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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 16 January 2018 | 4:52 pm

Bitcoin breaks under weight of regulatory scrutiny - USA TODAY


USA TODAY

Bitcoin breaks under weight of regulatory scrutiny
USA TODAY
Speculators beware: The once-high-flying digital currency bitcoin is again feeling the heat from regulators in Asia, causing its price to go into a free fall. Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency whose skyrocketing price in the past year captured the ...

and more »

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:37 pm

Bitcoin: Does It Have A Place In Your Portfolio? - Seeking Alpha


Bitcoin: Does It Have A Place In Your Portfolio?
Seeking Alpha
Bitcoin is a digital currency - or "cryptocurrency" - that allows online payments to be made directly from one party to another through a worldwide digital payment network, without the need for a central third-party intermediary such as a bank. Records ...

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:22 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Sees Lower Lows as It Drops Below Historic Support

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Over the last couple months, we’ve been tracking a potential Distribution Trading Range at the top of bitcoin’s market cycle. Today, we have received higher confidence that bitcoin may have topped out. At around 3:00 p.m. EST, bitcoin broke through the bottom of the trading range and is now seeing aggressive selling as long positions begin to close and short positions begin to open. Today marks the first day of lower lows since bitcoin topped out around $20,000:

Figure_1.JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Distribution Trading Range

Bitcoin managed to blow through several milestones including both the parabolic and the linear trends. The linear and parabolic trends have been guiding trends for the last three years, and today bitcoin has broken parabolic support. It could get ugly:

Figure_2.JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Macro Trend

What was once strong support has now become resistance as bitcoin scrambles to find a bottom. We can see quite clearly there is a line of support around $10,000 where the macro Fibonacci retracement values for the 50% retracement line exist. Any downward continuation will likely be supported in the interim. However, it’s fair to say that bitcoin is beginning a new downward trend. As stated earlier, today marks the first day of lower highs and lower lows — i.e., a downtrend.

So where does the bottom lie? That remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that there was a systematic distribution of bitcoin from large players to the masses; and now we are beginning the next phase of the market cycle — the markdown phase. Will it be a sustained markdown? It’s too early to tell at the moment, so we will have to play it by ear.

Bitcoin is a long-time fan of violent drops and violent bounces, so it’s unclear how this downtrend will terminate. For now, I highly recommend traders stay away from smaller time frames and focus more on the macro view of things.

As we come to test the macro 50% retracement values, it’s important to view how the market responds and see how the volume reacts. If we don’t see strong follow-through on a bounce from the 50%, there could be a strong bearish continuation in its future. Volume is your friend and confirms the trend. If you don’t see strong volume following an upward bounce, it’s entirely possible you could get stuck in a bull trap — and no one wants that.

Bull traps are designed to lure aggressive bulls into long positions prematurely to create liquidity for the bearish investors in the market. If you are unsure of what direction the market is moving, there is nothing wrong with sitting out.

Summary:

  1. A potential markdown phase is under way as bitcoin sees aggressive selling pressure.

  2. Today marks the first day of lower lows in weeks and marks a potential macro downtrend.

  3. Support will likely be found at the $10,000 values, which coincide with the 50% macro Fibonacci retracement values.


Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:18 pm

Bitcoin Mining Uses As Much Power As Ireland. Here's Why That's Not A Problem - Forbes


Forbes

Bitcoin Mining Uses As Much Power As Ireland. Here's Why That's Not A Problem
Forbes
Just a few years into the cryptocurrency revolution, bitcoin mining is already eating up an estimated 20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. That's roughly 1.5% of global generation, on par with the power demand of Ireland. The primary culprits ...

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 2:12 pm

Bitcoin's Power Needs May Be Overblown - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin's Power Needs May Be Overblown
Bloomberg
Speculation that Bitcoin mining will lead to “uncontrolled growth” in electricity consumption may be overblown, recalling the hype that surrounded projections for data centers and marijuana growing. While Bitcoin miners currently use about as much ...

