Suddenly, Europe is Starting to Become Bitcoin Haven

Suddenly, Europe is Starting to
Become Bitcoin Haven

  

Suddenly, Europe is Starting to Become Bitcoin Haven

Countries like France, Germany and the UK have already established regulatory frameworks for Bitcoin companies, users and traders. Other European countries have offered their unique regulatory frameworks with clarity, to ensure there exists no conflict between local businesses and regulators due to ambiguous regulations and policies like India. Smaller countries such as Malta, an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast, have begun to consider Bitcoin as a legitimate currency and revolutionary technology.

Bitcoin and Blockchain included in national strategy

In particular, local publications including Malta Today reported that the country’s prime minister Joseph Muscat announced the approval of a national strategy to promote Bitcoin and Blockchain technology. Muscat said at a conference organized by the financial affairs parliamentary committee:

“This is not just about Bitcoin and I also look forward to seeing Blockchain technology implemented in the Lands Registry and the national health registries. Malta can be a global trail-blazer in this regard. I understand that regulators are wary of this technology but the fact is that it’s coming. We must be on the frontline in embracing this crucial innovation and we cannot just wait for others to take action and copy them. We must be the ones that others copy.”

Although Muscat raised several positive use cases of Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, Muscat specifically addressed the Bitcoin Blockchain’s ability to handle, store and process sensitive data such as lands registry in a secure, immutable and decentralized ecosystem.

Land records

Most recently, Ubitquity, a US-based Blockchain startup, partnered with one of the land records bureaus of Brazil to utilize the Bitcoin Blockchain technology to integrate land records to the public Blockchain of Bitcoin. Such method enables land bureaus and other government organizations to store data within an unalterable ledger. “We are incredibly excited to announce our partnership with the land records bureau, a Cartório de Registro de Imóveis [Real Estate Registry Office] in Brazil. This partnership will help to demonstrate to government municipalities the power and benefits of using Blockchain-powered recordkeeping,” said Ubitquity founder and president Nathan Wosnack.

Malta to become the Silicon Valley of Europe?

The rest of the government, including Labor Minister of Parliament Silvio Schembri, revealed the government’s vision to transform Malta into the Silicon Valley of Europe. The country will focus on the development of innovative technologies such as Bitcoin and Blockchain technology to stay at the forefront of European technological innovation.

Schembri stated:

“We should aim to have the world’s best environment for the development and commercialization of fintech models and disruptive innovation. The government should ensure that Malta has the appropriate regulatory framework, the right tax system and the best infrastructure to support this ambition. With our geographical position and weather conditions, strong financial system, skills base, entrepreneurial spirit and can-do approach, Malta can truly serve as a test-bed for new sectors and foreign firms to test their new technology and products locally.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Items We Bought With Bitcoin

Items We Bought With Bitcoin

  

You’ve got to admit that everyone likes to go shopping

once in a while, whether it’s to buy that designer shirt you’ve been eyeing or those nifty gadgets you saw in a catalog the other day. To do this you’ve got to spend money. But what happens if you want to shop with cryptocurrency?Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that has gained popularity over the years. Here are 9 things you can buy with bitcoin:

Shoes from Iran

Time to go out again. We still have our socks, but maybe we need new shoes? Normally having leather shoes handcrafted for your foot size and shape cost a fortune, but in Iran, with its fine leather and shoe industry, these high quality products are affordable.Interestingly the sanctions against Iran don’t make it illegal to import shoes (unless you are American, maybe). But it does make it impossible to send payments. In this case, we literally have no other option than to pay with Bitcoin.

A trip to North Korea

Ever wanted to visit North Korea? The China-based travel agency Young Pioneer Tours has 9 years of experience of organizing tours to North Korea, and can help you with flights, hotels, visa and a tour guide. It’s difficult to make a wire transfer to China, so Bitcoin is our natural choice of payment.

Kimchi socks

Okay, we get it, Bitcoin is awesome. We constantly want to talk about it, tell others about our trip to North Korea, and how we were able to tweet pictures the entire trip from one of the most heavily locked down countries on earth.But doing so would make us a bit annoying. We head over to South Korean company Kimchi Socks to buy their Bitcoin branded socks. That way, maybe people will notice and ask about Bitcoin themselves? Bitcoin socks, paid with Bitcoin. We are so much fun at parties!

