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Greek Lessons

July 6, 2015

Tip Me With ChangeTip

The greenback is soaring, the US women’s soccer team is so hot right now (and in general), and only one marquis athlete nearly blew his hand off playing with fireworks this weekend, so we’ll call it a very happy Monday for most of us here in the USA…even if Greece and the doomed-from-the-start Euro may soon ruin us all. 

A lot has happened in bitcoin and beyond since my last post, but before I dive into Greek tragedy, a quick update on btc2015, the blockchain technology conference we’re putting together this November in New York City. We have officially locked down the Sheraton Times Square as our host venue (Citi’s Annual MD Meeting and the Clinton Global Initiative have been held there recently), and the official dates have been bumped up to Monday, November 16th and Tuesday, November 17th (previously tweeted that we had penciled in the 19–20th, but wanted to give us a little more breathing room from the Thanksgiving holiday). 

Site and tickets sales will be available soon, but expect a marquis lineup of speakers and attendees. 

Anyway, on to Greece…

There were a bunch of predictably stupid headlines last week from CNN and other mainstream media outlets about skyrocketing bitcoin adoption in Greece driving a BTC price rally — even while many of us were telling inquiring media “yeah, that’s not really happening.” Greeks want to get their hands on Euros right now, not bitcoin, and that’s going to be challenging enough. If we see some volatility in bitcoin’s price these next few weeks, it will probably be from non-Greek speculators making proxy bets via bitcoin on the “Grexit” odds from the safety of their own functional financial systems. Suffice it to say, the Greek crisis itself is not a bitcoin price catalyst.

It is a learning opportunity, though. 

First (and I thought this was fairly obvious at this point, but it seems to be worth repeating), bitcoin is a terrible currency. It’s a great payment rail, good potential long-term value store and good calculated speculative bet, but a horrific currency. That’s because most people, Greeks included, aren’t speculators. And for the billions of people who live hand-to-mouth, the only thing that matters in the financial world is the ability to briefly hold non-hyper-inflationary currency that retains most of its day-to-day value, even if overall savings get debased over time. Ask any Greek if they would rather have 30% inflation over the course of the next year in a liquid, properly circulating currency, or a 30% haircut on deposits following last week’s “bank holiday,” and see how quickly they would choose to start loading up on Argentine pesos. 

Second (and this is important to those of you saying “that’s a false choice!” “bitcoin could appreciate in value vs. fiat!”), bitcoin has been an awful investment over the past 18 months. Short-term liquidity freeze / bank holiday aside, bitcoin has performed miserably vs. the Euro for just about any Greek investor who bought in since the peak in November 2013 when the earliest enthusiasts started to wake up to bitcoin’s non-black market potential. Those investors would have lost 30% on their bitcoin savings (vs. the likely 30% “bail-in” tax) no matter which date in 2014 they purchased their initial stake. It’s not really cool to rub salt in Greek wounds. But it’s even worse to do so with messaging that doesn’t make any sense about bitcoin as any type of reliable investment asset. 

Finally, if you’re going to claim that bitcoin is superior to the Euro or any other currency because it can’t be confiscated by authorities or frozen by banks during runs, at least have the decency to recognize that we simply aren’t at the point where any non-geek feels comfortable using a self-secured bitcoin wallet. I mean, seriously, most bitcoiners who are pimping this new, liberating decentralized currency have parked something like 20%+ of the industry’s total money supply in hosted wallets! Offering up links to Coinbase or even ChangeTip isn’t helpful to Spanish or Italians trying to figure out what to do as a last financial resort in case their banking system is next. You really think Coinbase is going to jeopardize its European future and let a Spaniard transfer money out of his account if the government forbids it? Doubtful.

That’s why I’ve been patiently waiting for someone to print up a legitimate, easy-to-follow guide for anyone (in any country) looking to safely hide a small amount of money in a bitcoin “bolt bag.” I’d love to see a step-by-step tutorial for how to buy bitcoin, hedge its value, send the value to a personally managed address, store the private keys to that address securely, and then actually *spend* and get other people to *accept* bitcoin when the economy is really in a pinch? 

I know some of you Silk Road pros are still lingering out there watching. If you want to share your best practices for the Eurozone periphery, now would be a hell of a time to do so.

Until tomorrow…



BTC2015 | Nov in New York City
Bitcoin's annual can't miss conference is happening this November in New York City.  We are currently finalizing dates and venue. Sponsored by Digital Currency Group. More details in June.

