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What is Bitcoin?

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

Bitcoin Latest News

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Posted on 18 February 2018 | 2:12 pm

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies - New York Times


New York Times

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies
New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — The currency they were after was virtual, but the guns they carried were anything but. In the beach resort of Phuket, Thailand, last month, the assailants pushed their victim, a young Russian man, into his apartment and kept him there ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 12:26 pm

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort - The Guardian


The Guardian

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort
The Guardian
We look forward to working with Mr Ayre on this resort and the many other investments he has made in Antigua.” Ayre, 56, to whom Antigua and Barbuda has given the official title of “his excellency”, said: “This resort will attract a totally new market ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 9:54 am

Why Bitcoin Is Still Worth Investing In - Daily Beast


Daily Beast

Why Bitcoin Is Still Worth Investing In
Daily Beast
You may have heard more people recently both celebrate and bemoan the state of the cryptocurrency market, especially the explosive rise and fall (and most recently, rise again) of Bitcoin. Even if you only have a layman's knowledge of how the ...

and more »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 7:38 am

This state may allow you to pay your income tax with bitcoin or Litecoin - Motley Fool


This state may allow you to pay your income tax with bitcoin or Litecoin
Motley Fool
8, the Arizona Senate passed a bill (SB 1091) by a 16-to-13 vote that would allow its residents to pay their income taxes using bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies recognized by the state's revenue authorities, beginning in 2020. The measure also passed ...

and more »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 7:13 am

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin - Forbes


Forbes

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin
Forbes
Wall Street has solved a big problem for Bitcoin: market volatility, paving the way for the people's currency to gain broad acceptance among merchants as a medium of exchange. That's a bullish development for the “people's currency.” Starbucks and ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:31 am

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle - CNET


CNET

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle
CNET
And I was one of the first US users of this newfangled kind of machine. A tiny bitcoin investment, made in pursuit of a story, kicked off a multi-year saga of forgetfulness, password frustration and the kind of jackpot that would make a hardened slots ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:00 am

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
A survey published Feb. 15 by the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom), found that almost two thirds of Germans are aware of Bitcoin (BTC). Awareness of the most popular cryptocurrency has ...

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 6:54 pm

In 10 Years We Won't Have Blockchains

Instead, we may have something that does what a blockchain does, only faster, cheaper and scalable. It'll look more like a graph than a linear chain.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 4:00 am

The CryptoKitties Competitors: 4 Ethereum Games That Are Catching Up

CryptoKitties may be the best-known ethereum app, but other games are fast winning users and registering notable volumes for expensive collectables.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Bitcoin May Have Found A Bottom - Forbes


Forbes

Bitcoin May Have Found A Bottom
Forbes
at least for now Bitcoin appears to have steadied itself · Bitcoin was in a fairly well defined downward sloping channel until a few days ago. Bitcoin hit a high of just under $20,000 in mid-December after increasing about 20x since the beginning of ...

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 11:34 pm

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

On February 16, 2018, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA put the world on notice by being the first major economy to set out clear guidelines on initial coin offerings (ICOs). In an announcement, the Swiss regulator addressed plans to apply financial market legislation to different tokens as well as lay out how ICO organizers can get proper input from FINMA when planning or launching their initial coin offerings.


The guidelines, offered as a downloadable PDF, show market participants what information is needed to help the Swiss regulator adequately address all issues presented in inquiries to the regulator, as well as how FINMA intends for current financial market legislation to be applied to ICOs. The published guidelines are intended to complement FINMA Guidance 04/2017, which in September 2017 addressed regulatory treatment of initial coin offerings.  

Important to note is FINMA’s concern over creating transparency. According to the regulator, “Creating transparency at this time is important given the dynamic market and high level of demand.”

FINMA also cited an increase in the number of inquiries corresponding with a sharp increase in the quantity of planned and executed ICOs in the country as a motivating factor for the move.

The regulator’s concern over transparency is clearly illustrated when they state in the guidelines that “ICOs raise a variety of legal issues for which there is no relevant case law and no consistent legal doctrine. Given the wide variety of types of token and ICO set-ups, it is not possible to generalise. Circumstances must be considered holistically in each individual case.”

The press release on the guidelines also provides useful information. The Swiss regulator highlighted that they would focus “on the underlying purpose of the tokens” and that the tokens were “tradeable and transferable.”

The release also showed how FINMA categorizes the tokens into three types — payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens (allowing for tokens to possibly take on aspects of more than one group) — and ascribes definitions for organizers to better understand their tokens’ potential assessment.  

