Tag Archives: bitcoin

Bitcoin is back above $1,000

 

Bitcoin is back above $1,000

Bitcoin is is back above $1,000 for the first time since January 5. The cryptocurrency was higher by 1.5% at $1,000.10 a coin as of 11:39 a.m. ET.

It's been a wild year for bitcoin. It began 2017 with a 20% rally during the first five days of the year before crashing 35% on concerns of a crackdown on trading in China.

Thursday's gains have extended bitcoin's winning streak to a sixth straight session as trade appears to be benefitting from uncertainty surrounding Donald Trump's presidency. The cryptocurrency has gained nearly 10% since Trump was inaugurated on January 20.

I believe that is the $1,000 level can be maintained  we will see a rise again later in the year. The recent trend has been upwards but it wil peak and then fall again.

I have been earning free bitcoins at Bitearn , by completing surveys, the rewards are not great , the equivalent of less than a pound a day, which I transfer to my wallet. This adds interest to tracking the market both in Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies.

Today Infinity Economics Launched thier wallet to members. The next few weeks will see added functions, as it is much more than a wallet.

David Ogden

Earn Free Bitcoins Here

 

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Many netizens have heard of bitcoin, the digital currency. This means it exists electronically. To be more precise, bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency – the implication of security and encryption is important. Cryptocurrency, or digital currency, is an invention of the Internet. Basically, someone out there thought, "hey, what if…Read more. In this post, we attempt to identify 10 questions about Bitcoins that can give you a clearer understanding of what it is, what it does and how you can use it to buy products or services online.

What are bitcoins?

Bitcoin (capitalized) refers to the software or network (ie: the Bitcoin Network), while bitcoin (not capitalized) refers to the digital currency itself (ie: two bitcoins). he price fluctuates, depending on what people were willing to pay for it. It traded for as low as pennies (during the infancy stage) to as high as USD1200 during its peak in 2013.

Who developed the idea of bitcoins?

The idea of Bitcoin was conceptualized by Satoshi Nakamoto, an anonymous figure. In May 2008, he shared a white paper [PDF] about Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. Without disclosing who he was, Satoshi outlined how the currency would work: bitcoins would be ‘mined’ by computer software, transferred directly amongst users and recorded in an untamperable ledger without the need of a third party.

Part of Bitcoin’s appeal is Satoshi Nakamoto’s anonymity, who many view as a selfless act towards a new era of financial revolution. Online detectives have identified a few candidates, including a real-life Japanese person sharing the same name. Some even theorized that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for a collective.

In May 2016, the Bitcoin community was shocked when Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as Satoshi Nakamoto. Some people believe his claim, some didn’t, but on the whole the Bitcoin community is unaffected – the Bitcoin ecosystem is decentralized, and cannot be controlled by any person(s), including the creator.

What is so special about bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency and runs on a system which allows you to send and receive bitcoins without a third party. To put simply, fiat currencies rely on third parties, such as banks or payment processors like Visa, to verify the transaction. This is how you and I can ensure payment sent was indeed received. However, bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public ledger called the bitcoin blockchain. This information are permanent and publicly viewable on Blockchain.info and cannot be edited or deleted.

This means that the transaction records act as proof of transaction. Bitcoin is also programmed to be non-duplicable, which means double spending is highly unlikely.

What is decentralized currency?

Bitcoin is also a decentralized currency, as in no one government, individual or group holds authority over it. This makes bitcoin spendable anywhere in the world as long as the receiver accepts bitcoins as payment.

Decentralised currencies are a unique concept. Similar to the internet, it is free from geographical boundaries – this is why bitcoin is also dubbed ‘the currency of the internet’.

Due to lack of control and regulations, many countries are understandably wary of bitcoin – and other cryptocurrencies in general – but some progressive countries such as Japan have started to recognize it as currency.

Is bitcoin anonymous?

Bitcoin’s anonymity is a myth. Or rather, it is now much harder to make anonymous transactions with Bitcoin. Because as the ecosystem matures, many bitcoin service providers have started implementing KYC/AML regulations. KYC/AML stands for know your customers/anti-money laundering . This requires users to submit proof of identity and proof of residence.

It is also fairly easy to trace bitcoins. Bitcoins are usually bought from bitcoin exchanges, received as payment, or donated. With transaction details publicly viewable online, it is possible to trace where the bitcoin came from.

 How do you use bitcoins?

Bitcoin can be used for spending, similar to money. Some people also keep them for investment purposes, while others prefer to use them as a method to make international money transfer.  Bitcoin exists electronically and is kept in ‘bitcoin wallets’. There are many types of bitcoin wallets: desktop wallet, mobile wallet, online/web-based wallet, hardware wallet and even paper wallet.

To read more about bitcoin storage, check out this article by CoinDesk. You can have as many wallets and bitcoin addresses (where you receive money from others) as you like.

How many people are using bitcoin?

Estimates vary – it is hard to find out the exact number of people who use Bitcoin. One way to measure number of bitcoin users is by measuring the number of bitcoin wallets. According to CoinDesk’s State of Bitcoin and Blockchain 2016 report, bitcoin wallets doubled to 12.77 million in one year, from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015. Even though many bitcoin users have more than one wallet (it is common to hold a few wallets), this is an indication that the number of bitcoin users worldwide is increasing.

Another way to estimate bitcoin usage is by the number of bitcoin transactions, which has steadily increased. Although this could mean that the same people are simply making more bitcoin transactions, it is fair to assume that there are new bitcoin users in the mix, too.

How do I acquire bitcoins?

There are three main ways to get bitcoins: mine them, buy them, or work for them.

Bitcoin Mining
Bitcoin mining used to be really profitable. However at the current time it is no longer cost effective for the average individual. One will need to buy specialised Bitcoin mining equipment, get/rent dedicated spaces for them, and pay their associated costs (rental, electricity and cooling costs).
Buy Bitcoins
You can buy bitcoins from many online exchanges. There are a lot more options now than ever before – there are global bitcoin exchanges and also country-specific bitcoin exchanges. You can also buy them from other people via Localbitcoins.
Work for Bitcoins
Some people get paid in bitcoins, instead of cash currencies. Websites such as XBTFreelancer… and Coinality list jobs with bitcoin payments.There are other less effective ways to acquire bitcoins. You can get (very) small amounts of bitcoins from bitcoin faucets, which pay you to look at advertisements. You can get them as donations. There are also bitcoin ‘investments’ but if you wish to not lose money, Badbavoid companies that are listed in itcoin Badlist.

