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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.

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Posted on 14 December 2017 | 11:01 am

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

Japanese Firm GMO Will Pay Thousands of Workers in Bitcoin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:14 am

Gibraltar to Launch License Scheme for Blockchain Startups

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 9:05 am

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

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 8:10 am

Israeli PM: Bitcoin Could Replace Banks - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Israeli PM: Bitcoin Could Replace Banks
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
In a video published on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that the operation of traditional banks will eventually become obsolete and could be replaced by Bitcoin. He based his claim on the trustless nature of Blockchain ...

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 7:37 am

First Came Bitcoin. Then Came Bitcoin Lenders - Fortune


Fortune

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

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 7:13 am

As bitcoin, other currencies soar, regulators urge caution - ABC News


As bitcoin, other currencies soar, regulators urge caution
ABC News
The public's interest in all things bitcoin and efforts by entrepreneurs to fund their businesses with digital currencies is starting to draw more attention from regulators. The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission this week warned investors ...

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 6:15 am

Bitcoin Looks Lower In Chase for 'Small Cap' Gains - Coindesk (press release) (blog)


Coindesk (press release) (blog)

Bitcoin Looks Lower In Chase for 'Small Cap' Gains
Coindesk (press release) (blog)
Bitcoin is looking heavy today after failing to see a decisive move higher in the last 24 hours. While bitcoin (BTC) clocked a lifetime high of $17,631.42 just two days ago, it has since retreated to sub-$17,000 levels, as per CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price ...

and more »

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin Looks Lower In Chase for 'Small Cap' Gains

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 6:00 am

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

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 4:00 am

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

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 3:00 am

Out with the Old: Blockchain Requires a New Regulatory Approach

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

Posted on 14 December 2017 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin Gets High in Korea - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin Gets High in Korea
Bloomberg
That sounds like a pretty good mantra for governments the world over trying to wrap their heads around this tamagotchi of finance better known as bitcoin. South Korea is the latest to propose cryptocurrency measures after a surge in trading started to ...
Here's What You Should Know About Bitcoin's Third Largest Market, South KoreaFortune
South Korea's Largest Bitcoin Exchanges Ready For Strict RegulationsCointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
South Korea is going bitcoin crazyCNNMoney
Coindesk (press release) (blog) -CryptoCoinsNews -Bitcoin News (press release)
all 184 news articles »

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 10:38 pm

William Galvin: Bitcoin can bite | Boston Herald - Boston Herald


Boston Herald

William Galvin: Bitcoin can bite | Boston Herald
Boston Herald
The warnings against banking on red-hot bitcoin are adding up, with state and federal officials saying the volatile digital currency is “high.

and more »

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 10:06 pm

Walmart, JD.com Back Blockchain Food Tracking Effort in China

Retail giants Walmart and JD.com are among several companies backing a new blockchain effort in China focused on food safety and traceability.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 10:00 pm

Ethereum Innovators Revive the Fight for Net Neutrality

Mesh networks could be finding new life among blockchain enthusiasts as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission gears up to repeal net neutrality.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 7:05 pm

2018's Big Question: Can Bitcoin Forks Deliver Value?

Forking bitcoin was all the rage in 2017. In 2018, the question might be, what are we getting in return?

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 4:00 pm

Saudi, UAE Central Banks Team Up to Test Cryptocurrency

The central banks of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are reportedly testing a new cryptocurrency for cross-border payments.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 3:15 pm

Commentary: Why Bitcoin Would Make a Great Holiday Gift - Fortune


Fortune

Commentary: Why Bitcoin Would Make a Great Holiday Gift
Fortune
Today, hovering at a price around $17,000, it looks more like that bitcoin will pay for Alex's tuition. However, that was not always the case. In 2013 it simply felt appropriate to give a child who will never know life without hyper-connectivity the ...
Bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin: 3 reasons to doubt cryptocurrencies ...CBS News
Bitcoin fever exposes crypto-market frailtiesReuters
How to give the gift of bitcoin this holiday seasonQuartz
Yahoo Finance -Economic Times -Bitcoin News (press release) -CoinMarketCap
all 348 news articles »

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 2:50 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rests at Tipping Point Before Deciding Next Move