Another major emphasis in the press release was on the guidelines’ role in displaying how FINMA will handle ICO inquiries regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and securities regulations compliance. In the release, they referred market participants to the diagram on page 8 of the guidelines (as shown below), which distinguishes the regulator’s stance based on which of the three categories the tokens are put in.

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs chart

While the press release does finish with a note to investors about the risks associated with investing in ICOs, the most important part of the announcement is the portion where FINMA highlights the “innovative potential” of blockchain technology. In it, FINMA CEO Mark Branson stated:

The application of blockchain technology has innovative potential within and far beyond the financial markets. However, blockchain-based projects conducted analogously to regulated activities cannot simply circumvent the tried and tested regulatory framework. Our balanced approach to handling ICO projects and enquiries allows legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with our laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.

While regulations on ICOs are either ambiguously evolving or demonstrating outright hostility in other countries, FINMA has given a clear signal that it wants to provide transparency, open communication and certainty (where possible) to those launching ICO projects within the Swiss Confederation.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 4:20 pm

SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

Today, February 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release announcing trading suspension of three companies that acquired AAA-rated assets from “a subsidiary of a private equity investor in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, among other things.”

The three companies in question, PDX Partners, Inc., Victura Construction Group, and Cherubim Interests, Inc., had trading of their stocks suspended for 10 days by the SEC under the auspices of public interest and investor protection. Neither the SEC suspension orders, nor any of the announcements by the companies surrounding the acquisitions, however, seem to actually focus on blockchain or cryptocurrencies. The assets that were acquired were trust units (shares) in a management company for a private equity fund that invests in at least 12 disparate sectors, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

According to the orders of suspension by the SEC, the companies all set off alarm bells for the regulators when Victura Construction and PDX Partners issued press releases on January 4, 2018, related to the pending share acquisitions. Cherubim Interests issued a press release on January 3, 2018, to the same effect but was also cited by the SEC for its delinquency in filings with the SEC.

All three companies are helmed by CEO Patrick Johnson, former NFL journeyman wide receiver. All three companies are penny stocks with outdated financial information and unaudited or poor bookkeeping. These so-called “penny stocks” are typically a great concern for U.S. regulators as they are often the subject of attempted price manipulation or fraud.

All of the companies announced near the beginning of the year the acquisition of trust units from NVC Fund LLC, the trust manager of  NVC Fund Holding Trust, which commits private equity investments into everything from natural resources and entertainment to blockchain technology and “fintech cryptocurrency.” According to the NVC fund website, the trust manages assets valued at over $128 billion.

Investments made from all three companies were for sums that far outpaced any estimated market cap or gross profit of the companies. PDX Partners announced a purchase of $350 million in trust units, despite only having $29,000 in operating income at the end of 2016 and negative cash flow from operations.

Cherubim Interests announced a purchase of $250 million in trust units, despite having negative operating income and negative cash flow from operations for their 2016 year-end.

Victura Construction announced a purchase of $100 million in trust units, while they too had negative operating income and operating cash flow for the last year they reported financials in 2014. All told, Mr. Johnson’s companies would be taking on $700 million of investments in NVC Funds.

Instead of focusing on the questionable ability of these three companies to afford the price of these trust units, the underlying valuation of the assets themselves, or the fact that the companies all have limited transparency on their websites in public filings, the SEC devotes half of the press release to warning investors about investing in companies pivoting to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Michele Wein Layne, Director of the Los Angeles Regional Office, stated, “This is a reminder that investors should give heightened scrutiny to penny stock companies that have switched their focus to the latest business trend, such as cryptocurrency, blockchain technology or initial coin offerings”. It should be noted that the SEC states that Cherubim Interests executed a financing commitment to launch an ICO. This is the only reference in the suspension orders to the idea that any of the three companies dabbled in the cryptocurrency or blockchain space.

Of course, there may be more clarifying information the SEC has yet to disclose in future actions taken regarding the three companies that would clarify how the acquisitions were directed toward the blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects of NVC Fund’s investments. However, no press announcements by the companies seem to have specifically cited the two sectors, and no factors in the SEC suspension orders suggest that the companies were targeting the NVC Fund investments for those particular two categories.

The stated strategic focuses of PDX partners, Victura Construction and Cherubim Interests are: telecom, disaster recovery and restoration construction, and alternative construction projects, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:38 pm

Crypto Regulation? Not Anytime Soon, Says White House Official

The White House cybersecurity coordinator said crypto regulation is still far from becoming a reality.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 1:00 pm

Ellen DeGeneres on Bitcoin: It's 'Either Worth $20K or Nothing'

Ellen DeGeneres says she has learned about bitcoin...but only 'a bit.'

