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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

Bitcoin Latest News

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 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

Bitcoin v0.9.0 released

Posted on 19 March 2014 | 6:44 am

Bitcoin-Qt v0.9.0rc3 released

Posted on 13 March 2014 | 3:21 am

Bitcoincharts and SSL

Posted on 4 March 2014 | 2:21 pm

Mt.Gox Statement

Posted on 3 March 2014 | 3:44 am

Can You Really 'Know' a Customer Who Uses Bitcoin? - American Banker

American Banker

Can You Really 'Know' a Customer Who Uses Bitcoin?
American Banker
Banks that want to serve companies such as bitcoin exchanges or wallet providers know that to do so they must follow know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering rules. (Silicon Valley Bank and Barclays are among the institutions exploring the field.) ...

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 12:32 pm

Scaling Bitcoin Gears up for Hong Kong - Bitcoin Magazine

Bitcoin Magazine

Scaling Bitcoin Gears up for Hong Kong
Bitcoin Magazine
The Scaling Bitcoin workshops are gearing up for their second phase. After the initial conference in Montreal in September, Bitcoin's engineering and academic community will gather in Hong Kong later this week to discuss how best to scale up the ...

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 12:25 pm

Bitcoin Trading: Frustrated Sell-Off - CryptoCoinsNews


Bitcoin Trading: Frustrated Sell-Off
Bitcoin trading saw the bulls make a second unsuccessful attempt on the $380 and 2480 CNY level today. Frustrated, the market sold off to support at $355 and 2300 CNY. This analysis is provided by with a 3-hour delay. Read the full analysis ...

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 10:04 am

Not in Your Grandma's Wallet: Bitcoin Redefining Money - Fox Business

Fox Business

Not in Your Grandma's Wallet: Bitcoin Redefining Money
Fox Business
Will Bitcoin replace paper money? During an interview on the FOX Business Network's Mornings With Maria ,Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert, who's considered the most active investor in Bitcoin companies, said: “[Bitcoin] it's going to change the ...

and more »

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 9:11 am

Bitcoin's Winning Shoppers in Taiwan With This Retail Giant's Help - CoinDesk


Bitcoin's Winning Shoppers in Taiwan With This Retail Giant's Help
Convenience store chain FamilyMart is now accepting bitcoin at its nearly 3,000 locations in Taiwan after striking a deal in October with local wallet provider BitoEX. Since the news, FamilyMart has been allowing customers to use bitcoin, through a ...

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 9:03 am

Greek banks hit by bitcoin ransom demand - CNBC


Greek banks hit by bitcoin ransom demand
Hackers have targeted three Greek banks for a third time in five days, demanding a ransom from each lender of 20,000 bitcoin (€7m), according to Greek police and the country's central bank. A group calling itself the Armada Collective demanded the ...
Hackers blackmail Greek banks demanding bitcoin ransomRT
Greece says hackers hit banks with bitcoin ransom demandDeutsche Welle
Greek Banks Targeted by Hackers Demanding Bitcoin RansomCryptoCoinsNews
The Merkle (blog) -Greek Reporter -Financial Times -Digital Attack Map
all 107 news articles »

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 11:16 pm

Slush Pool to Re-Enable BIP 101 Bitcoin Mining - Bitcoin Magazine

Bitcoin Magazine

Slush Pool to Re-Enable BIP 101 Bitcoin Mining
Bitcoin Magazine
Slush Pool, a Czech-based Bitcoin mining pool accounting for 6 percent of hashing power on the Bitcoin network, indicates it will re-enable connected miners to vote for a block-size increase through BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) 101. Slush Pool ...
Bitstamp To Be Banned By Theymos For Supporting BIP

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 12:42 pm

Goldman Sachs Seeking Crypto Trade Settlement Patent

Goldman Sachs filed a patent application earlier this month for a securities settlement system based on a new cryptocurrency called “SETLcoin”.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 3:50 pm

SEC Charges GAW Miners CEO Josh Garza With Securities Fraud

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged former GAW Miners CEO Josh Garza with the fraudulent sale of unlicensed securities.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 11:10 am

Bitcoin's Winning Shoppers in Taiwan With This Retail Giant's Help

Convenience store chain FamilyMart will accept bitcoin at nearly 3,000 locations in Taiwan after striking a deal with local wallet provider BitoEX.

Posted on 1 December 2015 | 9:00 am

Dogecoin Startup Goes Open Source as Creator Says ‘Peace Out’ to Crypto

Dogetipbot has announced it will go open-source just over one year after raising $445,000 from investors including Blackbird Ventures.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 3:50 pm

Estonian High Court Asks Government to Clarify Bitcoin Stance

The Estonian Supreme Court has asked the country’s government to provide clarity in an ongoing court case involving bitcoin trading.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 1:15 pm

Bitcoin Exchange Trading Volumes Hit All-Time High

The busiest day for bitcoin exchanges ever was recorded on 26th November, according to data provider Bitcoinity.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 6:25 am

Report: Barbados Central Bank Should Consider Holding Bitcoin

Two Barbadian economists have concluded that the country's central bank may want to consider holding a small amount of bitcoin as part of its portfolio of foreign reserves.