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Bitcoin prices have currently stalled out in the $16,000s as the market decides if it wants to continue the ravenous bull trend or go through a more corrective phase. In the last 30 days, the price of bitcoin has doubled — entering into what most traditional market analysts would deem “bubble territory.” Bitcoin’s growth has been so rapid, it has managed to break north out of a parabolic trend to form an even more aggressive parabolic shape known as a “hypodermic trend.” Let’s take a look at the macro view of bitcoin and see if this trend is sustainable or ripe for a correction:

Figure_1.JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Macro Trend

The image above shows a multi-year, parabolic envelope that, until recently, has guided the bitcoin bull market. Within the parabolic envelope we see a strong linear channel (shown in purple) that has provided very strong support and resistance through much of the bitcoin price growth. At the end of November 2017, however, bitcoin price growth was so strong, it managed to break out of both the linear and parabolic trends and form a more aggressive price trend: a hypodermic trend.

Figure_2.JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 60-Minute Candles, Hypodermic Trendline

The solid red line represents an aggressive support line that has guided this new, aggressive price growth out of the parabolic envelope. As of the time of this article, I am monitoring a trading range very closely as it nears this hypodermic trend. A breakdown below this hypodermic trend represents a diminished trend of demand in the bitcoin market, and it could ultimately lead to a local top on for BTC-USD. Paired with this hypodermic breakdown is a breakdown of the trading range (shown in blue) that has a span of approximately $5,000. A breakdown of a trading range that large would have quite a meaningful market reaction and is likely to see a profound correction before bitcoin buyers step back in.

However, before we get all doomsday-esque, it’s important to remember that distribution phases and reaccumulation phases are quite similar in shape and are called “evil twins” of one another. It’s entirely possible we could see new all-time highs out of bitcoin but, given the weak and anemic follow-through of each all-time high breaching the trading range, I am inclined to lean less toward accumulation and more toward distribution.

As always, volume will be a huge indicator in this process; a great telltale that we are, in fact, in an accumulation phase will be volume growth coupled with price growth. If we begin to push new highs and we see a volume growth trend combined with it, there will be a great sigh of relief from traders as this pairing will indicate increasing demand and diminishing free-floating supply in the market.

Summary:

  1. The price of bitcoin has doubled in the last month.

  2. The price growth has been so aggressive that it has broken north of a parabolic trend it’s been well-confined within for 3 years.

  3. Bitcoin is at a crucial point as it currently decides whether it wants to move up or down in price.

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

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rests at Tipping Point Before Deciding Next Move appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 2:38 pm

Fed Chair Yellen: Bitcoin Is a 'Highly Speculative Asset'

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen called bitcoin a "highly speculative asset" during her final press conference today

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 2:00 pm

Kickstarter ICO? Don't Count On It Says Crowdfunding Leader

The company most widely associated with crowdfunding won't be shifting its business model to accommodate so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 11:00 am

Colu Mixes VC and ICO for $14.5 Million Fundraise

Blockchain startup Colu has secured $14.5 million in new funding from a major business group in Israel.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 10:00 am

Patrick Byrne Mulls Overstock Sale to Fund New Blockchain Venture

Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne has partnered with a well-known economist on a new blockchain land registry venture, and might sell the firm to fund it.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 9:00 am

Here Come the Bogus Bitcoin Scare Tactics

Fear, uncertainty and doubt are dominating the media, but Overstock's Steve Hopkins suggests talking points to counter the scaremongering.

Posted on 13 December 2017 | 8:00 am

I Was Wrong About Bitcoin. Here's Why. - New York Times


New York Times

I Was Wrong About Bitcoin. Here's Why.
New York Times
Several years ago, tech enthusiasts in San Francisco began buzzing about a new and mysterious thing called Bitcoin. There were rumors that the virtual money, invented by a pseudonymous math genius named Satoshi Nakamoto, would revolutionize modern ...
Is it too late to buy Bitcoin?Popular Science
Bitcoin Regrets: How Much $100 Would Be Worth Today if You Invested EarlierFortune
Bitcoin: Mainstream Baby! Whales Hang Onto Their Bitcoins -- No Big Shorts YetForbes
Reuters -BBC News -Ars Technica
all 1,033 news articles »

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 2:33 pm

IcyWallet Offers a Cold Storage Bitcoin Wallet for the Visually Impaired

IcyWallet Offers a Cold Storage Bitcoin Wallet for the Visually Impaired

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 11:27 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crytek

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

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

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

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



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

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 10:23 am

Gifto’s Vision for the Virtual Gifting Economy

Gifto Thumb


The digital age has changed many things about the way we work, play, think and live. And one key element of this is the act of giving.