Keynote2015 | Aug 3 in Los Angeles
Bitcoin is about to revolutionise the financial world, but not in the way you’d expect. Hidden in the cyber currency's DNA is the ability to transform the financial world from an antiquated behemoth to a modern beacon of efficiency. The secret is in the ledger.  Find out exactly how a new generation of ledgers is about turn banking on its head at Keynote2015, the conference that redefines FinTech. A one-day agenda packed with the brightest industry minds will get you quickly up to speed on future applications and the existing goldmine of start-up opportunities. Tickets: | Sponsorship and exhibit enquiries:
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Grayscale Investments, New York (a DCG Company)
The manager of the Bitcoin Investment trust, the first publicly traded bitcoin investment vehicle, is making two non-engineering hires. (
-Account Manager - Min 3 years of demonstrated sales-driven success within the financial industry, preferably in an investor development or capital raising role; Series 7 and 63 licenses certifications. More info here
-Marketing Manager - Min 4 years of demonstrated success in product marketing, preferably in the financial space; looking for candidates with experience marketing either public or private investment products and/or marketing for asset management businesses. More info here

ConsenSys, New York (
Blockchain production studio building decentralized applications in the blockchain 2.0 space (mostly on Ethereum).  These tools will be packaged into separate ventures that are individually funded and skinned for different business niches. We are hiring 5-15 students for a summer internship program where they will have access to our amazing team and have the opportunity to plug into numerous ongoing projects. (Since ConsenSys is itself a somewhat decentralized company, with personnel in various cities, remote working interns may be considered.)  
-Please apply by sending an email to with work samples, resume, and general interests in the space. If you include a proposal for a dApp, smart contract, or other useful tool you want to build, we may consider the development of that project. 

Today's Tid Bits 
Some Miners Generating Invalid Blocks
Due to a problem generated from a recent update, some bitcoin mining pools are generating invalid blocks that that are vulnerable to double spending of confirmed transactions. Software that assumes blocks are valid and cannot detect invalid blocks is at risk of showing confirmed transactions when they actually are not. The problem, started on July 4th, arose from nearly half the network hash rate being mined without fully validating blocks, which were building blocks on top of an invalid block. The recommended fix is to get all miners off of SPV mining and on full validation.

The Greek Financial Mess; and Some Ways Bitcoin Might Help
In a blog post, Nick Szabo laid out a plan to help the Greek economy, and other economies with capital controls, implement bitcoin and the blockchain for individuals and businesses. Because of capital controls, Greeks cannot send euros overseas or even access their money; however bitcoin can be effective way for cross-boarder purchasing, investment, and money transfer. In addition, small businesses in Greece are using “scrips” to pay suppliers, which the supplier can use for goods at the store. Bitcoin provides a means of exchange that suppliers and businesses can trust more than the euro, as it is not possible to access bank accounts. Szabo highlights that it is difficult to accept bitcoin, but once the learning curve is surpassed bitcoin can have major benefits and potentially solve the ongoing problems with capital controls. 

The Decentral Authority                  
In a blog post, prominent VC Fred Wilson stated his beliefs that Reddit can apply blockchain technology to create an entirely decentralized media platform. The media company has struggled in recent weeks as it attempts to create a viable business model while trying not to alienate a large community who continue to power the site. Wilson believes the blockchain is ready for a 'killer app' and Reddit is the perfect candidate. While Wilson is unsure whether using the blockchain would create a lasting business model, it will become a powerful community and platform.

Can Bitcoin Help the World's Unbanked?
Bitcoin can offer a major benefit to the world's nearly 2 billion adults who lack access to prominent financial services including credit cards and bank accounts. The currency can drastically improve the money transfer and remittance market because of its very low fees and nearly instant processing times. Several bitcoin exchanges have addressed the price volatility problem by providing a fixed exchange rate before a payment is made for remittances. Storing bitcoins for long term benefit has become more attractive as country's such as Russia have see increased transaction volumes.

Could Cyberwar Cause a Library of Alexandria Event?
Blockchain based startup Alexandria is building a decentralized, and potentially un-censorable, storage of knowledge with the goal of preventing a Library of Alexandria event. Because print books are steadily declining and moving towards ebook form, there exist a variety of potential problems including the destruction of digital archiving as well as censorship and surveillance from government authorities. Alexandria’s system addresses this issue because it eliminates a central point of control, thus reducing the likelihood that the information is tampered with. One central issue Alexandria is addressing is to use blockchain based technologies to prevent central authorities from changing information or sending propaganda to the public through ebooks or search engines. However, a fundamental security flaw exists because the blockchain only stores a distributed hash table. If the original data is tampered with one can detect it but cannot recover the lost data. 

