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What is Bitcoin?

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

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Posted on 25 February 2018 | 10:44 am

Culprits Apprehended In Alleged Icelandic Bitcoin Miner Theft - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Culprits Apprehended In Alleged Icelandic Bitcoin Miner Theft
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Icelandic information technology service Advania has confirmed with their security footage that the police have apprehended the right two men for the three burglaries at data centers in Iceland last December and January, local news outlet Visir ...

Posted on 25 February 2018 | 6:29 am

Original Pizza Day Purchaser Does It Again With Bitcoin Lightning Network - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Original Pizza Day Purchaser Does It Again With Bitcoin Lightning Network
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Laszlo Hanyecz, the man that completed the world's first documented Bitcoin (BTC) transaction for a physical item in 2010 -- 10,000 BTC for two pizzas -- has now bought two more pizzas using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Hanyecz posted on the ...
Man Who Bought Pizza With 10000 Bitcoin Buys it With LightningnewsBTC

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 25 February 2018 | 5:54 am

Northern Ireland Property Developer To Accept Bitcoin As Payment Option - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Northern Ireland Property Developer To Accept Bitcoin As Payment Option
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Hagan Homes, one of Northern Ireland's biggest residential property developers, will now be accepting Bitcoin (BTC) as a payment method, the Belfast Telegraph reported Feb. 22. Jamesy Hagan, the managing director of Hagan Homes, said there is both an ...
Largest Irish Residential Property Developer Building Homes for BitcoinBitcoinist

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 25 February 2018 | 4:53 am

Bulletproofs: The Latest Technique to Improve Bitcoin's Confidentiality - Bitcoinist


Bitcoinist

Bulletproofs: The Latest Technique to Improve Bitcoin's Confidentiality
Bitcoinist
Amazing schemes and technological innovations are being tried and implemented to continuously enhance Bitcoin's scalability, fungibility, financial confidentiality, and privacy. The Confidential Transactions (CT) tool is one of these schemes proposed ...

and more »

Posted on 24 February 2018 | 11:39 pm

Bitcoin Price Dips Below $10000 as Next Bearish Wave Materializes - The Merkle


The Merkle

Bitcoin Price Dips Below $10000 as Next Bearish Wave Materializes
The Merkle
It is not entirely surprising to see the Bitcoin price go through another small correction as of right now. Such a trend has been forming for several days now, especially when the Bitcoin price surpassed $10,000 again not that long ago. It seems the ...

Posted on 24 February 2018 | 12:55 pm

Riot Blockchain Gets Hit by Another Shareholder Lawsuit

Riot Blockchain Gets Hit by Another Shareholder Lawsuit

After changing its name to Riot Blockchain in October to include the word “blockchain,” the public company watched its stock skyrocket from $8 a share to more than $38 during a cryptocurrency rally at the beginning of the year.

The first significant problem was the company did not have any real focus on blockchain technology. Before October, Riot was known as Bioptix, a maker of diagnostic machinery for the biotech industry. The company also changed its ticker symbol to RIOT from BIOP.

Another problem was that key shareholder Barry Honig got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, selling off a big stake of his shares at $38 per share after the name change.

On February 22, 2018, law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP announced it was filing a class-action lawsuit against Riot. The complaint charges Riot, along with Honig and company CEO John O’Rourke and CFO Jeffrey McGonegal, with securities violations.

Specifically, the charges claim that despite its lack of blockchain expertise, Riot changed its name to generate investor enthusiasm to further an insider scheme that would allow Riot’s controlling shareholders to dump their stocks at grossly inflated prices.

At least two other lawsuits have been filed against Riot and its principals, charging them with securities violations and false and misleading statements.

These lawsuits follow a scathing investigation into Riot by CNBC on February 16, 2018, that raised questions about the company’s business model and Honig. In the wake of that report, shares tumbled 33 percent to $11.46. It is likely these class-action lawsuits may be the first of many to come against Riot.

Shady Activities

On October 4, 2017, Riot adopted its new name and headed off in a radical new business direction, announcing it was going to invest in and operate blockchain technologies with a focus on Bitcoin and Ethereum. The company had no previous business in blockchain technology, yet in press releases, Riot portrayed itself as a seasoned player in the space.