Posted on 30 November 2015 | 3:16 am

Bitcoin Reputation Startup Bonafide to Shut Down

Bitcoin reputation startup Bonafide has elected to cease operations and commence liquidation less than one year after raising $850,000.

Posted on 29 November 2015 | 7:01 pm

Bitcoin in a Suit: Why the Tech's Big Battle is Already Won

Journalist John Biggs details why he thinks bitcoin will eventually succeed.

Posted on 29 November 2015 | 5:50 am

Russia's Finance Ministry Wants to Ban Bitcoin, Not the Blockchain

In a new interview with CoinDesk, Russia's Ministry of Finance opened up about bitcoin and blockchain technology.

Posted on 28 November 2015 | 6:18 am

Lloyd's Sees Blockchain's Potential For Insurance Markets

Lloyd's held a seminar in London last week to highlight blockchain technology to insurance market participants as part of their modernisation plan.

Posted on 27 November 2015 | 9:00 am

Citi, Nordea Select Bitcoin Compliance Firm for Accelerators

Bitcoin compliance startup Polycoin was recently accepted into two incubators, one backed by Citi and the other by Nordea.

Posted on 27 November 2015 | 5:00 am

Bitcoin Price Surges by 12%, Setting Weekly High

The price of bitcoin increased by 12% today, reaching a weekly high of $368.51 at 12:30 (UTC).

Posted on 26 November 2015 | 10:35 am

Kenyan High Court Hears BitPesa Case Against Safaricom

The Kenyan High Court heard a case brought by bitcoin startup BitPesa against mobile money giant Safaricom two days ago.

Posted on 26 November 2015 | 9:05 am

Where To Spend Your Bitcoin On Black Friday

Get your bitcoin wallets at the ready and prepare yourself for a day of frenzied discounted online shopping. Bitcoin Black Friday is back!

Posted on 26 November 2015 | 5:00 am

SWIFT: Bitcoin Regulation in the EU Won't Happen Soon

The European Union (EU) is years away from implementing a consistent framework for cryptocurrency regulation, according to a new report by SWIFT.

Posted on 26 November 2015 | 4:30 am

Bank of England Launches Search for Blockchain-Savvy Interns

The Bank of England has launched a blockchain challenge, offering the winning students the possibility of a six-week paid internship.

Posted on 25 November 2015 | 10:55 am

WVU Student Government Considers Blockchain Voting

West Virginia University’s Student Government Association is debating whether to use a blockchain-based voting platform for its upcoming election.

Posted on 25 November 2015 | 10:00 am

BitGo’s Mike Belshe on Doing What Matters

BitGo co-founder and CEO Mike Belshe remembers when the fascination with computer engineering that began for him in childhood made its most emphatic statement and claim on his life.

He had just left old warhorse Hewlett-Packard, his first job out of college, to join Internet browser pioneer Netscape as it was poised to launch its initial public stock offering in 1995. (His departure was rather too sudden to suit the sensibilities of his “HP Way” bosses, but that’s another story.)

Commencing to work almost non-stop through long days and nights “not because of deadlines, but because I loved it so much,” Belshe was driving across town with fellow computer geek and visionary Rob McCool one day when they were simultaneously awe-struck by the same sight: a large billboard with “http:” sprawled across its face, followed by a web address.

“Whoa!” McCool exclaimed. “I never thought I would see that.”

“The billboard spoke to him,” Belshe remembers. “That’s when I realized that what we were doing really matters.”

This theme of engagement with things of import is a recurrent theme in Belshe’s life. It partly explains the intriguing mix of five-star companies and start-ups dotting his resume. After HP and Netscape, Microsoft was another major stop; from there he migrated to Google just in time to help lead the development of Chrome. He stayed there for a half-decade.

Start-ups included Good Technology, Remarq and his own Lookout Software with partner Eric Hahn. All of them were successes in their own right, though it was neither money nor conventional pride that drove Belshe’s journeys along the tech frontiers of his day. It has always been more about using his supple intelligence and imagination to help bring something interesting and important into the world, most always with highly technical solutions that ultimately filter down into the usefulness and parlance of everyday users who have no particular technical skill.

And now there is Bitcoin security company BitGo, steadily picking up market share as the first “multi-signature” wallet in the Bitcoin world. The platform makes use of Belshe’s problem-solving and programming ingenuity to bring greater ease and utility to the thorny problem of securing bitcoins.

It is a kind of gift, this ability to bridge the worlds of software engineering via complex, exacting code and an end product that the proverbial Iowa Grandma can manage with ease from the comfort of her kitchen table.

As Belshe himself freely admitted in a recent plain-spoken blog post at, Bitcoin isn’t anywhere near reaching Grandma yet.

“Bitcoin in Denial” ran the headline on his post, which conveyed a “Slow down, this is gonna take a while” message to those who envision Bitcoin triumphing over fiat currencies and the credit card industry and reaching Grandma by next week or next year. But if anyone will eventually be able to carve the road to her, it will be Belshe.

Two decades into a tech career that he remembers being ignited by a computer magazine that his electrical engineer father brought home, he now finds himself at a mid-career sweet spot. With deep experience behind him, industry contacts and resources galore, and still copious energy, he is committed to making Bitcoin the most secure digital asset tool ever devised without its users, in his words, “having to learn how to operate a digital asset vault.”