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 2:11 pm

Metropolitan Bank Denies Policy Change on Crypto Wire Transfers

Metropolitan Bank released a statement stating that it had a "long-standing policy" barring crypto-related wire transfers outside the U.S.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 9:20 am

Mark Cuban: Dallas Mavericks to Accept Bitcoin, Ether 'Next Season'

The Dallas Mavericks will begin accepting cryptocurrency payments during their next season, according to owner and investor Mark Cuban.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 8:50 am

Ripple Price Drops to 2.5-Week Low, Eyes Sideways Trading

Ripple's XRP token fell to a 2.5-week low today, and is looking at a more or less sideways movement in the short-term, chart analysis suggests.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 8:00 am

Bitcoin futures drop 20% as digital currency hits six-week low over crackdown fears - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin futures drop 20% as digital currency hits six-week low over crackdown fears
CNBC
Bitcoin dropped more than 19 percent to a low of $10,969.15 on Tuesday, its lowest since early December, according to CoinDesk. CoinDesk's bitcoin price index tracks prices from cryptocurrency exchanges Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Bitfinex. As of 4 ...
Bitcoin Plunge Extends to 25% as Fear of Crypto Crackdown LingerBloomberg
Is Global Front on Bitcoin Regulation Possible?Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Bitcoin plunges—now down 47 percent from December peak [Updated]Ars Technica
New York Post -Reuters -Los Angeles Times -Bloomberg
all 360 news articles »

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:34 am

Blockchain Startup Cypherium Partners with IC3 for Scaling Research

Cypherium, which provides a blockchain infrastructure, is partnering with research group IC3 to work on scaling solutions.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:34 am

Down 14 Percent: Bitcoin Charts Bearish Amid Asia Concerns

Amid negative news flow, Bitcoin is taking a hit today and touching 3.5 week lows at the time of writing.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 4:30 am

Bitcoin headed to $100000 in 2018, says analyst who predicted last year's price rise - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin headed to $100000 in 2018, says analyst who predicted last year's price rise
CNBC
Van-Petersen said Tuesday that bitcoin could hit between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2018. "First off, you could argue we have had a proper correction in bitcoin, it has had a 50 percent pull back at one point, which is healthy. But we have still not seen ...
Bitcoin Could Hit $100000 This Year, Says Analyst Who's Been Right BeforeMoney Magazine

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 4:28 am

UNICEF Wants to Fund Early Stage Blockchain Startups

The United Nations Children's Fund is seeking to invest in early stage blockchain startups with the potential to help people across the globe.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:35 am

PBoC Official Calls for Wider Ban on Chinese Crypto Trading: Report

The vice governor of China's central bank is reportedly seeking a wider ban on services related to cryptocurrency trading in the country.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:00 am

Big Money, Murky Governance: Kicking the Tires of Telegram's Token Sale

In a market that emphasizes trustless systems, the Durov brothers are asking token investors to place a lot of trust in them and the Telegram team.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 2:15 am

Bitcoin's Price Just Dropped Over $1,300 in 1.5 Hours

The price of a bitcoin just plummeted by over $1,300, as losses are seen across the wider cryptocurrency market.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 1:28 am

Swift Signs Agreement With 7 CSDs to Explore Blockchain for Post-Trade

Swift formalizes another major blockchain project by signing a memorandum of understanding with seven Central Securities Depositories.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 1:03 am

ViaBTC Increases Cloud Mining Fee Citing China's Mining Resource Scarcity

China's crypto mining pool ViaBTC increases its maintenance fee ratio for AntMiner S9 cloud mining contract, citing mining resource scarcity in China.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 12:03 am

5 Blockchain Developments Coming in 2018

What's in store for blockchains in 2018? Infosys's Peter Loop offers a diverse selection of forecasts for the year ahead.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:00 pm

Housing or Dotcom: Which Bubble Does Cryptocurrency Mania Resemble?

It may be fair to compare what cryptocurrency and blockchains are going through to the 1990s dotcom bubble, but not to the 2000s housing bubble.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 5:19 pm

BlackWallet Hacked: Warns Stellar Community Not to Log In to Site

Stellar Wallet “BlackWallet” Hacked

On January 13, an unknown hacker(s) hijacked the DNS server for BlackWallet.co, a web-based wallet for the Stellar Lumens cryptocurrency, and redirected it to their own server.

Security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who analyzed the code, said, “The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code, if you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet.” It is estimated that nearly 700,000 Lumens (XLM) were stolen, with a current value of over $400,000.

Warnings and alerts not to log into the BlackWallet site have been sent out by the BlackWallet team and other XLM users via Stellar Community, Galactic Talk, Reddit, Twitter and GitHub. Unfortunately, users continued to log in for some time, and thus, saw their funds vanish from their wallets.

Following the address of the attacker, it is possible to track the movement of funds from BlackWallet to the Bittrex exchange, where they are likely to convert the funds and cover their tracks. BlackWallet has since messaged Bittrex in an effort to coordinate with the exchange to block the hacker’s account.

