a bit of context:

Created in 2010, Mt. Gox is (was?) based in Japan and led by CEO Mark Karpeles. It started out as one of the earliest and most respected bitcoin exchanges, and quickly grew to be the largest. Since then, it has lost a significant degree of trust.

Mt. Gox has had issues with withdraws, crashes etc in the past, and most recently declared that transaction malleability, “a bug in bitcoin”, was forcing them to suspend withdrawals. Then, in a further twist, Mt. Gox bottomed out with the news that it appears to have lost over seven hundred thousand bitcoins, most of which were customer funds.

Mt. Gox closed for trading, and it is unclear if and when it will ever reopen. A crisis strategy document attributed the bitcoins’ disappearance from their location in cold storage to a leak in the hot wallet.

What’s transaction malleability?

hack keysWhenever a bitcoin transaction occurs, it is recorded in the public ledger, which is a list of all bitcoin transactions that have ever taken place.

Each of these is identified by a transaction ID (TXID). At a high level, transaction malleability describes the fact that signed transactions can be altered slightly in ways that end up changing the TXID, without invalidating the signature.

The bitcoin community has known about this since 2011, and there are legitimate reasons for which transactions could need to be modified, so it’s not necessarily a problem. Where it did become a problem, however, was where Mt. Gox was using TXIDs (which, to reiterate, are known to be modifiable) as the definitive way to track transactions.

Rather, transaction IDs were designed as an easy reference for support services. “[Processors] will issue this transaction ID, and if you have an issue with the transaction, you can call the support desk and tell them if the transaction didn’t arrive.”

The support desk at Mt. Gox repeatedly reissued disbursements to customers who reported that they hadn’t received funds from transactions linked to a modified TXID.

Mt. Gox had no way of verifying the transactions, and the fact that they issued the disbursements regardless apparently resulted in Mt. Gox’s internal records becoming more and more divergent from the public record of transactions.

What are hot wallets and cold storage?

In order to spend bitcoins, you need access to both a public and private key. The public key is your address, where you can receive bitcoin, and the private key is something like a password that allows you to spend the bitcoins.

The practice of storing bitcoin offline, not on the web server or on any computer, is known as keeping them in cold storage. This is exactly what it sounds like – printing your private keys and storing them in a physical wallet, much as you would do with cash.

Wallet

It is done in the interest of safety, so that if a malicious hacker gains access to your account, they wouldn’t be able to run off with all your bitcoins.

There are various ways to keep your funds in cold storage, including paper wallets. It’s a wise idea to keep the majority of your bitcoin in cold storage, which is why (most!) bitcoin exchanges also operate this way.

The website (exchange) will hold a certain number of bitcoin in hot storage, in an online wallet, so that it can be withdrawn instantly by people who hold accounts with that exchange.

The majority of the reserve will be kept offline in cold storage. Bitcoin exchanges keep all funds, including the amount in cold storage, on hand and do not loan funds out at any time.

So, what’s the problem?

Ostensibly, in order to avoid a “run on the bank” type scenario in which distrustful customers would withdraw from Mt. Gox en masse, the exchange halted withdrawals on February 7th.

This is not a completely unexpected development. Despite retaining a large percentage of the world’s bitcoin supply in customer accounts, Mt. Gox has been losing credibility in the bitcoin ecosystem for some time.

In November of 2013, many customers were already having issues withdrawing their funds, experiencing delays of weeks or even months.

The situation continued to compound until the full stop in withdrawals, and culminated in Mt. Gox’s site going white on February 24th. They also wiped their twitter feed, and issued a statement that reads,

Dear MtGox Customers,

In light of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly.

Best regards,
MtGox Team

Is Mt. Gox guilty?

The simple fact that it took Mt. Gox several years to realize that they were missing 744,408 bitcoins, the equivalent of 6% of the world’s supply of bitcoin, worth 365 million dollars is mind-boggling.

In their crisis strategy document, they state that the theft went unnoticed for years. It is challenging to imagine ineptitude at such a grandiose scale, so the logical alternative is that they had been aware of the issue for a long time and voluntarily chose to hide this information from their investors and the public at large.

America police bitcoin

The document also states that “The cold storage has been wiped out due to a leak in the hot wallet.” If you’re doing it right, the cold storage should not be accessible via the hot wallet, leak or no leak. That’s the whole point of separating the two.

As Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Chief Security Officer of Blockchain.info and respected bitcoin entrepreneur and developer aptly put it, “Cold storage” does not “leak.” If Mt. Gox was truly robbed, it is genuinely an astounding case of carelessness in storing and managing funds on their part.

I have no particular evidence to indicate whether this was actually dishonesty or pure incompetence, and as such will refrain from comment here. Assuming the crisis strategy document is correct, and Karpeles and the rest of Mt. Gox is honest, the funds were stolen through an external attack, the details around which remain murky at best.

At the very least, the incident illustrates a formidable lack of attention to detail and a fundamental ignorance of the basic principles of accounting (these can be succinctly summarized as: 1. inputs must be ≥ outputs, 2. don’t lose everyone’s money).

What now?

I have deep sympathy for those who lost money through Mt. Gox. For the Bitcoin ecosystem as a whole, however, it’s likely to be a positive development.

Mt. Gox had been destabilizing the price and causing unrest in the market for some time. Evidence of this is the remarkable stability in bitcoin prices following the (at least temporary) demise of the exchange.

I hope I am not too naive about the implications; I fully expect there will be significant volatility in the coming months. I’m still bullish on the long term potential of bitcoin, however. Mt. Gox might be dead, but the network as a whole is finally free to move forward.

This article originally appeared on Arianna’s blog, and has been republished here with permission.

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March 04, 2014, 05:02:46 PM
 #184

Hello, Hello, anybody  home.. MTGOX officially dead with our bitcoins hidden in cold wallet in the basement!!!
Get the K9 to sniff bitcoin and be able to trace find it for us....
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March 04, 2014, 05:04:02 PM
 #185

Bitcoin Bank Flexcoin to Close After $600,000 Bitcoin Theft
Pete Rizzo (@pete_rizzo_) | Published on March 4, 2014 at 16:07 GMT | Companies, Crime, News

Alberta-based bitcoin storage specialist Flexcoin has announced that it will shut down following an attack and subsequent robbery that saw cybercriminals abscond with 896 BTC (roughly $600,000 at press time) stored in the company’s hot wallets.

Flexcoin, which styled itself as the “first bitcoin bank”, though it was not legally such an entity, took to its homepage to announce the theft and closure.

