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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

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Posted on 18 February 2018 | 8:14 pm

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies - New York Times


New York Times

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies
New York Times
In the beach resort of Phuket, Thailand, last month, the assailants pushed their victim, a young Russian man, into his apartment and kept him there, blindfolded, until he logged onto his computer and transferred about $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an ...

and more »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 12:26 pm

Shark Tank's Herjavec Thinks Bitcoin And Blockchain Are 'Here To Stay' - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Shark Tank's Herjavec Thinks Bitcoin And Blockchain Are 'Here To Stay'
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
He believes that cryptocurrencies should and will be regulated, and that as firm regulation becomes closer to reality, the price of Bitcoin will continue to speculate but then drop way down. Based on this idea, while maintaining that Bitcoin is around ...
Bitcoin Prices Will Double in 2018: 'Shark Tank' Star Robert HerjavecTheStreet.com

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 11:58 am

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort - The Guardian


The Guardian

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort
The Guardian
We look forward to working with Mr Ayre on this resort and the many other investments he has made in Antigua.” Ayre, 56, to whom Antigua and Barbuda has given the official title of “his excellency”, said: “This resort will attract a totally new market ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 9:54 am

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin - Forbes


Forbes

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin
Forbes
Wall Street has solved a big problem for Bitcoin: market volatility, paving the way for the people's currency to gain broad acceptance among merchants as a medium of exchange. That's a bullish development for the “people's currency.” Starbucks and ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:31 am

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle - CNET


CNET

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle
CNET
And I was one of the first US users of this newfangled kind of machine. A tiny bitcoin investment, made in pursuit of a story, kicked off a multi-year saga of forgetfulness, password frustration and the kind of jackpot that would make a hardened slots ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:00 am

No, Not All ICOs Are Securities

A recent op-ed paints all ICOs with the same brush, claiming every one of them offers securities subject to SEC scrutiny. That is simply not the case.

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 4:20 am

Dogecoin Is Helping Ethereum Solve Its Biggest Issue

Years after it was written off as a joke, dogecoin continues to prove useful, this time factoring into a major ethereum test.

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 3:00 am

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
A survey published Feb. 15 by the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom), found that just over two thirds of Germans are aware of Bitcoin (BTC). Awareness of the most popular cryptocurrency has ...

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 6:54 pm

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

On February 16, 2018, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA put the world on notice by being the first major economy to set out clear guidelines on initial coin offerings (ICOs). In an announcement, the Swiss regulator addressed plans to apply financial market legislation to different tokens as well as lay out how ICO organizers can get proper input from FINMA when planning or launching their initial coin offerings.


The guidelines, offered as a downloadable PDF, show market participants what information is needed to help the Swiss regulator adequately address all issues presented in inquiries to the regulator, as well as how FINMA intends for current financial market legislation to be applied to ICOs. The published guidelines are intended to complement FINMA Guidance 04/2017, which in September 2017 addressed regulatory treatment of initial coin offerings.  

Important to note is FINMA’s concern over creating transparency. According to the regulator, “Creating transparency at this time is important given the dynamic market and high level of demand.”

FINMA also cited an increase in the number of inquiries corresponding with a sharp increase in the quantity of planned and executed ICOs in the country as a motivating factor for the move.

The regulator’s concern over transparency is clearly illustrated when they state in the guidelines that “ICOs raise a variety of legal issues for which there is no relevant case law and no consistent legal doctrine. Given the wide variety of types of token and ICO set-ups, it is not possible to generalise. Circumstances must be considered holistically in each individual case.”

The press release on the guidelines also provides useful information. The Swiss regulator highlighted that they would focus “on the underlying purpose of the tokens” and that the tokens were “tradeable and transferable.”

The release also showed how FINMA categorizes the tokens into three types — payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens (allowing for tokens to possibly take on aspects of more than one group) — and ascribes definitions for organizers to better understand their tokens’ potential assessment.  