Office Gadgets

So now we have shoes from Iran, been to North Korea and have these stylish new socks. Why put shoes on again? Why not just make your work life a whole lot better with some awesome office gadgets?Gadgets and toys are enjoyed all around the world by people of all age, color and gender. But not everyone has a credit card to pay for it. Bitcoin to the rescue.

A monitor

Quickly after the first game, we realize, we might need a better monitor. There are tons of places online that sell monitors for Bitcoins. Rakuten, Overstock, Dell, Tiger Direct and others.

Tea from Taiwan

Do you know that feeling when you make yourself a coffee while playing a video game, and then you forget you made it and now it’s cold? That happens with tea as well, but cold tea is still delicious. Just put some Ice cubes inside! No idea how to combine ice cubes and Bitcoin, but for the tea, head to Beautiful Taiwan Tea.

An ExpressVPN Subscription

VPNs are meant to protect our privacy and data when we browse the web from a coffee shop or airport Wi-Fi. Many of us live in countries that actively monitor and censor the internet, and a logless VPN protects us.For more privacy, it makes perfect sense to not use your credit card (which is connected to your real name), but instead the pseudonymous currency Bitcoin.

Jewelry

No matter if you want jewelry for yourself or as a gift, Reeds takes Bitcoins and ships to wherever you are.

Karma

At the end of the day, why not donate your Bitcoins to one of over 10,000 charities in the United Kingdom? With Proof of Donation, you'er issued a cryptographic receipt that irrefutably proves you did good. With Bitcoin.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Antbleed: Bitcoin’s Newest New Controversy Explained

Antbleed:
Bitcoin's Newest New
Controversy Explained

A mining chip vulnerability

that could potentially be used to remotely shut off bitcoin mining machines was revealed yesterday – with a fix from the manufacturer following shortly after. Involving controversial mining chip manufacturer Bitmain, the issue is what some are calling a "backdoor" in the code that controls its hardware, offering the company a way to remotely shut off the miners. Since the code, released anonymously last evening, is vulnerable to attackers, the main concern is whether, in a worst-case scenario, it could be misused.

The fear is that bad actors could exploit the vulnerability to switch off bitcoin mining equipment in bulk, and with Bitmain supplying such a large number of machines to the market, the impact could have catastrophic implications for the bitcoin ecosystem. Known as Antbleed (a title bestowed by the website that dramatized its release), the vulnerability is open-source, making it easy to verify. Leading up to the reveal, a group was told about the code feature, with some developers, such as Satoshi Labs CEO Marek Palatinus independently verifying that the backdoor exists and that it can be used to stop Bitmain miners on trigger.

Bitmain quickly responded with a fix that erases this part of its mining firmware. Further, its team claimed that the feature was never finished and that it was intended to help customers recover stolen miners, a past problem for industry firms.

The statement reads:

"We never intended to use this feature on any Antminer without authorization from its owner. This is similar to the remote erase or shutdown feature provided by most famous smartphone manufacturers."

Much of the recent buzz in the community is around whether the so-described "backdoor" could have been used for malicious purposes, for example, to shut off a miner if it wasn’t complying with rules set by Bitmain.

Adding to the confusion is that bitcoin developments have been highly politicized lately, with Bitmain often sitting at the center of bitcoin’s long-standing scaling debate, opposing proposals authored by members of the Bitcoin Core community. For example, the vulnerability reveal follows allegations that the manufacturer was using a secret mining advantage to boost its profits.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Bitcoin Unlimited chief scientist Peter Rizun might have summed up the issue and surrounding atmosphere the best:

"The drama in social media today surrounds the question of whether there exists a security hole that would allow this remote-control feature to be exploited for nefarious purposes."

Code details

Still, it seems that there are other reasons to be concerned about the backdoor. Since it can be exploited by bad actors from outside the company, the mining chips are now viewed as a security risk to the network. Everyone to 11 minutes, according to the open-source patch introduced on July 12th, 2016, the machines send calls back to a Bitmain server.

The idea is that the mining manufacturer can scan for identifying information about the mining chip, including its serial number and IP address. But, arguably the biggest concern is that the code isn't limited to use by certain people or companies, so it can be exploited by any man-in-the-middle or attacks coming from the same DNS server. "Even without Bitmain being malicious, the API is unauthenticated and would allow any MITM, DNS or domain hijack to shut down Antminers globally," the Antbleed website reads, further outlining concerns about the potential for technical or political misuse.

Vulnerability or 'malicious' backdoor?