In a statement on Reddit, the BlackWallet admin is suggesting that people move their funds to a new wallet using the Stellar account viewer. At the time of this writing, the BlackWallet website is returning a 404 error. Bitcoin Magazine will update this story as it evolves.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 2:31 pm

Road to Innovation? Truck Giant Penske Joins Blockchain Group

Penske Logistics has become the latest company to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 1:35 pm

$400K: Hacker Makes Off With Stellar Lumens in BlackWallet Theft

A hacker stole more than $400,000 in Stellar lumens after compromising the digital wallet provider BlackWallet.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 12:37 pm

St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies

StLouisCrypto.jpg

In a recent article on the basics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (PDF), Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cover the usefulness of bitcoin and other alternative cryptoassets.

Throughout the article, Berentsen and Schär make the case that cryptoassets are well suited to become a new, important asset class. The duo goes as far to say that bitcoin is, in some ways, more robust than many fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrencies Are a Welcome Addition to the Current Currency System

Surprisingly, Berentsen and Schär are of the belief that cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the current currency ecosystem. While some critics claim bitcoin’s price should drop to zero because there is no intrinsic value found in the cryptoasset, the co-authors of the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis point out that this argument also applies to the various government-issued currencies around the world.

“Bitcoin is not the only currency that has no intrinsic value,” states the article. “State monopoly currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc, have no intrinsic value either. They are fiat currencies created by government decree. The history of state monopoly currencies is a history of wild price swings and failures. This is why decentralized cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the existing currency system.”

Berentsen and Schär also cover the possibility of Bitcoin’s consensus rules eventually being changed to allow for an increase in the supply of bitcoin tokens. They take the view that this scenario is very unlikely to unfold.

Even though in theory it is possible to increase the Bitcoin supply, in practice, such a change is very unlikely because a large part of the Bitcoin community would strongly oppose such an attempt.

The authors go on to point out that this sort of change in monetary policy may be more likely in a fiat currency protocol.

“Undesirable changes in fiat currency protocols are very common and many times have led to the complete destruction of the value of the fiat currency at hand,” says the article. “It could be argued that, in some ways, the Bitcoin protocol is more robust than many of the existing fiat currency protocols. Only time will tell.”

Bitcoin Is the Most Apparent Application of Blockchain Technology

In addition to offering some basic information on the topic of cryptoassets, the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also provides a general outlook on the future of blockchain technology.

According to Berentsen and Schär, the most apparent application of this technology right now is the use of bitcoin as a new type of asset. The duo see cryptoassets, such as bitcoin, emerging as their own asset class and having the potential to develop into an interesting instrument for investment and diversification.

“Bitcoin itself could over time assume a similar role as gold,” says the article.

The paper also covers applications of blockchain technology in the areas of colored coins, smart contracts and data integrity. The Ethereum network is specifically pointed out as a leader in the area of smart contracts.

Risks of Blockchain Technology

The article from Berentsen and Schär also covers some of the risks associated with cryptoassets.

Minority splits from major cryptoasset networks, such as Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) and Ethereum Classic, are the first risk pointed out in the article, but the downsides of these sorts of spin-off assets are not discussed.

One could argue that these sorts of minority forks create uncertainty around the value of a particular cryptoasset, although this is also the case with the creation of new altcoins more generally.

The paper mentions excessive power consumption as another potential risk of blockchain technology, but Berentsen and Schär do not necessarily agree that proof-of-work mining is wasteful.

“There are those that criticize Bitcoin and assert that a centralized accounting system is more efficient because consensus can be attained without the allocation of massive amounts of computational power,” says the article. “From our perspective, however, the situation is not so clear-cut. Centralized payment systems are also expensive. Besides infrastructure and operating costs, one would have to calculate the explicit and implicit costs of a central bank. Salary costs should be counted among the explicit costs and the possibility of fraud in the currency monopoly among the implicit costs.”

In the past, “Mastering Bitcoin” author Andreas Antonopoulos has argued that the power consumed by Bitcoin miners is “used” rather than “wasted.”

The last risk associated with blockchain technology found in the article is bitcoin’s price volatility. Berentsen and Schär claim that a rigid, predetermined supply of bitcoin is not a desirable monetary policy in the sense that it will not lead to a stable currency.

