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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

UK's FCA Chief Warns Bitcoin Investors: Be Prepared to Lose Your Money

The head of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority has warned that people stand to lose their funds if they invest in bitcoin.

Posted on 15 December 2017 | 3:05 am

UK MARKETS CHIEF: 'Be prepared to lose your money' if you want to invest in bitcoin - Business Insider


Business Insider

UK MARKETS CHIEF: 'Be prepared to lose your money' if you want to invest in bitcoin
Business Insider
LONDON — The head of Britain's financial market regulator said bitcoin is not a real currency and warned people could lose all their money if they invest. Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told the BBC the cryptocurrency ...
UK finance watchdog head says no plans to push bitcoin regulationFinancial Times

all 14 news articles »

Posted on 15 December 2017 | 2:31 am

Feds moving quickly to cash in on seized bitcoin, now worth $8.4 million - Ars Technica


Ars Technica

Feds moving quickly to cash in on seized bitcoin, now worth $8.4 million
Ars Technica
In a court filing, prosecutors noted that due to the volatility of the Bitcoin market, both coins risk losing value. Both the BTC and the BCH have already been transferred to government-controlled wallets. The new round of seized digital currency ...

and more »

Posted on 15 December 2017 | 2:05 am

US Government to Sell Off $10 Million in Seized Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash

U.S. prosecutors in the state of Utah are moving to sell millions of dollars-worth of cryptocurrencies seized in an opioid drug case.

Posted on 15 December 2017 | 2:00 am

Survey: Most Bitcoin Investors Expect Even Fatter Returns in 2018

According to the survey by LendEDU, almost three-quarters of bitcoin investors in the U.S. plan to increase the size of their holdings next year.

Posted on 15 December 2017 | 12:54 am

Bitcoin: too risky or too good to miss? What the experts think - Financial Times


Financial Times

Bitcoin: too risky or too good to miss? What the experts think
Financial Times
As the bitcoin price began to nosedive — just a day after the cryptocurrency smashed through a $10,000 milestone — Alfred Churchill was frantic. Despite desperate attempts to withdraw thousands of dollars' worth of bitcoin from his account with ...
Litecoin: The Bitcoin rival whose price has risen five times faster than its big brotherTelegraph.co.uk
Commentary: Why Bitcoin Would Make a Great Holiday GiftFortune
Bitcoin fever exposes crypto-market frailtiesReuters
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News) -CBS News -VICE -CoinMarketCap
all 384 news articles »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 10:02 pm

2018: The Year We Make Cont(r)act

2017 may have been a historic year in blockchain, but Banca IMI's Massimo Morini argues the seeds for this revolution were sown in 2016.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 10:00 pm

Japanese company to start paying employees in bitcoin - The Guardian


The Guardian

Japanese company to start paying employees in bitcoin
The Guardian
A Japanese company will start paying part of its employees' salaries in Bitcoin, as it aims to gain better understanding of the virtual currency, a spokeswoman has said. GMO Internet, which operates a range of web-related businesses including finance ...
A company in Japan wants to start paying employees in BitcoinBusiness Insider
Japan's GMO Internet Group Will Pay Thousands of Workers in BitcoinBitcoin Magazine

all 13 news articles »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:54 pm

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A New York Woman Has Been Accused of Laundering Bitcoin to Support ISIS - TIME


TIME

A New York Woman Has Been Accused of Laundering Bitcoin to Support ISIS
TIME
(CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y.) — A Long Island woman is accused of laundering bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and wiring the money overseas to help the Islamic State group, according to federal prosecutors. Zoobia Shahnaz, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born ...
US woman used bitcoin to move cash to Islamic State, police sayBBC News
Woman charged with laundering money via bitcoin to support ISISABC News
DOJ Alleges Bitcoin Involved in Attempted ISIS FundingCoinDesk
Fox News -Telegraph.co.uk
all 44 news articles »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:22 pm

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Mimblewimble's Small Step: Grin Raises Funds for New Development

Bitcoin startup BlockCypher is among those backing development for a new alternative blockchain that aims to break cryptographic ground.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 8:35 pm

Want to Invest In Bitcoin? Here's What You Need to Know - Money Magazine


Money Magazine

Want to Invest In Bitcoin? Here's What You Need to Know
Money Magazine
Bitcoin has captured America's imagination. Whether or not the cryptocurrency will ultimately turn out to be a good investment or just a passing fad remains to be seen. Indeed, in the past several months Bitcoin prices have enjoyed a run-up that makes ...