The statement reads:

“As Flexcoin does not have the resources, assets or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately.”

Flexcoin also provided the wallet addresses of the alleged hackers. The largest wallet of which received 592.1 BTC from the breach, while the smaller of the two held at one point 304 BTC supposedly taken from the website.

The entirety of the two accounts have since been withdrawn in other transactions. Neither wallet seems to have any recorded transactions prior to 2nd March.



Remaining funds

Following the announcement of the closure, customers who held bitcoins in Flexcoin’s cold storage accounts were assured that they would be able to retrieve the funds. Individuals who contact Flexcoin will be asked to provide identification, and will have their coins transferred from the bank free of charge.

The company had last week posted a tweet regarding the safety of their bitcoin storage practices.



Notably, the wording provided indicated that the attack differed from the Mt. Gox assault, which alleged its cold storage was “wiped out due to a leak in the hot wallet”.

About Flexcoin

Flexcoin aimed to differentiate itself from other electronic wallet providers by incentivizing users for keeping their bitcoin balances on the site.

The company monetized by charging employees 0.02 BTC or 1% of transaction amounts for funds transferred out of cold storage, and 0.01 BTC or one half of 1% for funds transferred to cold storage.

Flexcoin to bitcoin transactions were also subject to charges.

The announcement confirms fears that many in the bitcoin community have long harbored toward Flexcoin and other bitcoin wallet storage services.

As early as two years ago, Flexcoin was singled out as a service that many argued would not be able to protect consumer investments due to limitations in its design.

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March 04, 2014, 05:05:32 PM
 #186

Tinkercoin Will Sell You $20 in Bitcoin – But Only Once
Danny Bradbury (@dannybradbury) | Published on March 4, 2014 at 15:00 GMT | Companies, News, Startups, US & Canada

A Canadian company is selling bitcoins via credit card – but it’ll only sell you $20-worth, and it’ll only do it once.

Founded back in February 2012, Ontario-based Tinkercoin has only opened its service today. Initially serving North America, it is focusing on the market for new bitcoin users who don’t have any idea how to set themselves up with the new currency.

Co-founder Gareth MacLeod explains that the team kept encountering friends who had heard about the digital currency, but were put off by traditional exchanges with their know-your-client rules. He said:

“It’s designed for someone who has heard of bitcoin and it’s in their head, but they never took the plunge. Or maybe they did, but then [incumbent Canadian bitcoin exchange] Virtex asked them for a utility bill.”

Instead, the developers decided to create a near-zero effort service for users. They provide a credit card number, sign up for an account, and nominate a wallet.

Tinkercoin lets users nominate their own wallet, but also offers to set up a Coinbase one for them. They make a payment, and their coins drop into the wallet. Tinkercoin only sells $20 of bitcoins, and it will only make one sale per customer.

No regulatory worries

“It’s my job to keep tabs on [the] regulatory environment. There’s almost no future in which selling $20 of bitcoins to someone will label you as any kind of significant money transfer businesses,” said MacLeod, explaining how he expects to fly under the regulators’ radar in both the US and Canada with his service.

Money transmission licenses simply don’t cover firms dealing at his level, he suggests. “In the US, it starts at $1,000 per person per day. We sell $20 to one person, ever.” Once a person has bought their $20 of bitcoins, they’ll have to go elsewhere.

For this reason, he is equally unflustered by recent comments from Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty about his plans to regulate bitcoin in Tinkercoin’s home country.

This seems to go against most online business models, which focus on customer retention rather than customer acquisition, which is often a high-cost activity. But there is no shortage of willing users, argues MacLeod.

“I have 25 friends off the top of my head who think that bitcoin is interesting but they don’t know where to start. We’re not worried that there’s gonna be any shortage of new bitcoin users in the next five years. Bank of America said that there were 1 million total bitcoin users in North America right now, so there are still 329 million left to go. We’re happy with that for now.”

The firm’s fees are relatively high. Most KYC exchanges will service a customer’s bitcoin-buying needs for roughly a 3% cut. Tinkercoin takes a flat $5 fee, so customers hand over $25 to get their $20 of coins.

That’s a whopping 25% fee for the service, which prices itself based on Bitstamp’s exchange rate. “We view it as a flat fee for the super-easy user experience,” he said.

However, MacLeod says that a lot of the firm’s resources went on securing a credit card payment processor willing to work with a bitcoin company (more on that here). The costs of dealing with the processor are “extraordinarily expensive”, he said, reducing his margin to around 5-6%.

“There are 1 million bitcoin users in North America right now, so there are still 329 million left to go.”

Tinkercoin is working with at least one credit card fraud prevention service provider to help it reduce the risk of credit card fraud, says MacLeod, who spent a short stint as a software engineer specialising in security at Facebook.

Measures include matching the country associated with a user’s IP address against the issuing country of the card being used, for example.

This would be a straightforward high-volume, low-value business if all the firm was doing was chewing through new users. However, there’s also another facet: customers have to sign up for an account, which means that the firm will have their email address, potentially turning the business into a large bitcoin-focused list-building operation. The service gathers your email address by requiring a connection with your Facebook account.

Brokerage service

MacLeod says that options open to Tinkercoin in the future include becoming a more fully-featured brokerage service, like BTCQuick.

That service, which also offers credit or debit card-based sales (but without the single purchase constraint), has 26,000 users. As long ago as October last year, it showed CoinDesk documents indicating that it had hit $2m in sales. BTCQuick follows anti-money laundering practices.

Tinkercoin may find it competing with ATM machines that are opening (and temporarily closing) across the country, although MacLeod says that they serve slightly different markets.

In any case, “a rising tide raises all ships,” he says. Another competitor could be QuickBT, another business based north of the border, which sells bitcoin via Interac, Canada’s online payments network. The service, built largely on Python and hosted on Heroku, launched today.

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March 04, 2014, 10:21:58 PM
 #187

$1 Million Up for Grabs at Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon
Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on March 4, 2014 at 21:23 GMT | Events, Investors, News, Technology

The lucky winners of the upcoming Texas Bitcoin Conference Hackathon could walk away with up to $1m thanks to David Johnston, CEO of Engine, a personal information services startup.

While it might sound like a very generous gesture on Johnston’s part, he views it as a rather prudent investment instead.

The Hackathon will be held on 5th – 6th March in Austin, Texas, with the CEO taking to reddit to explain his plan in an AMA. There was no shortage of questions – after all, we are talking about a potentially life-changing sum of money.

