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What is Bitcoin?

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

Bitcoin Latest News

Bitcoin launching on futures market - PBS NewsHour


PBS NewsHour

Bitcoin launching on futures market
PBS NewsHour
When people realize that there are only 21 million bitcoins they wanted a piece of that property. To understand a bit about how it is, you can think of the tree falling in the forest thought experiment. If a tree falls in the forest and a million ...

and more »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 2:51 pm

Could Bitcoin's 'Whales' Manipulate the Market? - Fortune


Fortune

Could Bitcoin's 'Whales' Manipulate the Market?
Fortune
Bitcoin has captured the public imagination this year — or at least, as its price skyrocketed, tapped into public greed. But bitcoin was built by a tight-knit community of technology buffs and entrepreneurs, and a relatively small number of them own ...
Report: 1000 People Own 40 Percent of the Bitcoin MarketSlate Magazine (blog)

all 11 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 2:23 pm

Deutsche Bank Economist Says a Bitcoin Crash Would Endanger Global Markets - Fortune


Fortune

Deutsche Bank Economist Says a Bitcoin Crash Would Endanger Global Markets
Fortune
An economist at Deutsche Bank thinks a crash in the price of bitcoin will be among the top risks to broader markets in 2018. Torsten Slok, Deutsche's Bank's Chief International Economist, recently sent clients a list of 30 market risks which could ...
Deutsche Bank: Bitcoin Crash Among 2018 Financial WorriesCointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 12:33 pm

Wall Street ruined bitcoin but if you want to buy it, here's how - VICE News


VICE News

Wall Street ruined bitcoin but if you want to buy it, here's how
VICE News
At the beginning of 2017, a single bitcoin cost about $973 and the popular bitcoin “wallet” app Coinbase didn't even chart among the top iPhone apps. Now one bitcoin costs over $16,000, and Coinbase is the second-most popular free app on iOS. It's an ...
Coinbase CEO warns against irresponsible bitcoin investing - Dec. 9 ...CNNMoney
How Bitcoin Is Stolen: 5 Common ThreatsFortune
Did Someone Just Buy Bitcoin for $131 on GDAX?The Merkle
USA TODAY -Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News) -CoinDesk -The Coinbase Blog
all 223 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 10:25 am

An Expert's Guide to Navigating the World of Bitcoin - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

An Expert's Guide to Navigating the World of Bitcoin
Bloomberg
Discussions about the possibility of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund gave the currency greater legitimacy. This year wasn't the right time for an ETF, but we'll have bitcoin futures next week and an ETF should follow soon. JV: Hedge funds and other ...
ICOs, Bitcoin's Growth and the Blockchain Community: An Interview Ivan on TechCointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Drastic value increase puts Bitcoin back on the mapGlobalnews.ca

all 19 news articles »

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 7:00 am

Bitcoin Has Less Environmental Impact Than Fiat Currencies - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Bitcoin Has Less Environmental Impact Than Fiat Currencies
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
The environmental impact of Bitcoin mining has been widely touted, particularly by those who believe it to be a non-legitimate currency, but it appears these accusations are more fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), rather than actual facts. These ...

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 4:26 am

How Forks Might Help Bitcoin Reach Its True Destination

Forks offer ideological leaders the chance to put their ideas on improving protocols into practice without getting bogged down in endless bickering.

Posted on 10 December 2017 | 3:40 am

How to get rich off bitcoin — or lose it all while trying - Chicago Tribune - Chicago Tribune


Chicago Tribune

How to get rich off bitcoin — or lose it all while trying - Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Here's a primer that might help demystify the new phenomenon of bitcoin for you investor types.

and more »

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 10:14 pm

Bitcoin Drops to $13k in Red Day for Crypto Markets

Days before a major futures product launch, bitcoin suffered heavy losses Saturday, a trend that so far appears to be continuing into Sunday.

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 9:30 pm

How Secure Is Bitcoin Really? - Fortune


Fortune

How Secure Is Bitcoin Really?
Fortune
If this isn't peak bitcoin, I'm not sure what is. This week saw a staggering price run ($17,000!!!) along with wall-to-wall media coverage, and was capped off by the CEO of Coinbase—whose core business is bitcoin—telling people to calm down and ...

and more »

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 10:58 am

Lightning: The Bitcoin Scaling Tech You Really Should Know

One of the most talked about technologies in development for bitcoin is the Lightning Network. But what does it do, and when might it be ready?