Former Silk Road Task Force Agent Pleads Guilty to Extortion, Money Laundering and Obstruction
Former DEA agent Carl Force pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice due to his fraudulent behavior while investigating the Silk Road. Using separate online profiles and encrypting messages, Force was able to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in bitcoin from the government and the drug marketplace. As part of the investigation, Force offered Ross Ulbricht inside information about the Silk Road investigation in exchange for bitcoin; however upon receiving the funds Force falsified reports and secured the bitcoin in an account he controlled. Additionally, Force admitted that he served as CoinMKT’s Chief Compliance Officer and when confronted about a suspicious account, he authorized the company to transfer roughly $300,000 in bitcoin into a personal account he controlled. The investigation is ongoing as another agent, Shaun Bridges, is also charged with money laundering and obstruction of justice as he obtained over $800,000 in bitcoin throughout the Silk Road investigation.

Singapore Central Bank Funds Blockchain RecordKeeping Project
Singapore's central bank, the Money Authority of Singapore, has allocated $225 million for an investment plan directed towards financial technology. The money will be used to fund innovation centers as well as several financial tech projects, including a blockchain record keeping system. While the bank took an overall bearish stance against bitcoin, it acknowledged the promise of the blockchain and that if bitcoin in the future becomes a success than no bank can ignore the currency. The investment is part of a bigger effort by the Singapore government to drive innovation and create a global fin tech hub. 

MIT's Bitcoin-Inspired 'Enigma' Let's Computers Mine Encrypted Data
The MIT Media Lab revealed a system called Enigma that would use bitcoin based technology to achieve homomorphic encryption, a method to enrypt data that can be shared with a third party yet never be decrypted. Enigma stores data that has been chopped up on the bitcoin blockchain to increase security measures. If a success, Enigma's software can allow private databases to be hosted in the cloud without the risk of revealing any data, thus limiting exposure to potential hackers. A major challenge for the initiative is that it would need thousands of nodes to work together; however the creators have devised an incentive system of rewarding nodes with bitcoin to help attract more users.

Online Payments Halted in Greece, Citizens Eye Bitcoin to Protect Savings
The Greek government recently halted online payment transactions that are coming from Greek debit and credit cards. This update comes after the government imposed capital controls on Greek bank accounts and limited ATM withdrawals to 60 euros a day. Users who have debit or credit cards that are linked to bank accounts outside of Greece can still purchase goods online from applications such as the apple App Store and Amazon, and can also use PayPal to send money.

Bitcoin Exchange Bitso to Work with the Mexican Government
Mexican Bitcoin exchange Bitso recently secured funding from Digital Currency Group and several Angel Investors to expand in Mexican and increase services throughout the under-banked population. Through its partnership with the Mexican government, the company has launched an initiative titled Transfer with the goal of providing a robust mobile payment platform. Bitso is in the position to lay the foundation for users to send pesos using bitcoin to 100 million smart phone as well as capture an emerging market.
Greeks Are Rushing to Bitcoin
Greeks are turning to bitcoin and other virtual currencies as the country continues to battle debt obligations and possible default. Even though banks shut their doors for fear of a bank run, some consumers with access to online banking can still purchase bitcoin through an exchange. LakeBTC, a Shanghai based exchange, has seen a 40% increase in visitors from Greece, while trades have increased 79% from the 10-week average on Bitstamps's exchange. However, there are very few places in Greece to use bitcoin; Athens has only half a dozen merchants who accept the currency. 

BlockTrail Makes Bitcoin Development Easier by Lowering Entry Barriers
BlockTrail is breaking down the high barrier to entry for building a consumer or business application for bitcoin by providing a suite of secure and reliable Application Program Interfaces, or API, to remove a steep learning curve for entering the industry. One API is the Blockchain Data API which allows developers to pull data from the Bitcoin network including wallet addresses, blocks, etc. Additionally, the wallet API allows company's to create wallet services and leverage BlockTrail's multi-sig security technology for a more secure product. The company will not charge developers to access the Developer Platform with the goal of promoting innovation and increasing the prominence of bitcoin in our everyday lives. 

