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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

The Value of Bitcoin Has Almost Doubled This Month - Fortune


Fortune

The Value of Bitcoin Has Almost Doubled This Month
Fortune
The surge of the value of the cryptocurrency can be attributed to a number in factors, including Bitcoin's new legitimacy in countries like Japan and China. In December, the Denmark-based Saxo Bank predicted Bitcoin's value would increase 165% in 2017.
Consensus 2017: BitPay CEO Calls Bitcoin Fork 'Only Option' For ...CoinDesk

all 5 news articles »

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 6:17 am

Consensus 2017 Day 1 Recap: Collaboration, Education and Patience

CoinDesk's Noelle Acheson recaps a whirlwind day one at Consensus 2017, CoinDesk's New York blockchain conference.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 6:00 am

$2000 Handle For Bitcoin - The Financial Drone - Seeking Alpha


Seeking Alpha

$2000 Handle For Bitcoin - The Financial Drone
Seeking Alpha
On Monday, May 22 the price of Bitcoin traded to an all-time high at just under $2300. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, which means that it is a digit means of exchange. Encryption techniques regulate the generation of units currency and transfer funds ...

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 4:15 am

Consensus 2017: People and Machine Problems – Solved with Blockchain?

In sessions focused on global issues and IoT at Consensus 2017 yesterday, the possibilities and hurdles for blockchain tech took centre stage.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 4:00 am

Consensus 2017: The Legality of ICOs – Past and Future

Afternoon panel sessions at day one of Consensus 2017 showcased a variety of positions on the emerging phenomenon of token sales.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:00 am

Bitcoin continues its massive surge - New York Post


New York Post

Bitcoin continues its massive surge
New York Post
The often maligned crypto-currency continued its incredible run on Monday, soaring to nearly $2,200 at 10:30 p.m. — leaving it up 124 percent this year and ahead nearly 400 percent over the past 12 months, according to Coindesk.

and more »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:31 pm

EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Expansion Announcement

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) has announced that 86 new members have joined the initiative that aims to bolster innovation around the Ethereum blockchain. The EEA, founded by corporate giants such as Microsoft, Intel and BP, views the Ethereum blockchain as a potential treasure trove of innovative opportunity.

Ethereum cryptocurrency founder Vitalik Buterin has praised the EEA, saying, “The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance project can play an important role in standardizing approaches for privacy, permissioning and providing alternative consensus algorithms to improve its usability in enterprise settings, and the resources the project and its members are contributing should accelerate the advancement of the Ethereum ecosystem generally.”

There are some more big names jumping into the alliance, joining Santander, ConsenSys and BlockApps. Some new members include Deloitte, Samsung SDS and the National Bank of Canada: all looking to build, promote and support Ethereum-based technology.

Deloitte is not new to Ethereum. Eric Piscini, Deloitte’s Global Blockchain Financial Services leader, said in a statement, “We have been investing on the Ethereum platform for a while. We are excited to actively contribute to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and drive blockchain adoption globally.”

Kwang Woo Song, vice president of Distributed Ledger Technology Business Group at Samsung SDS, stated, “As a company whose key focus and experience is in delivering solutions for enterprise business, joining the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was a clear decision for us. Ethereum is one of the fastest growing blockchain technologies, with potential to provide exceptional benefit to enterprises.”

“The enthusiasm around EEA is remarkable,” said Julio Faura, the chairman of EEA. “Our new members come from varying industries such as pharma, mobile, banking, automotive, management consulting and hardware, as well as the startup community driving innovation. It’s great to see everyone come together and build the next generation of our economy on Ethereum blockchain solutions.”

Companies joining the EEA in this announcement include names like Elevondata Labs Inc., Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Hashed Health, Gem and Ledger. The collaborative efforts that may arise among the membership could lead to giant leaps in the Ethereum blockchain technology and a groundswell of supportive infrastructure that should solidify Ethereum as a staple in the blockchain marketplace.

There is amazing potential for Ethereum and smart contracts in healthcare. Hashed Health is excited to work with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance on defining and developing enterprise-grade solutions that can safely and securely handle the complexities of the evolving healthcare marketplace. - John Bass, Founder & CEO, Hashed Health

The post EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:29 pm

ShapeShift Introduces Prism's Trustless Crypto Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

“ShapeShift” is a concept describing the ability to change form or identity to adapt to changing conditions. It is also the name of a Swiss-based company that created the world’s first trustless asset portfolio for acquiring digital assets without counterparty risk.

Launched today at the blockchain summit Consensus 2017 held in New York, the cutting-edge platform known as Prism seeks to usher in a new age for investors with a thirst for cryptocurrencies.

The Prism announcement comes on the heels of record-setting growth within the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin among others advancing to new all-time price highs. Momentum has been further buoyed by a blockchain industry that is already experiencing an incredible diversity of projects, from tokenized venture capital funds to blockchain-based casinos to global distributed computing systems. Prism is the first live platform that enables investors to create their own funds focused on investments in crypto-assets.

This new development is the brainchild of Erik Voorhees, long-time champion of and entrepreneur in the Bitcoin space. ShapeShift, the company he founded in 2013, raised $10.4m during its Series A from leading German VCs in March 2017 to jumpstart this new venture.