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 3:45 am

The Hidden Trade-Offs of ICOs for Entrepreneurs

Utility token ICOs are not equity, but sellers may still be giving up more value than they realize if they go down that path.

Posted on 9 December 2017 | 3:00 am

U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies

USSenateBill

American Bitcoin holders may soon have to report their holding to the United States government.

First introduced on May 25, 2015, by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-IA], Senate Bill S.1241, the
“Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” can have serious implications for those involved in the cryptocurrency space. The hearing for S.1241 was held with virtually no public notice on November 28, 2017; the full two-hour hearing can be viewed here.

Currently, the definition of “financial institution” includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, currency exchanges and the like. But according to Section 5312(a) of title 31, the new bill would amend the definition of “financial institution” to include “an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of prepaid access devices, digital currency, or any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency.” 

This is most specifically embedded in Section 13:

senatebilltextscreen.png

Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] said in her opening remarks of the hearing, “The bill criminalizes intentionally concealing ownership or control of a bank account.” Although, during the hearing, no further clarifications were given as to the effects this would have on the cryptocurrency community, based on the amended definition of “financial institution,” it would seem that the bill would criminalize anyone intentionally concealing ownership or control of a digital currency or exchange account. While there is no finalized bill yet, the implication would be that cryptocurrency holders need to fill in federal registration forms for tax disclosure, quarterly reporting and more.

Notably, while the purpose of the bill and hearing had to do with adding digital currencies and exchanges to the definition of financial institutions, there was almost no discussion on the topic other than briefly in reference to drug cartels using them to launder money. For example, nowhere in the testimony by Coinbase board of directors member Kathryn Haun Rodriguez does she mention digital currencies or exchanges, and at no time was she asked any questions about them.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is receiving pushback from some cryptocurrency holders. Activists on Reddit have started a social media campaign in opposition to the bill, and are suggesting others to tweet: “@senjudiciary that #Bitcoiners are not #Crooks Remove #DigitalCurrencies from Section 13 of S1241.” Others are contacting their senators directly.

The post U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 3:23 pm

Circle's CENTRE Raises $20 Million in SAFT Sale

Circle has raised $20 million in a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) sale for its ethereum-based "CENTRE" payments network.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 1:10 pm

Advertise with Anonymous Ads

New ViaBTC Exchange to Use Bitcoin Cash as Base Trading Pair

Mining pool ViaBTC is launching a new cryptocurrency exchange based in the U.K., the company announced today.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 12:25 pm

Major Gold Dealer APMEX Begins Accepting Bitcoin

One of the largest online gold dealers has announced that it will begin accepting bitcoin.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 11:15 am

Bull Trap? Bitcoin Cash Price Is Up, But Gains May Be Short-Lived

Bitcoin cash (BCH) is well bid today, but a close look at the numbers indicates the positive move could be deceptive.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 8:15 am

Microlending Startups Look to Blockchain for Loans

Blockchain is now being touted as a way to revive a long-promised method of boosting financial access for the underbanked.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 7:00 am

Australian Finance Watchdog to Monitor Bitcoin Exchanges

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has received the go-ahead to monitor bitcoin exchanges after the passing of a new bill.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 6:30 am

Bitcoin Dips Below $15k on Weak Afternoon Trading

Bitcoin was among the worst performing assets in the 6:00 UTC to 12:00 UTC trading session on Friday

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin Prices Spark Demand for Washington's Cheap Electricity

The Central Washington region of the U.S. has reported surging demand from bitcoin miners for its cheap hydropower as price gains continue.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 3:00 am

The Blockchain Token Velocity Problem

Most utility tokens don’t provide a compelling reason for users to hold the token for more than a few seconds. And that's a problem for its value.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 2:00 am

Huobi, SBI Announce Plan for Japanese Bitcoin Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi and financial services giant SBI Group are partnering to launch a pair of Asia-based digital exchanges.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 12:00 am

The Threat of Bitcoin Futures

Should the prospect of regulated futures trading be pushing up the bitcoin price? CoinDesk's Noelle Acheson isn't quite so sure.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 10:00 pm

Report: Bitcoin Derivatives Banned By South Korean Government

Regulators in South Korea have reportedly banned the trade of futures contracts and other derivatives tied to bitcoin.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 8:01 pm

Out of Steam: PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option

Out of Steam - PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option

The utility aspect of Bitcoin faced a setback yesterday as PC gamers heard from Valve Corporation’s Steam Team in a blog post that Bitcoin would no longer be accepted as payment on its digital distribution platform, Steam. Citing the volatility of the currency as well as the rising cost of fees, a representative of The Steam Team, known as “kurtis”, explained that the volatility of Bitcoin has created a problem for users trying to purchases games using the currency. Kurtis pointed out that:

The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change. The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different.

