Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

Forget oil, Russia goes crazy for cryptocurrency

 

MOSCOW (AFP) – Standing in a warehouse in a Moscow suburb, Dmitry Marinichev tries to speak over the deafening hum of hundreds of computers stacked on shelves hard at work mining for crypto money.

"The form of currency we are used to is about to disappear," predicts the 42-year-old entrepreneur, who also works as President Vladimir Putin's adviser on internet matters.

Marinichev is one of Russia's leading crypto-businessmen at the helm of operations in this facility larger than a football pitch located in a former Soviet-era car factory, which collects virtual money on the accounts of its clients.

Individuals, or firms like Marinichev's, provide the computing power to run the so-called blockchain which records the world's virtual money transactions. In return for providing that service they receive virtual money, of which bitcoin is the most popular, as payment – a process bitcoiners call "mining".

Mining farms like this represent a growing craze in Russia for bitcoin and other virtual currencies not backed by governments or central banks that are increasingly used for goods and services on the internet.

The hunt for virtual currencies is accessible "to anyone who may be hardly familiar with computer science," Marinichev said. "It's no more complicated than buying a cellphone and connecting to a mobile network." The practice has become so popular in Russia that computer stores in the country have run out of graphic and video cards developed for gamers but are used by bitcoin miners to boost the processing power of their home computers.

Marinichev this week unveiled a more sophisticated setup, inviting investors to pitch in US$100 million to join a mining club and develop a Russian mining chip called Multiclet through his startup.

"The explosion of virtual currency value has made mining profitable enough to make it a professional activity," said Sergei, a 29-year-old computer scientist who runs half a dozen graphics cards plugged into the electrical grid of the company where he works.

He launched his mining operation in March, when the value of bitcoin and its main competitor ethereum, created by Russian-Canadian Vitalik Buterin, reached record heights on the currency's exchange.

Since the beginning of 2017, bitcoin has quadrupled in value, surpassing US$4,000 at the weekend, while ethereum experienced a rise of 4,500 per cent to hit a record of US$374 in June, later falling to US$268 in August.

While the assembly of a mining operation is easy enough, it consumes a large amount of electricity, which can reach the equivalent of several households' needs.

"All my friends who were interested in Bitcoin or ethereum built their devices and plugged them into their corporate networks, and I did the same," Sergei said. "Others cut into the municipal electrical cables."

Russia has a competitive advantage as an environment for mining, as Marinichev points out in a brochure for prospective investors: electricity here costs just 1.3 US cents per kilowatt hour while long winters save money on cooling systems.

Authorities in Russia were long suspicious of virtual money but have now come to recognise it as a force. A new bill is set to be debated this autumn which aims to regulate the possession and creation of crypto currency in the country.

The legal foundation for virtual money has so far been non-existent in Russia and it is associated with illicit activities like hacking and used to purchase drugs on the dark web.

"There is now an understanding at the highest level in the country that virtual currencies are not an absolute evil but a possible good, especially for the economy," said Marinichev.

Putin in early June even held a meeting at an economic forum with Buterin, the 23-year-old creator of ethereum, who lobbied the Russian president to expand the currency's use in Russia.

Last year, Russia's largest banks tested the platform for some of their transactions. The country's central bank even pondered development of a "national virtual currency".

Though at all-time-high in August at US$116 billion, the global cryptocurrency market is still quite young, volatile and prone to speculation.

Bitcoin, for example, lost almost a third of its value between mid-June and mid-July, before gaining it back over the course of a week. Since then, it has been regularly breaking records.

"The rush to virtual money is not a fad or a fleeting phenomenon. The virtualisation of our lives is a market process that has gone on and will continue," Marinichev said.

In a sign of the times, several cafes and restaurants in Moscow this summer began to accept payments in virtual currencies.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Source: The Straits Times

David

Bitcoin Price in Tulip Bubble, Claims BBC Tech Correspondent

Bitcoin Price in Tulip Bubble, Claims BBC Tech Correspondent

Bitcoin Price in Tulip Bubble, Claims BBC Tech Correspondent

The bitcoin price has set numerous records in 2017, prompting a wave of critics to forecast that “The bubble will burst!”.

On August 14, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones became the latest in a long line of mainstream financial analysts and reporters to compare the rise of bitcoin to 17th-century Dutch Tulipmania. As he stated on Twitter:

“Yes, tulip bulbs are now selling for $4000 and we were told that was a bubble when they hit $100..

10:07 AM – Aug 14, 2017”
 

The Tulip Bubble

The tulip bubble, which took place from 1634-1637, was sparked when a non-fatal virus infiltrated the Dutch tulip crop. This virus resulted in a variety of beautiful petal patterns, and tulips–which were already rare in Holland–grew in value according to the scarcity of their patterns.

Demand exceeded supply, causing prices to skyrocket and speculators to begin buying tulip bulbs as investments. Tulipmania became so pervasive that people even traded their homes and life savings for tulip bulbs. At one point, tulip prices increased twenty-fold in a single month.