How do I send/receive/spend bitcoins?

Bitcoin wallets come with bitcoin addresses, which represent a destination, similar to an email address. Bitcoin addresses are alphanumeric, between 27-34 characters in length. Many bitcoin service providers have user-friendly user interface which allows users to generate bitcoin addresses, send and receive bitcoins.

To send bitcoins, users simply have to ensure positive balance in their bitcoin wallets, insert the receiver’s bitcoin address, and hit send. There is a small miner’s fee to process the transaction – miner’s fees are given as a reward and incentive to Bitcoin miners for maintaining equipment. Bitcoin transactions usually take less than an hour to arrive, but it can take longer or shorter depending on the fee amount and the bitcoin service provider.

You can spend bitcoins anywhere that accept bitcoins as payment. You can also use a Visa/Mastercard-linked bitcoin debit card issued by companies like Wirex or Coinbase.

What are bitcoin’s disadvantages?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers. Coders and programmers might argue that bitcoin is already an outdated network, compared to some of the newer cryptocurrency networks available. Here we will concentrate on bitcoin’s disadvantages to the casual user:

Advanced digital knowledge is necessary

Bitcoin can be stolen in many ways. It is the bitcoin owner’s responsibility to keep them safe, and this meant implementing additional layers of security such as 2-factor authentication. Keeping them in web wallets can be dangerous. If you have a significant amount of bitcoins, you are advised to keep them in hardware wallets such as Trezor or Ledger.

Bitcoin service providers can be hard to trust

The biggest names have failed the Bitcoin community. Who can forget the Mt. Gox incident in 2014. It was the biggest bitcoin exchanger at the time and practically disappeared overnight along with almost 745,000 bitcoins. More recently in 2016, thieves stole almost 120,000 bitcoins during the Bitfinex hack – and experts still don’t know how they did it.

Lack of acceptance

Cold hard cash is still the widest and most used form of payment – it’s acceptance is second to none. By contrast, bitcoin is only accepted at a handful of shops. However, bitcoin debit cards help to address this issue – linked to payment processors, they help make bitcoin spending a bit easier.

Lack of protection

In general, bitcoin is not considered legal in most countries around the world. Therefore, theft or scam victims have almost no option for recourse. However, the legal landscape is ever-changing and one of the best spots to update yourself on where bitcoin is acceptable or not is Bitlegal.io.

Anti-bitcoin politicians

While many countries around the world mainly cautioned the public against the risky nature of Bitcoin, some politicians or political parties have extreme views about bitcoin. Russian and French lawmakers are considering banning it altogether.

Wrap Up

Bitcoin is cool, but the underlying technology behind it – the blockchain – is even cooler. Turns out, having a method to record data in a way that cannot be tampered or deleted is a good thing. It is also a cost-effective method to store information. Many companies including major banks have expressed interest in the blockchain technology.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Dutch and Korean Mainstream Media Extensively Cover Bitcoin Rally

Dutch and Korean Mainstream Media Extensively Cover Bitcoin Rally

Bitcoin is sustaining a strong price rally, maintaining its stability at the US$1,020 margin. Within seven days, the price of bitcoin rose by 9%, pushing the demand for the digital currency in exchanges worldwide. As a result, bitcoin began to gain extensive coverage by mainstream media in South Korea, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Extensive Coverage in Belgium and the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, de Volkskrant, leading daily morning newspaper with a circulation of nearly 250,000 nationwide and De Telegraaf, the largest Dutch daily newspaper with a circulation of 430,000, provided extensive coverage on bitcoin and its recent price rally to their mainstream audience ever since bitcoin reached the $1,000 milestone.

Analysts at De Telegraff offered insightful and accurate assessment of bitcoin’s rising value, stating that current global economic instability and uncertainty led to the increase of demand for bitcoin. Researchers at the firm also mentioned China’s role in bitcoin’s recent price rally, explaining that investors, traders and households purchased bitcoin to move the Chinese yuan out of the country.

De Telegraff stated:

Bitcoin has in recent months was sought after by investors due to the uncertainty in the international economy. According to analysts, the popularity of bitcoin is enhanced by strong demand from China, where virtual currency investors are seeking for an interesting alternative to the yuan.

While tightening regulations and capital controls initiated and imposed by the Chinese government indeed played a vital role in pushing the price of bitcoin, experts like Vinny Lingham told users and investors that it is important to consider the impact of the Federal Reserve’s increase in interest rates on bitcoin.

The global economy is dependent on the US dollars directly and indirectly. Currencies like the Chinese yuan and South Korean won depend on the performance of US dollars and thus, when the US dollars rise in value, they decline in price.

Inevitably, when the Fed raised rates in December, the demand for bitcoin surged in countries like China and South Korea due to the rising number of investors and traders seeking for alternative assets to avoid currency devaluation.

De Tijd, a major newspaper in Belgium with 41,000 in circulation, also provided coverage on bitcoin on its online media outlet, emphasizing bitcoin’s strong performance throughout the year. Analysts at De Tijd noted that bitcoin was worth less than $500 in the beginning of 2016 and it reached a 3-year high price on the first day of trading in 2017.

South Korea: Fed Rate Hikes, Bitcoin Demand Rises

The South Korean economy is slowly recovering from controversies surrounding President Park’s involvement in bribery and other serious offenses.

When the Fed announced its plans to raise interest rates last month, mainstream media outlets in South Korea expressed their concerns with the decreasing value of the South Korean won. Such coverage led to increasing demand for bitcoin within the country and ultimately, extensive coverage from mainstream media.

Mainstream media coverage in leading countries like the Netherlands and South Korea are exposing millions of people to bitcoin on a daily basis. If bitcoin continues rise in price, it will aid mainstream adoption of the digital currency in the long run.

