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What is Bitcoin?

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

Bitcoin Latest News

Wyre’s WeChat and Facebook Bot Authenticates Invoices on Ethereum

Blockchain startup Wyre has revealed a new bot for Facebook Messenger and WeChat that authenticates invoices on a public blockchain.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 6:00 am

Ban or Else: Indian Government Asks Citizens What to Do With Bitcoin - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Ban or Else: Indian Government Asks Citizens What to Do With Bitcoin
CoinTelegraph
At the moment digital currencies like Bitcoin operate in a gray space in the country and there have been some controversies lately on the legality of Bitcoin in the second most populous country in the world. If the government is now taking on board ...
"Exponential Growth" of Bitcoin Users is Hurting Indian Exchange CoinsecureCryptoCoinsNews

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 5:42 am

Bitcoin flies past $2300 for the first time as scaling agreement is reached - Markets Insider


Markets Insider

Bitcoin flies past $2300 for the first time as scaling agreement is reached
Markets Insider
It seems as if nothing can stop bitcoin from going higher. The cryptocurrency is up by 3.5%, or $80, on Wednesday at $2,339 a coin. It has gained in 26 of the past 29 sessions and has doubled in value over that time. Wednesday's gain comes after a ...
Bitcoin's New Scaling 'Agreement': The ReactionCoinDesk
Bitcoin Agreement Promises To Resolve Years-Long ImpasseForbes
Bitcoin Price Finds Further Support in Scaling AgreementInvestopedia
CoinTelegraph -The Merkle -CryptoCoinsNews -Medium
all 14 news articles »

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 5:03 am

One of the world's largest financial services firms is mining bitcoins - Quartz


Quartz

One of the world's largest financial services firms is mining bitcoins
Quartz
The head of one of the world's largest asset management firms came out today (May 23) as a huge fan of bitcoin. Abigail Johnson, chief executive of Fidelity, which manages $1.9 trillion in mutual fund assets, told an audience at the 2017 Consensus ...
Fidelity CEO has 4 reasons bitcoin still isn't mainstreamMarketWatch
Fidelity allows workers to use bitcoin in company canteenFinancial Times
'I Love Bitcoin, Ethereum' Says Fidelity CEO As Company Finalizes Coinbase IntegrationCoinTelegraph
newsBTC -Investopedia -The Boston Globe
all 31 news articles »

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 4:02 am

Consensus 2017: The Ups and Downs of Digital Currencies

Two panels at Consensus 2017 conference focused on both the promise and pitfalls of digital currencies and blockchain assets.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 4:00 am

Consensus 2017: Blockchain and Healthcare's People Problem

Blockchain is viewed as a way to give patients greater control over their data – but getting there might not be as easy as it sounds.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 3:00 am

Bitcoin's New Scaling 'Agreement': The Reaction

A meeting of bitcoin startup executives and miners held this weekend has resulted in a new proposal for how the project should be upgraded.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 6:00 pm

Consensus 2017: Decentralized Exchange 0x Wins Proof-of-Work Startup Competition

0x took the top prize today in the second annual Proof of Work pitch competition at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2017 conference in New York.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 4:08 pm

These Two UASFs Could Activate SegWit

BIP 148 and BIP 149: the Two UASFs to Activate SegWit

Segregated Witness (SegWit), the Bitcoin protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team, was originally designed to activate via the Bitcoin Improvement Protocol 9 (BIP 9) standard, a hash-power signalling mechanism. This would allow the Bitcoin ecosystem to coordinate the upgrade relatively safely through miner readiness.

But with the SegWit proposal in particular, BIP 9 no longer serves just to signal readiness. Miners as well as users increasingly see BIP 9 as a sort of miner vote on the desirability of the protocol upgrade. And some miners even seem to utilize it as a negotiation chip for protocol development.

The pseudonymous developer who goes by the name “Shaolinfry” considers this an abuse of the coordination mechanism. He therefore recently proposed an alternative activation scheme: a user-activated soft fork, better known as a “UASF.”

