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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

Money Manager Josh Brown: 'ICOs Are Where The Frauds Will Take Place'

Josh Brown, the money manager and bitcoin bear-turned-bull, had some harsh words for initial coin offerings (ICOs) in a new blog post.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:31 pm

EU Budget Amendments Call For Millions in Blockchain Funding

As many as four blockchain-related amendments, funding various initiatives, could find their way into the European Union's 2018 budget.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 1:00 pm

SegWit2X and the Case for Strong Replay Protection (And Why It's Controversial)

BTC1replay.jpg

Come November, the remaining signatories of the “New York Agreement” (NYA) plan to deploy the “SegWit2X” hard fork to double Bitcoin’s block weight limit, allowing for up to 8 megabytes of block space. Since not everyone supports this hard fork, this could well “split” the Bitcoin network into two incompatible blockchains and currencies, not unlike Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) did two months ago.

But this NYA hard fork is controversial and not only because it lacks consensus. It’s also controversial because of design choices made by the development team behind BTC1, the software client associated with the New York Agreement. Perhaps most importantly, this development team, led by Bloq CEO Jeff Garzik, has so far refused to implement replay protection, a measure that Bcash did take. Partly for this reason, at least one NYA signatory — Wayniloans — has backed out of the agreement.

So what is replay protection, why should BTC1 implement it … and why doesn’t it?

What Is Replay Protection? (And What Are Replay Attacks?)

Bitcoin could see another “split” by November. (It’s arguably more accurate to consider the “splitting” nodes and miners as an entirely new cryptocurrency with a new blockchain and token — not an actual split of Bitcoin itself.) For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to the blockchain and currency that follows the current Bitcoin protocol as “Legacy Bitcoin” and “BTC.” The blockchain and currency that follows the New York Agreement hard fork is referred to as “SegWit2X” and “B2X.”

If this split happens, the two blockchains will be identical. All past transactions and (therefore) “balances” are copied from the Legacy Bitcoin blockchain onto the SegWit2X blockchain. Everyone who owns BTC will own a corresponding amount of B2X.

Without replay protection, new transactions will be equally valid on both chains as well. This means that these transactions can be copied or “replayed,” from one chain to the other — in other words, for them to happen on both. This is called a “replay attack.”

So, let’s say Alice holds BTC at the time of split, which means she also owns B2X after the split. Then, after the split, she wants to send BTC to Bob. So, she creates a transaction that spends BTC from one of her Legacy Bitcoin addresses to one of Bob’s Legacy Bitcoin addresses. She then transmits this transaction over the Legacy Bitcoin network for a Legacy Bitcoin miner to pick it up and include in a Legacy Bitcoin block. The payment is confirmed; all is good.

But this very same transaction is perfectly valid on the SegWit2X blockchain. Anyone — including Bob — can take Alice's Legacy Bitcoin transaction and also transmit it over the SegWit2X network for a miner to include in a SegWit2X block. (This can even happen by accident quite easily.) If this payment is also confirmed, Alice has inadvertently sent Bob not only BTC but also an equal amount of B2X.

And, of course, all of this is true in reverse as well. If Alice sends B2X to Bob, she might accidentally send him BTC as well. A lack of replay protection, therefore, is a problem for users of both chains. No one wants to accidentally send any money — not even if it was “free money.”

Technically, there are ways to “split” coins on both chains to ensure they can only be spent on one chain. This would, for example, require newly mined coins to be mixed into a transaction. Tiime-locks can also offer solutions. But this takes effort and is not easy, especially for average users — not to mention that many average users may not even know what’s going on in the first place.

To avoid this kind of hassle, at least one side of the split could add a protocol rule to ensure that new transactions are valid on one chain but not the other. This is called replay protection.

Why Should BTC1 Implement Replay Protection? (And Why Not Bitcoin Core?)

In case of a split, at least one side must implement replay protection. But many — Bitcoin Core developers and others — believe there’s only one viable option. It’s the splitting party — in this case BTC1 — that should do it.

There are several arguments for this.

First of all, it makes the most sense for BTC1 to implement replay protection because that requires the least effort. BTC1 is a new client that’s already implementing new protocol rules anyway, and it’s not very widely deployed yet. It would be relatively easy for BTC1 to include replay protection.

Meanwhile, it would not be sufficient for Bitcoin Core to implement replay protection on its own. While it is dominant, and even considered by some to be the protocol-defining reference implementation, Bitcoin Core is not the only Bitcoin implementation on the network. Bitcoin Knots, Bcoin, Libbitcoin and other alternative clients would all have to implement replay protection, too. (And that’s not even taking non-full node clients into account.)

But even more importantly, the reality of the current situation is that all deployed Bitcoin nodes do not have replay protection implemented. And logically, they can’t: Some of these nodes even predate the New York Agreement. So even if Bitcoin Core and other implementations were to implement replay protection in new releases of their software, it wouldn’t suffice. All users must then also update to this new version within about two months: a very short period of time for a network-wide upgrade.