Whether or not it was intended to be malicious seems to make up the bulk of the surrounding debate, and so far, it seems that sentiment has broken along the lines of the scaling debate. Still, some broke away from so-called party lines. "This was reckless of them to leave the unfinished feature in the code since this represents a major security issue," said Henry Brade, CEO of bitcoin service provider Prasos, a past defender of Bitcoin Core’s scaling proposals.

"However, based on the statement it is not accurate to call 'Antbleed' malicious in nature. It's simply a serious security issue."

F2pool operator Wang Chun further noted that he isn’t particularly worried about miners within his pool falling victim to manipulation by Bitmain. He noted, in conversation with CoinDesk, that it doesn’t seem like the company ever used it to shut down miners. "They have been able to do that for a long time, but they didn't," he said. Guy Corem, former CEO of Israeli mining chip maker Spondoolies-Tech, chalked up the controversy to "incompetence” and "negligence", rather than malicious intent.

"It make sense they wanted to develop such feature and it also make sense they didn't complete it and abandon it," he added. Further, he cited Spondoolies-Tech’s own past issues with stolen mining equipment. Still, some in the community are skeptical of Bitmain’s response. "Denial of many people is unbelievable. 'Antbleed' is not bug or mistake. The purpose of the code is clear; shut down miner on remote flag," Palatinus tweeted.

Public info?

Others have raised concerns about this vulnerability being made public since outsiders can then take advantage of the attack vector. Bitcoin Core contributor Matt Corallo argued that owners of these bitcoin miners needed to know about the potential vulnerability in order to fix it. "The issue is, it's already integrated in a ton of deployed hardware," he said, adding:

"It was reported to Bitmain via that bug report months ago, and their customers need to know to protect their operations from potential [man-in-the-middle attacks]."

The issue was first reported to Bitmain on Github in September 2016. One question is how prevalent the practice is in bitcoin. Secret backdoors seem to be par for the course in the technology world, often drawing security-minded critics as they're uncovered. Do other hardware manufacturers have the same vulnerability? Two mining manufacturers, at least, claim that they don’t.

"Our hardware doesn't [have] such issues, we [don’t] offer remote updates for firmware – it's the customer's decision update them or not,” said blockchain startup Bitfury Group CIO Alex Petrov. "My miner has no ASICBoost or backdoor," Jack Liao, CEO of mining LightningAsic, told CoinDesk. Along with the details about the backdoor, those who detected it released a patch that closes it up with a single line of code.

Mining centralization

Still, there are lingering worries that the vulnerability betrays a weakness in the bitcoin network – namely, it's lack of mining chip makers. No clear data is available about how many miners are running this software, but Bitmain is one the largest chip manufacturers in the space, with bolder estimates suggesting it produces 70% of all mining chips. That the backdoor could be used to impact any of those chips is unsurprisingly alarming to advocates that the network be "decentralized" and open to competition that enables different actors to engage it.

For now, the impact seems to be that Bitmain will take action to look at the rest of its codebase in order to spot other vulnerabilities. "The controversy around this code has brought our attention to improve the design in order to address vulnerabilities that were pointed out by the community recently," its statement reads. Still, others are lamenting the state of the drama and conversation around the issue, noting how quickly it became politicized.

Rizun concluded:

"All-in-all just another day in bitcoin."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Ripple Signs Up Another 10 Banks As Blockchain-Based Payments Grow

Ripple Signs Up Another 10 Banks As Blockchain-Based Payments Grow

  

Ripple signed up another 10 banks,

including BBVA, penetrating the traditional banking sector in a way other digital currencies have yet to do. Ripple Labs continues to grow its client list with small and more substantial banks, engaging clients in the payment service provider market. In its press release, Ripple lists the banks: MUFG, BBVA, SEB, Akbank, Axis Bank, YES BANK, SBI Remit, Cambridge Global Payments, Star One Credit Union and eZforex.com.

An interesting trend shown in the current list of clients is the addition of new payment service providers (PSPs). It shows that Blockchain related payments are efficiently entering the remittance market. The press release describes the list of newcomers as “…some of the world’s largest banks, innovative payment service providers… More and more customers are turning to Ripple for cross-border payments.”

Adoption Scaling

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse is confident in the technology and views the customer base acceleration logical, stating:

“People know Ripple is the only Blockchain solution for payments that is proven in the real world and it’s driving demand from financial institutions of all kinds and sizes because they want to stay ahead of the curve.”

