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What is Bitcoin?

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

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Posted on 22 February 2018 | 1:30 pm

Bitcoin is Dropping, and Experts Can't Agree Why - Inverse


Inverse

Bitcoin is Dropping, and Experts Can't Agree Why
Inverse
“$10,000 is a plateau for Bitcoin only as long as profit-taking continues,” Trevor Gerszt, CEO of crypto investment service CoinIRA, tells Inverse. “Investors who bought the dip nearly doubled their money when Bitcoin got close to $12,000, so a little ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 11:13 am

Venezuela Is Talking With Russia About Cryptocurrency

Venezuelan finance minister Simon Zerpa Delgado announced on Twitter that he visited Moscow to update Russian officials on Venezuela's petro currency.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:30 am

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

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

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

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

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

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

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

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

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

Power to Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017: A Year of Contradiction

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

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

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

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

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

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:21 am

Uphold Eyes Expansion With Mobile Payments Startup Acquisition

Digital payments platform Uphold has acquired Cortex MCP, a mobile commerce platform.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:38 am

Tezos Board Reshuffled As Johann Gevers Steps Down

Johann Gevers and Diego Pons, the last original members of the Tezos Foundation Board, have voluntarily stepped down from their positions.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:15 am

What Is Bitcoin? - GameSpot


GameSpot

What Is Bitcoin?
GameSpot
You might be aware that GPU prices have skyrocketed in recent months. This is due in large part to the rise of cryptocurrencies, to which there are many. Bitcoin is the first and leading one, but what is Bitcoin? We're here to demystify the topic for ...
Forget Bitcoin. It's All About The Blockchain.Forbes

all 9 news articles »

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:00 am

Your bitcoin may be lost for good if you die without a plan for it - CNBC


CNBC

Your bitcoin may be lost for good if you die without a plan for it
CNBC
... to access cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, one of the assets that's most at risk of vanishing. "It's all going to slip through the cracks unless someone knows about it," Walsh said. If you don't leave the private key, a number that enables the ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:38 am

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Bitcoin: More Trustworthy than Some Academic Critics - Cato Institute (blog)


Cato Institute (blog)

Bitcoin: More Trustworthy than Some Academic Critics
Cato Institute (blog)
Historian Harold James of Princeton University, known for his scholarly writings on the gold exchange standard and on the euro, has turned his attention to Bitcoin in a recent Project Syndicate commentary on “The Bitcoin Threat.” His commentary labors ...
Bitcoin latest: MPs to consider cryptocurrency regulation as part of new inquiryThe Independent
Bitcoin: MPs launch inquiry into digital currenciesBBC News
MPs launch inquiry into bitcoin boomThe Week UK
Telegraph.co.uk
all 54 news articles »

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:08 am

Investing App Robinhood Launches Crypto Trading in 5 US States

Stock brokerage company Robinhood has officially launched its cryptocurrency trading platform, rolling the service out to five states today.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:00 am

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


CNBC

Bitcoin drops below $10000 again, hitting lowest in a week
CNBC
Bitcoin briefly fell below $6,000 earlier this month but has since recovered. Earlier this week, the cryptocurrency broke above $11,000 for the first time since late January, helped by better regulatory sentiment out of South Korea. There were fears of ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 7:32 am

Litecoin Cash Has Forked But It's Hardly Trading

A scheduled plan to launch a new cryptocurrency by forking the litecoin blockchain is finding little love from major data aggregators and exchanges.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 7:30 am

Inside Jimmy Song's New Plan to Fund Unpaid Bitcoin Coders

Bitcoin Core developer Jimmy reveals Platypus Labs, a project at Blockchain Capital to provide fellowships and more to support bitcoin development.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:45 am

Bitcoin is back below $10000 - Business Insider


Business Insider

Bitcoin is back below $10000
Business Insider
The world's largest cryptocurrency, which makes up 39.4% of the total market cap for digital coins, has had a volatile year so far. Its price climbed in 2017, but has seen regular swings as much as 20% in either direction in the first months of 2018 so ...
Bitcoin Price Plummets Below $10K As Crypto Markets Turn RedInvestopedia (blog)
Bitcoin price broke through $11000 for first time since JanuaryUSA TODAY
This Statistic Shows Why Bitcoin Is Yesterday's NewsMotley Fool
BGR -Metro -Reuters -Wall Street Journal
all 307 news articles »