Eventually, early investors began selling their tulips to secure their profits, creating a chain reaction of decreasing tulip prices as people rushed to sell before the price went down further. Soon, people began to panic sell, causing the price to crash and the Dutch economy to sink into a depression.

 

Is Bitcoin a Digital Tulip Bulb?

Tulipmania is the quintessential example of a price bubble, and cryptocurrency critics have lobbed this analogy at bitcoin for years. Whenever the bitcoin price breaks through a new barrier, they rush to explain to mainstream news outlets that the bubble is going to burst, killing bitcoin once and for all.

The implication behind this analogy is that, like 17th-century Dutch tulip bulbs, bitcoin has little or no inherent value and derives its price entirely from speculation. It is true that bitcoin, like any asset, has experienced price bubbles in the past and will continue to see them in the future. It is also true that some people invest in bitcoin on speculation alone, without understanding or believing in the potential of its underlying technology.

But where the tulip bulb comparison diverges from reality is that bitcoin has recovered from multiple market corrections, despite naysayers’ predictions to the contrary. Moreover, what critics disingenuously refuse to admit is that cryptocurrency has a myriad of use cases, and more are being developed every day. Tulip bulbs have a limited, well-defined use case, and that use case did not justify its rapid (and localized) price increase. Bitcoin adoption, on the contrary, is a global phenomenon fueled by a truly revolutionary technology.
 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

DAvid Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrpreneur

 

Author: Josiah Wilmoth

David

What Would Happen if Cryptocurrency Became More Popular Than Cash

What Would Happen if Cryptocurrency Became More Popular Than Cash

What Would Happen if Cryptocurrency Became More Popular Than Cash?

t's not outlandish to think that our current financial system will soon be replaced by cryptocurrency, and the shift will bring about some big changes to the global economy.

THE FLIPPENING

For a time, Bitcoin seemed unassailable in its dominance of the cryptocurrency market, being the first digital currency to really take root and establish itself in the mainstream. Since then, a host of worthy competitors have emerged, and there’s a real possibility that the balance of power could flip.

Many who have been regularly following developments in the cryptocurrency market refer to the tipping point where one digital currency supersedes another as “the flippening” We almost saw this occur in May 2017, when Ethereum’s market cap approached Bitcoin’s amid a surge in popularity.

When individuals have significant amounts of money invested in one cryptocurrency over another, it’s no surprise that tensions run high when they go head to head. However, these squabbles over which coin is best might be distracting us from a more pressing issue.

Some observers would argue that the true flippening isn’t a case of competition between two different forms of cryptocurrency at all. The sea of change yet to come could have more far reaching consequences, if and when digital currency as a whole becomes more popular than conventional fiat currency.

NEW MONEY

There would be some major advantages to an all-cryptocurrency future: its value can’t be manipulated as easy as fiat currency, and it lends itself to the concept of universal basic income. In fact, several different programs, such as uCoin and Cicada, are already using cryptocurrency to distribute UBI.

In a future where our transactions with shops and services are likely to be handled by automated systems, cryptocurrency removes many of the intermediaries that would take their own cut. There are many benefits for the individual, but the flippening stands to pose some major challenges for the global economy in its current form.

Should cryptocurrency manage to jump ahead of fiat money in terms of usage, cash won’t be able to close the gap. That’s the trick to the flippening — once changeover takes place, the losing party loses value and can’t do anything about it.

If everyone begins using cryptocurrency, infrastructure would need to be developed with that in mind. It might not take too long for cash to become incompatible. At this point, it remains to be seen whether established financial institutions could pivot to that new status quo in time.

At the highest level, governments will be hit hard, as they will no longer exercise the same level of control over the country’s currency. The idea of printing more money has been raised time and time again in response to financial turmoil, but that option disappears once currency has to be mined.

The flip from fiat money to cryptocurrency is a very real prospect, and it could well change the face of how our society spends and saves.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Author: Brad Jones

 

David

U.K. Authorities look to Deem Bitcoin as Cash to Facilitate Cryptocurrency Seizures

U.K. Authorities look to Deem Bitcoin as Cash to Facilitate Cryptocurrency Seizures

U.K. Authorities look to Deem Bitcoin as Cash to Facilitate Cryptocurrency Seizures

A new report, published by the N8 Policing Research Partnership, states that law enforcement faces various challenges when it comes to cryptocurrencies and that, although these challenges are mostly driven by the lack of knowledge and tools, they would be lessened if bitcoin were categorized as cash. This would facilitate seizures in the cryptocurrency, which the report states facilitates money laundering and criminal activities.

The report starts by associating bitcoin with cybercrime, using WannaCry’s global ransomware campaign and its effects on the NHS as an example of how bitcoin facilitates criminal activities. According to the report, cryptocurrencies facilitate criminal transactions and crimes. It reads:

“Cryptocurrencies (mainly Bitcoin) have become a popular choice of criminals. They are facilitating criminal transactions and also crimes such as money laundering, extortion (following data breaches), blackmail (the threat of DDOS attacks) and fraud.”