Kickstarter-style fundraiser

Instead of simply giving the prize money away with no strings attached, Johnston wants to award it to the top four projects that emerge out of the hackathon.

He explained:

“Specifically I expect that the winning projects will hold open Kickstarter-style fundraisers after they get a little further down the road and I’ll commit to contributing at least $250,000 to each of their Kickstarter efforts.”

Speaking of strings attached, Johnston clearly states that all projects must be open source, have their own token, use a decentralized block chain (preferably the Bitcoin block chain) and feature a consensus mechanism. Full details are available via the official hackathon page.

Johnston points out that he accumulated his wealth by working “100-hour weeks for 10 years” and by investing in bitcoin in the good-old days. He argues that bitcoin has pioneered a new model for developing technology, as outlined in his decentralized applications whitepaper.

What is Johnston looking for?

Johnston says he is interested in projects that use the bitcoin model of a decentralized application, but that don’t compete with the features of bitcoin. He is not interested in altcoins and alternative block chains.

“Let me give an example of what I am interested in. If you came to me with a project and said: ‘It’s basically Dropbox, but people can pay in bitcoins,’ I would have no interest because one day soon Dropbox will start taking BTC and your advantage disappears.”

“If you came to me with a project and said: ‘This protocol pays people Storage Coins to contribute their extra hard drive space to the cloud and we have a cool Proof of Storage mechanism and its all open source and we store the records in the Bitcoin block chain,’ then I’d be highly interested,” he explains.

Johnston points out that it’s all about the difference between simply accepting bitcoins and building something new using bitcoin technology.

He says he expects a billion people to be using bitcoin in the next five years, but he adds that most of them simply won’t know it anymore than billions of people that use HTTP on a daily basis do.

Judging by the AMA, Johnston isn’t your run-of-the-mill angel investor: he comes across as a real enthusiast committed to the development of bitcoin.

He says he is looking forward to the launch of the Master Protocol Distributed Exchange, watching developments at Bitshares, writing an analysis of Ethereum for BitAngels, talking to the Dark Wallet team and just keeping track of digital currency developments as they happen.

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March 04, 2014, 10:23:05 PM
 #188

London’s First Bitcoin ATM Launches in Trendy Shoreditch Bar
Dan Palmer | Published on March 4, 2014 at 18:12 GMT | Bitcoin ATM, News

In just a few weeks, the options have doubled for people in London who want to buy their bitcoin instantly with cash, rather than via an online transaction and all the proof of ID/bank payment rigmarole that entails.

If you hadn’t guessed, those options have gone from just one to two, but the speed at which they have appeared is a sign that bitcoin is increasingly being seen as a viable business option in the UK.

First to provide a walk-in service for bitcoin purchases was Azteco, London’s very first BTC voucher shop, which opened on 17th February in the east of the capital.

And now, less than a mile away, London’s very first bitcoin ATM machine has begun pinging digital currency to customers’ wallets at the trendy Old Shoreditch Station cafe.

Arts and coins

The cafe – as well as exhibitions, events and a shop – is operated by Jaguar Shoes, an arts collective that has been accepting bitcoin payments for its products since July last year.

The ATM takes their bitcoin operations to a new level, and is owned and run by Future Coins, a London-based startup. Joel Raziel, entrepreneur and director of Future Coins told CoinDesk:

“I was intrigued when I first saw a bitcoin ATM on display at a conference and was shocked to find that none had appeared in London. I contacted the manufacture, Lammasu, who told me that they had not received any orders from the UK. It was at this point that I started to cost up the project and move forwards.”

Setting up shop

The decision by the UK tax authority, HMRC, to classify bitcoins as VAT exempt was announced on the day Future Coins installed the ATM.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time, said Raziel. “We could have faced major difficulties otherwise, so I suppose we took quite a risk in this sense.”

There is a limit of £1,000 for transactions at the ATM and no ID is required, unlike some ATMs in other countries.

Bitcoin ATM London

Future Coins does not use an exchange partner at present, but the ATM manufacturer will be rolling out this option soon, Raziel said. “For the time being we are having to preload the machine with coins, which puts us at risk of currency fluctuations.”

Because of this, he adds, it will cost you an 8% commission to use the ATM currently.

“We will lower this once we have linked the ATM to an exchange, but in the mean time we have to protect ourselves from fluctuations.”

So novel is the bitcoin ATM in the UK, that its second customer travelled over 200 miles to use it. “We were so honoured to have him with us,” Raziel said, “we treated him to lunch (paid for with bitcoin).”

Rivals’ arrival

Future Coins may have won the title of ‘first bitcoin ATM in London’, but it will probably not have the playing field to itself for long.

Other companies have plans for similar ATMs in the capital including Global Bitcoin ATM Ltd and Satoshipoint Ltd.

Both companies have machines on order and had hoped to be the first to set up their trading business on London turf.

First or not, the city is a very big place and there is plenty of room for more ATM outlets to provide visitors and locals alike easy access to the advantages that bitcoin brings.

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March 04, 2014, 10:32:03 PM
 #189

Breaking: Litecoin Now Tradeable at BTC China at 0% Fee

Gordon Hall  04/03/2014

Major Chinese exchange BTC China just enabled Litecoin trading at an unbeatable 0% fee!
BTC China’s official announcement reads as follows:

Dear Customers,

We are very excited to introduce BTC China’s new member – Litecoin!

Bitcoin grew tremendously in 2013, while another virtual currency has also made considerable progress – Litecoin. It gradually gained recognition from the Bitcoin enthusiasts. By popular request, we have now added Litecoin trading to BTC China’s trading platform.

In addition, Litecoin trading will have 0% trading commission!

As a responsible trading platform and a Bitcoin industry leader, BTC China is committed to providing a safe and secure platform. We always focus on the safety of customer’s funds.

We will strive to continue to offer the best service to our customers, so we appreciate any suggestions, comments and feedback.

Thank you for your support, and we wish you a happy and prosperous Year of the Horse!

BTC China Team
March 4, 2014

-

It is expected this surprise good news will provide a real boost to Litecoin, which has recently been eclipsed by Auroracoin for the coveted position of most valuable altcoin in the rankings of mineable cryptocurrencies.

There has long been speculation that Litecoin would appear on BTC China, given the creator of Litecoin, Charlie Lee, is the brother of BTC China’s owner, Bobby Lee.
12 hour chart showing Bitcoin (gold) and Litecoin (silver) in percentage terms.

