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What is Bitcoin?

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

Bitcoin Latest News

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Posted on 16 January 2018 | 7:50 am

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Bitcoin skeptics say the cryptocurrency has no value. Here's why they're wrong - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin skeptics say the cryptocurrency has no value. Here's why they're wrong
CNBC
Scarcity just means that something has a finite supply. In the case of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency has a set cap of 21 million bitcoins. Many analysts note that this set cap makes bitcoin more desirable than other assets, even gold. That's because ...

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 7:14 am

Bitcoin sinks 20% - CNNMoney


CNNMoney

Bitcoin sinks 20%
CNNMoney
Bitcoin tumbled as much as 20% Tuesday. The price of the volatile digital currency dipped below $12,000, its lowest level in more than a month, according to data from CoinDesk.com. Other popular cryptocurrencies ethereum and ripple also posted double ...
Just Another Day for Bitcoin—a 20% PlungeWall Street Journal

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Posted on 16 January 2018 | 7:02 am

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France Creates Working Group for Cryptocurrency Regulation

The French minister of the economy has announced the creation of a working group to develop cryptocurrency regulations.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 6:30 am

France's Newly-Appointed 'Monsieur Bitcoin' Is a Notable Cryptocurrency Skeptic - Fortune


Fortune

France's Newly-Appointed 'Monsieur Bitcoin' Is a Notable Cryptocurrency Skeptic
Fortune
Governments around the world are trying to get a handle on the cryptocurrency phenomenon, and now France has appointed what Les Echos called a “Monsieur Bitcoin”—or Mr. Bitcoin—to develop a Gallic approach to the topic. Jean-Pierre Landau, a Sciences ...
France Appoints a Cryptocurrency 'Mission Leader'Bitcoin News (press release)
France wants tougher rules on bitcoin to avoid criminal useABC News

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Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:36 am

Bitcoin plunges below $12000 to six-week low over crackdown fears - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin plunges below $12000 to six-week low over crackdown fears
CNBC
Bitcoin plunged to a six-week low Tuesday after comments from South Korea's finance minister renewed worries about a crackdown in one of the largest markets for digital currency trading. South Korea Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon said in a radio ...
Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple Are Suffering Massive Plunges Yet AgainFortune
Bitcoin price skids after South Korea suggests crackdownNew York Post
Bitcoin, Ethereum and almost every other cryptocurrency is plungingTechCrunch
CoinDesk -HuffPost -Financial Times -Bloomberg
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Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:34 am

Blockchain Startup Cypherium Partners with IC3 for Scaling Research

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

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:34 am

Maersk, IBM Spin Off Blockchain Trade Platform

Global shipping giant Maersk is spinning off its blockchain work with IBM in an effort to foster collaboration between competitors.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 5:00 am

Down 14 Percent: Bitcoin Charts Bearish Amid Asia Concerns - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Down 14 Percent: Bitcoin Charts Bearish Amid Asia Concerns
CoinDesk
At press time, prices were was at $11,966 levels, according to CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index. Notably, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is down 40 percent from its all-time high of $20,000 set just a month ago. The losses in ...
Ethereum dominates as value processed OVERTAKES bitcoinExpress.co.uk
Bitcoin and Ethereum Price Forecast – BTC In Consolidation as ETH Prepares for Next MoveYahoo Finance

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Posted on 16 January 2018 | 4:37 am

Down 14 Percent: Bitcoin Charts Bearish Amid Asia Concerns

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

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 4:30 am

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


CNBC

Bitcoin headed to $100000 in 2018, says analyst who predicted last year's price rise
CNBC
The CME and Cboe both launched bitcoin futures trading contracts last year. The move was seen as a way to get more institutional investors involved in the cryptocurrency market and legitimize it. But trading got off to a light start. Van-Petersen said ...