Indian IT consulting firms are exploring the benefits of blockchain technology for their clients in the financial sectors. One such company, Infosys, has hired several executives to explore blockchain technology for use in not only payments but also insight on legal documents or determining the credit-worthiness of business partners. Other indian IT consulting giants, including Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. are also exploring the technology and are most likely to integrate multi-signature biometric data systems to increase security measures for clients in the financial industry. 
Breaking the House: How Primedice Was Exploited for $1M in Bitcoin
Online bitcoin gambling platform Primedice wrote in a post on Medium its recent loss of $1M in bitcoin to an unknown hacker. The hacker, known as "Hufflepuff" was beating the system by betting upwards of $8,000 in bitcoin every second for hours at a time. By placing a large volume of bets, the user confused the receiving server and made it give out both a server seed that was both decrypted and active, thus allowing Hufflepuff to know which hand would win and lose. As Primedice attempted to contact the hacker, he again duped the system under a different account for 2,000+ bitcoins.

BitFury Enhances its Advisory Board by Adding Former CFTC Chairman Dr. James Newsome and Renowned Global Thought Leader and President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy Hernando Soto - .VZE0qRNVikp
Leading blockchain infrastructure provider BitFury has added ex-Chairman of the CFTC and former CEO of NYMEX, James Newsome, as well as current President of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Hernando de Soto, to its advisory board. Dr. Newsome was a leader in regulation for commodity markets through the implementation of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 200 (CFMA). Mr. Soto has made great strides in implementing legal reforms to empower the poor in countries such as Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Both prominent figures have expressed great interest in bitcoin and have realized the true benefits of blockchain technology.

Bitcoin Opportunity Corp Backs Mexican Exchange Bitso
Mexican bitcoin company Bitso closed a round of funding led by the Bitcoin Opportunity Corp and several other undisclosed investors. Bitso provides order-book exchange services as well as merchant processing services. Barry Silbert stated that the company's greatest asset is its position to facilitate a large remittance market in Mexico. Mexico currently receives an estimated 40% of all remittances coming into Latin America.

Minecraft Servers Uses Bitcoin as In-Game Money, Educates Kids
PlayMC, a Minecraft game server, has integrated the use of bitcoin into the game to teach young players about the virtual currency. The company has decided to integrate this feature as it has received a larger volume of requests from children who wish to learn more about digital currencies. Children can receive bits, the smallest unit of a bitcoin, to spend on in game purchases and additional game content. Unlike credit cards or bank accounts these players will have access to bitcoin accounts which will also teach them how to manage money.

Former Nike CIO Anthony Watson Named CEO at Bitcoin Startup
Despite being at the company for only two months, former Nike CIO Anthony Watson will replace Bitreserve's founder Hasley Minor as CEO of the company. Bitreserve is a cloud based financial platform that established its competitive advantage by allowing customers to hold bitcoin as dollars, euros, and several other major currencies. During his short tenure at Bitreserve, Watson also recruited former Nike chief security officer William Dennings to the team, despite an ongoing legal battle between Dennings, his former employer MasterCard, and Nike. 

Bitcoin Spending Platform Safello Deal with Barclays to use Blockchain in Fintech
Barclays has signed a proof of concept (PoC) with Stockholm based bitcoin spending platform Safello in an effort to explore how the bank can leverage blockchain technologies. Barclays engaged in the agreement after the Barclays Accelerator Demon Day in London in which 10 companies presented ways to shape the future of the financial services industry. This event, in addition to the next one the bank is hosting in New York, signals the company's efforts to be on the forefront of a rapidly evolving technology.

Bitcoin Block Size Conflict Ends with Latest Update
The bitcoin mining and developer community has come to a resolution regarding the block size: Each block will be increased from 1 MB to 8 MB starting next year. In addition to the increase in size, Gavin Andresen also set several parameters including doubling the block size every two years for twenty years and a grace period once miner supermajority is achieved. Originally, Andresen proposed creating 20 MB block chain size; however this was given much pushback from the Chinese mining community due to the extra operating costs and complexities associated with empty blocks. 

Cameroon Experiments with Bitcoin Tech in its New Payment Ecosystem
Cameroon's Government has tested the use of a digital currency, called Trest, with 500 people in the country. The Government originally wanted to incorporate bitcoin; however very high network costs (roughly $18.95 of electrcity to process a transaction) caused them to seek alternative options. The West African nation suffers from an inadequate banking system in which local banks are increasingly becoming undercapitalized and fail to provide services to a 90% unbanked population. The Cameroonian Government has seen much success with the digital currency as users were able to easily comprehend the concept of virtual money  and use the Trest purchase goods. 

