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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

Legal Implications Surrounding Bitcoin - Westlaw Insider (blog)


Westlaw Insider (blog)

Legal Implications Surrounding Bitcoin
Westlaw Insider (blog)
Bitcoin has been making its way into the news and into legal discussion for the past couple years and more so now as its value continues to rise. Bitcoin is a decentralized, virtual, form of currency, created in 2009. Bitcoin is decentralized because ...

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 9:56 am

Illicit Cryptocurrency Use Targeted in Proposed 2018 FBI Budget

Cryptocurrency is being cited by the FBI as a reason it needs to increase its spending in an effort to combat more advanced cybercrime.

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 9:25 am

Amazon's 6000 Percent 1990s Growth Still Beats Bitcoin, Ethereum - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Amazon's 6000 Percent 1990s Growth Still Beats Bitcoin, Ethereum
CoinTelegraph
Only from 2009-2010 did virtual currency stage some form of a win, in the form of a still-nascent Bitcoin increase of around 4,000 percent. “Amazon rose more than 6,000% in its first two years after its public offering,” the publication reflects ...
Bitcoin And Ethereum Crash... For A Few MinutesSeeking Alpha
This Investment is just like buying Bitcoin in 2012newsBTC
Ether Price Analysis: Here's What Just Went DownBitcoin Magazine
Nasdaq -Live Bitcoin News -Futurism
all 41 news articles »

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 7:08 am

IMF's Lagarde Touts Distributed Ledger as Defense Against Terror

The head of one of the world's largest financial organizations has issued new comments addressing blockchain trends.

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 6:53 am

Identity without the Blockchain? Skepticism Grows for Once-Hot Use Case

Launched at the UN, the ID2020 Alliance is seeking to revolutionize identity, but will blockchain be the technology of choice?

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 6:30 am

This play beats bitcoin with 100%-plus returns — and it's less risky - MarketWatch


MarketWatch

This play beats bitcoin with 100%-plus returns — and it's less risky
MarketWatch
The Eurekahedge index not only beat traditional hedge funds, it even blew bitcoin itself out of the water. Between June 2013 and April this year, the index shows eye-popping cumulative returns of 2,152.32%, versus 1,408.11% for the Bitcoin Price Index.

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 5:26 am

Bitcoin Startup Blockchain Raises $40 Million Series B

Bitcoin wallet software startup Blockchain has raised $40m in Series B funding to continue its mission of improving financial services.

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 5:08 am

Buddhist Monks Said to Be Targeted by Bitcoin Pyramid Scheme

A bitcoin-focused pyramid scheme appears to have targeted Buddhist meditation practitioners in Thailand, according to a local news source.

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 5:00 am

Power to the User: Accenture & Microsoft Are Changing Identity with Ethereum

Centralized ways to prove identity may now have an expiration date, thanks to a new blockchain prototype jointly built by Microsoft and Accenture.

Source

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 4:00 am

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Bitcoin Startup Blockchain Taps $40 Million in New Funding - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin Startup Blockchain Taps $40 Million in New Funding
Bloomberg
Blockchain, the London-based bitcoin currency service provider, has raised $40 million of fresh funding, representing one of the largest investment rounds in the financial technology sector since Britain's vote to leave the European Union. New ...
Bitcoin Startup Blockchain Raises $40 Million Series BCoinDesk
Blockchain bitcoin wallet start-up raises $40 million from Google, billionaire Richard BransonCNBC
Bitcoin Startup Blockchain Raises Record $40 Million in Google Ventures-led Series BCryptoCoinsNews

all 15 news articles »

Posted on 22 June 2017 | 3:57 am

How big is bitcoin, really? This chart puts it all in perspective - MarketWatch


MarketWatch

How big is bitcoin, really? This chart puts it all in perspective
MarketWatch
Bitcoin burst into our financial consciousness like a fiery comet, setting the internet ablaze with visions of upending the existing global money system. Yet, by its nature as a cybercurrency, whose legitimacy only exists in the ether, its credibility ...

and more »

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 2:19 pm

Ether Price Analysis: Here’s What Just Went Down

Ether Price Analysis

A few days ago, just before a 25% market pullback, ETH-USD reached all-time high values upward of $420 as ICO investors desperately tried to accumulate ether to purchase Bancor tokens. The Bancor ICO was single-handedly responsible for congesting the Ethereum networks as users scrambled to get their ICO orders in time. This created a scenario where individuals were spending large sums of ETH to expedite their transactions and push other transaction times further and further back — the sheer volume of which could not be handled by many exchanges and wallets.