Kurtis further elaborated that the normal resolution mechanism on Steam is either to refund the original payment to the user, which would negate the transaction or to ask the user to transfer additional funds to cover the remaining balance. “In both these cases, the user is hit with the Bitcoin network transaction fee again.” Bitcoin was adopted as a means of payment via  bitcoin payment processor, BitPay, for games on Steam on April 27, 2016.


Some users commenting on the blog seem to agree and support Valve’s decision, with many calling for utilization of alternative cryptos such as Vertcoin, IOTA, and Litecoin. Others, such as one user named “Kaj Jez”, stated,

Massively disappointing. The first purchase I ever made in Bitcoin was on Steam. As long as Steam doesn't accept BTC I will prefer to do business with devs' own stores that hopefully do…But as Bitcoin will undoubtedly improve itself with scalability solutions so to will Steam hopefully improve itself by rectifying this mistake and once again accepting it.

Steam, the largest digital distribution platform for PC Games, has an active user base of over 275 million users with an average of 11 games per user, according to Sergey Galyonkin’s Steam Spy API. In a Medium article, Galyonkin elaborated that 2016 sales for PC games through the Steam Platform totaled roughly $3.47 billion dollars. While it is unclear how much of that revenue resulted from bitcoin transactions during its period of acceptance, it is clear that the PC gaming community faced a major setback in utilizing Bitcoin as a means for buying games.


At the time of this writing, neither BitPay nor Steam nor Valve Corp could be reached for additional comment.

The post Out of Steam: PC Gaming Platform Ends Bitcoin Payment Option appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 3:11 pm

New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position

New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position

While China continues to dominate the bitcoin mining market, North America has now gained another significant player who can help decentralize mining power. Hut 8 Mining Corp (Hut 8) and the Bitfury Group (Bitfury) have announced a partnership that will create North America’s largest bitcoin mining center, located primarily in Alberta, Canada.

“We are excited to partner with Hut 8 to expand our activities in the strategic North America market,” said Bitfury CEO, Valery Vavilov, in a statement. “We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to establish North America as one of the most important cryptocurrency mining hubs in the world.”

Known for manufacturing their own Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chips, Bitfury is the world’s largest bitcoin mining company outside of China. Their custom hardware and software solutions eliminate the reliance on any third parties, which lowers costs and improves efficiency. Their BlockBox AC datacenter product allows for significantly shorter setup time to establish a commercial bitcoin mining center.

Hut 8 is a bitcoin mining company that will provide shareholders access to the price appreciation of bitcoin. Once the partnership is finalized, Hut 8 will control what they believe to be the largest cryptocurrency mining farm in North America: Hut 8 will gain immediate control over 22 bitcoin mining datacenters spread across Alberta.

The expectation is for Hut 8 to be listed on the Canadian stock exchange during Q1 of 2018 and increasing control over an additional 35 datacenters. Hut 8 anticipates that through a combination of existing Bitfury sites and new installations, they will scale to 60 or more datacenters during 2018.

The datacenters will be comprised of Bitfury’s containerized bitcoin mining units called Blockboxes, containing Bitfury’s 16nm ASIC chip, which they claim is one of the most efficient on the market. Bitfury will be providing the infrastructure for the partnership via the aforementioned assets and Hut 8 will own and operate the centers.

On December 4, 2017, Hut 8 is made available an approximate 13,200,000 shares on a private placement basis through GMP Securities L.P., worth approximately $25.7 million ($33 million CAD); the proceeds of which will be applied towards the initial acquisitions described above.

Also making moves in the North American mining market, Giga Watt has been promoting its own modular datacenter design called “Giga Pods.” While Giga Watt doesn’t have custom hardware solutions, they do allow for new entrants to buy and run their own hosted mining rig and potentially make money. It will be interesting to watch the development of these companies in North America over the course of 2018.

The post New Bitcoin Mining Centers Set to Increase North American Market Position appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 7 December 2017 | 2:22 pm

Regulation and the Future of Cryptocurrency at Token Summit II

Token Summit 17

On December 5th, 2017, the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco hosted cryptocurrency enthusiasts in suits, hoodies and everything in between. Token Summit II, presented by William Mougayar, author of “The Business Blockchain,” and Nick Tomaino, founder of 1confirmation, was a hub for cohesion and problem-solving in the blockchain space. Experts gathered from every corner of the industry to discuss government regulation, cryptocurrency initiatives and the future of blockchain technology.