It even states that cryptocurrencies such as monero and bitcoin have become a popular choice for criminals, adding that according to Europol 3% of all money laundering globally is now done through cryptocurrencies. Notably, back in July a report from the European Commission to the European Parliament and Council found that terrorists and criminals are rarely using cryptocurrencies, although it added that the lack of regulations pose the threat of them being misused.

Notably, N8’s report recommends the U.K. Home Office, an organization that oversees law enforcement agencies in the country, to classify bitcoin as a form of cash, to make it easier to seize the cryptocurrency. It states:

“A recommendation has also been made to the Home Office regarding a potential legislative amendment to categorise bitcoin as cash for the purpose of cash seizure legislation”

Moreover, as a result of its research, it found that U.K. law enforcement has significant knowledge gaps when it comes to cryptocurrencies, and as such a training program is recommended to improve development.

The report also says that bitcoin’s underlying technology, blockchain technology, poses “some potentially interesting opportunities for investigators”, and therefore it is essential to adopt a strategic training approach to law enforcement in the country.
 

How researchers got to their conclusion

As part of the report two scenarios were conducted: one in which researchers purchased items from dark web marketplaces using bitcoin and monero, and then executed a mock warrant, and a sextortion scenario in which officers analyzed transaction data on the blockchain to then execute a mock warrant and seize bitcoins.

It found that the lack of regulations for bitcoin ATMs in the U.K. is a vulnerability that can help criminals launder money. Regarding exchanges, it noted that these have been attempting to comply with international money laundering standards, conducting KYC (Know Your Customer) checks. It adds that further industry collaboration is needed as criminals can still bypass these checks.

Finally, the report notes that a number of tools are available for law enforcement to trace bitcoin transactions in the blockchain, but adds that these require knowledge and expertise. Some companies offer user-friendly alternatives, but access to these alternatives is limited in the U.K.

Whether the U.K. Home Office will approve legislation that will categorize bitcoin as cash is unclear.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Author: Francisco Memoria

 

David

Fidelity now allows clients to see digital currencies on its website

Fidelity now allows clients to see digital currencies on its website

Fidelity now allows clients to see digital currencies on its website

Fidelity Investments has started allowing clients to use its website to view their holdings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies held through digital wallet provider Coinbase.

Fidelity Investments has started allowing clients to use its website to view their holdings of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies held through digital wallet provider Coinbase, the company said on Wednesday.

The initiative, previously tested with the Boston-based money manager's employees, is a rare example of an established financial services company warming up to cryptocurrencies.

Starting Wednesday, most Fidelity clients will be able to authorize Coinbase, one of the largest crypto-currency exchanges in the United States, to provide the fund manager with data on their holdings.

Through the experiment, the company said it aims to learn more about digital currencies, which have been proliferating since the creation of Bitcoin, the oldest and most valuable of these assets.

Coinbase enables users to buy and trade Bitcoin as well as competitor virtual currencies Ethereum and Litecoin.

"This is an experiment in the spirit of learning what these crypto assets are like and how our customers may want to interact with them," Hadley Stern, senior vice president and managing director at Fidelity Labs, the company's innovation unit, said in an interview.

Bitcoin hit a record high on Tuesday, with one unit of bitcoin trading at above $3,400 on Coinbase.

The currency's rise in value is not a driving force behind the initiative, Stern said, noting that the integration is part of Fidelity's wider efforts around cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology blockchain.

Many large financial institutions around the world have been investing in blockchain over the past two years, in the hopes that it can help them slash costs and simplify some processes. Blockchain is a shared ledger of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet rather than a central authority.

However, most established financial firms have shied away from associating themselves with bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, because the sector remains largely unregulated.

Fidelity's Chief Executive Officer Abigail Johnson announced the company's intention to launch the Coinbase integration at an industry conference in May.

At the time Johnson also revealed that Fidelity had been accepting bitcoin payments in its cafeteria, but said the experiment had highlighted the technology's flaws as a means of payments.

"But I am still a believer – and it's no accident that I'm one of the few standing before you today from a large financial services firm that hasn't given up on digital currencies," Johnson said at the time.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Source: Reuters

 

David

Changes in European regulations may impact Bitcoin

Changes in European regulations may impact Bitcoin

Changes in European regulations may impact Bitcoin

Some researches were stating that nearly a half of the bitcoin transaction is somehow related to various gambling activities. The reasons behind this are quite simple, the bitcoin provides a greater anonymity for the players and low transaction costs. However, the popularity of the bitcoin in the iGaming sector seem to become even greater this year.

Considering the fact that Poland, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and a few other major European markets are making it unfavourable for the operators to serve the customers via a locally regulated company and illegal to operate without one, the bitcoin casinos may become the best possible substitution in such markets. You may already see some of the popular Bitcoin casinos being listed at the various rating websites. While these websites are still listed in the bitcoin category, BTC casinos may soon take the largest slice of the market share. Let’s check a few European countries one by one to see the possible arguments.
 