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 3:33 pm

DOJ Alleges Bitcoin Involved in Attempted ISIS Funding

Prosecutors have accused a New York woman of using credit cards to purchase bitcoin and then launder those funds to send money to ISIS.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 3:20 pm

Garzik Forks UnitedBitcoin Away from "Maximalists" to Support Altcoin Communities

Garzik Forks UnitedBitcoin Away from "Maximalists" to Support Altcoin Communities

A new project called UnitedBitcoin (warning: the site autoplays audio) promises to add smart contract features using the UTXO model, support for the lightning network and SegWit, and eight-megabyte blocks. Headed up by Jeff Garzik, the lead developer behind the failed SegWit2x hard fork, along with Matthew Roszak and SongXiu Hua, this UnitedBitcoin (UB) hard fork will offer replay protection to prevent people from accidentally spending their coins on both the Bitcoin and the UnitedBitcoin blockchains.

Garzik told Bitcoin Magazine that “10% of the total worldwide SHA-256 hash power” has moved to the new UB network, with much of the support coming from China and older mining equipment that was no longer profitable due to the escalating difficulty in mining bitcoin. He noted that UB is already supported on the ZB and EXX exchanges.

The UB white paper outlines how lost bitcoins have created deflationary pressure that has pushed the price up. Because those bitcoins are out of circulation, the supply is further decreased. One of the issues that UB seeks to address is to find a purpose both for those lost bitcoins and for “inactive” wallets by creating a stable cryptocurrency linked to their addresses.

All active Bitcoin addresses will receive the same balance on the UB chain, much like previous forks. The balances of UB on inactive addresses, however, will be confiscated by the UB Foundation and used to “serve the community.”

Inactive addresses are defined in the white paper as “addresses without activity since block height #494000 (November 11, 2017) and as a result didn’t automatically receive UBTC during phase 1 of the asset allocation procedure.”

UB does not distinguish between an “inactive” address and one which is simply being used by a long-time "hodler."

“There is no difference. An inactive account is an inactive account,” said Garzik. “Like during [the] Ethereum new coin creation, you had to take a proactive step, otherwise you got zero [ether]. This is normal for new token creation — new chain, new ERC20, but different from all other Bitcoin Forks. We are trying to do something new and different.”

Anyone with a prior balance of 0.01 BTC in an “inactive” address at the time of the November 11 fork can still get UB tokens, so long as they are willing to take such a “proactive step”: that is, they make at least one transfer to their own Bitcoin address between Block 498,777 and Block 501,878 (December 12, 2017, to 12:00 GMT on January 3, 2018).

Only the original address can make the transfer to itself, and the receiving address must be used as one of the sending (input) addresses.

One privacy issue to consider is that in order to “proactively” claim BU tokens, the protocol forces users to reuse their Bitcoin addresses; this action puts privacy at risk and, unless it is done carefully, may link many of the users’ coins together.

It's a gold mine for blockchain deanonymization, merging up UTXOs and reusing addresses. Can't help but think such an artificial qualification is deliberate.

— Johnathan Corgan (@jmcorgan) December 13, 2017

User privacy protection is not the only part of the protocol that is drawing criticism, however.

“The code contains a god mode; it’s literally called that,” Blockchain developer Sjors Provoost said to Bitcoin Magazine. He said that it appears as if this “god mode” will create a multisignature address that belongs to a (yet-to-be-defined) UnitedBitcoin Foundation.

“Unlike previous airdrops, the initial coin distribution is not determined by a consensus rule,” he added. “This means that even if you were to run the full UB node software (which you should not), you will have no way of knowing for sure how many coins you get. Conversely, if you already had bitcoin, you won’t know how many of ‘your’ coins will be confiscated. You simply have to trust their promise to take and redistribute coins as their marketing promises.”

According to Provoost, the new consensus rule allows the owner of this foundation address to spend any UTXO they want. “These confiscations will be included in holy blocks, which can be created during the first 500 blocks after the fork. This is how they implement the redistribution as I just described, but they can do much more.”

Furthermore, Provoost is concerned about the quality of the code itself. “Garzik’s previous project SegWit2x tried to keep its changes relative to Core to a bare minimum. Although at the time of the planned fork their code base was about a year behind Bitcoin Core, it didn’t introduce many changes,” he pointed out.

“UnitedBitcoin on the other hand has introduced far more changes, making the task of tracking Bitcoin Core far more difficult. It’s not as many changes as Bitcoin Unlimited and Bitcoin Cash, and the problem is somewhat mitigated by them sunsetting the more complicated consensus changes like god mode. However, even the small change in SegWit2x had a widely publicized serious bug in it and there are rumors of more.”

What Happens to Those “Reclaimed” Tokens?

Garzik has plans to “build a better Tether” by using the UB reserve, funded by coins reclaimed from “inactive” addresses. According to the project, 70 percent of confiscated UB coins will be held as collateral to issue stable tokens pegged to a fiat currency.