Another major emphasis in the press release was on the guidelines’ role in displaying how FINMA will handle ICO inquiries regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and securities regulations compliance. In the release, they referred market participants to the diagram on page 8 of the guidelines (as shown below), which distinguishes the regulator’s stance based on which of the three categories the tokens are put in.

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs chart

While the press release does finish with a note to investors about the risks associated with investing in ICOs, the most important part of the announcement is the portion where FINMA highlights the “innovative potential” of blockchain technology. In it, FINMA CEO Mark Branson stated:

The application of blockchain technology has innovative potential within and far beyond the financial markets. However, blockchain-based projects conducted analogously to regulated activities cannot simply circumvent the tried and tested regulatory framework. Our balanced approach to handling ICO projects and enquiries allows legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with our laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.

While regulations on ICOs are either ambiguously evolving or demonstrating outright hostility in other countries, FINMA has given a clear signal that it wants to provide transparency, open communication and certainty (where possible) to those launching ICO projects within the Swiss Confederation.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 4:20 pm

FCC: Bitcoin Miner Interfered With T-Mobile Network

The Federal Communications Commission says a crypto mining rig has caused interference with T-Mobile's LTE network in Brooklyn, New York.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:15 pm

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Decentralized Exchanges Stake Their Claim in the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem

Decentralized Exchanges Stake Their Claim in the Cryptocurrency Ecosystem

The cryptocurrency ecosystem has continued to take some major hits lately, causing many investors and holders to rethink the way they trade their crypto assets. Several high profile cryptocurrency hacks have made the news in the past few years. In one of the most recent hacks, the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange, Coincheck lost more than $500 million dollars worth of digital coins, adding to a growing perception that cryptocurrencies are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

Yet, as the total market capitalization of cryptocurrencies continues to increase (now above $4 billion), the most recent Coincheck hack may finally be a wake up call for crypto investors and holders.

As the vulnerability of centralized cryptocurrency exchanges is becoming more and more apparent to the cryptocurrency community, some are looking to alternatives in the form of decentralized exchanges.

Unlike a centralized exchange system that handles the trading of cryptocurrencies for its users, decentralized exchanges allow users to control their own funds within their own wallets. Decentralized exchanges do not rely on a third party service to hold a user’s funds, making them less vulnerable to large hacks. This also means that trades on a decentralized exchange happen directly between users in a peer-to-peer manner. These features make decentralized exchanges less vulnerable and much more transparent than centralized exchanges.

Decentralized exchanges such as AirSwap, Bisq, EtherDelta and Hodl Hodl — the newest player to enter the scene — have sparked the interest for crypto enthusiasts looking to control their own assets with little hand holding involved. Users on these decentralized exchanges keep their own private keys and transact directly with each other, demonstrating a truly decentralized form of trading crypto assets.

“We believe that there will be a huge liquidity migration from centralized exchanges to decentralized exchanges when it comes to token-to-token trading,” AirSwap strategist, Sam Tabar, told Bitcoin Magazine. “AirSwap’s mission is to let people trade crypto assets without a middleman involved and blockchain technology allows for just this.”

He pointed out that AirSwap doesn’t hold any user assets. The platform uses the Ethereum blockchain and atomic swaps based on smart contracts to make sure assets cannot be traded without another asset coming to a user.  

“In a way, centralized exchanges act as a bank, broker and clearing house because they hold all your money and charge fees. This is problematic though, and hacks are happening quite often because of this model,” said Tabar.

What About Crypto to Fiat Trades?

Most decentralized exchanges allow for crypto-to-crypto trading. While this model is common, Bisq is one of the few decentralized exchanges that lets users buy and sell bitcoins in exchange for national fiat currencies as well as alternative cryptocurrencies.

“Crypto-to-fiat exchange transactions are inherently difficult to decentralize, because fiat itself is under the centralized control of banks and governments,” Bisq co-founder, Chris Beams, told Bitcoin Magazine. “This means that any system designed to automate the process of trading crypto for fiat must get permission from these gatekeepers, and all too often they choose to close their gates to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency-related transactions — just as we saw last month with Visa shutting down all Bitcoin-based debit cards on its network.”