Image from Shutterstock.

 

Chris Corey Chief Marketing Officer 

Markethive 

Joseph Young on 03/01/2017​

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

2016 Review: There’s New Momentum For Bitcoin and the Blockchain Industry

2016 Review: There’s New Momentum For Bitcoin and the Blockchain Industry

https://markethive.com/chriscorey/page/mycrypto

2016 set the bull charging again. A combination of events, beginning with bitcoin’s popularity as a hedge that protects assets from the forces afflicting traditional markets, set the stage for the price more than doubling in 2016. The good news on the price front tempered the volatility that has historically plagued the cryptocurrency, helping to solidify its role in society.

The positive news on the price front facilitated the continuing venture capital investment in bitcoin that was evident throughout the year. Venture capital investment in bitcoin in the last three years topped $927 million.

Bitcoin was also the best-performing currency this year, climbing 21% in USD value. Its performance surpassed that of the U.S. dollar and the Israeli shekel.

Moving Mainstream

The currency has moved from an investment commodity to everyday use, according to Coupofy.com, a digital marketing concern that provides online coupons for retailers.

Overstock, the online retailer that has been one of bitcoin’s most visible supporters among U.S. businesses, in December became the first publicly-traded company to issue stock over the Internet, distributing more than 126,000 company shares using the bitcoin blockchain.

Through a subsidiary called tØ, Overstock created a blockchain-based technology to facilitate trading financial securities.

Bitcoin also moved deeper into the financial mainstream in 2016. In May, derivatives giant CME Group launched two bitcoin benchmark indexes. Intercontinental Exchange Inc., a CME Group rival which owns the New York Stock Exchange, also announced plans to launch a real-time price index for the bitcoin.

Price Surge Began Early

Bitcoin’s price rose to just below $500 after the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank raised its fund rate by 25 basis points in late 2015. The bitcoin price tracked the U.S. dollar rally against other fiat currencies.

The negative start of the 2016 stock market demonstrated bitcoin’s value as a hedge against more volatile investment options. Bitcoin was one of the few winning investments in the worst first week of the year for U.S. stocks in early January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had their worst first weeks in history. Bitcoin, gold, the yen and natural gas were in growth modes.

Bitcoin’s price in January surged more than $20 in a 10-hour period to scale beyond $450. The climb did not occur in a straight line, however.

After falling to $360 in January, the price rebounded past $400 in February.

Fed Rate Hike Doesn’t Spook Bitcoin

The Federal Reserve Bank’s 2016 rate increase announcement in March had little impact on bitcoin. Half the market passively accumulated via limit orders placed just below price while the other half actively sold at market price.

The Federal Reserve’s early rate hike did not have a telling impact on bitcoin price.

The release of the code for Segregated Witness (SegWit) in April, an upgrade to the bitcoin protocol designed to enable more transactions within a single block of the blockchain, helped push bitcoin past $460.

In June, the price soared beyond $570, reaching a near two-year high. It hit $750 by mid-November.

Geopolitical Events Support Bitcoin

Global political events worked in bitcoin’s favor, beginning with the June U.K. Brexit referendum. After the U.K. pound (GBP/USD) dropped to $1.32, the U.S. dollar and gold rallied while bitcoin achieved a $140 gain.

Bitcoin prices were impacted by Britain’s referendum to exit the European Union.

The climb was not uniform.

Bitcoin’s price crashed in August as the Bitfinex exchange suffered a security breach that led to the theft of an unconfirmed number of bitcoins. The big exchange further announced a shutting down of its website and trading in ominous signs reminiscent of Mt. Gox.

Bitfinex got back online after advising users that they would lose 36% of their assets. The exchange levied a 36% price on all of its users, whether or not they were victimized individually by the hackers. The attack led some to believe the industry had not come up with a way to ensure security.

Others viewed the Bitfinex episode as proof that the bitcoin network is capable of withstanding negative events.

The Surge Continues

The price struck a new yearly high of $794.39 on the Bitstamp Price Index (BPI) in late December as the surge continued.

Financial adviser Martin Tillier observed that bitcoin’s previous price hikes were mysterious, but the current one is due to the devaluation of China’s currency.

Because there are logical reasons for the current price surge, the market is acting as a forward discounting mechanism and some degree of appreciation is now built into the price, Tillier noted. In addition, the interest from traders combined with the ability to short the currency allows the market to check upward spikes naturally, simply by attracting sellers.

Bitcoin gained more value than all other currencies in 2016, driven by China’s crackdown on the yuan, isolationist rumblings in the U.S. and the U.K, and increasing acceptance by consumers and businesses, according to Bloomberg.

By the time the price surged 79 percent since the start of 2016 to $778, it reached its highest level since early 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. At that point, bitcoin quadrupled the gains posted by Russia’s ruble and Brazil’s real, the world’s top two hard currencies.

Hard Fork Debate Continues

Drama engulfed the bitcoin industry over the hard fork solution to address the bitcoin block size. The issue caused longtime developer Mike Hearn to announce his departure from bitcoin in December of 2015.

Bitcoin Classic – a successor to Bitcoin-XT – appeared on the scene as a possible new implementation of the bitcoin protocol.

Many in the industry celebrated the new solution, despite the reality that the coding was not complete, and that the main developer on the project once noted that he was an average C++ programmer. This didn’t stop industry leaders like Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong from championing the technology.

The scaling debate is set to continue in 2017.

The main controversy around Bitcoin Classic centered around two opposing viewpoints. Those seeking to increase the maximum block size from 1 MB to 2 MB claimed that it is necessary to keep transaction costs down and continue the growth of the system.

Those against the block size increase argued that important technical issues were not properly addressed.

The core development team decided to take a clear direction, yet some miners, exchanges and start-ups pushed back.

The Classic camp, consisting of entrepreneurs, wanted a more immediate fix to expanding the network by increasing the block size. The Core camp, consisting of miners, didn’t want to increase the block size since some miners will be less likely to earn mining rewards.

Mining pools representing at least 70% of the total hashing power of the bitcoin network and some of the largest bitcoin exchanges said they would not support Bitcoin Classic or any “contentious hard-fork.”

