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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

Bitcoin Price Hits $2150 Following Rapid Progress in SegWit, Scaling Talks - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin Price Hits $2150 Following Rapid Progress in SegWit, Scaling Talks
CoinTelegraph
On February 20, the Bitcoin Core development team, miners and businesses participated in the Hong Kong Bitcoin Roundtable Consensus to come to an agreement in regard to a scaling solution for the Bitcoin network. In consideration of the rising fee ...
Rumour Has it SegWit Will be Activated On The Bitcoin Network SoonnewsBTC
UASF - Bitcoin's emergency plan to enact SegWitBrave New Coin

all 5 news articles »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 8:00 am

Citi, Nasdaq Partner on Blockchain Payments Solution

Global financial institution Citi and stock exchange Nasdaq have partnered on a new blockchain payments initiative.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:54 am

JPMorgan Partners With Zcash on Blockchain Security

JPMorgan has partnered with the makers of zcash to provide a new layer of privacy to the users of its enterprise-grade blockchain.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:18 am

Government initiates debate to regulate Bitcoin - Business Standard


Business Standard

Government initiates debate to regulate Bitcoin
Business Standard
Bitcoin start-ups Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure and Searchtrade had in February jointly launched a Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation of India (Dabfi) as a self-regulatory body. Nishith Desai Associates, a global legal entity, was appointed advisor ...

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:30 am

CoinDesk Previews New 'State of Blockchain' at Consensus 2017

See a sneak preview of CoinDesk's 'State of Blockchain' from our Consensus 2017 conference.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:30 am

AlphaPoint Taps into ICO Popularity With Token Launch Toolkit

Digital currency exchange software provider AlphaPoint is expanding into the market for ICOs with a white-label toolkit.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:00 am

Healthcare IT Firm Joins Hyperledger Blockchain Project, Codebases Activated

US firm Change Healthcare has joined the Linux Foundation-backed Hyperledger blockchain consortium.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin 'Activists' Redecorate Bitmain's Israeli Office With Protest Signs - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin 'Activists' Redecorate Bitmain's Israeli Office With Protest Signs
CoinTelegraph
“The Israeli Bitcoin community have experience organizing similar protests against Israeli banks and corrupted officials, so it was natural for us to apply that model to Bitmain,” it said. Reactions in r/Bitcoin were less than positive, however, with ...

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:04 am

China's Best-Funded Blockchain Startup is Rebranding for Expansion

One of China’s top-funded blockchain startups, Juzhen Financials, is rebranding to reflect its planned expansion into new industries.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:00 am

Could Skandiabanken's Acceptance of Bitcoin Signal a New Fintech Reality? - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Could Skandiabanken's Acceptance of Bitcoin Signal a New Fintech Reality?
CoinDesk
While some might see this move as one of traditional banks embracing bitcoin, really, it heralds a new shift in the evolution of cryptocurrency into the greater fintech space. Skandiabanken announced its intentions this week to let users connect a bank ...

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 3:06 am

Banks Offering Cryptocurrency Services? A New Reality Is Arriving

Skandiabanken customers can now link bitcoin holdings to bank accounts, a signal cryptocurrency is finding its place in the broader fintech arena.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 3:00 am

Bitcoin Options Service LedgerX Raises $11.4 Million in Series B Funding

The parent company of bitcoin options exchange operator LedgerX has raised $11.4m in a Series B funding round.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 12:00 am

Bitcoin Options Exchange Raises $11.4 Million in Funding - U.S. News & World Report


U.S. News & World Report

Bitcoin Options Exchange Raises $11.4 Million in Funding
U.S. News & World Report
FILE PHOTO - A Bitcoin (virtual currency) paper wallet with QR codes and a coin are seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, May 27, 2015. To match Special Report BITCOIN-WRIGHT/PATENTS REUTERS/Benoit ...
Bitcoin Options Service LedgerX Raises $11.4 Million in Series B FundingCoinDesk
$100 in bitcoin in 2010 now worth almost $73 millionRT
Bitcoin Surge Continues as Cryptocurrency Tops $2100 Amid U.S. Dollar PullbackTheStreet.com
Investing.com UK -Investing.com -Finance Magnates
all 13 news articles »