Bisq, however, solves this problem by coordinating out-of-band, manual fiat payments. It’s important to note that Bisq does not directly integrate with banks or other national currency payment systems in any way. Rather, Bisq’s trading protocol orchestrates the process of buyer and seller working together to settle fiat payments outside of the Bisq application — for example, via normal person-to-person SEPA payments in Europe or via a person-to-person payment system like Zelle in the U.S.

Bisq is also impressive in that their peer-to-peer network ensures a high level of user security.

“Centralized exchanges require users to ‘deposit’ cryptocurrency and fiat funds, putting them in the control — or custody — of the centralized exchange. Bisq is entirely non-custodial, meaning that you, the user, stay in control. You never hand over your private keys to a third party, meaning that they cannot be lost or stolen by that third party. This makes Bisq a fundamentally more secure way to exchange,” said Beam.

Most recently, the beta version of Hodl Hodl was launched. Hodl Hodl is another peer-to-peer crypto exchange that allows users to trade directly with each other, without holding user funds.

Instead, funds on Hodl Hodl are locked in multisig escrow.

Each time a contract is created between two parties, a multisig escrow cryptocurrency address is generated. The seller sends cryptocurrency from his wallet to this account and when the cryptocurrency is locked in escrow, the buyer sends fiat to the seller. The seller then releases the locked cryptocurrency from escrow and the buyer receives it directly in their wallet.

Enhanced Privacy

Furthermore, because decentralized exchanges do not hold funds and because the exchanges are all peer-to-peer, there are no AML/KYC requirements for users to set up accounts.

“AML/KYC type of compliance, in combination with the transparent nature of Bitcoin's blockchain, represents a significant loss of privacy,” said Manfred Karrer, founder of Bisq, when it first launched as Bitsquare.

“By piecing together the data collected by these exchanges, it can become trivial to figure out how much someone earns, or saves, or spends, and often even what the money is spent on. That’s not just inconvenient; it really makes Bitcoin unsuitable for all sorts of transactions ‒ including perfectly legal ones.”



This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:11 pm

Crypto Regulation? Not Anytime Soon, Says White House Official

The White House cybersecurity coordinator said crypto regulation is still far from becoming a reality.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 1:00 pm

Ellen DeGeneres on Bitcoin: It's 'Either Worth $20K or Nothing'

Ellen DeGeneres says she has learned about bitcoin...but only 'a bit.'

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 11:35 am

Prosecutors Accuse Chicago Trader of $2 Million Crypto Theft

A Chicago trader has been charged with fraud for allegedly misappropriating $2 million in cryptocurrencies from his employer.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 10:30 am

Swiss Finance Regulator to Treat Some ICO Tokens As Securities

Switzerland's financial regulator has released new guidelines indicating it will treat some initial coin offerings (ICOs) as securities.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 9:30 am

SEC Suspends 3 Companies Claiming Crypto Connection

The SEC has temporarily halted trading of three companies after comments they made about cryptocurrency and blockchain-related business moves.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 7:54 am

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Munich Security Conference: US government nowhere near ... - CNBC


CNBC

Munich Security Conference: US government nowhere near ...
CNBC
Rob Joyce emphasized the need to better understand the cryptocurrency's risks and benefits before embarking on any sort of regulatory regime.

and more »

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 7:03 am

Silent No More: Ethereum Users Spurn Recovery Code

Community members have taken to Github to express their discontent over a controversial proposal for lost fund recovery.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 6:05 am

Bitcoin Cash Hits $1.5K Amid Short-Term Bull Reversal

Bitcoin cash has rallied sharply from recent lows, but still remains trapped inside a bearish pattern, price charts indicate.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 5:00 am

Japan's Finance Watchdog to Inspect 15 Unlicensed Crypto Exchanges

The Japanese government said today that inspections will take place at 15 unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges in light of a recent major hack.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 4:10 am