Bitcoin Price Holds

When the bitcoin reward halving occurred in July, there were no price drops. Parties were held worldwide.

There was concern about miner profitability since miner rewards were cut in half from 25 to 12.5 bitcoins.

The bitcoin price eventually resumed its upward trend. One factor noted at the time was the devaluation of the Chinese yuan, driving Chinese investors to bitcoin.

In January 2017, the foreign currency cap for the amount of foreign currency that a Chinese citizen can convert ($50,000) will be reset for the new year. Inevitably, the surge in capital outflows could weaken the yuan further, setting off a market reaction that could lead to further demand for safe assets such as bitcoin.

Other factors cited were India’s demonetization drive, the unexpected Trump U.S. Presidential election victory and the U.K. Brexit referendum.

Blockchain Continues Its Surge

Investment in blockchain technology reached new highs in 2016.

Digital Asset Holdings, the New York firm developing blockchain solutions for the financial services industry, announced two new investors. IBM and Goldman Sachs joined 13 other investors with the funding scaling beyond $60 million.

Blockstream, a startup developing blockchain sidechains, raised $55 million in Series A funding, bringing the total capital raised to $76 million.

The R3 blockchain consortium which is testing blockchain technology for securities settlements and payments continued to make news. In late 2015, 12 banks joined the group. The consortium also opened membership to non-bank financial companies, including clearing houses, exchanges, standards organizations and infrastructure providers.

In November of 2016, some banks, including Goldman Sachs, one of the earliest members of the R3 blockchain consortium, reportedly chose not to renew membership with the working group.

VISA and blockchain technology partner BTL announced in September plans to invite a select group of European banks to participate in a blockchain project that will see inter-bank payments made via transfers over the distributed ledger.

Microsoft and Bank of America Merill Lynch in September announced a collaboration with the aim to “fuel transformation of trade finance transacting” with blockchain technology. The biggest changes would mean reduced transaction settlement time and newly automated processes.

R3 and 12 member banks in October trialed Ripple’s native digital currency token XRP, using the fintech startup’s blockchain technology, for cross-border payments. The trials were conducted at R3’s lab in an effort to demonstrate cost-cutting and increased efficiency of cross-border payments using Ripple’s digital asset.

Microsoft’s blockchain-as-a-service (Baas) endeavor gained new partners, including BitPay, for the service that will be made available for its Azure cloud platform.

Bitcoin entrepreneur Jeff Garzik started Bloq, a code-for-hire service to develop features for blockchain software and provide access to blockchain support. The company charges $3,000 to $5,000 per month. PriceWaterhouseCoopers agreed to sell the service to its customers.

New Blockchain Applications Emerge

Blockchain technology continued to find new applications in 2016.

Early in the year, General Motors tweeted news of its collaboration with Lyft to create self-driving vehicles. The announcement came as the industry was awaiting Ford and Google to announce a partnership for self-driving vehicles. Both of projects promise ripe grounds for smart contracts, blockchain-powered contracts that can tie IoT and vehicle finance together.

Blockchain is allowing musicians to monetize their work and engage with fans more directly. By embedding music in the blockchain, those involved in its creation can get paid immediately in cryptocurrency. Hence, the blockchain has the potential to change the way the music industry operates.

Several initiatives were announced to use blockchain technology to connect energy grids, delivering more efficient and environmentally sustainable energy. One company, L03 Energy, is building an “open source cryptographically secure” blockchain to manage transactions across a microgrid.

The hype surrounding blockchain technology has led to numerous pilots and prototypes deployed in 2016.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a provider of audit and assurance, tax and consulting services, teamed with Z/Yen, a London-based commercial think tank that promotes societal advancement through better finance and technology, to study the potential of blockchain technology in wholesale insurance.

Walmart and IBM partnered in October to manage the supply chain for Chinese pork on a blockchain, ensuring consumer confidence in the food industry. Teaming up with Tsinghua University in Beijing, it is hoped that by digitally tracking the movement of pork in China on a distributed ledger, food disasters will be prevented.

The issue of institutions hyping blockchain technology without bitcoin continued to be an area of debate in 2016. While many financial institutions expressed interest in blockchain technology but not bitcoin, some observers pointed out that the institutions ignore the fact that a cryptocurrency is needed to support a blockchain. One observer claimed that hyping the blockchain while denigrating bitcoin is an effort to blunt bitcoin’s challenge to traditional currency.

Ethereum Makes Waves

2016 was also a big year for Ethereum, which continues to make waves on the cryptocurrency landscape, with developers introducing new applications that take advantage of its smart contract and crowdsale capabilities. The market cap for ether, the crypto asset and token of the Ethereum network, soared above $1 billion.

As Ethereum grows, it earns media coverage which in turn fuels its growth. It attracted interest from major financial companies that are using it for private blockchains and smart contracts.

The Ethereum ecosystem continues to grow.

In May, the Gemini exchange, founded and operated by Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, gained the approval from the State of New York via the Department of Financial Services to offer ether trading.

Ethereum witnessed some growing pains in 2016. In June, the distributed autonomous organization (DAO) was breached when an attacker drained the ether contained in the DAO into a child DAO.

In response, Ethereum developers proposed a soft fork to be followed by a hard-fork. Miners unanimously supported the fork. The discussion and debate around the DAO vulnerability raised questions about trust and the human factor in the realm of distributed ledger technology.

Ethereum’s price jumped when the fork took effect in July. The clean resolution to the attempted heist was possible due to a new, decentralized governance model where those with a stake in the system cast their decisive votes.

Regulatory Activity Increases

While regulatory actions are not generally viewed as positive for any industry, regulations in 2016 were supportive in some ways.

A European Court of Justice ruling exempted bitcoin from value added tax (VAT), which was hailed as a victory by bitcoin advocates. The case was between the Swedish Tax Authority and the nation’s Revenue Law Commission. It commenced after a Swedish citizen asked for clarification of VAT on bitcoin.

Regulatory actions in Russia, a country that has not been supportive of bitcoin, improved in 2016. The Internet Development Institute (IRI) of Russia prepared a roadmap titled “Economics and Finance” which included a proposal for regulating blockchain.

Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation stated in October that the spread of bitcoin in Russia does not represent a threat to the country’s financial ecosystem at its current rate of adoption. As such, the plan to ban the cryptocurrency was put on hold. The Ministry of Finance initially proposed a 4-year prison sentence for bitcoin users late last year. In what could be seen as a move to bring respite, the Ministry then proposed a 2-year “corrective labor” sentence – a combination of penal detention and forced labor – for bitcoin adopters earlier this year.

Bitcoin’s increasing adoption and prominence has led to regulatory moves by several countries in 2016.

document by the federal tax authority in Russia in December revealed its first official stance on the legal status of cryptocurrencies. It noted bitcoin cannot be blocked or banned since cryptocurrencies can be deemed foreign currency transactions according to Russian laws.

State regulatory initiatives in the U.S. increased in 2016, indicating growing awareness of bitcoin.

Lawmakers in the State of Wyoming proposed a bill to require that cryptocurrency be treated the same as fiat currency under the state’s money transmitter’s act. The purpose of the bill is to encourage bitcoin-friendly companies to want to do business in the state.

The New York State Department of Financial Services in June approved Ripple Labs’ BitLicense application to sell and obtain XRP – the native digital asset of the Ripple Consensus Ledger, a platform used by financial institutions and companies.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law that defines “virtual currency” and clarifies what activity triggers licensure. The law defined the term “virtual currency” and the activities that trigger licensure. Virtual currency miners and blockchain software providers will not require a license for multi-signature software, smart contract platforms, smart property, colored coins, and non-hosted, non-custodial wallets.

The State of Illinois sought comment on a guidance document it released on whether a money transmitter license is needed to engage in selling decentralized digital currencies. The document says the department does not require such a license since virtual currencies have not been adopted by governments as currency.

The document outlined the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) interpretation of the state’s Transmitters of Money Act and seeks to establish the regulatory treatment of decentralized digital currencies.

IRS Summons Coinbase

One of the more alarming regulatory developments in the U.S. occurred in mid-November, when the IRS summoned Coinbase to provide information about its customers to facilitate the federal agency’s investigation into possible tax evasion by users of virtual currencies at any time between Jan. 1, 2013, through Dec. 31, 2015.

A federal judge approved the IRS summons, which Coinbase said it would oppose.

Mergers And Acquisitions Continue

Mergers and acquisitions continued in 2016.

Early in the year, Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, an initial investor in Coindesk, acquired the publication as a whole, with editorial and business teams at CoinDesk to merge with Digital Currency Group’s events platform to form a new subsidiary based in New York.

In January, the largest ever deal of its kind in the bitcoin industry saw leading European bitcoin exchange Krakenacquire bitcoin exchanges Coinsetter and CaVirtEx.

There were also industry casualties.

KnCMiner, after winning a lawsuit against complainants who had sued over late or failed delivery of one of the company’s previous iterations of bitcoin mining hardware, filed for bankruptcy ahead of July’s mining reward halving.

The Swedish company’s CEO Sam Cole cited energy taxes and uncertainty about the future of the bitcoin mining market.

BitLendingClub in December decided to close its service designed to help small businesses in emerging markets due to regulatory pressures, the company informed customers in a blog on its website. The blog noted the company worked hard to build a platform to provide the greatly needed service.

The blog did not expand on what regulatory pressures it was facing.

Controversies Aplenty

The Silk Road saga continued to haunt bitcoin in 2016. Ross Ulbricht’s defense filed an appeal. The defense will argue that the court prevented crucial evidence from seeing the day of light.

A federal court sentenced a Utah man, Curtis Clark Green, whose faked murder helped law enforcement put an end to the Silk Road Marketplace.

In May, Norway police made their largest drug bust ever when they arrested 15 people selling drugs on what they claim is the second version of the Silk Road marketplace that the U.S. FBI closed in 2013.

Other controversies emerged. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought judgments against Homero Joshua Garza, GAW Miners and ZenMiner, LLC, claiming they engaged in selling fraudulent investments in virtual currency mining operations.

The SEC ordered the defendants to pay $10,384,099 in disgorgement plus prejudgment interest, along with civil penalties. The SEC charged Garza, GAW Miners and ZenMiner with securities fraud and conducting a Ponzi scheme in January. The motion seeks permanent injunctions prohibiting the companies from engaging in future violations.

As an often misunderstood cryptocurrency, controversial bitcoin headlines are never too far.

Another drama surrounded the identity of bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. A text analysis of Australian Craig’ Wright’s writing by a specialist working with the U.K.-based International Business Times determined that the Australian is most likely not Satoshi Nakamoto. The company used a technique that compares texts written by Wright with anonymous texts believed to be sent by Nakamoto, including the original bitcoin white paper.

The darknet continued to poke its unwelcome head in 2016. The late February terror attacks in Brussels caused French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to cite the darknet as a terrorist tool and call for measures to improve intelligence expertise in technologies terrorists use.

Ransomware Attacks Expand

Ransomware attacks quadrupled this year over last year, averaging 4,000 per day, according to the U.S. Justice Department, The Wall Street Journal reported in a front-page story. This is because ransomware has become easier to deploy and more profitable than other scams, and bitcoin is more widely used.

Nearly one-third of bitcoin trading platforms have been hacked, reported Reuters, while about half have closed up shop in their first six years.

Also read: Bitcoin Classic releases new code that could double the block size in bitcoin

Bitcoin Questions Remain

Bitcoin’s dual role as a commodity and a currency can create financial recovery disputes when a company that pays for services using bitcoin goes bankrupt.

Bitcoin’s identity as a form of money also remains undecided. A bankruptcy court judge ruled in February in one such case, stating that the cryptocurrency is not the same as U.S. currency, but making it clear that he wanted the ruling confined to a specific legal framework.

Miami judge ruled that bitcoin isn’t real money, so someone accused of laundering it shouldn’t be convicted of money laundering. This was the argument that attorneys used in asking a Florida judge to dismiss money laundering charges against Michell Espinoza, a Miami man who police say sold and laundered $1,500 worth of bitcoins to undercover detectives.