Certain members are already aiming at commercial implementation, although no timeline has been indicated. “We are very pleased to be working with Ripple to provide new types of payment services to change our customers’ experience using the power of Blockchain technology. To demonstrate our commitment, we are joining the Japan Bank Consortium to collaborate with other Japanese banks to move to the commercial use of Ripple’s global network.” – Hirofumi Aihara, General Manager of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ

XRP outlook positive

The majority of transactions are cross-border but within the same bank. An expected milestone will be when the banks start making Blockchain transactions happen between themselves and counterparties. XRP experienced a large surge in price and market capitalization as 2017 has brought nothing but good news. Despite a rocky 2016 Ripple Labs seems to be back on track to growth and prosperity, having grown its staff to over 150 and counting. The efficiency in both time and fees means that large scale adoption is a real possibility, while companies like SWIFT are finally taking this seriously.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Americans Skeptical of Bitcoin, Asia Surpasses US, Europe in Fintech Investments

Americans Skeptical of Bitcoin, Asia Surpasses US, Europe in Fintech Investments

  

Americans Skeptical of Bitcoin, Asia Surpasses US, Europe in Fintech Investments

Finder.com has recently conducted a study to examine the current trends in the international money transfer space. Olivia Chow, the company’s Lead Researcher had a chat with Cointelegraph revealing key findings of the study.

34 percent of Americans transfer money overseas

According to data collected by finder.com, 34 percent (or 84.1 mln) of Americans transfer money overseas. That is an estimated $140.1 bln last year alone, more than half amounts for mortgages, student loans and credit card debt.

Another set of data reveals that while the general population seems to be embracing digital wallets for day-to-day transactions (57 percent use a digital wallet more than any other mean), 80 percent of all money transferred overseas is still done in person using cash. This is topped with a figure of 96 percent representing those who are unhappy with the level of service they receive. Finder.com launched an in-depth research to identify the reasons behind dissatisfaction with money transfer services, as well as to understand why the in-person approach is still favoured when it comes to international money transfers.

Chow explained the methodology used:

“Because we are an online company, we focused on Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) — non-bank institutions that send global payments — that have web applications and allows for transfers to be completed entirely online. We spent three months sending live transfers to France and Mexico, generating quotes on 2,430 transactions, conducting usability research with 39 participants from usertesting.com and site testing to verify 585 data points collected from provider websites.”

Six most important factors in money transfer

Based on users’ money transfer concerns and needs, finder.com has developed the six most important factors when transferring money. These included exchange rates, the speed of transfer, user experience, trustworthiness, convenience and novelty of the product. These six factors corresponded to six award categories. The study demonstrated that the average score for best user experience was the highest, while the average score for Most Convenient and Most Trustworthy was lowest.

Chow explained:

“The high UX scores is a departure from most banking sectors but this is because we only focused on Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) who are not big banks. They specialize in one area in banking leading to a better user experience both because of this area of focus and because the need to optimize for the user is required to meet margins.”

According to the study findings, industry veterans do not have the highest online country and territory coverage, although, as Chow says, they would if cash pick-up payments (not bank accounts) were included in the study.

She shared:

“For instance, SmallWorld had the highest coverage with 83 countries and territories, but that’s less than half of the world’s 195+ countries and territories. TransferWise and WorldRemit came in second with 74 countries and territories. Western Union had 59 and Paypal 38. The bottleneck here are the specific regulations between different countries. Altcoins could prove a possible accelerator in this adoption. The unbanked recipients also make moving away from cash slow, offering another opportunity for cryptocurrencies.”

An Analysis also revealed the lack of transparency with most of the providers of money transfer services. Thus, two in five providers (40 percent) didn’t transfer funds within the promised delivery time. 31 percent of providers tested did not have successful transfers, they used wire transfers or forced customers to load funds onto a digital wallet before being able to transfer. 31 percent forced customers to provide their personal details before offering an online quote.

As stated by Chow, a perception of trust is a two-way street – people who receive payments must be comfortable with the way they receive. Given all this, what are the chances cryptocurrencies will offer a solution for Americans willing to transact instantly and trustfully?

Americans are skeptical about cryptocurrencies

Describing general habits and preferences of Americans when it comes to money transfers, Chow points out that the biggest determining factor to which service to use is what is convenient to use for those receiving the money. As a result, digital wallets have taken off in the US – the Venmos, Facebook Messenger, and Google Pay. These apps are even marketed as social tools which make it easier to split a dinner bill, for example.