Over 250 domains are banned in Poland

Polish government has set a deadline to ban all of the domains of the unregulated gambling companies by the 1st of July 2017. Now over 30 days have passed since then and we can conclude that this practice has been quite effective in terms of cleaning up the Polish market. Until now, it was announced that such gambling giants as 888 casino and poker, Pinnacle betting, Bet365, William Hill and other well known betting and casino operators have stepped out from Poland. Historically, some of the countries were putting such harsh restrictions on the gambling operators that only the richest ones could stay, yet this is not the case in Poland. The government has simply put a very high tax rate (12% on turnover), which already makes it quite risky for any gambling company to operate. And as a cherry on top, the Polish Ministry of Finance requires a company to apply for the local license with its locally established entity that employs local staff too. As a result, only a few unregulated operators are continuing serving the Polish players by offering their services while some subdomains.

We can clearly see an opportunity here for the bitcoin. While the number of competitors have decreased dramatically, generating profits is still not so easy for the locally regulated companies. Also, regulated companies are less likely to compensate their affiliates well or even at all. This is where bitcoin casinos and betting operators may take action and serve Polish customers with having no fears of being blocked by the payment system provider.
 

Czech Republic taxes the highest

Similar to Poland, Czech Republic has introduced a way to the gambling operators to get regulated and has required Internet Service Providers to ban the IPs of the unregulated entities. Instead of taxing the turnover, Czech Republic has decided to implement two types of taxation. Firstly, each of the games that uses randomly generated way of identifying a winner will be taxed at the 35% from the grosh gaming revenue. Even though such a tax rate is already one of the highest in Europe, Czech authorities will still charge a 19% income tax on top of that.

Again, most of the online gambling operators have decided to quit their operations. Needless to say, the bitcoin casinos and betting companies will be able to serve the clients in Czech republic without any local regulation, and this way they could save up quite a lot when compared to the regulated companies.

 

Summing it up

The EU governments are looking into tightening the screws in the iGaming sector. Ultimately, the government has two preventing measures in its disposal: blocking the operator’s IP address and requiring the payment systems to block the operator’s accounts. While the first block can be easily bypassed by various subdomains, avoiding the block on the deposits may be very challenging for the gambling companies that use fiat currencies. However, the bitcoin here seems to be the ultimately answer, and such a large forecasted demand on the cryptocurrencies may send the Bitcoin to the new heights.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

 

Author: Nick James

David

EVERYONE IS CRAZY FOR ETHEREUM, BUT BITCOIN IS STILL THE BEAST TO BEAT

EVERYONE IS CRAZY FOR ETHEREUM, BUT BITCOIN IS STILL THE BEAST TO BEAT

EVERYONE IS CRAZY FOR ETHEREUM, BUT BITCOIN IS STILL THE BEAST TO BEAT

We’ve come a long way in the eight years since Bitcoin’s original release. Back in 2009, when the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto launched the cryptographically verified digital asset, it was just a curiosity. With time, though, new uses have been found for it, from buying drugs, to transferring money near-instantaneously across the globe. Its value has peaked and troughed to reach considerable worth today – right now, a single Bitcoin is worth almost $2,800, close to its record high of $2,964.
 

The success of Bitcoin has inspired many imitators. That includes the classics, like Litecoin and Dogecoin, along with more contemporary and serious alternatives, like Ethereum and Zcash. They’re all subtly different, and often more volatile, than their Bitcoin foundation.

 

There’s now more than 900 cryptocurrencies in the wild. While many of them hog attention with their potential for larger earnings on less upfront investment, differing features, or philosophy, their futures still rest in the hands of that cryptocurrency created way back in 2009.
 

They are all built off the same core technology as Bitcoin, and susceptible to the same whims of human nature.
 

Bitcoin: The foundation and face of cryptocurrency empires

 

“Bitcoin underpins and backs up the entire crypto economy. When Bitcoin falls, the rest fall, when Bitcoin rises, the rest rise,” the host of the Bitcoin News Show, Vortex, told Digital Trends. “The alt coins are simply an extension of Bitcoin, most of them are even based on its source code.”
 

“Nothing like bitcoin could ever emerge again as the path to its inception is absolutely unique.”

There’s many “alt coins,” most with a unique spin. Some use different cryptographic hash functions, others build in smart contracting functionality, while others look to be more centralized. Yet at their core, they are all built around similar technology to Bitcoin, which is partly why their pasts and futures have been, and are, so dependent on the first mainstream cryptocurrency.
 

“Bitcoin will remain the digital gold that backs up the entire crypto-economy,” Vortex told us. “Nothing like bitcoin could ever emerge again as the path to its inception is absolutely unique. It was created anonymously with no pre-mine, no intent for profit, no attachment to any corporation, and essentially donated to the community by its founder.”
 

Although there have been some stumbling blocks over the years, with minor changes required to keep Bitcoin functioning as it should, it’s organic growth, and the lack of a desire to drive profit for its creators, that make Bitcoin so unique.