Coinbase Status.png

Figure 1: Coinbase Ethereum Transactions Delayed

Across multiple exchanges, messages like the one above began popping up yesterday as the perfect storm of ICO congestion from “Status” met a flood of ETH being sold off to BTC via the ETH-BTC markets (shown in yellow in the figure below). At the time of this article, the aftermath of the Status ICO is still being felt as many wallets and exchanges still have Ether-related services disabled. coinbase-ethbtc-Jun-21-2017-14-41-33.png

Figure 2: ETH-BTC, 1 HR Candles, GDAX

Once the services begin to open up and allow cold storage holders to get their coins on the market, one can only speculate how far the price will continue to be pushed down. Given the long-term, bearish indicators on the ETH-USD markets, it is entirely possible that we will see further tests of the lower support levels (shown in brown). The relatively low volume on this recent dip indicates the real price action has yet to truly begin. Because of the backlogged transactions from the Status ICO event, the volume we have seen thus far has mostly likely only been by those who held their coins on the exchange. The MACD and RSI (indicators of market momentum) are showing no sign of divergence (market momentum reversal) and there is very little upward pressure to keep the price aloft.

coinbase-ethusd-Jun-21-2017-15-55-12.png

Figure 3: ETH-USD, 6 HR Candles, GDAX

Where the bottom of this bear run truly lies remains to be seen. However, for the first time since the double-digit values, the 1-day candles are showing a bearish trend on the MACD (shown in purple), and the RSI is showing a loss of momentum (divergence shown in orange). As it stands, ETH-USD is sitting on the first Fibonacci Retracement Line at ~$315 where it is flirting with the idea of lower values.

kraken-ethusd-Jun-21-2017-16-13-58.png

Figure 4: ETH-USD, 1 Day Candles, Kraken

Bancor and Status set record transaction volumes and accumulated millions of USD in the form of ETH. Is $300 the bottom of this Bear Run? Maybe. But one has to ask, “What would you do if you just had two of the largest ICOs in history, where the value of the ETH used to fund your project is at all time high values? Would you watch your capital dwindle away under bearish conditions, or would you cash out?"

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and 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 Ether Price Analysis: Here’s What Just Went Down appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 2:10 pm

Startups See Service Outages Amid Ethereum Blockchain Backlog

The ethereum network's transaction backlog has ensnared a number of cryptocurrency exchanges.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 1:25 pm

NSA 'DoubleStar' Backdoor Blamed for Cryptocurrency Mining Malware

A type of cryptocurrency mining malware has spread due to an exploit developed by the US National Security Agency.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 11:30 am

More Universities Add Blockchain Courses to Meet Market Demand

More Universities Add Blockchain Courses to Meet Market Demand

In recent months, there has been a surge in the demand for blockchain professionals. Data from the professional networking site LinkedIn has shown that blockchain related job postings have tripled in the last 12 months. This shows that there is a high demand for blockchain experts as the potential and applicability of blockchain technology becomes more apparent to corporations. Recognizing this opportunity, several universities have added blockchain studies to their fields of study to tailor their educational offerings to these new developments in the job market.

The University of Edinburgh, for example, has recently announced the launch of a blockchain technology laboratory within its School of Informatics through a collaboration with technology startup Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK). The new lab will focus primarily on blockchain studies. However, related interdisciplinary research will be also encouraged.

Speaking at the launch of the blockchain technology lab, IOHK Co-Founder, Jeremy Wood stated: “IOHK’s partnership with the University of Edinburgh provides unique opportunities for current students to become the next generation of blockchain and cryptography leaders. As a headquarters for IOHK’s international academic research community, we expect to see the university facilitate innovative projects that drive how businesses and governments approach blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”

The University of Edinburgh now joins a small but growing list of educational institutions that are including courses on blockchain technology in their curricula.

Though the University of Edinburgh is the first to offer a blockchain course of this kind in the United Kingdom, universities in the U.S. have already been doing so for a while. Stanford University began offering a course on cryptocurrencies, blockchains and smart contracts two years ago, while the University of California, Berkeley also offers a blockchain course.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is in the process of developing a course on the subject matter, while the University of Nicosia in Cyprus is offering the world’s first MSc in Digital Currency. The master's degree covers all key areas of digital currencies such as regulation, cryptography and blockchain technology applications. Students can even pay the tuition fees for the degree in bitcoin.