If only some of the nodes on the network upgrade to these new releases, Bitcoin could actually split in three: Legacy Bitcoin, SegWit2X and “Replay Protected Bitcoin.” Needless to say, this three-way split would probably make the problem worse — not better.

Lastly, there is a bit of a philosophical argument. Anyone who wants to adopt new protocol rules, so the argument goes, has the responsibility to split off as safely as possible. This responsibility should not fall on those who want to keep using the existing protocol: They should be free to keep using the  protocol as-is.

Many developers — including RSK founder Sergio Lerner who drafted the SegWit2Mb proposal on which SegWit2X is based — have argued that BTC1 should implement replay protection. In fact, many developers think that any hard fork, even a hard fork that appears entirely uncontroversial, should implement replay protection.

But so far, the BTC1 development team will only consider optional replay protection.

What’s Wrong With Optional Replay Protection?

Implementing optional replay protection, as proposed by former Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen, for example, is currently on the table for BTC1.

In short, this type of optional replay protection would make certain specially crafted (“OP_RETURN”) Legacy Bitcoin transactions invalid on the SegWit2X chain. Anyone who’d want to split their coins could spend their BTC with such a transaction. These transactions should then confirm on the Legacy Bitcoin blockchain but not on the SegWit2X chain. This effectively splits the coins into different addresses (“outputs”) on both chains.

Such optional replay protection is probably better than nothing at all, but it’s still not a definitive solution.

One problem is that the Legacy Bitcoin blockchain would have to include all these OP_RETURN transactions. This would probably result in more transactions on the network and would require extra data for each transaction. All this data must be transmitted, verified and (at least temporarily) stored by all Legacy Bitcoin nodes. It presents a burden to the Legacy Bitcoin network.

But more importantly, it would probably still not be very easy to utilize this option. It might suffice for professional users — exchanges, wallet providers and other service providers — as well as tech-savvy individual users. But these are generally also the types of users that would be able to split their coins even without replay protection. Average users, if they are even aware of what’s going on, would probably find it much more difficult to utilize optional replay protection.

Optional replay protection, therefore, offers help to those who need it least and does little for those who need it most.

Does the NYA Preclude Replay Protection?

While it’s unclear what was (or is) discussed behind closed doors, the New York Agreement seems to be a very minimal agreement. Published on May 23, 2017, it really only consists of two concrete points:

  • Activate Segregated Witness at an 80 percent threshold, signaling at bit 4, and

  • Activate a 2 MB hard fork within six months.

With the first point completed through BIP91, the only remaining point is a hard fork to 2 megabytes before November 23. (This assumes that this hard fork wasn’t completed with the creation of Bitcoin Cash which is supported by a number of NYA signatories.)

Notably, a lot of details are not filled in. For example, the agreement does not even state that signatories must specifically run the BTC1 software: Any software implementation that implements a hard fork to 2 megabytes might do. This could even include a software implementation that implements replay protection. And, of course, nothing in the NYA stops BTC1 from implementing replay protection; some signatories may have even expected it.

Why Won’t BTC1 Implement Replay Protection?

There are really several reasons why BTC1 — both stated and speculated — might not want to add replay protection.

The first reason is that replay protection would require simplified payment verification (SPV) wallets and some other thin clients to upgrade in order to send and receive transactions on SegWit2X. Replay protection would, therefore, in the words of BTC1 developer Jeff Garzik, “break” SPV wallets; they wouldn’t be compatible with SegWit2X until upgraded.

This framing and choice of words is disputed. If SegWit2X were to implement replay protection (and if SPV wallets don’t upgrade), these wallets could still send and receive transactions on Legacy Bitcoin perfectly fine. On top of that, they wouldn’t accidentally spend B2X when they don’t mean to.

Meanwhile, if the SegWit2X chain does not implement replay protection (and if SPV-wallets don’t upgrade), users may not be sure if their wallet is receiving or sending BTC transactions or B2X transactions or both. They also may not be sure if the balance in their wallet is a BTC balance or a B2X balance or both. And if hash power moves from one chain to another over time, these wallets could even switch from displaying BTC balances to B2X balances or the other way round without users knowing. (This problem could be solved, to some extent, through another workaround, but this is not yet implemented in either.)

Indeed, not implementing replay protection on SegWit2X could arguably “break” SPV wallets much worse.

The only (plausible) scenario where implementing replay protection would perhaps not break SPV wallets much worse is if there is no Legacy Bitcoin to speak of. Indeed, the New York Agreement very specifically intends to “upgrade” Bitcoin, rather than split off into a new coin as Bcash did. And based on miner signaling and statements of intent by several big Bitcoin companies, some NYA signatories claim that Legacy Bitcoin will not be able to survive at all.

Implementing replay protection is, therefore, sometimes considered an admission that SegWit2X will split off from (Legacy) Bitcoin into something new and will not be considered the upgraded version of Bitcoin.

But the assumption that Legacy Bitcoin won’t be able survive is a big one. In reality, miner signaling is effectively meaningless, while Bitcoin Core — the dominant Bitcoin implementation — will not adopt the hard fork. There is also a significant list of companies that have not stated that they support the hard fork, including two top-10 mining pools. Similarly, it’s not clear if many (individual) users will support SegWit2X either. The implementation of wipe-out protection (another safety measure) also suggests that even BTC1 developers aren’t so sure that there will only be one chain.