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:25 am

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip
CoinDesk
Signs of bull market exhaustion in the bitcoin market may be having a knock-on effect across cryptocurrencies in general. All of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization - bar nano, dentacoin and tether - are in the red today, according to ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:14 am

Bitcoin Drops Below $10K as Crypto Markets Dip

The wider cryptocurrency market may be feeling the heat of a decline in bitcoin prices today.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Oil Data Firm Platts Rolls Out Commercial Blockchain Platform

Energy markets data provider S&P Global Platts has announced the commercial deployment of a blockchain network for sharing oil inventories.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 5:10 am

UK Treasury Launches Inquiry Into Cryptocurrency

The U.K. Treasury Committee has today announced that it will conduct an investigation into issues around cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 4:00 am

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out
CoinDesk
Bitcoin's failure to find acceptance above the $11,000 mark this week has neutralized the immediate bullish outlook. However, the rally from Feb. 6 lows could resume if prices break above $11,250, the technical charts indicate. As of writing, CoinDesk ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 3:07 am

Bitcoin Rally Stalls But Bull Revival Isn't Yet Ruled Out

Bitcoin bulls need a convincing break above $11,250 to revive the recent price rally after prices dip once more.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Why energy-sapping bitcoin mining is here to stay - The Conversation UK


The Conversation UK

Why energy-sapping bitcoin mining is here to stay
The Conversation UK
The enormous use of energy needed to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is proving to be very contentious, but alternative methods pose far too much of a security risk. The recent warning that electricity use at bitcoin mining facilities in ...

and more »

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:04 am

NASSCOM Teams with Blockchain Institute for Digital Economy

India's tech industry is working with Canada's Blockchain Research Institute to integrate blockchain into Indian businesses and government.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin is good - University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily


University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily

Bitcoin is good
University of Virginia The Cavalier Daily
To quote a famous meta-economics scholar on the subject of Bitcoin, “Buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buy buyb uyb uby buby bubyb buy buy buy buy buy buyb u buy buy buy.” I agree wholeheartedly. That is my ...

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 12:02 am

German Regulator Pledges 'Precise' Oversight of ICOs

Germany's top financial regulator has issued a letter of advice in an attempt to clarify some of the regulatory uncertainties around ICOs.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 12:00 am

Lightning's Watchtower: How Laolu Is Fighting Future Fraud

With all eyes on the Lightning Network, bitcoin developer Laolu is working on a technology which takes fraud watching off the hands of users.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 9:44 pm

Venezuela's Cryptocurrency Is Here, But Who's Involved Isn't Clear

Several companies have been so far linked to Venezuela's petro cryptocurrency initiative in the wake of this week's launch.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:45 pm

Korean Regulator Tips Cryptocurrency Prospects Back Toward “Normalization”

Korean Regulator Tips Cryptocurrency Prospects Back Toward “Normalization”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:41 pm

This Upstart Cryptocurrency Exchange Is Making Inroads in Canada

Coinsquare

Cryptocurrency and precious metals exchange Coinsquare is taking steps toward its goal of leading the cryptocurrency exchange market in Canada. On February 20, 2018, it announced a new partnership with Processing.com, after wrapping up a recent investment of $30 million, for a total $47 million raised in the last four months.

The partnership with Processing.com will allow Coinsquare to facilitate instant fiat currency payments of digital currencies for the general public through debit and credit card transactions.

In a release, Processing.com’s James Bergman said:

“We are very excited to partner with such a respected and fast-growing trading platform as Coinsquare. As digital currencies increasingly make their way into the mainstream conscious, service providers have a responsibility to ensure the broader public can access the rapidly growing blockchain ecosystem.”

Marketing Strategy

Besides increasing its Canadian market share, Coinsquare also has plans to move on to establishing new exchanges internationally, initially in the U.S. and the U.K.

