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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 23 February 2018 | 8:37 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Faces Pivotal Support as Bulls Exhaust Buying Pressure

Bitcoin Price Analysis

After seeing a rally to the $11,000s, bitcoin has managed to pull back to the $9,000 range and has left many bullish investors confused. The initial bullish rally seemed promising as it broke the macro, descending channel that governed much of the market over the last two months:

Figure_1.jpgFigure 1: BTC-USD, 6-Hour Candles, Descending Channel

The breakout of the descending channel (red dotted channel) gave hope to many bullish investors as it seemingly signaled the end of the downtrend and perhaps the beginning of a sustained bullish reversal. The volume was increasing and the price was pushing full steam ahead. However, after a few days of strong bullish movement, the price took a sharp turn downward and broke the governing channel that outlined the bullish rally from the $6,000s:

Figure_2_30mins.jpgFigure 2: BTC-USD, 30-Min. Candles, Bullish Channel

As noted in the previous BTC-USD market analysis, there was a possible distribution trading range (TR) under way, and I mentioned that a breakout above the TR was likely. However, if the market managed to break out and return back inside the TR, that would possibly mark the beginning of a sustained move downward:

Figure_3.jpgFigure 3: BTC-USD, 30-Min Candles, Distribution TR

Yesterday, the market saw a strong push below the TR, where it managed to find a bottom around the $9,600 range. After finding a local bottom, the market returned to the TR from the bottom side and was ultimately rejected from the TR, marking a possible last point of supply (LPSY) for the TR. Currently, the market is hovering just below the TR and is on the tipping point of breaking strong support. If we manage to break the strong support around the 38% retracement values (shown in Figure 3), I expect to see widespread capitulation that will lead to a return to the bearish channel shown in Figure 1. It is entirely possible that we could see a return to the TR once more, so I’m not ruling out the possibility of a short-term bullish rally.  However, I have very little hope at the moment for a resumption of the macro uptrend.

If we manage to push new lows, I expect to find support in the low $9,000s as this marked the breakout of the current, failed rally. From there we will have to reassess the market conditions, but for now, I have very little confidence in a bullish continuation.

Summary:

  1. After a strong uptrend, and after a breakout of the bearish descending channel, the market saw a strong pullback.
  2. The strong pullback marks a potential distribution trading range on the 30-minute candles.
  3. New lows may be in store for bitcoin as it decides whether the bulls are too exhausted to keep the buying pressure aloft.

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 23 February 2018 | 5:26 pm

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


Forbes

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 4:46 pm

Secretive Chinese bitcoin mining company may have made as much ... - CNBC


CNBC

Secretive Chinese bitcoin mining company may have made as much ...
CNBC
Bitmain likely took in the same operating profits as chipmaker Nvidia did last year, Bernstein analysts estimate.

and more »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:24 pm

Video Game Giant Ubisoft Is Exploring Blockchain Use Cases

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:00 pm

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Bitcoin and blockchain consume an exorbitant amount of energy. These engineers are trying to change that - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin and blockchain consume an exorbitant amount of energy. These engineers are trying to change that
CNBC
If blockchain technology is going to revolutionize how we transact with each other, computer scientists need to solve one big problem: It can consume way too much energy. The original blockchain, which underlies bitcoin, runs on an algorithm that could ...

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Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:45 pm

New York Lawmakers Are Open to Revisiting the BitLicense

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:00 pm

Elon Musk Just Revealed the Surprising Amount of Bitcoin He Owns - Money Magazine


Money Magazine

Elon Musk Just Revealed the Surprising Amount of Bitcoin He Owns
Money Magazine
Entrepreneur and engineer Elon Musk — man whose name is synonymous with boundary-pushing companies like Tesla and SpaceX — just revealed how much Bitcoin he owns. And it's not a lot. “I literally own zero cryptocurrency, apart from .25 BTC that a ...
Here's How Much Bitcoin Elon Musk OwnsFortune
Elon Musk just revealed how much bitcoin he owns—and it's surprisingly littleCNBC
Tesla Billionaire Elon Musk Reveals How Much Bitcoin He OwnsInvestopedia (blog)
BGR -SlashGear
all 6 news articles »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 1:36 pm

Austria Planning New Regulations for Cryptocurrency, ICOs

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 12:00 pm

Bringing Renewable Energy to the World Using Blockchain Technology

Bringing Renewable Energy to the World Using Blockchain Technology

Modern energy services are vital to human well-being and to a country’s economic development, yet according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), globally 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. It’s thought that around 95 percent of these people are in either sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, with 80 percent in rural areas.

Ethereum-based platform ImpactPPA is attempting to turn on the lights using the power of the blockchain.

Selected as one of the top three most promising ICOs at this year’s North American Bitcoin Conference, ImpactPPA aims to disrupt renewable energy to finance and accelerate global clean energy production by decentralizing and tokenizing energy generation through power purchase agreements (PPAs). To achieve this, the platform is using blockchain technology, smart contracts and its energy protocol, the SmartPPA.