Built entirely on Ethereum-based smart contracts, Prism will enable investors to curate portfolios, known as “Prisms,” of digital assets known as “Prisms,” such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Monero and Golem. Within minutes, an investor can set up a crypto portfolio — absent of third-party intermediaries — and gain exposure to a wide swath of blockchain tokens. Moreover, they can secure their investments without having to establish a unique wallet for each asset.

With Prism, users will create their portfolios by funding it with ether (the native token of the Ethereum blockchain network). The total amount of ether is divided among whichever assets they decide on, in percentages they elect to allocate to each asset. When the investor is ready to finalize their Prism portfolio, they will be prompted to send a zero-ETH transaction to a provided Ethereum address, signaling the smart contract to close the portfolio.

The beta period for Prism will likely extend for at least six months after the launch, with new features being added over time.

Prism’s approach and philosophy offers an ideal complement to ShapeShift and its established reputation for securing over a million secure transactions for customers since 2014. ShapeShift’s policy of not holding any customer assets or private personal information keeps users safe from identity or financial theft — a critical improvement in digital exchange technology.

ShapeShift is now leveraging their proven model of simplicity and security to cultivate Prism. With this latest development, the complex functionality of a diversified crypto portfolio is distilled down into a simple interface allowing users to buy, rebalance and settle their assets. All of this can be executed by a user with nothing more than their Ethereum wallet.

Prism enables investors to gain secure, transparent exposure to digital assets in a way that has never before been possible. The days of leaving funds at an exchange ‘because it’s easier’ are over. - Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder of ShapeShift and Prism

Voorhees goes on to assert that Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, will demonstrate a new normal for financial security. “Prism takes us one step closer to a world of truly borderless finance. We suspect it will kickstart a vast horizon of financial experimentation upon smart contracts.”

Raine Revere, lead engineer for the Prism project, says that ShapeShift’s focus on simplicity and security was a perfect fit for the design of Prism. “Part of the joy of engineering is seeing how all the pieces will fit together and then systematically carrying out that vision in order to build a working product. That link between vision and functional product is what makes software engineering so special. The vision of Prism was clear from the beginning, allowing this creative process to proceed uninhibited.”

“Gone are the days of trusting a 3rd party with one’s wealth," said Voorhees in a statement. "Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, demonstrates a new standard in financial security.”

The post ShapeShift Introduces Prism's Trustless Crypto Asset Portfolios appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:54 pm

Op Ed: How One Investor Is Riding the Cryptocurrency Token Wave

Op Ed: One Investor Rides Cryptocurrency Token Wave

I was yanked down the rabbit hole hard and fast when I first caught the Bitcoin Bug in late 2013. Before I even knew what a “blockchain” was I had founded what is now known as the Blockchain Education Network (then called the College Cryptocurrency Network), and was voraciously trading “altcoins.”

Back then, the term “altcoin,” which was used to describe any cryptocurrency besides Bitcoin, felt quite suitable. Most of those altcoins, including the most popular still in existence today, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin, were forks of Bitcoin’s code and were merely alternative “coins” with different rules or hashing algorithms. Watching these strange new financial vehicles violently fluctuate in value was both addictive and impossible to resist trading into. While I was slow to inoculate myself against that masochistic urge, I was quick to realize that few of these protocol tokens (that is, crypto-assets that incentivize validators, such as miners or stakers, to secure a blockchain) provided much value beyond Bitcoin’s own use case. Admittedly, I am shocked that many of these tokens still exist today.

On the other hand, as the blockchain ecosystem began to evolve, more novel iterations of Satoshi Nakamoto’s revolutionary financial tool began to appear. The rise of Ethereum, BitShares, MaidSafe and Omni, amongst others, represented a paradigm shift that went far beyond decentralized digital currency. Soon enough, I dropped out of school to focus on this industry full-time, and ended up cofounding Augur, a decentralized prediction market platform.

Lessons from Augur

When we first designed Augur, we wrote a white paper that outlined how to build a prediction market platform using Bitcoin’s source code — sort of like an altcoin. However, Bitcoin’s UTXO model did not jibe well with the sort versatility required for such a complication decentralized application. Soon after we published our white paper, despite the promise of Blockstream’s recently released sidechains proposal, our advisor and Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin convinced us to build Augur on his yet-to-be-launched smart contract–enabled blockchain. In hindsight, deciding to build Augur on top of what was then referred to as “vaporware” was a decision a more seasoned entrepreneur would have determined to be … “batshit insane.” But, the potential of the platform was too great, so we felt as if we had no other option.

Soon after deciding to build atop Ethereum, we began to realize that there was no way to create a decentralized oracle solution (i.e., a means to determine the outcome of markets without a centralized arbiter) unless we issued our own token. I went to game theorists, computer scientists and anybody else I could get to listen, to see if there was an alternative and whether it even made sense to do this. After much consultation and internal debate, we came to the decision to build an unstoppable betting engine that predicted the future, with no central point of failure (such as those that exist in a platform such as Gnosis), with a native token used by “reporters” around the world, to assert the outcome of events, was our only option. Thus Augur’s native asset, Reputation, known as REP, was born.

