7 June 2014

Korean Bitcoin Gambling Site Seeks Asian Customers

 Korean Bitcoin Gambling Site Seeks Asian Customers

A new bitcoin gambling site has opened for beta testing, specifically targeting customers in the Asia region.

Based in South Korea, Satoshinori.com is available in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and English.

It features an array of multi-player games including Seven Card Poker, Texas Hold-em and Matgo, plus simpler web based games like Rock Paper Scissors, Riding Ladder and Mine Sweeper. More are due to arrive in future.

Aiming for professional image

Satoshinori’s operator said the site is produced by a leading Korean game publishing company, with emphasis on fair games low fees, and security.

The site itself says:

“All customers’ deposited Bitcoins are stored securely with the safest and most qualified methods. Also, world renowned web engineers are participating to protect this site from hackings and DDOS cyber attacks.”

Bitcoin deposit and withdrawal addresses change with every transaction to add an extra layer of anonymity for users.

Satoshinori provides a list of bitcoin exchanges available in most countries for those acquiring bitcoins for the first time,

Proving bitcoin’s usefulness

He said bitcoin was chosen as the primary currency mainly for ease of setup and the relative anonymity it provides, particularly in parts of the target region where bitcoin businesses endured a degree of legal uncertainty.

Gambling sites also serve as a useful demonstration of bitcoin’s utility to the uninitiated, showing off how smoothly it works in a high-transaction environment and allowing commerce and transfers at any time of day or night, anywhere in the world.

This was another reason for setting up Satoshinori, the site’s owner added. Mainstream interest has been lagging in Northeast Asia and vendors proving a little slower to sign on to bitcoin than hoped.

Gambling sites could play a major role in stimulating the bitcoin economy by putting the currency into more hands.

Lucrative market

The legal online gaming market alone in the region was worth about $12.7b, he continued, with that size possibly exceeding $49bn if illegal online gambling sites were considered.

The large majority of potential gamers reside in the countries Satoshinori targets with its language options, plus Taiwan.

Satoshinori now hopes to claim at least some of that market for bitcoin.

AsiaSouth Korea

June 07, 2014 at 12:35PM

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5 June 2014

IRS: No Bitcoin Reporting Required for FinCEN Foreign Banking Tax Form

 IRS: No Bitcoin Reporting Required for FinCEN Foreign Banking Tax Form

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) declared during a 4th June webinar that US taxpayers are not required to report bitcoin on Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Form 114, a document also known as the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Account (FBAR), for this year’s tax season.

According to Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), a senior IRS program analyst remarked that taxpayers face no reporting requirements when filling out their Form 114 for 2014. Taxpayers that hold more than $10,000 in a foreign bank are required to a file this form with FinCEN.

The move is the latest guidance offered to US taxpayers on the subject of bitcoin, coming months after the government agency ruled that bitcoin would be taxed as a property rather than a currency.

The analyst, Rod Lundquist, announced the policy guidance when asked about bitcoin during the webinar, saying:

“At this time, FinCEN has said Bitcoin is not reportable on the FBAR, at least for this filing season.”

The IRS official went on to acknowledge that this policy is subject to change as the IRS clarifies its policies on digital currencies. He added that the agency continues to review its policies regarding bitcoin and that the FBAR guidance in particular may be adjusted in the future.

Taxes image via Shutterstock


 IRS: No Bitcoin Reporting Required for FinCEN Foreign Banking Tax Form June 05, 2014 at 10:35PM

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June 05, 2014 at 11:24PM

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Maturing Middle Eastern Bitcoin Ecosystem Emerges at ArabNet Conference

 Maturing Middle Eastern Bitcoin Ecosystem Emerges at ArabNet Conference

The past year and a half has seen the slow but steady march of bitcoin across the financial landscape, gaining market share and investor interest with each passing month. Yet, in the Middle East, digital currency remains a fringe prospect in the eyes of the region’s financial players.

A small group of startups and entrepreneurs are hoping to change this mindset with a new array of bitcoin platforms and tools that could deliver much-needed financial resources to an area where only 20% of the population has access to banking services.

Before this can happen, however, cultural and technological challenges must be overcome before bitcoin gains any lasting influence in the Middle East.

Tarik Kaddoumi, co-founder bitcoin retail payments service Umbrellab, told CoinDesk that he see’s bitcoin success in the region arising from the financial barriers that currently exist for most people, saying:

“Bitcoin will play a vital role in the Middle East mainly due to the very low credit card penetration in the region, and the difficulty of acquiring a credit card or sometimes even a bank account.”

Kaddoumi recently spoke at the ArabNet Digital Summit 2014 in Dubai, where he was joined by David El Achkar, founder of bitcoin payments provider Yellow. The panel, entitled “The State of Bitcoin”, was warmly received and has set the stage for future bitcoin developments in the region.

In conversations with CoinDesk, the two entrepreneurs agreed that the soil is fertile in the Middle East for bitcoin to rise to prominence.

ArabNet Digital Summit

El Achkar told CoinDesk that many participants expressed great interest in bitcoin at ArabNet. He noted that roughly half of the crowd was familiar with digital currencies, and that the bitcoin panel received a large number of questions both during the discussion and afterward.

On the other hand, he suggested that members of the tech community are still researching bitcoin and haven’t made up their minds about the technology, a fact that was on display at ArabNet.

He elaborated:

“The tech and broader community in the Middle East is definitely still in the early learning phase about Bitcoin. For example, I generally ask, at every event I participate in, who understands Bitcoin. I’ve found the average to be at around 20%.”

Kaddoumi added that bitcoin remains in its “infancy” in the Middle East, and that more outreach is needed before conference attendees in the tech world — and the broader public — embrace digital currencies.