“If a constant supply of money meets a fluctuating aggregate demand, the result is fluctuating prices,” explains the article. “In government-run fiat currency systems, the central bank aims to adjust the money supply in response to changes in aggregate demand for money in order to stabilize the price level. In particular, the Federal Reserve System has been explicitly founded ‘to provide an elastic currency’ to mitigate the price fluctuations that arise from changes in the aggregate demand for the U.S. dollar. Since such a mechanism is absent in the current Bitcoin protocol, it is very likely that the Bitcoin unit will display much higher short-term price fluctuations than many government-run fiat currency units.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 11:04 am

Credit Suisse Argues Irrational Exuberance Around ICOs Indicates Bitcoin Bubble

creditsuisse.jpg

In a paper written in the fall of 2017 and published on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) on Friday, January 12, 2018, Credit Suisse’s Dietmar Peetz and Gregory Mall argue that the boom in the initial coin offering (ICO) market is the clearest indicator of a bubble in bitcoin.

Zurich-based Credit Suisse is one of the 40 largest banks in the world with more than $800 billion in total assets, according to Standard & Poor.

According to Peetz and Mall, bitcoin should not be seen as a currency. Instead, the Credit Suisse duo places bitcoin into a new, distinct asset class.

The paper notes that bitcoin’s epic price run, which started in September 2015 and accelerated further in July 2017, is obviously not sustainable over the long term. However, it also adds, “There are arguments for a continuation of this trend for some time.”

The ICO Boom

ICOs were all the rage in 2017, and these new mixtures of seed investing and crowdfunding raised more than $5 billion throughout the year (according to Token Data).

The basic idea with an ICO is that a company or project will create a new token (usually via the ERC-20 standard on Ethereum), which will have some sort of utility on a platform that is either in development or already available.

Whether it makes sense to hold these sorts of digital tokens as investments or speculations is still up for debate.

“These [ICO tokens] often trade at penny-stock prices, experiencing dramatic price increases within hours and are often trading at very low liquidity,” says the paper from Peetz and Mall. “Most of these companies merely offer a so-called ‘white paper,’ basically a business plan that explains which product a company wants to develop in the future and how it wants to market it. Most of these promised projects are praised as having huge potential but are extremely uncertain to be actually developed.”

Having said this, the paper adds that “ICO companies” may continue to raise large sums of money over the short-to-medium term. As supporting evidence for this claim, Peetz and Mall point to the fact that the amounts raised from ICOs increased after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began to caution investors over the summer.

The paper also compares the irrational exuberance around ICOs to the dotcom bubble; however, Peetz and Mall note a key difference in that the dotcom boom at least had companies selling real goods and recording cash flows.

Questions remain as to whether there is any direct correlation between a token’s price and the level of success achieved by a platform connected to the token.

“Most investors acknowledge the bubble situation,” the paper continues. “However, they argue that central bank’s easy money will help the bubble mania to grow bigger and bigger, thus attracting even more investors (speculators) looking for easy profits. They remain bullish because of the Greater Fool Theory.”

Authorities May Prevent Bitcoin from Becoming a Currency

While some people use bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies simply because they have no other option available to them for a particular type of transaction, Peetz and Mall argue that bitcoin is not a transactional currency — mainly due to its inability to act as a reliable unit of account.

Although the paper indicates bitcoin volatility has declined from its peak from 2014 and could fall further through the financialization of the asset, Peetz and Mall also argue a currency cannot work as a clearing mechanism for payments if it cannot be accurately valued.

“The enormously high bitcoin price volatility makes it unsuitable for a reliable day-to-day exchange medium,” says the paper.

In addition to the lack of price stability and time-tested store of value properties in bitcoin, Peetz and Mall also point out a multitude of reasons as to why, in their view, widespread use of the intrinsically-deflationary asset would be detrimental to the overall economy. For this reason, the paper argues authorities may be emboldened to prevent bitcoin from becoming a currency.

“Based on historical precedents, it is not unthinkable that in times of economic or financial crisis, political and regulatory pressure on an unwanted currency would increase, possibly in a similar manner as in the U.S. in 1934, when the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 was ratified, nationalizing all gold and subsequently revaluing it by 69% in U.S. dollar terms,” says the paper.

Of course, Bitcoin was designed to be resistant to government coercion — a sort of BitTorrent for digital, free-market money.

The Bitcoin Bubble Could Continue

So what happens next? According to Peetz and Mall, the bitcoin bubble could continue for some time.

“We believe the most realistic scenario for bitcoin, based on the premise of the currency not being banned by major regulatory agencies, is that it will continue to rise in price in the short to medium term with increased institutional demand prior to the initial hype fading,” says the paper. “At that juncture, bitcoin’s monetization or return prospect realities will begin to set in and, if history is any guide, eventually dominate valuation.”