Belshe co-founded BitGo in 2013, just a year after discovering Bitcoin and loading up on a bunch of coins for himself and various friends on a dedicated offline laptop he kept under his couch. “With Bitcoin’s price going up, I realized I had a staggering amount of money just sitting there on a laptop. I was following best practices, but I felt scared enough to look for a better way to store all these coins.”

A quick survey found him surprised that there really weren’t any better security mousetraps at the time, so he set about to invent one. Anyone who knows Belshe could have predicted it wouldn’t take him long.

BitGo launched the world’s first multi-signature wallet last August, created by Belshe himself using a “P2SH” protocol that was developed by Gavin Andresen, chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation and Bitcoin’s lead core developer at the time.

While his service won’t quite reach Grandma yet, it has given Bitcoin holders an unparalleled means of securely holding their funds without fear of either being hacked or suffering some human error of forgetfulness or misplacement. It turns out, by the way, that error is a far more common cause of lost bitcoins than is the more feared specter of malevolent hackers.

We wanted a system that doesn’t depend on anyone else and wasn’t vulnerable to theft, a lost hard disk or paper wallet, or a forgotten-and- now-gone password,” Belshe says. “The challenge is always this: How do you improve security in a way users understand?”

Belshe & Co. appear to be meeting that challenge with growth figures ($1 billion transacted in the third quarter) and a corporate profile for which less substantive startups would no doubt hand over a good portion of their Bitcoin vaults. P2SH or pay to script hash addresses have grown more than 84 percent over the past 90 days, and BitGo controls the majority share of market for P2SH Bitcoin addresses.

It’s all big-time fun, which is one crucial metric Belshe applies to virtually all his professional endeavors. But even more important, if he were advising young people just launching their careers, is this: “Do something that matters.”

One gets the sense that having fun and doing things that matter have become almost one and the same thing for Belshe. That’s just one more sweet spot in a career from which the Bitcoin world is now benefiting in ways that matter greatly to it.

This post originally appeared in yBitcoin.

The post BitGo’s Mike Belshe on Doing What Matters appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin Mining Pool F2Pool (Discus Fish) Maintains: BIP 101 Not an Option

F2Pool, the world's largest Bitcoin mining pool, maintains that changing its code to allow bigger blocks through BIP 101 or Bitcoin XT is not an option.

Wang Chun, the operator of the China-based pool controlling some 20 percent of hashing power, dismissed the idea of an exponential growth rate of the maximum block size for 20 years leading to 8-gigabyte blocks.

Asked by Bitcoin Magazine, Chun said: “We cannot predict what will happen years into the future, and we think a first step to 2 megabytes should be enough for now.”

The block-size dispute – which represents a tradeoff between thenumber of transactions the Bitcoin network can handle and its decentralization – might reach a critical juncture over the next weeks. A large segment of Bitcoin's development community will discuss the issue at the upcoming Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Hong Kong in the first week of December, while several prominent Bitcoin companies have stated they intend to change their code to allow for bigger blocks that same month.

Chun, too, believes that raising the block-size limit is an urgent matter, explaining:

“I think it is urgent, because the transaction volume is increasing on the blockchain, and if the price rises in near future, it will push the transaction volume to be even higher. I think the max block size should be raised as soon as possible, but it should not be raised too much. Two megabytes is preferred as the first step.”

One possible solution, BIP 101, is programmed to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years for 20 years, ultimately leading to an 8-gigabyte block-size limit.

This patch, which is designed by former Bitcoin Core lead developer Gavin Andresen, was implemented in Bitcoin XT, the alternative Bitcoin implementation run by Google veteran Mike Hearn. BIP 101 is also favored byseveral prominent Bitcoin companies, as well as Slush Pool.

Switching to BIP 101 or Bitcoin XT is a bad idea; we will never do that,” Chun reiterated his earlier position. “After a meeting with some other Chinese pools earlier this year, we proposed an 8-megabyte limit, because we thought Gavin's initial 20 megabyte proposal was too big for us. I always thought 2 megabytes would be better as a first step, but I did not want to offend Gavin with a 10 times smaller proposal. Gavin then answered us with BIP 101, which due to its steep growth curve is essentially 8 gigabytes, so it’s done. I don’t trust Gavin anymore – nor Hearn for that matter.”

On the Bitcoin development mailing list, Chun recently suggested raising the maximum block size in accordance with the block halving. As such, the block-size limit would be raised to 2 megabytes as soon as possible, followed by an increase to 4 megabytes halfway through 2016, up to 32 megabytes by 2028.

Alternatively, Chun said he would be willing to implement an incremental increase to 8 megabytes over four years, as proposed by Blockstream CEO and hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back. This “2-4-8” option seems acceptable to a significant segment of the Bitcoin Core development team, as well as some prominent industry members.

And even though Back proposed 2-4-8 as a temporary solution, Chun suggested that it could even be more than that.

We do not necessarily consider an 8 megabyte block-size limit a temporary solution. We don’t know what will happen moving forward. But we definitely think 8 megabytes is enough for the foreseeable future. Presumably, at least for the next three to four years.”