Coinsquare CEO Cole Diamond acknowledges that he is continuing original owner Virgile Rostand’s marketing strategy of emphasizing Coinsquare’s Canadian foundations, with its economic and political stability and relatively light regulatory environment.

Diamond said: “Virgile Rostand, Coinsquare's founder, was an early industry pioneer and blue-chip banking industry veteran. He built a custom platform that is unrivaled in Canada, boasting extremely high security standards."

Coinsquare is also continuing Rostand’s unprecedented service to the French-speaking community.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Diamond noted: “We are the only trading platform that we know of that has a French website. Five percent of our users view our website in French, and we have been commended for it and are proud of it.”

A recent review of exchanges by education website Blockgeeks, placed Coinsquare in the top 10 exchanges. Forex also reviewed Coinsquare and gave it a thumbs up.

Despite positive reviews, however, there have been some dissatisfied customers who have voiced concerns on social platforms and below the Forex review. Common complaints cite long wait times, lost funds, high fees and a non-responsive staff. Comments on other sites also mentioned an unclear fee structure and lack of customer support. Coinsquare has not responded to request for comment from Bitcoin Magazine regarding these concerns.

Canadian compliance expert, Amber D. Scott, CEO of Outlier Solutions told Bitcoin Magazine: "With price volatility and a massive influx of new clients, most exchanges are likely having some growing pains and Coinsquare is likely no exception."

Diversification as a Priority

Coinsquare, based in Toronto, Canada, wants to diversify its business beyond cryptocurrency holdings.

The company already has its own mining operation with 2 MW of power and 1700 mining units in operation.

They are planning to invest in two more mines. Canada, particularly the province of Quebec, is attracting lots of interest from mining companies based on inexpensive electricity and cooler temperatures.

“Canada is about to become a central source,” explained Diamond in a recent interview with Global News. “I think there’s definitely a rush happening now. I think we’re going to have a significant amount of mining in the next few months.”

Trading precious metals is also a part of Coinsquare’s diversified holdings. They trade in silver coins and silver and gold bars.

Coinsquare is planning a Trading and Arbitrage division to take advantage of cross exchange and hedge opportunities.

Also in the works is the launch of CoinCap Funds, a group of funds focused on investments across the digital asset landscape.

Security

According to Coinsquare, they store 98 percent of their assets in cold storage and their trading platform is based on the same technology as that used by the NYSE.

While Bitfinex and Coinbase announced recently they are adopting SegWit, Coinsquare does not have any plans to follow suit just yet.“The decision to use Segwit is an ongoing discussion at Coinsquare and we are not for or against it at this time,” said Diamond.

Meanwhile, they are working on developing trading platforms for international markets and white labelling and licensing its technology for markets around the world.

Coinsquare offers trading in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dash, Dogecoin and Litecoin and has a special OTC service for those wanting to trade large amounts.

Scott is optimistic about the future for Coinsquare: “At this stage, Canada has taken a relatively light touch from a regulatory perspective. This has been a boon for exchanges like Coinsquare in many ways. They’ve been able to focus on managing their risks and building their business, rather than fitting into paradigms that weren’t built with them in mind.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 2:02 pm

US Government Arrests Bitcoin Stock Exchange Founder

The owner of BitFunder, a long-defunct bitcoin investment platform, has been hit with two lawsuits filed by the U.S. government.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 1:35 pm

What Venezuelans Are Saying About the Petro

The South American country's plan to launch its own cryptocurrency has sparked global headlines and a range of commentary on social media.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 12:05 pm

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

With crushing debt and a starving population, the Maduro government in Venezuela is launching what it says is the world's first sovereign cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency is designed to bypass U.S. government sanctions against the socialist regime. The “Petros” cryptocurrency will have an initial value tied to the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil in mid-January, which was $60 per barrel, with a target of 100 million Petros to be sold.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned that the move may violate last year’s sanctions, while Venezuelan opposition leaders say the sale constitutes an illegal issuing of debt.

After the first day of trading, President Maduro claimed to have raised $735 million. State officials are claiming a 5x increase in traffic to the website, but some critics, including Venezuelan product designer and cryptocurrency writer Alejandro Machado, are skeptical.

In speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Machado commented that he was unable to find any transactions on the blockchain regarding Petros and, while the token was originally slated to be released on the Ethereum network, it since has transitioned to NEM.

“The government hasn't confirmed that this is the address, but they confirmed they're using NEM, and it's the only mosaic matching the Petro description,” Machado said. “The mosaic's metadata also uses similar phrasing to the white paper.”

Machado has been writing about the upcoming Petros since early December 2017, remarking, “Many think it’s yet another episode of empty propaganda, but I profoundly disagree: chavismo is facing the existential danger of running out of funds, and they’re betting heavily on the Petro.”

His skepticism about the plan runs deep: “No doubt aware of their terrible track record, the government is incentivizing participation in the private sale by offering a 60% discount. What company in the world would sell 38 million units of a product for less than half their market value? A company that doesn’t intend to ship you the product after you buy, of course.”

With $150 billion in foreign debt, quadruple-digit inflation, the collapse of their oil output, and crushing sanctions by the U.S. and the EU, the Venezuelan government has become increasingly creative in ways to generate revenue. Petros represent nothing more than a promise against the 300 million barrels of oil that Venezuela believes they can recover but have yet to pull from the ground. There is an additional problem that U.S.-based investors purchasing the Petros would be in violation of American sanctions and could find themselves in trouble with Uncle Sam.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 11:25 am

Crypto Nodes Are One Step Closer to Legal Protection in Arizona

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill protecting blockchain node operators from local restrictions.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Ripple Paper Pledges New Support for $40 Billion XRP

Ripple, the startup behind the world's third-largest cryptocurrency, has released two white papers that it hopes will move the technology forward.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 9:00 am

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

In a watershed moment for United States blockchain and cryptocurrency law, Wyoming’s House of Representatives unanimously voted “aye” to pass two blockchain bills – HB 70 the “utility token bill” and HB 19 the “bitcoin bill” –  sending them to the State Senate for consideration. HB 70 defines utility tokens as neither traditional money nor securities; HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the 2003 Wyoming Money Transmitter Act (passed in the state before Bitcoin’s invention in 2008).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-founder, and 22-year Wall Street veteran, Caitlin Long, attributed much of the bills’ successes so far to teamwork between Wyoming banking and security regulators and the efforts of House of Representatives member Tyler Lindholm, who is a co-sponsor and advocate of all five blockchain-related bills.

Wyoming aims to set the standard for blockchain-friendly regulation in the U.S. and to become a hub for blockchain-based innovation with these two bills. Long explained, “There are already bitcoin miners setting up shop because of [Wyoming’s] cheap electricity, no income tax and no franchise tax.”

HB 70: Utility Token Definition

The Wyoming HB 70 defines a utility token, or “open blockchain token,” as neither traditional money nor a security if it meets the following conditions:

  1. The token has not been marketed by the protocol developers as an investment opportunity.
  2. The token is exchangeable for goods or services. (This implies that protocols must offer a working product or service before tokens are issued, similar to Switzerland’s recent ICO framework.)
  3. The protocol developer has not entered into a repurchase agreement of any kind or entered into an agreement to locate buyers for the token.

Similarly, people who facilitate the exchange of an “open blockchain token” are not deemed traditional broker-dealers of securities.

HB 19: Cryptocurrency Exemption

HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act. A 2015 interpretation of this act by the Wyoming Division of Banking made it impractical for cryptocurrency exchanges to operate in the state. As a result, Coinbase suspended operations in Wyoming indefinitely in June 2015.

The passage of HB 19 moves Wyoming one step closer to cryptocurrency-friendly exchange regulation. Should the bill receive a majority vote in the Senate, exchanges such as Coinbase could resume operation in Wyoming.

Other Bills in the Pipeline

The Wyoming House of Representatives is also reviewing bills HB 101 and HB 126 in the House and SF 111 in the Senate.

HB 101, the “blockchain filings bill,” promises to update Wyoming’s Business Corporations Act to authorize the creation and use of blockchains to store records, the use of a network address to identify a corporation's shareholder and the acceptance of shareholder votes signed by network signatures.