From Peetz and Mall’s perspectives, the financialization of bitcoin is a symptom of a bubble in money available for investment and the unavailability of productive, real-economy investments.

“Borrowing money for free and having easy access to capital and leverage (for big entities) is the fuel asset bubbles crave,” says the paper. “By aggressively mitigating the effects of the 2008 financial crisis via unparalleled global monetary debasement extending for nearly a decade, central banks have brought us today’s ‘bubbles everywhere’ investment landscape.”

In terms of specific events that could trigger an end to the bitcoin bubble, the paper mentions a crash in the equities market or a potential ban on the possession of bitcoin as two possible scenarios.


Further Reading: Op Ed: Bitcoin is not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:57 am

German Central Banker: Cryptocurrencies Must Be Regulated On a Global Scale

A director of Germany's central bank said at an event that cryptocurrencies must be regulated at a global scale, not just on a national level.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:45 am

Lithuania's Central Bank Unveils Blockchain Startup Sandbox

The central bank of Lithuania has launched a new regulatory "sandbox" for startups working with blockchain.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 9:45 am

Nationwide Insurance Rolls Out Proof of Insurance on the RiskBlock Blockchain

Insurance Block.jpg

The Institutes has announced a new blockchain framework called RiskBlock to provide more streamlined and secure proof of insurance. Nationwide Insurance is the first company to begin rolling out product on the platform.

RiskBlock is the first blockchain framework delivered from the newly formed RiskBlock Alliance and the first of its kind that is designed specifically for the risk management and insurance industry. The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance is an industry-led, insurance-focused consortium that developed the RiskBlock framework.

RiskBlock will provide insurers with real-time verification of insurance coverage; allow law enforcement to verify proof of insurance efficiently without relying on paper forms; provide insurers with a streamlined and cost-effective way to offer proof of insurance; and, in the near future, will allow insured clients to share trusted, third-party verified proof of insurance with a click on their mobile devices.

“The current way that drivers provide proof of insurance is cumbersome and uncertain,” said Christopher G. McDaniel, executive director of The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance in a statement. “Sharing proof of insurance through blockchain is key to streamlining the process of providing proof and marks the start of our efforts to revolutionize many other aspects of the insurance industry. Our collaboration with Nationwide is the first step toward a better overall system.”

The membership of the Alliance includes over 30 companies as members, ranging from the top 10 carriers to brokers and reinsurers. Nationwide Insurance is the first to use the platform in a pilot program to simplify real-time insurance coverage verification, eliminating paper insurance cards and providing a mobile app for real-time verification. ac

The coverage verification is an initial use case and the Alliance anticipates its members will be able to better serve policyholders and reduce costs by streamlining claim payments and premiums, reducing fraud through centralized recording of claims and improving acquisition of new policyholders by validating accuracy of customer data.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:42 am

Mississippi Doctors Sued Mt. Gox for Bitcoin Loss Now Worth $133 Million

Two former users of the defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox have brought a lawsuit against the company over the loss of 9,500 bitcoins.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:15 am

Making Voting, Elections Both Secure and Accessible with Blockchain Technology

voatz.jpg

Voatz, a startup based in Boston, MA, promises to dispel some of the biggest challenges associated with voting: access, security, transparency and efficiency. The company plans to achieve this goal by combining internet-based voting with blockchain technology.

What is Voatz?

Voatz enables voters to make their voices heard conveniently by allowing mobile voting via any smartphone or tablet connected to the internet. The platform integrates blockchain technology and cutting-edge security to maintain the integrity of the electoral process.

“Voatz tackles two of the core challenges in voting –– low participation in local elections and the need for better citizen engagement. Its mobile-first solution is poised to be a category leader, democratizing voting across government, corporate, academic, and union elections," explained Julie Lein, managing partner of the Urban Innovation Fund.

Accessibility and Security via Blockchain Technology

Unlike current voting systems, Voatz can ensure tamper-proof record keeping, identity verification and proper auditing by incorporating a secure, immutable blockchain. Therefore, citizens on the Voatz platform will have virtual certainty of the accuracy of their internet-based voting results.

Alongside concerns over voter fraud and security, conversations around voter accessibility are focusing attention on underrepresented citizens who often lack proper forms of voter ID, such as the poor or the elderly, and those who live in remote areas with limited access to proper infrastructure services.

Voatz co-founder and CEO Nimit Sawhney told Bitcoin Magazine that Voatz is working to connect disenfranchised citizens so that the platform plans to remain accessible to all, regardless of geography or socioeconomic status.