Venturing Into ICOs

2014 was winding to a close as we came to these conclusions, and the thought of performing a crowdsale was terrifying. (We would, for a short time, eradicate the term “ICO.”) Most conversations about Ethereum and recent token sales would lead to speculation about when regulatory authorities, namely the SEC, would bring down the hammer on token issuers.

With no other option, however, I hit the books and started reading about all sorts of securities laws and case law, in addition to prediction market and gambling regulations. I quickly earned the nickname “JG Esquire” within Augur, and spent much of early 2015 working with our legal team and advisors to find a compliant structure for the REP token sale. By the time our sale came about in late summer 2015, all involved parties had a fairly high degree of confidence that we had developed a token and offering that would not fall afoul of regulations.

Expanding Investment Opportunities in the Token Economy

While our sale raised over $5 million and was quite a success for the time, shortly after the Augur sale ended bitcoin and ether prices began to stagnate. Both the confidence and companies created during the first boom began to falter. In my mind, Augur was a ripple in the current before a tidal wave of new financial instruments to come, but it was unclear whether I was right and there was considerable coding remaining for the project.

With time before Augur’s launch, I joined Blockchain Capital as an entrepreneur-in-residence. I became an advocate for tokens backing legitimate networks and spoke about the matter frequently. However, it still took quite a while for the token economy to sprout. Then out of the blue in late 2016, ether began to rally in price, and token offerings, more popularly referred to as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), started popping up out of the blue, often raising millions in a matter of days, or even minutes.

This new trend was alarming to me, though in hindsight I suppose it shouldn’t have been. Ethereum, with its ERC-20 protocol, which allows the straightforward development of crypto-tokens on top of its blockchain, made the urge to create new assets irresistible. Instead of requiring developers to create entirely new blockchains and protocol tokens, which had to be secured by miners or stakers (a costly, challenging undertaking), a team could create a new token that was backed by the security of Ethereum’s blockchain in a matter of hours.

For the following few months into the new year I watched these developments from the sideline. It was apparent the biggest crypto-asset rally since 2013 had begun in earnest. I had sizable investments in ETH, BTC, XRP and, of course, REP. I couldn’t believe that this bull run and new trend of ICOs could be sustained. Not, at least, without the return of serious outside interest in the crypto-realm.

And then, of course, it started to come. Hedge funds, banks and consumers, many of whom had already begun professing their love of “blockchain technology” (albeit not Bitcoin), started funneling money into crypto-tokens new and old. Around this time, my friend Olaf Carlson-Wee, the first employee at Coinbase, announced that he would be investing in these strange financial instruments through a new type of hedge fund, Polychain Capital.

As I was busy working as a venture capitalist investing in traditional companies at Blockchain Capital, Olaf’s new fund was a means for me to gain exposure to this crazy new trend without falling into the crypto-asset rabbit hole as I had back in college. I quickly signed on as both a General and Limited Partner, and sent Polychain my first (but not last) wire.

Blockchain Capital’s Venture Fund

For most of early 2016, I was content to let Olaf (and his new partner, the talented Ryan Zurrer) review and manage any new ICOs I was sent. But the trend maintained. It appeared this new generation of crypto-assets was more than a massive pump-and-dump. In fact, my firm began to explore tokens much more seriously. Though it had often been teased that it was only a matter of time before I went to jail for Augur, there was an evolution in our thought process surrounding tokens and their corresponding offerings. Soon enough, we became convinced that Blockchain Capital should offer its own token, BCAPs, in order to provide a new sort of venture fund.

This decision would lead us to reevaluate the traditional scope of our investments mandate. Crypto-tokens, as I had long argued, could be revolutionary (or, at least, useful) financial instruments, and it would be foolish throwing out the crypto-asset babies with the altcoin bathwater.

Projects such as 0x, Maker, Golem and Filecoin demonstrated how much alternative crypto-tokens had evolved since the dodgy days of Doge and Darkcoin. Because of this evolution, I officially decided to take the plunge and deep-dive down the token rabbit hole once again with Blockchain Capital. In addition to my roles investing and as an entrepreneur-in-residence, I will be focusing considerable energy on the new token economy, evaluating new ICOs for the firm.

It is impossible for a firm such as Blockchain Capital, the earliest venture fund to state its commitment to this novel economy outside of Bitcoin, not to participate in this remarkable new chapter of the blockchain revolution. New platforms, such as AngelList’s Coinlist, will standardize and add further legitimacy to such offerings.

I am still extraordinarily skeptical of most ICOs and tokens in general, but I am more excited than ever about blockchain technology and all the ways it is bound to disrupt ingrained, outdated institutions. If decentralized applications and crypto-assets are the harbinger of such change, then I am on board.

It’s going to be a rocky road, and there will surely be corrections (if not dramatic drops), but I can’t say I haven’t seen it before. I look forward to sifting through the white papers, ponzis and pumps sure to fill my inbox in the coming months in order to find the game-changing diamonds in the rough. It’s going to be a wild ride. So buckle up, bring a barf bag and watch as the Crypto Rodeo brings out the bulls and bears.