The post Bitcoin Mining Pool F2Pool (Discus Fish) Maintains: BIP 101 Not an Option appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Goldman Sachs Files Patent Application For Securities Settlement Using Cryptocurrencies

On November 19, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s patent application 20150332395 or “Cryptographic Currency For Securities Settlement.” Described are “ [...] methods for settling securities in financial markets using distributed, peer-to-peer, and cryptographic techniques ” using a cryptocurrency named SETLcoin. The application lists Paul Walker and Phil J. Venables as the inventors of the technology.

Paul Walker is the co-head of technology at Goldman and a member of the Board of Directors of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC). According to Nathaniel Popper’s book “Digital Gold” and his adaptation for American Banker, “When Goldman Sachs Began Flirting with Bitcoin,” Walker led a panel to educate the banks clients about virtual currencies. Popper writes that Walker, indicated that the bank was taking a hard look at how the blockchain might be used to change basic things about how banks do business.”

Phil Venables, managing director and chief information security officer at Goldman Sachs has been described by American Banker as an “outspoken industry leader.”

The patent application addresses chain of custody of an asset, counterparty risk and settlement through a cryptocurrency called SETLcoin. The patent describes a colored coin scheme referred to as a PIC or “Positional Item inside Cryptographic currency”:

[...] For example, dollars available on the SETLcoin network represented by, e.g., PIC ‘USD’ may be authoritatively issued by, for example, the U.S. Treasury.”

SETLcoin, an amalgamation of “settlement” and “coin,” boasts near instantaneous execution and settlement:

[...] cryptographic currency transactions are independently and extemporaneously generated, verified, and executed within the network, without the risks associated with traditional clearing houses that can delay settlements for several days .”

Further, the application defines a cryptocurrency or “cryptographic currency” as a

[...] digital medium of exchange that enables distributed, rapid, cryptographically secure, confirmed transactions for goods and/or services.”

The patent goes on to describe an “atomic commitment protocol” and “fungibility engine.” The patent also explains how a settlement cryptocurrency would also make credit checks obsolete.

The Complexity of Asset Ownership

According to the patent application, SETLcoin ownership can be used to prevent fraud, including float fraud such as kiting. One of the earliest cases (if not the earliest) of ownership fraud at Goldman Sachs dates back to 1884 as detailed in an article for the New York Times, “Note Brokers ’ Responsibility ” from March 19, 1886 and further highlighted in the book “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World.”

A forged note for $1,100 endorsed by a Carl Wolf was sold by Goldman to a Frederick E. Douglas. Wolf then "ran away." Douglas was unsuccessful in suing Goldman to recover his losses. “Money and Power” notes that this was one of the first legal examinations of the role and responsibilities of a financial intermediary.

A more recent examination of the complexities of asset ownership (and unwinding of shares) was detailed this summer by Bloomberg in ”Banks Forgot Who Was Supposed to Own Dell Shares.”

The Depository Trust Company (DTC), the central securities depository subsidiary of DTCC, according to their website:

provides settlement services for virtually all broker-to-broker equity and listed corporate and municipal debt securities transactions in the U.S.”

Patrick Byrne, the CEO of e-commerce firm Overstock, has written about DTCC in “The DTCC’s CNS naked short selling residue” and most recently the clearing debacle in “Goldman Sachs Internal Memo (Yesterday): ‘Easy to Borrow List to be Discontinued.’

Byrne sued Goldman Sachs and others for allegedly naked short selling his company’s shares. That is “clearing operations at the banks intentionally failed to locate and deliver borrowed shares for clients shorting stocks.” It is somewhat ironic here because it appears that Goldman’s cryptocurrency application could prevent the very same behavior it allegedly participated in according to the lawsuit.

Byrne embraced cryptocurrency as a result and started the Overstock subsidiary which is also using digital currencies and blockchain to settle trades and asset ownership.

According to tØ’s website they provide:

radical transparency and true settlement (which) combine to grant real, unambiguous ownership -- nearly instantly. If you buy it, you own it. It's that simple .”


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are lauded for their trustless nature -- that is to say, there is no reliance on a trusted third party. Goldman’s patent filing however allows for the possible introduction of an “authoritative source” such as the Securities and Exchange Commission:

...there are no prior ownership rights when an SETLcoin is first issued; therefore, [...] {In addition to} [...] one or more trusted nodes [...] a government entity, {such as} the Security Exchange Commission, or other entity {can} [...] verify and authentic the issuer's transaction.

Blockchain Cometh

Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital Partners co-led a $50 million strategic investment round in Bitcoin company Circle in late April of this year. This was the first publicly announced cryptocurrency investment by Goldman. However, as reported by CB Insights, Goldman’s investment activity into fintech startups has been intensifying.

According to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), Goldman is the fifth largest bank holding company with $859.93 billion in assets as of June 2015. The cryptocurrency technology patent was filed prior to Goldman’s membership in R3 CEV. R3 is working on a common blockchain standard for its members (which includes many of the banks listed in FFIEC).

Goldman’s thoughts on Bitcoin were broadcasted at it Talks@GS in “The Evolution of Bitcoin” and podcast “Exchanges at Goldman Sachs” in Episode 16, The Future of Finance.