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 10:32 pm

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Adds 86 Members to Blockchain Consortium

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance has more than tripled in size, with the group announcing 86 new members today drawn from a wide range of industries. Among the new members are South Korean telecom Samsung, pharmaceuticals giant Merck, automaker Toyota, investor communications platform Broadridge, financial markets firm DTCC, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which […]

Source

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 5:01 pm

Advertise with Anonymous Ads

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns - Fortune


Fortune

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns
Fortune
A closely-watched fight between the Internal Revenue Service and a popular bitcoin exchange took a new twist last week, as senior Republicans in Congress sent a sharply-worded letter that suggests the tax agency is overstepping its powers. The letter ...

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 3:10 pm

Consensus Hackathon 2017: Into the Smart City Blockchain 'Rabbit Hole'

CoinDesk's Consensus 2017 Building Blocks hackathon is fast underway, with teams competing to realize the next big ideas for the emerging tech.

Source

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 6:40 am

Securities Laws Aren't the Only Rules Token Sales Have to Consider

While much of the concern over token sales has fallen on securities laws – there's another set of regulations that could be equally impactful.

Source

Posted on 20 May 2017 | 3:55 pm

History is Made: Bitcoin Prices Top $2,000 to Set New All-Time High

Bitcoin prices passed $2,000 for the first time ever on the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI), climbing more than 100% since the start of the year.

Source

Posted on 20 May 2017 | 12:50 pm

'Spiritual Experience': Hot, Wild Ethereum Summit is Sign of the Times

Sweltering, crowded, and filled to capacity. If there were a sign that blockchain may be overhyped, or that the industry is in the midst of a massive bubble, the Ethereal Summit may well have been it. As if an effort to seize the moment, the one-day event, hosted by ethereum startup and incubator ConsenSys, squeezed 32 panels and […]

Source

Posted on 20 May 2017 | 7:40 am

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

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

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Nearing a Bubble...but We’re Not There Yet

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Bitcoin has now shown about eight weeks of consecutive buying, leading into new all-time highs (ATHs) for the past three weeks. Trying to stay objective with mild to extreme euphoria in times like this can be difficult. As someone who was a new trader during the 2013 bubble, the chart is beginning to look very similar.

Market capitalization and trading volume both on exchanges and over-the-counter markets have hit ATHs as well.

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.34.52 AM.png

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.37.51 AM.png

Screenshot 2017-05-19 at 6.46.22 AM.png

Despite being in price discovery mode, there is an established, longstanding trend we can compare the current price against, as well as the entire left side of the chart. Past results don’t always predict the future, but they can influence it.

There are a few questions we can investigate:

  1. Is the price near an interim top?

  2. Is the price nearing parabolic conditions?

  3. Will the price continue on the previous trend at the same rate?

Looking at the monthly Bitstamp chart, there have not been too many candles of this proportion. This would suggest we are nearing bubble-like conditions.

stamp monthly.png

Price has also begun to close outside of the longstanding trend. This weekly candle has not closed yet, but if it does close outside of the diagonal, it will be the first weekly candle to do so. This again points to breaking the trend strongly to the upside.

stamp channel.png

Fibonacci retracement and extensions are admittedly partly magic voodoo, but there are plenty of traders who use and watch them to make the resistance and support levels legitimate. Drawing this Fibonacci from the local high established on March 10, 2017, to the low on January 14, 2015, several Fibonacci extensions emerge as well.

fib from low to local high.png

These can be seen as resistance levels, the next being the 1.618 at $2,088. Although the horizontal levels are arbitrary, we can confidently predict resistance based on the fit of the previous horizontals. Most of the prior “Fibs” match the price. This should be seen less as curve fitting and more as levels that just make sense. Based on the Fibonacci levels alone, there is not necessarily evidence for top or bubble just yet.