The path to bitcoin adoption

Both Kaddoumi and El Achkar are focused on the payments ecosystem in the Middle East, and both told CoinDesk that this area of finance represents one of the possible gateways for bitcoin adoption in the region.

Notably, most e-commerce transactions are cash-on-delivery (COD), meaning that consumers pay for goods upon receipt. According to El Achkar, this payment method accounts for roughly 80% of eCommerce sales in the Middle East.

He elaborated:

“This greatly increases the cost and complexity of online purchases, not to mention it can regularly take three weeks for a merchant to receive payment. If that isn’t bad enough, a customer is far more likely to return a product unpaid for when it is ordered COD. Clearly, there is a lot of room for improvement in payments.”

Kaddoumi sees this as a reflection of the region’s large underbanked or unbanked population. Unable to access credit or banking services, most rely on cash as a means of payment. Bitcoin, he said, presents an “immediate solution” that enables merchants in the Middle East to gain access to revenue faster than traditional methods.

Opportunity for fintech startups in the Middle East

According to El Achkar, the Middle East is a challenging environment for fintech companies. He said that operational costs keep startups at bay, a problem that is exacerbated by the fragmented nature of the region’s market.

Digital currency, he continued, could make the environment more amenable for fintech startups, saying:

“The regulatory environment is not supportive enough of small business. Bitcoin can potentially address [these] issues by lowering the cost and complexity of innovation as well as eliminating the borders.”

El Achkar cautioned that, by and large, the tech community in the Middle East is still wary of bitcoin. Calling them “fairly skeptical on average,” he nonetheless declared that businesses in the eco system are actively exploring bitcoin. The question remains whether or not tech companies in the Middle East embrace the digital currency.

El Achkar explained:

“People will often point to the many ways in which the region lags behind technologically (e.g., internet penetration, credit card penetration), and say it simply is not the right time for bitcoin.”

Possible role for bitcoin in Islamic banking

Banks worldwide have begun to look at bitcoin and the possible integration of its underlying technology. While no bank in the Middle East has expressed openness in this regard, Kaddoumi sees bitcoin fitting into the broader institution of Islamic banking, which presents several key differences from Western-style banking.

Islamic banking is founded on key principles established in the Qur’an, most notably the abolishment of charging and receiving interest on loans. Additionally, investments made by Islamic banks must meet certain ethical and moral thresholds, with an emphasis on sound risk assessment and societal benefit.

He said:

“As bitcoin resembles a commodity with finite existence, transparency that promotes ethical use and the general similarities to precious metals as a commodity, there are a lot of reasons to believe that it will take a very comfortable seat in islamic banking, even more so that fiat currency.”

Kaddoumi said that Umbrellab is conducting a study to see exactly how bitcoin fits into this system, consulting with legal and Islamic banking experts.

Education key to bitcoin’s future

For Kaddoumi and El Achkar, as well as other bitcoin entrepreneurs in the Middle East, education and outreach remain top priorities. This includes appearances at events like ArabDigital and contacts with other tech startups, as well as relationship-building with the region’s merchants and consumers.

From a technological standpoint, this process also means educating the populace about bitcoin tools like wallets and exchanges. Kaddoumi remarked that “lack of knowledge and skepticism are still the two main factors standing in the way of increased adoption.”

Additionally, El Achkar suggested that cultural distrust surrounding online payments could be assuaged with the broad integration if bitcoin, saying:

“There remains a lack of trust in online payments on average in the region leading to low credit card usage and a small (but growing) eCommerce sector. This, I believe, can be turned around with proper education as Bitcoin addresses many of the concerns raised against conventional online payment options.”

Bitcoin, it seems, may come to play a prominent role in the Middle East. Only time will tell if long-standing cultural barriers and a lack of technological integration keeps digital currency from becoming more deeply rooted in the region.

Middle East image via Shutterstock

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June 05, 2014 at 10:34PM

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CAVIRTEX Cuts Fees by 50% in Bid to Boost Customer Morale

 CAVIRTEX Cuts Fees by 50% in Bid to Boost Customer Morale

Calgary-based digital currency exchange CAVIRTEX took to reddit today in a bid to solicit community feedback about its policies and performance, and announce that its CEO, Joseph David, would soon partake in an upcoming Ask Me Anything conversation on the site.

Most notably, representative Kyle Kemper indicated that the company is cutting trading fees by half to 0.75%, and updating its account activity fee policy so that users now receive three alerts before new changes are made.

Kemper also sought to bolster the narrative surrounding the company, which has garnered criticism for mishandling the implementation of past policies, being slow to respond to customer concerns and for not providing investors with promised dividends from company revenue.

Nonetheless, Kemper was optimistic heading into the discussion with the community, placing a firm emphasis on how CAVIRTEX is looking to put its troubles behind it:

“We’ve got a solid roadmap ahead of us, but in the past we’ve made mistakes. It is my goal to change this and fix our reputation amongst one of the most impressive communities on the planet and have your support moving forward.”

Kemper also defended the company’s inactivity fees, which charge users $50 a month for keeping bitcoin in the exchange after more than 12 months of inactivity.

The representative added: “The message that the dormant activity fee tries to get across is that we are an exchange and not a bank/wallet. As part of your long-term bitcoin plan you shouldn’t use an exchange to store your coins.”

Customer refunds

Though Keeper wrote enthusiastically about his company’s need for such fees, he did acknowledge that CAVIRTEX did not communicate the policy change effectively and that this caused understandable frustration within the community.

Kemper wrote:

“The way we implemented this was terrible, and we apologize. We didn’t communicate it properly, we didn’t include proper alerting, and we didn’t test the system properly.”