“The UB reserve can be used as a backing asset for a stable, non-volatile currency,” said Garzik. “This is auditable and transparent and on the blockchain. It will be over-collateralized, 200–300% to maintain the stability even in the face of a volatile price of the reserve.”

The remaining 30 percent of the confiscated coins will support another new feature: owners of QTUM, H-shares and ether will receive a share of the remaining redistributed UB.  

UB is experimenting with a new model: engage multiple communities — ETH, Qtum — rather than following the tired model of rewarding Bitcoin maximalists with a coin they dislike and will just dump on day 1.

According to Garzik, the specific claim process for the redistribution of UB has yet to be determined. “The UB board is still being put in place — things are moving very fast — and this will include more specifics on governance and community allocations.”

The scheduled timeline of what has been released and what is coming breaks down as follows:

December 12, 2017:

Fork of Bitcoin to UnitedBitcoin (at block height #498,777) with support for:

  • Increased block size to 8 MB

  • SegWit support

  • Replay Protection

  • Asset Allocation

January 3, 2018:
  • End of Asset Allocation phase #2

  • Pegged currency based on color currency

February 28, 2018:
  • Launch of smart contract support

April 28, 2018:
  • Launch of lightning network support



The post Garzik Forks UnitedBitcoin Away from "Maximalists" to Support Altcoin Communities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 2:57 pm

Goodbye Ethereum: Kik Plans to Move Its ICO Tokens to Stellar

Kik founder Ted Livingston announced on Wednesday that his company was moving its Kin token app from ethereum to Stellar.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 2:00 pm

Malaysia's Central Bank Releases Draft Rules for Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Bank Negara Malaysia published draft guidelines for cryptocurrency exchanges to report their usage statistics to prevent illicit transactions.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 1:00 pm

Intel Sees Role for 'Blockchain Mining' in Genetic Sequencing

In a newly released patent application, Intel describes how it could run genetic sequencing operations on a blockchain.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 12:00 pm

A Guide to the World Bitcoin Created - Scientific American


Fortune

A Guide to the World Bitcoin Created
Scientific American
Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies. Smart contracts. Many people have now heard of the rapidly changing ecosystem of financial technology, but few have wrapped their heads around it. Hundreds of central banks and corporations are incubating a game-changing ...
Why Bitcoin is Surging in the Countries Trying Hardest to Stop ItFortune
Is it Ever Too Late to Buy Bitcoin? $100 Then and NowCointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Are Japanese housewives fuelling the Bitcoin bubble?NEWS.com.au

all 46 news articles »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 11:04 am

Denmark Could Tap Blockchain For Foreign Aid Delivery, Says Report

Denmark's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a new report on the applicability of blockchain to foreign aid.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 11:00 am

Yellowing Paper: What's Delaying a Crucial Ethereum Update?

The paper that's meant to provide the rules for computers running ethereum's software is out of date, and agreeing an update may not be so easy.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 10:00 am

Japan's GMO Internet Group Will Pay Thousands of Workers in Bitcoin

Japanese Firm GMO Will Pay Thousands of Workers in Bitcoin

Blockchain development companies and the cryptocurrency press have been paying their workers in cryptocurrencies for years, but one realizes that the times are truly changing when mainstream companies start paying their workers in bitcoin.

GMO Internet Group, a Japanese provider of a full spectrum of internet services for both the consumer and enterprise markets, is introducing a system for employees to receive part of their salary in bitcoin.

Headquartered in Tokyo, GMO Internet Group comprises more than 60 companies in 10 countries. In view of the group’s size and financial muscle, this initiative is likely to boost the mainstream adoption of the practice of paying salaries in cryptocurrencies.

The move is partly motivated by the desire to promote the adoption of Bitcoin, which is a strategic priority for GMO. In fact, the group is vigorously active in bitcoin trading and mining services, as well as mining hardware development. Therefore, anything that is good for Bitcoin is also good for GMO.

In May 2017, GMO launched a cryptocurrency exchange, initially dubbed Z.com Coin and later rebranded as GMO Coin, which features cryptocurrency FX and trading on both computers and smartphones. The exchange offers two types of services: cryptocurrency FX, which is an over-the-counter (OTC) bitcoin margin trading and cryptocurrency trading, which enables buying and selling of virtual currency in JPY in addition to basic features allowing customers to send and receive bitcoins.

In September 2017, GMO announced the upcoming launch of a new bitcoin mining business. “We will operate a next-generation mining center utilizing renewable energy and cutting-edge semiconductor chips in Northern Europe,” GMO stated, emphasizing that they will invest in R&D and manufacturing of hardware including the next-generation mining chip.

“We will use cutting-edge 7 nm process technology for chips to be used in the mining process, and jointly work on its research and development and manufacturing with our alliance partner having semiconductor design technology.” The mining business is scheduled to start in January 2018.