We can tease apart the trend even further by using the Fibonacci tool on each previous high and low.

stamp fibs.png

In the trend, a consolidation from the previous high to low has yielded a price that has seen resistance at the 2.272 Fibonacci extension. Currently, the price has exceeded the previous 2.272 Fibonacci extension and shown it was supported based on the multiple candle touches. This suggests price is moving faster than the previous trend as well as closer to bubble-like conditions.

For low-timeframe, intra-day trading, there was a long entry signal when the price cleanly broke the consolidation triangle. On the next correction, pullback or consolidation event, I’d expect the support diagonal (green) to remain the same.

coinbase triangle.png

Remember that splashy gold parity headline? BTC is now sitting several hundred dollars above it.

xau vs usd.png

Summary

  1. Bitcoin is making ATHs by almost every available metric: price, market capitalization, volume, hashrate, difficulty and fee per transaction.

  2. Although $2,000 is the next milestone and resistance target, the price will likely exceed that level based on the strength and rate at which the price is exceeding current trends.

  3. Watch for signs of a large pullback or correction in the near future, two to three months at the latest, based on previous price history.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin 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 BTCMedia related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTCMedia 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: Nearing a Bubble...but We’re Not There Yet appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 1:15 pm

Bitmain May Be Infringing on the AsicBoost Patent After All

Bitmain may be infringing copyright

The AsicBoost controversy has added another chapter to its book.

Yesterday, law firm Getech Law published an open letter, which was subsequently confirmed to be legitimate by Timo Hanke, the initial submitter of the AsicBoost patent application. In the open letter, the law firm states that several chip producers and sellers are infringing on the intellectual property derived from the pending AsicBoost patent. As such, these companies should “cease production and sales activities of any products in connection to the pending patent application.”

While the letter does not state it explicitly, and Getech Law preferred not to name specific companies when asked by Bitcoin Magazine, the open letter seems to refer to recent revelations of Bitmain’s implementation of AsicBoost in their specialized Bitcoin mining (ASIC) chips. Indeed, if the letter’s claims hold up, Bitcoin’s biggest mining hardware producer may be unable to sell most of their hardware for the time being.

Otherwise, as Getech Law attorney Jun Ye told Bitcoin Magazine:

If the potential infringements cannot be stopped by the announcement and subsequent cease-and-desist letters, we will have no choice but to seek damages in court once our pending application is issued by the USPTO and other patent offices.

AsicBoost

AsicBoost has had a controversial history within the Bitcoin industry so far.

Initially patented by mathematician and former CoinTerra CTO Timo Hanke, AsicBoost is perhaps best described as a sort of “shortcut” that exploits a weakness in Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm. By reusing some of their work, miners can save between 10 and 30 percent of the energy costs associated with mining. This can add up to a significant increase in profits over time — perhaps in excess of over $100 million per year if no other miners use it.

And it could be the case that no other miners would use it precisely because of AsicBoost’s pending patent. The patent application is therefore controversial, as some believe that such a state-enforced monopoly on using technology could further centralize and skew Bitcoin’s mining ecosystem. About a year ago several Bitcoin developers even proposed changing Bitcoin’s mining algorithm slightly in order to make AsicBoost’s technology obsolete.

But the AsicBoost controversy really exploded onto the scene several weeks ago, as it was discovered that covert use of AsicBoost is incompatible with Segregated Witness, the protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team. Moreover, it was revealed that Bitmain had implemented the technology in its chips. This might explain why the Chinese mining giant has been opposing the upgrade so far — though the company denies this is the case.

Patent Infringement

Now, it seems Bitmain may not even be legally allowed to have AsicBoost implemented in its chips.