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 4:27 am

UNICEF Wants to Fund Early Stage Blockchain Startups

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

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:35 am

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

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

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 2:15 am

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

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

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 1:03 am

5 Blockchain Developments Coming in 2018

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:00 pm

New Report: Bitcoin Drug Money Laundering Is Highly Ce... | News ... - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

New Report: Bitcoin Drug Money Laundering Is Highly Ce... | News ...
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
A joint report by Center on Sanctions & Illicit Finance and Elliptic, a cryptocurrency forensics firm, has indicated that Bitcoin laundering for illicit drug activity is a highly centralized process. The report's authors, Yaya Fanusi and Tom Robinson ...

and more »

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:41 pm

China's Shutdown Of Bitcoin Miners Isn't Just About Electricity - Forbes


Forbes

China's Shutdown Of Bitcoin Miners Isn't Just About Electricity
Forbes
China's government is planning to shut down Bitcoin miners in its latest crackdown on the cryptocurrency. The Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation has requested that local governments make an “orderly exit” from the industry. China ...
Beijing really wants to kick bitcoin out of ChinaVICE News
Bitmain Reportedly Eyeing Canada for Bitcoin Mining Expansion ...CoinDesk
Bitcoin Price Analysis - The current bullish pennantBrave New Coin
Reuters -Bloomberg
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Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:34 pm

Housing or Dotcom: Which Bubble Does Cryptocurrency Mania Resemble?

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 5:19 pm

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

Stellar Wallet “BlackWallet” Hacked

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 2:31 pm

Road to Innovation? Truck Giant Penske Joins Blockchain Group

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 1:35 pm

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

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 12:37 pm

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

StLouisCrypto.jpg

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

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

Cryptocurrencies Are a Welcome Addition to the Current Currency System

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitcoin Is the Most Apparent Application of Blockchain Technology

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

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

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

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

Risks of Blockchain Technology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 11:04 am

Credit Suisse Argues Irrational Exuberance Around ICOs Indicates Bitcoin Bubble

creditsuisse.jpg

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

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

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

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

The ICO Boom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Authorities May Prevent Bitcoin from Becoming a Currency

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bitcoin Bubble Could Continue

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

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

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

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

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


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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:57 am

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

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:45 am

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to ... - TechCrunch


TechCrunch

Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to ...
TechCrunch
Researchers Neil Gandal, JT Hamrick, Tyler Moore, and Tali Oberman have written a fascinating paper on Bitcoin price manipulation. Entitled “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” and appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Monetary ...
Just One Person Found To Have Caused Bitcoin's Jump Fr... | News ...Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
A single trader could have caused the price of bitcoin to rise over 700% in 2013Business Insider
Bitcoin price MANIPULATION: Economists warn just ONE person may have caused value surgeExpress.co.uk

all 10 news articles »

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 10:43 am

Lithuania's Central Bank Unveils Blockchain Startup Sandbox

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 9:45 am

Nationwide Insurance Rolls Out Proof of Insurance on the RiskBlock Blockchain

Insurance Block.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:42 am

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

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

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 8:15 am

$15K in Sight? Bitcoin Prices Gather Upside Traction

Having defended $13,000, bitcoin looks set to explore a move towards $15,000 levels in the next 24 hours.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 5:00 am

Making Voting, Elections Both Secure and Accessible with Blockchain Technology

voatz.jpg

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

What is Voatz?

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

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

Accessibility and Security via Blockchain Technology

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

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

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

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

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

The Effect of Voting Technology on Disenfranchised Citizens

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

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

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

The Future of Voatz and Democracy

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 11 January 2018 | 10:02 am

Kodak Gets in on the Blockchain and ICO Picture

kodak.jpg

Kodak, the iconic photography company first established in in the 1880s, has joined the blockchain and ICO age. Today, January 9, 2018, it announced a new blockchain-based platform with WENN Digital to empower and protect image makers, photographers and artists.

The new platform, known as KodakOne, will enable users to register their work and license it with the platform. The image rights management platform will utilize the new KODAKCoin cryptocurrency to provide photographers with a new revenue stream and secure platform for protecting their work.

The smart contract associated with KODAKCoin will ensure that photographers receive payment immediately upon their work being licensed in addition to receiving a share of the overall platform revenue. The platform will also continually scan the web to monitor and protect the artist’s IP and assist them in dealing with illegal use of their work.

“For many in the tech industry, ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ are hot buzzwords, but for photographers who’ve long struggled to assert control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords are the keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem,” said Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke in a statement. “Kodak has always sought to democratize photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that.”