Kemper continued by telling reddit that the company has since refunded select users, and stating that those who feel as though they were improperly charged can submit a complaint ticket to address their concerns.

Vibrant debate

Community reaction to the post ranged from warm to hostile, with users reporting varied experiences with and reactions to the company.

For example, some chose to take aim at CAVIRTEX for the lack of dividends they say were promised to investors, while others, though upset regarding past issues, were willing to provide the exchange with feedback and recommendations about how it could improve.

Support and communication were two of the most often cited areas where users said improvement was needed, though others took aim that the company’s current website.

CAVIRTEX hinted that updates to the site are forthcoming, and that a French version of the site is also in the works.

Company at crossroads

Despite its mixed reputation, CAVIRTEX has been one of the more successful crowdfunded bitcoin companies to emerge from a digital currency IPO, raising its initial funding on Havelock Investments and launching in March 2013. Along with competitor Vault of Satoshi, it is one of the more well-known exchanges serving the key North American market.

CAVIRTEX has also been among the more visible members in Canada’s bitcoin ecosystem, speaking before the Canadian Senate earlier this year alongside bitcoin ATM manufacturer BitAccess and advisory services firm Bitcoin Strategy Group.

For more on the company and its planned launch of ATM services, read our most recent report.

Image via CAVIRTEX


June 05, 2014 at 09:50PM

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Google, Facebook et al: If You Really Cared About Freedom and Privacy [Time Machine]

This post was published on bitcoinmagazine.com on June 8th, 2013

The past few days we have seen shocking revelations from the sphere of digital communications. The Guardian published a leaked top-secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over the metadata (caller, receiver, time, location, duration) of all phone calls made through Verizon’s networks (and not tell anyone about the order’s existence), and the site also verified the authenticity of a leaked slide presentation about PRISM, a program through which the NSA was collecting data including emails, chat messages, photos and stored data from nine major corporations. The White House has now admitted this and President Obama himself has seen it fit to deliver a speech defending the surveillance. Much less recent, but equally shocking, is the fact that, as Business Insider reminds us, the US government has the right to demand the disclosure of any email more than six months old – no warrants required.

Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg and other CEOs have rushed out to defend their companies against the more extreme allegations, saying that they have never heard of PRISM until today and reminding users of their strict commitment to only complying with those government requests that they are legally required to. One poster on Hacker News noticed that the defenses are all suspiciously similar, perhaps suggesting some kind of coordination either before or immediately after the leak. But this, while interesting, is beside the point; what these events show more than anything else is that, in this day and age, simply complying only with those court orders and subpoenas that follow the correct legal procedures and being open about as much as legally possible is not enough. This may seem absurd at first glance; it is obviously ridiculous to expect established large corporations to brazenly violate court orders and federal laws simply to preserve a few individuals’ privacy. But Google, Facebook and all of the other companies that run the critical technological infrastructure that we use today also have a third option: deliberately act to make their services mathematically unsubpoenable.

The way to do so is simple: keep minimal logs and, more importantly, use encryption wherever possible. Private messages inside services like Facebook should be actually private, encrypting every message sent with the recipient’s public key on the client side. Browser-based Javsacript cryptography today has plenty of weaknesses, but Google, with its heavy influence over Firefox and Chrome, is in the prime position to fix many of the issues by pushing for a standardized set of cryptography tools to be included in all browsers. Email encryption and signing will take a massive leap forward if Google enables it internally for Gmail-to-Gmail emails by default. Google should back down on its decision to move away from open protocols like XMPP, and focus on creating a powerful chat and hangout protocol suited for the modern web, with encryption mechanisms like OTR built-in from the start.

These suggestions are certainly radical; they go against what has so far been the dominant philosophy of these corporations, that of gathering as much data as possible to maximize advertising revenue. However, technology is bringing about an age of extremes, and “going dark” may be the only way we have to prevent society from losing the last traces of any privacy that it has left. Otherwise, services like Mega are rapidly picking up speed, with Mega itself expressing an implicit intent to become “the privacy company”, and decentralized approaches like Bitcoin and BitMessage are gaining strength weekly. The internet has brought us the first great wave of unprecedented global freedom, and companies like Google and the telecom industry were instrumental in making that happen. Now, either join us or we will continue the revolution without you.

June 05, 2014 at 09:04PM

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Brazil World Cup Gets Unique Bitcoin Bookies

A unique Bitcoin betting service for the Brazilian World Cup 2014 has launched, with a unique approach for the gambling world: Bitcoin bookies.

Bitkup, which offers home-grown sweepstakes for the tournament due to kick off in two weeks’ time, is setting itself apart from traditional services both in its structure and hard figures, while its creator envisages universal appeal:

“We created Bitkup with the main objective of disseminating Bitcoin interest beyond enthusiasts and providing the currency to people that just want to have fun and want to try their luck with predictions for the World Cup in Brazil 2014.”

This whole approach was conceived by independent developers with a passion for the new Bitcoin currency and football. Bitkup.com was created for the enjoyment and the popularization of this incredible technology.

The world of sport betting has become searingly competitive, particularly for major international events. Perhaps in an attempt to counter this and provide an attractive alternative for non-Bitcoiners, Bitkup is offering an initial buy-in of 0.05BTC. Interestingly, this fee represents a one-off payment, after which players can bet on all the games in the World Cup.

The low cost does not mean lax regulation, however, something which Fring is keen to reiterate:

“We have a policy of transparency and very tight security. To ensure the transparency of all participants, each user can follow each other’s betting history from past games that have happened at that moment.”

Bitkup’s rewards are similarly transparent, as perhaps would be expected. A total of 20 winners will receive a portion of the jackpot ranging from 50% for first place to approximately 1.3% for those coming between fourth and twentieth.