“Aside from major government-issued IDs such as driver’s licenses, state IDs or passports, Voatz has experience using the ten different kinds of official documents for the purposes of verifying a voter’s identity.”

Sawhney noted that Voatz has started testing its secured tablet ballot stations in hospitals and elder-care centers. He explained that the Voatz platform also removes friction in the registration process, especially in states where “motor voter” (the National Voter Registration Act) is available.

The Effect of Voting Technology on Disenfranchised Citizens

Sawhney explained that the Voatz platform is designed to make it easier for disenfranchised voters to participate. The platform is flexible and meant to simplify current barriers to voting.

“Voters who are willing to go through the initial security/vetting process can use their own devices. If a voter doesn’t have a compatible device, he or she can use certain shared devices such as the Voatz Tablet Ballot Station to vote in person after going through a security verification process.”

In the case of public elections, Sawhney notes that traditional voting methods will remain available as well, and that Voatz is just another, more convenient option.

The Future of Voatz and Democracy

Voatz technology has been incorporated in pilot programs by more than 70,000 voters in elections and voting-related events in multiple jurisdictions. State political parties, leading universities, labor unions and nonprofits have successfully used the Voatz platform. Voatz is also in the process of deploying its technology for town-meeting voting in Massachusetts.

The Voatz team recently completed the 2017 Techstars and MassChallenge startup accelerator programs in Boston. For their cutting-edge system, the team has been awarded the 2017 Harvard SECON Prize, the 2017 MassChallenge Gold Award and the 2016 MIT Startup Spotlight Favorite Prize.

On Monday, Voatz announced a $2.2 million seed funding round led by Overstock.com’s subsidiary, Medici Ventures. Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures, shared his enthusiasm for the project, and vision for the future of democracy:

“The Voatz team has developed a leading solution to usher in an era of greater efficiency and transparency in voting. Democracy will benefit greatly from critical improvements [that] blockchain technology can bring to voting systems.”

The Voatz platform is currently invite-only and will be accessible to a wider audience in the coming weeks.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 11 January 2018 | 10:02 am

Telegram’s Privacy-Focused User Base Could Become TON Blockchain’s Killer App

Telegram ton

In December 2017, an interesting rumor surfaced: According to “sources familiar with the matter,” the messaging app Telegram, very popular among crypto-enthusiasts for its strong encryption and privacy features, would launch its own blockchain platform and cryptocurrency.

On January 8, 2018, TechCrunch reported that several unnamed sources had confirmed the news and quoted a secret Telegram white paper. According to TechCrunch, “the potential for a cryptocurrency inside a widely adopted messaging app is enormous.”

Of course, a leaked executive summary of the white paper is now available. The document has been shared by Cryptovest, and its authenticity has been independently confirmed by TNW. The 23-page executive summary often refers to an unreleased technical white paper which, according to TechCrunch, has 132 pages.

“This paper outlines a vision for a new cryptocurrency and an ecosystem capable of meeting the

needs of hundreds of millions of consumers, including 200 million Telegram users,” reads the white paper. “Launching in 2018, this cryptocurrency will be based on a multi-blockchain proof-of-stake system — TON (Telegram Open Network, after 2021 The Open Network) — designed to host a new generation of cryptocurrencies and decentralized applications.”

Scaling and Adoption

According to Telegram, while cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based technologies have the potential to make the world more secure and self-governed, no consensus-backed currency has been able to appeal to the mass market and reach mainstream adoption. Despite the utility of Bitcoin and Ethereum, “there is no current standard cryptocurrency used for the regular exchange of value in the daily lives of ordinary people.” This is what the TON project wants to change. According to Telegram, the world needs an electronic “decentralized counterpart to everyday money — a truly mass-market cryptocurrency.”

Scaling transaction throughput to the tens of thousands of transactions per second supported by major credit card networks such as Visa and Mastercard is an important requirement for a mass-market cryptocurrency. While Bitcoin and Ethereum developers are working toward achieving higher throughput, the Telegram white paper notes that Bitcoin and Ethereum are currently limited to a maximum of only seven transactions per second for Bitcoin and 15 transactions per second for Ethereum, resulting in insufficient speeds and higher transaction costs. The white paper does not seem to take second-layer protocols into account, however.

Existing cryptocurrencies face other roadblocks as well, according to Telegram. For example, they are still too complicated for average merchants and consumers, the demand for crypto-assets comes mainly from investors rather than consumers, and there’s no critical mass for the ecosystem to grow and “eventually become adopted by hundreds of millions of users.”