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 11:35 am

Prosecutors Accuse Chicago Trader of $2 Million Crypto Theft

A Chicago trader has been charged with fraud for allegedly misappropriating $2 million in cryptocurrencies from his employer.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 10:30 am

Swiss Finance Regulator to Treat Some ICO Tokens As Securities

Switzerland's financial regulator has released new guidelines indicating it will treat some initial coin offerings (ICOs) as securities.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 9:30 am

$10K Again for Bitcoin, But Other Cryptos Outperform

Another week, another spin of the markets. This time, litecoin came out on top with the world's fifth most valuable crypto posting big gains.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 8:45 am

SEC Suspends 3 Companies Claiming Crypto Connection

The SEC has temporarily halted trading of three companies after comments they made about cryptocurrency and blockchain-related business moves.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 7:54 am

Pullback on Hand? Bitcoin Shows Weakness Above $10K

Having found weak hands above the $10,200 mark in Asian hours, bitcoin has slipped back into four figures.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Vitalik Hopes New Ethereum Fund Will Deliver on Hype

A group of notable ethereum startups are partnering to create a new financial fund designed to boost the blockchain's ecosystem.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Spanish Government Eyes Tax Benefits for Crypto Companies

Spain's ruling political party is reportedly drafting legislation that it hopes will help woo cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to the country.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 12:00 am

'Hundreds' of Crypto Miners Said to Be Descending on Quebec

Hydro-Quebec may charge an industry-specific rate to crypto mining farms to deal with overwhelming demand for Quebec's cheap energy resources.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 8:40 pm

No, 'Litecoin Cash' Isn't Bitcoin Cash All Over Again

Litecoin cash, that's like bitcoin cash, right? As always in crypto, branding might be deceiving when it comes to a new upstart project.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 6:30 pm

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends Creation of Virtual Currency Subcommittee

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends the Creation of a Virtual Currency Subcommittee

On Wednesday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Committee’s (CFTC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held a public meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. During the meeting, members of the Bitcoin and cryptoasset industry shared information regarding this emerging market and offered guidance on how the CFTC may approach regulating the space in 2018.

Multiple participants in the public hearing made comments to differentiate between different types of cryptoassets and their associated technologies.

Potential regulation around cryptoasset exchanges was also discussed as a potential area for further regulation, as has been noted by regulators worldwide over the past few months.

By the end of the portion of the public hearing dedicated to virtual currencies, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a subcommittee for this new asset class.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Cryptoassets

One of the key points made by those who were invited to speak about the cryptoasset industry was that all of these tokens or coins should not necessarily be treated equally. For example, during his opening remarks, Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito discussed the differences between traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are commodities, of course, as the SEC has previously [said].  Questions remain however about the borders [around] these categories and about how one can responsibly share tokens to future investors,” noted Brito.

Special Counsel Gary DeWaal of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP went on to discuss the often-mentioned Howey Test and how it helps determine which types of tokens are securities under U.S. law. In DeWaal’s view, the CFTC could offer assistance in differentiating between commodities and securities in the cryptoasset market.

“Ultimately there has to be some clarification. The distinction between a commodity, the distinction between a security, may seem (from a common sense perspective) clear, but there are very, very important issues around those that I think this committee could very much [help clarify],” said DeWaal.

Notably, DeWaal also pointed out that cryptoassets are “critical” to decentralized ledgers.

“They are the mechanism in proof-of-work blockchains where miners are rewarded: In proof-of-state blockchains where fees are paid, these are the ways you incentivize folks to keep the system together. If you’re only talking about centralized ledgers, sure, you don’t need to worry about coins,” DeWaal added.

Regulation of Cryptoasset Exchanges

RGM Advisors’ chief executive, Richard Gorelick, also made an appearance at the CFTC’s public hearing, and he focused on the market structure of cryptoassets during his brief opening presentation (PDF). Gorelick was one of the only people in the room who referred to the subject at hand in terms of “cryptoassets” rather than “cryptocurrencies” or “virtual currencies.”

One of the key areas of focus for Gorelick during his presentation was the problems associated with current cryptoasset exchanges. More specifically, Gorelick discussed the issues associated with connectivity of liquidity between global exchanges.

“Generally speaking, I think trading on these [exchanges] can be challenging, particularly if your goal is to trade across multiple spot exchanges. It’s difficult to weave liquidity across exchanges and jurisdictions due to a number of factors,” noted Gorelick.

Some of the factors limiting the movement of funds between various exchanges pointed out by Gorelick include:

  • Technology
  • Concerns about deceptive trading
  • Lack of standard best practices
  • The fickle nature of banking relationships
  • Capital inefficiency
  • Security and transparency
  • The slow speed at which money and assets can move in and out

In the face of these issues found on cryptoasset exchanges, Gorelick hit on the large scale of the over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

Representatives from LedgerX and CME also provided updates on the state of the Bitcoin futures market later in the public hearing.