Although cryptocurrency prices are green almost across the board as the Bitcoin market finally looks past the Mt. Gox fiasco to its bright future, Litecoin is outperforming. Barring Auroracoin and Mazacoin, both new breeds of pre-mined national coins, Litecoin is up the most of the next 23 most valuable coins.

Surely the BTC China news is contributing to its relative outperformance. Bitcoiners will remember the massive supporting volume BTC China’s 0% fees lent to the Bitcoin price in late 2013.
BTC China's "LTC China" trading chart and depth - early days yet.
BTC China’s “LTC China” trading chart and depth – early days yet.
The Litecoin / Chinese Yuan data feed will likely be coming to Bitcoin Wisdom shortly. Assuming you have access to these multiple exchanges, look out for arbitrage opportunities between BTC China, as price finds its level there, and established prices on OKCoin, Bter and BTC-e.

Hypron, creator of the 4-way split window for watching the Bitcoin price across several exchanges, is going to release a similar 4-way split view for the above-mentioned Litecoin exchanges. Watch his Twitter for the announcement, Litecoin traders.

2000 LTC to Fund Further Litecoin Development

In celebration of this historic event in Litecoin’s history, the Lee brothers have pledged a combined 2000 LTC to the Litecoin Development Fund, as announced by Charlie Lee in this Reddit thread.
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March 04, 2014, 10:50:06 PM
 #190

Bitcoin Bank Flexcoin to Close After $600,000 Bitcoin Theft

Pete Rizzo (@pete_rizzo_) | Published on March 4, 2014

Alberta-based bitcoin storage specialist Flexcoin has announced that it will shut down following an attack and subsequent robbery that saw cybercriminals abscond with 896 BTC (roughly $600,000 at press time) stored in the company’s hot wallets.

Flexcoin, which styled itself as the “first bitcoin bank”, though it was not legally such an entity, took to its homepage to announce the theft and closure.

The statement reads:

“As Flexcoin does not have the resources, assets or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately.”

Flexcoin also provided the wallet addresses of the alleged hackers. The largest wallet of which received 592.1 BTC from the breach, while the smaller of the two held at one point 304 BTC supposedly taken from the website.

The entirety of the two accounts have since been withdrawn in other transactions. Neither wallet seems to have any recorded transactions prior to 2nd March.


Remaining funds

Following the announcement of the closure, customers who held bitcoins in Flexcoin’s cold storage accounts were assured that they would be able to retrieve the funds. Individuals who contact Flexcoin will be asked to provide identification, and will have their coins transferred from the bank free of charge.

The company had last week posted a tweet regarding the safety of their bitcoin storage practices.


 
Notably, the wording provided indicated that the attack differed from the Mt. Gox assault, which alleged its cold storage was “wiped out due to a leak in the hot wallet”.

About Flexcoin

Flexcoin aimed to differentiate itself from other electronic wallet providers by incentivizing users for keeping their bitcoin balances on the site.

The company monetized by charging employees 0.02 BTC or 1% of transaction amounts for funds transferred out of cold storage, and 0.01 BTC or one half of 1% for funds transferred to cold storage.

Flexcoin to bitcoin transactions were also subject to charges.

The announcement confirms fears that many in the bitcoin community have long harbored toward Flexcoin and other bitcoin wallet storage services.

As early as two years ago, Flexcoin was singled out as a service that many argued would not be able to protect consumer investments due to limitations in its design.
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March 05, 2014, 12:11:03 AM
 #191

Bitcoin Careers Represent Hope For Many

 Tom Boice  04/03/2014  Bitcoin, Business, Interviews, News


An Image Problem
statue of bitcoin liberty
Bitcoin represents a hope of salvation for many who are disillusioned with their current employment.
Anyone introduced to Bitcoin for the first time today would know two things: that even the largest exchange can inexplicably lose 6% of all bitcoins in existence, and apparently all Bitcoiners are speculators just waiting to get rich.

But if you ask Brad Vaivoda, a former mechanical engineer who is now working with Neo & Bee, why he got involved with Bitcoin, he will tell you that after initially ignoring the protocol in 2012, he was presented with it again after a while.  Brad eventually read Satoshi’s white-paper and saw the possibilities of Bitcoin, reading everything he could about it after that. He told me,

“I was interested in what people were building and seeing all the different ways the distributed time-stamp database could improve upon existing systems.  [...] The more I researched, the more I realized that my potential to help change the world was far brighter with bitcoin than where I was at currently.”

Re-Energizing Labor

Brad’s passion to “help change the world” is common in the Bitcoin economy.  In fact, it’s difficult to find someone in our community who isn’t impassioned about Bitcoin’s potential to change the world.  Even here at CryptoCoinsNews, many of us  are working full-time day jobs to pay the bills, in addition to tracking down sources, stories, and content for the website.  That is the real face of Bitcoin – not a sweaty CEO bowing in apology after vanishing $460 million – but a bright-eyed ‘anybody’ re-energized by the prospect of being part of something that can give them purpose, and maybe even make the world better.

Continuing  Brad Vaivoda’s story, he eventually was introduced to Danny Brewster of LMB Holings/Neo & Bee.  Despite Brad’s lucrative and secure position as a Test and Evaluation Engineer at Boeing, he had this to say about first meeting the team at Neo & Bee:

I was so excited by what I saw, the ideas being talked about, and the collective drive of the people involved, that I actually had a hard time sleeping – my mind was racing. I think I left a positive impression because a week or so after I returned from Cyprus, I conveyed to Danny my interest in becoming part of the team, and was offered me a job as the head of Neo’s ATM division.

He continued, saying he feels that “nothing progresses without a chance of failure,” but, “standing idly by knowing I have the skills and capacity to help make this technology a part of our future just wouldn’t sit well.”

Brad is not alone in his sentiment.  People everywhere are facing lower wages, higher prices, and longer hours.  According to various Pew Research polls, it is standard for those lucky enough to be employed in the U.S. to feel over-qualified and under-paid.  On the other hand, Bitcoin is growing, and offers new, more flexible business models for developers and those of us doing non-dev work also.  (Check out Coinality or Jobs4Bitcoins to see some of these opportunities.)

So many are passionate about Bitcoin, but few get opportunities like Brad did.  One man I spoke to, Mourad M., just gave his resignation to his company, Goodyear, despite not having a job lined up yet.  Being an IT Operations engineer, he is confident in his prospects for a career working with Bitcoin;

I was thinking about leaving my job for some time now.  I knew I had to do it, each morning I woke up thinking only about bitcoin​ related  projects.  I wasn’t so passionate about my job here anymore and I knew it was time to move on to something to bring the passion back.  Simply, Bitcoin.