There are also a number of online courses created to cater to the rising demand for blockchain expertise. Princeton University has partnered with online learning platform Coursera to provide an intensive 11-week course on bitcoin and cryptocurrency technology.

The Blockchain University and the B9lab also offer blockchain and cryptocurrency courses designed to cater to professionals who are seeking to improve their knowledge and have a competitive edge in the industry.

The CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium (C4) includes Andreas Antonopoulos, Vitalik Buterin, Pamela Morgan, Josh McDougall and Michael Perklin on its board of directors. It offers cryptocurrency courses and provides participants with professional certificates upon completion. Certified Bitcoin Professional (CBP), Certified Bitcoin Expert (CBE), and Certified Ethereum Developer (CED) are the three professional certifications available.

The rise in blockchain related courses both online and in leading educational institutions is a testament to growing confidence in the technology's ability to disrupt industry in the future. Blockchain technology is now being recognized as an applicable solution to real world business challenges and that is reflected in both the job market as well as in educational courses on offer.

The post More Universities Add Blockchain Courses to Meet Market Demand appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 11:28 am

Dogecoin Creator Jackson Palmer Is Concerned About Ethereum’s ICO Bubble

Dogecoin Creator Jackson Palmer Is Concerned About Ethereum’s ICO Bubble

One of the biggest stories in cryptocurrency over the past couple of months has been the meteoric rise of the ether price and the speculative frenzy around the Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) launching on top of the Ethereum platform. In a recent video uploaded to his personal YouTube channel, Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer shared some of his thoughts on ICOs and their effect on the ether price.

“The real reason the [ether] price has been going up something like a hundred dollars per week for the past month is really just greed: greed from developers, greed from investors [and] greed from everybody in this speculative market,” said Palmer in a summary of his main point on the topic of Ethereum and ICOs. “And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. People making money is how the world works. But it’s the way in which it’s been happening and the speed at which people have been doing these ICOs that is a little bit concerning.”

This Is Not Our First Rodeo with ICOs

Before getting into the details of the current speculative bubble around ICOs, Palmer pointed out that this is not the cryptocurrency community’s first rodeo when it comes to these sorts of token sales and speculative investment opportunities.

As specific examples of past token sales from an earlier time, Palmer pointed to Mastercoin (now Omni) and Ethereum itself.

Then there was Havelock Investments, “literally a platform where you could buy securities or invest and get equity in a company based on bitcoin,” added Palmer.

In addition to Havelock Investments, public offerings for investment were also made on platforms such as Bitfunder, BTC-TC and GLBSE.

Palmer also brought up several infamous cases of bad investments or outright scams from the past.

He discussed Neo & Bee, a startup that failed in spectacular fashion after raising funds through various bitcoin-based stock exchanges. Cyprus eventually issued an arrest warrant for Neo & Bee CEO Danny Brewster.

Then Palmer also recalled the infamous case of Josh Garza and his schemes related to cloud mining and the altcoin known as Paycoin.

“They launched a coin that was literally just a token to facilitate their Ponzi scheme,” said Palmer. “And they would actually sell a product that didn’t exist.”

Why Are We Seeing a Flurry of ICOs Right Now?

So, if these sorts of schemes have existed in the past, why are we seeing a boom around the concept today? In Palmer’s view, Ethereum’s ERC20 token standard has made it easier for anyone to launch a token sale on their own.

“Because it’s so easy and a standard to copy, there’s been a lot of people that can just fire up an ICO in a couple of minutes,” said Palmer. “There’s actually a couple of websites out there that’ll let you generate an ICO or generate a token on Ethereum with no coding required.”

Although previous token sales did not involve much more than a Bitcoin address and a spreadsheet, Palmer said there’s something more tangible about the process on Ethereum.

“Something that is more tangible about Ethereum ICOs is that when you send the ether to the contract, the Ethereum network does recognize — and many wallets out there because of the ERC20 standard will recognize — that you got whatever coin or whatever token shows up in your wallet,” said Palmer. “So, it’s a lot more tangible. You’re not just sending money somewhere and never hearing about it again.”

Palmer added that developers need to take a step back and question whether it’s right for them to raise $150 million for their “little startup.” As a comparison, Palmer noted that normal seed round funding for a startup is between half a million to a million dollars.