GMO expressed its belief that cryptocurrencies will develop into “new universal currencies” available to anyone from any country or region who wants to freely exchange value, “creating a new borderless economic zone.”

The option to receive part of the salary in bitcoin will initially only be available to employees of one GMO company — GMO Internet Co. Ltd. — starting in March 2018, but it will be gradually extended to more than 4,000 employees in other GMO companies based in Japan.

The minimum bitcoin payment will initially be 10,000 yen (~$88) and the upper limit will be 100,000 yen (~$881). Each salary payment in yen will be reduced by the amount of bitcoin paid, using the exchange rate at the GMO Coin exchange.

Mainichi Japan notes that Japan's labor code stipulates that businesses must pay employees in a recognized currency such as the yen, but, according to GMO, the move is in accordance with the law because any payments in bitcoin would be consensual, with a chosen amount to be deducted from paychecks and put toward purchasing bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is rising in popularity in Japan with an increasing number of retailers accepting it as a form of payment.

GMO Internet Group wants to contribute to the development of cryptocurrencies in the world by promoting cryptocurrency-related initiatives throughout the group. In particular, GMO wants to promote ownership of bitcoin among its employees — who can be the best evangelists for the group’s products and services related to the digital currency — to improve the employees’ exposure to and understanding of Bitcoin.

“Employers can now pay employees a portion of their net earnings in bitcoin by collaborating with niche payroll solution providers such as Bitwage, Wagepoint, or Bitpay, who manage the back-end mechanics, eliminate exposure to price volatility, and reduce compliance and governance risks,” noted Deloitte principal Eric Piscini.

A recent overview of cryptocurrency payroll processors and early adopting clients notes that offering salaries in bitcoin could make it easier for companies to retain and attract talent. Besides compensating current employees, “[cryptocurrencies] could help businesses more effectively tap into the open talent economy, where individual contributors may be drawn to business partners that offer payout features only cryptocurrency makes possible: fast peer-to-peer payments across country borders with minimal friction (or total freedom) from traditional banking systems,” said Piscini.

For now, the GMO press release is available only in Japanese.


The post Japan's GMO Internet Group Will Pay Thousands of Workers in Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:14 am

Gibraltar to Launch License Scheme for Blockchain Startups

Gibraltar will publish guidance explaining how to apply its new blockchain legislation to startups on Friday.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:05 am

Up 50%: Ripple's XRP Sets Price Record Amid Overstretched Rally

Ripple's XRP cryptocurrency is scaling new heights today, but the rally looks overbought, according to price chart analysis.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 8:10 am

First Came Bitcoin. Then Came Bitcoin Lenders | Fortune - Fortune


Fortune

First Came Bitcoin. Then Came Bitcoin Lenders | Fortune
Fortune
The woes of an early bitcoin investor. Until recently, people who paid virtually nothing for the virtual currency and watched it soar had only one way to enjoy their new wealth — sell. And many weren't ready. Lenders on the fringe of the financial ...

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 7:13 am

It's Time for Governments to Embrace Blockchain

Governments haven't typically been thought of as early blockchain adopters. That could soon change, writes IBM's Marie Wieck.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 7:00 am

Bitcoin Looks Lower In Chase for 'Small Cap' Gains

Soon after an all-time-high above $17,630 on the CoinDesk's price index, bitcoin prices are starting to look towards sub-$16,000 levels.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 6:00 am

Court Approves U.S. Extradition for Alleged BTC-e Operator

A Greek court has given the green light for the U.S. extradition of Alexander Vinnik, the alleged former operator of bitcoin exchange BTC-e.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 5:15 am

Japanese Shipping Giant, IBM to Trial Blockchain in Cross-Border Trade

Japanese shipping firm Mitsui OSK Lines and partners including IBM are to undertake a blockchain trial aimed to streamline international trade flows.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 4:00 am

India's Tax Department Collects User Data at Multiple Bitcoin Exchanges

The Indian Income Tax Department has visited bitcoin exchanges across the country seeking data on tax avoiding users.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 3:00 am

Out With the Old? Blockchain Requires a New Regulatory Approach

What if an ICO is just an ICO? Eva Kaili argues regulations need more imaginative approaches to blockchain.

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 2:00 am

IcyWallet Offers a Cold Storage Bitcoin Wallet for the Visually Impaired

IcyWallet Offers a Cold Storage Bitcoin Wallet for the Visually Impaired

Safely storing cryptocurrency can be confusing, especially for newcomers to the space, but for people with visual impairments, finding an accessible option is especially challenging.

IcyWallet is a cold wallet with a difference: it is designed to make it as simple as possible for people with visual impairments to manage offline bitcoin storage.