Photo Bjoertvedt / Creative Commons

The post Goldman Sachs Files Patent Application For Securities Settlement Using Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Scaling Bitcoin Gears up for Hong Kong

The Scaling Bitcoin workshops are gearing up for their second phase. After the initial conference in Montreal in September, Bitcoin's engineering and academic community will gather in Hong Kong later this week to discuss how best to scale up the network to allow for more than a handful of transactions per second.

To get a feel for what to expect from the workshop, Bitcoin Magazine spoke with Pindar Wong, co-founder of Hong Kong's first licensed ISP and the Scaling Bitcoin Hong Kong planning committee chair, and MIT Digital Currency Initiative's Neha Narula, Scaling Bitcoin Hong Kong program chair .

What will result from the upcoming @ScalingBitcoin workshop?

— Bitcoin Magazine (@BitcoinMagazine) December 1, 2015

BM: What do you hope to accomplish in Hong Kong?

Wong : “With these conferences, we're trying to foster the educational and technical understanding that the scaling Bitcoin discussion is both broad and nuanced. In doing so, we hope to help build community, not by controlling the dialogue, but by synchronizing it by focusing on facts, not opinion. By using the scientific and academic approach we're trying to foster collaboration.”

Narula : “One of the amazing things about this workshop is that we're actually going to get specific plans. We're going to have presenters talk about the BIPs [Bitcoin Improvement Proposals] that they have created, their designs, their ideas and their implementations. And we're even going to get some test data and experimental results.”

BM: Is this more specific approach the biggest difference as compared to the first edition in Montreal?

Narula : “I think so. One major goal of phase one was community building, and really getting people together in one place who haven't had a lot of opportunity to talk to each other face-to-face. This time we're really trying to focus on the question of scaling Bitcoin; what are the strategies and techniques we can use to do that? The presentations are all directly related to the question of how to realize more transactions per second on Bitcoin's blockchain, including solutions like layering protocols.

Wong : “Another concrete difference, the main reasons we began this process, is that we recognized that it would be much easier for the Chinese Bitcoin community to participate in Hong Kong. So we'll have Chinese miners, pool operators, ASIC providers, and also those who host facilities. So all the diverse voices, that we don't normally have, that we normally don't see on the development mailing list, will be there. That's the thing that I am most excited about.”

BM: Are you expecting a concrete scaling solution to come out of this conference?

Narula : “I think it's important to note that this conference is not about forcing anyone to do anything. It's about providing the atmosphere and the space for this kind of discussion to happen. Instead of this discussion happening through the media, or through IRC, or on forums, it can actually happen in part face-to-face.”

Wong : “We're basically a platform. We've been very clear at the beginning that we're not about making decisions, because it's not up to us. That said, it would be great if the workshops could help to achieve this notion of consensus. Obviously, given that Bitcoin is essentially a bottom-up structure, where everyone has their own points of view, consensus is not something that you can impose. It has to emerge, so we hope that having the dialogue, the communication, and this idea of collaboration might help.”

BM: But not everyone will make it to Hong Kong, of course. The most notable example being Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Core developer Gavin Andresen.

Narula: “Before phase one there was a lot of outreach activity ... it was the first time we've had all the five Core developers come to an event. It was a very precious opportunity for everyone to come together and have an understanding for where everyone's coming from. Similarly, for phase two, we've done outreach to all the key players, to make sure that they feel welcome, including Gavin. But I think that the distance is a bit much for him at this point. And we do recognize that it's a long way to come.

And it is up to anyone to decide to come – or not. That's why we've also made sure there are good online mechanisms. Most of the heavy talks are early in the morning to make sure that those on the American east coast can tune in to the live-stream and contribute through IRC.”

BM: How big a part will the block-size dispute play?

Wong : “The block size is just one dimension. There are many different approaches to scale Bitcoin, such as layer two mechanisms that were touched on in phase one in Montreal. Even the issue of 'What does it mean to scale Bitcoin?' is not really settled; different people have different views.

But yes, as opposed to phase one, we will look specifically at the block-size parameter in Hong Kong. We're also looking at the testing that has been done in between phase one and phase two, and we've set up a cloud infrastructure at the conference hall, so people who have developed code and want to test it can do so.”

BM: One common criticism against the first workshop in Montreal was that there wasn't really any result to show for. Some even allege that the conferences are a stalling mission, in order to prevent the block-size limit from being increased and win time for alternative scaling solutions to be developed.

Wong : “Whether we're stalling or not is in the eye of the beholder. I do know that the volunteers who have come forward to organize these conferences, like myself, are all working as fast as we can.

The more substantive point is: Did phase one achieve what we said phase one would achieve? And did the period in between phase one and phase two achieve what we originally intended it to achieve? I would say that we've had mixed success.

From a community-building perspective and from an educational perspective, phase one was phenomenally successful. However, I do recognize that in terms of the technical consensus, we're still in relatively early days. There is a lot of testing to be done. In some sense, therefore, phase two is really phase 1.5; we are half a phase behind. I take a lot of responsibility for that. I thought this would be the right amount of time and the right amount of space that people would need, but that might have been a bit optimistic. It would have been better to have more time between phases.”

Narula : “I think it's important to note that this is an ongoing process. I only got involved after phase one myself, but everyone I spoke to about that conference said it was one of the best Bitcoin conferences they've been to. That was in part because it was really about the technical discussions, not just a sales pitch from various companies, and VCs [venture capitalists], and things like that.