“Many of them don’t even have a tangible product yet,” claimed Palmer.

While Palmer’s video casted a cautious tone over the entire ICO market, he did mention Status.im and Civic as two projects with legitimate, tangible technology behind them.

How Are These ICOs Affecting the Price of Ether?

Another aspect of the speculation around Ethereum-based ICOs is the effect these digital assets have had on the price of ether. There’s been a flurry of ICOs launched on the platform in the past few months, with some projects raising over $100 million in a matter of minutes.

“When [an ICO is launched], the only way to buy into these ERC20 contracts or these ICOs is through ether or Ethereum, so if these companies are raising $150 million in ether, that’s locking that ether up in that contract,” said Palmer. “And so, it’s taking that money off the market. So, what happens is you have this shortened supply, but there’s an ICO coming on the market every single week. And so, people are getting really excited about this and trying to buy up ether.

“This is what’s really happening,” Palmer continued. “This is what’s driving the bulk of the [ether] purchases and trade right now is people buying ether to send to a contract in the hope they’ll get rich quick off one of these ICOs.”

In Palmer’s view, the speculative boom and FOMO driven by the ICO market has spilled out into the entire cryptocurrency market.

Watch the full video here:


The post Dogecoin Creator Jackson Palmer Is Concerned About Ethereum’s ICO Bubble appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 10:49 am

Porsche Names Winner of Blockchain Startup Contest

German automaker Porsche has revealed the winner of a blockchain startup competition first announced in April.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 10:30 am

China's ZhongAn Unveils Blockchain Tech for Food Supply Chain

One day you may be able to check where your chicken was bred, raised, processed and examined.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 9:15 am

Op Ed: How Cryptocurrency Holders Can Diversify While Deferring Taxes

Quasi-charitable Trusts: How Cryptocurrency Holders Can Diversify While Deferring Taxes

With the historic rally in Bitcoin and Ethereum, there are more investors than ever seeking to diversify their newly expanded cryptocurrency holdings. Whether this diversification involves exchanging cryptocurrency for fiat, other cryptocurrencies or a mix of both, the downside can be capital gains tax exposure.

Capital gains (if the underlying property has been held for over a year) are taxed at 15 percent, 18.8 percent or 23.8 percent, dependent upon the amount of income received during the year. One common method of tax reduction is to spread sales/exchanges over multiple years, in order to “soak up” the maximum amount of income into the 15 percent and 18.8 percent brackets.

If you're seeking to diversify, it’s really only practical to spread sales over a few years at most. But what if there were a way to sell immediately while still deferring this capital gains income over a much longer period, such as 20 years or even a lifetime? And what if this method were able to also provide some benefit to charity, with a corresponding charitable deduction?

Enter the Charitable Remainder Trust

This can actually be done with a quasi-charitable trust, namely a charitable remainder trust. With a charitable remainder trust, you contribute some amount of your cryptocurrency to a trust before selling. The trust then sells the cryptocurrency (or otherwise diversifies) on a completely tax-free basis. The proceeds of sale stay within the trust, where they can be reinvested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, other cryptocurrency or almost any other investment asset.

In exchange for your contribution of cryptocurrency, the trust makes a payment to you each year for so long as you are alive. (You can alternatively choose to have the payment made for the joint lives of you and your spouse, or some shorter fixed term of years.) You choose the amount of this annual payment at the time you create the trust.

The whole process is sort of like receiving an annuity in exchange for your cryptocurrency. This payment can be a fixed amount, or it can be expressed as a fluctuating percentage of trust assets each year. When you pass away, whatever is left passes to a charity of your choice.

There are numerous tax benefits:

  1. The sale or exchange of cryptocurrency is completely tax-free.

  2. You personally only pay tax each year on the annual payment you receive from the trust. So if you use a charitable remainder trust to sell $5M of Bitcoin in 2017, but your annual payment for the rest of your life is $250,000 per year, then you only pay tax on $250,000 in 2017. This payment would be taxed at favorable capital gains rates. Depending on the amount of your other annual income, this strategy will likely keep you in the lower capital gains brackets.