The project got its start when Adam Newbold and his wife took a braille reading course as a learning activity. Shortly afterward, Newbold struck up a Reddit conversation with a blind Bitcoin enthusiast who expressed frustration with the lack of support for the blind community from Bitcoin software developers. None of the wallets worked correctly in his reader and he required help to perform any functions with bitcoin.

“I learned even more about practical accessibility issues and the real-world challenges that the blind encounter every day,” Newbold told Bitcoin Magazine. “This turned into a stronger personal interest that merged with my existing interest in Bitcoin when I realized that there are pretty big opportunities for improving the state of accessibility in Bitcoin software.”

He started a campaign in October 2017 to create a braille version of the original Bitcoin white paper. That campaign was successful and the document is now available for anyone wanting to get a copy.

That first success led Newbold to create the IcyWallet. His goal is to provide a 100 percent free and open source bitcoin hardware wallet for the blind. Work is currently underway with early milestones achieved, the progress of which is tracked on their website.

“One of the points you hear a lot about Bitcoin is that you can ‘be your own bank,’ which always sounds fun and empowering (and it is!),” said Newbold. “But it also means that you need to take responsibility for all of the things that banks do, like keeping your funds secure.”

He explained that even though today’s technology has solved a substantial number of issues that people with disabilities face, when it comes to bitcoin and security, there are still several missing pieces.

“There isn’t any kind of hardware wallet on the market today that’s fully accessible to people with blindness,” said Newbold, “and there are barriers to setting up secured, air-gapped solutions. This leaves people with blindness limited choices that all involve compromising security to some degree. With the IcyWallet, the private keys never leave the device.”

According to Newbold, here is how the device will work:

  • First, the transaction is generated on a (different) computer connected to the internet, so that the fee can be properly estimated;

  • Then, the transaction is signed by the IcyWallet device;

  • Finally, the transaction is broadcasted to the Bitcoin network back on the internet-connected device. This keeps the IcyWallet device completely offline, ensuring that the private keys are safe at all times.

Users simply plug in headphones and a keyboard or a refreshable braille display. The device boots directly into the wallet app with functional audio and braille support.

“Refreshable braille display support means that it will even support someone with deaf/blindness right out of the box,” said Newbold.

IcyWallet generates hierarchical deterministic wallets with mnemonic seeds for safe backup. The code is developed using the BitcoinJS library and is intended to be run on an “air-gapped” Raspberry Pi, though Newbold points out that, in theory, the software can run on other hardware.

Newbold has plans to make a demo video/audio track available soon, as well as an early release of the software (probably limited to wallet generation only) so that he can start to get more feedback and code suggestions that will improve the IcyWallet.

As Bitcoin in particular, and cryptocurrencies in general, see wider adoption, the implementation of greater accessibility systems will be important to their continued growth. IcyWallet is expected to launch at some point in 2018.



The post IcyWallet Offers a Cold Storage Bitcoin Wallet for the Visually Impaired appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 11:27 am

New In-Game Cryptocurrency Systems Let You Buy Assets in the Virtual Reality World

New In-Game Cryptocurrency Systems Let You Buy Assets in the Virtual World

High Fidelity is announcing the launch of Avatar Island, a VR domain where High Fidelity users can purchase items for their avatars, all contributed by digital artists from around the world.

High Fidelity is a next-generation platform for Virtual Reality (VR) worlds developed by Philip Rosedale, the creator of the once very popular Second Life. In September 2017, the company announced that it was developing a blockchain for intellectual property protection and an in-game cryptocurrency .

“I’ve been looking at blockchain technology since Second Life, as the Linden dollar was one of the first digital goods currencies,” said Rosedale. “At the time that Bitcoin came out, I was thinking a lot about how we could generalize what we did at Second Life. I didn’t have all of the ideas, but in the last few quarters we have been building the backend system to make all of this work.”

Different sorts of VR items, such as custom wearables for avatars (which were and still are very successful in the Second Life marketplace) will be sold and bought in Avatar Island through a new cryptocurrency running on a blockchain, which will also track the history and ownership of each item.

“[This] is the first beta release of the commerce system, which is a cryptocurrency-based content protection and payment system,” said Rosedale in the High Fidelity forum. “[Behind]  the scenes, the currency is actually stored on a ‘blockchain’ very similar to Bitcoin but supporting a higher transaction rate and lower fees. This blockchain also stores the PoP [Proof of Provenance] information for digital goods, meaning that both your currency and your digital property will exist in a public database and cannot be altered.”

Contrary to Second Life, where the only option available to external operators was to host their VR worlds on servers operated by Second Life developer Linden Lab, High Fidelity allows developers to host VR worlds independently. In November 2017, High Fidelity released an update that allows developers to rapidly deploy High Fidelity VR domains to the cloud, in collaboration with DigitalOcean. The distributed nature of the upcoming High Fidelity VR network calls for full interoperability between different servers, including network-wide recognition of ownership rights.