A quick look at the value charts shows that Bitcoin is leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Its value was, at the time this article was published, four times greater than the nearest competition. That suggests a confidence in the long-standing currency that is far grander than its contemporaries.

Part of that comes from its very value, which makes large fluctuations in its worth less likely. It’s a sturdier investment than many other currencies – though that doesn’t mean it isn’t susceptible to fluctuation. Its price today is close to double what it was at the start of the year.

Bitcoin also acts as the face of the industry. It’s the original, most publicized, and close to a household name. That means first time investors are likely to consider it over other, more obscure investments. In turn, this popularity gives Bitcoin influence over its competitors. When the world sees Bitcoin doing well, other currencies usually benefits, too.

 

“The entire cryptocurrency market often moves up or down based on what’s happening with Bitcoin,” said Stewart Dennis, CEO of cryptocurrency email system Bitbounce. “If Bitcoin’s value continues to appreciate, that bodes well for the future of other currencies.”

A fork in the road?

 

Predicting the future appreciation of Bitcoin is difficult. As we have seen over the past couple of years, it can tumble back down following major world events. China’s decision to ban financial institutions from using Bitcoin in 2013 saw the currency nearly halve in value over a few weeks. Hacks of major Bitcoin exchange services, and speculative bubbles, have led to other temporary downturns in its fortunes.

Of course, there’s always the competition looking to use one of these disruptions to make an attempt on the crown. The latest is Bitcoin Cash, a “hard-fork” from Bitcoin, designed to offer larger capacity than its predecessor to reduce transaction fees. Does it stand to find success as an alternative top-tier currency where others have failed?

“Anyone at any time can fork Bitcoin as it is open source,” Vortex told us, dismissively. “This is what Litecoin and many other coins did. They forked Bitcoin, tweaked a few things, and called it something else.”

The only difference with Bitcoin Cash, he claims, is that it’s the first currency to attempt to use the original Bitcoin name. Although Bitcoin Cash has quickly become one of the more valuable cryptocurrencies ($400 at the time of writing), Vortex points out that it does not have much support.

“It only has two developers [and] is highly centralized and controlled. The core [Bitcoin] developers want nothing to do with it,” he said.

For the sake of argument, though, let’s assume Bitcoin Cash is successful, or some major calamity caused Bitcoin to fail and fall from grace. What would happen to the market then?

“If Bitcoin were to fall, faith in crypto itself would be lost for many years, at least as a store of value,” Vortex told us. “As a currency however, it would still flourish. Gold is what made and broke nations for thousands of years. Digital gold, or Bitcoin, is what will make or break nations for the next thousand years.”
 

Others, like BitBounce’s CEO, believe that the market itself would recover much more quickly, and that some other coin that would pick up the reins where Bitcoin left off.

“A [Bitcoin] calamity would cause other cryptocurrencies to lose significant value in the short-term,” he said. “But in the medium to long term, it could create an opening for currencies such as Ether to become the most valuable cryptocurrency.”
 

Predicting the future with Bitcoin’s past

Although Bitcoin’s future remains a little uncertain, we can draw something from its past. As the cryptocurrency with the greatest longevity and the most proven track record, we use it to get an idea of what may happen to its younger competitors as they grow and mature.

At the time of writing, Ethereum is one of the more popular, vogue currencies, and in terms of its market capital, is second only to Bitcoin, even if it does trail it by a significant margin. Though it has suffered a recent downturn in value, it reached a new high less than a month ago, peaking just shy of $400 per Ether.

If we look at a graph of its growth and fall and compare that to Bitcoin’s earliest peaks in 2013, the similarities are hard to ignore. The only difference is that Ether has yet to recover in quite the same manner as Bitcoin. While there are no guarantees of such a thing happening, Bitbounce’s Dennis believes it will soon.

“Bitcoin has repeatedly appreciated to an all-time high and then corrected to a lower price for a while, before eventually reaching an even greater high. I see similar trends with other younger currencies,” he told DigitalTrends.
 

Indeed, Dennis sees those currencies one day even eclipsing that of Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin is still important because it started everything and has the widest adoption. However, Bitcoin’s dominance has been fading. Before too long, I expect other currencies to become even more valuable, and have greater adoption than Bitcoin.”

Vortex, however, disagrees. While he believes that Bitcoin will continue to underpin cryptocurrencies and even worldwide economies in the forseeable future, the outcome of other currencies is far less certain.
 

“Nothing is predictable,” he said, but reiterated that Bitcoin’s fortunes will be reflected in those of others currencies.

While he does see that any sort of success in Bitcoin cash would be a potential indicator for more hard-fork currencies being created in the future, “that trick only works a few times” and will ultimately just bring more attention to the original currency that started it all. Bitcoin.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

 

Author: Jon Martindale

David

Mastercard Eyes Cryptocurrency Refunds in New Patent Application

Mastercard Eyes Cryptocurrency Refunds in New Patent Application

Mastercard Eyes Cryptocurrency Refunds in New Patent Application

A new patent application from Mastercard suggests that the global credit card issuer is exploring ways to build refund services for cryptocurrency users.
 