  3. In the year of trust creation, you receive an income tax deduction equal to the actuarial value of the charity’s projected gift. This actuarial value is a calculation done by your attorney-CPA. The smaller the payment you select, the larger the charitable deduction. Assuming you choose an appropriate charity, the deduction can be used to reduce up to 30 percent of your income in a given year, and any unusable amount carries forward for up to five future years. For example, if a 42-year-old man were to contribute $2.5M of cryptocurrency to a charitable remainder trust in 2017 and selected an annual payment equal to 5 percent of trust assets, he would receive a charitable deduction of approximately $480,000 (at current IRS rates). That deduction could be used against his taxable income in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

You can even reserve the right to serve as trustee of the trust and to change the charitable remainder beneficiary whenever you please.

There are of course many technical caveats that need to be complied with. Most important, the IRS requires that the actuarial value of the charity’s share must be at least 10 percent of the assets contributed to the trust. Be sure to consult with appropriate counsel to ensure you meet the 10 percent rule and other technical requirements.

If you are looking to reduce and defer income taxes while keeping a guaranteed income for life and doing some good in the process, a charitable remainder trust can be the way to go.

This article is a guest post by Jeff Vandrew Jr. It does not necessarily reflect the views of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine and is for general information purposes only; it should not be taken as investment advice. Investors should conduct their own due diligence and consult with a qualified tax/investment professional before attempting anything described in this article.

The post Op Ed: How Cryptocurrency Holders Can Diversify While Deferring Taxes appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 8:47 am

Cambodia's Central Bank Pushes Ahead with Blockchain Payments Trials

The National Bank of Cambodia has said it will continue to develop interbank payment solutions using blockchain tech.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 8:15 am

No ICO: Hedge Fund Numerai Releases Blockchain Token But Skips the Funding

Autonomous hedge fund startup Numerai is releasing a new token today, though in a way that deviates from recent market trends.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 7:10 am

Armed with an Ethereum ICO, Can Kik Succeed Where Facebook Failed?

Social media platform Kik opens up about its plans to launch a cryptocurrency, saying the move could fulfill long-held business goals.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 5:30 am

Uniform Law Commission Sets Date for Debate on Digital Currency Rules

The creators of model digital currency regulation for use by US lawmakers are set to convene to discuss key obstacles this July.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 4:00 am

IBM Announces Blockchain Truck-Tracking Solution

IBM has teamed up with Colombian logistics firm AOS to develop a solution that uses blockchain and the Internet of Things to track deliveries.

Source

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 3:55 am

A Bitcoin Scaling Upgrade: How It Could Finally Happen (And How It Could Fail) - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

A Bitcoin Scaling Upgrade: How It Could Finally Happen (And How It Could Fail)
CoinDesk
After convening in a meeting in May, a group of entrepreneurs and miners put forward Segwit2x, certainly not the first, but arguably the most advanced alternative to the roadmap long advocated by Bitcoin Core, the network's open-source developer group.

and more »

Posted on 21 June 2017 | 3:04 am

ICO Blues: Status Raises $64 Million (So Far) But Leaves Buyers Waiting

A much-anticipated ICO helped a project called Status raise more than $60m in funds, though many would-be buyers were left locked out.

Source

Posted on 20 June 2017 | 3:20 pm

The first investor in Snapchat explains why the bitcoin rally is just getting started - CNBC


CNBC

The first investor in Snapchat explains why the bitcoin rally is just getting started
CNBC
Uncertainty about governments could make cryptocurrency like bitcoin an even more in-demand commodity, said Lightspeed Venture Partners partner Jeremy Liew. "Bitcoin and the other digital currencies, they all really see a lot of benefit in times of ...

and more »

Posted on 20 June 2017 | 2:23 pm

This high school dropout who invested in bitcoin at $12 is now a millionaire at 18 - CNBC


CNBC

This high school dropout who invested in bitcoin at $12 is now a millionaire at 18
CNBC
Erik Finman made a bet with his parents that if he turned 18 and was a millionaire, they wouldn't force him to go to college. Thanks to his savvy investments in bitcoin and the current all-time high valuation, he won't have to get his degree. "I can ...
Bitcoin investments turn high school dropout into 18-year-old millionaireThe Daily Dot

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 20 June 2017 | 1:50 pm

Bitcoin Miners Are Signaling Support for the New York Agreement: Here’s What that Means

Miners Are Signaling Support for the New York Agreement: Here’s What that Means.

As of today, over 80 percent of miners (by hash power) are including the letters “NYA” in the blocks they mine. This follows the publication of letters (translation) in which a group of Chinese Bitcoin companies — notably including most mining pool operators — announced that they would signal support for “the New York Agreement.”