High Fidelity’s Digital Asset Registry (DAR), is a decentralized, publicly auditable ledger that serves as a record of transactions made by High Fidelity users. Each item is uniquely identified with a digital fingerprint (a hash algorithm) and can be purchased using High Fidelity’s blockchain-based cryptocurrency, the High Fidelity Coin (HFC). The DAR includes tamper-proof PoP services for any asset’s chain of ownership, its characteristics and its entire history, from certification onward.

This approach is designed to solve the theft and counterfeiting problems that plagued Second Life. At the apex of Rosedale’s first VR world’s popularity, thousands of independent developers around the world made a living designing and selling virtual items, and the need for more solid anti-piracy measures was widely felt.

According to High Fidelity, the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains have limited throughput (transactions per second) and high transaction fees, which makes them unsuitable for HFC. Therefore, Rosedale’s team opted for a new, public but “permissioned” blockchain.

In a promotional video that predicts a booming future for the VR sector, with a billion users, 50 million servers and a trillion dollar economy, Rosedale explains the design and implementation criteria for High Fidelity’s blockchain.

“As of today, the blockchain is one node using the [Elements] codebase from Blockstream,” said Rosedale. “We’re going to federate it to a managed group of blocksigners and also provide a block explorer and a full read-only node as well, so that we have many backups of the blockchain. This is similar to the [DPoS] (Delegated Proof of Stake) model being used by [EOS] and others for upcoming public blockchains.”

For now, the High Fidelity Commerce system is in closed beta, and High Fidelity is giving HFCs to anyone interested in participating in the beta. Eventually, HFC will be traded on public exchanges like other cryptocurrencies.

“In the coming weeks and months, we will be attaching the HFC blockchain in several ways to the major cryptocurrency networks to enable you to freely trade HFC for other currencies like Bitcoin or Ether, or to use exchange markets to convert it back to real-world currency if you like,” said Rosedale. Considering high price volatility as a roadblock, High Fidelity will try and stabilize the value of HFC at 100 HFC = $1 USD.

Before getting too excited and rushing to buy HFC, it’s worth bearing in mind that Second Life never achieved mass-market appeal, and that could become the fate of High Fidelity as well. However, it can be argued that Second Life was launched too early, and modern VR interfaces, like the headsets and hand controllers developed by Facebook’s Oculus VR, could be the game changer that will permit High Fidelity to succeed where Second Life failed. As always, time will tell.

Crytek

Another VR game developer and technology provider, Crytek, is announcing a partnership with cryptocurrency startup Crycash to create a new cryptocurrency for gamers. Crytek is the maker of the high-performance game development platform CryEngine and publisher of many highly realistic VR games that are popular among hardcore gamers.

“The Crycash ecosystem solves two problems at once: it gives gamers a way to monetize game time by completing in-game tasks, set by game developers, while providing developers with decentralized sales options for games and other virtual items,” said Crycash CEO Wachtang Budagaschwili. “Crycash will consist of four major components: Plink, a communications app for gamers and Crycash wallet; an advertising platform; an eSports platform for gaming tournaments and other events; and a virtual asset marketplace.”

“We see a lot of potential in the Crycash concept, and we were impressed by the Crycash team’s innovative approach to creating practical products and tools for gamers,” said Crytek Managing Director Faruk Yerli.

Crycash will hold a token sale from December 12, 2017, to January 15, 2018, and add Crycash payment options to games from Crytek and other developers.



The post New In-Game Cryptocurrency Systems Let You Buy Assets in the Virtual Reality World appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 10:23 am

Munchee ICO Halted by SEC for Securities Violations

Munchee ICO Halted by SEC for Securities Violations

On December 11, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) issued a cease-and-desist to California-based Munchee Inc. to stop their ICO and return the funds that had been collected.

Munchee had been seeking $15 million in capital to improve their existing mobile app and create a restaurant review ecosystem that they described as being “Yelp meets Instagram” in their Bitcointalk announcement. The problem arose when Munchee emphasized that it would take steps to create a secondary market for the tokens as an investment vehicle, leading investors to have a reasonable belief that their tokens would rise in value, long in advance of the utility of the token being made available.

In the SEC announcement, Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC Enforcement Division, said, “We will continue to scrutinize the market vigilantly for improper offerings that seek to sell securities to the general public without the required registration or exemption. In deciding not to impose a penalty, the Commission recognized that the company stopped the ICO quickly, immediately returned the proceeds before issuing tokens, and cooperated with the investigation.”

In the SEC complaint, the commission argued that the MUN tokens were considered securities because “they were investment contracts” and were deemed 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.