Bitcoin Block Size Conflict Ends with Latest Update
The bitcoin mining and developer community has come to a resolution regarding the block size: Each block will be increased from 1 MB to 8 MB starting next year. In addition to the increase in size, Gavin Andresen also set several parameters including doubling the block size every two years for twenty years and a grace period once miner supermajority is achieved. Originally, Andresen proposed creating 20 MB block chain size; however this was given much pushback from the Chinese mining community due to the extra operating costs and complexities associated with empty blocks.

Secret Service Agent Pleads Guilty for Stealing $820K from Silk Road Seizure
Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service special agent, pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars of bitcoin secured from the Silk Road. While investigating the Silk Road, Bridges transferred about 20,000 bitcoin from accounts and converted the bitcoin into cash through a Japan-based account. Carl Force, the lead agent in communication with Ross Ulbricht is also accused of stealing thousands of dollars of bitcoin from the drug exchange. 

Estonia's LHV Bank: 'The Bitcoin Blockchain is the Most Tested and Secure for Our Applications'
In an effort to modernize its operations, Estonia's largest independent Bank, LHV Bank, began testing the blockchain for banking and finance related applications. Rain Lõmus, CEO of LHV subsidiary Cuber Technology, has already developed an open-source platform called Cuber Wallet that uses bitcoin as a data carrier for its 'colored coins.' Lomus believes that other big banks, including Citi and JP Morgan, who have began testing the blockchain are more focused on leveraging the technology for wholesale trading and settlement payments. Currently, one of the main challenges faced by LHV Bank is bridging the gap between crypto and traditional forms of banking.

Bank of Indonesia Discourages Use of Bitcoin
Bank of Indonesia took a negative stance against bitcoin stating that the virtual currency is not legal tender and there are multiple risks associated with owning bitcoin. Although several countries who warned against bitcoin are starting to warm up to it, Indonesian regulators continue to show negative sentiment about the bitcoin industry. Suasti Atmastutu, business development manager of Bitcoin Indonesia, said that this statement by regulators does not signal using bitcoin in the country to be illegal. Users should treat bitcoin as a digital commodity, which means users cannot use bitcoin to purchase goods but can still buy, sell, and own the currency.
Top 10 Bitcoin Apps for Android
For all of us with Android phones, Coin Telegraph published a list of the top 10 bitcoin apps available on the Google Play store. One app, Mycelium Wallet, allows users to connect with others to trade bitcoin. The Mycelium "super nodes" make for fast connections to the bitcoin network and the company has cold storage for maximum security. Another app called Bitcoin Map allows users to find bitcoin merchants in your area. Other apps on the list include Angry Bird knock off Bitcoin Flapper, trading client zTrader, and BTC/LTC price checker Bitcoin Ticker Widget.
BitBeat: Social Network to Launch Own Coin; Gift Cards on the Blockchain
Mobile only social networking site Reveal has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from investors including Barry Silbert's Digital Currency Group and Adam Draper of Boost VC. The app will be based off users posting questions and others responding with 15 second videos. The company plans use its own digital currency which will be distributed to users. Founding members who join will be given 1,000 Reveal Coins, earn 10,000 RVL for each friend that joins, and 100 RVL for every like they receive. Advertisers will have to pay for coins from users in dollars on an exchange.
BitLicense Shoots Down Another Bitcoin Company in New York
The newly released BitLicense has led to another company shutting its doors in New York. Bitcoin cloud miner Eobot stated that the BitLicense's compliance requirements are adding financial strains on the business that make operating in New York too costly. Bitcoin mining company BTC Guild also shut its doors citing concerns of uncertainty in the BitLincese, while Erik Vorhees ShapeShift decided to cancel service to all New York State users because of over regulatory concerns of the BitLicense

Coinsetter and Shift Forex Release Bitbroker: Bitcoin Liquidity for the Forex Industry.
Coinsetter has partnered with foreign exchange consulting firm Shift Forex to create a bitcoin liquidity and market data service for forex brokers. This new platform supports brokers with the ability to trade on margin and short positions, providing 5:1 leverage that makes integrating the system less capital intensive for the consumer. Coinsetter's primary exchange provides some much needed features for brokers such as extensive liquidity, margin, API solutions, and tight spreads. CEO of Shift Forex Ian McAfee stated that bitcoin is a natural product extension for FX brokers and that Coinsetter was the perfect match to develop the platform.