After gathering information from representatives of the cryptoasset industry and asking questions, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a new subcommittee focused on virtual currencies.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 2:32 pm

Blockchain Startup Po.et Nabs Former Washington Post VP as Its New CEO

Blockchain Startup Po.et Nabs Former Washington Post VP as Its New CEO

Po.et, a blockchain startup that allows content creators to create time-stamped titles for their written, visual and audio work, has announced Jarrod Dicker, who has held positions at the Washington Post, Time Inc. and Huffington Post, as its new CEO.

It may be the perfect match. Po.et wants to change the way content creators manage their work and Dicker has a history of ushering traditional news outlets into the digital age, so they are not solely reliant on advertising and subscriptions.

Dicker left his position as VP of innovation and commercial strategy at the Washington Post to join Po.et.  

“At Po.et, we are constructing what this industry needs  —  a new environment where creators are paid for what they can do instead of what is required of them by an old and broken paradigm,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the move. He explained that he left his former position at the Post because “I believe in that future.”

Dicker’s role at Po.et will be to oversee strategy and engineering and product development on the Po.et platform. He will also oversee Frost, an API and set of development tools that Po.et launched last week for content creators and bloggers.

In a statement, Dicker said he plans to leverage his experience “across media, education and corporate America to elevate this platform as the standard for digital content ownership rights.”

After joining the Washington Post, Dicker helped form the RED team, which stands for research, experimentation and development. Prior to that he worked at RebelMouse, a company founded by the core Huffington Post technology team, where he helped build the company’s future content management system. He also worked at Time Inc., taking the lead on emerging products, and at Huffington Post, originating native advertising.  

“Jarrod’s unique vision enables him to drive creative, scalable products and evangelize innovation,” said Tyler Evans, board member of the Po.et Foundation in a statement. “We look forward to his enthusiasm for media and track record of building cutting-edge technology for publishers to Po.et.”

Po.et. provides tools to publishers and content creators who want to automate the licensing process without involving third parties. All content licensing terms are enforced by smart contracts. Contract details, as well as ownership rights and other descriptions are then hashed and cryptographically registered on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Po.et, which held a token sale on August 8, 2017, now boasts an online community of more than 40,000 developers and creators on social media platforms, such as Telegram, Reddit and Twitter.

In addition to his role as CEO at Po.et, Dicker sits on the board of advisors for Rutgers University Center for Innovation Education and MOGUL Inc., a technology platform that enables women to share ideas and access content based on their personal interests. Dicker also supports a Carnegie Mellon University program on the value of social advertising in publishing. 


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 10:34 am

Cryptocurrency Exchange’s $170 Million Nano Coin Loss Sparks Outrage

Cryptocurrency Exchange’s $170 Million Nano Coin Loss Sparks Outrage

On Friday, February 9, 2018, Italian cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail announced that “internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano [XRB] shortfall, an amount forming part of the wallet managed by BitGrail.” The shortfall when reported was allegedly worth $170 million and has presumably rendered BitGrail insolvent, despite the fact that the other wallets and currencies that the exchange has were purportedly untouched.

The 9:30 p.m. UTC announcement by the Florence-based exchange gives some cause for circumspection. The founder of the exchange, Francesco “The Bomber” Firano, fired off salvos on Twitter in defense of the loss. His defense rang hollow for BitGrail customers, however, as Firano had noted the problem a day prior but withheld disclosure to authorities, users and the public while trying to work through the issue with the Nano team.

The “Hack”?

When news of the lost coins broke, BitGrail released a statement citing “unauthorized transactions” that were later confirmed by Firano to be the result of a hack. However, it appears many users have taken to Twitter to accuse Firano and BitGrail of committing fraud, with some positing that withdrawals have been severely limited on the exchange for months across multiple coins while transaction fees had increased. The coins lost represent approximately 14 percent of the total outstanding value of Nano mined.

However, there is some dispute (discussed below) on what actually caused the loss of coins. Whether it was an error in the BitGrail system, a planned exit scam or a hack from outsiders, taking or keeping the ill-gotten tokens seems ill-advised. The percentage of coins taken represents five times the current daily trading volume of Nano and would require careful offloading to avoid driving the price down by selling the coins.

Any scenario in which those lost coins could be dumped prior to the Nano coin gaining greater stability and trading volume forecasts a tumultuous time for the Nano team.