“At Riot Blockchain, our team has the insight and network to effectively grow and develop blockchain assets,” said Riot’s then-CEO, Michael Beeghley, in a statement at the time.

The company has a history of questionable activities. In December, Riot began purchasing cryptocurrency mining equipment. But rather than purchasing from the manufacturer or other suppliers, the company paid more than $11 million for equipment worth only $2 million by purchasing it through a newly formed shell entity.  

Honig is also charged with exercising outside influence over the company’s business operations. Beginning in April 2016, long before the company changed its name to Riot, Honig began purchasing shares in the company. By December 2016, he had become the company’s largest shareholder, owning more than 11 percent of the company. He used that influence to nominate several new directors to the board, including O’Rourke.

In addition to insider selling after the name change, other worrying signs about the company included: Riot lost two auditing firms in just one year, and two annual stockholder meetings were postponed at the last minute. Also, some of Riot’s business deals involved investors who had worked on similar deals together in the past, raising questions about the company’s governance.

“All Aboard”

Riot is not the only company to have jumped onboard the rename-your-company  “blockchain” bandwagon. Several other companies have also rewritten their names to cash in on the blockchain and cryptocurrency craze.

In December, the Long Island Iced Tea Corporation, a New York–based company that makes iced tea, rebranded itself as “Long Blockchain.” Its company shares rose 300 percent as a result. In January, legacy photography company Kodak announced the launch of KODAKCoin, a “photo-centric” cryptocurrency for photographers, and its stock went up 80 percent within hours.

Lawsuits like the ones now piling up against Riot stand as a reminder that a name change is not enough — a company needs real blockchain experience and technology and a solid business plan behind it before adding “blockchain” to its name.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 February 2018 | 8:47 am

Will Lightning Help or Hurt Bitcoin Privacy?

As the reality of faster, cheaper bitcoin payments approaches via the Lighting Network, concerns are spreading about the privacy it will offer.

Posted on 24 February 2018 | 5:00 am

Strip Clubs, Lambos and Hackers: A Tale of Two Bitcoins

A conference in Miami played host to evidence of a growing schism in the crypto community between passionate developers and fly-by-night traders.

Posted on 24 February 2018 | 4:05 am

Week in Review for February 23, 2018: Sidechains, Stings and Venezuela

Week in Review

In the past week, news from Venezuela was at the forefront, where crypto mining is way up due to cheap electricity. But their stab at launching their own crypto, the Petro, is not looking like a great plan so far.

Good news in regulation, however, is coming from the state of Wyoming as the House unanimously passed two pro-blockchain bills, with five more in the pipe.

On the technological front, researches think they have solved a big part of the “sidechain” puzzle and have published a detailed paper called “Non-Interactive Proofs of Proof-of-Work.” 

Here are some of the headlines from this past week in the Bitcoin and blockchain space.

Featured stories by Amy Castor, David Hollerith, Erik Kuebler and Aaron Van Wirdum

Sidechains: Why These Researchers Think They Solved a Key Piece of the Puzzle

Bitcoin was the original blockchain that everyone knew about, but new ones are being created all the time, with hundreds currently available. At issue is if you want to use the features offered on another blockchain, you have to buy the tokens to use it. A technology looking to change all that is called “sidechains.”

Blockchain researcher Aggelos Kiayias and researcher Dionysis Zindros released a paper in October 2017 called “Non-Interactive Proofs of Proof-of-Work” (NiPoPoW), introducing a critical piece to the sidechains puzzle that had been missing for three years. A sidechain is a technology that allows you to move your tokens from one blockchain to another, use them on that other blockchain and then move them back at a later point in time, without the need for a third party.

IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson is confident it can be done. “We can definitely do that,” he said. “We can definitely have a NiPoPoS [non-interactive proof of proof-of-stake]. The question is how many megabytes or kilobytes is it going to be? Can we bring it down to 100 KB? That is really the question.”

Bitcoiner Faces Charges After Selling BTC to an Undercover Cop

On February 9, 2018, officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested Morgan Rockcoons (aka “Morgan Rockwell” or “Metaballo”), CEO of Bitcoin, Inc., and an entrepreneur behind several other Bitcoin startups, at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. Rockcoons was charged with money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to court records.