Shaolinfry also drafted two specific UASF proposals: BIP 148 and BIP 149. Both of these are currently “in the running” for user adoption. And speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Shaolinfry, at least, seems sure that one of them will be accepted by the network.

“There is no universe in which SegWit will not get activated.”

SegWit and the UASF

A soft fork is a change to the Bitcoin protocol that introduces new rules or tightens existing ones. This makes soft forks backward compatible: nodes that did not upgrade should remain part of the same Bitcoin network.

Segregated Witness is a soft fork that would increase Bitcoin’s block size limit and solve some longstanding protocol issues. While it’s always hard to say with conclusive certainty, the proposal seems to have broad support within the Bitcoin ecosystem. Many wallets, exchanges and other companies in the space have indicated they are ready for it, while an overwhelming share of reachable nodes on the network have implemented the solution, too.

As per BIP 9, the current implementation of SegWit activates if about 95 percent of hash power signals support within a two-week difficulty period before November. However, hash power support has so far stagnated at around 30 percent.

This apparent mismatch between the ecosystem and hash power support is why some — like BIP 9 co-author Rusty Russell — are increasingly thinking the activation method was a mistake.

And Shaolinfry does, too.

“The main issue with BIP 9 is that it has a veto of only about 5 percent of hash power,” Shaolinfry explained. “That veto could be intentionally or unintentionally triggered. Intentionally, like how miners are currently blocking SegWit activation. Or unintentionally due to upgrade apathy.

“Miner activation also draws attention to mining pool operators politically. The whole world is paying attention to who is and isn’t signaling. That is undesirable. And what if the soft fork is for something that could make governments angry? We know this is the case in China for anonymity features, and increasingly in the United States as well.”

As such, Shaolinfry proposed activating SegWit through a UASF.

The idea behind any UASF, in short, is that users simply activate the soft fork at an agreed-upon point in time. If these users represent a majority of the Bitcoin economy — exchanges, merchants, users — miners are financially incentivized to follow the new soft fork rules. If they don’t, they could mine invalid blocks (according to the majority of the Bitcoin economy), and the “bitcoins” they earn would be worth less — or worth nothing at all.

Once a majority of hash power does follow these financial incentives and enforces the new rules, the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem should automatically follow, just like with any other soft fork.

BIP 148

The first UASF proposal drafted by Shaolinfry is BIP 148.

BIP 148 is an interesting take on a UASF because it is actually designed to trigger the existing BIP 9 SegWit-activation threshold.

“If you want to redeploy SegWit, you must wait for the current deployment to expire by November of this year because many Bitcoin nodes won’t accept it otherwise,” Shaolinfry explained. “BIP 148 is a way to make the current BIP 141 deployment activate before November. That’s faster, and has the advantage that more than 70 percent of nodes has already upgraded.”

Specifically, starting on August 1, BIP 148 nodes will reject any Bitcoin blocks that do not signal support for Segregated Witness via BIP 9. So, if the majority of the Bitcoin economy enforces BIP 148, miners will have to signal support for SegWit in order not to have their blocks rejected.

Once these miners do signal support for SegWit, this signaling would also trigger all the “normal” SegWit nodes on the network. All these nodes would then enforce SegWit, even if they didn’t participate in the BIP 148 activation themselves.

And, from a game theory perspective, it may even be viable for a relatively small minority of the Bitcoin economy to get BIP 148 activated. Miners should have little to lose by signaling support for SegWit, but something to lose from not signaling: a smaller total number of users to sell their bitcoins to. As such, even a modest but committed BIP 148 user base could potentially be enough.

Finally, echoing his Medium post on Litecoin’s SegWit activation, Shaolinfry noted that even the possibility of such a UASF could be enough to make miners signal support — without even needing nodes to actually enforce it.

BIP 148: Risks and Incentives

There are, however, some risks. These are why some prominent Bitcoin Core developers — like Blockstream CTO Gregory Maxwell and Chaincode Labs Co-Founder Suhas Daftuar — consider BIP 148 too disruptive.