The financial buy-in and jackpot refer to Bitkup’s PRO League service, while the Free League running concurrently will allow those who would rather not part with their cash to play for fun.

It would be difficult to imagine a setup more unlike traditional gambling, where privacy is key, to be alluring for potential risk-takers. Whether an open-format community will attract the desired lay fans thus remains to be seen. Developers are confident of the initial scheme’s credentials, however, and are already considering their next move.

Fring notes:

“We do have plans for the future and will possibly incorporate other international sports competitions.”

All the bets are redirected to a public address (wallet) of the Blockchain portal which can be visualized at any point of time following a link.

All bets are entirely deposited in that wallet, without charging our implementation fee of 0.01 BTC of the platform. At the end of the competition each person will receive their share, including the team at Bitkup.com to pay for the costs of implementation, server and others.

The developers assure users that backups of all data are made regularly and the whole system is equipped with safety mechanisms which guarantee the integrity of all the information.

There is also the option to register in the platform for free. The user will automatically take part in the free Bitkup League, competing just for fun, with no options of winning the BITPOT accumulated prize.

June 05, 2014 at 04:14PM

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3 June 2014

Simon’s Hot Dogs Becomes Sedona’s First Store Accepting Bitcoin

Sonoran Cousin at Simon’s Hot Dogs

PRLog (Press Release) Jun. 3, 2014SEDONA, Ariz. .

Simon’s Hot Dogs (http://ift.tt/1m8PNZT) , famous for its culinary hot dogs announced it is now accepting bitcoin payments, becoming the first Sedona store to accept the new digital currency. Sedona is one of the top ten natural beauty tourist’s destination in the United States and is less than two hours north of Phoenix, Arizona. It is a common destination for people who want to experience the beauty of the Sedona Red Rocks and visit the Grand Canyon.

Simon’s Hot Dogs is an award winning gourmet beef and vegetarian hot dog store nested in Sedona that is recognized for its famous Colombian style hot dogs, which include fancy toppings, such as pineapple with crushed potato chips and mozzarella, or the Tokyo Madness with Teriyaki onions, Wasabi Mayo and Toasted Sushi Nori. Simon Hot Dogs is using the Coinbase merchant payment application to process its transactions.

“We decided to start taking bitcoin payments because we want to support this nascent technology, which we believe can transform the world, it is really easy and secure to use”, said Felipe Roldan, Manager of Simon’s Hot Dogs, “and also because customer and business do not have to pay transactions fees, and that is a great deal for everybody.”

During the month of June Simon’s Hot Dogs will be offering 25 percent discount in all their menu when pay with Bitcoin.

 Simon’s Hot Dogs Becomes Sedona’s First Store Accepting Bitcoin June 04, 2014 at 12:03AM

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June 04, 2014 at 03:00AM

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Eric Voorhees Faces $50,000 Fine Over Unauthorized Securities Sale

 Eric Voorhees Faces $50,000 Fine Over Unauthorized Securities Sale

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has formally charged and settled with serial bitcoin entrepreneur Eric Voorhees for the public offering of securities without registering with the federal government.

The settlement bans Voorhees from making a bitcoin security offering for the next five years, according to an official SEC release. He must also relinquish profits totalling $15,843.98, as well as pay a penalty of $35,000.

The case stems from Voorhees’ solicitation of shares in two of his bitcoin-related ventures, SatoshiDICE and FeedZeBirds, which according to the SEC took place between 2012 and 2013. The SEC began investigating SatoshiDICE earlier this year.

SEC Division of Enforcement director Andrew Ceresney reiterated that entrepreneurs need to remember that the agency’s regulations still apply to bitcoin-related ventures, saying:

“All issuers selling securities to the public must comply with the registration provisions of the securities laws, including issuers who seek to raise funds using bitcoin.”

Ceresney added that the SEC will “continue to focus” on targeting companies that illegally offer securities for bitcoin investments.

Findings point to unsanctioned securities offering

 Eric Voorhees Faces $50,000 Fine Over Unauthorized Securities Sale

According to the SEC, Voorhees was found to have violated sections of the Securities Act of 1933. He was accused of using online forums and social media platforms like Facebook to solicit investors between 2012 and 2013.

Voorhees raised more than 50,000 bitcoins from investors, although he later conducted a buy-back transaction in July 2013 which returned 45,500 bitcoins to investors.

It was during this period, the SEC reported, that Voorhees actively engaged in unlawful securities activity without federal approval.

The SEC findings noted:

“The first unregistered offering was explicitly referred to as the ‘FeedZeBirds IPO’. Despite these general solicitations, no registration statement was filed for the FeedZeBirds or SatoshiDICE offerings, and no exemption from registration was applicable to these transactions.”

Notably, Voorhees agreed to cease and desist without conceding or denying the SEC’s findings. CoinDesk has reached out to Voorhees for comment but has not received a reply at press time.

SEC sharpening tone against bitcoin?

The SEC charges against Voorhees represent one of the most high-profile cases against a bitcoin entrepreneur for securities violations to date.

Previously, the SEC had hinted that it was only investigating bitcoin and companies in the ecosystem in a bid to warn investors about the dangers of investing in digital currencies.

In May, the federal agency released an investor alert, citing the high risk of investment fraud and the prevalence of bitcoin-related scams that target unsuspecting consumers.

At the time, the SEC said:

“Potential investors can be easily enticed with the promise of high returns in a new investment space and also may be less skeptical when assessing something novel, new and cutting-edge.”

Image via Wikipedia

Eric VoorheesSatoshiDiceSEC

June 03, 2014 at 06:21PM

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CoinGecko: Buy, Sell or Hold

Just got dumped?