Here are some of the highlights from the conference.

Regulation Trials and Tribulations

Nancy Wojtas, partner at Cooley; Kathryn Haun, board member at Coinbase; Stan Miroshnik, CEO and managing director at Element; and Lowell Ness, partner at Perkins Coie, demystified and further debated looming government regulation (and lack thereof).

Common questions that echoed throughout the panel: Which regulatory agency should investors focus on? Are tokens securities? Will there be new regulation or does existing regulation suffice?

Haun believes that “people in the ICO space are myopically focused on the SEC.” Although the SEC has already issued guidance and issued emergency action, there is an “alphabet soup” of other agencies that could issue further regulation. Federal and state regulatory agencies such as the DOJ could also intervene –– which could involve prison time for breaking the law.

Wojtas, on the other hand, explained her perception that because the SEC is leading the charge, other agencies are taking a backseat. She speculated that “[people] are free to continue to do what we are doing,” while being sensitive to all regulations.

The short answer from the entire panel on whether or not tokens should count as securities: the government hasn’t figured it out yet. They agreed that until the government sets a precedent in court, there is no clear answer.

A utopian scenario in terms of regulating the industry as a whole would entail new regulatory schemes that specialize in blockchain technology and tokenization. The panelists suggested that there is a low likelihood for new regulation in the United States but that investors might see clarity once there is a body of cases that grows from tokens challenging the government in court or vice versa.

Token Transparency and ICO Insights

Messari, a new transparency and disclosures project, shared their vision to become the open source data library for the universe of crypto assets –– an SEC EDGAR-like solution for consumer protection. Ryan Selkis, founder of the Messari project, summarized the crux of cryptocurrency: Quasi-fiduciaries are selling quasi-securities, and there is no gold standard for disclosure.

By creating an open data library, Messari hopes to serve all people: consumers, investors, lawyers and beyond. The team is committed to neutrality, working with regulatory standards bodies and cryptocurrency projects on a global scale to provide a free, open-source database.

Crypto Valley > Silicon Valley?

Oliver Bussmann, President of the Crypto Valley Association, utilized his panel time to entice potential cryptocurrency token founders to consider the Crypto Valley (Zug, Switzerland) as the ultimate location to launch their venture. The Valley is leveraging Switzerland’s deep-rooted culture of privacy protection, confidentiality and legal certainty to become one of the fastest-growing global ecosystems. It boasts over 500 total members and an increase of 30 members per month. It’s no surprise that Crypto Valley churns out cryptocurrencies like clockwork. The Valley has produced 10+ large scale Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) with 40+ in the process and 170+ in the pipeline.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Bussmann explained that unlike other ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs can expect to find every possible resource necessary for a successful token launch within a 30-mile radius of Crypto Valley.

“We have advisors helping with value proposition and token economy, seasoned legal experts, tax experts, accounting experts, people specialized in global marketing and global communications PR, secure ICO launch platforms, independent audit firms, smart contract audits, KYC, AML utilities and a community of investors looking to support the product.”

The Future of Cryptocurrency

Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList, shared his thoughts about the current state of cryptocurrency. In his opinion, cryptocurrency seems to be going mainstream faster than expected. He cited factors such as “savings accounts returning nothing and federal reserves returning nothing” as motivators that investors might have for entering the cryptocurrency market. He also attributed the massive increase in market capitalization to the cryptocurrencies’ ability to “absorb infinite speculative money.” However, Ravikant believes that a regulation-free grace period is still necessary for cryptocurrencies to develop properly.

When asked where he hypothesizes cryptocurrencies are in terms of bubble status, Ravikant replied that money can be a bubble that doesn’t pop and that he isn’t sure about the severity of the cryptocurrency bubble. As he explained, “If we all agree that something has value, it does.”

In regards to government regulation, Ravikant’s answer was straight to the point:

“It’s not a question of when the government will get blockchain, but how.”



The post Regulation and the Future of Cryptocurrency at Token Summit II appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 6 December 2017 | 2:34 pm

Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up

Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up

Bitfinex, the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, has hired Steptoe & Johnson, a heavy-hitting, international law firm based in Washington, D.C., to try to put an end to what their PR firm calls “a campaign of mistruth.”

According to an earlier statement issued by Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W, the PR company representing the exchange, Bitfinex is “signaling to those who engage in this activity that they are serious about protecting the truth and their business.”