Per BIP 148, otherwise valid blocks would be rejected merely because they don’t include a signal. The rejection of these blocks would waste miners’ resources and detrimentally affect Bitcoin’s security.

Moreover, if only a minority of hash power enforces the new rules — either because they ignore financial incentives or because only a small minority of the economy enforces the new rules in the first place — the Bitcoin blockchain could split in two. There would be a “SegWit chain” and a “non-SegWit chain.” That would open up a new can of worms, where the risks for users on both ends of the chain are not the same.

“The incentives are clearly there for miners to follow the economy,” said Shaolinfry in response to this criticism. “But indeed, there is a chain split risk if less than 51 percent [of] miners comply and run BIP 148. However, even in this circumstance, the non-BIP 148 chain is asymmetrically disadvantaged, and will almost certainly be completely wiped out. The SegWit chain will always be more valuable, and once a majority of miners switches to that chain, the non-SegWit chain will disappear altogether.”

Furthermore, from a certain threshold on, the risk of a chain split become smaller as it gathers more support. This is why another prominent Bitcoin Core developer, Luke Dashjr, is throwing his weight behind the proposal.

And to avoid these kinds of risks, there could be another twist to BIP 148 as well, Shaolinfry pointed out:

“The interesting thing about BIP 148 is that any majority of miners can trigger it — it doesn’t have to be 95 percent. If 75 or even just 51 percent of hash power starts rejecting non-signaling blocks per August 1, they will always claim the longest chain. So really, all miners will from then on have to signal support and activate SegWit — or have all their blocks orphaned by the network.”

Finally, Shaolinfry may also release code — “Segsignal” — to allow miners to signal whether they will deploy BIP 148 and under what condition. Using this, miners could, for example, agree to activate SegWit through BIP 148 if, and only if, 51 percent indicates that they are willing to.

“This should remove any risk of a chain-split, even a short-lived one,” Shaolinfry said.

BIP 149 (and BIP 8)

Shaolinfry’s alternative UASF proposal is BIP 149.

BIP 149 utilizes an entirely new soft fork activation mechanism: BIP 8. BIP 8 resembles BIP 9 in that it initially allows miners to activate the soft fork through hash power. However, as opposed to BIP 9, the soft fork proposal doesn’t just time out by the end of the activation period. Instead, it sets an activation deadline. If that deadline is reached, nodes activate the soft fork regardless of hash power support.

There is a particular technical advantage of BIP 149 over BIP 148: it is less intrusive for miners. While BIP 148 effectively forces miners to signal, with BIP 149 miners don’t actually have to do all that much. They can support SegWit if they want to. If not, they may want to run a so-called “border node” to filter invalid transactions and blocks post-activation, but that’s about it.

Shaolinfry plans to implement BIP 149 in dedicated Bitcoin software if BIP 148 doesn’t succeed, and when the current BIP 9 SegWit proposal has expired by mid-November. The activation deadline for BIP 149 is then scheduled for early July 2018.  

Some developers, like Maxwell, are in no rush to activate SegWit and consider BIP 149 preferable. But others, like Dashjr, believe it will take too long.

Shaolinfry himself noted:

“BIP 149 is not too slow from a technical point of view. But, I do think the longer SegWit isn’t activated, the more gremlins and obstacles are going to besiege Bitcoin. So if the ecosystem rallies around BIP 148, that would bring this nightmare to a close.”


The post These Two UASFs Could Activate SegWit appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:20 pm

Consensus 2017: Global Insurers Debate the Future of Prediction Markets

Today's discussion on blockchain and insurance touched on the subject of prediction markets.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:18 pm

Jeff Gundlach has a theory on why bitcoin is surging - CNBC


CNBC

Jeff Gundlach has a theory on why bitcoin is surging
CNBC
Jeffrey Gundlach , CEO of DoubleLine Capital, said Tuesday there could be a connection between bitcoin prices and the decline in Chinese stocks. In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, Gundlach noted that bitcoin has doubled in less than 2 months, while the ...
Tags: Gundlach | Bitcoin | China | Shanghai | CompositeNewsmax

all 15 news articles »