While Hanke was known to have submitted a patent for AsicBoost along with RSK CEO Sergio Demian Lerner, Bitmain initially claimed to hold the patent in China. As such, the company said it shouldn’t be a problem — from a legal perspective — to apply the technology at least within the Chinese jurisdiction.

But it now seems that Hanke claimed his worldwide priority date at the end of 2013, while Bitmain’s patent application stems from 2015. And because of the International Patent System (PCT), Hanke’s application should apply to China as well.

“Although Bitmain has also filed a patent application in China with similar features, we are confident that our patent application has an earlier priority date,” Ye told Bitcoin Magazine.

The patent application is not Hanke’s anymore. Two weeks ago, he sold the patent to Little Dragon Technology, a company based in California. According to Ye, Little Dragon Technology plans to operate in the Bitcoin industry, though it was not yet revealed how, exactly.

Either way, neither Hanke nor Little Dragon Technology gave anyone permission to use AsicBoost. This suggests, at least according to Getech Law, that anyone using AsicBoost is infringing on Little Dragon Technology’s intellectual property. And while Ye did not want to name any specific companies that may be infringing on the intellectual property — Bitmain or otherwise — he did reveal it may be more than one company.

As the open letter states:

“To date, no individual or business entity has been authorized to use or sell products based on the ASICBOOST patent application, yet some bitcoin miner manufacturers have implemented various features of the pending ASICBOOST patent in their mining hardware and firmware, potentially infringing the pending ASICBOOST patent.”

Consequences

In the open letter published yesterday, Getech Law wrote that ASIC producers should immediately cease production and sales of AsicBoost-related products. Additionally, the letter said infringers should contact Getech Law and disclose their relevant production and sales records since 2015. And it called on people who know more about potential patent infringement to contact the law firm.

If ASIC producers do continue to produce or sell AsicBoost-related products, Getech Law warned that there would be subsequent legal action.

“The open letter (announcement) is the first step to enforce my client’s IP rights. We hope that the community can become aware of the potential infringement,” Ye told Bitcoin Magazine.

The future for AsicBoost itself seems unclear, too. While debate over whether or not to disable it on a protocol level is ongoing within Bitcoin’s technical community, the open letter spoke of an “unfair advantage” it could give to miners.

And, speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Ye said:

“We do not want to monopoly the market based on the pending patent. That is, we hope anyone who wants to use the technology can come to us such that we can negotiate reasonable license agreements for them to use the technology.”

Bitmain stated that they were not available for comment at time of publication.

The post Bitmain May Be Infringing on the AsicBoost Patent After All appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 18 May 2017 | 11:12 pm

Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking

Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking

Norwegian online bank Skandiabanken now recognizes bitcoin as a new investment class and allows its customers to access their bitcoin holdings through its online banking platform, according to a Norwegian media report.

Through an integration of the Coinbase wallet, which enables the buying and storing of cryptocurrency holdings in bitcoin, ether and litecoin, the bank’s customers now have direct access to these holdings using Skandiabanken’s online banking.

Christoffer Hernæs, head of innovation and development at Skandiabanken, said that Skandiabanken “recognize[s] cryptocurrency as an investment class” and that it has “an equal footing with other securities.”

Skandiabanken is, therefore, one of the first financial institutions to publicly acknowledge bitcoin as an alternative investment asset class at a time when the vast majority of its competitors are shunning the cryptocurrency that many believe poses a threat to the current banking business model.

Hernæs also points out that Japan has recently moved to officially recognize bitcoin as a legal payment method, and that bitcoin’s average daily volatility has decreased from 10 percent to 4 percent last year.

Bitcoin’s decrease in volatility and the sharp increase in price over the last 12 months have led to a wave of new bitcoin users around the world. In Norway, more and more individuals are now also turning their eyes toward digital currencies, Hernæs stated.

Not all banks in Norway share Skandiabanken’s enthusiasm for offering its users access to bitcoin as a new investment class. Norway’s largest bank, DNB, closed the bank account of Norges Bitcoinforening, Norway’s Bitcoin association, in September 2016, citing concerns that the association’s funds may have a connection with money laundering and terrorist financing.