The application, titled "Information Transaction Infrastructure", was published by the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 3, having been submitted in late January. Vladimir Goloshchuk, who according to LinkedIn previously worked as a senior analyst at Mastercard, is listed as the sole inventor.

 

The application details an infrastructure through which users could verify their identities, which would then be linked to cryptocurrency addresses they elect to disclose.
 

The text of the application points to this being most relevant for situations in which users are submitting payments to merchants from accounts on exchanges, or other services, in which their funds may be held alongside those belonging to others.

 

In the event that a merchant has to send the money back for a refund, they would send it back to an address linked to that user's account – a situation in which the exchange or custody holder might then need to know where those funds are being sourced from and why.
 

To counter this, Mastercard proposes a way for users, through a shared service, to have two kinds of wallets.
 

"The basic principle of the arrangement … is that a user of the shared wallet service has two types of wallet. Firstly, they have a 'public' wallet for on-the-chain publicly visible and verified transactions. The user will make and receive cryptocurrency payments external to the shared wallet service using a public wallet," the application explains, adding:
 

"Using this approach, the refund problem can be addressed – a payment received from the public wallet can be refunded by an equal payment back to the public wallet."
 

The application is the latest from Mastercard, which has filed several patents in the past few years. The company has also developed projects focused on blockchain tech, releasing a set of dedicated APIs last fall.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

 

Author: Stan Higgings

David

Grandpa Had a Pension. This Generation Has Cryptocurrency

Grandpa Had a Pension. This Generation Has Cryptocurrency

Grandpa Had a Pension. This Generation Has Cryptocurrency.

Most readers have probably heard of Bitcoin, the digital coin that dominates the cryptocurrency market. It has gained notice both because of its skyrocketing value (from less than a cent in early 2010 to around $2,600 currently) and because it is frequently a key player in hacking- and black-market-related stories, from the looting of nearly half a billion dollars in coins from the Mt. Gox exchange in 2014 to the recent demand for payment in Bitcoin in the WannaCry ransomware attack.

But do you know Ethereum, with a total value of coins in circulation of close to $20 billion? Bitcoin Cash, which split off from the original Bitcoin on Aug. 1, lost about half its value within hours, then nearly quadrupled by the next day? Or, rounding out the Big Four, Ripple — whose currency is known as XRP — which shot up to about 40 cents by mid-May from less than a cent at the end of March? (Full disclosure: I owned but unloaded three of these currencies before writing this article.) Then there are over 800 lower-value and often creatively named coins among those listed on Coinmarketcap.com. One can buy FedoraCoin (its jaunty symbol being the Justin Timberlake-approved hat), CannabisCoin (one guess what it looks like) or, to choose one of many bringing up the rear, Quartz, currently priced around three-thousandths of a cent. (Bad news for those who bought it at just under $2 at the end of May.)

After years as a niche market for technologically sophisticated anarchists and libertarians excited about a decentralized financial network not under government control, digital coins may be on the verge of going mainstream. “It’s the wild, wild West,” said Ron Ginn, 35, founder of a private photo-sharing service called Text Event Pics in St. Augustine, Fla., who has taken all his money out of the stock market and put it into Ripple and real estate. “This is like getting to invest in the internet in the ’90s. I’m obviously very bullish, but I expect to make a couple million dollars off very little money. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Finance is getting its internet.”

Cryptocurrency has understandable appeal to millennials who came of age during the 2008 financial crisis and are now watching the rise of antiglobalist populism threaten the stability of the international economy.
 

“There’s a low cost for entry, you don’t pay a lot of fees and millennials are the most tech-savvy,” said John Guarco, 22, a recent Duke graduate living on Staten Island who, like most of the people interviewed for this article, asked that names of the coins in which he has invested not be published for fear of being targeted by hackers.

Unlike previous generations, many of these greenhorn investors don’t have pensions or 401(k)’s, are mistrustful of socking money away in mutual funds and are fully accustomed to owning digital assets that have no concrete properties. As traditional paths to upper-middle-class stability are being blocked by debt, exorbitant housing costs and a shaky job market, these investors view cryptocurrency not only as a hedge against another Dow Jones crash, but also as the most rational — and even utopian — means of investing their money.

Sebastian Dinges, 33, the director of operations for Cheeky, a company that makes mealtime products, started his first job after college in 2007. Once he had enough money to invest in the stock market, he said, he “wanted to be risky and get a big return.” Within six months, the market crashed.

“So there’s definitely disillusionment,” he said.

The majority of Mr. Dinges’s holdings are now in cryptocurrency. His skepticism of traditional markets is shared by a number of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in his age bracket who have observed the recent political and economic upheavals.

“I do feel we’ve reached a new level where nobody knows what’s going to happen,” said Gabe Wax, 24, who runs the Rare Book Room recording studio in Brooklyn. “The things we’ve been able to rely on aren’t as reliable and we have a president who knows absolutely nothing about how the economy works, and he’s appointed people who have twisted views about how it works. That, more than anything, is what scares me.”