We all know the feeling: you read an article promising wonders, getting all pumped up and then…

Well, the one thing that nerds love, data, is helping to solve this social problem when it comes to getting dumped in the world of alternative currencies.

In an era of numerous altcoins, deciding which ones are a buy, sell or hold can become an arduous task for an individual. Thankfully, your life is about to become a lot easier thanks to CoinGecko.

CoinGecko is cryptocurrency ranking and evaluation site that breaks down quantitative and qualitative data for a number of different metrics. The metrics used include items such as Twitter followers, Reddit subscribers, coin community, the cost of a 51% attack, the number of developers working on the coin and much more to provide an overall score of the coin and a rating for each category.

 CoinGecko: Buy, Sell or Hold

You would not believe all the meticulous sorts of data that can be used to determine a coin’s value. No need to do that though, CoinGecko illustrates this data in a clean user interface and nice graphs and now CoinGecko has an alpha version of their dashboard (below).

 CoinGecko: Buy, Sell or Hold

The story of CoinGecko starts with its founders, Bobby Ong and TM Lee. Bobby is a University College London Economics graduate while TM Lee is a Purdue University Computer Science graduate. At UCL, Bobby learned all about financial stability and prevention of bank runs with federal deposit insurance schemes. However, as Bobby saw with Cyprus in 2013, “the trust between government and savers can be broken when depositors are forced to take a haircut on their savings.”

This one incident got Bobby thinking about Bitcoin and how there is some sort of inherent “underlying utility to this sort of digital asset.” But after getting involved in Bitcoin, Bobby got lost in a sea of altcoins.

Bobby and TM, like a lot of people, read some articles about this and that altcoin, and they bought some coins on “gut feeling” without doing much research.

“Some purchases did well, but some did pretty bad.”

Bobby learned more about trading strategies on cryptocurrencies and found that there are “several fundamental reasons why certain altcoins may hold good value in the mid/long term. The basic idea goes along the line of technical innovation, community strength and developer team.”

Dogecoin, what a joke Bobby once thought: “Who would buy into a me-too copy with dogs.”

What Bobby failed to realize was that Dogecoin had a great community supporting it and developers working hard to see it succeed.

“I decided to dig deep into the Dogecoin community numbers and found out that they are pretty impressive. Looking at the Dogecoin subreddit and how active the community members there, I became an instant Dogecoin convert and started mining Dogecoin myself.”

Realizing what he had missed out, it came to him.

“I thought that it would be a good idea to collect all this information to rank and benchmark other cryptocurrencies.”

Bobby went to his friend, TM who had also missed out on the Dogecoin phenomena and they decided to give this idea a whirl. Since then the two have been making better trades.

“We wanted to help people make more quantitative decisions before buying cryptocurrencies and help provide a 360 degree overview by looking at a lot more metrics.”

Since CoinGecko launched in April it has already gotten a lot of positive feedback on Reddit and bitcointalk forum. It was already a top post on the Dogecoin reddit thread. The interface is easy to use with information presented clearly.

There is still a lot going on for CoinGecko; they are adding new coins and metrics every week to get a more comprehensive view of each coin compared to others. Maybe they will even add live charts to make it the perfect investment tool, but hey, who knows?

June 03, 2014 at 06:21PM

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50 Cent Catches the Bitcoin Bug

50 Cent announced today that he will sell his new album Animal Ambition for bitcoin through BitPay. As 50 Cent will not be the only artist interested in providing bitcoin as a payment option, BitPay makes it easy for artists to accept bitcoin. 50 Cent is using a Shopify store to sell his latest album and can, through BitPay’s partnership with Shopify, accept payment in bitcoin.

There could not be a better combination of innovation in music and payment. We look forward to seeing which other musicians follow suite. With 50 Cent as the first large independent artist to accept bitcoin as a payment and Tatiana Moroz’s recent launch of her artist coin, we can expect many more musicians to recognize the promise of cryptocurrency in payment for and promotion of their work.

BitPay issued the following press release:

Animal Ambition from 50 Cent will be available for purchase using Bitcoin

ATLANTA, GA — June 3, 2014 — BitPay, world leader in business solutions for the Bitcoin digital currency announces today that 50 Cent’s new album Animal Ambition can be purchased at http://shop.50cent.com with bitcoin.

BitPay makes it easy for artists to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. When a customer checks out of 50’s Shopify store and chooses the option to pay in bitcoin, BitPay processes the transaction accepting the bitcoin from the customer and letting the merchant know the order had been paid. BitPay settles the next business day and offers the merchant the option of depositing dollars, bitcoins or a percentage split between the two.

“We are excited to see high profile independent artists use bitcoin and 50 Cent’s trail as an innovator is outstanding” said Tony Gallippi, Executive Chairman of BitPay.”

As one of hip hop’s most prolific artists, 50 Cent has sold over 30 million records worldwide and is one of rap’s most successful businessmen with SMS Audio, SK Energy, and SMS Promotions among his ventures.

About BitPay

BitPay is a Payment Service Provider (PSP) specializing in eCommerce, B2B, and enterprise solutions for the Bitcoin digital currency.



Jan Jahosky

(404) 331-4699


June 03, 2014 at 05:43PM

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UK Financial Conduct Authority Launches Bitcoin Initiative

 UK Financial Conduct Authority Launches Bitcoin Initiative

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced a new initiative to help bitcoin businesses in the UK. The move marks a shift in approach for the regulator, which has steered clear of digital currency until now.

The FCA’s hands-off approach to digital currencies like bitcoin has not had a negative effect on the UK’s bitcoin companies, however. The nation remains one of the most attractive jurisdictions for bitcoin businesses, with the continent’s biggest financial hub at its heart.