Chow continues:

“However, when it comes to international money transfers, the recipients are often less savvy and possibly without bank accounts. As a result, the resistance for digital adoption is much greater leading to international money transfers from the US still largely being conducted in cash.”

While there is certainly a niche which can be occupied by cryptocurrencies, Chow says that in the US, cryptocurrencies are met with some degree of scepticism among the general public. She believes there are at least two reasons for that.

Is Bitcoin going to overturn the current financial system?

According to Chow, the US economic system is relatively stable. Although the Great Depression was painful for many Americans and “too big to fail” was the supposed harbinger for Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention, the day-to-day relationship with money remained constant.

Chow says:

“The bank didn’t run, people weren’t concerned that their greenbacks suddenly weren’t going to be worth anything, and your ATMs, online banking, and other daily banking mechanisms continued to operate. Ultimately, the need for an alternative currency is not dire.”

At the same time, in many developing countries where the national currency sometimes lacks stability and the government is corrupted. Interest in cryptocurrencies seem to increase as a result of greater volatility and weakness of the fiat. The Indian cash crisis is a perfect example of when Bitcoin volumes have soared.

The second reason for general public’s scepticism towards Bitcoin, according to Chow, is the binary thinking Americans have developed:

“Is Bitcoin going to overturn the current financial system or not? There seems to be a narrative that if it doesn’t do that then it’s a total failure. But if it can buoy economies during a financial crisis and provide an alternative, I think that is certainly filling a need today.”

Indeed, it is still unclear whether this decentralised currency experiment will succeed or just collapse – only time will tell. So far cryptocurrencies do seem to be addressing a growing need for an alternative to the mainstream markets when the latter are in peril.

Why national altcoins failed

Speaking of the instability of national currencies, recently we have witnessed an emergence of a new generation of cryptocurrencies focusing on building money system to solve problems of a specific country (Auroracoin, Scotcoin, Gaelcoin, etc.). While many critics were saying that these initiatives are not able to overturn traditional finance and settlement systems, there was a significant share of supporters.

Chow shared her opinion:

“I think it’s fair to say that those specific national altcoin initiatives have peaked and were unsuccessful. A lot of them rose in critique of limitations and failures of their own currency, but why create a cryptocurrency based on a nation state? When the whole idea is to decentralize and create fewer boundaries between transactions? At the same time, these were largely popular in 2014 when Bitcoin had thought to have failed. So, experimenting with different new cryptocurrencies could have made sense to alleviate the problems of the mainstream economy.”

Today Bitcoin is showing strength with an overall uptrend leading those in volatile markets to opt into Bitcoin, rather than create an entirely new currency. Besides, money transfer services are even taking advantage of the cheaper exchange rates offered by Bitcoin’s separate market. As Chow says, still sometimes the rates are worse, but it’s always good to have alternatives.

Crypto and fiat can’t be compared

Cryptocurrency market is definitely maturing, which is demonstrated by the increasing cryptocurrency market cap. Last year, Bitcoin even managed to outperform many traditional currencies raising hopes that digital currencies are indeed the future of money.

Chow commented:

“I think we need to define “outperform.” How much a currency is worth is dependent on what the cost of goods it can buy. That is still limited and difficult to measure when it comes to Bitcoin — especially legally. Strictly based on market cap and price, yes, Bitcoin more than doubled last year. But until Bitcoin is accepted more widely as payment (which it is starting to) I think it’s unfair to compare them with fiat currencies.

Fintech is prioritized: lessons from Asia

Cointelegraph was interested to know Chow’s opinion on the fintech boom in Asia, and particularly in China. Last year Asia managed to surpass the US and Europe in terms investment volume in fintech industry reaching $1.2 bln versus $900 mln in the US and $200 mln in Europe.

Chow says:

“Indeed, Asia surpassed the US and Europe in venture capital but the year-end investments ended up being much larger in the four and five billions for each – higher in you include other sources of investment. Although Asia surpassed the US in total investment, Asia made fewer deals. This is not necessarily bad but reflects how much more unified their strategy appears to be — investing in fewer companies but more heavily.”

Chow recalls that one of the biggest investments last year was into Ant Financials, the payment arm of Alibaba group. They recently just bought Moneygram, and Chow says it will be interesting to watch:

“They seem to historically be more focused on cash payments but this could dramatically change by this time next year. Furthermore, Alibaba Group’s CEO Jack Ma has been quite vocal about his belief that businesses need to invest in the infrastructure of their own countries.”