Here’s what this means in the context of Bitcoin Core’s scaling roadmap, the upcoming BIP148 user activated soft fork (UASF) on August 1, 2017, and Bitcoin’s broader scaling debate.

The New York Agreement

The New York Agreement, sometimes referred to as “the Silbert Accord” or “SegWit2x,” is a scaling agreement forged within a significant group of international Bitcoin companies and published just before the Consensus 2017 conference in New York last May. Based on this agreement, a fork of the Bitcoin Core software client is being developed under the name “BTC1.” BTC1 developer Jeff Garzik announced the alpha release of this software last week.

While technical specifics for BTC1 are still being worked out, it seems that rollout of the New York Agreement essentially consists of two stages.

The first stage regards deployment of Segregated Witness (SegWit), the backwards compatible protocol upgrade originally proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team. With 80 percent has power support, BTC1 should actually trigger activation of the SegWit implementation embedded in Bitcoin Core clients and should also be compatible with BIP148 clients as long as activation happens before August 1st. With BTC1’s “official” release date set for July 21st, this should be possible.

The second stage concerns the deployment of the hard fork itself, which is not backwards compatible with older Bitcoin clients. This hard fork would double Bitcoin’s “base block size limit” to two megabytes, which combined with the block size limit increase brought by Segregated Witness should make for a total maximum of eight megabytes of block space. This is scheduled for exactly three months after activation of the first stage. So if the “BIP148 deadline” of August 1st is met, the second stage should go into effect before November 1, 2017.

Through letters published shortly after the announcement of the BTC1 alpha software, Chinese mining pool operators confirmed their intent to honor the New York Agreement. Additionally, they announced to include the letters “NYA” in their “coinbase strings.” That’s what we’ve been seeing today.

So what does this “NYA” string actually mean?

Signaling and Signaling

For each block miners mine, they get to send themselves one transaction that includes brand new bitcoins. This is called the “coinbase transaction.” (Not to be confused with the company “Coinbase.”) Like all transactions, this transaction can include a little bit of extra data that actually has nothing to do with the transaction itself. This is what miners sometimes use to “signal” information to the rest of the world.

But broadly speaking, there are really two types of “signaling.”

The first type is signaling support. This requires that actual Bitcoin software has been written to monitor the signals and, once these signals reach some kind of threshold, something actually activates in all of these Bitcoin clients. For example, code for the Segregated Witness soft fork as included in Bitcoin Core clients, will enforce the Segregated Witness rules once 95 percent of newly mined blocks include a specific piece of data in the coinbase strings. If that happens, all these nodes will actually reject transactions and blocks that break the SegWit rules. (Edit: It should be noted that SegWit signaling doesn't use the coinbase transaction for signaling, but the block header.)

The second type is signaling intent. As opposed to signaling support, signaling intent doesn’t actually do anything on a technical level. Rather, it's literally miners sending a message to the world, which has in the past, for example, been used to state a preference for a potential scaling solution. (While miners can also do this through letters or blog posts, coinbase signaling cannot possibly be faked, so it’s a bit more reliable.)

The recent “NYA” signaling is of the second type. It doesn’t actually trigger any code, but it instead lets the world know that the miners intend to support the New York Agreement. Specifically, they seem to indicate that they will be signaling support for the New York Agreement once the BTC1 client is officially released: presumably by July 21st, or at least in time for August 1st. (Though earlier is possible, too.)

But notably, most miners are not signaling support yet — even though it’d be possible to activate SegWit through existing activation methods implemented in Bitcoin Core or BIP148 clients straight away.

Hard Fork

The technical specifics for BTC1 are still being worked out, and that’s especially true for the hard fork part of it.

Right now, it seems that signaling support for SegWit2x should also trigger the hard fork code to be implemented in all BTC1 clients — but only three months down the road. So if SegWit activates before August, BTC1 users should start accepting, and potentially mining, “base blocks” larger than one megabyte by November. In fact, the first base block on the BTC1-chain, the “cut-off block,” will likely even have to be bigger than one megabyte.