Crypto Innovations Continue

There were new cryptocurrency innovations in 2016. Zcash, a “zero-knowledge proof” alternative to bitcoin, publishes its payments on a public blockchain, but the sender, recipient, and amount of a transaction remain private. It works like bitcoin with the guarantee of anti-forgery assurances. No one can counterfeit Zcash, or spend the same Zcash “coin” twice. But thanks to its “zero-knowledge feature”, any spender or receiver can also choose to keep their Zcash payment entirely secret.

Bitcoin’s Outlook Positive

report by Denmark-based Saxo Bank claimed bitcoin’s price could rise by 165% to more than $2,000 due to an economic stimulus expected from incoming President Donald Trump. The bullish bitcoin outlook was one of 10 Saxo Bank “Outrageous Predictions for 2017.”

Bitcoin is poised to grow in 2017.

The Trump-promised fiscal spending binge is expected to add to the approximate $20 trillion of U.S. national debt, tripling the current U.S. budget deficit from about $600 billion to $1.2 trillion to $1.8 trillion.

The spending will cause U.S. growth and inflation to skyrocket, forcing the Federal Reserve to accelerate its hikes and the U.S. dollar to soar to new heights.

This creates a domino effect in emerging markets and China in particular, leading people globally to seek alternative currencies and payment systems that are not tied to central banks. Central banks engage in exhausted monetary policies that are in full financial repression mode.

Images from Shutterstock and Ethereum.

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

Lester Coleman on 31/12/2016

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

China To Support Blockchain Development Under New Five-Year Plan

https://markethive.com/chriscorey/page/mycrypto

China, a country that already plays a critical role in cryptocurrency due its dominance in bitcoin trading and mining, will support blockchain development as part of its recently-announced five-year plan, according to the state council website. The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period has had a strong start and is poised to fulfill all key targets set by the central government for economic development.

 

According to the “13th Five-Year Plan” national information planning document, the “Thirteen Five” period is the stage for building a moderately prosperous society, with information and communication technology to provide a breakthrough in the initial development stage.

Profound Changes Coming

The document noted that the development of the global information technology environment, conditions and content are undergoing profound changes.

“Internet, cloud computing, large data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, block chain, bio-genetic engineering and other new technologies to drive cyberspace from everyone to the Internet to the evolution of everything, digital, network, intelligent services will be everywhere,” the document stated.

With the “real” and the digital worlds’ increasing convergence, the global governance system is facing profound changes. The global economy is expected to accelerate information technology innovation, the maximum release of the “digital dividend”, in response to a “post-financial crisis” era of “growth instability and uncertainty,” the document further noted.

Technologies Cited Include Blockchain

The document also noted “new technologies such as quantum communications, future networks, brain-like computing, artificial intelligence, holographic display, virtual reality, large data cognitive analysis, new non-volatile storage, unmanned vehicles, block chaining, gene editing, etc.” will build a new game-leading advantage.

The development of the “real economy” is based on both technology and financial innovation, meaning the capital market should be further improved to encourage more venture capital investment to boost the country’s entrepreneurship and innovation.

New modes like crowd sourcing and crowd funding should be coordinated with mass entrepreneurship to boost innovation, the state council website stated.

Also read: China’s central bank will look to issue its own digital currency ‘as soon as possible’

Central Bank To Issue Digital Currency

China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), announced earlier this year that it will make the necessary moves to work toward issuing a digital currency, as soon as possible, CCN reported.

A “special” research team put together by the PBOC was set up as early as 2014 to conduct research and look into all possible regulatory frameworks for the issuance of a nationwide digital currency and the impact it may have on the economy, the PBOC’s website noted.

The central bank engaged experts from Citibank and Deloitte to discuss the frameworks required for the issuance of a national digital currency.

Some of the stated benefits include:

  • Reducing costs incurred during issuance and circulation of traditional fiat currencies.
  • An increase in the transparency and convenience of economic transactions
  • The curbing effect on tax evasion, money laundering and other criminal acts.
  • Improve the central bank’s control over the money supply and circulation.
  • Breaking barriers to bring financial solutions for those unbanked in the country.

Some of the tasks set by the PBOC include the mandate of designing the proposed digital currency based on strong “economic, safety and service principles.”

Image from Shutterstock.

Chris Corey

CMO Markethive Inc

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

The Biggest Influencers of Bitcoin Price in 2016

Can the surge continue? A review of bitcoin’s 2016 performance indicates the cryptocurrency’s fundamentals are such that the party is far from over.

With incoming U.S. President Donald Trump promising a fiscal spending binge that could push the $20 trillion U.S. debt even higher, the fundamentals that have served to more than double bitcoin’s price this year could deliver even greater gains in 2017.

A combination of events, beginning with bitcoin’s popularity as a hedge against increasingly volatile markets, set the stage for a repeat performance in 2017, if not better.

The cryptocurrency began 2016 trading at $428 and hit $928 by the end of December, a 114% gain. Growth was not uniform, but momentum accelerated in the fourth quarter. Bitcoin gained 25% in value since the beginning of December alone.

It was also the best-performing currency this year, outpacing the U.S. dollar and the Israeli shekel.

A Weak Beginning

The year did not begin on a positive note when Mike Hearn, a bitcoin developer, announced he was leaving bitcoin, claiming its fundamentals were broken and the long-term price outlook was negative. He claimed the system was controlled by a handful of people and the network was on the brink of collapse.

The market did not react favorably to Hearn’s pronouncements, which yielded the most damning media coverage the cryptocurrency had ever experienced. The price tumbled around 15% after his departure.

But recovery was evident by February. Some observers postulated that Hearn’s real motivation for exiting bitcoin was the lack of support for his solution to bitcoin’s scalability challenge, BitcoinXT.

Financial adviser Martin Tillier observed that the very issue that drove Hearn’s departure – the need for a more scalable bitcoin network – was the result of a very positive underlying fundamental – its growth as a currency.

Signs of bitcoin’s ability to hedge against other markets were already evident in late 2015. The price rose to just below $500 after the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank raised its fund rate by 25 basis points in late 2015. Bitcoin’s price tracked the U.S. dollar rally against other fiat currencies.