In the online community, it’s hard to think of a more natural display of positive interaction than the act of giving virtual gifts.  In today’s digital age, giving has taken on a whole new meaning as growing numbers of transactions and exchanges occur online. 

At the nexus of this movement is a project called Gifto, a virtual gifting protocol for content creators and their fans throughout the world. 

Gifto seeks to forever change the way we give gifts through the use of smart contracts that facilitate customized, fun virtual gifts to be sent via the Ethereum blockchain, across all content platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Gifto achieves this through a decentralized, user-driven model which rewards quality content generation, while fostering a richer set of connections between content creators and their audiences.

The brains behind this idea, Andy Tian, is the co-founder and CEO of Asia Innovations Group (AIG), which is the leading mobile interactive entertainment group in Asia. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AIG operates a suite of mobile, social and online entertainment products for users worldwide. 

Launched in May 2016, AIG’s flagship, live-streaming product, Uplive, is already available in more than 100 countries. The app enables anyone around the world to broadcast and view real-time video streams via their smartphones.  It currently has 20 million users and 60,000 broadcasters worldwide, with a projected revenue of more than $100 million from virtual gifting in 2017 alone. With Gifto, AIG is decentralizing its successful virtual gifting model to all content creators, regardless of whether they are on Uplive or not.

Uplive is one of the top five streaming apps in the world. It is the culmination of AIG’s many years of experience and tech development in gaming, social media and video. And Gifto is the culmination of Uplive’s experiences.

The Chinese live streaming market was valued at $5 billion in 2017, according to a forecast by Credit Suisse. Tian sees a golden opportunity with Gifto to replicate this incredibly successful model in international markets across any content platform through its universal protocol.

The Inspiration Behind Gifto

Gifto sprang from Tian’s personal interest in the question of how to apply game mechanics to any and all things that people engage with.

Born in China before moving to New York at age 10, Tian ran Google’s mobile business in China, during which he introduced Android to the China market. He then started one of the earliest social gaming companies in the world, XPD Media, which was later sold to Zynga to become Zynga China. After leaving Zynga, he co-founded AIG, which now has over 300 staff members located around the world, from Casablanca to Tokyo. 

Tian said that Gifto arose from conversations with both broadcasters and users of the Uplive community platform. That dialogue reinforced the notion that only the top 10 percent of all online influencers these days are able to effectively monetize their work. 

“What about the 90 percent of content creators who have 100,000 fans?” he asked. “Or only 50,000 fans? They can’t monetize at all based on the traditional ad/sponsorship model that’s currently in place.” 

One challenge on the Uplive platform was how to calculate the amount of revenue share a broadcaster has across all of Uplive. 

“We currently have a centralized system that does calculations and verification, a common practice among any centralized, consumer-based service,” Tian said. “But when a number of my investors and friends introduced me to smart contracts, that was a game changer. By integrating these contracts into the virtual gift itself, a transaction could automatically be executed, allowing for the instant delivery of revenue share to gift creators and producers.” 

This was a major development with respect to Uplive, where more than 25 million virtual gifts are sent every month.

“With blockchain, we can transparently, quickly and accurately execute payments so that our creators don’t have to wait 30 days or more to receive their share of the gift proceeds,” Tian said. “They can gain revenues directly from their fans.” 

Tian extols the idea of a crypto token that has a common value regardless of which country it is sent to or received from. 

“We currently have users paying us from 50-plus countries, with 30-plus payment providers worldwide,” he said. “With fiat, we have experienced lots of credit card fraud issues like cancelled transactions among other problems associated with this form of money on an international scale. Cryptocurrency can solve that. Not having to convert between different currency types will be a big win for our users.” 