Two Economies

All of us interested in Bitcoin came from somewhere else, the technology is too new for anyone to have worked exclusively on it.  What binds the community together is a passion to see decentralized trust built into the systems of the world, to make it a slightly fairer and more secure place to live.  However, there seems to be a disconnect between the Bitcoin community and the traditional economy, caused in part by media only covering the scandals and crime dramas.  So many only see the ugly side and the few bad-actors that the rest of us get lost in the noise, or written off as “speculators.”

I feel that the disconnect between the “traditional” economy and the world of Bitcoin is best exemplified by Mourad’s HR department asking him, “how much were you offered at Bitcoin?”  Not only do many misunderstand the protocol, but the idea that someone may simply be driven by something other than money is not considered.

The popular media will continue to focus on price fluctuations and fraudsters, because it fits the narrative they are used to.  There is no incentive for the media to understand the full Bitcoin economy yet, and simply hoping to change the world doesn’t generate the page-views that mass fraud does.  Regardless of what is reported, the blockchain will continue confirming trust in a decentralized manner, and inspiring the rest of us to build on that trust.

 
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March 05, 2014, 11:28:52 AM
 #192

Overstock Tops $1m in Bitcoin Sales, Projects Up to $20m By Year’s End
Tom Sharkey | Published on March 4, 2014 at 23:27 GMT | Coinbase, Merchants, News

It has been less than two months since e-commerce giant Overstock.com began accepting bitcoin payments on their website, and the online retailer has already surpassed $1m in total sales.

Overstock’s CEO Patrick Byrne confirmed the company’s plans to embrace bitcoin back in December, and bitcoin payment processing officially went live on Overstock.com on 9th January.

Byrne spoke with CoinDesk about its $1m milestone, asserting that while the initial surge of bitcoin sales did subside, there has since been steady growth in bitcoin payments:

“In the first day there was an enormous surge of bitcoin sales, but we’ve also seen a gradual building of bitcoin sales in a week-by-week basis.”

The initial projections for sales processed with bitcoin on Overstock.com this year was set at $3-5m, but this figure has since increased dramatically, according to Byrne.

The CEO now predicts that Overstock will see a total of $10-15m in bitcoin sales this year, and suggested that this number could reach as high as $20m if bitcoin sales maintain their current growth rate.

New data

Overstock partnered with Coinbase to process bitcoin payments, and together the two companies have compiled and released data that shows the spending habits of bitcoin users on Overstock, notably comparing them to credit card users.

The findings show that customers who use bitcoin as a payment method spend on average $58 (34%) more on their orders than customers using credit cards.


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Byrne says that Overstock has reaped the benefits of accepting bitcoin as a payment method, most notably in regards to eliminating chargeback fraud from credit card payments and reducing payment processing fees:

“Bitcoin payments have helped us avoid fraud in the form of chargebacks with credit cards, and we’re also able to get paid faster than when payments are processed with credit cards.

It takes three days for payments to finalize with credit cards, and with bitcoin we can get paid immediately.”

Market effects

While Overstock is credited as the first major online retailer to accept bitcoin payments, they’re not alone when it comes to reputable companies embracing bitcoin. TigerDirect began accepting bitcoin payments in late January, and companies like Virgin Atlantic and Reddit have helped further legitimize the digital currency as a convenient and secure payment method.

Speaking on the recent news of Overstock’s $1m bitcoin sales milestone, Coinbase noted that while they’re excited about the growing number of transactions being processed with bitcoin, they’re certainly not surprised:

“We are more gratified than surprised with these recent milestones, as they illustrate our belief that we are near a tipping point for broad merchant and consumer adoption of Bitcoin.”

Byrne hopes that the news of Overstock surpassing $1m in bitcoin payments will continue to build the currency’s credibility and adoption rates, noting that many customers are switching from competing commerce sites to shop with bitcoin on Overstock:

“I’ve seen the bitcoin community really embrace Overstock and I’ve read about many cases of our customers coming over from Amazon specifically to shop using bitcoin.

I think that bitcoin payments will account for several percent of all online transactions in the next year or two, and when this happens, Amazon will be forced to start accepting bitcoin on their website.”

With the amount of sales being processed with bitcoin steadily growing on Overstock, Byrne noted that the company has recently changed its business model and will start to hold “5-10% of [their] processed bitcoins in reserves.”

Given the option that Coinbase offers its merchants to immediately convert bitcoins to fiat currency, this move is a symbol of Overstock’s confidence in the principles of bitcoin and its utility as a means for buying goods and services online.

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March 05, 2014, 11:29:22 AM
 #193

Ripple Courts Developers, Entrepreneurs With New Initiatives
Danny Bradbury (@dannybradbury) | Published on March 5, 2014 at 11:25 GMT | Companies, News, Ripple Labs News

Ripple Labs is on the lookout for developers and entrepreneurs alike this week.

The Ripple Accelerator, an incubator designed to help companies using the Ripple protocol, opened in San Francisco. And Ripple Labs, the firm behind the open-source digital payment protocol, has launched a developer offensive to encourage third-party apps and services to support it.

The Ripple Accelerator is designed as an independent entity, not influenced by Ripple Labs. It is operated by CrossCoin Ventures, a separate group of four partners, two of whom run the Menlo Incubator. However, it is located in the same building as Ripple Labs, which is providing office space and funding.

At arms length

Ripple Labs CEO Chris Larsen and CrossCoin Ventures partner Adam Marsh nevertheless maintain that there is an arms length relationship between the companies, to avoid any conflict of interest.

To that end, while Ripple provides funding in the form or XRP, it won’t take an equity stake in any companies that it funds. Neither does it get any input into what companies are chosen, says Marsh. He stated:

“I’d like to see a dozen companies launched over the next twelve months or so at a minimum. I’d like to see quite a few of those go onto the next stage of the market and get some adoption. The areas we’re looking at are pretty diverse,”

Marsh added that CrossCoin Ventures is offering up to $50,000 in funding to new firms. Companies already on its radar are tackling business services including remittance, microtransactions, wallets, merchant solutions, and analytics products.

About Ripple

Ripple is a payment system that also has its own currency, called ripple (also known as XRP). The currency is designed as a vehicle to send other currencies across the network. It supports any currency, but requires gateways to transfer them in and out of the network. Larsen describes it as “SWIFT 2.0″, referring to the incumbent international payment system.