Pullback on Hand? Bitcoin Shows Weakness Above $10K

Having found weak hands above the $10,200 mark in Asian hours, bitcoin has slipped back into four figures.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Vitalik Hopes New Ethereum Fund Will Deliver on Hype

A group of notable ethereum startups are partnering to create a new financial fund designed to boost the blockchain's ecosystem.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Spanish Government Eyes Tax Benefits for Crypto Companies

Spain's ruling political party is reportedly drafting legislation that it hopes will help woo cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to the country.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 12:00 am

'Hundreds' of Crypto Miners Said to Be Descending on Quebec

Hydro-Quebec may charge an industry-specific rate to crypto mining farms to deal with overwhelming demand for Quebec's cheap energy resources.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 8:40 pm

No, 'Litecoin Cash' Isn't Bitcoin Cash All Over Again

Litecoin cash, that's like bitcoin cash, right? As always in crypto, branding might be deceiving when it comes to a new upstart project.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 6:30 pm

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends Creation of Virtual Currency Subcommittee

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends the Creation of a Virtual Currency Subcommittee

On Wednesday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Committee’s (CFTC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held a public meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. During the meeting, members of the Bitcoin and cryptoasset industry shared information regarding this emerging market and offered guidance on how the CFTC may approach regulating the space in 2018.

Multiple participants in the public hearing made comments to differentiate between different types of cryptoassets and their associated technologies.

Potential regulation around cryptoasset exchanges was also discussed as a potential area for further regulation, as has been noted by regulators worldwide over the past few months.

By the end of the portion of the public hearing dedicated to virtual currencies, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a subcommittee for this new asset class.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Cryptoassets

One of the key points made by those who were invited to speak about the cryptoasset industry was that all of these tokens or coins should not necessarily be treated equally. For example, during his opening remarks, Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito discussed the differences between traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are commodities, of course, as the SEC has previously [said].  Questions remain however about the borders [around] these categories and about how one can responsibly share tokens to future investors,” noted Brito.

Special Counsel Gary DeWaal of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP went on to discuss the often-mentioned Howey Test and how it helps determine which types of tokens are securities under U.S. law. In DeWaal’s view, the CFTC could offer assistance in differentiating between commodities and securities in the cryptoasset market.

“Ultimately there has to be some clarification. The distinction between a commodity, the distinction between a security, may seem (from a common sense perspective) clear, but there are very, very important issues around those that I think this committee could very much [help clarify],” said DeWaal.

Notably, DeWaal also pointed out that cryptoassets are “critical” to decentralized ledgers.

“They are the mechanism in proof-of-work blockchains where miners are rewarded: In proof-of-state blockchains where fees are paid, these are the ways you incentivize folks to keep the system together. If you’re only talking about centralized ledgers, sure, you don’t need to worry about coins,” DeWaal added.

Regulation of Cryptoasset Exchanges

RGM Advisors’ chief executive, Richard Gorelick, also made an appearance at the CFTC’s public hearing, and he focused on the market structure of cryptoassets during his brief opening presentation (PDF). Gorelick was one of the only people in the room who referred to the subject at hand in terms of “cryptoassets” rather than “cryptocurrencies” or “virtual currencies.”

One of the key areas of focus for Gorelick during his presentation was the problems associated with current cryptoasset exchanges. More specifically, Gorelick discussed the issues associated with connectivity of liquidity between global exchanges.

“Generally speaking, I think trading on these [exchanges] can be challenging, particularly if your goal is to trade across multiple spot exchanges. It’s difficult to weave liquidity across exchanges and jurisdictions due to a number of factors,” noted Gorelick.

Some of the factors limiting the movement of funds between various exchanges pointed out by Gorelick include:

  • Technology
  • Concerns about deceptive trading
  • Lack of standard best practices
  • The fickle nature of banking relationships
  • Capital inefficiency
  • Security and transparency
  • The slow speed at which money and assets can move in and out

In the face of these issues found on cryptoasset exchanges, Gorelick hit on the large scale of the over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

Representatives from LedgerX and CME also provided updates on the state of the Bitcoin futures market later in the public hearing.