Nano Coin

The Nano coin, previously known as RaiBlocks, is a coin with a low level of liquidity that only trades on a few exchanges, (previously) including BitGrail. At the time of this writing, CoinMarketCap lists the volume for the coin at $34 million over the trailing 24 hours. The XRB coin has spiked as high as $31.14 on January 2, 2018, and currently sits at $9.75. Nano hosted its first Meetup on February 6, 2018, and launched its iOS wallet in beta on February 5, 2018.

BitGrail vs. Nano

Relations between the coin and the exchange disintegrated over the weekend with Firano accusing the Nano team of libel and threatening to call the police “for irresponsible behavior,” while Nano retaliated in a “tell all” Medium post. In a de-evolution of relations, Nano core team member Zack Shapiro (in a deleted tweet to user @jsmoove08) defended BitGrail a day prior to the exchange’s announcement.

nano twitter

The Nano team issued this announcement in response to the news. The team started with:

From our own preliminary investigation, no double spending was detected on the ledger and we have no reason to believe the loss was due to an issue in the Nano protocol. The problems appear to be related to BitGrail’s software. We had no knowledge of BitGrail’s insolvency prior to February 8th.

It concluded with this accusation:

We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.

Reactions from Firano were expectedly harsh, including one tweet where he stated:  

In the wake of the unfounded accusations made against me by the dev team and of the dissemination of private conversations that compromise police investigations, BitGrail s.r.l. is forced to contact the police in order to protect its rights and users.

It should be noted that the Nano team relayed through its Medium post that they would “not be responding to individual posts or accusations by Firano regarding this situation.”

As BitGrail was one of the few exchanges that had been accepting Nano, the coin is now facing trading volume declines, down from the $50 million reported by the Wall Street Journal on February 10, 2018.

Nano also linked a pdf of a private conversation between Firano and Nano core team members Shapiro and Colin LeMahieu. The chat shows Firano’s insistence that the loss of Nano was due to an issue with corrupted time/date stamps of the errant transactions and suggested the fault lay with Nano as non-Nano wallets remained intact. Shapiro and LeMahieu disputed this claim. Firano also asked if the stolen coins could be forked in order to recover the “stolen” Nano from the burned address. The dev team refused to acknowledge a fork as a possible solution.

Firano stated in the chat that he first noticed the bug eight hours prior to the conversation with Shapiro and LeMahieu. Shapiro challenged Firano’s timeline, asking, “If withdrawals have been closed for the last month, how did you not notice this? Someone with[sic] allegedly withdrawing for weeks according to you via this ‘hack.’”

Social Media Reacts

Users on social media seem to have sided with Nano on events, accepting the narrative that a bug in the javascript for the client-side interface allowed for wallets to withdrawal more coins than they had on the exchange. Others, though, were just as furious with the Nano dev team for supporting BitGrail in the weeks leading up to the loss of funds.

Regardless of fault, the turmoil caused by the loss of $170 million worth of Nano on the BitGrail exchange has left both the exchange and the dev team faced with accusations, angry customers and little recourse for those affected.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 7:58 am

Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking recently called for a concerted effort to launch humans into space saying:

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the ‘60s.”

While NASA and Tesla are already well established in the game, Space Decentral, founded by international Space Cooperative, is staking its claim in outer space and all that’s in it. Using the latest blockchain technology to launch a social network, they’re on a mission to democratize space by crowdsourcing information and crowdfunding citizen-powered space travel.

As interest in space travel grows worldwide, an international group of scientists, engineers, architects, futurists, artists and software developers including former and current NASA employees is working collaboratively to share the latest scientific research and help crowdfund projects that lack government funding.

According to Space Decentral advisor Dr. Paolo Tasca, Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London (UCL):

“It's a global space research lab where individuals and organizations can contribute knowledge and pool intellectual property in an open manner and where revenue can be fairly shared among contributors."

"This is a massive project that will require the presence of hundreds of scientists, engineers and innovators,” he adds.

Space Decentral hopes to leverage some of the current development work under way in the Ethereum community to produce an open-source toolbox to collaboratively design space missions.

"Space technology and Earth technology go hand in hand we need to utilize systems thinking to solve problems in parallel,” said Yalda Mousavinia, Space Decentral co-founder, referring to blockchain technology and distributed engineering.

Faster Than Light: A Utility Coin?

Offering their Faster Than Light coin (FTLcoin), Space Decentral is planning an ICO to raise at least $10 million with a maximum goal of $35 million, as soon as the membership has approved its final white paper (due at the end of February 2018).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Mousavinia acknowledges that this first ICO will only fund the initial setup and there will need to be subsequent ICOs as projects are approved. She notes:

“The goal is to fund the technological infrastructure, such as decentralized collaboration tools and smart contracts that will make the process for operating a space DAO more efficient.”