And perhaps even more importantly, it’s not clear that replay protection would affect any of this. If miners, developers, companies and users are to consider SegWit2X an upgrade of Bitcoin, they will probably do so with or without replay protection.

This is why it has also been suggested that BTC1 is rejecting replay protection for the specific purpose of being as disruptive as possible. If the Legacy Bitcoin chain is effectively made unusable, SegWit2X might stand the best chance of being recognized as “Bitcoin.”

For more information and debate on replay protection, also see the the relevant threads on the SegWit2X mailing list.

The post SegWit2X and the Case for Strong Replay Protection (And Why It's Controversial) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 12:11 pm

Bitcoin is like Tulipmania, says ECB vice-president - Financial Times


Financial Times

Bitcoin is like Tulipmania, says ECB vice-president
Financial Times
One of the eurozone's most senior central bankers has waded into the debate over bitcoin, dismissing the cryptocurrency as “an instrument of speculation” and saying its sharp rise in value was akin to the 17th century tulip craze. The views of Vítor ...
ECB Vice President: Bitcoin Is Not A Threat To Central Bank PolicyETHNews

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 11:13 am

Ethereum's Byzantium Hard Fork Postponed For Further Testing

The planned roll-out date for ethereum's "Byzantium" network upgrade is being postponed to October 17.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 11:00 am

Investor Doug Casey: Bitcoin May Be Money, But It Still Might Fail

Investor and anarcho-capitalist Doug Casey recently argued that bitcoin qualifies as money – but he's not sure it'll last in the long term.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 10:00 am

Why are countries so afraid of bitcoin? - Marketplace.org


Marketplace.org

Why are countries so afraid of bitcoin?
Marketplace.org
Bitcoin has had a very tumultuous summer. As the valuation of the cryptocurrency climbed, experts opined about the potential “bitcoin bubble.” Bitcoin's value, however, stumbled a bit over the past few weeks as Chinese regulators took steps to regulate ...
Go Ahead and Ignore Bitcoin--with These 4 ExceptionsInc.com
Bitcoin is sinkingBusiness Insider
Key questions you need answered about bitcoinSouth China Morning Post
CoinTelegraph -CoinDesk -TNW
all 94 news articles »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 9:37 am

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro, a bitcoin-to-gold exchange, has secured funding from Finlab AG, a fintech company based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Vaultoro co-founder Joshua Scigala stated that the funding from Finlab will allow them to reach their goals faster. The first upgrade the company plans to implement will be a real-time gold-backed debit card. The card will allow the customers of the firm to hold their allocated gold — stored in a high-security Swiss bullion vault — while they can easily spend the funds anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted.

This latest funding announcement is in keeping with Vaultoro’s history of seeking funding and support from venture capitalists and established players in the space, rather than following the recent ICO trend.

In 2015, Vaultoro conducted a BnkToTheFuture raise. The funds were raised primarily from VCs, as opposed to ICOs. That same year, it hit its first $1 million in gold traded on the platform and was one of three finalists from the blockchain space to compete for the BBVA Open Talent Competition in Barcelona, Spain. Most recently, Vaultoro was selected as one of eight startups for the 2017 Techstars Berlin program.

“We decided against an ICO because coins that pay a dividend are not really legal yet, equity taken absolutely illegal[ly], and we didn’t want to confuse the product with a utility coin when we don’t need one. Also, we found that so many ICOs are scams and we didn’t want to be associated with this kind of hype. We have been solidly working on making Vaultoro a name people can trust, a brand with the highest principles.”

However, Scigala is not opposed to ICOs in general:

“I’m not saying ICOs are bad,” he added. “In fact, I love them, I think they are the future of fundraising because they enable anyone to invest in startups. In fact, we want to launch an ICO later to enable our users to profit from our success, but we want it well thought-out and fully legal for our investors. For this reason, we decided on a standard VC funding round that would not only bring us money but also strategic contacts that will help us grow as quick as possible.”

Gold on the Blockchain

According to Vaultoro, the latest financial crises have been a cause for concern for citizens around the world. People are worried about leaving their fiat funds in a bank account while earning low or no interest. The Vaultoro debit card will allow its customers to hold their funds in gold without the need for a bank.

“We see gold as a gateway to crypto. Many people don’t trust crypto, they don’t understand it, but they understand the 3000+ years of value that gold has held. We are currently building an easy-to-use euro/gold wallet so people can easily buy and save in gold. But here is the kicker. They will see a little button, spend your gold as SEPA, SWIFT, debit card or bitcoin. So, many people will want to see what that is,” he said.

A Secure Store of Value

“Our goal is to have real asset vaulting,” said Scigala. “We have always been a bitcoin-only business but we will bring some other promising digital assets on board. IOTA, ETHEREUM and DASH will be the first. We will also be adding silver, platinum and palladium. The wallet software will enable you to tell the card which asset you would like to spend from.”