Ripple Labs Joins Fed's Faster Payment Task Force
Ripple Labs has been elected to the Federal Reserve's Faster Payment Task Force Steering Committee, which aims to upgrade the US's outdated payment infrastructure. The main goal of the committee is to upgrade the domestic payment system used for e-check settlements, which currently takes 1-2 days for payments to clear. Ripple Lab's Ryan Zagone will work alongside 15 others to develop a system to bring real-time settlemens to the US payment system. Several other leading players in the payment industry will also join the task force, including Dwolla and the US subsidiary of the global bank BBVA.

Senate Urges 'Hands Off' Approach to Bitcoin
Canada's Senate released a report that stresses light regulation on the bitcoin industry to avoid stifling innovation. The report, issued by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce, stated that blockchain technology has a number of positive applications and even recommends the federal government use it to enhance security of private information. The report recognized that bitcoin and the blockchain are both in their early stages; however the best course of action is to limit the regulation surrounding the technology to promote growth and innovation

Bit-Everything: Applying Bitcoin Technology to Gold, Land, Cannabis, and More
New digital currencies are being developed as there is an increased demand for alternative methods of transferring value from one entity to another. For example, alternative currency company Anthem Vault developed a digital currency called hayek that is backed by gold, where each coin is equivalent to a gram of gold. While hayek will not eliminate forex risk, it will in the least make gold spendable to retailers. Several other alternative currencies discussed were PotCoin, and URO, which is backed by the fertilizer urea. In theory, the blockchain can be applied to almost any asset and numerous companies have begun testing the technology including BNY Mellon and Nasdaq.

Why the Bitcoin Blockchain Could Make Gift Cards, a Consumer Favorite, Even more Beloved
Online gift card platform Gyft has partnered with blockchain infrastructure provider Chain to offer gift cards based on the blockchain to thousands of small businesses called Gyft Block. Many small businesses do not have gift card programs due to high costs; however Gyft realized the opportunity to leverage the blockchain for a cost effective method to run a gift card program. Using the blockchain would add strong security measures for businesses, as gift card fraud is highly prevalent in many retail stores. A unique feature of the gift card is that the value will not be denominated in bitcoin; however the transactions will be recorded on the blockchain. 

Russian Central Bank Governor: The Market will Welcome Bitcoin
Governor of the Russian Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, established a position regarding the future of cryptocurrencies and bitcoin in Russia. According the sources, the governor and the central bank may regulate some bitcoin activities such as transfer payments and settlements between users. Nabiullina stated that Russian regulators are analyzing the bitcoin market for risks associated, as well as positive aspects such as bitcoin's mobility, low cost structure, and speed.

Bitcoin Hardware Maker Case Wallet Pockets $1.5 Million
Case Wallet, a credit-card sized device that can store and send bitcoin, raised $1.5 million in seed money to explore broader areas for applying the device. Case Wallet uses a camera to scan a QR code and the device contains a fingerprint scanner to verify users. The added security features of using biometric data have garnered interest form financial institutions. The company plans to ship the devices this summer.

Coinbase Launches Instant Exchange, Protects Users from Volatility
Coinbase has launched Instant Exchange which allows users to send and receive bitcoin instantly. Using Instant Exchange will help protect consumers from price volatility as they are able to lock in a certain buy or sell price almost instantaneously. Two functions for the service are Instant Exchange Send, which lets users send bitcoin and pay with local currency, and Instant Exchange Receive. The later function initiates a sell order almost immediately once the bitcoin is received. The Instant Exchange is open to customers who wish to transact in Euros, Dollars, and Pounds; however there has been no news about a timeline for adding additional currencies.

Why Upgrade to 8MB but not 20MB
5 of China's biggest mining pools, which accounts for 55%-60% of all hashing power on the bitcoin network, have come to a compromise regarding Gavin Andressen's proposed 20 MB blockchain size. The 5 companies have agreed that while an increase in blockchain size is not necessary at the moment, an 8 MB size would be a more realistic and fair short term adjustment for miners around the world. These companies, including Huobi, and BTCChina, argued that an increase to 20 MB would drastically damage the system as it might cause Chinese miners to close down their operations permanently as mining will no longer be financially sufficient. The Chinese mining pools involved with the decision are striving for a fair consensus rather than a divided community which will ultimately impact the bitcoin network. 