But it’s far from certain that most non-BTC1 clients will follow this chain. Most notably, the odds of Bitcoin Core — currently the dominant client on the network — adopting the SegWit2x hard fork seem slim. None of the regular Bitcoin Core contributors were part of the New York Agreement, none of them support it, and contentious hard forks have so far not been implemented by the Bitcoin Core development team, more or less as a matter of policy. And even if the Bitcoin Core development team does merge the hard fork code, it would require all users to upgrade to this new version, which is probably even less likely.

As such, if BTC1 users — such as the New York Agreement signatories — follow through and actually run the software three months after the soft fork, there will likely be a split in the Bitcoin network. Some nodes will follow a chain with bigger blocks, some will stick to smaller blocks, and there would effectively be two different coins with a shared history.

But it is too soon to say how such a scenario will play out exactly —  or if it will happen in the first place. Three months is a long time in Bitcoin terms and, in the end, neither written agreements, nor signaling intent are binding on a Bitcoin protocol level.

The post Bitcoin Miners Are Signaling Support for the New York Agreement: Here’s What that Means appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 June 2017 | 11:34 am

Project TITANIUM: The EU’s Plan to Decloak Cryptocurrency

Project TITANIUM: The EU’s Plan to Decloak Cryptocurrency

Project TITANIUM: The EU’s Plan to Decloak Cryptocurrency

Monitor blockchains, deanonymize wallet addresses, surveil dark net markets, and stop terrorists and money launderers: that’s the main thrust of the European Union’s Project TITANIUM.

TITANIUM, which stands for Tools for the Investigation of Transactions in Underground Markets, is a three-year, €5 million ($5.5 million) project that will unite universities, private research firms and law enforcement agencies from the U.K., Germany, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland.

Project TITANIUM will develop tools and best practices for criminal investigations involving cryptocurrency in Europe, which, up to now, most law enforcement agencies have pursued on an ad-hoc basis.

The project plans to create forensic tools to spot clusters of addresses controlled by the same entity; identify mixers or tumbler addresses used for money laundering; crawl the webs, both clear and dark; and automate information gathering about illegal activities.

The project’s coordinator, Dr. Ross King of the Austrian Institute of Technology, said that criminal and terrorist uses of cryptocurrencies and dark net markets “evolve quickly.” King also insisted that Project TITANIUM would respect “citizen privacy.”

Project TITANIUM’s announcement comes just a few weeks after the ransomware worm WannaCry disabled hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. As of June 15, 2017, the hardcoded wallet addresses used by the attackers have collected about 50 BTC in ransom payments.

The project’s scope covers terrorism, as well as crime, and back-to-back attacks in Manchester and London have ignited calls for more sweeping government action to combat extremism.

On June 4, 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May called for “international agreements to regulate cyberspace” and to deny violent extremists “safe spaces” online. With terrorism in the background, cooperation on internal security matters like Project TITANIUM is likely to continue even after the U.K. formally exits the EU.

The call for more surveillance comes despite the fact that the United Kingdom already has one of the most wide-ranging surveillance laws, the Investigatory Powers Act, which went into force December 30, 2016.

Nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter, the act requires ISPs keep record of all websites users visit for one year and allows police and other public agencies to check anyone’s history without a warrant.

Meanwhile, the EU is mulling a more direct approach to the problem of cryptocurrency. According to a proposed directive released on March 9, 2017, the EU could require exchanges and wallet providers to submit account owners’ identities to a central database.

The directive goes on that “virtual currencies should not be anonymous,” and that the anonymity or pseudo-anonymity of cryptocurrencies is “more a hindrance than an asset” for legitimate users.

The rules would not just apply to bitcoin, but all “virtual currencies,” and would effectively ban anonymous cryptocurrency, at least in the EU. The proposed directive is intended to combat money laundering and terrorism, despite scant evidence that cryptocurrencies play a prominent role in either.

Nevertheless, with or without evidence that they are empowering terrorists, the anonymous or pseudo-anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies is threatening to European lawmakers, and whether through legislation or projects like TITANIUM, they intend to decloak cryptocurrency.

The post Project TITANIUM: The EU’s Plan to Decloak Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 June 2017 | 12:55 pm

BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole

BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole

Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate appeared to be heading toward a climax lately, with two proposals gaining significant traction. At one end of the fence there is Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP148), a user activated soft fork (UASF) originally proposed by the pseudonymous developer “shaolinfry.” On the other, there’s SegWit2x, an agreement forged between a significant number of Bitcoin companies and miners.