Ripple, formally known as OpenCoin, has launched a developer portal designed to bring together tools and resources for the developer community. These include an API for its payment network, based on the popular REST API standard.

ripple

The firm has also developed a bounty program for third-party developers, to encourage them to create services for its combined protocol and payment network.

The first one has already been claimed, said Larsen; developer Mathijs Koenraadt developed a Ripple extension to e-commerce platform Magento, which enables it to read the Ripple public ledger and create an invoice.

The initial claim on the bounty was 400,000 XRP, which is about $6,000. European luxury jewellery outlet Rita Zachari has adopted it, and is one of the first merchants to offer a Ripple Wallet payment option at checkout, said the company. Larsen said:

“There is no firm limit or timeline on future bounties, if something is adding to the overall utility of the protocol, then it’s a good thing to do, and we should support that.”

This is the latest in a growing developer push for Ripple Labs. The firm finally open sourced its formerly proprietary server code in September, at its first developer conference.

It is also developing its own concept apps to show developers how it’s done. It created an iOS client (without the ability to send currency), and published it in Apple’s App store, publishing a lengthy blog post about it. Such posts will appear in the dev blog in the future, said spokespeople.

Ripple Labs received its initial funding in a round including Andreessen Horowitz almost a year ago, and has been adding to that ever since, having amassed around $9m so far from firms including Google Ventures.

Cranking the handle

Why is the firm launching its developer initiative almost one year, one name change, and after the departure of the CTO who created the protocol in the first place? Is it trying to turn the crank harder to bolster slow Ripple adoption?

Over the last 24 hours at the time of writing, the Ripple network had processed around $42,000 in XRP/USD trades, and around 90 bitcoins in XRP/BTC. Conversely, BitStamp (Ripple’s primary bitcoin gateway), traded 21,000 bitcoins for USD overall during the last 24 hours.

Gateway support is also slow to emerge. The firm has support from several: the main one is Bitstamp, but it also has RippleChina, rippleCN, RippleIsrael, The Rock Trading, WisePass, Dividend Rippler, TTBit, RippleUnion, Justcoin, XRPChina, Peercover, Ripple Singapore, and NoFiatCoin.

It also signed with SnapSwap and ZipZap for cash payments, but ZipZap was forced to back away from its relationship after losing support from partner SoftGate.

Many of these gateways seem set up purely to serve Ripple, though, and the lack of support from large financial service providers is notable. If you want to move a few thousand pounds in sterling from the UK’s Barclays Bank to Canada’s RBC, for example, you’re out of luck. Larsen says he has support from three large Wall Street institutions, but can’t say who they are.

Nevertheless, he is happy with the network’s growth. Developer initiatives simply take a long time, he protested. “It’s a lot of work. Being open source was a prerequisite,” he said, adding that the company has tripled its development team to 40 people since then.

“To do a developer portal right takes a while. REST is the gold standard in APIs, and it takes a while to do that effectively, and document it,” he added. “It may not have been visible from the outside, but inside, there was a ton of hard, foundational stuff, and now we’re ready to bring that out.”

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March 05, 2014, 11:29:58 AM
 #194

Mobile Bitcoin ATM Debuts at Berlin Payments Hackathon
Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on March 5, 2014 at 10:13 GMT | Bitcoin ATM, Events, News, Technology

An interesting hackers’ event held in Berlin last month saw the development of a pocket-friendly bitcoin ATM.

The mPOS (mobile point of sale) Hackathon was held at the sidelines of the Merchant Payments Ecosystem 2014 event on 18th – 30th February, and attracted a number of German developers, including Meinhard Benn.

Benn came up with a simple Android app that can turn most Android devices into rudimentary bitcoin ATMs. Of course, the mobile ATM cannot dispense or accept cash, and it doesn’t look like a typical ATM, but it does work.

DIY technology

The Pocket Bitcoin ATM app can be used with a PIN card reader and that’s about all the hardware you’ll need to make a transaction – apart from an Android device running 4.2.2 Jelly Bean or higher.

In the demo, Benn used a Miura Shuttle chip-and-PIN card reader and a proprietary Payworks mPOS software developers’ kit, which allowed in-app payments and payment processing at the back-end.

An open-source bitcoin wallet and the bitcoinj library were used to initiate BTC transactions.

Once the system is set up, the process is straightforward, as outlined in the Payworks blog:

Merchant opens Bitcoin ATM app on their phone
Customer enters desired amount and destination bitcoin address
Customer inserts credit or debit card in reader, confirms and pays
Bitcoins are sent from merchant’s wallet to customer’s bitcoin address
Merchant collects funds from their account with payment provider
Payworks points out that the portable system would be easy to set up in small meet-ups, conferences and other events that might benefit from bitcoin microtransactions.

Teething troubles

Of course, apps developed at hackathons don’t tend to look or operate like mature products. There are a number of limitations to consider, as explained on the ATM GitHub page.

Benn’s app features execute transactions that are registered only locally. In a real-world application, the back-end would have to look them up using the SDK.

There are a few minor glitches too: the app can hang during a firmware update, and it exhibits “unexpected behaviour” when confronted with screen rotations.

However, we have to admit we have a thing for DIY ATMs made using off-the-shelf components. Last month, a team of Canadian enthusiasts created the first dogecoin ATM using a Nexus 7 tablet glued to a briefcase.

Fast-paced industry

The other thing to consider is the mind-boggling pace of development in the gadget industry.

Apple introduced Touch ID on the iPhone 5S last year and just last week Samsung entered the fray with the Galaxy S5, which also features a fingerprint sensor. Biometric authentication can now be performed by consumer gear, including Robocoin’s trademark bitcoin ATM.

Technologies built on top of Bluetooth 4.0 LE, including Apple’s iBeacon and Qualcomm’s Gimbal beacon, are designed for interactive POS use in a retail setting, or in the hospitality industry – and they’re coming to more and more mobile devices.

Lastly, wearables like the Nymi smart wristband (which scans the user’s heartwave for biometric authentication) could offer ‘always on’ authentication, making mobile payments or mobile ATMs even more attractive.

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March 05, 2014, 01:02:58 PM
 #195

Ireland’s First Bitcoin ATM Will Launch in a Dublin Cafe This Week
Kadhim Shubber (@kadhimshubber) | Published on March 5, 2014 at 12:30 GMT | Bitcoin ATM, News

A Lamassu bitcoin ATM machine, from Irish provider BitVendo, is to be launched at Hippety’s Cafe in the Temple Bar area of Dublin in the next few days.