The project white paper describes how, right now, energy financing and distribution is bottlenecked by large, centralized NGOs and government agencies that have established an unwieldy financing system that can take years from proposal to product implementation.

The SmartPPA is the lynchpin of the new system and permits anyone, anywhere, to create a proposal for a project of any size. Even though ImpactPPA will allow users worldwide to access clean energy on a mobile device, the platform is primarily focusing on the emerging economies in the world.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, ImpactPPA CEO Dan Bates explained that the current funding process with centralized NGOs is “too cumbersome and costly for many developing nations,” leaving many countries and their populations with limited access to power.

“ImpactPPA’s use of the blockchain and the crowd dramatically changes this paradigm, tapping into the vast potential of the socially minded impact investor and concerned citizen, looking to benefit the well-being of others while mitigating climate change,” he said.

As a company that has already been working in the traditional renewable energy (wind and solar) space for over 10 years, with projects on the ground in 35 countries, ImpactPPA’s platform is now ready to deploy with the blockchain component.

According to Bates, the team has more than 200 megawatts in discussion for PPAs around the world that they expect to begin executing within the next six months. Through its pay-as-you-go model for power, ImpactPPA is providing the most remote and underserved populations the chance to rapidly fund and deploy clean energy solutions that improve their quality of life, giving users the chance to purchase and consume energy on an as-needed basis.

“There is great need for our solutions in rural Africa as well as island nations like Puerto Rico and Haiti, which have been affected by hurricanes, just to name a few examples,” said Bates. “But as a company, we are interested in working everywhere and anywhere there is a need for power.”

ImpactPPA is currently working with the Haitian government and local partners to provide power to 42 of their coastal communities that have been left without power since Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The platform is planning on working with NGOs in the future too.

Delivering this energy to smart meters that are connected to the blockchain allows for government, utility companies, businesses or individuals to decentralize the flow of power while using the best of the blockchain to ensure trust and security of the power generated and transmitted, Bates explained.

Built on the Ethereum platform, ImpactPPA will sell its asset-based MPAQ token to enable projects, typically microgrids, to be quickly deployed.

“MPAQ token holders will be able to review and vote on proposed projects for funding by the company, giving the token-holding community a voice in the conversation about which projects should be funded,” Bates said.

ImpactPPA expects to begin its MPAQ token sale on April 22, 2018, coinciding with Earth Day, for funding projects currently in the pipeline.

It will also sell a GEN Credit to be used by consumers of the electricity generated by the renewable energy systems. It is priced in kWh and is determined by the PPA that it is attached to. Bates added that 30 percent of all net profits from implemented PPAs will be credited toward the platform’s GEN Pool. On a quarterly basis, and as long as the GEN Pool has a value of at least $100,000, ImpactPPA will use the accumulated GEN Pool to repurchase MPAQ tokens.

“It is this GEN Credit that will be exchanged by end users, buyers or proxies for the energy created by the renewable energy systems delivered to fulfill the SmartPPAs,” said Bates. “It is used to insure delivery of energy, manage storage devices, create interconnected data networks, and enable new economic models for the millions upon millions of people who will be positively impacted by the access to power.”

For Bates, the platform will deliver positive social impact in any form.

Energy begets an improved quality of life, education and self-empowerment, but energy is just the beginning for ImpactPPA.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 11:29 am

Jeffrey Gundlach says if you want to know where stocks are going next, watch bitcoin - CNBC


Barron's

Jeffrey Gundlach says if you want to know where stocks are going next, watch bitcoin
CNBC
Want to know where stocks are going next? Jeffrey Gundlach says take a look at bitcoin. "Strangely, bitcoin seems to be the poster child for social mood and market mood," Gundlach, founder of DoubleLine Capital, told CNBC's "Halftime Report" on Friday ...
Bond King: Follow Bitcoin for Stock DirectionBarron's
Gundlach says bitcoin is 'poster child' for stock market's moodMarketWatch

all 10 news articles »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 10:44 am

Nokia Launches Blockchain-Powered IoT Sensing as a Service for Smart Cities

Nokia Launches Blockchain-Powered IoT Sensing as a Service for Smart Cities

Nokia is launching a set of services, based on Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and blockchain technologies, for economically and environmentally sustainable “smart cities.”

In the emerging IoT, billions of connected devices and sensors will generate vast amounts of data. Smart cities will need to retrieve, process, interpret and act upon real-time environmental data in a timely manner to ensure they remain sustainable environments for their citizens. To enable efficient IoT ecosystems for smart cities, it’s important to create new data monetization opportunities for IoT sensor network operators able to provide smart city authorities with real-time processed and analyzed environmental data.

"Cities need to become digital in order to efficiently deliver services to their habitants,” said Asad Rizvi, head of Global Services business development at Nokia. “Smart infrastructure, which is shared, secure, and scalable, is needed to ensure urban assets and data are efficiently used. We can help cities with that. In addition, we can help operators generate new revenue utilizing their existing network by providing solutions for smart city players, such as city, transport, travel and public safety authorities."