The good news is that both of these proposals have a short-term solution in common: both plan to activate Segregated Witness (SegWit) this summer. The bad news is that the activation method of the two has differed, which could lead to a coin-split.

As of today, it seems this schism will be avoided — at least initially. The SegWit2x development team plans to implement BIP91, a proposal by Bitmain Warranty engineer James Hilliard that cleverly makes the two conflicting activation methods compatible.

Here’s how.

BIP141

The current implementation of Segregated Witness is defined by BIP141. This version is included in the latest Bitcoin Core releases, and is widely deployed on the Bitcoin network. BIP141 is activated through the activation method defined by BIP9. This means that 95 percent of all blocks within a two-week period need to include a piece of data: “bit 1.” This indicates that a miner is ready for the upgrade. As such, SegWit would be activated if the vast majority of miners are ready for it.

Or that was the intention. So far, only some 30 percent of hash power is signaling support for the upgrade. There is a lot of speculation as to why this is the case, but it almost certainly has nothing to do with (a lack of) readiness.

That’s why other activation methods are increasingly being considered.

BIP148

BIP148 is a user activated soft fork (UASF), specifically designed to trigger BIP141.

On August 1st, anyone running Bitcoin software that implemented BIP148 will start rejecting all blocks that do not include bit 1, the SegWit signalling data.

This means that if a mere majority of miners (by hash power) runs this software, they will reject all blocks from the minority of miners that does not. As a result, this majority of miners will always have the longest valid chain according to all Bitcoin nodes on the network. Consequently, all deployed BIP141 nodes will see a chain that includes over 95 percent of bit 1 blocks, meaning SegWit would be activated on the network.

However, if BIP148 is not supported by a majority of miners (by hash power), Bitcoin’s blockchain could split in two. In that case, there would effectively be two types of Bitcoin, where one activated BIP148 and the other did not. This may resolve over time — or it may not.

SegWit2x

SegWit2x (also referred to as “SegWit2MB” or “the Silbert Accord”), is the scaling agreement reached by a numer of Bitcoin companies and over 80 percent of miners (by hash power), drafted just before the Consensus 2017 conference.

For some time, the details surrounding SegWit2x were not very specific. As the name suggests, all that was really known was that SegWit was included in the agreement, and that it included a hard fork to double Bitcoin’s “base block size” to two megabytes.

And, of course, SegWit was meant to be implemented using a different activation method. Like the original BIP141 proposal, SegWit2x was to be activated by miners through hash power. But where BIP141 requires 95 percent hash power support, SegWit2x would only require 80 percent. Moreover, SegWit2x readiness would be signaled using another piece of activation data: “bit 4” instead of “bit 1.”

This makes SegWit2x largely incompatible with BIP141, and especially with BIP148: Different nodes would be looking at different activation bits, meaning they could activate SegWit under different circumstances and at different times; and that would mess up SegWit-specific block relay policy between nodes, potentially fracturing the network.

BIP91

Now, it seems BIP91 has provided the solution.

BIP91 is a proposal by Bitmain Warranty (not to be confused with Bitmain) engineer James Hilliard which was specifically designed to prevent a coin-split by making SegWit2x and BIP148 compatible.

The proposal resembles BIP148 to some extent. Upon activation of BIP91, all BIP91 nodes will reject any blocks that do not signal support for SegWit through bit 1. As such, if a majority of miners (by hash power) run BIP91, the longest valid Bitcoin chain will consist of SegWit-signaling blocks only, and all regular BIP141 SegWit nodes will activate the protocol upgrade.

Where BIP91 differs from BIP148 is that it doesn’t have a set activation date, but is instead triggered by hash power. BIP91 nodes will reject any non-SegWit signalling blocks if, and only if, 80 percent of blocks first indicate within two days that’s what they’ll do.

This indication is done with bit 4. As such, the Silbert Accord can technically be upheld — 80 percent hash power activation with bit 4 — while at the same time activating the existing SegWit proposal. And if this is done before August 1st, it’s also compatible with BIP148, since BIP148 nodes would reject non-bit 1 blocks just the same.

This proposal gives miners a little over six weeks to avoid a coin-split, under their own agreed-upon terms. With a SegWit2x launch date planned for July 21st, that should not be a problem… assuming that the miners actually follow through.

The post BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 June 2017 | 2:32 pm

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

Advertise with Anonymous Ads

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

Posted on 8 April 2014 | 4:27 pm

June 22, 2017 -
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