This op-ed is a guest post by Jeremy Gardner. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: How One Investor Is Riding the Cryptocurrency Token Wave appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:15 pm

Consensus 2017: Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Puts Blockchain Privacy Into Focus

Privacy and confidentiality are big-ticket priorities for the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, ethereum-focused consortium launched in February.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 3:50 pm

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

As moonshot projects in the distributed world abound, it’s not surprising to see the energy sector jumping into the fray. This comes as the heavily regulated power industry eyeballs new approaches for allowing consumers to generate and sell electricity in various locales worldwide.

It’s here that blockchain technology is increasingly being seen as a potential, low-cost means for delivering energy transactions across a distributed network without need for a centralized authority. In fact, some surmise that blockchains may one day eliminate the need for intermediaries altogether, thereby allowing a more free market approach to energy distribution.

Blockchain tech could also boost efficiency by serving as the backbone for “smart grid” systems, automatically identifying and addressing network hitches that may arise. Moreover, when tethered with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, energy devices such as those used for heating, cooling, ventilation, electric vehicles, solar installations and even batteries will be able to interact with one another, resulting in greater cost savings.

Not to be overlooked is the enhanced cybersecurity element that blockchain technology offers for an industry that has become increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Despite blockchain technology’s potential utility, industry adoption may pose a number of gritty challenges. For starters, the energy grid is fraught with complexity associated with managing the process continuum of materials management, energy generation and delivery. Moreover, prevailing recordkeeping and data management systems remain cumbersome, resulting in costly missteps when it come to energy trading and asset ownership tracking.

Global Experimentation Abounds

As the intersection between blockchain technology and the energy sector advances, experimental demonstration projects are taking shape throughout the world.

Last year, the blockchain-centric Brooklyn Microgrid project, a peer-to-peer energy market for local renewable energy generation, attracted quite a bit of media attention. The intent of the startup is to deliver solar panels to this New York borough’s rooftops, allowing local residents to purchase and offload electricity within their community. This initiative allows for a system that bypasses power companies, thereby creating a generation-and-storage ecosystem that works in a more independent and efficient manner.

In another example, Austria’s largest regional utility company, Wien Energie, in collaboration with the Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group has engaged in a blockchain trial run targeting energy trading with two other utilities. The objective? To gather a repository of knowledge about blockchain technology, assessing the viability of it and relevant business models for the industry. This pilot ran from March to May 2017 and is expected to generate a set of new commercial strategies to explore.

Additionally, the SP Group, Singapore’s energy provider, will be developing blockchain solutions in partnerships with other providers throughout the world, with the goal of lowering consumer utility costs in that nation. This initiative is also intended to create simpler mechanisms for integrating new renewable energy sources into the mix.

Andre De Castro, founder of the NY-based Blockchain of Things and Catenis Enterprise — which delivers blockchain solutions for simplifying and accelerating secure global peer-to-peer edge device messaging, digital asset control, and recording of immutable data — tells Bitcoin Magazine that blockchain technology is just the beginning foundation for advancing the energy sector. “Having a distributed database doesn’t necessarily get you a trading system or an application. So what’s really needed is an application layer on top of the blockchain, to get real-world solutions.”  

De Castro says that his company enables the creation of digital assets, more commonly known as tokens, that can be applied to energy units across endpoints to create new business models for energy markets. “Everything is moving toward more open exchanges when it comes to the energy industry. Therefore consumers will soon be able to choose their own energy providers and even resell energy to their neighbors in certain areas of the world.”

He notes one additional benefit to the advancements, namely that the global Bitcoin blockchain is incredibly secure due to the fact that transactions can be cryptographically verified, thereby protecting critical assets on the energy grid. “This addresses a major challenge that currently exists today involving utility systems where there is a reliance on centralized cloud servers. What we’ve developed at Catenis with the blockchain allows for decentralization and the elimination of central points of failure that could affect big swaths of the energy grid.”

Ultimately, De Castro sees a day where blockchain technology will foster the creation of more flexible business models for exchanging power in open markets and selling that power back to the main energy grid. He also believes that this will open up immense opportunities in the clean energy space, welcome news for the eco-friendly movement. “I believe that control mechanism allowing digital tokens to be mapped will become more common resulting in lower energy costs while making peer-to-peer exchanges more efficient.

The post Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:58 pm

Deloitte Joins Blockchain Consortiums Ethereum Alliance and Hyperledger

Deloitte has revealed that it's joining two blockchain consortium efforts: the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and the Hyperledger project.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:45 pm

Over 30: Deloitte Adds 'Mercury' Project to Blockchain Prototypes

Deloitte has unveiled a new trade finance initiative, one that adds to its growing list of blockchain projects

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:45 pm

Bitcoin jumps $200 in single day and has nearly doubled in May on surging global demand - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin jumps $200 in single day and has nearly doubled in May on surging global demand
CNBC
The cryptocurrency briefly leaped more than 11 percent to hit an all-time high of $2,289.21, according to CoinDesk.com. CoinDesk's two-and-a-half-day digital currency conference Consensus kicked off Monday. Bitcoin first crossed $2,000 on Saturday on ...
Bitcoin hits record $2000 — and risingUSA TODAY
Bitcoin: To Infinity And Beyond?Seeking Alpha
Bitcoin prices are soaring under TrumpCNNMoney
Wall Street Journal (subscription) -Futurism -BBC News -CoinDesk
all 131 news articles »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:40 pm