At a high level, HB 101 specifies requirements for all corporations using electronic network or (blockchain) databases. HB 101 has passed the first reading in the House.

HB 126, the “series LLC bill” allows for the creation of “series LLCs.” This type of LLC structure is favorable towards decentralized protocols, as it enables LLCs to establish a compartmentalized series of members/managers, transferable interests or assets, and distributions to members.

HB 126 has also passed the first reading in the House.

SF 111, the “crypto property tax exemption bill,” has already been approved in the House, and its goal is to exempt cryptocurrency from Wyoming state property taxes. The bill is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Nothing Is Carved in Stone

While HB 70 and HB 19 have both passed in the House by a vote of 60–0, they must also pass in the Senate to be recognized as official acts.

Long expressed her optimism, while acknowledging the difficulties that lie ahead:

I don’t want to sugar-coat that it won’t be difficult. The Senate is a more uncertain chamber. But, we have incredible momentum, and all we need [for the bills to become acts] is a majority vote in the Senate.

Should the bill pass in the Senate and become an act in Wyoming, federal regulation and the SEC Howey Test could still nullify all of the advocates’ blood, sweat and tears. However, Long believes that Federal Law with regards to utility hasn’t been established yet — and, that there are people in the blockchain/cryptocurrency industry “flush with cash, interested in litigating this issue.”

Long and other Wyoming blockchain proponents hope for a final Senate outcome on HB 70, the “utility token bill,” and HB 19, the “Bitcoin bill,” as early as the middle next week.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:42 am

NASA, ESA Considering Innovative Applications of Blockchain Technology

NASA, ESA Considering Innovative Applications of Blockchain Technology

NASA and other space agencies, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), are considering potential applications of blockchain technology to space missions and internal operations.

According to a NASA presentation titled “Bitcoin, Blockchains and Efficient Distributed Spacecraft Mission Control,” blockchain technology could have useful applications in distributed spacecraft missions involving multiple elements. Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technologies could be further integrated to make space-based sensor networks more efficient and responsive.

In September 2017, NASA awarded a $333,000 grant to University of Akron (UA) Assistant Professor Jin Wei to research how to make space hardware smarter and more autonomous. The research program, titled “RNCP: A Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm for NASA Space Exploration,” wants to improve the automation, environment awareness and intelligence of NASA space probes, which is an important requirement for deep space missions.

“The objective here is the application of blockchain and distributed intelligence to our space and ground network communication assets,” said Thomas Kacpura, advanced communications program manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. “If successful, the overall objective will be to incorporate Dr. Wei’s research in our overall portfolio to ultimately optimize our communication networks."

ESA is also quietly researching innovative blockchain-powered solutions. Recently, the Agency has been investigating the applicability of blockchain technologies to key challenges for ESA’s space activities and administrative areas. A position paper titled “Distributed Ledger Technology: Leveraging Blockchain for ESA's Success,” authored by trainee Torben David and senior coordinator Gianluigi Baldesi, offers a concise summary of blockchain technology and its main applications, and then goes on to list several potential applications to the Agency’s mission.

In particular, the paper mentions faster and more accurate payments, blockchain-based smart contracts applications to streamlining procurement, audit processes and record-keeping, data traceability and access rights, and voting and direct democracy.

It’s worth noting that the ESA paper focuses on blockchain technology applications to administrative processes but doesn’t address embedded blockchain technology for space hardware and software, which is covered by NASA’s RNCP. However, since ESA’s exploration of blockchain technology is just beginning, it seems likely that applications to space missions will be considered in due course.

In conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Baldesi confirmed that the Agency is considering potential applications of blockchain technology with keen interest and a forward-looking approach. In the framework of “the Space 4.0 era” with diverse space actors around the world, including emerging private companies and citizen groups empowered by digital technologies, ESA launched the “Exploring Threats and Opportunities through Mega Trends in the Space 4.0 Era” initiative with the support of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, and hosted a related workshop at the ESTEC technical centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on October 23, 2017.