Steptoe & Johnson is known for its work in the digital currency space. The firm leads the Blockchain Alliance, a coalition of blockchain companies and U.S. and international law enforcement agencies around the world.

Although Bitfinex did not spell out exactly whom it was threatening to take legal action against, the announcement comes at a time when blogger Bitfinex’ed has been persistently denouncing the company in a series of detailed Medium posts and ongoing tweets. Other critics have been taking their swings at Bitfinex as well.

“To date, every claim made by these bad actors has been patently false and made simply to agitate the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” Stuart Hoegner, in-house counsel for Bitfinex, said in the announcement. “As a result, Bitfinex has decided to assert all of its legal rights and remedies against these agitators and their associates.”

The Backstory

Bitfinex, incorporated in the Virgin Islands, is closely tied to cryptocurrency company Tether, based in Hong Kong. Both companies are owned and operated by the same individuals, as revealed in recently leaked documents.

Tether issues a token (USDT) that is pegged, or tethered, to the U.S. dollar. Essentially, one USDT is supposed to represent one dollar. By trading their bitcoin or other cryptocurrency for USDT, traders can essentially park their funds in a stable asset to preserve capital. In that sense, Tether works something like a money market account. Tether also allows traders to move their money between exchanges without going through a bank.

Bitfinex does not support bitcoin-to-fiat trading or withdrawals, so if traders on Bitfinex want to sell their bitcoin for fiat, they would have to transfer their bitcoin to a regulated exchange like U.S.-based Coinbase, which links to users’ bank accounts, allowing them to make direct fiat deposits and withdrawals.

In August 2016, Bitfinex was hacked, losing 120,000 BTC, worth roughly $72 million at the time. Rather than declare bankruptcy, the exchange came up with a three-part strategy. First, it spread the loss out evenly among all its customers, giving everyone a 36 percent haircut and then issuing “BFX tokens” as I.O.U.’s to be redeemed at a later date.

Next, in mid-October, Bitfinex offered to allow its customer to convert their BFX tokens to equity in iFinex, the parent company that operates Bitfinex. As a result, roughly a third of all BFX tokens were converted. Finally, in April 2017, Bitfinex bought back all of the remaining BFX tokens and announced it was clear of debt.

Allegations and Concerns

At issue right now is the fact that more than 800 million USDT are in circulation, but so far, Tether has not shown any real proof that it has the money to back up those tokens.

Bitfinex’ed claims Bitfinex/Tether is creating that money out of thin air. He also claims Bitfinex is manipulating the markets through techniques such as spoofing — where a trader puts in a large bid or ask order to make the price of bitcoin go up or down before canceling the order — and wash trading, where an asset is bought and sold simultaneously to give the impression it is in more demand than it actually is.  

He also argues Bitfinex is operating a Ponzi scheme, paying back its debt through accounting tricks, to avoid becoming insolvent after it was hacked in August 2016.

But while Bitfinex is trying to protect its image by threatening legal actions against its critics, Stephen Palley, an attorney at Anderson Kill in Washington, D.C., who focuses on software development, thinks Bitfinex would do better by simply being more transparent.

“Why don’t they just open their books?,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. “What are they afraid of? They are going to have to do that in discovery and litigation anyhow.”

To win in court, Bitfinex would have to prove that the blogger was making claims that were false and unsubstantiated, which would require them to come clean themselves.

It looks to me like they are using heavy-handed intimidation tactics to shut down someone they claim is inconsequential,” said Palley.

Bitfinex’ed recently tweeted his bitcoin wallet address and said he is seeking donations to defend himself against possible upcoming litigation. One person has already donated 1 BTC (currently worth $11,500).

“This is bloody bananas,” Bitfinex’ed told Bitcoin Magazine, in response to the hiring of Steptoe.

The blogger cited a previous lawsuit filed by Bitfinex, which he claims the exchange had no plans of following through on. In April 2017, Bitfinex filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for suspending its U.S. dollar wire transfers. That suit was withdrawn a week later.

“Best to be prepared,” Bitfinex’ed said. “If this is [a] big bluff on their end then money goes to charity, I can't hold the bitcoins while whistleblowing.”

The post Bitfinex Critics Prepare for Possible Legal Action After Cryptocurrency Exchange Lawyers Up appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 5 December 2017 | 2:09 pm

China Turns Bitcoin Focus Inward

BitBank


The Chinese government has often had a tumultuous relationship with Bitcoin, but things came to a head in 2017. By the end of the year, there was no longer a Chinese industry exchanging bitcoin for fiat currency. How did that happen, and where does China go from here?