One for All? Citi, DTCC and PwC Talk Blockchain Teamwork at Consensus 2017

Enterprise blockchain was on full display at Consensus 2017 in New York City today. There, leaders from some of the largest and most influential companies gathered on stage to address an audience of blockchain executives and coders alike. From infrastructure provider the DTCC, which conducts quadrillions of dollars worth of transactions each year, to legacy bank […]

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 12:45 pm

IC3 Debuts Upgraded Off-Chain Transaction Protocol 'Teechain'

The Initiative For CryptoCurrencies & Contracts (IC3) has unveiled a new version of its Teechan off-chain transaction protocol.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 12:30 pm

ShapeShift Breaks New Ground With 'Prism' Digital Asset Portfolio Product

ShapeShift has unveiled a new product called 'Prism', one that brings a whole new style of investment to the cryptocurrency markets.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 12:00 pm

Consensus 2017: IBM Thinks Blockchain Could Save Shipping Industry 'Billions'

Blockchain technology is poised to recover billions of dollars lost to coordination costs in both capital markets and the shipping industry.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:28 am

PwC Teams Up With Alibaba For Food Supply Blockchain Test

PwC Australia is partnering up with Alibaba and others on a trial that will find it seeking to provided added trust to the food supply chain.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:21 am

Consensus 2017: EU, India Governments See Path to Global Blockchain Adoption

Speakers during the opening panel of Consensus 2017 agreed that blockchain is set to go global – but differed on how the technology will get there.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:15 am

DCG Signs Up IBM, MasterCard And More For Enterprise Blockchain Effort

Digital Currency Group is launching a fourth subsidiary, one that finds the investment company branching out into enterprise blockchain development.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 8:59 am

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns - Fortune


Fortune

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns
Fortune
A closely-watched fight between the Internal Revenue Service and a popular bitcoin exchange took a new twist last week, as senior Republicans in Congress sent a sharply-worded letter that suggests the tax agency is overstepping its powers. The letter ...

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 3:10 pm

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.
Samuel Adams

In The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority, Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes how a strong enough minority with more strict preferences can end up with the majority following their preferences. He speaks of many examples  —  food preparation standards, languages and taboos.

This principle can also extend to Bitcoin and the concept of soft forks. By extending this principle, it can show that a soft fork that has strong support from a minority still may be enough to provide economic incentives to its enforcement, even if the majority is ambivalent.

Soft forks, by their nature, are a form of intolerance. Users who enforce a soft fork are intolerant of some types of transactions or blocks that miners can produce. They will reject those blocks that miners produce much as an Orthodox Jew will reject pork. In cases where the majority is ambivalent and the cost for producers is low to adhere to the stricter standards, then the result is producers keep everyone happy by following those stricter standards.

In Bitcoin’s case, many potential soft forks fall into this category. Soft forks that do not degrade the security properties of Bitcoin, that do not take away from any currently used features, do not add costs to miners, and are preferred by some, would result in profit-maximizing miners choosing to serve a wider audience by enforcing the soft fork.

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Ambivalent Majority

In the above case, if there were strong believers committed to a soft fork with stricter rules, miners face a choice  —  do they allow the chain to split or serve everyone with the new stricter rules? If they allow the chain to split, they must pick a subset of users to serve, giving them less value than if they were to serve all. This also harms the network effect, which means the sum of the two parts is now worth less than the original. Thus, as long as the minority committed to the soft fork was sufficient in size that they cannot be ignored, a profit-maximizing miner will follow them (assuming there is little to no cost of enforcement).

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Miners’ Interests

In a case where a strong-willed minority requires non-GMO, organically certified food, this may not result in the minority getting its way. The cost of production may be too high to be worth it. A theoretical soft fork that reduces the block reward by half would be a good example. A minority may feel the block reward is too high and wish that it be lowered, and only allow miners to claim 6.25 coins instead of 12.5 per block. In this case, miners would give up a significant amount of income to have to enforce it, and the loss of “business” from excluding these users may be less costly than reducing their income.

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Strong-Willed Minority

A third case is when a strong-willed majority ends up alienating another portion of the potential consumers. If a new religious sect required that all food have bacon added to it, Jews and Muslims would not tolerate this and would splinter off, even if the majority did not care either way. In this case, a split is inevitable.

In the Bitcoin case, some users may wish to have all addresses logged in a government registry to ease KYC compliance. They could demand that miners only mine blocks that adhere to these standards. This type of action would be rejected by many users who would not go along with such a plan, and in fact may even take steps to block it if it was enforced. In this case, a split would be inevitable if both factions were sufficiently intolerant of the other.

The Importance of Commitment and Stubbornness

This only works if users are absolutely committed to their rules being followed. Commitment must be absolute and unwilling to change, no matter what the majority does. The most important part of the intolerant minority is to truly be intolerant! If the cause is not worth putting your neck on the line for, it will not be successful.

Some supporters of user-activated soft forks (UASFs) have stated that they intend to enforce the UASF unless it is not widely supported or followed, and then would back off. This is the surest way to guarantee failure. If you are unwilling to follow a minority chain with an economic minority, you aren’t truly an intolerant minority. You are only one with a preference.

Guidelines for User-Activated Soft Forks for Maximizing Success

  • Take away no existing useful features (do not create a hostile minority).