The firm emphasized that all gold is allocated in the users’ name as their legal property so that even if Vaultoro were to experience a negative event, users’ gold holdings would be protected: even liquidators wouldn’t be able to touch the assets of the company’s clients.

“The most important thing about Vaultoro is that all physical assets are allocated to the user and are not on the company balance sheet. That means if anything happens to Vaultoro as a company, no one, not even liquidators, can touch our clients’ property because it has nothing to do with us. It’s the full property of our clients. We are figuring out if digital currencies can also be allocated under bailment laws,” Scigala said.

By allowing users to purchase gold for bitcoins and back, Vaultoro customers can benefit from the ease of BTC payments while investing in a stable asset. Unlike bitcoin or a lot of fiat currencies, gold has a very low volatility rate. Investors can invest and trade in cryptocurrencies; however, many of them dislike the volatility associated with them — especially when there is an event that drives the prices toward the bottom, like the recent Chinese regulations on bitcoin exchanges and ICOs.

“We are also working on a maker-taker trading fee model for the marketplace so people that place orders into the market don’t pay as much fee[s] as people taking an order from the order book. We hope to lift liquidity drastically.”

The post Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 8:44 am

Gravity's Pull? Litecoin Is Down 50% from All-Time Highs and Looking Lower

Litecoin is again trading below $50, just three weeks after setting a new all-time high above $100.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 8:00 am

Mastercard Hints at Plans for Blockchain Settlement System

A new patent application from Mastercard indicates that the payments giant may be looking to integrate blockchain into its payments infrastructure.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 7:00 am

Uruguay's Central Bank Announces New Digital Currency Pilot

Uruguay is the latest country to see its central bank start experimenting with its own digital currency, according to statements from its president.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 6:00 am

Dimon Knocks Bitcoin Again: Crackdown Likely on 'Worthless' Cryptocurrency

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase bank, has expanded on his recent criticism of bitcoin, warning "it will end badly" for the tech.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 5:40 am

Radical Academy: Amir Taaki's New Hacker Team Is Spreading Bitcoin in Syria - CoinDesk


Radical Academy: Amir Taaki's New Hacker Team Is Spreading Bitcoin in Syria
CoinDesk
But, through it all, the hacker – best known for writing crypto code in abandoned London flats and creating one of the earliest dark markets powered by bitcoin – has kept the technology at the forefront of his mind. Now, emerging from his latest ...

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 5:09 am

Radical Academy: Amir Taaki's New Hacker Team Is Spreading Bitcoin in Syria

Back from the front lines of Syria, infamous bitcoiner Amir Taaki plans a bitcoin-based economy in the war-torn nation, and he's looking for help.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 5:00 am

Australia's Origin Energy to Trial Blockchain Power Trading

One of Australia's largest power providers is working with blockchain startup Power Ledger on a platform aimed to facilitate energy trading.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 4:00 am

Former US Futures Commission Chair Says Regulation Solves ... - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Former US Futures Commission Chair Says Regulation Solves ...
CoinTelegraph
Former CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton: Bitcoin needs regulation.

and more »

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:43 am

Bitcoin Developers Reveal Roadmap for 'Dandelion' Privacy Project - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Developers Reveal Roadmap for 'Dandelion' Privacy Project
CoinDesk
The developers behind a bitcoin privacy solution called Dandelion have unveiled a new roadmap that addresses previously discovered code issues. Originally launched in January, Dandelion modifies the bitcoin network's payment protocol to conceal the ...

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:11 am

Bitcoin Developers Reveal Roadmap for 'Dandelion' Privacy Project

The developers behind a bitcoin privacy solution called Dandelion have unveiled a new roadmap that addresses previously discovered code issues.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 3:00 am

Raiden ICO: Ethereum Scaling Solution to Launch Publicly Traded Token

Ethereum's answer to bitcoin's Lightning Network will have one notable difference – a publicly traded token to be sold in a Dutch auction in October.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 2:00 am

Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin Volatility

Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission head Bart Chilton wrote that bitcoin's volatility indicates artificial inflation of its price.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 4:20 pm

Op Ed: Four Challenges to Consider When Launching Your Fund Raise on the Blockchain

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ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) or token sales have seen a dramatic increase over the past year as a method for raising capital. According to CoinMarketCap, Bitcoin market capitalization sits at around $70 billion at the time of writing (even after the China ICO market correction), up from $11 billion in June 2016. Overall, the cryptocurrency market cap is now over $150 billion, roughly the size of Algeria or Iraq’s GDP.

Many organizations have, therefore, become interested in using token sales (aka ICOs and token generation events) as a way of raising capital. Mostly, companies look at token sales as a way to raise startup capital; they issue “utility tokens” to avoid being classified as a security. This method is in line with traditional “crowdfunding” that companies have been doing for many years.

I also believe there is a lot of pent up demand from traditional asset classes and established companies to utilize the blockchain to raise capital and conduct their business. This is because there are a many benefits for both the issuer and the investor.

For the issuer, it’s a frictionless process of raising capital that opens up a global market of potential investors. Costs of raising capital via this process can be a fraction of what it may cost to address the same size market with a traditional raise.