From his office in Shenzhen, Virgilio Lizardo, Jr. has watched the waning of China’s influence on bitcoin pricing with interest. As Vice President of International Affairs at Bitbank Group, he sees cryptocurrency trends and pricing daily. The group’s businesses include China’s former fourth largest Bitcoin exchange CHBTC, alongside BW Mining, which manufactures miners and runs its own pool. With its Bitbank Bitcoin bank and crowdfunding business, the group is well-acquainted with all parts of the cryptocurrency’s ecosystem.


First warnings


Fissures in China’s relationship with Bitcoin appeared in January, when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) warned citizens about the risk of trading in bitcoin, and then investigated three exchanges: OKCoin, Huobi, and BTCC. The investigation led to a temporary freeze on margin trading, traditionally used as a means of capitalizing on short-term price changes.


Some exchanges subsequently re-introduced margin trading with limits on the available leverage, but the damage was done.


“In China, you could get into bitcoin and leverage by 10x, 20x, 100x – even up to 250x,” recalled Lizardo. “That ended overnight.”


International traders who were still interested in the Chinese market suffered another blow in early February, when the three exchanges froze bitcoin withdrawals altogether, locking up bitcoins for four months.


Enter Japan


This volatile policy shifted the focus of Chinese exchanges from the international to the domestic market. In the meantime, Japan gained dominance, passing legislation legitimizing bitcoin as a payment currency and increasing its price.


By the time the exchanges re-opened withdrawals, market focus had shifted. “By this time, Japan already cemented its position as the leading market for bitcoin trading, because a lot of international traders just didn't feel confident about Chinese exchanges,” Lizardo said.


That lack of confidence was well-founded. In September, the Chinese government once again cracked down on a key aspect of the cryptocurrency market, this time banning initial coin offerings (ICOs) (see original announcement here). These financial events allow the public to buy cryptocurrency tokens. The tokens give them a stake in new software applications that run on blockchain technology.


ICO bans and voluntary closures


“In the summer China was probably the number one market for ICOs,” said Lizardo. “There were a lot of scammy, fraudulent ICOs happening that caught the attention of the authorities.”


From there, the conversation escalated quickly, resulting in Chinese exchanges voluntarily closing down their Yuan-BTC trading services. BTC China and Via BTC both said that they would halt trading, as did OKCoin and Huobi, and BTCC. Some exchanges have since mulled moving operations overseas, or restricting activities purely to non-fiat cryptocurrency trading.


The exchange closures led to plummeting bitcoin prices, which slipped from a high of US$4884 on Sept 4 to US$3312 on Sept 17. But after that, bitcoin’s price rise has been astronomical. It was nudging US$9800 at the time of writing.


The rebound punctuates China’s decreasing influence over the last year, said Lizardo.


“It was a combination of the momentum built up by nation states – particularly Japan – legitimizing the currency, and traders realizing that the influence of China on the price of bitcoin is coming to an end.” There are other markets ready to absorb China’s bitcoin trading volumes, he added.


Refocusing on domestic trading


There are still plenty of options for Chinese bitcoin traders, though, as the market focuses inward and moves to over the counter (OTC) trading.


“When exchanges were locked out of the picture, all the volume and trading in that network went into over-the-counter (OTC),” he said.


He noted that following the crisis earlier in the year, the user base for BitKan, the leading OTC bitcoin app in China, increased fifteen-fold.


Bitkan, which has since closed, connected users initially, but then enabled them to exchange their own messaging information and begin transacting directly.


“In China the mobile ecosystem is beyond anything in the world. It’s easy to transfer fiat to each other using just a messaging app,” he pointed out. Based on BitKan’s user numbers, the real volume of OTC bitcoin trades in China today is probably huge, but it’s also almost entirely invisible.


“Informally, every OTC trader in China is doing spectacularly well right now,” Lizardo Jr concluded. “The market is so huge that each trader can have their own network and it won’t overlap with another OTC network, and that doesn’t even count international OTC relations,” he said.


While the market has refocused internally for the time being, Lizardo said that the government has “left itself some wiggle room” if it wants to re-establish a trading environment between Bitcoin and fiat markets in the future.


“Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are marching on at their fastest pace ever,” he said, adding that there is always an option to reopen the markets. “With Japan and others moving forward more positively, I don't think that China will stay on the sidelines forever.”


The post China Turns Bitcoin Focus Inward appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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