After all, it seems in today’s increasingly digital and global market, fintech is being made a priority.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

There’s a Big Difference Between Electronic Fiat and Cryptocurrency

There’s a Big Difference Between Electronic Fiat and Cryptocurrency

With all different types of digital money these days and accounts represented electronically, people often wonder what’s the difference between traditional electronic currency issued by banks and permissionless cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

The Big Push for a Cashless Society

Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of discussion concerning the world’s progression towards a cashless society. Furthermore, bureaucrats and government authorities worldwide have also bolstered the idea further by individual notes of tender from circulation by demonetizing cash reserves. Before the seventies, cash was a dominant form of money, but since then most people now transact with an electronic representation of their local currency in their day to day lives.

For instance, only 8 percent of the world’s money is represented by physical notes, and everything else is a form of digital fiat. Countries everywhere around the world have slowly been progressing towards a cashless society. In the U.S. the practice of electronic deposits into bank accounts became popular in 1975, and a decade later people were using these balances with debit cards.

Now throughout a few particular countries, large denominated notes like the $100, $500, and $1,000 bills are becoming rarer as governments are removing them from circulation. One country, in particular, India is suffering from a cash crisis as leaders started a demonization process last year. The use of cash within India is becoming less visible as Indian authorities are pushing hard for a cashless society by replacing it with digital fiat.

The Glaring Differences Between Electronic Fiat and Cryptocurrencies

 

There are significant differences between the traditional digital currency in your bank account and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. One of the biggest contrasts between the two is bitcoin’s deflationary attributes which is backed by the currency’s 21 million capped supply. Many economists believe this is a great benefit as the public knows that there are only so many bitcoins, which causes people to save, and purchasing power usually increases.

With traditional digital fiat reserves, there is no telling how much money is circulating, and no one knows if the central banks are printing money on a whim. Economists who are against this type of monetary practice, such as those from the Austrian school, believe the world’s citizens are experiencing a silent robbery called inflation due to central planners printing vast amounts of fiat reserves. Sometimes central bank’s like the Federal Reserve tell the public they are creating more money with concepts like quantitative easing and the recent bank bailouts.    

Another reason the world’s traditional fiat currencies are no good is because the electronic form is also used to monitor the public’s wealth. Cash is harder to track, and governments can keep a keen eye on funds moving around their electronic databases. Furthermore, other government agencies such as the UK’s GCHQ, the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA have been known to being spying on citizens and the world bank’s monetary movements.

With this power, central authorities can censor people’s privileges to move money in any way they see fit. There are clear examples of banks, credit card companies, and Paypal freezing peoples funds or halting operations because of reasons they don’t particularly agree with.

Censorship Resistance and Unstoppable Tax Protests

With bitcoin, people can move their wealth in a permissionless way using their individual sovereignty. Bitcoin users can utilize the decentralized currency for operations that are typically frowned upon by third party forces. This includes online storefronts selling pornography, illicit drugs, and other black market activities. Cryptocurrencies can also be used to avoid taxation as it leaves the decision of reporting to tax officials up to the user.

The infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden has agreed with this sentiment explaining to his Twitter followers on November 13 stating;

Coincidentally, new technologies raise the possibility of unstoppable tax protests.   

Because the public is embracing bitcoin and blockchain-based permissionless currencies authorities worldwide are trying to co-opt the technology. Rather than be disrupted, central monetary planners believe adding the word “blockchain” to the incumbent databases used today will lure more people towards a cashless society. One that will still be monitored, controlled with censorship, and even “editable” for those trying to erase fraudulent behavior.

There is a big difference between the electronic money used by banks today and bitcoin, as the latter is far superior for those who embrace freedom.

What do you think about electronic fiat currency in comparison to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below. 

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive.com

By Jamie Redman -April 27, 2017

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

best cryptocurrency exchanges

Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

What is a cryptocurrency exchange?

Cryptocurrency exchanges are websites where you can buy, sell or exchange cryptocurrencies for other digital currency or traditional currency like US dollars or Euro. For those that want to trade professionally and have access to fancy trading tools, you will likely need to use an exchange that requires you to verify your ID and open an account. If you just want to make the occasional, straightforward trade, there are also platforms that you can use that do not require an account.

Types of exchanges

Trading Platforms – These are websites that connect buyers and sellers and take a fee from each transaction.