According to those records, Rockcoons allegedly exchanged 10 bitcoin (worth about $9,200 at the time) for $14,500 in cash from an undercover law enforcement officer at the beginning of 2017. It is alleged that Rockcoons was told in advance that the cash came from the manufacture and distribution of “hash oil,” which contains a federally controlled substance. This is what led to the charges of money laundering.

Since his arrest, Rockcoons has been tweeting and emailing his innocence and asserting that he was entrapped, in addition to refuting many aspects of the court records. He is actively seeking donations to pay for his legal fees, which he expects to be between $150,000 and $300,000

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

The Wyoming House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass two blockchain-oriented bills — HB 70 the “utility token bill” and HB 19 the “bitcoin bill” — sending them to the State Senate for consideration. HB 70 defines utility tokens as neither traditional money nor securities; HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the 2003 Wyoming Money Transmitters Act (passed in the state before Bitcoin’s invention in 2008).

Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-founder and 22-year Wall Street veteran Caitlin Long explained, “There are already bitcoin miners setting up shop because of [Wyoming’s] cheap electricity, no income tax and no franchise tax.” Wyoming aims to set the standard for blockchain-friendly regulation in the U.S. and to become a hub for blockchain-based innovation with these two bills. The Wyoming House of Representatives is also reviewing bills HB 101 and HB 126 in the House and SF 111 in the Senate.

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

The economic recession has been active in Venezuela for more than a decade, with inflation of the Venezuelan bolivar (VEF) exceeding 650 percent, and gross domestic product (GDP) contracting 12 percent in 2017. Falling oil prices in 2014 have exacerbated the economic depression in the country; however, it is oil that has catalyzed Venezuela’s current cryptocurrency boom.

Because the government subsidizes electricity to the point where it costs almost nothing, people are able to run three Antminer S9s running at a cost of about 30 cents per month. These miners will generate about one bitcoin every 10 months, thus providing an alternate method of generating income in the impoverished nation.

“There must be tens of thousands of people mining in Venezuela,” said Randy Brito, founder of the nonprofit website BitcoinVenezuela.com. Bitcoin is the most commonly mined cryptocurrency because it was the first, and LocalBitcoins also gives bitcoin an advantage because it does not trade other cryptocurrencies; it is able to operate more safely than other local exchanges because it’s not based within the country.





This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 6:05 pm

Bitcoin Debate: Warren Buffett Bear Vs. Winklevoss Twins Bull - Forbes


Forbes

Bitcoin Debate: Warren Buffett Bear Vs. Winklevoss Twins Bull
Forbes
There are two distinct views on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. One view is that they will flame out and most, if not all, will become worthless . The other side is that at least some are destined to become much more valuable and become engrained in not ...

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 4:46 pm

Video Game Giant Ubisoft Is Exploring Blockchain Use Cases

Ubisoft, the company behind Assassin's Creed and Just Dance, is exploring applications of blockchain for video games.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:00 pm

Bitcoin blockchain consumes a lot of energy engineers changing that - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin blockchain consumes a lot of energy engineers changing that
CNBC
Innovators from top institutions and tech titans are in a race to develop green blockchain innovations to address demand by businesses.

and more »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:45 pm

New York Lawmakers Open to Revisiting the BitLicense

Two New York state senators held a roundtable Friday on the controversial BitLicense regulation, and said legislation to reform it may come soon.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:00 pm

Austria Planning New Regulations for Cryptocurrency, ICOs

Austria is drawing up cryptocurrency regulations, using as a model existing rules for the trading of gold and derivatives.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 12:00 pm

Jeffrey Gundlach says if you want to know where stocks are going ... - CNBC


Barron's

Jeffrey Gundlach says if you want to know where stocks are going ...
CNBC
"Strangely, bitcoin seems to be the poster child for social mood and market mood," Jeffrey Gundlach, founder of DoubleLine Capital, told CNBC's "Halftime Report." "If stocks are going to take another tumble, I think it would be preceded by a bitcoin ...
Bond King: Follow Bitcoin for Stock DirectionBarron's
Gundlach says bitcoin is 'poster child' for stock market's mood ...MarketWatch

all 10 news articles »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 10:44 am

Georgia Becomes Latest State to Consider Bitcoin for Tax Payments

Two state senators in Georgia have proposed a new bill that would allow citizens to pay their tax obligations in bitcoin.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 8:45 am