Project Innovate is launched

The new fast-track initiative, Project Innovate, was announced by FCA Chief Executive Martin Wheatley in London last week.

The authority now says it wants to ensure “positive developments” like bitcoin are supported by the nation’s regulatory environment.

Project Innovate is designed to promote innovation in the financial sector and the FCA wants to create room for “the brightest and most innovative” companies to enter the space.

Wheatley reflected on a number of questions relevant to digital currency businesses, namely innovation and novel business models. He also recognised that some developments managed to transform finance in “improbable timescales”. These developments include crowdfunding, digital currencies and peer-to-peer technologies.

COINsult’s regulation, compliance and risk consultant Sian Jones believes the FCA’s initiative could provide digital currency businesses with much-needed regulatory certainty and crystallise the UK’s status as the go-to digital currency jurisdiction.

However, Jones points out that it remains to be seen if and when the FCA plans to announce its official position on digital currencies, or whether or not Project Innovate results in “light touch” regulation or no regulation at all.

“Then, if Britain’s banks would only open their doors to Bitcoin businesses or a Fidor-like challenger bank were to emerge in the UK, that really would be something.”

UKDCA and UK’s stance on bitcoin regulation

Jones is also a founding member of the UK Digital Currency Association (UKDCA), which launched last March.

The UKDCA has consulted Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC) on bitcoin-related issues and it has hosted a number of events in an effort to raise awareness and discuss regulatory issues. The UKDCA board includes Bullion Bitcoin owner Adam Cleary, Elliptic CEO Tom Robinson and BankToTheFuture.com co-founder Simon Dixon.

The UK’s position on digital currencies is relatively ambiguous, but that did not stop many bitcoin operators from incorporating in the UK. In a CoinDesk feature, technology lawyer Eitan Jankelewitz explained how UK regulation applies to digital currencies and what makes Britain so attractive for bitcoin businesses. However, he also concluded that the lack of regulation has caused more problems than opportunities for bitcoin businesses.

In late October the British Government launched a programme to support so-called Challenger Businesses, businesses based on new technologies, with vigorous business models and innovative products.

Following meeting with members of the FinTech community, the Challenger Business team published a set of conclusions, identifying the same disruptive and innovative trends mentioned by FCA’s Martin Wheatley. These included peer-to-peer loans, crowdfunding, digital currencies, as well as new payment schemes and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.


June 03, 2014 at 12:02PM

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2 June 2014

Bitcoin 2014: Building the Digital Payments-network (reflections on a million-dollar conference)

A Dutch version of this article originally appeared on Coincourant.

“The reason I am so committed to Bitcoin and crypto, is that crypto can solve the problem that centralized organizations present to society.”

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne’s fiery opening speech at Bitcoin 2014 is geared straight at the libertarian spirit of Bitcoin-hardliners. In his philosophical keynote address, the man who was heralded onto the main stage of the conference as a leader in exposing Wall Street corruption makes no mistake about his commitment to support the crypto-revolution: “Society sets us up with regulators to protect us from certain industries, from certain forces. But sometimes these regulators have the tendency to get captured. They get owned by the industries they are supposed to help defend us from.” And: “It’s not just the regulators that get captured by the bad guys. It’s regulators, and congressmen, and police, and journalists, and judges, and academics… The capture goes very deep.” Byrne delivers an exciting kick-off for Bitcoin 2014.

For one weekend, Amsterdam poses as the epicenter of a new financial paradigm, as conveyed by the confident slogan near the entrance of the main conference hall: “Building the Digital Economy”. It’s still early when the morning sun shines intensely through the tall glass walls of the spacious Passenger Terminal in the Dutch capital, soaking the wide hall in natural light. But free rounds of coffee are quickly fueling optimism among speakers and attendees alike: the buzzing chatter in the Passenger Terminal gradually increases as the conference gets underway.

If Byrne’s key note represented the official opening of Bitcoin 2014, Gavin Andresen’s State of Bitcoin address that afternoon represents the unofficial version. Dressed in a conspicuously mundane janitor-like outfit, even sporting the word “Geek” on his chest, the Bitcoin Foundation’s Chief Scientist approaches his yearly breakdown of technical challenges and future goals from a polar opposite direction from what Byrne had done before him. For Andresen, Bitcoin is not a revolution. Bitcoin is a technology. Boring is good. The three characteristic words are showing on a plain power-point presentation, while the chief scientists speaks of BIP processes, binaries, and P2P-networks.

Hidden underneath his techno-babble, however, Andresen does discuss some controversial issues, wrangling matters that only technical insiders at the conference might pick up on. “Once we get to one megabyte, we’ve got to make blocks bigger,” Andresen insists. “We just have to. If we don’t, transaction fees will rise and rise and rise, to the point where only rich people can afford to transact on the Bitcoin-network.”

Andresen is right: in its current form, Bitcoin does not scale to anything near what is needed for a widely used payments-system. Stuck with a single megabyte block size limit, the network can process a mere seven transactions per second at most. Barring possible alternative solutions such as tree chains or sidechains, that is not nearly enough for mainstream use. Not even close.

What Andresen fails to mention, however, is that increasing the block size limit would logically increase the size of the blockchain itself as well. Nearing 20 gigabytes already, this would probably cause the public ledger to burst towards many multitudes of that before soon, up to the point where it might be very hard to store the blockchain locally. Additionally, larger blocks would require full nodes to use up more bandwidth in order to transmit all of the data, which is burdensome and possibly expensive for most users. In essence, therefore, Andresen’s proposal could lead to a sacrifice of decentralization in favor of short-term and large-scale usability.