The action is significant as it shows the willingness of the SEC to step in and take action. It also illustrates a willingness on the part of the SEC to work with companies that are cooperative when they run afoul of the regulations.

The post Munchee ICO Halted by SEC for Securities Violations appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 3:19 pm

Bitcoin Futures Are Here: The Story So Far

cboefutures.jpg

The week ahead will give better future indication of Bitcoin derivatives products as yesterday at 6 p.m. EST, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) allowed bitcoin futures to begin trading under the symbol “XBT.” Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) is set to allow futures trading in the cryptocurrency of their own accord on December 18, 2017. Bitcoin futures were up over 20 percent leading into the U.S. market open. Current appetite for the futures contracts seems to show a stronger preference for near-term bitcoin futures priced above the current spot rate. According to the CBOE twitter feed, over 800 contracts were traded in the first two hours.

47c7ff34bce0ce6132eef3b1762bee2b.png

Image source: CBOE delayed quotes dashboard as of 3:53 PM. EST

At least one outage plagued the CBOE in early trading, including two minutes of downtime from 8:31 p.m. EST to 8:33 p.m. EST, while the CBOE stated at 11:34 p.m. EST that there would be a 5-minute hiatus if the front month (January expiration) rose above 30 percent.

square cboe

Image Source: www.cboe.com

These deliberate halts in trading are known as “circuit breakers” and are meant to protect the market from unmanageable volatility.

While we wait to see how futures trading unfolds in the U.S. markets today, here are some of the notable events that got us into a world of bitcoin futures.

October 31

The CME Group gave bitcoin investors around the world a bit of a Halloween treat when they announced plans to allow bitcoin futures to be traded on their exchange. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s announcement notably coincided with the anniversary of the publication of Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakomoto’s original 2008 white paper on the cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts took this as a signal of mainstream acceptance of the asset class, and bitcoin closed the day (according to historical data provided by www.coinmarketcap.com) at $6,468.40. When futures trading opened last night, bitcoin was trading at $14,901.70.

December 1, 2017

Regulators gave bitcoin futures the green light for the CME Group as well as for self-certification by the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) as well as for the Cantor Exchange’s new contract for bitcoin binary options. The exchanges assured the CFTC that the new products were compliant with the self-certification process rules, and the CFTC refrained from halting the self-certification. CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo stated in a press release:  

Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past…[a]s a result, we have had extensive discussions with the exchanges regarding the proposed contracts, and CME, CFE and Cantor have agreed to significant enhancements to protect customers and maintain orderly markets.

December 4

The CBOE announced it would launch futures trading in bitcoin under the symbol “XBT” on Sunday night, December 10, 2017, at 6 p.m. EST. This move was seen as a manoever to beat the earlier announcement from the competing CME that they would allow futures trading in bitcoin beginning December 18, 2017. Not surprisingly, the CBOE’s usage of the exchange platform Gemini, owned by the Winklevoss twins, may allow the newly minted “Bitcoin Billionaires” to further capitalize on the successes of the cryptocurrencies.

December 5

A Natixis Investment Managers Survey of 500 global investors managing more than $19 trillion of assets has found that “nearly two-thirds [of survey participants] said Bitcoin was in a bubble, and this was a month before the cryptocurrency surged above $10,000 last week.”

Also bearish on bitcoin was Stephen Roach, a Yale University economist who told CNBC’s “The Rundown” that exchange legitimization makes bitcoin “somewhat dangerous [for investors],” citing a “lack of intrinsic underlying economic value to the concept.”

December 6

S3 Partners, a data research and analytics firm, sent this note to investors on GBTC ETF, the only ETF which trades bitcoin. In the note, Managing Director of Predictive Analytics at S3, Ihor Dusaniwsky, suggested that bitcoin as an asset would be “ripe for a pullback once the CBOE futures contracts go live” but also cautioned that the fees for shorting the GBTC ETF will be extremely high. While futures contracts would enable easier and safer access to both long and short positions, Dusaniwsky noted, futures trading would also carry premium costs for all GBTC ETF investors, stating:

Long GBTC holders may feel the pain of its 53% asset premium shrinking, while short sellers will probably be incurring a 50%+ stock borrow fee — both sides will be paying a premium in order to ride the Bitcoin rollercoaster once the CBOE futures start trading.