Bitcoin Surges as Grexit Worries Mount, Posts Best Run in 18 Months
Bitcoin prices are gaining momentum as concerns surrounding the possible Grexit continue to rise. The price of bitcoin jumped as much as 7% and was on track for its longest gain in 18 months. Greek demand for bitcoin is also rising as consumers are buying up the currency because of uncertainty about their own economy and which currency will be used if the government defaulted on its loans. Bitcoin can provide an alternative currency to Greeks who are concerned about capital controls and the stability of the traditional banking system.

MasterCard Response to 'Digital Currencies: Call for Information'
In a statement answering the United Kingdom's call for information on digital currencies, MasterCard highlighted a number of threats associated with bitcoin while noting very few benefits of using the currency. MasterCard did note that low transaction costs and faster processing are perceived advantages of bitcoin; however the company answered this in saying its own network is more secure and a faster. The company also noted that one of the central issues with digital currencies is the lack of consumer protection laws. MasterCard did provide several suggestions for an effective regulatory system such as regulated exchanges, better consumer protection laws for unauthorised charges, and supervision over wallets. 

Bitcoin Mining Pool BTC Guild to Close Over BitLicense Concerns
BTC Guild, a bitcoin mining pool, announced that it will cease operations due the potential cost of legal threats that may arise from regulations surrounding the BitLicense. The company also stated that it would close down because of the high degree of risk associated with managing a bitcoin pool, and the large amount of funds that could be compromised. Executives at BTC Guild have decided that it is in the best interest of its staff and customers to close down the business, which will be fully liquidated on September 30th

Reason Magazine Subpoena Backfires, Anonymous Doxes Silk Road Judge Again
In response to a subpoena received by Reason Magazine, hackers from Anonymous Sweden once again posted information about Judge Katherine Forest, the judge who oversaw Ross Ulbricht's proceedings, on An anonymous hacker who used the handle PH1K3 posted the Judge's sensitive information including  social security, email address, phone number, and house address. Ph1K3 said that he, along with other coders, are fighting for the freedom of the internet and the hacking community will win against government oversight. He also continued to defend Ross Ulbricht stating that he was not at fault for the Silk Road and instead the Judge was at fault for sending a programmer to jail. Brings Bitcoin to Over 900 US Movie Theaters has integrated GoCoin's bitcoin payment processor allowing users to purchase movie tickets with bitcoin at 985 theaters, including Regal Cinemas. Notably, the online ticket venue does not include AMC Theaters which has 300 theaters in the US. GoCoin,, and distributor of the new movie Dope have partnered on promoting the use of bitcoin, as the cast of Dope used the currency to purchase products in the film.

Bitcoin Exchange MonetaGo Launches in 40 Countries 
Bitcoin exchange company MonetaGo has launched its services across 40 countries around the world. The platform is unique because, unlike Bitreserve, it allows users to not only peg the value of their bitcoin to several foreign exchange rates, but also redeem these pegged bitcoins for either fiat money or unpegged bitcoin. The company will offer its services to users for two weeks free, but later will charge between .1% -  .5% to users depending on monthly volume. MonetaGo has been in talks with global regulators and banks and is in the process of submitting its application for the BitLicense.

BitFury and Georgian Co-Investment Fund Start Bitcoin Fundraising to Help Victims in Tbilisi, Georgia - .VX87ZBNViko
BitFury has partnered with the Georgian Co-Investment Fund to help provide relief efforts for those who were effected by a deadly flood in Tbillisi, Georgia. BitFury donated bitcoins and has opened a joint bitcoin wallet with the Georgian Co-Investment Fund that will accept international donations for the victims. The wallet address and QR code can be found in the link above.

New Service Allows Australians to Pay Anyone Using Bitcoin
Australian based bitcoin payments company Living Room of Satoshi has launched its BPAY system, which allows Australians to use bitcoin to transfer funds directly to another bank account. CEO Daniel Alexiuc believes the service should gain traction with Australians, as using bitcoin can be more cost effective and efficient when compared to alternative forms of money transfer. Users can visit the company’s website to begin transferring funds to others.

New Dark Pool Addresses This Major Headache for Bitcoin Traders
San Francisco-based bitcoin exchange Kraken has created a dark pool for bitcoin trading. The dark pool essentially allows for traders who wish to buy or sell a large number of bitcoins in one order to execute a trade without revealing their interest and at a desired price. Kraken will charge an extra .1% for dark pool transactions, and require a minimum trade of 50 bitcoins. 