“Telegram will use its expertise in encrypted distributed data storage to create TON, a fast and

inherently scalable multi-blockchain architecture,” states the white paper. “TON can be regarded as a decentralized supercomputer and value transfer system. By combining minimum transaction time with maximum security, TON can become a VISA/Mastercard alternative for the new decentralized economy.”

The Tech Specs

The TON blockchain will consist of a master chain and (eventually) a huge number (2**92) of accompanying blockchains (shards) that can dynamically split and merge to accommodate changes in load and achieve optimal throughput. TON will use a proof-of-stake approach based on a variant of the Byzantine Fault Tolerant protocol and instant hypercube routing to partition the workload among shards. Network protocols for storage, TOR-like privacy and micropayments will be released after the TON blockchain core.

Of course, TON will be fully integrated in the Telegram messaging network. According to the white paper, this will permit leveraging Telegram’s massive user base and developed ecosystem to provide a clear path to cryptocurrencies for millions of people, with light wallets implemented in Telegram applications. The white paper notes that 84 percent of blockchain-based projects have an active Telegram community, more than all other chat applications combined, which makes Telegram the “cryptocurrency world’s preferred messaging app.”

According to the roadmap in the white paper, a Minimal Viable Test Network for TON will be launched in Q2 2018. Then, after a testing phase and a security audit, a stable version of TON and a Telegram wallet will be deployed in Q4 2018.

Funding with Grams

The TON coins will be called Grams. To fund TON, Telegram will launch a token sale in Q1 2018. Initially, 44 percent of the total supply (2.2 billion) of Grams will be sold at a price that will start at $0.10 per Gram and gradually increase, with each Gram priced one billionth higher than the previous one, reaching $1 per Gram once 2.2 billion tokens have been sold. Based on these projections, it seems that Telegram’s token sale could easily become the biggest in history.

Of the total supply of Grams, 52 percent will be retained by the TON Reserve “to protect the nascent cryptocurrency from speculative trading and to maintain flexibility at the early stages of the evolution of the system,” and the remaining 4 percent will be reserved for the development team.

According to current plans, the token sale will use a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT), to be converted 1:1 to native TON Grams after the deployment of the TON Blockchain.

Telegram wants to serve as a launch pad for TON, but it plans eventually to transfer ownership and governance of the TON system to a non-profit TON Foundation. “By 2021, the initial TON vision and architecture will have been implemented and deployed,” states the white paper. “TON will then let go of the ‘Telegram’ element in its name and become ‘The Open Network.’ From then on, the continuous evolution of the TON Blockchain will be maintained by the TON Foundation.”

The TON Killer App: A Privacy-Focused User Base

TON’s killer app is Telegram’s ability to leverage the enthusiasm of millions of cryptocurrency fans among the app’s 200 million users. At the same time, however, it’s worth noting that the greater population doesn’t really care much about encryption or cryptocurrencies. Many other messaging apps, such as Facebook’s Messenger and Whatsapp, are much more popular than Telegram.

Telegram is independent, self-funded and privacy-focused. The popularity of Telegram among cryptocurrency enthusiasts can be explained by the fact that the messaging app was founded “by libertarians to preserve freedom through encryption.” These features make it more attractive than other platforms, like Messenger or Whatsapp, to users who feel strongly about privacy protection.

It’s then interesting to speculate about possible moves of Facebook toward developing a cryptocurrency integrated with its social network and messaging platform.

In a recent post, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg notes that, contrary to the once widespread belief that technology could be a decentralizing force that puts more power in people's hands, it now appears that technology’s net effect is that of centralizing power in the hands of large corporations and governments.

“There are important counter-trends to this — like encryption and cryptocurrency — that take power from centralized systems and put it back into people's hands,” says Zuckerberg. “But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I'm interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies and how best to use them in our services.”

In as speech by FBI Director Christopher Wray on January 9, 2018, to the International Conference on Cyber Security, he highlighted his concerns over encryption, pointing out that last year, 7,800 devices were rendered inaccessible to law enforcement.

“This problem impacts our investigations across the board — human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation and cyber,” he stated.

He called on the private sector to find ways that would allow them to “respond to lawfully issued court orders, in a way that is consistent with both the rule of law and strong cybersecurity.” It is these sorts of access measures that Zuckerberg will probably be considering.