For the investor, it provides access to a wider range of investment opportunities, which a regular person may never otherwise have access to. Typically, there are zero or very low investment minimums, and one can easily participate in a token sale anywhere on the globe — just set up a wallet, buy some bitcoin or ether, and get in on time. As a bonus, there’s also often the existence of a secondary market where tokens can be traded after the initial token sale, thus providing fast liquidity to those that desire it.

However, the process is not without its challenges, and there are several things to consider when launching your next fund offering on the blockchain.

What are traditional asset classes and why may a blockchain be of benefit to them?

Traditional asset classes are those that generally come up when people talk about investments. They include stocks, commodities, real estate, private equity funds and derivatives, VC funds, REITs and others.

Most, if not all, traditional assets would fall under the SEC’s definition of a security, as stipulated by the Howey test. However, due to the decentralized nature of blockchains, the U.S. is not the only jurisdiction where tokens can be sold from; many countries around the world such as Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Estonia and others are stepping up to welcome ICOs, be they utilities or a securities.

So, how is blockchain technology and tokenization beneficial to traditional asset classes? Consider this example based on the logic illustrated by Stephen McKeon. If we take real estate as an example, it’s estimated that the size of commercial real estate in the U.S. alone is about $11 trillion. Let’s say 10 percent of that can be tokenized; that immediately puts over $1 trillion of liquidity back into the marketplace and removes an “illiquidity premium” which issuers are forced to pay because investors have no way to exit their investment for a number of years. This is a win-win for both the issuer and the investor.

Challenge #1 – Jurisdiction

Even if one decides to tokenize an existing asset, there are several challenges that must be addressed, and finding the right home for your fund is key.  Since most traditional assets may be considered a security, finding the right jurisdiction will be very important during and immediately following your token generating event. Let’s take a look at some of the options available to us today.

The State of Delaware has a newly invoked law that will allow businesses to maintain shareholder lists and other corporate records on the blockchain. This move is even more significant when you consider that this jurisdiction is the corporate domicile capital of America, with 66% of Fortune 500 companies calling it home. If your plan is to make token holders Limited Partners or equity holders of your new fund, this may be a reasonable option.

Also in the U.S., Regulation A, Regulation A+ and Regulation D contain rules that could exempt entities selling securities from registering with the SEC, including a specific look at equity crowdfunding. These rules can be applied to any crowd sale, and potentially encompass token sales as well. It’s also possible to raise under Regulation S, which would exclude U.S. investors altogether, thereby removing the need for protection of unaccredited investors.

Switzerland, one of the leading centers of capital in Europe and known for recently abolishing its banking secrecy laws, has become a fintech hub and is considered a friendly jurisdiction. A number of leading Swiss companies have formed an alliance called Crypto Valley, where one of the most prominent law firms, MME, hosted a recent conversation about the legalities of token sales and what may constitute a security under Swiss law.

The Cayman Islands, a leading offshore jurisdiction with a 0 percent tax rate for foreign-controlled companies, have seen an uptick in ICOs lately. Recent token sales events from the Caymans include EOS, Domain Developers Fund and others. The Cayman Islands and other offshore jurisdictions have taken a friendly view on blockchain assets and have the service provider infrastructure in place, with lots of experience creating and operating traditional funds. I believe incorporating in the Caymans and other offshore jurisdictions have many benefits and is a practice that will continue to increase.

Estonia is another interesting example of a jurisdiction where several ICOs — which would almost certainly be considered securities in the U.S. — have been domiciled. Recently, Agrello, Polybius and a number of other companies completed successful token sales. Estonia is unique because of its e-government initiatives, which encompass e-citizenship, e-voting, e-tax and government blockchains. Further, Estonia recently announced its own cryptocurrency called Estcoin. Estonia currently doesn’t regulate crowdfunding (though some EU laws may apply) and is one of the top friendly jurisdictions for launching tokenized funds.

Challenge #2 – Knowing Your Customer

Another roadblock to conducting legal and compliant token sales is the issuer’s ability to follow KYC and AML regulations effectively. KYC (Know Your Customer) is the method in which issuers verify the identity of its investors. Many cryptocurrencies of choice for token generation events have anonymity features built in (cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Zcash are prime examples, and bitcoin can be anonymized as well). Further, the crypto investment community likes the idea of not having to go through lengthy and intrusive KYC processes. This practice doesn’t bode well for the issuer, however, since KYC is a key requirement for many banks. Strong KYC during the token generating event will make it easier to work with banks and follow AML (Anti Money Laundering) regulations.

Challenge #3 – Tax, Compliance and Custody

There are further complications with taxes, compliance and custody. There are not yet clear standards for cryptocurrency compliance to be followed. Further, if your fund is going to be holding crypto-assets and cryptocurrencies, security and custody needs to be considered. Luckily, there are some players such as Gemini that offer crypto-custody services; some reputable banks such as the Swiss Falcon Private Bank are also starting to offer bank-level cryptocurrency trading services. There are still more challenges around custody and compliance for altcoins.