And apparently, Andresen’s point of view is no exception. His preference for main stream adoption over ideological purity seems rather illustrative of the conference as a whole. The stars of Bitcoin 2014 are not the rebellious Dark Wallet front-man Amir Taaki, Good Guy Revolutionary Andreas Antonopoulos, or anarchocapitalists’ favorite pacifist Stefan Molyneux. No one is talking about anonymous marketplaces, breaking the banking cartel, or obliterating the petrodollar. Instead, the dominant speakers of the weekend include Circle’s Jeremy Allaire, BitPay’s Tony Gallippi, and BTC China’s Bobby Lee. Presentations at the conference are oriented towards web-wallets, payment-processors, exchanges, and regulation. Despite its slogan, Bitcoin 2014 is not really tailored for libertarian idealists eager to build a digital economy. It is tailored for businesscard-exchanging investors willing to fund a more efficient payments-network.

This pragmatic – rather than ideological – focus is not very surprising, as Elizabeth Ploshay inadvertently points out during her main stage closing speech on Saturday afternoon. Nearing the end of the conference, the only female Bitcoin Foundation board-member cheerfully lists this event’s main sponsors BitPay, Coinbase, Perkins Coie and BitFury one by one, making sure that each of them receives its own round of applause. This conference was made possible by one payment-processor, one web-wallet, one law-firm, and one ASIC-manufacturer. Two companies that rely on Bitcoin as a payments-network, one that is specialized in regulation, and one whose business it is to – quite literally – centralize mining. Each subsidizing the conference for tens of thousands of dollars.

Following the closing round of applause, Bitcoin 2014′s final act does not take place in the large Passenger Terminal. Instead, Bitcoin Foundation members – and members only – are delegated to a much smaller room, several corridors removed form the main hall of the conference. In this room, lit through one row of small windows and dampened by the collective body-heat from a busy crowd, Jon Matonis takes the stage. Here, the Bitcoin Foundation executive director elaborates on finances, lobby-efforts, and goals for the Foundation. And while answering a question from Ryan “Two-Bit Idiot” Selkis, Matonis is awfully honest: “We don’t attempt to represent the community at large. That might be a secondary role that we’ve acquired, but we set out to represent the industry and individual members.”

Matonis specifies the numbers. As much as seventy percent of all the funding raised by the Bitcoin Foundation is derived from corporate sponsors. Top-tiers BitPay, Circle, Up Down, CoinLab and OK Coin contribute $25,000 each, while KnC Miner has even smacked down a whopping $100,000 in membership fees, providing the ASIC-manufacturer a platinum membership of the Foundation. “Platinum members receive observer rights for board meetings,” Matonis elaborates. “They’re allowed to sit in board meetings and discuss things.” Instead of questions, or critique, or perhaps even anger, the painfully ironic comments are met with a joke.

While the open source model supporting Bitcoin provides for tremendous equality among users, influence within the Foundation is apparently up for sale to the highest bidder. While Reddit, Bitcointalk, and even mailing-lists are wide open for discussion regarding the future of Bitcoin, the Foundation charges visitors hundreds of dollars to get inside of its conferences, and organizes closed-door sessions for selected crowds. While one of Bitcoin’s greatest strengths is the provision for innovation without permission and the fact that anyone can join the network, the Foundation is a closed bastion excluding those not willing or unable to pay a membership fee, and even holds secretive board meetings. While the Bitcoin-blockchain provides for a revolutionary form of transparency, the Foundation embeds none of this into its bookkeeping. While Bitcoin is a grass-roots movement, the Foundation is organized according to a top-down structure. While Bitcoin’s strength is its decentralized nature, the Foundation often tends to present itself as the official body of Bitcoin, likes to deal with regulators as such, and even formulates its own mission statement as “standardizing Bitcoin” by funding its infrastructure and the Core development team.

Although prominent Bitcoin-businesses obviously have every right to organize themselves in any way they want, it is exceedingly clear that the Bitcoin Foundation does not represent Bitcoin itself, the Bitcoin-community, or its core ideals. Instead, it is a centralized vehicle, which – judging by the Bitcoin 2014 conference – advocates the interests of its Big Money sponsors. And if these sponsors stand to gain from a Bitcoin that is less centralized, and more scalable, on a short term, there is very little reason to think that the Bitcoin Foundation will not commit itself to that goal.

“It’s not just the regulators that get captured by the bad guys. It’s regulators, and congressmen, and police, and journalists, and judges, and academics…” While selected members of the Foundation are enjoying their drinks in an exclusive corner of the building, Byrne’s speech quietly echoes through the abandoned Passenger Terminal. But by now, it sounds like a word of warning: centralized non-profit organizations would fit well into his list of corruptible institutions.

There might be little reason to suspect serious misconduct at this time. But the Bitcoin Foundation is at the very least installing an organizational structure that will be ripe for capture at some point in the future, when nothing but a vague memory remains from the speech of a naively idealistic dreamer at an early-day Bitcoin conference in Amsterdam: “The reason I am so committed to Bitcoin and crypto, is that crypto can solve the problem that centralized organizations present to society…”

June 02, 2014 at 04:41PM

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The Montreal Economic Institute Addresses Bitcoin

The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) has released an economic note on the state of Bitcoin regulation in Canada and around the world. The MEI is an independent research and education organization which, according to their website, “stimulates debate on public policies in Quebec and across Canada by proposing wealth-creating reforms based on market mechanisms.”

In the note, the MEI points to the recent collapse of Mt. Gox (and subsequent consumer fallout), as evidence of the need for governmental clarification of Bitcoin’s legal status. This is because “(R)etailers, consumers and investors…need to know that there exist clear rules indicating how Bitcoin is to be treated in terms of taxation and regulation.”