We intend the second phase to be really about the community and the piece of software that they're building, too. Because Bitcoin really is an amazing system. But, unfortunately, it's also extraordinarily complicated, and there are a lot of moving pieces. That's why we need things like this conference. Let’s work on it.”

Scaling Bitcoin Hong Kong will take place on the 6th and 7th of December. For the full schedule, tickets, online participations, and more information, visit

The post Scaling Bitcoin Gears up for Hong Kong appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Estonian Government Partners with Bitnation to Offer Blockchain Notarization Services to e-Residents

In May, Bitcoin Magazine reported that blockchain-based Governance 2.0 initiative Bitnation is developing a collaborative platform for DIY Governance based on the blockchain.

“Bitnation is a Governance 2.0 Operating System, designed to disrupt the nation-state oligopoly through offering more convenient, secure and cost-efficient governance services,” said Bitnation founder and CEO Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof.

Bitnation is one of several emerging initiatives to empower connected global citizens with a growing range of options to bypass legacy governance systems based on nation states. The e-Residency program launched by the government of Estonia is another such initiative.

The program offers anyone, anywhere, a digital identity issued by the Estonian government and the possibility to start and operate a business online under Estonian regulations. The foreigners who become e-residents of Estonia are not automatically entitled to physical residency in the small Baltic state, but they can base their online financial life there.

Estonia, a country at the forefront of modern e-government, has been offering efficient online services to its citizens for more than a decade.

“By offering e-residents the same services, Estonia is proudly pioneering the idea of a country without borders,” proudly states the e-residency website. In particular, e-residents can digitally sign, verify and encrypt documents and contracts, establish an Estonian company online in 24 hours with a physical address in Estonia provided by an external service, and administer the company from anywhere in the world.

Currently, establishing an Estonian bank account for the company requires one in-person meeting at one of the banks that recognize e-resident smart ID cards – currently LHV, Swedbank and SEB – but once the account is established e-residents can manage e-banking and remote money transfers from anywhere in the world.

An appealing feature of e-residency for entrepreneurs is that, in Estonia, company income is not taxed. Therefore, compliance is simplified and all income is available for re-investment. However, since e-residency doesn’t imply tax residency, e-residents are supposed to pay taxes at home for the money that they take out of the company.

Now, the Estonian government is partnering with Bitnation to offer a public notary service to Estonian e-residents based on blockchain technology.

“Via the international Bitnation Public Notary, e-residents, regardless of where they live or do business, will be able to notarize their marriages, birth certificates, business contracts, and much more on the blockchain,” states a joint press release.

"I'm delighted to work with Estonia's e-residency program to set a standard practice of competition of governance services on a global market, and to enable others to exercise self-determination and follow Bitnation's path to sovereignty,” said Tarkowski Tempelhof in the press release.

“The Republic of Estonia is on the forefront of innovation when it comes to e-governance,” Tarkowski Tempelhof told Bitcoin Magazine. “They’re mostly young and open-minded, eager to test new technologies to improve their services. Additionally, their processes are quite streamlined, which is original for being a government, and needless to say, very refreshing.”

If a couple gets married on the public notary, it doesn’t mean they get married in the jurisdiction of Estonia, or in any other nation state jurisdiction, notes the press release. Instead, they get married in the “blockchain jurisdiction.”

International Business Times notes that, besides marriages, blockchain technology can provides a worldwide legally binding proof of existence and integrity of contractual agreements for things such as banking, incorporating companies quickly and cheaply and generally empowering entrepreneurs and citizens around the world.

"In Estonia we believe that people should be able to freely choose their digital/public services best fit to them, regardless of the geographical area where they were arbitrarily born,” said e-Residency Program Director Kaspar Korjus. “We're truly living in exciting times when nation states and virtual nations compete and collaborate with each other on an international market, to provide better governance services."

In fact, the importance and potential impact of the Estonian government’s move shouldn’t be underestimated. Here we have the government of a nation state, a full member of the European Union, acknowledging a virtual nation as a legitimate partner for the development and gradual implementation of next-generation governance services.

“My aim is to see a world where hundreds of thousands or millions of governance service providers in a free global market competing through offering better services at a better value, rather than through the use of force within arbitrary lines in the sand,” Tarkowski Tempelhof told Bitcoin Magazine. “To that end, seeing nation state governments starting to provide governance services on a free global market as well, like The Republic of Estonia, is encouraging, and a step in the right direction. Now we need more nation state governments, as well as open source protocols joining the global market.”

Tarkowski Tempelhof added that, realistically, it’s more likely that small nations will adopt the technology in the short term.

“Countries and city states that come to mind are Singapore, Lichtenstein, Andorra, etc.,” she said. “We’re also likely to see nations in the developing world leapfrogging in terms of governance technologies.”

Photo Steve Jurvetson / Flickr(CC)

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Netki Launches Google Chrome Extension to Simplify Bitcoin Wallet Addresses

Netki, a service aimed to simplify bitcoin payments, has officially released a beta of their Google Chrome browser extension, allowing customers to use email-esque Wallet Names such as ‘ ‘ instead of lengthy 32 character public addresses. Netki users can now enter their Wallet Name anywhere on the web, and the extension will automatically replace the name with the appropriate public wallet address. They currently support bitcoin, litecoin, dogecoin, Factom (Factoids and entry credits), and Ether, among others.