On the tax side, there are open questions about treatment of virtual currencies. IRS guidance 2014-12 classifies cryptocurrencies as an asset class, imposing capital gains taxes on profits in certain situations. Some other countries such as Vietnam have proposed making digital currencies like bitcoin a form of currency. The world tax authorities still need more time to figure out how to tax this new asset class.

Challenge #4 – What Happens Next?

Once you’ve jumped through a lot of hoops and successfully executed a tokenization event for your fund, the real work starts. If you accepted U.S. investors, think about how you can prevent them from selling your tokens in the first 12 months (if you raised under Regulation D). If you didn’t accept U.S. investors, how do you prevent them from buying your tokens in the future? What exchanges do you want to list on to make sure you can comply with AML and other regulations? This is a complex process that needs to be thought of before you start planning your token generation event.

Looking to the Past

Launching a tokenized fund on the blockchain is a relatively new concept; however, we have some successful precedents. The biggest and most interesting example is Blockchain Capital, founded by Brock Pierce. Their token, BCAP, was sold under Regulation D exemption to 99 accredited U.S. investors (and unlimited foreign investors with many exceptions), who, per SEC regulation, can’t sell their tokens for 12 months. Blockchain Capital has a complex structure, with entities in Singapore, the Cayman Islands and the U.S. According to their memorandum, they spent up to 10 percent of their raise on legal expenses (they raised $10 million), which is a hefty sum. Also, questions remain: What prevents non-accredited U.S. investors from buying BCAP tokens post ICO? How are the 99 accredited investors forced to comply with the requirement to hold these tokens for the time allotted?

Conclusion

Launching token generation events for your fund can be a worthwhile activity, but you need to plan carefully and entrust your process to qualified professionals.

Some things to think about before going ahead with launching a tokenized fund:

  • Is your token a security (Howey test)?

  • Have you chosen the right jurisdiction?

  • Do you comply with the applicable regulations, including KYC and AML?

  • What are tax and custody implications for your cryptocurrency?

  • What happens after the token sale is over?



The post Op Ed: Four Challenges to Consider When Launching Your Fund Raise on the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:48 pm

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It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot—Bart Chilton—commentary - CNBC


CNBC

It's time to address bitcoin's big blind spot—Bart Chilton—commentary
CNBC
Former financial regulator Bart Chilton says if bitcoin's wild swings happened on his watch, he would've launched an investigation.
Former CFTC Commissioner: Regulation Would Solve Bitcoin ...CoinDesk

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Posted on 21 September 2017 | 1:10 pm

Why Bitcoin Could Split Into Three in November: QuickTake Q&A - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Why Bitcoin Could Split Into Three in November: QuickTake Q&A
Bloomberg
Bitcoin has become so successful that the way it operates needs upgrading, and fast. Trouble is, there are opposing views on how to do that and no all-powerful administrative body to determine which method to adopt. After all, part of bitcoin's allure ...
McAfee at Shape The Future; “Pandora's box has been opened”Bitcoin News (press release)

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Posted on 21 September 2017 | 12:33 pm

Gold Investor John Hathaway: Cryptocurrencies Are 'Garbage'

A notable asset manager who focuses primarily on gold had a harsh word for the cryptocurrency market craze this week: "garbage."

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 11:15 am

Y Combinator President Calls ICOs A 'Bubble' – But His Firm Might Use Blockchain

Y Combinator, Silicon Valley-based startup accelerator, is looking at blockchain in order to boost access to startups for investors.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 10:15 am

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Weak Demand? Bitcoin's Price Rebound May Be Starting to Fade

The rebound in bitcoin's price from the recent low of $2,980 has stalled, raising doubts as to whether the rally will continue.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 8:00 am

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation - CNBC


CNBC

How bitcoin could overcome its wild reputation
CNBC
A major problem for bitcoin is its extreme volatility, which is a cause of concern for many investors. A lack of liquidity may be to blame for the cryptocurrency's volatile nature, an expert tells CNBC. "The high volatility I think is due to the low ...

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 5:52 am

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

 Stellar, a nonprofit decentralized financial network, and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the country’s dedicated fintech platform, have published a joint report on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, organizations have raised over $1.8 billion through ICOs since January 2017. As this popular new fundraising method provides a simple and fast method to acquire serious funding, there has been “tremendous momentum” growing around ICO launches among new businesses in the blockchain industry, the report said.

On the other hand, the report also detailed that there are high risks associated with ICO investments. Since there is still a lack of regulation and control surrounding the industry, Stellar and LHoFT compared the current ICO sphere to the “Wild West” — a term that has become rather popular of late in reference to ICOs.

“ICOs raise issues for consumer protection, combating money laundering, and other regulatory compliance goals. Complications may arise from several sources, including the mechanism through which ICOs are conducted, the teams spearheading ICOs, the identities of contributors to ICOs, the quantity of money that is raised, the validity of ICOs’ technology and processes, marketing claims, and the impact that ICOs have on the greater cryptocurrency markets. All these factors must be scrutinized so that the heralded benefits of ICOs are balanced against market and legal risks as the model matures and gains broader acceptance,” the report states.