It didn’t take long for Tillier’s predictions to materialize.

Pricing Surge Began Early

The weak start of the 2016 stock market demonstrated bitcoin’s use as a hedge against more volatile investment options. Bitcoin was one of the few winning investments in the worst first week of the year for U.S. stocks in early January. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 had their worst first weeks in history. Bitcoin, gold, the yen and natural gas were in growth modes.

The price in January surged over $20 in a 10-hour period to scale beyond $450.

The climb did not occur in a straight line, however.

After hitting a low of $360 in January, the price rebounded past $400 in February.

In another article, Tillier observed that bitcoin’s price hikes in previous years were mysterious, but the current one can be traced to the devaluation of China’s currency.

Because there is a logical reason for the price surge, the market is acting as a forward discounting mechanism and some degree of appreciation is now built into the price, Tillier noted. In addition, the interest from traders combined with the ability to short the currency allows the market to check upward spikes naturally, simply by attracting sellers.

The Scalability Factor

The network scalability issue remained a background theme.

In February, Bitcoin Classic released code that could double the bitcoin block size, offering a solution to the scalability issue. Bitcoin Classic, however, drew controversy within the developer community, which investors naturally noticed.

Those seeking to increase the maximum block size from 1 MB to 2 MB claimed that it is necessary to keep transaction costs down and continue the growth of the system.

Those against the increase said questions surrounding a hard fork, which can occur when non-upgraded nodes cannot validate blocks created by updated nodes that follow updated consensus rules, had not properly been addressed.

The Classic camp, consisting of entrepreneurs, wanted a more immediate fix to expanding the network by increasing the block size. The Core camp, consisting of miners, didn’t want to increase the block size since some miners would be less likely to earn mining rewards.

Mining pools representing at least 70% of the total hashing power of the bitcoin network and some of the largest bitcoin exchanges said they would not support Bitcoin Classic or any “contentious hard-fork.”

The release of the code for Segregated Witness in April, an upgrade to the bitcoin protocol designed to enable more transactions within a single block of the blockchain, pushed bitcoin’s price past $460. Segregated Witness fundamentally removes signatures from the transaction, thereby compressing transactions within blocks to leave more space for transactional data. This would serve as a less drastic, soft fork.

Market Forces Converge

The scalability debate did not undermine investor confidence and had less bearing on bitcoin’s price than its growing reputation as a safe asset in a tumultuous global market. Pricing activity was stable during February, March and April.

The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank’s 2016 rate increase announcement in March had little impact on bitcoin. Half the market passively accumulated via limit orders placed just below price while the other half actively sold at market.

The U.S. dollar, by contrast, weakened while but gold jumped nearly $30.

The Fed cited a weak global economy as the reason for its decision and forecasted two more hikes, fueling a desire for safe assets.

Global political events, meanwhile, worked in bitcoin’s favor, beginning with the June U.K. Brexit referendum. The surprise referendum sent markets reeling. After the U.K. pound (GBP/USD) dropped to $1.32, the U.S. dollar and gold rallied while bitcoin achieved a $140 one-day gain.

Around this same time, rumors indicated Steam, the global online gaming store and distributor, was preparing a bitcoin implementation as a payment method to its base of some 125 million active users.

In June, the price soared beyond $570, reaching a near two-year high.

A Setback Strikes

The climb was not over, but it was not uniform.

The price crashed in August after the Bitfinex exchange suffered a security breach that led to the theft of an unconfirmed number of bitcoins. The exchange announced it was shutting down its website in ominous signs reminiscent of Mt. Gox. The attack led some to believe the industry had not come up with a way to ensure security.

But the naysayers would again be proven wrong.

Bitfinex got back online after advising users that they would lose 36 percent of their assets. The exchange levied a 36% price on all of its users, whether or not they were victimized individually by the hackers.

The Bitfinex theft quickly sent bitcoin price tumbling.

Bitfinex delivered a blow, but the market began a gradual recovery that gained momentum as fall approached. Some viewed the Bitfinex episode as proof that the bitcoin network is capable of withstanding negative events.

The price struck a new yearly high of $794.39 in mid-December as the currency’s fundamental strength became evident.

Bitcoin gained more value than all other currencies in 2016, driven by China’s crackdown on the yuan, isolationist rumblings in the U.S. and the U.K, and increasing acceptance by consumers and businesses.

By the time the price surged 79 percent since the start of 2016 to $778, it reached its highest level since early 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg. At that point, bitcoin quadrupled the gains posted by Russia’s ruble and Brazil’s real, the world’s top two hard currencies.

Mining Reward Halving: No Impact

When the halving of the bitcoin mining reward occurred in July, there were no price drops. Bitcoiners celebrated worldwide.

There was concern about miner profitability since miner rewards were cut in half from 25 to 12.5 bitcoins.

But the price resumed its upward trend. One factor noted at the time was the devaluation of the Chinese yuan, driving Chinese investors to bitcoin.

China’s role in bitcoin trading has emerged as a key factor in is price performance. The country accounts for more than 90% of the cryptocurrency’s trades, and has become a natural hedge against the devaluation of the yuan.

In January 2017, the foreign currency cap imposed by the Chinese government for the amount of foreign currency that a Chinese citizen can convert ($50,000) will be reset for the new year. Inevitably, the surge in capital outflows could weaken the yuan further, setting off a market reaction that could lead to further demand for safe value assets, which bitcoin is fulfilling a role as.

What’s Ahead?

Central banks may give up on qualitative easing and negative interest rates, but they are far from being finished with intervention and distorting the allocation of capital and the price of money, according to Steen Jakobsen, CIO at Denmark-based Saxo Bank. Hence, bitcoin’s role as a hedge against volatile currencies remains intact.

Meanwhile, the Trump-promised fiscal spending binge is expected to add to the approximate $20 trillion of U.S. national debt, tripling the current U.S. budget deficit from about $600 billion to $1.2 trillion to $1.8 trillion.

Could the Donald Trump presidency push bitcoin price higher?

The spending could cause U.S. growth and inflation to skyrocket, forcing the Fed to accelerate its hikes and the U.S. dollar to soar to new heights.