After gathering information from representatives of the cryptoasset industry and asking questions, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a new subcommittee focused on virtual currencies.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 2:32 pm

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server promises a resource-efficient, secure and private way to use bitcoin with hardware and software wallets, connected to full nodes. Developed by open-source programmer Christian Belcher, best known for his contributions to JoinMarket, the Electrum Personal Server directly addresses vulnerabilities with the popular Electrum Bitcoin wallet, while sparing users the significant resource usage of an Electrum server.

According to Belcher, connecting Electrum with the Electrum Personal Server is the most resource-efficient, secure and private way to use a hardware or software wallet connected to a full node. It is important for all users to connect their wallets to full nodes for the Bitcoin network to maintain long-term security, he maintains.

“If bitcoin is digital gold, then a full node wallet is your own personal goldsmith who checks for you that received payments are genuine,” explained Belcher in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine.

Full Nodes vs. Thin Clients Refresher

In the Bitcoin blockchain, full nodes are programs that validate transactions and blocks on the network. Full nodes assist the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating them and sharing them with other full nodes. Essentially, full nodes are the referees of the Bitcoin blockchain –– they check to see that chains are following the rules of the network and ignore chains who break them. As an example, Belcher noted that “[transactions] printing infinite money would be rejected by [full nodes] as if they never existed.” In this way, Bitcoin can ensure that no more than 21 million coins are ever minted.

While full nodes are the most secure, they are are also more resource-intensive. A full node takes up around 156 GB of disk space (a number which is growing by more than 50 GB per year), can take days to sync when used for the first time, requires significant amount of bandwidth each month, and takes up CPU power validating all transactions and blocks on the network.

Thin clients (also known as lightweight clients), however, do not download the entire Bitcoin blockchain. Instead, they only download a copy of all the headers for the blocks in the blockchain. Thin clients are able to achieve increased efficiency and speed by receiving notifications when a transaction affects their wallet specifically. But this does mean that thin clients must tell a third party which addresses belong to them, which is bad for privacy. Additionally, thin clients trade full validation and security for efficiency, placing their trust in full nodes to verify that rules are being followed on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Electrum

Since 2011, the Electrum wallet –– a light client –– has been among the community favorites. It features a pleasant user interface, hardware wallet connectivity, “forgiving” seed recovery phrases, cold storage solutions, decentralized servers to prevent downtimes, and multi-sig permissions. However, similar to other thin clients, the Electrum wallet’s lightweight connection with the Bitcoin blockchain comes at the cost of privacy, validity and scalability.

By default, the Electrum wallet sends all its bitcoin addresses to an Electrum server, which sends back a user’s history and balance. According to Belcher, “This means that the Electrum server knows all the user’s bitcoin addresses and could spy on them, essentially seeing everything a user does.” Users should note that anytime their bitcoin addresses are stored on a thin-client server, their transactions can be monitored.

Like other thin clients, if Electrum servers do not properly verify the rules of the Bitcoin blockchain, wallets can be deceived. For example, a compromised Electrum server could lead the Electrum wallet to accept a fake transaction for USD $1000 worth of bitcoin that would not have been validated by a full node.

Electrum servers also store records of every address ever used on the Bitcoin network, which, as user-base increases, poses a hindrance to scalability.

In the Electrum ecosystem, the only way for a user to avoid these vulnerabilities inherent to the Electrum thin client is to run their own Electrum server and connect it to their wallet. This fix is more resource-intensive than running a Bitcoin full node; it requires the unpruned Bitcoin blockchain, the full transaction index and extra address index. Electrum Servers are also more RAM and CPU intensive than full nodes, and are not made to be turned on and off efficiently.