Direct Trading – These platforms offer direct person to person trading where individuals from different countries can exchange currency. Direct trading exchanges don’t have a fixed market price, instead, each seller sets their own exchange rate.

Brokers – These are websites that anyone can visit to buy cryptocurrencies at a price set by the broker. Cryptocurrency brokers are similar to foreign exchange dealers.

The Best Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Today there are a host of platforms to choose from, but not all exchanges are created equal. This list is based on user reviews as well as a host of other criteria such as user-friendliness, accessibility, fees, and security. Here are ten of the best crypto exchanges in no specific order.
 

Coinbase

Backed by trusted investors and used by millions of customers globally, Coinbase is one of the most popular and well-known brokers and trading platforms in the world. The Coinbase platform makes it easy to securely buy, use, store and trade digital currency. Users can purchase bitcoins or Ether from Coinbase through a digital wallet available on Android & iPhone or through trading with other users on the company’s Global Digital Asset Exchange (GDAX) subsidiary. GDAX currently operates in the US, Europe, UK, Canada, Australia and Singapore. GDAX does not currently charge any transfer fees for moving funds between your Coinbase account and GDAX account. For now, the selection of tradable currencies will, however, depend on the country you live in. Check out the

Pros: Good reputation, security, reasonable fees, beginner friendly, stored currency is covered by Coinbase insurance.

Cons: Customer support, limited payment methods, limited countries supported, non-uniform rollout of services worldwide, GDAX suitable for technical traders only.

Kraken

Founded in 2011, Kraken is the largest Bitcoin exchange in euro volume and liquidity and is a partner in the first cryptocurrency bank. Kraken lets you buy and sell bitcoins and trade between bitcoins and euros, US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, British Pounds and Japanese Yen. It’s also possible to trade digital currencies other than Bitcoin like Ethereum, Monero, Ethereum Classic, Augur REP tokens, ICONOMI, Zcash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ripple and Stellar/Lumens. For more experienced users, Kraken offers margin trading and a host of other trading features. Kraken is a great choice for more experienced traders.

Pros: Good reputation, decent exchange rates, low transaction fees, minimal deposit fees, feature rich, great user support, secure, supported worldwide.

Cons: Limited payment methods, not suitable for beginners, unintuitive user interface.

 

Cex.io

Cex.io provides a wide range of services for using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. The platform lets users easily trade fiat money with cryptocurrencies and conversely cryptocurrencies for fiat money. For those looking to trade bitcoins professionally, the platform offers personalized and user-friendly trading dashboards and margin trading. Alternatively, CEX also offers a brokerage service which provides novice traders an extremely simple way to buy bitcoin at prices that are more or less in line with the market rate. The Cex.io website is secure and intuitive and cryptocurrencies can be stored in safe cold storage.

Pros: Good reputation, good mobile product, supports credit cards, beginner friendly, decent exchange rate, supported worldwide.

Cons: Average customer support, drawn out verification process, depositing is expensive.
 

ShapeShift

ShapeShift is the leading exchange that supports a variety of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Zcash, Dash, Dogecoin and many others. Shapeshift is great for those who want to make instant straightforward trades without signing up to an account or relying on a platform to hold their funds. ShapeShift does not allow users to purchase crypto’s with debit cards, credit cards or any other payment system. The platform has a no fiat policy and only allows for the exchange between bitcoin and the other supported cryptocurrencies.

Pros: Good reputation, beginner friendly, Dozens of Crypto’s available for exchange, fast, reasonable prices.

Cons: Average mobile app, no fiat currencies, limited payment options and tools.

 

Poloniex

Founded in 2014, Poloniex is one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges. The exchange offers a secure trading environment with more than 100 different Bitcoin cryptocurrency pairings and advanced tools and data analysis for advanced traders. As one of the most popular trading platforms with the highest trading volumes, users will always be able to close a trade position. Poloniex employs a volume-tiered, maker-taker fee schedule for all trades so fees are different depending on if you are the maker or the taker. For makers, fees range from 0 to 0.15%, depending on the amount traded.

For takers, fees range from 0.10 to 0.25%. There are no fees for withdrawals beyond the transaction fee required by the network. One of the unique tools on the Poloniex platform is the chat box which is constantly filled with user help and just about everything. Any user can write almost anything but inappropriate comments are eventually deleted by moderators. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish the good advice from the bad, but the Chatbox is a great tool that will keep you engaged.