Menendez Hints At US Action on Venezuela's Controversial Crypto

A U.S. senator who has previously spoken out against Venezuela's newly launched "petro" cryptocurrency isn't done with the issue.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 8:05 am

High Stakes: Ethereum's Fight Over Lost Funds Explained

Ethereum is facing what might be its biggest tech crisis in some time, with developers split over whether software changes should recover lost funds.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 6:30 am

Telecoms Blockchain Group Touts Demo Success, New Members

Several multinational telecoms firms have joined the Carrier Blockchain Study Group to advance blockchain use cases in the industry.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Japan's Exchanges Report 669 Cases of Suspected Crypto Money Laundering

Japan's police agency has said hundreds of cases of suspected money laundering were reported from domestic cryptocurrency exchanges in 2017.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:21 am

Why Venezuela Should Worry About a National Crypto

While a lot is still unclear about Venezuela's state-backed "petro" token, what is apparent is that many feel it's potentially harmful for its people.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:00 am

SEC Advocacy Director Says Crypto Investors Shouldn't 'Flip A Coin'

A new SEC blog post advises potential cryptocurrency investors to do their research prior to buying a token.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 12:00 am

Report: Mutual Funds Could Save Billions With Blockchain

Shifting to a distributed, blockchain-based infrastructure could bring huge financial benefits to the asset management industry, research indicates.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:00 pm

Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

After months of infighting between the organizers of Tezos, a blockchain project currently in development, and the Tezos Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit that controls the project’s pursestrings, the two remaining original members of the Foundation have “voluntarily” resigned. This means that since December, the entire three-person board has been replaced.

According to an announcement by the Tezos Foundation, Johann Gevers, the former president of the Foundation, has stepped down and will be replaced by Ryan Jesperson, a Tezos project contributor.

Diego Olivier Fernandez Pons also stepped down and will be replaced by Michel Mauny, a senior researcher at Inria, the French company that developed OCaml, the programming language Tezos is written in.  

Another board member, Guido Schmitz-Krummacher, resigned in December “because he was frustrated with the infighting, which was consuming a lot of his time,” according to Reuters. He was replaced by Lars Haussmann, head of accounting firm Haussmann Treuhand AG, on January 31, 2018.

Infighting

Tezos, a blockchain project aiming to compete with the likes Ethereum and Cardano, was co-founded by Kathleen and Arthur Breitman. In an uncapped initial coin offering (ICO) put forth as a “fundraiser,” the project raised $232 million worth of bitcoin and ether in July 2017. Those funds, which ballooned in value to around $1 billion due to this year’s rally in cryptocurrencies, were put in the control of the Tezos Foundation.

The Breitmans, who retain ownership of the Tezos code through Dynamic Ledger Solutions, a Delaware-based company, have been fighting to get rid of Gevers since October. At that time, the Breitmans’ lawyer sent a 46-page letter to the two other members of the Foundation (Schmitz-Krummacher and Fernandez Pons, at the time), accusing Gevers of “self-dealing, self-promotion and conflicts of interest” and calling for his prompt dismissal.

According to reports, the dispute originated a month before, when Gevers drew up a compensation package for himself, which the Breitmans claimed was excessive and not properly disclosed. It’s likely that the event also acted as a signal to the Breitmans that in setting up the Tezos Foundation, an organization that was supposed to operate completely independently of Dynamic Ledger Solutions, they had put too much control in the hands of too few people.

On October 18, 2017, in a blog post, Arthur Breitman proposed a solution to the power struggle, which involved setting up Tezos AG, a subsidiary of the Foundation that would have its own budget and allow Dynamic Ledger Solutions to operate with less oversight. The Breitmans also proposed increasing the number of people on the Tezos Foundation board from three to seven.

Since October, Gevers had kept relatively silent on the matter until January 28, 2018, when he published a blog post (archived) outlining steps for how the Foundation would push forward with the launch of the platform. (He later deleted the post.)

“I am glad to announce that the Foundation has regained access to banking services, which  —  due to the controversy surrounding the Tezos project  —  had been suspended since October 2017,” he wrote. “This allows us to continue with our top priority, which is to build an operational team that can execute the Foundation’s mission.”