  • Do not add significant costs to miners (make burden for miners as low as possible).

  • Include functionality that users are willing to fork off for.

  • Ensure there is a sufficiently sized minority willing to commit.

A sufficiently sized, committed, economic minority is enough to have a successful user-activated soft fork. While Shaolinfry said that without an economic majority behind a soft fork, it should be withdrawn, I believe that statement to be too weak. The history of intolerant minorities making changes is long enough to show otherwise.

This guest post by Alphonse Pace was originally published on Medium and is reproduced here under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 8:08 pm

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain-based advancements in the payments industry were among the many themes explored at TRANSACT, a tech-centric, payments industry conference held on May 10–12 in Las Vegas.

A panel discussion entitled “How IoT is Revolutionizing Payments” included a brief discussion regarding the emerging intersection between the Internet of Things and blockchain technology in this industry.

On a similar trajectory as the blockchain, much attention has been given to the future of IoT, defined as an ecosystem of physical devices — from mobile phones to wearable tracking sensors — that gather and share electronic information with one another.

Research firm IHS Markit estimates that 30.7 billion IoT devices will be communicating with one another by 2021. This complements a global blockchain technology market that’s expected to grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2.3 billion by 2021 according to Market Reports Hub.

The collision between the IoT and blockchain worlds portends some important payments industry developments around the efficient tracking of device payment history, all supported by a ledger of secure data exchanges among devices, web systems and users. Further, this technological convergence also shows promise in terms of the use of smart devices that are programmed to conduct a variety of transactions such as the automatic issuance of invoices and payments.  

Dan Loomis, vice president and director of mobile product management at the business and financial software firm Intuit, is firmly entrenched in this evolving IoT/blockchain conversation through his work in creating payment experiences for businesses that operate on a global scale, and brought this expertise to the TRANSACT panel discussion.

In an exclusive interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Loomis remarked that for the small, emerging business clients he works with, cash is king. “For our team at Intuit, it all comes down to how we can help these businesses create immediate operating capital. The ability to quickly onboard clients into a payment service and to get paid quickly is really important. Their mantra is often ‘Pay me, pay me faster, and how can we as a business accept all methods of payment?’”

Loomis says that at his company and for the payments space in general, the thought of leveraging the blockchain’s immutable, permanent, auditable features is fascinating on a variety of levels. He notes that specific to Intuit, there is a lot of investigation going on into blockchain technology and how it may be applied to their payment models.

“We facilitate a lot of invoice, payable and receivable experiences for our clients. Aspirationally, being able to track these logistics in a manner that’s clear and transparent via blockchain [technology] would be very appealing. It has a high level of integrity as a technology and cannot be questioned in terms of its functionality.”

Healthcare is one vertical market that Intuit is targeting. Loomis says that in this industry there is always a trail of information that’s important to unravel and look at, from medical record information to who the patient’s service provider is. “I think that blockchain [technology] can help wrap this together and be a critical vehicle for a healthcare space that’s somewhat arcane and at the same time leading edge.”

When asked about the immense possibilities around blockchain technology and IoT in terms of it being fully leveraged at Intuit, Loomis remarked, “I have no doubt that a developer in our company ecosystem is at least thinking about this closely.”

Loomis believes that IoT and blockchain technology will emerge at Intuit when these technologies have a strong, demonstrated fit that can actually be matched with end user value. “I think market deploy in this space is one of those things we’ll see come to fruition when the time is right and it meets our customer benefit.”

The post IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 2:10 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Nearing a Bubble...but We’re Not There Yet

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Bitcoin has now shown about eight weeks of consecutive buying, leading into new all-time highs (ATHs) for the past three weeks. Trying to stay objective with mild to extreme euphoria in times like this can be difficult. As someone who was a new trader during the 2013 bubble, the chart is beginning to look very similar.

Market capitalization and trading volume both on exchanges and over-the-counter markets have hit ATHs as well.

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.34.52 AM.png

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.37.51 AM.png

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.46.22 AM.png

Despite being in price discovery mode, there is an established, longstanding trend we can compare the current price against, as well as the entire left side of the chart. Past results don’t always predict the future, but they can influence it.

There are a few questions we can investigate:

  1. Is the price near an interim top?

  2. Is the price nearing parabolic conditions?

  3. Will the price continue on the previous trend at the same rate?

Looking at the monthly Bitstamp chart, there have not been too many candles of this proportion. This would suggest we are nearing bubble-like conditions.

stamp monthly.png

Price has also begun to close outside of the longstanding trend. This weekly candle has not closed yet, but if it does close outside of the diagonal, it will be the first weekly candle to do so. This again points to breaking the trend strongly to the upside.

stamp channel.png

Fibonacci retracement and extensions are admittedly partly magic voodoo, but there are plenty of traders who use and watch them to make the resistance and support levels legitimate. Drawing this Fibonacci from the local high established on March 10, 2017, to the low on January 14, 2015, several Fibonacci extensions emerge as well.

fib from low to local high.png

These can be seen as resistance levels, the next being the 1.618 at $2,088. Although the horizontal levels are arbitrary, we can confidently predict resistance based on the fit of the previous horizontals. Most of the prior “Fibs” match the price. This should be seen less as curve fitting and more as levels that just make sense. Based on the Fibonacci levels alone, there is not necessarily evidence for top or bubble just yet.