Pros: fast account creation, feature rich, BTC lending, high volume trading, user-friendly, low trading fees, open API.

Cons: Slow customer service, no fiat support.
 

Bitstamp

Bitstamp is a European Union based bitcoin marketplace founded in 2011. The platform is one of the first generation bitcoin exchanges that has built up a loyal customer base. Bitstamp is well known and trusted throughout the bitcoin community as a safe platform. It offers advanced security features such as two-step authentication, multisig technology for its wallet and fully insured cold storage. Bitstamp has 24/7 support and a multilingual user interface and getting started is relatively easy. After opening a free account and making a deposit, users can start trading immediately.

Pros: Good reputation, high-level security, worldwide availability, low transaction fees, good for large transactions.

Cons: Not beginner friendly, limited payment methods, high deposit fees, user interface.

 

CoinMama

CoinMama is a veteran broker platform that anyone can visit to buy bitcoin or Ether using your credit card or cash via MoneyGram and the Western Union. CoinMama is great for those who want to make instant straightforward purchases of digital currency using their local currency. Although the CoinMama service is available worldwide, users should be aware that some countries may not be able to use all the functions of the site. CoinMama is available in English, German, French, Italian and Russian. Check out the CoinMama FAQ

Pros: Good reputation, beginner friendly, great user interface, good range of payment options, available worldwide, fast transaction time.

Cons: High exchange rates, a premium fee for credit card, no bitcoin sell function, average user support.

 

Bitsquare

Bitsquare is a user-friendly peer to peer exchange that allows you to buy and sell bitcoins in exchange for fiat currencies or cryptocurrencies. Bitsquare markets itself as a truly decentralized and peer to peer exchange that is instantly accessible and requires no need for registration or reliance on a central authority. Bitsquare never holds user funds and no one except trading partners exchange personal data. The platform offers great security with multisig addresses, security deposits and purpose built arbitrator system in case of trade disputes. If you want to remain anonymous and don’t trust anyone, Bitsquare is the perfect platform for you. Check out the Bitsquare FAQ

Pros: Good reputation, secure & private, a vast amount of cryptocurrencies available, no sign-up, decent fees, open source, available worldwide, good for advanced traders.

Cons: Limited payment options, average customer support, not beginner friendly.

LocalBitcoin

LocalBitcoin is a P2P Bitcoin exchange with buyers and sellers in thousands of cities around the world. With LocalBitcoins, you can meet up with people in your local area and buy or sell bitcoins in cash, send money through PayPal, Skrill or Dwolla or arrange to deposit cash at a bank branch. LocalBitcoins only take a commission of 1% from the sellers who set their own exchange rates. To ensure trading is secure, LocalBitcoins takes a number of precautions. To start, the platform rates each trader with a reputation rank and publicly displays past activities. Also, once a trade is requested, the money is held on LocalBitcoins’ escrow service. After the seller confirms the trade is completed the funds are released. If something does happen to go wrong, LocalBitcoins has a support and conflict resolution team to resolve conflicts between buyers and sellers. Check out

Pros: No ID required, beginner friendly, usually free, instant transfers, available worldwide.

Cons: Hard to buy large amounts of bitcoin, high exchanges rates.

Gemini

Co-founded by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Gemini is a fully regulated licensed US Bitcoin and Ether exchange. That means Gemini’s capital requirements and regulatory standards are similar to a bank. Also, all US dollar deposits are held at a FDIC-insured bank and the majority of digital currency is held in cold storage. Gemini trades in three currencies, US dollars, bitcoin, and ether, so the platform does not serve traders of the plethora of other cryptocurrencies. The exchange operates via a maker-taker fee schedule with discounts available for high volume traders. All deposits and withdrawals are free of charge. The platform is only fully available to customers in 42 US states, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and the UK.

Pros: Security & Compliance, slick/minimalistic and user-friendly design, great analytics, high liquidity.

Cons: Limited currencies, small community, average customer support, limited worldwide availability, no margin trading.
 

Blockchain

Blockchain is the world's leading software platform for digital assets. Offering the largest production blockchain platform in the world, using new technology to build a radically better financial system, based in Europe. The software has powered over 100M transactions and empowered users in 140 countries across the globe to transact quickly and without costly intermediaries. They also offer tools for developers and real time transaction data for users to analyze the burgeoning digital economy.

Pros: Security & Compliance, slick/minimalistic and user-friendly design, great analytics, high liquidity.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member