In another interesting turn of events, a few days later, in an attempt to overthrow the Tezos Foundation, community members backing the Breitmans launched an alternative Swiss foundation dubbed “T2.” Wall Street Journal reporter Paul Vigna described the move as “not unlike shareholders in a corporation proposing a new board of directors because they like the CEO more than the board.”

Listed among T2’s seven founding members were Jesperson and Mauny and Olaf-Carlson Wee, CEO of cryptocurrency investment fund Polychain Capital, an early Tezos backer.

Lawsuits

The infighting, in addition to delays in the launch of the network and a holdup on funds, led to other complications. Since October, at least four class-action suits have been filed against Tezos on behalf of contributors accusing the project of selling securities.

When the project was launched, the Breitmans portrayed the tokens as a donation to the project, but some contributors believed they were investing in a cryptocurrency that would go up in value like bitcoin. Those contributors were given vouchers for tezzies, the native token that will operate on the Tezos platform once it launches; but until the project launches, they are unable to redeem their tokens.

The changeover in board members of the Tezos Foundation may be a sign that good news is on the horizon. At the recent Cyber Days conference at the UCLA Blockchain Lab, Kathleen Breitman hinted the platform would be launching in a few weeks.  

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:53 pm

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

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

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

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

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

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

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

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

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

Power to Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017: A Year of Contradiction

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

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

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

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

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

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:21 am

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:38 am

Bitcoin drops below $10000 again, hitting lowest in a week - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin drops below $10000 again, hitting lowest in a week
CNBC
There were fears of an outright ban in that major market for bitcoin but new measures announced were less strict than investors had anticipated. The price of bitcoin has roughly halved since its climb to almost $20,000 in December. The cryptocurrency ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 7:32 am

Korean Regulator Tips Cryptocurrency Prospects Back Toward “Normalization”

Korean Regulator Tips Cryptocurrency Prospects Back Toward “Normalization”

On February 20, 2018, investors saw signs of yet another directional shift in South Korea’s regulatory stance on cryptocurrencies. According to Reuters, Choe Heung-sik, the governor of South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), told reporters, “The whole world is now framing the outline (for cryptocurrency) and therefore (the government) should rather work more on normalization than increasing regulation.”

The head of the FSS has wrestled with cryptocurrency regulation and the lack of legislation on the industry for some time. He stated in November 2017 that “supervision [of cryptocurrency exchanges] will come only after the legal recognition of digital tokens as legitimate currency.”

Choe also warned of a bitcoin bubble in December 2017 that paired with another warning that month, when he stated, “All we can do is to warn people as we don’t see virtual currencies as actual types of currency, meaning that we cannot step up regulation for now.”

The FSS, which has been spearheading the government’s regulation of cryptocurrency trading as part of a larger task force, has had an uphill battle in the face of Korean officials’ variable attitudes to the burgeoning industry. While the FSS-led taskforce set the nation’s first official rules around cryptocurrency trading on December 13, 2017, uncertainty around issues of taxation and regulation of the exchanges remained.

January brought even less certainty to the peninsula as South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges were raided by police and tax agencies on January 10, 2018, kicking off a week of contradiction by top Korean officials that precipitated a market-wide meltdown known as “Red Tuesday” on January 16, 2018.

Choe then had to state at a parliamentary hearing on January 19, 2018, that one FSS employee was being investigated “on suspicion that he or she traded a digital currency” ahead of the government’s announcement of toughening its stance on cryptocurrency trading. At the same hearing, the Office for Government Policy Coordination also disclosed a probe into two officials for alleged profiteering on government information after the events of Red Tuesday.

Korean officials rounded off the month of January by announcing on January 23, 2018, that anonymous accounts would be banned from trading cryptocurrencies as of January 30, 2018.

Merely three weeks after the ban on anonymous accounts took effect, Choe seemed to suggest rosier regulatory prospects for the cryptocurrency industry. These statements of normalization came only days after the sudden death of Jung Ki-joon on February 18, 2018. Jung, a 52-year-old man who led economic policy for the Office for Government Policy Coordination and was instrumental in spearheading the January crackdown, died of “unknown” causes in his home, though initial reports suggested that he’d had a heart attack.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:41 pm

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

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Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Trading Bots

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

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

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Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

February 25, 2018 -
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