In addition, Gifto can be used universally by any platform, not just Uplive, said Tian.

“The Gifto protocol will be available to any content creator on virtually any platform, including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram,” he said. “For the first time ever, content creators on these platforms won’t be constrained to the advertising-only model that generates very little revenue for the creators without millions of followers. Now, anyone will be able to accept virtual gifts through the Gifto platform and generate meaningful income from their content, directly from their fanbase.”   

Fostering a Global Gifting Economy

The concept of virtual gifts sent from fans to broadcasters is what drives Gifto. It allows creators to produce and place virtual gifts on a blockchain as a virtual asset and set their own pricing and value. Each created gift would have its own unique nature and character, adding the all-important element of fun to the whole gifting process. Broadcasters could then be digitally compensated regardless of the number of fans they have. 

Gifto’s public token sale on the Ethereum blockchain will begin on December 14, 2017. Thirty percent of the tokens, called “Gifto,” will be sold at that time subject to a $30 million hard cap. The campaign will adhere to a strict “know-your-customer” process, excluding citizens from China, the U.S., and Vietnam, based on legal regulations in those countries. 

Tian said the journey to exploring an initial coin offering (ICO) started early in 2017, when his company began examining the utility of blockchain technology as a solution to requests for new features from Uplive’s broadcasters and user base.  He said that monies garnered will be used for product development and engineering, marketing and market adoption, user acquisition and operations.

“We believe that we’ll be the highest revenue consumer company in Asia to launch a token offering,” Tian said. “Blockchain technology, in our opinion, is an awesome application and solution to decentralize everything and we want to advance this thinking.”

Tian’s ultimate goal is to make blockchain useful to mass-market consumers who don’t necessarily understand what the technology is, but can still enjoy the benefits of decentralization.

“It’s all about empowering the everyday people,” he concluded. “Content creators with a small, loyal fanbase now have a fun way to connect with their fans and make it easy for them to contribute.” 

The post Gifto’s Vision for the Virtual Gifting Economy appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 December 2017 | 9:24 am

Munchee ICO Halted by SEC for Securities Violations

Munchee ICO Halted by SEC for Securities Violations

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

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

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

In the SEC complaint, the commission argued that the MUN tokens were considered securities because “they were investment contracts” and were deemed a security regardless of their utility at the time of the sale. Munchee consented to the SEC’s order without admitting to, or denying, the findings.

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

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

Posted on 11 December 2017 | 3:19 pm

U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies

USSenateBill

American Bitcoin holders may soon have to report their holding to the United States government.

First introduced on May 25, 2015, by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R-IA], Senate Bill S.1241, the
“Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017,” can have serious implications for those involved in the cryptocurrency space. The hearing for S.1241 was held with virtually no public notice on November 28, 2017; the full two-hour hearing can be viewed here.

Currently, the definition of “financial institution” includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, currency exchanges and the like. But according to Section 5312(a) of title 31, the new bill would amend the definition of “financial institution” to include “an issuer, redeemer, or cashier of prepaid access devices, digital currency, or any digital exchanger or tumbler of digital currency.” 

This is most specifically embedded in Section 13:

senatebilltextscreen.png

Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] said in her opening remarks of the hearing, “The bill criminalizes intentionally concealing ownership or control of a bank account.” Although, during the hearing, no further clarifications were given as to the effects this would have on the cryptocurrency community, based on the amended definition of “financial institution,” it would seem that the bill would criminalize anyone intentionally concealing ownership or control of a digital currency or exchange account. While there is no finalized bill yet, the implication would be that cryptocurrency holders need to fill in federal registration forms for tax disclosure, quarterly reporting and more.

Notably, while the purpose of the bill and hearing had to do with adding digital currencies and exchanges to the definition of financial institutions, there was almost no discussion on the topic other than briefly in reference to drug cartels using them to launder money. For example, nowhere in the testimony by Coinbase board of directors member Kathryn Haun Rodriguez does she mention digital currencies or exchanges, and at no time was she asked any questions about them.