LHoFT and Stellar addressed both the upsides and the downsides of ICO fundraising. Organizations launching ICOs benefit from a built-in customer base, a committed group of customers that will stay with the product or service until it officially launches. Furthermore, according to the report, the fundraising method has positive effects on the network, can target global investors (or donors) in a non-discriminatory manner while providing a fast and easy fundraising mechanism. Additionally, retail investors are keen on participating in ICOs, and open-source projects can benefit from the fundraising method too.

Similarly, investors can benefit from the high liquidity of the tokens (sold during ICOs), in addition to being able to sell them through cryptocurrency exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, which would allow the investors to transfer the tokens easily without the authorization of the token issuer (the organization launching the ICO).

Token holders are often offered bonuses, such as “gift cards” or “licenses” that will incentivize them to support the growth and the development of the project. ICO investors also benefit from the lack of “geo-lock” — they can invest in the project no matter the location (unless specified otherwise). Most importantly, ICOs have a high potential for big gains.

On the other hand, there are plenty of risks associated with ICOs, according to the report. Firstly, ICOs lack the formal process for auditing the organizations.The writers of the study highlighted a potential problem with smart contracts: If the contract is not programmed correctly, it could lead to unexpected transfers without the authorization of the token owner. Some tokens are not based on any fundamental value, thus, may facilitate bubbles and Ponzi schemes.

Furthermore, Stellar and LHoFT emphasized the issue of “investor education” — some investors are not informed well enough about an ICO project before investing in it. The report also detailed security problems, such as phishing scams and the loss of private keys, which can result in the investors losing their tokens.

As with most cryptocurrencies, tokens also tend to be volatile. According to the report, ICO cashouts may create price distortions on the market. Furthermore, the market can be subjected to manipulation, such as the “Whales” method, in which the token issuer organization holds back a percentage of the tokens and distributes them between the team members. Both investors and organizations can experience network lag during popular ICOs, while some token distribution mechanisms can cause unpredicted difficulties for both parties.

The lack of regulations within the ICO space presents various problems for both the investors and the organizations, such as being subject to the financial regulations of multiple jurisdictions. The anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency sphere can result in many of the investors being seen only as pseudonyms, which could cause issues for law enforcement and regulators. Since there is uncertainty about the taxation of tokens, both investors and organizations could face legal issues, such as tax evasion charges. Furthermore, the report discusses that there is an increasing concern that ICOs can be used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.

The post Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 12:35 pm

Decred Adds Atomic Swap Support for Exchange-Free Cryptocurrency Trading

Decred Adds Support for Atomic Swaps for Direct Cryptocurrency Trading Without Exchanges

Decred is announcing support for on-chain atomic swaps, which will allow cryptocurrency holders to trade directly, without having to rely on external exchanges. The cryptocurrencies initially supported are Decred (DCR), Bitcoin (BTC) and Litecoin (LTC).

“Support for on-chain atomic swaps is extremely useful,”Jake Yocom-Piatt, Decred Project Lead said in a statement. “Thanks to the foresight of the Lightning Network authors and developers, and the dedication of our own developers, it is our pleasure to deliver an important capability that has been discussed since the concept of cross-chain atomic transfers was proposed in 2013.”

Users can already begin performing exchanges between DCR, BTC and LTC using tools that the Decred developers have created. The tools are text-based at the moment, but will be integrated into the Decrediton GUI wallet in a future release.

According to the Decred team, this advancement disintermediates the exchange process, allowing for greater market fluency. It also delivers on the market desire for improved interoperability between currencies and the demand for new efficiencies that drive investor value.

"This is the first step in a progression toward high-utility, non-Turing complete smart contracts,” Yocom-Piatt told Bitcoin Magazine. “We look forward to a new generation of greater fluency between projects. It was a pleasure collaborating with the dev teams at Litecoin and Lighting Labs."

The concept of atomic swaps (or atomic cross-chain trading) were first described by Tier Nolan back in 2013. A previous Bitcoin Magazine article provides a step-by-step explanation of a simple example where two users agree to swap agreed amounts of BTC and LTC and use the multisig and time lock features available in both Bitcoin and Litecoin basic scripting to synchronize two transactions on two independent blockchains without having to trust each other.

Yesterday I did an on-chain atomic swap of 1.337 LTC for 2.4066 DCR w/ @_alyp_ of @decredproject. (See txns: https://t.co/BlxU1QBK2U) ⛓️⚛️💱🚀 https://t.co/wPqzdw40Gp

— Charlie Lee (@SatoshiLite) September 20, 2017

It’s worth noting that Lightning Network payment channels, now enabled by SegWit, make atomic swaps more powerful and easier to implement, and permit adding support for off-chain swaps.

“The addition of LN support allows for both on-chain and off-chain atomic swaps, meaning that trustless cross chain exchanges can occur,” noted Yocom-Piatt. “Since supporting LN does not break any existing functionality and only adds to Decred’s capabilities as a system of value storage and transmission, it is a very attractive target for addition to Decred.”