Electrum Personal Server Solution

The Electrum Personal Server provides bitcoin users with increased efficiency, security and privacy. In this implementation of the Electrum server protocol, users seeking a full node connection can interact with all traditional Electrum wallet features while running a Bitcoin full node, instead of downloading an Electrum server.

Efficiency

From an efficiency perspective, connecting an Electrum wallet to a full node allows users to take advantage of resource-saving Bitcoin Core features such as pruning, disabled txindex and blocksonly. These features are not available to an Electrum server.

Users also benefit from the traditional Electrum wallet user experience/user interface and functionality such as hardware wallet integration, offline signing, recovery phrases and multi-signature wallets.

Security and Privacy

Because users are connected to a full node, they aren’t prone to any of the aforementioned privacy and security threats posed to thin clients.

There is a caveat –– users lose the popular “instant-on” feature of the Electrum wallet when using a full node such as the Electrum Personal Server. The full node must synchronize first, before displaying a wallet’s bitcoin balance. Depending on connection speeds and time since last connectivity, this process could take a few minutes or hours.

For users seeking to connect their wallet to an Electrum Personal Server, the process is fairly straightforward. According to Belcher’s blog post, users must:

  1. Download the alpha version;
  2. Configure the Electrum Personal server with their master public key. Those addresses are then imported into Bitcoin Core as watch-only;
  3. Rescan the wallet if it contains historical transactions. There is no need to rescan, however, if a new, empty wallet is created.

Why Should the Average Bitcoin User Care?

Belcher outlined that since the inception of the Bitcoin network, the basic security model has relied on most of the economy using full node wallets, not thin clients that are vulnerable to manipulation. This way, legitimate Bitcoin transactions are always accurately verified, nefarious transactions are always rejected, and the hard limit of 21 million bitcoins (which are really just bits and bytes) is enforced.

Belcher believes that “bitcoin is dead in the long term” if most of the Bitcoin economy does not use full node wallets.

He hopes that the Electrum Personal Server can serve as a framework for other lightweight Bitcoin wallets to connect to full nodes run by users, rather than (centralized) servers. For instance, a Samourai Wallet or Breadwallet can utilize a script similar to the Electrum Personal Server to connect to a full node.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 3:21 pm

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Are miners — the nodes on a blockchain that process transactions — partners in a company? And, if they are deemed partners, and a cryptocurrency project collapses leaving coin holders holding the bag, what legal construct is in place to protect miners from lawsuits? One Vermont lawyer sees a “nightmare” unfolding.

Stepping back a few steps, last month, several news sites ran stories about proposed legislation (S.269) in Vermont put forth by Senator Alison Clarkson on January 3, 2018. Most focused on the tax element — blockchain projects based in the state would have to pay $0.01 per token mined, traded or transferred — but missed the main point of the legislation, which was to set Vermont up as a safe haven for cryptocurrency projects.

The legislation seeks to establish a so-called “digital currency limited liability corporation” (LLC) in Vermont. An LLC is a type of corporate structure where individuals cannot be held personally liable in case the company is sued. Right now, blockchain companies operate in a fuzzy gray area in terms of business structure. If push comes to shove, they could be classified as statutory partnerships, leaving miners and others who contributed to the project with no liability shield.

“Legally, it is not only plausible; it is the most probable outcome,” said Vermont lawyer Oliver Goodenough in speaking to Bitcoin Magazine. Goodenough is co-director at the Center for Legal Innovation of Vermont Law School, the body that produced the report  behind the Vermont legislation.  

Goodenough is not alone in thinking about setting up a subcategory LLC for blockchain projects. Carla Reyes, assistant law professor at Stetson University, also touches on the idea of blockchain LLCs in her working paper “If Rockefeller Were a Coder.”

General Partners by Default

What are blockchain companies if they are not partnerships? In the U.S., the default association of two or more persons who carry on as co-owners of a for-profit business is a general partnership, whether or not that is what those individuals intended.