They hope to sell internationally and within the U.S., where they will write the SEC to ask that their FTLcoin be considered a utility coin and not a security.

“We are in the process of writing a letter to the SEC that makes our case for why we believe it is a utility token. What we are really trying to do here is create a community where people want to purchase the token to actually have a voice on humanity's future in space this isn't a pump-and-dump ICO,” says Mousavinia.

Building an Aragon DApp

Space Decentral’s governance and operations will be mediated by smart contracts, using Aragon, an organization that builds DApps on the Ethereum blockchain to help new startups securely manage their organization and governance.

“We’re building our organization on top of Aragon’s governance and decision-making infrastructure. Aragon's refactored DApp goes live on testnet this month and it’ll be rigorously tested,” says Mousavinia.

“We are looking into using Giveth's minime smart contract for the token sale. This smart contract has been used by both Aragon and Status and has had several security audits. Additionally, we are thinking about using the Gnosis multisig as the initial wallet.”

Evolving Into a DAO

The founding team is currently managing and directing Space Decentral, but their goal is to be replaced by a decentralized voting process and regular community meetings of all their members.

“We envision Space Decentral as a vehicle for humanity’s interest in space exploration, and recognize that it must be fully autonomous in order for it to truly serve that purpose,” Mousavinia said.

Mousavinia recognizes that the transition will be challenging as the team has so far set priorities and has already developed proposed space missions like Martian Spring and Lunar Odyssey.

The goal is to connect multiple organizations while making it easy and transparent for individuals to collaborate without any organizational affiliation and incentivize involvement by rewarding contributors adequately and giving them a voice. 

Space Decentral is laying out a roadmap to give potential investors assurances that the team is in it for the long haul.

Mousavinia explained:

“We plan on creating milestone-based smart contracts, such that there will be separate tranches of funding that are activated once different aspects of the technical roadmap or community development is accomplished. These full details are still being worked out and will be described more in the full white paper.

She added that the team is determining a timeline which will give the DAO ultimate approval on the yearly budget. “A mutual understanding will be developed on the best way to monitor funds that provides transparency in addition to room for experimentation as needed.”

"We all need to take the long view and work together to create the system that sustainably makes humans a true spacefaring species,” said Space Decentral co-founder and former NASA engineer, Dr. Marc M. Cohen, a member of the core team that is designing the DAO.

“We may not complete the effort in our lifetime, but we have an obligation to humanity to begin.” 


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 7:53 am

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server promises a resource-efficient, secure and private way to use bitcoin with hardware and software wallets, connected to full nodes. Developed by open-source programmer Christian Belcher, best known for his contributions to JoinMarket, the Electrum Personal Server directly addresses vulnerabilities with the popular Electrum Bitcoin wallet, while sparing users the significant resource usage of an Electrum server.

According to Belcher, connecting Electrum with the Electrum Personal Server is the most resource-efficient, secure and private way to use a hardware or software wallet connected to a full node. It is important for all users to connect their wallets to full nodes for the Bitcoin network to maintain long-term security, he maintains.

“If bitcoin is digital gold, then a full node wallet is your own personal goldsmith who checks for you that received payments are genuine,” explained Belcher in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine.

Full Nodes vs. Thin Clients Refresher

In the Bitcoin blockchain, full nodes are programs that validate transactions and blocks on the network. Full nodes assist the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating them and sharing them with other full nodes. Essentially, full nodes are the referees of the Bitcoin blockchain –– they check to see that chains are following the rules of the network and ignore chains who break them. As an example, Belcher noted that “[transactions] printing infinite money would be rejected by [full nodes] as if they never existed.” In this way, Bitcoin can ensure that no more than 21 million coins are ever minted.

While full nodes are the most secure, they are are also more resource-intensive. A full node takes up around 156 GB of disk space (a number which is growing by more than 50 GB per year), can take days to sync when used for the first time, requires significant amount of bandwidth each month, and takes up CPU power validating all transactions and blocks on the network.

Thin clients (also known as lightweight clients), however, do not download the entire Bitcoin blockchain. Instead, they only download a copy of all the headers for the blocks in the blockchain. Thin clients are able to achieve increased efficiency and speed by receiving notifications when a transaction affects their wallet specifically. But this does mean that thin clients must tell a third party which addresses belong to them, which is bad for privacy. Additionally, thin clients trade full validation and security for efficiency, placing their trust in full nodes to verify that rules are being followed on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Electrum

Since 2011, the Electrum wallet –– a light client –– has been among the community favorites. It features a pleasant user interface, hardware wallet connectivity, “forgiving” seed recovery phrases, cold storage solutions, decentralized servers to prevent downtimes, and multi-sig permissions. However, similar to other thin clients, the Electrum wallet’s lightweight connection with the Bitcoin blockchain comes at the cost of privacy, validity and scalability.