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 2:45 pm

Bitcoin & Ether Price Analysis: Bitcoin Still Going Strong While Ether Wearies

BTC ETH Price Analysis

Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to push all-time highs (ATHs) by most available metrics: price, market capitalization, daily traded volume, hash rate, transactions per day, etc.

mrkt cap.png

There appears to be a multifactorial convergence of fundamentals and technicals allowing for this surge to happen:

1. On-ramps

Specifically Coinbase for U.S. citizens, which now allows new users to purchase bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) or litecoin. Leading up to and even during the 2013 bubble, purchasing cryptocurrency was difficult for the average user. Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks cause a slight lag in on-ramping by limiting the total coins a new user can purchase. I expect the fuel for this rally to continue for at least another week.

2. Visibility in mainstream and popular media

At this point, you cannot use any social media or news source without hearing about Bitcoin. Everyone I’ve spoken with outside of the Bitcoinosphere is aware of its existence. Although purely anecdotal, this trend suggests Bitcoin is gaining visibility.  

3. ICOmania

Initial coin offerings (ICOs), similar to IPOs, allow for a company or brand to tokenize its assets through crowdfunding, most of which are done on the Ethereum blockchain. The quantity and rate of new ICOs remind many traders of the dot-com bubble due to large influxes of cash for almost every project.   

4. An agreement on the block size debate

The ongoing block size and scalability debate was stifling innovation surrounding Bitcoin. On Monday, it was announced that Barry Silbert and Bitcoin Unlimited proponents reached an agreement to activate SegWit now and hard fork in four months. Members of the Bitcoin Core community were not involved in the discussion. Shaolinfry, the user-activated soft fork (UASF) dev, had this to say regarding the agreement. UASF nodes continue to increase, despite the agreement.

To be clear, the proposal, as far as I can see, does not activate BIP 141, but is a completely new deployment that would be incompatible with the BIP 141 deployment. I’m not sure how that can be considered “immediate” activation. - Shaolinfry

uasf_nodes_all.png

5. Prices were already pushing ATHs  

Trend since 2015 has been bullish with several periods of extended consolidation. Price continues to break ATHs in large part due to further bullish technicals and market structure with every pullback/correction. Whether or not current price represents a bubble or euphoria is a bit irrelevant. What is more important is to look for signs of exhaustion. One such sign of exhaustion would be a toppy chart pattern such as an M double top or growing bearish divergence on a weekly chart.

Bitcoin

weekly.png

A bear div would consist of a higher high in price and a lower high on RSI, a measure of momentum. This would suggest lack of strength holding up price. In the case of BTC, however, there has been a steady increase in volume since the beginning of the year.

vol.png

As price continues to break ATHs almost daily, we can expect a large increase in volatility and range expansion, especially because there is no previous market structure at these levels. However, there are indicators that help determine support and resistance levels above ATH levels, the most common being Fibonacci extensions. Drawn from previous ATH to low, this would yield a target of ~$2,400.

daily.png

On a low timeframe, you can see yesterday’s $200+ volatility, which quickly rallied 50 percent of the drop.

15min.png

The current immediate target is the local top of $2,248.

Ethereum

Ethereum, on the other hand, is beginning to show signs of exhaustion. The weekly chart is showing a decline in volume since March, with ETH/USD pushing the top limit of RSI, and the ETH/BTC pair showing bear div.

ethusd.png

ethbtc.png

Structure currently has all the makings of an M double top. I would expect another retest of the previous consolidation level before moving higher. if Bitcoin makes a push past $2,400, however, it may drag up Ethereum with it as well.

ethusd 1h.png

The upside target should be between $198 and $217 according to Fibonacci extensions.

upside eth.png

Summary

  1. Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to push the envelope for almost every available metric and show little signs of slowing.