In a general partnership, liability is not simply limited to the assets of the business, but individual assets as well. That means, if a cryptocurrency crash occurs, and coin holders suffer losses because a token’s value has dropped to nothing, plaintiffs’ attorneys could argue a blockchain constitutes a statutory partnership and hold miners personally liable.

“Miners are running a mutual network from which they profit mutually and for which they have rules for the division of that profit, and that is quite plausibly a partnership,” said Goodenough who thinks it could spell disaster for blockchain entities. “Miners wake up one morning and suddenly, in this nightmare land, they are all partners,” he said.

The idea is not so far fetched when you realize some cryptocurrency projects are already being hit by lawsuits. After ruling that some virtual tokens, including the DAO token, qualify as securities and are subject to federal securities laws, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stopped short of filing charges against the DAO.

But that did not stop the securities plaintiffs’ bar from taking aim at ICOs. In fact, currently, at least four class-action suits have been levied against the organizers of Tezos, a project that raised $232 million in an ICO in July 2017. Who is to say cryptocurrency miners would not face similar class-action suits?

Move to Vermont

The point of the Vermont bill is to roll out the welcome mat for blockchain businesses. Setting up a subcategory LLC means that cryptocurrency projects will be able to specify how the company designates the participants within the system.

In addition to outlining a business structure, Goodenough says a digital currency LLC would also allow projects to legally define who has the authority, and under what conditions, to initiate a hard fork to change the protocol or roll back a large transaction, such as when Ethereum initiated a blockchain hard fork to roll back the DAO funds.

“Essentially, Vermont is saying, ‘Come set your business up here, we have a law, you pay us a little tax, and it will all be fine,’” Goodenough said, adding “It was meant to provide an opportunity for folks.”

If the bill passes, cryptocurrency projects wanting to set up digital currency LLC, would have to maintain a physical presence or conduct some of their activities in the state. As mentioned, they would also have to pay a minor tax on any token produced or transacted, but, overall, it may not be a bad deal for blockchain projects.  

“They could form an LLC in Vermont,” said Goodenough. “They would be legitimate and get the benefit of all these rules for a crypto LLC. We’ve got it all defined. We are enabling them to give themselves a structure to protect themselves.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 10:38 am

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Regulators in Hong Kong have issued a strict warning to exchanges doing business with Chinese customers about trading tokens deemed as securities.

In an announcement today, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it has sent letters to seven Hong Kong exchanges and firms attempting to fundraise through initial coin offerings (ICOs), warning them about the legalities of selling digital tokens with the characteristics of securities. Most of those receiving the letter confirmed compliance with the SFC's regulatory regime or delisted tokens in question.

The agency said it had been receiving complaints from Chinese citizens about market manipulation on exchanges. Some said they were unable to withdraw funds and reported significant losses due to “technical breakdowns” on exchanges.

"We will continue to police the market and enforce when necessary," SFC CEO Ashley Alder said in a statement. "But we are also urging market professionals to do proper gatekeeping to prevent frauds or dubious fundraising and to assist us in ensuring compliance with the law."

The agency also cautioned investors about the risks involved in trading cryptocurrencies, including price volatility, theft and fraud, and the difficulty of recovering losses.

"If investors cannot fully understand the risks of cryptocurrencies and ICOs or they are not prepared for a significant loss, they should not invest," said Julia Leung, executive director of intermediaries at SFC. "Investors who store their fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies with unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges should be aware of the risks of hacking and misappropriation of assets."

The SFC issued two prior warnings to exchanges, one in September and other in December, about selling bitcoin futures.

Today’s statement follows a denial by Hong Kong–based exchange Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, that it had been hacked after it suspended trading on Thursday. The company blamed the suspension on a prolonged system upgrade.

Regulators in Europe and in the U.S. are coming down on fraud in the space. Earlier this week, representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) spoke before the Senate Banking Committee about future cryptocurrency regulations. And recently, several U.S. banks banned customers from using credit cards to buy digital currencies on exchanges.  

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

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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 »

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

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February 18, 2018 -
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