The KODAKOne platform and KODAKCoin cryptocurrency were developed for Kodak by WENN Digital. Their ICO will begin on January 31, 2018, and is open to accredited investors from the U.S., U.K., Canada and other select countries. This ICO is issued under SEC guidelines as a security token under Regulation 506 (c) as an exempt offering.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 9 January 2018 | 1:21 pm

How a Hackathon Birthed the CryptoKitties Origin Story

cryptokitty.jpg

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

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

Hackathons Breeding Blockchain Innovations

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

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

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

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

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

Hackathons Spark Creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 9 January 2018 | 11:46 am

UBI Blockchain Is the Latest in Series of SEC Cryptocurrency Crackdown Targets

UBI Bitcoin SEC Crackdown

In a story that is getting all too familiar recently, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) halted trading on yet another blockchain-related company stock, UBI Blockchain. The SEC explained:

"The Commission temporarily suspended trading in the securities of UBIA because of (i) questions regarding the accuracy of assertions, since at least September 2017, by UBIA in filings with the Commission regarding the company’s business operations; and (ii) concerns about recent, unusual and unexplained market activity in the company’s Class A common stock since at least November 2017."

Shares in UBI Blockchain traded as high as $115 after selling for just $0.55 less than a year ago; a couple of weeks ago it was trading at around $9. Bloomberg is reporting that UBI Blockchain has just 18 employees, no revenue, $15,406 dollars in cash on hand and $6.3 million in debt. UBI filed with the SEC in September 2017 for a planned sale of 72.3 million shares of stock by its executives, but the phone number listed in the filing has since been disconnected. The share halt started January 8, 2018, and will run through January 22, 2018.

Latest in a Series of Scam Crackdowns

On December 19, 2017, the shares of The Crypto Company were halted by the SEC over concerns of manipulative trading. The shares had surged in price by 2700% in a single month. The halt went through January 3, 2018, which saw the stock drop to $175 from its high of $642. Their 10-Q filing shows cause for concern: The company, which rebranded in July of 2017, had less than $600,000 in revenue, most of which was from trading cryptocurrency. The stock at its highest gave this company with seemingly few people and no product, a market cap of $6.5 billion.

Also in December, the SEC halted both the Munchee ICO and the Plexcoin ICO. Munchee ran afoul of the SEC by emphasizing they were creating a secondary market as an investment vehicle long in advance of the utility of the token being made available. The SEC complaint argued their token was considered a security regardless of their utility at the time of the sale. Munchee consented to the SEC’s order without admitting to or denying the findings and returned the investors’ money.

The SEC took a much heavier hand with Plexcoin, as their new Cyber Unit filed its first charges since being created in September 2017 to focus on misconduct involving distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) and initial coin offerings (ICOs). The scheme involved a recidivist Quebec securities law violator, Dominic Lacroix, and his partner, Sabrina Paradis-Royer.

The SEC obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of PlexCorps, Lacroix and Paradis-Royer. Chief of the Cyber Unit, Robert Cohen, said, "This first Cyber Unit case hits all of the characteristics of a full-fledged cyber scam and is exactly the kind of misconduct the unit will be pursuing. We acted quickly to protect retail investors from this initial coin offering's false promises."

In September 2017, the SEC had a double hitter with two companies from one person, Maksim Zaslavskiy. He was responsible for REcoin, touted as "the first ever cryptocurrency backed by real estate," and the Diamond Reserve Club. Neither company performed any of the actions that they claimed they would and neither had any of the resources touted. The SEC obtained an emergency court order to freeze the assets of Zaslavskiy and his companies.

Just today, we have news breaking that the CEO of Fantasy Markets, Jonathan Lucas, has allegedly disappeared with investors' money.

The SEC has also issued a statement concerning celebrity endorsements of ICOs out of concern for naive potential investors who may be swayed by big names selling dubious products.

Since the SEC started to pay attention to ICOs last summer, they’ve been taking a pretty understanding stance when dealing with enforcement. Andrew J. Chapin, the CEO of Benjacoin for example, describes how the SEC contacted him about his upcoming ICO in order to discuss what he and his company were planning. He says that he was glad he took the call and learned the “right way” to do things, instead of ignoring it and trying to skirt around the regulations. Thus, in these early days, it appears that the SEC is giving companies an opportunity to make things right, so far, without assessing fines or penalties. But how long that will last is anyone’s guess right now.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 9 January 2018 | 11:35 am

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

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

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

January 16, 2018 -
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