Their new extension will allow Netki users to maintain their anonymity and save time across nearly any web-based blockchain application, including wallets such as Coinbase, Blockchain, and Uphold, exchanges like Kraken, Bitfinex, and CEX.IO, and other applications such as Fold and

The extension is available for free on the Chrome Web Store. And while an individual Wallet Name is available on Netki’s website for as little as $1.95 a year, ChangeTip users are given one for free. If you’d like to try the extension, sign up for a ChangeTip account on their website, navigate to the ‘Tips’ tab on the top left of the page, and activate your personalized Wallet Name by clicking on the personalized URL under the ‘ Page’ header on the left side of the page. Your new Wallet Name will be tied to the deposit address for your ChangeTip account, which you can use anywhere on the Internet with the new extension.

Netki, started in 2014 and described by many as the “DNS for Bitcoin,” has already partnered with companies such as ChangeTip, Gem, and Snapcard, whose users are automatically registered and given a personalized Wallet Name.

However, their ambitions are much larger. Wallet Names will allow individuals to remain ‘pseudo-anonymous’ on the public blockchain, mitigating serious privacy concerns for those whose real-world identities become associated with single, static public addresses.

In addition, Netki also built in support for Hierarchical Deterministic or HD Wallets, which allow users to automatically create a unique public address for each transaction related to a single Wallet Name. HD Wallets, when combined with Netki’s Wallet Name, can help individuals maintain anonymity on the blockchain without the hassle of managing dozens of public addresses.

Netki CEO Justin Newton also hopes their new extension, combined with individualized Netki Wallet Names, will allow new users to more easily understand and use bitcoin online.

“We are excited to release this Chrome extension as it now allows users to send using Wallet Names at all web-based blockchain and bitcoin services.," Newton said. "This is a significant step forward in the usability of blockchain technology to ensure easier mainstream market adoption.”

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Gavin Andresen: I Might Take Over Lead of Bitcoin XT

With Mike Hearn taking a step back from Bitcoin development to work for private blockchain startup R3, former Bitcoin Core lead developer Gavin Andresen indicated he might take over the lead of Bitcoin XT, the Bitcoin implementation programmed to increase the block-size limit through BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) 101.

Andresen, who shifted his efforts to Bitcoin XT earlier this year, told Bitcoin Magazine, reluctantly: “I might take over lead of XT, but I don't want to.”

It was announced last week that Hearn recently joined R3 as lead platform engineer, where the Google veteran and Bitcoin XT lead developer will work with some of the world's largest banks on distributed ledger-based protocols for global financial markets. Hearn confirmed to Bitcoin Magazine that he will do the minimum required to keep Bitcoin XT running, but won't actively develop or advocate the implementation any longer.

Hearn, a staunch advocate of a block-size increase in order to allow for more transactions on Bitcoin's network, implemented BIP 101 into Bitcoin XT this summer. With this patch, designed by Andresen, Bitcoin XT is set to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years.

On Reddit, Hearn detailed:

The implementation of BIP 101 in Bitcoin XT without industrywide consensus was considered controversial by many, in particular among the Bitcoin development community. Shortly after Hearn implemented the patch, however, several prominent Bitcoin companies stated their intent to upgrade their code to support BIP 101 by December of this year. As such, the timing of Hearn's departure could have been experienced as unfortunate by supporters of a rapid block-size increase. While the Bitcoin industry could still adopt Bitcoin XT, this seems unlikely with no active lead development.

Success of Bitcoin XT might therefore depend on Andresen taking over as lead developer, Hearn acknowledged when asked by Bitcoin Magazine. This idea – which was previously advocated by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong – was not dismissed by Andresen, though he is not keen to take such a step. Andresen, who is currently on MIT's payroll, explained:

I might take over lead of XT, but I don't want to. I stepped back from lead of Core because I got tired of the constant trivial decision-making needed to lead an active open source software project. I want to spend my time thinking about and working on bigger, longer-term issues; like: 'What are the benefits and risks of increasing the maximum block size?'”

BIP 101 itself currently garners little support among the Bitcoin development community, and seems very unlikely to be implemented in Bitcoin Core. Regardless, Andresen does expect that BIP 101 might be adopted by the industry at large. Either through Bitcoin XT, or by miners, companies and other users implementing the patch in their own software.

It depends on what comes out of the big Hong Kong meeting,” Andresen explained. “If the other developers can't make up their minds and reach consensus on a solution, then we'll have a messy, chaotic couple of months where companies and big mining pools or miners pick sides until a solution emerges. Though, in that case, I do expect that the most likely solution will be BIP 101, since it is the only solution with well-tested code they can download and run.”

Photo Web Summit / Flickr(CC)

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Coinbase and Shift Payments Introduce a Visa-branded Bitcoin Debit Card That Works Everywhere Visa is Accepted

Coinbase has introduced the first U.S.-issued bitcoin debit card, the Shift Card, in partnership with Shift Payments. The Shift Card is a Visa debit card that currently allows Coinbase users in 24 states to spend bitcoin both online and at physical points of sale at more than 38 million merchants worldwide.