“In the era of Space 4.0 — as in our own lives — we have to be adaptive to change and nurture a culture of pro-activeness and open-mindedness to both disruption and opportunity,” said Baldesi.

The workshop was live-streamed and is now available for public viewing. Several presentations discuss blockchain technology as a key enabler of disruptive innovation in a wide range of industries, including space. Potential space applications of blockchain technology include  mission data; smart contracts and smart procurement to optimize the supply chain; and information management where applications may include virtual spacecraft (traceability and configuration consistency) and configuration control (hardware and documentation).

Baldesi explained that the Agency is awarding exploratory research contracts related to blockchain technology, such as a Satcom Maker Space initiative that includes Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for satellite telecommunications and a “Testbed for Blockchain supporting satellite M2M/IoT,” as well as an intended “Blockchain for Space Activities” study and an intended “fintech” initiative for innovative fintech-related applications and services based on the integration of space and non-space technology.

The governance and “direct democracy” applications mentioned in the position paper are especially interesting. Baldesi explained that the current Director General of the Agency, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, known for his vigorous support of bold, visionary initiatives such as the “Moon Village,” is determined to systematically use tools such as Kahoot for crowdsourced decision making and has launched several pilot e-voting initiatives, not only internally but also with the participation of external actors.

Blockchain-based e-voting platforms are, according to Baldesi, especially promising and in line with the desired openness and inclusiveness of Space 4.0.

These sorts of Space 4.0 citizen initiatives are growing in popularity; projects like Space Decentral project are moving in a similar direction.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:33 am

Bitcoiner Faces Charges After Selling BTC to an Undercover Cop

Bitcoiner Faces Charges After Selling BTC to an Undercover Cop

On February 9, 2018, officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested Morgan Rockcoons (aka “Morgan Rockwell” or “Metaballo”), CEO at Bitcoin, Inc. and an entrepreneur behind several other bitcoin startups, at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Rockcoons was charged with money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to court records.

According to those same records, in Southern California, between December 30, 2016 and January 8, 2017, Rockcoons allegedly exchanged around 10 bitcoin (worth around $9,200, at the time) for $14,500 in cash with an undercover law officer. That officer allegedly told Rockcoons in advance that the cash came from the manufacture and distribution of “hash oil,” which contains tetrahydrocannabinol, a controlled substance at the federal level.

Money laundering happens when a person takes ill-gotten money and turns it into “clean” money that cannot easily be tracked back to its source. Thus, if Rockcoons knew the cash was dirty, but traded it for bitcoin anyway, that would constitute money laundering.

Rockcoons was also allegedly operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business in Southern  California “from a date unknown” through August 30, 2017. Money transmitters are required to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The warrant for the arrest was issued by the Chief Magistrate for the Southern District of California on November 8, 2017, which indicates it may have taken authorities three months to track down Rockcoons, possibly because he moved out of the original jurisdiction.  

A Different Story

In private messages with Bitcoin Magazine and a series of public tweets, Rockcoons, who is actively seeking donations to pay for his legal fees, which he expects to be between $150,000 - $300,000, tells a different story than what is reflected in court records.

Where the court document says that the the cash given to him was already dirty, he claims that bitcoin he sold to the buyer became dirty after it left his hands.

“Someone bought a machine that makes cannabis oil with the BTC they purchased from me,” he said to Bitcoin Magazine. “I guess I'm not allowed to sell Bitcoin as a U.S. citizen for cash especially if [responsibility for] what people do with that money lies on me.”

In communication with Bitcoin Magazine, Rockcoons said that the buyer told him via text message that the bitcoins would be used to buy a “medical hash machine.”

He added, “Buying equipment in California is not illegal especially medical equipment in a medical State that's been a medical state for 25 years. [A] controlled substance does not have anything to do with the equipment because CBD oil can be extracted from Cannabis and that doesn't have anything to do with Tetra Hydro cannabinol.”

Both Rockcoons’ tweets and his subsequent communication with Bitcoin Magazine seemed to imply, initially, that he had no idea he was selling bitcoin to a law enforcement officer.