Nokia’s Sensing as a Service (S2aaS) provides intelligent analytics on environmental data gathered from IoT-connected sensors, which operators can sell to cities and other authorities. Nokia envisions IoT-based, real-time monitoring systems able to provide timely environmental information for smart city management. For example, S2aaS will detect unusual environmental behavior like illegal construction, trash burning or unusual particles in the air.

NetworkWorld notes that the idea behind the product is to provide a way for mobile network operators (MNOs), many of which use Nokia cell site equipment, to monetize existing infrastructure, such as towers, by selling live environmental sensor data to cities and others.

Nokia’s S2aaS is powered by a blockchain with a built-in micropayment platform, which supports smart contracts for “anonymized, private and secure micro-transactions that allow operators to monetize analyzed data and generate new revenue streams.”

“Our complete micropayment platform can help you quickly generate new revenue from your data,” reads a Nokia solution paper. “Based on blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that is taking finance, healthcare, and a range of other industries by storm, our platform allows you to easily integrate third parties into your data market — expanding your customer base and service offerings. And as every transaction is verified against other peers in the blockchain network, you can be sure that your platform is secure.”

Independent operators will have the option of a traditional CapEx (Capital Expenditure) business model, or a revenue sharing service model. Nokia stated that it will work with clients to identify optimal business models for their specific use cases.

Nokia will manage all hardware installation, equipping existing network sites with new environmental sensors and edge gateways. S2aaS will include a complete platform for collecting and processing sensor data hosted in Microsoft Azure, AWS, or Nokia’s private cloud, using a choice of Amazon IoT, and Microsoft IoT, or Nokia’s own AVA cognitive services platform. According to the company,  AVA “integrates cloud-based delivery, intelligent analytics and extreme automation to deliver instant and flawless personalized services.”

Nokia will present S2aaS and related services at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, held from February 26 to March 1, 2018.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 9:58 am

Georgia Becomes Latest State to Consider Bitcoin for Tax Payments - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Georgia Becomes Latest State to Consider Bitcoin for Tax Payments
CoinDesk
Two state senators in Georgia have proposed a bill that would allow citizens to pay their tax obligations in bitcoin, marking the second legislative effort of its kind to emerge this year. Public records show that the measure submitted on Feb. 21 by ...

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 8:50 am

Georgia Becomes Latest State to Consider Bitcoin for Tax Payments

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 8:45 am

Menendez Hints At US Action on Venezuela's Controversial Crypto

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 8:05 am

Nano Goes Giga in Down Week for Crypto Prices

The majority of the top 25 cryptocurrencies are reporting losses on a weekly basis, but the nano token has bucked the trend.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 7:00 am

High Stakes: Ethereum's Fight Over Lost Funds Explained

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 6:30 am

Telecoms Blockchain Group Touts Demo Success, New Members

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Bank of China Moves to Patent Blockchain Scaling Solution

Bank of China has filed a patent application for a process it says is better able to scale blockchain systems.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 5:00 am

Bitcoin Is Back Over $10K, But Rally Looks Weak - CoinDesk - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Is Back Over $10K, But Rally Looks Weak - CoinDesk
CoinDesk
Bitcoin is witnessing a minor corrective rally Friday, but the bulls may have a tough time regaining control, the technical charts suggest. CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) fell to $9,592.96 at 01:59 UTC - the lowest level for one week. As of ...

and more »

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:58 am

Bitcoin Is Back Over $10K, But Rally Looks Weak

Bitcoin is witnessing a minor corrective rally today, but longer-term gains may be elusive, according to price chart analysis.

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:45 am

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

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 3:21 am

Why Venezuela Should Worry About a National Crypto

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 2:00 am

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

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

Posted on 23 February 2018 | 12:00 am

Turkish Lawmaker Proposes National Cryptocurrency

Politicians in Turkey are reportedly eyeing on launching the country's proprietary cryptocurrency. 

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 8:20 pm

Bitcoin Fees Drop: Why It Happened And What It Means

Not so long ago bitcoin's transaction fees were over $20, but now they're down to around $3 again. CoinDesk explores why.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 6:30 pm

French Regulator Says No to Online Crypto Derivatives Ads

France's market regulator says crypto derivatives fall under MiFID II regulation and that they should not be electronically marketed.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 4:10 pm

Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

Tezos Foundation Reorganizes, Gevers Steps Down

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

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

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

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

Infighting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawsuits

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:53 pm

Venezuela's President Orders Companies to Accept Petro

Venezuela officially has its own cryptocurrency – and its president wants some of the country's state-owned businesses to use it.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 2:45 pm

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

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

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

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

Crisis-Catalyzed Currency

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

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

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

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

Power to Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017: A Year of Contradiction

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

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

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

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

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

“Defaulted-Promise” Coins

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 10:21 am

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

Government of Spain Considers Blockchain-Friendly Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 February 2018 | 9:38 am

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

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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

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

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Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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February 23, 2018 -
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