Unsurprisingly, the bill is receiving pushback from some cryptocurrency holders. Activists on Reddit have started a social media campaign in opposition to the bill, and are suggesting others to tweet: “@senjudiciary that #Bitcoiners are not #Crooks Remove #DigitalCurrencies from Section 13 of S1241.” Others are contacting their senators directly.

The post U.S. Senate Mulls Reporting Requirements for Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 3:23 pm

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started

One of the most intriguing stories underpinning the recent rise of bitcoin prices is how financial institutions will interact with the currency.

The upcoming CBOE futures market is going to open the door for Wall Street giants to participate in the market. That could spell moon or doom for bitcoin, and everyone is speculating on what may happen next.

It is this Wall Street/BTC interaction (phenomenon) that may be driving the unbelievable price spike of the past few days — at least partially.

On the macro scale, however, we may be witnessing a more grand pattern forming; a price-correlated S-curve.

The S-curve is the classic adoption curve applied to the advent of new technologies. As a percentage of the population, adoption looks like a lag phase where the technology is utilized by the innovators of said technology, followed by an early adoption phase led by people who often take risks in order to be the first movers in a space. After the early adopter phase (~16% of the population is now participating), there comes a great “tipping point” where the wide use of the technology seems inevitable. The tipping point gives rise to the “Early Majority” joining in on the fun, followed by the late majority and, finally, the holdouts who allow the top of the S to asymptotically approach total adoption. The curve, as a factor of time and adoption, looks sort of like the following:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.56.44_AM.png

This curve correlates nicely with adoption of some of the greatest technological innovations in our recent history:

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.57.15_AM.png

Some important things to note is that this is just U.S. adoption. Much of the world lagged behind the U.S. in the consumer appliance boom of the 1900s. All of these curves, however steep, do follow the same S-curve trend fairly nicely.

So what could that mean for bitcoin? It’s difficult to choose a metric to define bitcoin adoption, and, in fact, there are disputes about if one metric accurately captures it. However, for simplicity I’ll highlight Google searches for bitcoin and Coinbase user count as microcosms of the global adoption trend.

google search

Screen_Shot_2017-12-08_at_9.58.02_AM.png(from CNBC)

This seems to show a very similar pattern to what could be the transitional phase between “innovators” and “Early Adopters.” Just to harken back to the earlier statement though — it’s very difficult to put a number on bitcoin adoption.

So why is this remarkable? Bitcoin may be the first “buyable” S-curve. Because this is a capped-supply currency, more users adopting and using it necessitates an increase in price. Whether that correlation is even reflective of the current price action is a practically unanswerable question, and the obvious leaning would be towards there being a speculative additional value. However, with an increase in adoption, there seems to be a floor rising up to catch whatever “bubble burst” might occur, if and when it happens.

I'm starting to take the controversial position that I'm less looking at a financial market chart and more looking at a graph for adoption rates. $BTC pic.twitter.com/RmGFyCdwan

— Parabolic Trav (@parabolictrav) December 3, 2017

“Eternal September” is the phrase used to describe September of 1993, when widespread internet adoption began to look inevitable. It occured after AOL began a mailing campaign offering free trials of its internet service, leading to an influx of internet users that has since never ended. Hence “Eternal September.”

Always thought it would take another bubble for the #crypto equivalent, but this might be the start of #Bitcoin Eternal September https://t.co/95PaF9ZYD7

— David Bailey (@DavidFBailey) December 6, 2017

To compare bitcoin’s adoption to its complement — the internet — this may very well be the “Eternal September” episode for bitcoin.

If the S-curve adoption theory applies to bitcoin, then buckle up. I won’t pretend to be able to predict a spot price, but I will say I think we may be sitting close to another order of magnitude this time next year.

See y’all on the moon.

Corollary: Bulls sound smart in bull markets. We may look back and laugh at this thought, or it may hold true for years to come. Time will tell. ‘Til then, buy bitcoin.

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


The post Op-ed: Bitcoin Is Not a Bubble; It's in an S-Curve and It's Just Getting Started appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 8 December 2017 | 11:09 am

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

Viberate

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


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


It’s all about the community


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


How to Earn VIB Tokens


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


Moving Forward


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


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


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


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

Posted on 1 December 2017 | 10:17 am

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $3,000

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

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

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

December 14, 2017 -
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