We can tease apart the trend even further by using the Fibonacci tool on each previous high and low.

stamp fibs.png

In the trend, a consolidation from the previous high to low has yielded a price that has seen resistance at the 2.272 Fibonacci extension. Currently, the price has exceeded the previous 2.272 Fibonacci extension and shown it was supported based on the multiple candle touches. This suggests price is moving faster than the previous trend as well as closer to bubble-like conditions.

For low-timeframe, intra-day trading, there was a long entry signal when the price cleanly broke the consolidation triangle. On the next correction, pullback or consolidation event, I’d expect the support diagonal (green) to remain the same.

coinbase triangle.png

Remember that splashy gold parity headline? BTC is now sitting several hundred dollars above it.

xau vs usd.png

Summary

  1. Bitcoin is making ATHs by almost every available metric: price, market capitalization, volume, hashrate, difficulty and fee per transaction.

  2. Although $2,000 is the next milestone and resistance target, the price will likely exceed that level based on the strength and rate at which the price is exceeding current trends.

  3. Watch for signs of a large pullback or correction in the near future, two to three months at the latest, based on previous price history.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTCMedia related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTCMedia and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Nearing a Bubble...but We’re Not There Yet appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 1:15 pm

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

Can identity trust be integrated with blockchain technology? The answer to that question appears to be yes, according to a recently completed proof-of-concept study conducted by Peer Ledger, a Canadian blockchain company; SAFE-BioPharma Association, the organization managing the global SAFE-BioPharma digital identity management standard; and Synchronoss, a leading provider of standards-based digital identities.

This development is believed to have significant implications for the use of distributed electronic ledgers (i.e., blockchains) for medical, pharmaceutical and other health system applications.

The purpose of the study was to demonstrate that cyber identities that comply with the SAFE-BioPharma standard may, via Peer Ledger APIs, enable blockchain identities to be de-anonymized, thereby fulfilling a requirement for double-blind clinical trials, audits and responsible supply chains. Prior to the study, identities associated with distributed electronic ledgers were entirely anonymous.

“Identity trust” means that there is trust in each cyber identity, using a process that proves the individual’s identity before linking it to the cyber credential. In general terms, it means that the credential can be trusted to represent the vetted identity of the individual one is doing business with but has never met face-to-face. This is critically important to the pharma/life sciences space because of several factors, including deterrence of hackers seeking valuable patient records and intellectual property, as well as compliance with regulations protecting patient data.

These discoveries underscore the power of blockchain technology to disrupt traditional practices for drug discovery, patient engagement and monitoring, payments and participatory healthcare delivery. Here, the technology leverages its quality as a shared, synchronized, distributed ledger of transactions, fostering security and decreasing fraud by providing a permanent record of who accessed ledgers and what activities they engaged in.  

The proof of concept demonstrated that SAFE-BioPharma-compliant digital identities can be tied back to the blockchain to assure trust in the identity of each person engaged in the transaction. Transactions can be anonymous until the end of a clinical study and “chained back” to the proven identity of the user, if needed, for regulatory or clinical purposes. Alternatively, the identities associated with each block can be known throughout the process, such as in track-and-trace applications for the medical supply chain.

Blockchain technology’s use of a group-consensus algorithm can be used to catch intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset. For example, an accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes” to prevent double invoicing. Similarly, a counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain application can prevent harmful substances and devices from entering the medical system.

Ultimately, for blockchain technology to reach its full potential in any sector, myriad systems must be interoperable. Currently, healthcare technologies rarely work in a highly synchronized way with one another, which is why pharmaceutical and other medical companies that already have powerful identity management tools are trialing a number of different blockchain-based applications.

Thus far, these apps have been unable to bridge to the systems pharma companies use to establish identity credentials for their personnel. This is the problem addressed in the proof of concept. Peer Ledger has therefore developed software that now maps a trusted identity, from the Synchronoss-implemented Verizon Universal Identity Services system to blockchain credentials.

“Every SAFE-BioPharma-compliant identity credential accurately represents the proven identity of the person using it,” explains Mollie Shields-Uehling, president and CEO of SAFE-BioPharma Association. “Teaming these credentials with anonymous blockchain ledger postings enables use cases critical for overall cybersecurity across healthcare and the life sciences.”

When asked about future applications of all of this for healthcare, Shields-Uehling and Dawn Jutla, CEO and founder of Peer Ledger, highlighted three major areas of blockchain intersection.

Blockchain and clinical trials: In order to co-partner in the discovery of cures, patients may give pharmaceutical companies direct access to their digitized healthcare records, thus improving both data used for research and the speed of patient treatment. Britain’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Mark Walport, has argued that the National Health Service, which provides healthcare for 65 million people, should use blockchain technology to improve such tasks as the sharing of health records.

Blockchain and data collection: Earlier this year, IBM Watson Health announced it would work with the FDA to develop a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology. Oncology data will be the initial focus.

Blockchain and personalized precision medicine: Blockchain technology’s cryptography will secure economical home healthcare sensor feeds. Trusted identity will be important to ensure that the right test results are associated with the right patient.