Hernæs acknowledges DNB’s concern in regard to the country’s strict anti-money laundering regulations that require a stringent assessment of each banking client. However, he also said, “We recognize that this is something people want to put their money in. When we think it is right to look at new solutions we can offer, we think it is a better approach than categorically thinking that this is scary.”

The head of Norway’s Bitcoin association, Stephan Nilsson, is pleased about Skandiabanken’s new Bitcoin service: “This is very positive. These are the signals we have been waiting for from the Norwegian banking industry.”

Skandiabanken joins the ranks of the very few banks in Europe that are embracing Bitcoin. Only Germany-based Fidor Bank and Georgia-based Liberty Bank offer similar services to its customers. Fidor Bank allows German customers to buy and sell bitcoin directly through a collaboration with bitcoin.de, and Liberty Bank allows its customers to buy bitcoin through its ATM network in Georgia.

The post Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 May 2017 | 2:13 pm

Four Quick Questions and Answers About Ransomware and Bitcoin

WannaCry

Bitcoin got caught in another media storm this week, though only in a supporting role this time around. The ongoing ransomware attack by the name of “WannaCry,” sometimes also referred to as “WannaCrypt0r,” “Wcry,” “WanaCry,” “WannaCrypt” or “Wana Decrypt0r,” infected over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries over the past couple of days, and demands that victims pay a ransom in the cryptocurrency.

So what is ransomware, and what does Bitcoin have to do with all of this?

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of computer virus that encrypts data with a secret key. Only if a payment is made, typically in bitcoin, is the decryption key provided so victims can regain access to their data — or at least that’s the promise. An infected computer is quite literally held ransom, for actual money: bitcoin.

Unfortunately, ransomware is quickly growing in scope, and fast turning into a booming business for cybercriminals. In 2015, some estimated $24 million was paid to unlock computers, according to the FBI; in 2016, it hit a dazzling $1 billion. And that’s only expected to get worse this year.

WannaCry, which started last Friday, is the biggest ransomware attack the world has seen so far. This is mostly because WannaCry is not only ransomware, but also a “worm.” This worm uses an exploit developed by the NSA that abuses a weakness in older Windows PCs, which lets it forward itself to more and more computers: over 230,000 of them at the time of writing.

WannaCry also affected several notable targets over the past week, including Spanish phone provider Telefónica, parts of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), U.S. delivery service FedEx, German railways Deutsche Bahn, LATAM Airlines and more.

How Successful Is Ransomware?

Ransomware attacks seem to be relatively successful in general. According to research by cybersecurity firm Trustlook, for example, over one in three victims of ransomware pay up. And a survey by IBM even showed that 70 percent of businesses infected with ransomware paid the ransom.

WannaCry, however, has not been nearly as successful — or at least not yet. At the time of writing, some 40 bitcoins have been paid to the three Bitcoin addresses associated with WannaCry. At an exchange rate of $1,700, that adds up to about $68,000 in total gains for the attackers. This is perhaps a significant amount in itself, but still modest when taking into account that well over 200,000 computers have been affected, and the ransom demanded is between $300 and $600.

The damage has probably been contained, to a large extent, because it didn’t take long for a security researcher who blogs as “MalwareTech” to find an effective kill switch. He simply registered a website that was mentioned in the code of WannaCry, which disabled at least the initial version of the ransomware.

Additionally, WannaCry gave its victims a week to pay up — though the price to unlock the encrypted data does double from $300 to $600 after four days. Given that a week hasn’t passed since the first reports of infections, it’s possible there will be another surge of payments over the next week.

Why Does Ransomware Use Bitcoin?

Ransomware does not technically require bitcoin. Indeed, there are known cases of ransomware that existed decades before Bitcoin was even invented.