With the new ATM just a stone’s throw from the Central Bank of Ireland, “there’s no way the Irish banks can ignore bitcoin now”, BitVendo, told CoinDesk.

Coming hot on the heels of the installation of the UK’s first bitcoin ATM in London, BitVendo say that it intends to roll out ATMs across Ireland and the UK, with three more expected this year.

Bank bitterness

The 2008 financial crisis hit Ireland particularly hard. Although the worst has now passed, the country had to go cap in hand to the EU and IMF for billions of euros in bailout money, which came with harsh strings attached.

At the end of 2013, it finally left the bailout programme, but distrust in the banking system has remained, says Giles Byrne, head of marketing at BitVendo:

“Initially people think the banks are behind bitcoin and are instantly turned off. There is huge hatred towards the banking system here, and some people want to support us purely to spite the banks.”

Bitcoin growth

As in other countries, bitcoin services and groups have begun to pop-up in Ireland.

These include bitcoin broker Eircoin.net and the Irish Bitcoin Foundation, which in January called for the Irish Central Bank to regulate bitcoin. Irish companies accepting bitcoin include a CCTV provider, a farmhouse B&B and a mobile phone store.

BitVendo was founded in July 2013 and was born out of frustration at the difficulty of buying bitcoin in Ireland, says Byrne:

“We were shocked to see how difficult it was. In Ireland the only people selling it were charging twice the going rate, so at that point we decided something should be done.”

The group then spent $5,000 on an ATM, an investment that could have netted them a $115,000 profit if it had been invested directly in bitcoin, Byrne notes. That discrepancy motivates the team, he says.

Image problem

As well as providing ATMs, BitVendo intends to offer a brokerage service in future, as well as “very personal cold storage for VIP clients”.

As well as trying to run a profitable business, Byrne says, BitVendo will have to keep fending off loaded media reports associating bitcoin with crime:

“We still haven’t seen our business mentioned in Irish media without the drugs on Silk Road, the Mt. Gox crash or general money laundering being mentioned too. More drugs are bought with cash than bitcoin, but the Irish media enjoys the glamour of crime.”

Bitcoin for Guinness

Meanwhile, the Baggot Inn in central Dublin has revealed on Twitter that it received its first bitcoin payment for a pint of Guinness yesterday. The pub claims this is the first pint of Guinness to be paid for in bitcoin in Ireland.


Another post on Twitter said a bitcoin ATM is to be installed in the pub over the next few days.

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March 05, 2014, 05:46:49 PM
 #196

Bitcoin’s Biggest Challenge is Educational, Not Technical
Erik Voorhees (@ErikVoorhees) | Published on March 5, 2014 at 16:20 GMT | News

Erik Voorhees is among the top-recognised serial entrepreneurs in Bitcoin, which he views as one of the most important inventions ever created. Erik has been at the centre of the Bitcoin movement since April 2011. He is well known for his vocal advocacy of the “separation of Money and State”.

It seems one of the greatest challenges facing Bitcoin is not technical, but educational.

The world is having a hard time coping with its new discovery. Economist and professor Peter Morici, writing for Fox News on 3rd March, has written one of the worst bitcoin articles of the year, and it must be addressed.

Gleefully simmering in our fabricated despair, Morici betrays his agenda immediately:

“Bitcoin believers were shaken to their digital souls when Mt. Gox, the world’s largest exchange, defaulted… and closed.”

In his very first sentence, facts are disregarded. Mt. Gox was barely the third largest by the time of its demise. But it’s not facts upon which Morici’s argument fails, it’s theory and philosophy.

Quantifying value

“Money,” Morici says, “provides a secure place to keep your wealth.”

Incorrect, sir. Money is a measurement of value. It is not a place, and it is not in itself “secure” any more than inches and yards are a secure location to store one’s measurements, or than minutes themselves might be entrusted to secure one’s time. He continues:

“Bitcoin traded for $1,117 on December 4, and now commands only about half that amount.”

Morici’s willingness to ignore bitcoin’s long-term track record (one of appreciation unmatched by any other asset class, anywhere) reveals the extent to which he has blinded himself.

dollars

“[Bitcoin is no place for your children’s college fund or retirement savings.” With this I must agree, but then neither is fiat, which in its best case, over a period of twenty years will scarcely measure half of its original.

“The earliest currencies were coins …” he says (wrong again, professor, but that’s not my true gripe), “often with the face of the sovereign stamped on gold or silver to instill confidence.”

Here is where petty disagreement changes to serious contention. Gold and silver needed no sovereigns stamped on them to “instill confidence.” It was the metal itself, valuable as a commodity, which made the coins desirable. Caesar’s visage was little more than marketing for the tyrant.

The fraud of fiat

Morici writes, “The Chinese issued paper money more than 2,000 years ago.”

Yes, and the vast majority of them collapsed in hyperinflation, as have over two dozen fiat currencies in only the past hundred years. That the fraud of fiat is as old as time does not mean we should continue falling victim.

“Bitcoin may fail for a great many reasons. But if it does, it will not be for want of a tyrant’s face behind it.”

And to matters of inflation, “Bitcoin advocates are riveted by the temptation of government to print too much and destroy its value through inflation.”

True, we tend to prefer money without perpetual debasement, which seems to put us at odds with professors (who, upon achieving tenure, have difficulty determining why their raise feels inadequate).

“However, inflation is hardly a problem in the United States, Europe and Japan, and central banks in other countries hold dollars, euro, and yen to back up their currencies.”

Okay professor, just as it would be hardly a problem if I took but a few percent of your assets each year for my own, indeed you may not even notice.

Morisi laments that “There is no ‘Bitland’ where a government has declared the Bitcoin legal tender to buy goods and pay taxes.” Are we in such a dismal state that even trade itself must be ordained by a king for legitimacy, professor?

Might I be permitted to breathe without a license or speak without permission of your preferred politicians? Why not then may I trade without their approval?

What anointed property is bestowed upon “dollars” which, being absent from bitcoins, precludes their usefulness? If you would not even eat your supper without the government first giving you its blessing, then I feel sad for you, for you are truly under a dismal spell and, and suffer a strange kind of man-in-the-sky worship.

Issues of privacy

Here though I must admire Morici, at least briefly, for not condemning the privacy of Bitcoin as a sign of reclusive and improper behaviour. But, it seems he resists the temptation to vilify privacy by claiming that Bitcoin simply offers none of it.