The post How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 12:41 pm

Bitmain May Be Infringing on the AsicBoost Patent After All

Bitmain may be infringing copyright

The AsicBoost controversy has added another chapter to its book.

Yesterday, law firm Getech Law published an open letter, which was subsequently confirmed to be legitimate by Timo Hanke, the initial submitter of the AsicBoost patent application. In the open letter, the law firm states that several chip producers and sellers are infringing on the intellectual property derived from the pending AsicBoost patent. As such, these companies should “cease production and sales activities of any products in connection to the pending patent application.”

While the letter does not state it explicitly, and Getech Law preferred not to name specific companies when asked by Bitcoin Magazine, the open letter seems to refer to recent revelations of Bitmain’s implementation of AsicBoost in their specialized Bitcoin mining (ASIC) chips. Indeed, if the letter’s claims hold up, Bitcoin’s biggest mining hardware producer may be unable to sell most of their hardware for the time being.

Otherwise, as Getech Law attorney Jun Ye told Bitcoin Magazine:

If the potential infringements cannot be stopped by the announcement and subsequent cease-and-desist letters, we will have no choice but to seek damages in court once our pending application is issued by the USPTO and other patent offices.

AsicBoost

AsicBoost has had a controversial history within the Bitcoin industry so far.

Initially patented by mathematician and former CoinTerra CTO Timo Hanke, AsicBoost is perhaps best described as a sort of “shortcut” that exploits a weakness in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm. By reusing some of their work, miners can save between 10 and 30 percent of the energy costs associated with mining. This can add up to a significant increase in profits over time — perhaps in excess of over $100 million per year if no other miners use it.

And it could be the case that no other miners would use it precisely because of AsicBoost’s pending patent. The patent application is therefore controversial, as some believe that such a state-enforced monopoly on using technology could further centralize and skew Bitcoin’s mining ecosystem. About a year ago several Bitcoin developers even proposed changing Bitcoin’s mining algorithm slightly in order to make AsicBoost’s technology obsolete.

But the AsicBoost controversy really exploded onto the scene several weeks ago, as it was discovered that covert use of AsicBoost is incompatible with Segregated Witness, the protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team. Moreover, it was revealed that Bitmain had implemented the technology in its chips. This might explain why the Chinese mining giant has been opposing the upgrade so far — though the company denies this is the case.

Patent Infringement

Now, it seems Bitmain may not even be legally allowed to have AsicBoost implemented in its chips.

While Hanke was known to have submitted a patent for AsicBoost along with RSK CEO Sergio Demian Lerner, Bitmain initially claimed to hold the patent in China. As such, the company said it shouldn’t be a problem — from a legal perspective — to apply the technology at least within the Chinese jurisdiction.

But it now seems that Hanke claimed his worldwide priority date at the end of 2013, while Bitmain’s patent application stems from 2015. And because of the International Patent System (PCT), Hanke’s application should apply to China as well.

“Although Bitmain has also filed a patent application in China with similar features, we are confident that our patent application has an earlier priority date,” Ye told Bitcoin Magazine.

The patent application is not Hanke’s anymore. Two weeks ago, he sold the patent to Little Dragon Technology, a company based in California. According to Ye, Little Dragon Technology plans to operate in the Bitcoin industry, though it was not yet revealed how, exactly.

Either way, neither Hanke nor Little Dragon Technology gave anyone permission to use AsicBoost. This suggests, at least according to Getech Law, that anyone using AsicBoost is infringing on Little Dragon Technology’s intellectual property. And while Ye did not want to name any specific companies that may be infringing on the intellectual property — Bitmain or otherwise — he did reveal it may be more than one company.

As the open letter states:

“To date, no individual or business entity has been authorized to use or sell products based on the ASICBOOST patent application, yet some bitcoin miner manufacturers have implemented various features of the pending ASICBOOST patent in their mining hardware and firmware, potentially infringing the pending ASICBOOST patent.”

Consequences

In the open letter published yesterday, Getech Law wrote that ASIC producers should immediately cease production and sales of AsicBoost-related products. Additionally, the letter said infringers should contact Getech Law and disclose their relevant production and sales records since 2015. And it called on people who know more about potential patent infringement to contact the law firm.

If ASIC producers do continue to produce or sell AsicBoost-related products, Getech Law warned that there would be subsequent legal action.

“The open letter (announcement) is the first step to enforce my client’s IP rights. We hope that the community can become aware of the potential infringement,” Ye told Bitcoin Magazine.

The future for AsicBoost itself seems unclear, too. While debate over whether or not to disable it on a protocol level is ongoing within Bitcoin’s technical community, the open letter spoke of an “unfair advantage” it could give to miners.

And, speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Ye said:

“We do not want to monopoly the market based on the pending patent. That is, we hope anyone who wants to use the technology can come to us such that we can negotiate reasonable license agreements for them to use the technology.”

Bitmain stated that they were not available for comment at time of publication.

The post Bitmain May Be Infringing on the AsicBoost Patent After All appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 18 May 2017 | 11:12 pm

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

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

Posted on 8 April 2014 | 4:27 pm

Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

Posted on 25 March 2014 | 5:46 pm

May 23, 2017 -
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