By default, the Electrum wallet sends all its bitcoin addresses to an Electrum server, which sends back a user’s history and balance. According to Belcher, “This means that the Electrum server knows all the user’s bitcoin addresses and could spy on them, essentially seeing everything a user does.” Users should note that anytime their bitcoin addresses are stored on a thin-client server, their transactions can be monitored.

Like other thin clients, if Electrum servers do not properly verify the rules of the Bitcoin blockchain, wallets can be deceived. For example, a compromised Electrum server could lead the Electrum wallet to accept a fake transaction for USD $1000 worth of bitcoin that would not have been validated by a full node.

Electrum servers also store records of every address ever used on the Bitcoin network, which, as user-base increases, poses a hindrance to scalability.

In the Electrum ecosystem, the only way for a user to avoid these vulnerabilities inherent to the Electrum thin client is to run their own Electrum server and connect it to their wallet. This fix is more resource-intensive than running a Bitcoin full node; it requires the unpruned Bitcoin blockchain, the full transaction index and extra address index. Electrum Servers are also more RAM and CPU intensive than full nodes, and are not made to be turned on and off efficiently.

Electrum Personal Server Solution

The Electrum Personal Server provides bitcoin users with increased efficiency, security and privacy. In this implementation of the Electrum server protocol, users seeking a full node connection can interact with all traditional Electrum wallet features while running a Bitcoin full node, instead of downloading an Electrum server.

Efficiency

From an efficiency perspective, connecting an Electrum wallet to a full node allows users to take advantage of resource-saving Bitcoin Core features such as pruning, disabled txindex and blocksonly. These features are not available to an Electrum server.

Users also benefit from the traditional Electrum wallet user experience/user interface and functionality such as hardware wallet integration, offline signing, recovery phrases and multi-signature wallets.

Security and Privacy

Because users are connected to a full node, they aren’t prone to any of the aforementioned privacy and security threats posed to thin clients.

There is a caveat –– users lose the popular “instant-on” feature of the Electrum wallet when using a full node such as the Electrum Personal Server. The full node must synchronize first, before displaying a wallet’s bitcoin balance. Depending on connection speeds and time since last connectivity, this process could take a few minutes or hours.

For users seeking to connect their wallet to an Electrum Personal Server, the process is fairly straightforward. According to Belcher’s blog post, users must:

  1. Download the alpha version;
  2. Configure the Electrum Personal server with their master public key. Those addresses are then imported into Bitcoin Core as watch-only;
  3. Rescan the wallet if it contains historical transactions. There is no need to rescan, however, if a new, empty wallet is created.

Why Should the Average Bitcoin User Care?

Belcher outlined that since the inception of the Bitcoin network, the basic security model has relied on most of the economy using full node wallets, not thin clients that are vulnerable to manipulation. This way, legitimate Bitcoin transactions are always accurately verified, nefarious transactions are always rejected, and the hard limit of 21 million bitcoins (which are really just bits and bytes) is enforced.

Belcher believes that “bitcoin is dead in the long term” if most of the Bitcoin economy does not use full node wallets.

He hopes that the Electrum Personal Server can serve as a framework for other lightweight Bitcoin wallets to connect to full nodes run by users, rather than (centralized) servers. For instance, a Samourai Wallet or Breadwallet can utilize a script similar to the Electrum Personal Server to connect to a full node.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 3:21 pm

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Are miners — the nodes on a blockchain that process transactions — partners in a company? And, if they are deemed partners, and a cryptocurrency project collapses leaving coin holders holding the bag, what legal construct is in place to protect miners from lawsuits? One Vermont lawyer sees a “nightmare” unfolding.

Stepping back a few steps, last month, several news sites ran stories about proposed legislation (S.269) in Vermont put forth by Senator Alison Clarkson on January 3, 2018. Most focused on the tax element — blockchain projects based in the state would have to pay $0.01 per token mined, traded or transferred — but missed the main point of the legislation, which was to set Vermont up as a safe haven for cryptocurrency projects.

The legislation seeks to establish a so-called “digital currency limited liability corporation” (LLC) in Vermont. An LLC is a type of corporate structure where individuals cannot be held personally liable in case the company is sued. Right now, blockchain companies operate in a fuzzy gray area in terms of business structure. If push comes to shove, they could be classified as statutory partnerships, leaving miners and others who contributed to the project with no liability shield.