“Transactions can be spied by hackers or government security agencies through its fairly open payments system, the government can subpoena your Bitcoin records or those of your exchange when it needs.”

Professor, is it not a welcome improvement in human decency that a government must now subpoena for records, instead of calling upon its Orwellian spy arsenal – the NSA?

And while an individual, once named, can certainly have guns drawn upon him by Government, have you ever tried obtaining the name belonging to a Bitcoin account? Such a feat is not so easy, and thank goodness that at least several more barriers have been placed between the people and their rulers.

Though this is so far shallow, for the above is Morici’s basic pretense for his real thesis, displayed so eloquently at the end.

roman coin

“Detractors of paper money have always been fixated by the absence of gold to back it up, but they fail to recognize what really makes a currency accepted and secure – the government guarantee and the good sense of the sovereign not to abuse its franchise.”

And he finishes with grand vision, “It’s not the gold but the face of Caesar – the promise his image carries – that makes a coin money.”

With this final beautiful prose, despite my stubborn resistance, Morici may have ultimately convinced me of his opinion.

And this is why, from this day forward, I shall with diligence stamp the face of Caesar into each slice of my bread, and carve it delicately upon my door, so that my food may always be rich and sustaining, and my home may be guaranteed its utility forever.

Bitcoin may fail for a great many reasons, Mr Morici. But if it does, it will not be for want of a tyrant’s face behind it.

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March 05, 2014, 06:43:43 PM
 #197

I really think you should be including a link to the source of your articles.

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March 05, 2014, 06:45:07 PM
 #198

I really think you should be including a link to the source of your articles.

Good suggestion will do from now on.

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March 05, 2014, 07:16:58 PM
 #199

KnCMiner Finalizes Design For World’s First 20nm Bitcoin ASIC Miner
Nermin Hajdarbegovic | Published on March 5, 2014 at 19:01 GMT | KnCMiner, Mining

KnCMiner has announced the tape-out of the world’s first 20nm bitcoin ASIC.

The company is still not saying much about the upcoming ASIC or the rollout schedule, it merely states that the tape-out was achieved only three months after starting the project. The actual tape-out happened sometime in February.

In electronics, a tape-out is the finalization of the design cycle for a circuit board.

KnCMiner teamed up with Alchip and Advanced Semiconductors Technology (AST) to design and produce the chip. The company points out that its first generation ASICs were delivered in three to five months.

Power friendly

KnC has not revealed any performance estimates yet, but the company is saying that the new ASIC should cut power consumption by 43%.

This sounds like a realistic estimate, as we have been hearing similar claims from chipmakers who are planning to transition from 28nm to 20nm later this year.

In addition to the new node, KnC has also optimised the design of on-die circuitry, which allowed it to stick 1440 cores in a relatively big 55 x 55mm package.

Back in November KnC said the Neptune 20nm chip would deliver at least 3TH of power, operating at 0.7 watts per GH/sec. The company was expecting a 30% reduction in power consumption and now it appears that it might beat its initial estimate.

This would not be the first time. When KnC announced the Jupiter ASIC, it promised 400GH/sec, but the chip actually operated north of 550GH/sec. However, it will be a while before we know whether Neptune can over-deliver like its predecessor.

Tricky transition

Marcus Erlandson, KnC’s CTO said he is proud of the team’s performance.

“The combined efforts of KnC and our partners Alchip means that once again we are bringing to market a world first silicon design and in record time,” he said.

President of Alchip Johnny Shen said KnC and Alchip have been working together on bitcoin ASIC design for less than a year and they have already delivered “two world-first projects”.

It is still unclear when the new ASIC will be ready for production. It usually takes several weeks between tape-out and full-scale production, but only if everything goes according to plan.

In the world of silicon chips, things can go wrong in an instant, and even big manufacturers have trouble transitioning to new manufacturing processes like TSMC’s 20nm node.

Link: http://www.coindesk.com/kncminer-finalizes-design-worlds-first-20nm-bitcoin-asic-miner/

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March 05, 2014, 08:06:14 PM
 #200

Auroracoin’s Market Cap is Highly Inflated

 Kyle Torpey  04/03/2014


Many people are pointing to Auroracoin’s position at third place on CoinMarketCap.com as proof of this new coin’s success, but the reality is that it could be setting itself up for disaster. The coin made headlines when it surpassed Litecoin’s market cap, but Auroracoin is not actually closing in on a $1 billion market cap. In fact, the real value of all the auroracoins currently on the market could be lower than $10 million. This would still put it in the top 25, but we could see it drop even lower after the airdrop begins. Let’s take a look at some of the facts behind this cryptocurrency and whether or not it will be able to achieve long-term success.

Auroracoin’s Selling Point

The main idea behind Auroracoin is that half of the coins will be premined for all of the citizens of Iceland. If you’re an Icelandic citizen, then you’ll be able to claim your share of the Auroracoin premine during the airdrop process. This is actually a rather unique idea, and it could have implications for new premined coins in the future. Most people scoff at the idea of any coin being premined, but this coin has shown that it can still be a completely democratic process. With each Icelander gaining access to their “fair share” of the auroracoins, people will be less likely to complain about a certain group of people gaining early access to a new cryptocurrency.

The Problems with Auroracoin’s Current Value

The reason that this coin’s market cap is so overvalued right now is that CoinMarketCap.com is already counting the premined coins, which have not yet been released. In reality, there are roughly 100,000 auroracoins in circulation right now. At a price of $92.78 per coin, the total market cap is still under $10 million at this time. This is roughly 1/100th of the value that has been touted in various reports. By counting the coins that will eventually be handed out to Icelanders, the total market cap of Auroracoin seems to be much higher than reality.

Setting Itself Up for a Collapse?

As Icelanders gain access to their premined coins, it will be interesting to see what they do with their new found wealth. Each Icelander is supposed to get 31.8 auroracoins over the next year, which would be roughly $3000 at today’s price. When an Icelander has the choice between receiving $3000 or 31.8 auroracoins, it’s likely that they’ll decide to go with the fiat currency. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency is still a niche subject, and speculating on the value of any kind of altcoin is a highly risky proposition. Auroracoin definitely offered a new perspective on a way to fairly distribute a new cryptocurrency, but it would make sense for most Icelanders to simply take the money and run. If I were a citizen of Iceland, I would probably do one better and just exchange the auroracoins for bitcoins. This would eventually bring the coin’s market cap down to its true value, perhaps even lower.
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