Also on December 6, 2017, trading volume for BTC nearly doubled from 6.9 billion to 12.7 billion and crosses the 10 billion volume threshold for the first time since Bitcoin crossed $10,000 (November 28, 2017). Whether this run up was related to the prospect of bitcoin futures or just normal market machinations is unclear.

historical cboe

Screenshot of historical data from Coinmarketcap.com (link above)

December 7

The Futures Industry Association, an industry organization whose primary members consist of the largest clearing houses and clearing firms for futures in the world, published an open letter it had sent to the CFTC chairman on December 6, 2017, decrying the lack of “a healthy dialogue between regulators, exchanges, clearing houses and the clearing firms who will be absorbing the risk of these volatile, emerging instruments during a default.” This is in spite of the fact that the letter also admits that, “Under law, exchanges may self-certify a product for trading by the close of business one day and then list the product for trading the next day.This process does not require CFTC approval or input…”

Also on December 7, in a joint interview with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, stated that, “We’ll [Goldman Sachs] see. If it works out and it gets more established and it trades like a store value and it doesn't move up and down 20% and there's liquidity in it, we’ll get to it.”

That same interview includes the suggestion that, according to an unnamed source with knowledge of Goldman Sachs plans, the investment bank plans to help clear bitcoin futures contracts for certain clients when the derivatives go live and that “the decision to clear client trades will be made on a case-by-case basis.” Goldman Sachs “will act in an agency capacity” and “won’t serve as a market-maker or build inventory in the derivatives.”

December 8

As the normal trading week came to an end, Coinbase and its exchange platform GDAX sent a reminder from Coinbase CEO, Brian Armstrong, to its users via blog and email to “invest responsibly,” also noting that “there may be downtime which can impact your ability to trade.” While seemingly innocuous, it appears the Coinbase team was preparing for a surge in trading volume that would crash its platform. At 10 p.m. on December 10, 2017, Coinbase tweeted that it would be offline for one hour of scheduled maintenance to “help to prevent slow performance and login issues during larger traffic surges.”

Conclusion

The market on Bitcoin Futures is open for business. After 14 hours of premarket bitcoin futures and a full day of trading from both European and U.S. investors, “XBT” seems to be functioning as planned. While spectators of the past week have foretold of everything from rosy outlooks to apocryphal warnings, we, at least for the moment, seem to be on a path toward embracing cryptocurrency futures as a new wave of derivatives.

The post Bitcoin Futures Are Here: The Story So Far appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 2:38 pm

A Vibrant Community: Viberate’s Key to ICO and Product Success

Viberate

For most of the year, a heated debate has been raging across markets and industries about the regulation, speculation and proper utilization of cryptocurrencies and, more specifically, ICOs. With the increased popularity of ICOs and the overall phenomenon of digital currencies, more business professionals than ever before want to know what it takes for a company to launch an ICO and, subsequently, what they’ll need for success and legitimacy.


Live music platform Viberate’s record-breaking ICO raised $11 million in under five minutes. One key to their success was the concept of their VIB token — a live music industry token any user can earn and spend. Viberate’s first and current phase after raising money is to implement the VIB token into their ecosystem as an incentive mechanism.


It’s all about the community


Viberate’s successful initial coin offering is best seen as a reflection of the VIB token’s unique value compared with what else is offered in the live music industry. As with most blockchain-powered marketplaces, user engagement is the most essential part of Viberate’s platform and that is why the company has maintained a persistent vision of giving a voice to their community members and supporters. Based on the belief that live music should be accessible to all, Viberate reached out to users so they could contribute to the community and the community responded.


How to Earn VIB Tokens


Users in the Viberate ecosystem earn VIB tokens through social engagement such as posting on forums and across social media; inviting friends to join the community; publishing promotional content, provided by Viberate; and making contributions to Viberate’s database, such as adding new artists, venues or events to the database and suggesting changes to the existing profiles (provided it’s approved by the editorial team).


Moving Forward


Viberate managed to create a demand for their product by offering a secure, easily traceable token that offers real value, not just in fiat currency but in Viberate’s community. The company transfers 5,000 VIBs into the pool each day for the first 2,000 days during which the bounty pool will be drained in different time periods. Subsequently, at the end of each period, the total amount of VIB will be distributed among contributors, whose awarded actions will be marked valid by the editorial team in the respective period.


Users are able to see their VIBs balance and the value in fiat, as with most digital wallets, but that’s not all - users are able to spend VIB tokens in freshly launched VIB store, selling celebrity merchandise, Viberate merchandise and selected event tickets. In the future users will be able to spend VIBs for paying booking fees, subscribing to premium services, and even advertising on Viberate. But what is the roadmap for the next few months? By end of 2017, Viberate is scheduled to launch booking agency profiles and in Phase 2, Viberate plans to expand their service with event organizer profiles and marketplace features.


With the goal of becoming the go-to digital currency and biggest talent marketplace for the live music industry, Viberate is setting out to engage its users through empowerment one phase at a time.


The post A Vibrant Community: Viberate’s Key to ICO and Product Success appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 1 December 2017 | 10:17 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

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

December 15, 2017 -
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