While it doesn’t seem plausible that Facebook could become a staunch champion of privacy like Telegram, it will definitely be interesting to watch Facebook’s moves in the cryptocurrency space.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 10 January 2018 | 11:08 am

How a Hackathon Birthed the CryptoKitties Origin Story

cryptokitty.jpg

CryptoKitties,” the most popular game ever released on the Ethereum blockchain to date, became an instant success in December of 2017. About 180,000 people have already signed up for CryptoKitties since the cute creatures were introduced to the world just a few months ago. Over $20 million in ether has already been spent, and at least 10 kitties have sold for more than $100,000.

Yet while the impressive numbers behind this crypto-phenomenon clearly demonstrate its success, most people remain unaware of how and why CryptoKitties came into being in the first place.

Hackathons Breeding Blockchain Innovations

The birth of CryptoKitties (Alpha) happened during the ETHWaterloo hackathon, the world’s largest Ethereum hackathon, which took place in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, back in October 2017. The project to bring cats to the Ethereum blockchain had a surprise alpha launch during the 36-hour Ethereum-based hackathon, which attracted hundreds of developers, mentors and sponsors from across the globe.

The CryptoKitties team came to the ETHWaterloo hackathon prepared, wearing rainbow-colored cat T-shirts, along with cat-balloons marked as the “CryptoKitties Team.” The four-person team also handed out customized Pokemon business cards and stickers featuring a link to their website. The alpha launch during the hackathon featured different breeding challenges that demonstrated how CryptoKitties could produce offspring. Winners of these challenges were rewarded with ether.

According to ETHWaterloo’s organizer, Liam Horne, the CryptoKitties team joined the hackathon with a new and innovative idea for the Ethereum blockchain, along with a truly creative marketing strategy.

“The four-person CryptoKitties team was building an entirely new technology on the Ethereum blockchain, but also had the business skills to get the word out,” Horne told Bitcoin Magazine. “For instance, each ETHWaterloo participant was gifted two CryptoKitties. A total of 50 CryptoKitties were given away at the start of the event. From there, users were able to trade and breed hundreds of cute, collectible, digital cats. By the end of the hackathon, hackers, cryptocurrency enthusiasts and other curious users had bred over 1,500 CryptoKitties in just 36 hours.”

At the end of the event, the CryptoKitties team was chosen as one of the 8 winners, which opened up several new opportunities, including the chance to meet with some VC firms. Their win also marked the start of a surge of media exposure that expanded to several mainstream media outlets.

Hackathons Spark Creativity

The idea may have once sounded crazy, but it turns out that putting kitties on the blockchain has become all the rage. Yet none of this would have been possible without the support of the ETHWaterloo hackathon.

“People usually perceive hackathons as being competitions,” said Horne, who has been organizing hackathons since his university days. “The ETHWaterloo hackathon, however, was not about this. We framed this as an event where programmers fascinated by Ethereum could be in the same room for 36 hours. The purpose of this was to experiment and have fun with Ethereum-based blockchain technology.”

He said that the CryptoKitties team was given advice from mentors, feedback from sponsors and a chance to test out their ideas with other programmers who understood the value of having digital cats on the Ethereum platform.

This in mind, Horne believes that hackathons are crucial for sparking new innovations in blockchain technology. The next Ethereum hackathon is set to take place in Denver next month. This event will be supported by Horne’s new initiative called ETHGlobal, which will help hackathon organizers around the world launch their own ETHWaterloo-style hackathons.

“Hackathons are simply a place for great minds to come together for a short period of time with the explicit goal of producing something practical and tangible using some kind of technology. It is astonishing how much can be done when you get the right group of people together for a weekend to just have fun and build something they find interesting,” said Horne.

“I have seen prototypes be built that have later turned into profitable businesses; projects that were dreamed of, built, launched and used by hundreds of people in the span of 36 hours at hackathons like ETHWaterloo.

“The most valuable component, however, is what happens after the hackathon ends. Every now and then a team of hackers will keep working together on their hack and the event will act as a catalyst for a project that could become quite meaningful and interesting to the world, and to investors.”

Ultimately, hackathons allow hackers to work together with other people who are interested in the same technology, providing an additional set of ears, eyes and more ideas. In particular, hackathons in emerging tech fields — such as blockchain technology — allow hackers to come up with fresh projects that could eventually turn into something much larger down the road, like CryptoKitties. And with over 500,000 people listed as interested in attending Ethereum Meetups worldwide, blockchain-based hackathons are bound to breed many more unique and clever innovations in the future.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 9 January 2018 | 11:46 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 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

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

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

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

January 16, 2018 -
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