The note states three conditions that must be met for Bitcoin to expand its use as a currency: clear advantages to using BTC as opposed to traditional payment methods, explicit rules indicating how Bitcoin is supposed to be treated in terms of taxation and regulation, and the quality that those rules do not hamper the payment system with burdensome taxes or excessive administrative rules. They make certain to point out that, while the first condition is dependent on the mechanics behind Bitcoin, the other two conditions are dependent on “political decisions.”

They highlight the fact that Canada is the second most popular destination for Bitcoin-focused venture capital after the United States, garnering $10.5 million USD in investments. This is important to the MEI because it allows the Canadian economy to benefit from “the jobs and the economic spillover related to this new industry.” The paper overviews official statements from the Canadian government on Bitcoin, including communications from Revenue Canada, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, and the Canadian Finance Department. The overall conclusion is that “Canada’s regulatory situation regarding Bitcoin encourages its development, or at least allows it.”

This regulatory stance is then contrasted with comparable governmental actions in the United States and Germany. In the U.S. while the MEI disagrees with the tax status given to Bitcoin by the IRS which results in any profits from holding or transacting being subject to capital gains taxes, they applaud the development of BitLicenses in New York state that will improve “consumers’ confidence.” However they caution that it remains to be seen whether the rules behind such licenses will be excessive or not.

German regulation is viewed a bit more favorably, with the MEI complementing the clarity of their Bitcoin rules saying: “These clear rules, as well as a tax treatment that allows Bitcoin to be used as a currency, explain why the digital currency is popular in Germany and why this country was one of the first Bitcoin hubs.” Germany is labeled as the world leader in competent Bitcoin regulation, but the MEI concludes that Canada is not far behind. China and Russia are also discussed as “unamenable” towards Bitcoin.

While the overall message of the report is one that supports regulation of Bitcoin, there is particular emphasis put on making sure that government action is well designed. The MEI very much believes in Bitcoin’s ability to bolster the economy and they do not want clumsy regulatory action to harm this prospect. They conclude the report by stating: “Bitcoin is a technology that is constantly evolving, and that has multiple uses. The rules that regulate Bitcoin should ideally remain flexible and be adapted to this fluid character so as to give free rein to innovation.”

This economic note is another example of a worldwide trend in think-tanks and government agencies more experienced with the traditional economy turning their attention towards Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency environment. It also plays into one of the central debates in the crypto community today: whether or not the industry should seek regulation. In a response to the publication of the MEI’s report, the Bitcoin Foundation Canada weighed in, saying they welcomed the publication and that “Government intervention is not required for Bitcoin to develop and become accepted by the Canadian public. The Bitcoin network is completely decentralized and it simply cannot be subjected to government control.”

However the debate plays out, it is nonetheless clear from this note and other discussions that established interests are attentive towards what Bitcoin can do for them.

June 02, 2014 at 04:07PM

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Bitcoin in Botswana

Africa is often touted as the region most likely to benefit from Bitcoin. However, for the most part, the technology has yet to take off in any meaningful way.

A recent survey by mobile platform Jana interviewed 1,800 people across 9 emerging markets. This included respondents from Africa’s leading market, South Africa. Of the survey group, only 13% had heard of Bitcoin. This represented the lowest awareness of any emerging market.

At present the continent has two full service exchanges, both in South Africa. One of these exchanges has made its services available to Rand holders in Botswana. iceCUBED now offers a full service exchange in Rand for Botswana users.

This has been the first order of business for Alakanani Itiriling since joining the iceCUBED team. After spending so much time evangelising, Alakanani expressed a strong desire to have trading available for her local market.

“As many people become aware of the opportunity of borderless trading we are surely going to see growth in the number of people using bitcoin and hence a place for them to buy and sell their bitcoin is needed. We also have an ATM being donated to us and all this means a lot to Botswana.”

Alakanani first came to the world’s attention when this article was published in VICE Magazine.

Alakanani is Botswana’s key Bitcoin evangelist and organiser of many local meetup groups. She is known globally for her fervent support of the technology in Africa. Alakanani believes strongly in Bitcoin’s potential to revolutionise all aspects of life in her native Botswana, across the African continent and the world.

Alakanani is a university graduate currently studying a Masters Degree in business administration. She organised Botswana’s first Bitcoin meetup in October 2013. Since then the events have flourished.

In her new role as chief evangelist for iceCUBED, Alakanani is most concerned with building a positive image for Bitcoin in Botswana. To that end she has joined forces with the SOS children’s village.

SOS Children’s village has been operational for over 30 years in Botswana. In partnership with the United States Department of Labor, they are caring for 1,100 children exposed to exploitative child labour. This programme provides uniforms for the children. Staff also organise placement in schools and other support in the holidays.

Alakanani notes that:

“The SOS program for me means a lot [...] It means being part of the country’s vision of being a compassionate and caring nation. I care and bitcoin offers me the opportunity to do that and raise funds without borders.This is also to show that we in the bitcoin community are not greedy or thieves as people tend to think. Let the good outshine the bad and I am trying to do just that.”

The program will form part of iceCUBED’s charity program ‘Resources’, launched earlier this year.

The company aims to provide the necessary resources and support for Alakanani, as she continues her good work educating people on this technology in Botswana and throughout Africa. The company has a full support team on hand to help new users in Botswana.

While the market in Botswana is small, the level of entrepreneurial activity is high. Merchant adoption and awareness is growing. This is largely due to Alakanani’s efforts.

(disclaimer: the writer has some involvement with iceCUBED and Bitcoin Botswana).

June 02, 2014 at 04:07PM

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