  2. Reliable on-ramping coupled with awareness and popularity continue to fuel demand.

  3. Despite several weeks of large gains, the possibility of continuing to further ATHs for Bitcoin remains high.

  4. With declining volume and a growing bear div on high timeframes, Ethereum is beginning to show signs of slowing.

The post Bitcoin & Ether Price Analysis: Bitcoin Still Going Strong While Ether Wearies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 1:43 pm

$100 of bitcoin in 2010 is worth $75 million today - Washington Post


Washington Post

$100 of bitcoin in 2010 is worth $75 million today
Washington Post
Bitcoin has received a lot of attention over the past few weeks in the wake of the recent malware attacks that impacted dozens of countries and thousands of businesses around the world which required a “ransom” payment to be made in the digital ...
If you bought $100 of bitcoin 7 years ago, you'd be sitting on $75 million nowCNBC
If You Bought $5 of Bitcoin 7 Years Ago, You'd Be $4.4 Million RicherFortune
Some Perspective on BitcoinAmerican Institute for Economic Research (blog)
Money Magazine -Business Insider -Investopedia -Bitcoin Talk
all 39 news articles »

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 12:55 pm

Bitcoin Surge Is Driven by People Leaving Riskier Digital Currencies, Say Execs - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin Surge Is Driven by People Leaving Riskier Digital Currencies, Say Execs
Bloomberg
Bitcoin's dramatic surge may be more than just a speculative frenzy. The recent rally is being driven partially by enthusiasts rotating out of riskier digital assets and into the more established cryptocurrency, according to industry executives. "A lot ...
Bitcoin jumps $200 in single day and has nearly doubled in May on surging global demandCNBC
The Value of Bitcoin Has Almost Doubled This MonthFortune
Bitcoin prices are soaring under TrumpCNNMoney
CoinTelegraph -Business Insider -BBC News -CoinDesk
all 148 news articles »

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 12:01 pm

Bitcoin plummets $200 in 4 hours then recovers to fresh record in wild trading that serves as a cautionary tale - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin plummets $200 in 4 hours then recovers to fresh record in wild trading that serves as a cautionary tale
CNBC
Bitcoin's meteoric rise took a hit overnight as the digital currency erased, then mostly recovered, about $200 in 12 hours. The swing highlights how volatile the cryptocurrency can still be, even as some investors believe bitcoin can one day be a ...

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 11:33 am

Consensus 2017: CME Group, UK Royal Mint Detail Plans for Blockchain Gold

Derivatives giant CME Group and the UK's Royal Mint have revealed details about their plans to bridge the worlds of gold and blockchain.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 11:30 am

Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham to Announce ICO at Consensus 2017

The CEO of blockchain identity platform Civic is expected to announce a forthcoming token sale today.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 9:15 am

Fidelity CEO Talks 'Love' For Bitcoin, Why Blockchain Will 'Change' Markets

At Consensus 2017, Abigail Johnson, chair and CEO of Fidelity Investments, went public with her enthusiasm for blockchain technology and its future.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 8:07 am

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Bitt Reveals Big Plans for Cross-Caribbean Blockchain Settlement Network

A new partnership could be step one in a larger bid to unite some of the Caribbean's biggest financial institutions with blockchain tech.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 7:03 am

Blockstack Releases Blockchain-Powered, Tokenized Internet Browser

Blockchain startup Blockstack has released a decentralized browser aimed at making apps more easily accessible.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 6:52 am

Consensus 2017: Blockchain Tech Leaders Predict Interoperable Future

At Consensus 2017, leaders of different blockchain projects discussed how their platforms could eventually become an interoperable "mesh" of services.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 5:00 am

Consensus 2017: The Legality of ICOs – Past and Future

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

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:00 am

EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Expansion Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:29 pm

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

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

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

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

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

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

Global Experimentation Abounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:58 pm

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

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

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

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

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

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

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Ambivalent Majority

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

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Miners’ Interests

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

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Strong-Willed Minority

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

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

The Importance of Commitment and Stubbornness

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

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

Guidelines for User-Activated Soft Forks for Maximizing Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 8:08 pm

University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community

University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community

The blockchain industry is booming in Australia recently after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) announced changes to tax laws in the 2017–2018 budget summary by the Australian government, surrounding how digital currencies are treated in the country. In the few weeks since the announcement, active blockchain communities and events such as RegHack DownUnder have launched across the country, supported by universities and government regulators.