“Legally, it is not only plausible; it is the most probable outcome,” said Vermont lawyer Oliver Goodenough in speaking to Bitcoin Magazine. Goodenough is co-director at the Center for Legal Innovation of Vermont Law School, the body that produced the report  behind the Vermont legislation.  

Goodenough is not alone in thinking about setting up a subcategory LLC for blockchain projects. Carla Reyes, assistant law professor at Stetson University, also touches on the idea of blockchain LLCs in her working paper “If Rockefeller Were a Coder.”

General Partners by Default

What are blockchain companies if they are not partnerships? In the U.S., the default association of two or more persons who carry on as co-owners of a for-profit business is a general partnership, whether or not that is what those individuals intended.

In a general partnership, liability is not simply limited to the assets of the business, but individual assets as well. That means, if a cryptocurrency crash occurs, and coin holders suffer losses because a token’s value has dropped to nothing, plaintiffs’ attorneys could argue a blockchain constitutes a statutory partnership and hold miners personally liable.

“Miners are running a mutual network from which they profit mutually and for which they have rules for the division of that profit, and that is quite plausibly a partnership,” said Goodenough who thinks it could spell disaster for blockchain entities. “Miners wake up one morning and suddenly, in this nightmare land, they are all partners,” he said.

The idea is not so far fetched when you realize some cryptocurrency projects are already being hit by lawsuits. After ruling that some virtual tokens, including the DAO token, qualify as securities and are subject to federal securities laws, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stopped short of filing charges against the DAO.

But that did not stop the securities plaintiffs’ bar from taking aim at ICOs. In fact, currently, at least four class-action suits have been levied against the organizers of Tezos, a project that raised $232 million in an ICO in July 2017. Who is to say cryptocurrency miners would not face similar class-action suits?

Move to Vermont

The point of the Vermont bill is to roll out the welcome mat for blockchain businesses. Setting up a subcategory LLC means that cryptocurrency projects will be able to specify how the company designates the participants within the system.

In addition to outlining a business structure, Goodenough says a digital currency LLC would also allow projects to legally define who has the authority, and under what conditions, to initiate a hard fork to change the protocol or roll back a large transaction, such as when Ethereum initiated a blockchain hard fork to roll back the DAO funds.

“Essentially, Vermont is saying, ‘Come set your business up here, we have a law, you pay us a little tax, and it will all be fine,’” Goodenough said, adding “It was meant to provide an opportunity for folks.”

If the bill passes, cryptocurrency projects wanting to set up digital currency LLC, would have to maintain a physical presence or conduct some of their activities in the state. As mentioned, they would also have to pay a minor tax on any token produced or transacted, but, overall, it may not be a bad deal for blockchain projects.  

“They could form an LLC in Vermont,” said Goodenough. “They would be legitimate and get the benefit of all these rules for a crypto LLC. We’ve got it all defined. We are enabling them to give themselves a structure to protect themselves.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 10:38 am

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Regulators in Hong Kong have issued a strict warning to exchanges doing business with Chinese customers about trading tokens deemed as securities.

In an announcement today, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it has sent letters to seven Hong Kong exchanges and firms attempting to fundraise through initial coin offerings (ICOs), warning them about the legalities of selling digital tokens with the characteristics of securities. Most of those receiving the letter confirmed compliance with the SFC's regulatory regime or delisted tokens in question.

The agency said it had been receiving complaints from Chinese citizens about market manipulation on exchanges. Some said they were unable to withdraw funds and reported significant losses due to “technical breakdowns” on exchanges.

"We will continue to police the market and enforce when necessary," SFC CEO Ashley Alder said in a statement. "But we are also urging market professionals to do proper gatekeeping to prevent frauds or dubious fundraising and to assist us in ensuring compliance with the law."

The agency also cautioned investors about the risks involved in trading cryptocurrencies, including price volatility, theft and fraud, and the difficulty of recovering losses.

"If investors cannot fully understand the risks of cryptocurrencies and ICOs or they are not prepared for a significant loss, they should not invest," said Julia Leung, executive director of intermediaries at SFC. "Investors who store their fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies with unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges should be aware of the risks of hacking and misappropriation of assets."

The SFC issued two prior warnings to exchanges, one in September and other in December, about selling bitcoin futures.

Today’s statement follows a denial by Hong Kong–based exchange Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, that it had been hacked after it suspended trading on Thursday. The company blamed the suspension on a prolonged system upgrade.

Regulators in Europe and in the U.S. are coming down on fraud in the space. Earlier this week, representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) spoke before the Senate Banking Committee about future cryptocurrency regulations. And recently, several U.S. banks banned customers from using credit cards to buy digital currencies on exchanges.  

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 9 February 2018 | 4:17 pm

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $3,000

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

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

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

February 18, 2018 -
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