Mr. Wax was still in high school when the 2008 crisis unfolded, but he was paying attention to the headlines. So was Mr. Guarco, who said cryptocurrency was a “safeguard against the volatility in the rest of the world.”

“Investing in cryptocurrencies is a hedge,” he continued. “We’re entering a period of long-term deregulation and tax cuts to the wealthiest. It’s not the best recipe for stability.”

Mr. Wax also invests in cryptocurrency to shore up his finances as a freelancer in the precarious music industry.

“I constantly feel like I’m looking over the edge of a cliff,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of money just sitting in a savings account — with the way inflation works and how low interest rates are, you’re losing money. There’s less money than there’s ever been in the history of recorded music, so that gives me anxiety. It’s weird to say that owning cryptocurrency soothes that anxiety, because it’s counterintuitive, but it does.”

He is far from the only one hoping cryptocurrency will assuage his financial worries. Internet forums and Twitter accounts devoted to the subject abound with speculators who view digital coins as a lottery ticket, forecasting “moonshots” with, perhaps, irrational exuberance. For office drudges, the underemployed or those crushed by college loans, the slim chance that a $100 investment may someday reap close to $100 million — as would have happened with an investment of that amount in Bitcoin in 2010 — is too enticing to pass up.

But there are plenty of dissenters who are less sanguine about the future of cryptocurrency, arguing that we are in the midst of the biggest bubble yet, fueled by speculative trading in Japan and South Korea, and pointing to previous Bitcoin crashes as justification for their skepticism.

Nevertheless, it’s not just twentysomethings in the gig economy who are losing faith in traditional investment tools. Mr. Ginn quit working at Fidelity Investments the day before the market crash in 2008.

“It’s not investing,” he said of his old job. “It’s just sticking money somewhere. The investment advisory industry has to give out watered-down, averaged-out advice. When you get into mutual funds, you lose a lot of the ability to beat the markets.”

Tom Berg, 44, a founder of BloKtek Capital in Northbrook, Ill., which invests in digital currencies and assets, said: “I got out of the stock market years ago. “My personal opinion was I’m not going to fight for 2 or 3 percent. It’s a conservative place.” By contrast, digital currencies — his preferred term to cryptocurrency, which he says carries the stigma of black-market money laundering — have disrupted the internet and created a major opportunity for those willing to jump in early, Mr. Berg believes. “At first it was an internet of information,” he said. “Then it evolved to an internet of things — social media, I can buy this, I can sell stuff. Now it’s the internet of value.”

In his view, cryptocurrency left the “dark ages” six months ago, when it was still the domain of “a lot of people who believed in anarchy.” He thinks that cryptocurrency is a good five years from going mainstream and that the bubble will burst some time after that, at which point he will sell his assets
 

“If my landscaper ever asks me about crypto, that’s the day I get out,” he said.
 

There are some barriers to mass popularity. Investors must have enough familiarity with and trust of the internet to send money through a cryptocurrency exchange, such as Coinbase or Poloniex. Some of the exchanges also have elaborate and slow identity-verification processes, and certain states do not permit users to invest on them yet. But it’s continually getting easier, and various exchanges allow credit cards for speedy purchases.

Once one has bought digital coins, the threat of hacking remains a serious concern. Even users savvy enough to use two-factor authentication on their phones may not have the know-how to set up “cold storage,” or a system of storing coins offline (such as on a computer or dedicated piece of hardware not connected to the internet). There is no Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insuring lost money; once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Assuming one’s money is protected, there are, of course, the standard risks of investing, amplified by the volatility of cryptocurrency. It’s common for a coin to fluctuate double-digit percentages within a day, often because of “pump-and-dump” techniques from coordinated users trying to manipulate prices in completely unregulated free markets.

For this reason, none of the investors I spoke with engage in short-term trading but instead choose, in the online parlance of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, to “hodl” (“hold on for dear life,” rather than sell off for temporary gains). Mr. Dinges and his wife recently bought a house in Los Angeles, but he didn’t use his Bitcoins to help with the renovations.

“This is a great opportunity to pull it out and put it toward fixing the house,” he said, “but the future potential is not worth it.”

Mr. Berg would agree, advising BloKtek Capital clients to “set it and forget it” and not fall prey to the temptation to make short-term transactions.

“My wife and I use it as our bank account,” he said. “Every paycheck, we put a percentage into long-term holdings. We do not expect to become rich overnight. That’s a way to become very poor in one hour.” (Though his wife works at his company, it bears mentioning here that the vast majority of cryptocurrency investors seem to be male, and their Twitter discourse tends to be less than refined, with insults often lodged at devotees of rival currencies.)

Even those in it for the long haul, however, admit to monitoring the prices compulsively, scratching the gambler’s itch.

“If I have a moment where the price has left my mind, I’ll want to reinsert it,” Mr. Wax, the record producer, said. “I check it as much as any social media. It’s become as distracting as anything else on my phone.”