Australia has traditionally held strict tax laws when it comes to how they handle bitcoin and other digital currencies, defining bitcoin as a separate asset class to fiat currency and requiring that transactions involving digital currencies are taxed twice by the Australian Tax Office. The new budget summary removes any general sales tax made more than once in the supply chain using digital currency, in an attempt to “make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia” and to grow their nascent community into a global innovation hub.

The summary states, “The Government is committed to establishing Australia as a leading global financial technology (FinTech) hub and is announcing a new package that aims to position our local fintech industry as a world leader.”

This new regulatory environment has spurred growth in the community, from university campuses all the way up to the government regulators. Students have begun to launch clubs at universities across the country, and regulators and business executives have begun to take notice.

“We’re excited blockchain [technology] can finally move to our campus and Australia in a big way. There’s been a significant increase in interest from the community in the past few weeks,“ said Ryan Pousson, the regional head of the Blockchain Education Network (BEN) in Brisbane and the founder of the UQ Blockchain Club, in a statement to Bitcoin Magazine. This perspective was echoed by Jared Piper, a region head of the Blockchain Education Network in Melbourne.

Aaron Schwartz, the director of global engagement at BEN and partner at MLG Capital, told Bitcoin Magazine, “It’s super exciting to be part of a decentralized organization like BEN that is doing something unique with a swarm-style model. We are quickly spreading to countries all across the world with new chapters opening up across Australia, Colombia, Nigeria and Bangalore, just to name a few. We encourage anyone in a blockchain community around the world to reach out to get started growing their local community.”

On the weekend of May 12–14, government representatives in the energy sector and banking executives in the financial services industry came together to judge RegHack DownUnder. The brightest developers, UI/UX designers and entrepreneurs across Australia were encouraged to spend the weekend in Melbourne to develop blockchain technology solutions to solve some of the problems it faces in these two heavily regulated sectors.

In advance of the hackathon, Adam Lemmon, a blockchain expert from Toronto, flew down to Melbourne to present an overview of Ethereum development and Solidity to the community. Following the event, Lemmon said, “RegHack was an amazing experience and it was inspiring to see such a young blockchain community so excited about the technology.”

Chami Akmeemana, the organizer of RegHack DownUnder, predicts a fast growth in the community. He said to Bitcoin Magazine following the event: “It was a mammoth success. Close to 100 participants spent three days exploring tech solutions to regulatory issues. We now have 100+ blockchain enthusiasts, that I expect [will grow] to over 1000+ by the end of the year. I’m hoping to see some world-class blockchain applications coming out of Australia and I’m stoked to be part of this boost to the ecosystem.”

The regulators in Australia are on board too with this digital transformation. Igor Simunovic, a representative from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), said in a statement following the event that “the event provided opportunity for industry (including government) and freelancers/students/developers to meet, integrate and share through the problem solving required to address the Hackathon ‘problems.’ Such meeting and teamwork opportunities are rare and often bound by the [confines] of conferences or meet-ups. The process of discovering new technologies and frameworks was just a bonus.”

It is still the beginning in the growth trajectory of the blockchain community in Australia, but it is an exciting time to be part of a global movement. For example, in the few months following November’s RegHack TO, the first hackathon hosted by a securities regulator in Canada and inspired by Chami Akmeemana, the number of people attending meetups in Toronto has tripled from 200 to over 700 at the most recent blockchain meetup in Toronto. Getting the entire community on board from universities to business executives to government regulators is an important milestone for any community striving to become a blockchain hub.

The post University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 2:32 pm

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 2:10 pm

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

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

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

Posted on 8 April 2014 | 4:27 pm

Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

Posted on 25 March 2014 | 5:46 pm

May 24, 2017 -
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