“Merchant adoption has come a long way over the past few years, but it’s still difficult for people to make regular purchases with bitcoin,” notes the Coinbase announcement. “Buying gas at a local gas station or groceries at a neighborhood grocery store with bitcoin has not been possible in most cities in the U.S. Thanks to Shift Payments, it’s now possible to use bitcoin to buy gas, groceries, and much more. With the Shift Card, you can now spend bitcoin anywhere in the world that Visa is accepted.”

Coinbase users living in the states where the service is available can order a Shift debit card for $10 and link it to a Coinbase wallet. When the Shift debit card is used to make a purchase, the equivalent value of bitcoin (based on the current spot price of bitcoin on Coinbase) is debited from the user’s Coinbase bitcoin wallet. For certain transactions, such as gas purchases and dinner bills, Shift will debit more than the purchase amount, and refund the remainder to the user when the final payment amount is settled.

There are no annual fees, no bitcoin-to-dollar conversion fees, and no domestic transaction fees. Coinbase says there are no domestic transaction fees “for a limited time,” which seems to indicate that domestic transaction fees could be added in the future. There is a $2.50 ATM fee and a 3 percent international transaction fee. The daily ATM withdrawal limit is $200, and the default daily spending limit is $1,000.

The card isn’t available to users in New York, Florida, and many other states. Coinbase and Shift Payments say that they are working through legal and regulatory matters in the states where the Shift Card is not yet available.

Shift Payments wants to integrate all payment options available to a user in one debit card. Users can connect a Shift Card to multiple accounts to seamlessly spend all supported payment means, including digital currencies, with the same card.

“The Shift Card works like any debit card today,” notes the Shift website. “Connect your existing accounts and spend Coinbase or Dwolla, immediately and directly, everywhere Visa is accepted.”

The Shift card isn’t the first bitcoin debit card, but the availability of a Visa-branded bitcoin debit card from a major bitcoin exchange and wallet operator is likely to represent a quantum leap in the space.

“At the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is make bitcoin easy to use,” Coinbase vice president of business development and strategy Adam White, told Wired. “We want to make it easy to buy and sell bitcoin, and we want to make it easy to spend. A mainstream debit card based on bitcoin is a key element.”

Of course all U.S. bitcoin users already can spend their bitcoin by converting them to dollars and sending the dollars to their bank accounts, but the process is lengthy and probably overly complex for some users.

Therefore, the Shift Card is likely to make Bitcoin much more useful in daily life.

Wired notes that existing Coinbase customers are now likely to start spending more of their bitcoin, rather than just speculating, and new customers will be attracted to the digital currency because they can more easily spend it. Then, merchants will be more motivated to start accepting bitcoin, which could start a runaway feedback loop that will boost the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The post Coinbase and Shift Payments Introduce a Visa-branded Bitcoin Debit Card That Works Everywhere Visa is Accepted appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Mining Difficulty Increases by over 10% Due to Bitcoin Price Increase and next-Generation Chips

As the bitcoin price has risen out of the $200’s over the past month, the price increase has driven another important event: more mining hardware is being brought online.

Miners earn revenue two ways. The first is with the block reward, which is 25BTC approximately every 10 minutes. The other way is with transaction fees. The block reward also acts as the mechanism in which new supply of bitcoin is generated. Because mining tends to reward those that can do the most work, miners deploy increasing amounts of hardware to try to be the first to mine each block. To keep a steady block creation rate, Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto put in place a rule that updates the network difficulty every 2016 blocks, or approximately two weeks.

According to Bitcoin Wisdom, the difficulty increase that took place today rose by 10.44%. The last time the difficulty increased by more than 10 percent was on November 5, 2014, when the difficulty increased by 10.05 percent. Further, Bitcoin Wisdom is predicting that the next bitcoin difficulty increase in 2 weeks will be 10.25%. The last time there were two double digit percentage increases in difficulty was August 19, 2014 and August 31, 2014.

But the increase in difficulty makes sense.

The next generation of bitcoin miners have been released by three of the top companies in the space. In August, Bitmain announced the launch of the Antminer S7, which contains the BM1385 ASIC. Each S7 can generate upwards of 4,850 GH/s while only using 0.25 J/GH of power.

In October, the Chinese mining firm BW announced that it was releasing its next stage bitcoin miner, which would contain a 14nm chip. Virgilio Lizardo Jr., head of international at Bitbank, told Bitcoin Magazine that the first batch of servers released would be 48 petahash total. For context, the current network has a hash rate of 550.5 PH/s.

Finally, the original creator of the ASIC miner, Avalon, announced that it was releasing its latest miner, the Avalon6, which would contain the new A3218 mining chip. Each miner would be able to generate 3.65 TH/s of hashing power. While these new miners have just hit the market, it is additional hardware that should come online over the coming weeks.

The reality is simple: As the price of bitcoin increases, the number of people who can make a profit mining increases. That encourages more participation in securing the network, which results in the need for a difficulty increase. As these next generation of bitcoin miners come online, it is expected that the difficulty will continue to counteract the additional hash rate in the network.

Jacob Donnelly is a freelance journalist and a consultant in the bitcoin/blockchain space. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

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December 1, 2015 -
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