However, bitcoin (and similar cryptocurrencies) can make ransomware much more effective. This is mostly because Bitcoin transactions are instant, reliable, relatively anonymous, easy to verify, and irreversible. Additionally, Bitcoin payments can potentially be made programmable, so a payment automatically sends a decryption key to a victim once a payment is made — though WannaCry did not utilize this possibility.

At the same time, however, the Bitcoin blockchain is also completely transparent. This is why it’s possible to trace exactly how much has been paid to WannaCry. It also means that it may not be very easy for the attackers to convert their bitcoins into fiat currency, or even spend them. If they ever do try to move the funds without taking appropriate precautions, they could get caught. Instead they’ll have to first mix and scramble their coins, which is possible but not necessarily easy to do.

What Can You Do About Ransomware?

The main source of the ransomware problem is not so much Bitcoin, it’s insecure computers. The fact that any malware can nest itself into computers is a problem in itself. Even without ransomware, it means that files can be stolen, edited or otherwise corrupted.

The solution, therefore, is as simple as it is boring: make sure your operating system is up to date and secure. WannaCry in particular was able to affect so many computers because they were running older versions of Windows. Upgraded computers are no longer vulnerable.

Additionally, you want to make sure to never click suspicious links in emails you receive. WannaCry initially spread itself through such links.

Furthermore, you should make sure to back up your data regularly. If you have your data backed up, you should be able to simply update your computer and restore your files without having to pay anything.

And last but not least, it is not recommended that you pay the ransom. For one, you never know for sure that paying up will actually solve your problem; the attacker could simply lie or perhaps even encrypt your data again. And two, as more people pay the ransom, this trend is more likely to grow.

Though, of course, this is easier said than done. Choosing to not make a ransom payment may not be a viable option if your most valuable files are inaccessible and you don’t have them safely backed up elsewhere ...

The post Four Quick Questions and Answers About Ransomware and Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 May 2017 | 7:50 pm

Irish Banks to Test New Blockchain-Based Interbank Payment System

Irish

Irish lenders Allied Irish Banks, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have teamed up with global consultancy Deloitte to work on a pilot program that will leverage blockchain technology to increase the speed and security for the country’s domestic interbank payments.

The collaborative project carries the name Project GreenPay and will use technology developed by Ulster Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The payments platform being trialed is called Emerald. RBS’s Emerald platform, which was built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, has already been tested in the Dublin-based startup hub Dogpatch Labs, where participating banks have been conducting dummy payments among themselves to test the blockchain-based system for performance, stability and accuracy. The platform is able to acknowledge payments in less than 10 seconds while processing large transaction volumes.

The distributed ledger technology pioneered by Bitcoin allows transactions to be recorded and shared with permissioned members on a distributed ledger, enabling payments to be processed in a more secure and efficient manner.

“[The blockchain is] essentially a software that provides a way of recording transactions in a trustworthy way. It has the potential to disrupt multiple industries for the benefit of customers, and we’re determined to investigate how we can harness this for the financial sector,” said Ulster Bank’s chief administrative officer, Ciarán Coyle.  

“When we saw that RBS had that capability, we decided to use the platform in the Republic. We looked at how we could prove it at an industry level and looked at doing collaboration at an industry level,” he added.

For RBS’s Head of Innovation Engineering Richard Crook, it “made sense” for RBS’s Irish subsidiary, Ulster Bank, to adopt its Emerald payment system for the collaborative industry-wide payment network trial. “We’re delighted to support that and further prove that blockchain [technology] can be used to better serve customers,” Crook added.

David Dalton, consulting partner and financial services industry leader at Deloitte Ireland, stated that the pilot project would leverage the company’s blockchain lab in Dublin, and added: “We believe blockchain adoption will happen more quickly than anticipated and without a proactive and well-adopted strategy, banks and insurers risk being locked out of potential innovations enabled by this technology.”