This could create a domino effect in emerging markets and China in particular, leading people globally to seek alternative currencies and payment systems that are not tied to central banks.

If the banking system, as well other nations such as Russia and China, moves to accept bitcoin as a partial alternative to the U.S. currency and the traditional banking and payment system, bitcoin’s price could hit $2,100 and beyond as the blockchain’s decentralized system, an inability to dilute the finite supply of bitcoins, and low to no transaction costs gains more traction and acceptance globally.

Images from Shutterstock.Chart from BitcoinChart.

Chris Corey 

CMO Markethive Inc

 

Lester Coleman on 29/12/2016​

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

As Bitcoin Price Surges, Phishing Attacks on Cryptocurrency Wallets Intensify

As Bitcoin Price Surges,
Phishing Attacks on Cryptocurrency Wallets Intensify

Today's Bitcoin to US Dollar exchange rate has reached $902, the first time Bitcoin price has gone above the $900 mark since January 2014, almost three years ago. Nobody knows what's driving this sudden surge of Bitcoin popularity, but cyber-criminals won't bother looking into macroeconomic factors when deciding that the market is ripe and ready for the taking again.

Bitcoin price surge reverberates through cybercriminal landscape

Over the past couple of months, as the Bitcoin price was slowly coming out of the $200-$400 price range where it spent almost two years, cyber-criminals took notice.

The first to do so were ransomware authors, who had to cut down the ransom demands they asked from victims. They had to do this because a ransom of 2 Bitcoin that once meant $400, all of sudden became $1,200, or more, a sum that very few users could afford to pay.

But ransomware victims are occasional Bitcoin users. A more lucrative operation is the phishing market sector, where crooks have yet again turned their full attention to Bitcoin wallet services.

The culprits behind these phishing pages targeting Bitcoin users are your regular career phishers. The Cisco OpenDNS team has tracked the operators of some of these Bitcoin phishing sites to numerous other phishing domains, used for collecting credentials for other services, such as Google, Dropbox, Apple, Amazon, and others.

What Any Cryptocurrency Needs to Achieve Mass Adoption

    5 Things Any Cryptocurrency Needs to Achieve Mass Adoption

Bitcoin, the giant in the world of cryptocurrency, continues to defy all expectations of an early demise and rises higher and higher in value and use. Its adoption as everyday money, however, remains negligent among the common people, almost eight years after the digital currency first emerged.

While the title of “ the first cryptocurrency” is no longer up for grabs, the title of “digital cash” still remains unclaimed, ready to be seized by another up-and-coming digital money. In order to become the common medium of exchange for large swaths of the world, a cryptocurrency first needs to fulfill a few crucial requirements.

Easy and inexpensive transactions

Forget about cryptocurrency for a second. Right now, regular people use either cash or card for day-to-day transactions.

Cash has no transaction costs but requires you to be physically present and have adequate change, and card transactions are relatively instant, though final confirmations often happen the next day, although fees are relatively high it is enough to disincentivize very small transactions. Any cryptocurrency wanting to make inroads with the common people has to beat this by having faster and cheaper transactions.

Bitcoin already offers this advantage, though the margin by which it does is growing slimmer by the day, and even now it may not be enough to entice the public to abandon traditional financial means. Any cash or card replacement has to be better by a large enough margin to warrant a change.

The same goes for fees. Cash has no fees. Other money transfer tools, like cards and bank accounts, are able to charge a fee because they are able to function across great distances with greater efficiency. Cryptocurrency has those same advantages over cash, and as such can be expected to have an associated transaction fee. However, that fee must be significantly lower in order to entice your average consumer away from banking systems. Large companies can afford to make major payment changes in order to save a few cents per transaction because of scale, but regular people cannot.

Improvements to Bitcoin’s basic model

Bitcoin retains an enormous lead in adoption ahead of other cryptocurrencies. Compared to traditional financial systems, Bitcoin provides enough benefits and improvements to warrant a switch. If a currency wants to beat Bitcoin as the new money, it has to be objectively better. Faster or more inexpensive transactions, more anonymity, a better governance structure, and other features are needed to set another coin apart to justify its use and adoption. If a cryptocurrency does similar things as Bitcoin in the exact same way, its chances of taking over as the digital money of the future will be extremely slim.

A streamlined Bitcoin substitution mechanism

Right now, Bitcoin maintains a massive lead in adoption over every other cryptocurrency. That lead was earned on the promise and hype, not of Bitcoin alone, but of cryptocurrency and of the Blockchain technology itself.

Attempting to best the great front-runner of digital currency from scratch, and without a truly staggering level of difference between the two, simply won’t happen. The only way to compete with Bitcoin, as previously mentioned, is to provide at least as much utility, and a large chunk of Bitcoin’s utility is its adoption lead. What another cryptocurrency needs, then, is an easy and efficient way to be used in Bitcoin’s place such as an automatic exchange built into the wallet.

An easy fiat currency conversion system

Like it or not, the world still currently runs on government-issued fiat currency. Living entirely off of cryptocurrency, without any method of conversion into fiat, it is extremely difficult at the present time, and not a viable option for most people. The average person will need an easy way to buy and offload a cryptocurrency for it to be a practical option for them. Most cryptocurrencies are only easily accessible through first acquiring Bitcoin. In order to become dominant and widely accessible, that crippling reliance on Bitcoin needs to end.

An aggressive adoption campaign targeted at the common people

Finally, in order to entice the world at large, the digital currency needs to presented in a way that resonates with most people. While some technical users will care about hash rates, cryptographic keys, smart contracts, and ring signatures, the common folk will not. They need to be reached with the language of cheaper fees, faster access to funds, more security, less paperwork, etc. The only way anyone will know why cryptocurrency makes sense for them is for someone to tell them why. In order to achieve that, a successful marketing campaign is needed.

The cryptocurrency world, while new, is wildly diverse. However, in terms of a tool for everyday use in financial transactions, Bitcoin has almost exclusive reign. In order to dethrone the king of digital cash, any competitor has to bring their A-game.

David Ogden
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

A Global Economic Tidal Wave

A Global Economic Tidal Wave…

 

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Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member