“On-chain atomic swaps are an important step towards enabling peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading,” said Laolu Osuntokun, Lightning Network Daemon (LND) lead developer. “We are excited for this process to continue with off-chain atomic swaps over the Lightning Network in the near future. By taking this process off-chain, substantial latency and privacy improvements can occur.”

Decred (DCR) describes itself as “digital currency for the people,” completely independent, community funded and community owned. The project wants to build an open and progressive cryptocurrency with a system of community-based governance integrated into its blockchain,  including a hybrid consensus system to ensure that no group can control the flow of transactions or make changes to the currency without the input of the community.

“Decred is Bitcoin as it should have been,” noted crypto-investor Jon Creasy. “Bitcoin would be of the people, for the people. As great an idea as this was, however, Bitcoin soon became controlled by an ‘oligarchy,’ so to speak.”

It’s important to note that some countries, such as China, are attacking cryptocurrency exchanges as the weakest links in the crypto ecosystem. The Decred move shows that, at least for crypto-to-crypto trading (for example, exchanging bitcoin for litecoin), it’s perfectly possible to operate without exchanges. However, it doesn’t solve the problem of crypto-to-fiat and fiat-to-crypto trading, which is arguably of top concern for cryptocurrency users.

The post Decred Adds Atomic Swap Support for Exchange-Free Cryptocurrency Trading appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 8:14 am

GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership

GoldMint Header

Reflecting gold’s historical repute as a scarce and valued resource, Bitcoin has become known in many investment circles as “digital gold.” With its unprecedented rise, Bitcoin’s worth is now estimated to be about twice that of an ounce of physical gold.

On August 7, 2017, the startup GoldMint was launched with the intent of ushering in a new digital era of gold as a store of value. This project aims to provide a unique set of gold ownership solutions for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts worldwide. It is holding an initial coin offering (ICO) that starts in less than 12 hours. 

The GoldMint project reaffirms the notion that physical gold is a respected method of payment and wealth preservation, all tied to its value and scarcity. Gold ownership, however, requires expensive security, safekeeping and insurance. GoldMint’s innovative approach seeks to address these inherent issues.

GoldMint purchases, sells and repurchases their native digital asset called

“GOLD,” which is 100 percent backed by physical gold. It features an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) which can be utilized as a payment and investment tool for both companies and individuals in hedging risk.

Capitalizing off of the inherent advantages of its physical counterpart,

GOLD tokens offer a stable, transparent, non-volatile means of buffering one’s crypto portfolio from wild market swings. Here, GoldMint is committed to ensuring that GOLD delivers consistent value through paper assets like ETFs and futures as well as through physical assets. Moreover, GOLD owners will be able to use their tokens to secure guarantees, loans and escrow services, all at a modest 5 percent purchase and 3 percent sale fee.

GoldMint will also deliver a utility token known as “MNT” to facilitate operations, implement smart contracts and incentivize block creation and transaction confirmation.

During the early stages of this project, MNT will be sold and distributed on the Ethereum blockchain. After the MNT distribution has taken place, Goldmint will launch its own Graphene -based Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain that offers a safer, more productive and faster experience.

Minting the Blockchain

GoldMint utilizes a blockchain ledger to execute trades, loans and investments for profit. The following are what make the GOLD crypto asset unique:

  • 100 percent information transparency relative to all GoldMint GOLD. The company discloses its gold reserves, fostering the opportunity to buy back GOLD at its current trading price.
  • GoldMint utilizes the decentralized blockchain for smart contracts and for its crypto assets.
  • ETFs are used for liquidity and elasticity facilitating gold trades which are far faster than those of physical gold.
  • Secured loans can be leveraged with GOLD, like jewelry or coins. GoldMint assists in the storage of this collateral through its unique Custody Bot, a blockchain-connected robot used for inspection, temporary and long-term storage and the transfer of physical gold, jewelry, coins or gold bullion.
  • Members have the ability to earn passive income as the market price of GOLD rises.
  • An option which allows for the buyback of GOLD for fiat according to the current price of GOLD.
  • A fast and efficient user registration and identification system.

To support merchants and developers, GoldMint is in the process of releasing an application programming interface (API) for the development of third-party apps and other interfaces. Use of this API will allow online stores to accept GOLD as a payment method, enable loans to be secured by banks and provide access to services such as escrow accounts and financial guarantees.

The Goldmint Team

Goldmint is led by CEO Dmitry Plutschevsky, who co-founded Lot-Zoloto — a gold trading company based in Russia with trading transactions totaling $100 million in 2017 — with former banker Konstantin Romanov. Serg Umansky, head of portfolio management at Whiteridge Investment Funds, Alex Butmanov, managing partner at DTI and Julian Zegelman, managing partner at Velton Zegelman, are among the advisors of the company

GoldMint founders predict that its unique value proposition will disrupt the billion-dollar gold market, allowing GoldMint to establish itself as a market leader in the coming cryptocurrency revolution.

To learn more about GoldMint and participate in its token sale, visit its website, read the white paper and follow the company’s social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

The post GoldMint and the Future of Gold Ownership appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 September 2017 | 3:51 pm

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

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

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

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

September 22, 2017 -
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