No specific timeframe has been set for when the new payment system could be implemented in the Irish financial system, and there is no guarantee that it will. However, Project GreenPay is another clear signal that banks across the world are embracing blockchain technology to improve the efficiency and security of their services. It will not be long until the blockchain will become an integral part of the global financial system.

The post Irish Banks to Test New Blockchain-Based Interbank Payment System appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 May 2017 | 7:01 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Outlook Not as Bearish as It Seems

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Much of the world has now heard about Bitcoin due to the global WanaCrypt0r 2.0 ransomware, which should continue spreading over the course of next week. Optics for Bitcoin aren’t great in situations like this because it furthers the notion that Bitcoin is used for nefarious means. You can follow a live feed of the incoming transactions from this twitter bot. However, the silver lining is that many people who did not know what Bitcoin is or how to use it before the attack certainly do now.

Worst-case scenario for Bitcoin here would be a government crackdown on its use and distribution, which, although a low probability, is probably not a non-zero possibility considering the current administration. This would create a large down day in the market similar to when Silk Road was shut down, Mt. Gox was found to be insolvent and Bitfinex was hacked. Of course, Bitcoin the protocol would be unaffected, so the price is likely to bounce back rather quickly.

The block size and scalability debate trickles on with no current end or resolution in sight. I wouldn’t really expect a push out of the SegWit camp until October or November, when the Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) is set to be tabled for the time being. The number of unconfirmed transactions continues to rise on an upward trend, all the while miners who support Bitcoin Unlimited are mining empty or non-full blocks.

mempool.png

The COIN ETF comment period closed yesterday, which isn’t to say there will be any type of decision on the SEC’s part. This will likely be a non-event for the market considering the ETF itself will remain in limbo until further notice.

Total cryptocurrency market capitalization broke a new all-time high (ATH) of $55 billionearlier this week, while Bitcoin dropped just shy of 50 percent of that total.

total market cap.png

chart (3).png

Some may view this as Bitcoin losing its impact and success, which can be partially attributed to the block size and scalability in-fighting. Others, like myself, view this shift as a massive altcoin bubble. Hockey stick parabolic curves on a chart like that end with large selloff candles. There is also only one Bitcoin, with a fixed supply, competing against an infinite number of altcoins, many with pre-mined or infinite supply as well.

Because of the correction late in the week, the weekly candle was threatening a bearish close with a wick longer than the candle body, but the heavy buying on Sunday prevented the bearish close.

blx 1w.png

This weekly close alone suggests continuation over reversal or sideways movement in price. Since the beginning of the trend, duration of consolidation between large upward moves has decreased. This will eventually lead to a parabolic, euphoric, blowoff top with a massive candle wick. Until then, expect more of the same. A small correction this week would just mean an even greater chance for extended continuation.

Bitcoin did make a new high this week of $1,868.50, according to index, and is currently drawing an “M for murder” double top. This likely represents consolidation to a further move upward and not exhaustion of trend.

btc consolidation.png

This is the only chart I’m really focused on at the moment. There are plenty of potential patterns, such as head and shoulders or Adam and Eve, harmonics, and horizontal support levels here, but all that really matters is the larger consolidation pattern.

This may also represent a flag/pennant, which is another sign of bullish continuation.

flag.png


A more ominous double top for a bull market would have similar price structure to the pattern that formed during the ATH of 2013.

2x top.png

As discussed above, a serious threat of reversal shows large candle wicks on high timeframes, which is not currently the case with price structure.

Summary

  1. Most of the world is now aware of Bitcoin due to the WanaCrypt0r 2.0 ransomware.

  2. The block size and scalability debate continues with large transaction backlogs in an upward trend.

  3. Based on market capitalization, Bitcoin is currently hovering around 50 percent of the total.

  4. Price remains in consolidation; once finished, expect a return to the status quo.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin 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 BTCMedia related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTCMedia 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: Outlook Not as Bearish as It Seems appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 May 2017 | 4:40 pm

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

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Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

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Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

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Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

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May 22, 2017 -
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