As he works in the cryptocurrency world, Mr. Berg maintains an even more observant — and most likely exhausting — regimen.

“I’m always watching the markets,” he said. “The saying is, ‘Crypto never sleeps.’ It’s 24/7, it’s global, it doesn’t have a stock market, it doesn’t have a bell.

“I sleep about four hours a day.”

Beyond its potential long-term financial rewards, many holders of cryptocurrency view it as a vehicle for social change. While many coins have no value beyond serving as a potential alternative currency, or began as larks that have since been popularized by speculators (such as Dogecoin, whose logo is an internet-meme dog and which now has a market capitalization of about $200 million), others — namely Ripple and Ethereum — have meaningful real-world utility and are being adopted by banks and financial institutions.

“The financial gain is fun, but it’s really about improving the world, improving the financial system, transparency, cost, increased speed,” Mr. Ginn said. “It’s the double-sided tape for society. When financial markets collapse, the tape rips people apart and you have a system collapse. Finance got away with it in ’08; it almost took the world down, and nothing changed.” In lieu of more stringent government oversight, he believes that Ripple can help “reduce systemic risk.”

That safety-net altruism drives Yoni Saltzman, 24, who designs robotic mechanisms for aerospace and medical applications. Mr. Saltzman has holdings in four different cryptocurrencies and is working with a small team in New York to develop a digital coin it hopes to introduce within a year. “It’s not just about making money,” he said. “We like the idea of not only changing the world, but saving the world.”

This is, of course, the same vaguely idealistic rationale Silicon Valley executives routinely trot out to justify their ventures, not all of which seem especially concerned with the greater good. In the meantime, those who have boarded the crypto-train frequently proselytize to friends and family. Unsurprisingly, they have more luck with their younger peers. Mr. Guarco, the Duke graduate, has persuaded a few friends to take the plunge.

His older relatives, however, unaccustomed to coins that one can’t pluck out of a lint-filled pocket, are a harder sell.

“They usually respond, ‘Crypto-what?’” he said.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur
 

Author: Teddy Wayne

David

In Less Than 2 Days, Bitcoin Cash Becomes Third Biggest Cryptocurrency

In Less Than 2 Days, Bitcoin Cash Becomes Third Biggest Cryptocurrency

In Less Than 2 Days, Bitcoin Cash Becomes Third Biggest Cryptocurrency
 

Barely 48 hours since its spin-off from the Bitcoin blockchain, Bitcoin Cash has already surged past other cryptocurrencies to become the third-biggest in terms of market capitalization. How the currency will fare over time is still up for debate, as it still lacks support from several mining pools and major exchanges.
 

UNEXPECTED BOOM

Less than two days after splitting from the main Bitcoin network, Bitcoin Cash [BCC] now ranks third amongst the world’s most valuable cryptocoins. The budding cryptocurrency has reached a market cap of more $7.7 billion as of this writing, overtaking Ripple’s $6.7 billion market cap.

 

With a market cap of a little more than $44 billion, the original Bitcoin currency is leading the market, while Ethereum comes in second at $20.9 billion. In terms of value per coin, Bitcoin Cash is even ahead of Ethereum’s current valuation of $223.54, with a per unit value of $470.27.
 

The surge in Bitcoin Cash comes despite a lack of support from several mining pools and major exchanges like Coinbase and BitMEX. Some Coinbase users are even threatening to sue the exchange for not recognizing the currency.

 

Blockchain Global’s recently re-opened Australian Cryptocurrency Exchange, on the other hand, is confirming Bitcoin Cash trades and claims to have seen a huge demand for the currency. “We are receiving a lot of off-market orders for bitcoin cash — they’re exploding!” venture partner Sebastian Quinn-Watson told Business Insider.
 

A VOLATILE CURRENCY
 

The creation of Bitcoin Cash was the result of an ongoing debate regarding how to scale Bitcoin blockchain transactions, and experts are currently divided on how the split will ultimately play out.

 

For now, this sudden increase in value is understandable. Bitcoin Cash carries all the history of the original Bitcoin platform up until the fork on August 1, which means anyone with Bitcoin now has an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash.

 

Eventually, Bitcoin Cash should be able to stabilize itself for market exchanges, but right now, speculation is causing a surge in initial interest. “People are selling their Bitcoin positions and buying Bitcoin Cash as a proposition that it is the ‘new coin’ that has more value in the future,” explained Quinn-Watson. “It’s a bit speculative.”

 

No one knows for sure how long Bitcoin Cash can sustain this upshot. As with other digital currencies, Bitcoin Cash’s value depends mainly on how much value investors assign to it and how easily it can be used for “real-world” transactions.

 

“There’s no infrastructure available out of the box to support BCC,” Fran Strajnar, co-founder and CEO of Brave New Coin, told CNBC. “The network needs further support and infrastructure needs to be as easy as Bitcoin; otherwise, it’s over for BCC.”

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

 

Author Dom Galeon

David