On Friday Feb 9, I was arrested in my home by Department Of Homeland Security over a #Bitcoin transaction from nov 2016 and am released under a personal recognizance bond. I am being charged with:

18 USC 1956 - Money Laundering Instrumenthttps://t.co/4w7NJIi4jw

Asset Forfeit pic.twitter.com/5kINtbxH17

— Morgan (@NODEfather) February 14, 2018

According to Rockcoons, the exchange took place in November 2016 (not the first week of January, as listed in court records) while he was living in Northern California (not Southern California, as the records state).

Rockcoons said the buyer found him through LocalBitcoins, an online platform that facilitates direct selling of bitcoin. A user can register as a seller on the platform and be contacted by interested parties. Transactions are done in person or via online banking.

Rockcoons claimed on Twitter that he received $9,200 for the bitcoin, though court records allege the law officer gave him $14,500. Rockoons later told Bitcoin Magazine that he specified to the buyer he wanted less than $10,000, but the buyer insisted on sending him $14,500.

“They tried to entrap me,” Rockcoons told Bitcoin Magazine. “I asked for only less than $10,000, they sent me $14500 [or] refused to send anything and then I sent under $10,000 [worth of bitcoin] to follow the law.”


After agreeing to the terms of the sale online, Rockcoons claims he received a cash payment. He described this payment, in his communication with Bitcoin Magazine, as being received in an envelope sent through the mail. He has not replied to requests for clarification as to whether or not he met with the buyer in person, though he did say that he and the buyer communicated via text messages.


At the time of the exchange, he was camping in the Mendocino National Forest, where he was living in a tent and working on a new project, a voice-operated Bitcoin wallet. Rockcoons said he had been living in the Northern California wilderness since 2015; however, fire and floods were making it increasingly difficult to survive in the area. After another fire ravaged the land, he said he needed cash for evacuation emergencies.

“I was living like a mountain man, so I didn’t really need money but eventually I needed to buy food so I decided to sell some coin; when someone asked me to buy some I usually just always turn it down but I needed cash to eat,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.

He claims the fires were what eventually forced him to move back to Nevada.

Time in Jail

After his arrest in Las Vegas on Friday, February 9, 2018, Rockcoons was locked up over the weekend in Henderson Detention Center in Clark County, Nevada, for three days. He pled not guilty at a Federal Court hearing on February 12, 2018, and was then sent to Clark County Detention Center for two more days for an unrelated charge of failure to appear on a traffic ticket.

“I was in jail for five days with some of the scariest humans on Earth,” he said. “But I [taught] most of them how Bitcoin works, so it was worth it.”   

In his series of ongoing tweets since his release from jail on February 14, 2018, Rockcoons has been portraying the charges against him as an attack on Bitcoin.

It's not my mess, it's everyone on Earths [sic] battle now or you can kiss your access to BTC goodbye,” he wrote in one tweet.

This is a attempt to redefine the regulation and the law,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.

“Bitcoin is my religion,” he wrote in another tweet. “God says I can use bitcoin everyday.”

Rockcoons is also claiming he was targeted due to his relationship with the state and the federal government and his Bitcoin-related startups.

Because of my relationship with the State & Federal Government as well as my relationship with the US military, because of my involvement in creating @BitSwitchIO at @BitcoinKinetics and possibly the opportunity to pull a @CharlieShrem case in California to get the west coast.

— Morgan (@NODEfather) February 14, 2018

He is looking to others to join the “battle” with him, and he is even asking the the Bitcoin Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports Bitcoin adoption and education, to cover 15 bitcoin (worth around $150,000) of his legal costs.

“It seems to me the Bitcoin Foundation has been absent from the Bitcoin Community during troubling times, this would be a good opportunity to show face and show the community that you're here for all of us," he tweeted.


Rockcoons’ arraignment is on February 22, 2018 at the San Diego Superior Court in California. He has hired Las Vegas criminal attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld to represent him. He says he plans to pay them in bitcoin.


(Note: Shortly before publishing this article, Rockcoons blocked the writer from viewing his Twitter account.)

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 3:04 pm

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

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

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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

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Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

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Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

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Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

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Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

February 22, 2018 -
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