Will Bitcoin Finally Bring Down the House of Medici?
Bitcoin and the technology surrounding the currency has the potential to replace a 600 year old cross boarder banking system that is still in use today. The process of issuing international payments is complex, can take up to several day to process, and cost up to 5% of the total transaction value. Several steps include getting a letter of credit from a financial institution, sending more than the actual amount of the transaction to cover fees, and for the receiving party to convert the currency into local dollars, which also comes along with a price tag from the bank. Bitcoin is safer, easier to exchange data values, and does not require a middleman in cross boarder payments, thus removing a costly fee structure associated with international banks. 

Hyperinflation Leads the Number of Venezuelan Bitcoin Users to Double
Venezuelans continue to adopt bitcoin at a faster rate as the local currency suffers from rapid inflation. The bolívar's inflation rate is expected to pass 70% this year and Venezuelans are on the market to buy foreign currencies to retain the value of their money. The country's largest bitcoin advocacy group stated that bitcoin buyers in the country are optimistic about the virtual currency and even believe that the value can increase in the next few moths. The optimistic sentiment for bitcoin in the country is leading to coffee shops, restuarants, and malls accepting bitcoin as a method of payment. 

Goldman Sachs Learns About Bitcoin From Andreessen Horowitz
Goldman Sachs hosted Balaji Srinivasa, GP at Andreessen Horowitz, and Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, to speak about bitcoin and the outlook of the currency. In his presentation, Srinivasa explained  Andreessen Horowitz's optimistic view on bitcoin by stating that the currency can become the dollar of the internet and completely change the micropayments space through low transaction fees. Srinivasa and Brito also touched on the hot topic of regulation, citing the Japanese government's increasingly positive stance on bitcoin. 

BitBeat: Blockstream Unveils Much-Waited First Sidechain Prototype
Blockstream has unveiled the first prototype of its Sidechain Elements protocol. The sidechain has attracted attention because it attempts to work around the problem of gaining large support from miners to make changes to bitcoin's code. A sidechain essentially acts as a separately managed ledger with its own code and independent transactions; however the chain is pegged to the blockchain which allows for bitcoins to be transferred from one chain to the next. Blockstream has opened the code up for outside developers to review and offer suggestions for improvements.

Bitcoin Company Ditches New York, Blaming New Regulations
Only a week after the BitLicense was released, Erick Vorhee's decided to cut off service to all New York State customers. The company states that the main reason for its action is because the BitLicense's data collection of users is both unethical and dangerous. Those in New York who visit the company's website are directed to which features a long message regarding identiy theft and the benefis of bitcoin and the blockchain.

Winklevoss Twins Talk About Bitcoin with Live Audience in New York
Nathaniel Popper interviewed the Winklevoss Twins in New York regarding their involvement with bitcoin. The twins said that their exchange, called Gemini, is ready to launch now that the final version of the BitLicense is published. They have decided to operate in New York State because the bitlicense sets the legal parameters to operate, something that other jurisdictions do not have in place yet. When asked about the blockchain, both Cameron and Tyler said that the blockchain and bitcoin work in tandem and that one cannot operate without the other. The twins are very bullish on bitcoin and even mentioned they have bitcoin stored away for long term investment purposes.

New CoinDesk Report Reveals Who Really Uses Bitcoin
CoinDesk published a 45 page research report that covers who is using bitcoin, who is not using bitcoin, and the direct implications associated with each side. The report covers in detail the profile of an average bitcoin user, a detailed section on consumer spending data, tips for companies that wish to expand the technology to emerging markets/new users, and expert's opinions on bitcoin's branding issue. The research report gathered its data from analyzing 4,000 responses from several countries. The report can be published on CoinDesk's website for $99. 

OpenBazaar is Entering a New Phase with Funding
Decentralized e-commerce platform DrugBazaar received $1 million in seed funding from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. With the added capital, the company can complete and release its core protocol and application, as well as develop a business on the OpenBazaar network, called OB1, which will offer services and promote the adoption of decentralized commerce. 

Russia Expected to Legalize Bitcoin P2P Transactions
According to a leading Russian newspaper, Russia's Central Bank may soon regulate transactions in bitcoin as the country continues to grapple with bitcoin legitimacy. Sources believe that the Central Bank is a proponent of the cryptocurrency and that regulations can involve P2P transactions and settlement payments between individuals. This is a victory for the Russian bitcoin community as government authorities have previously shut down several prominent websites. 

What Bitcoin Consolidation in Mexico Tells Us About the Industry
Consolidation of the bitcoin industry continues as Mexican bitcoin exchange Unisend has acquired rival Mexican exchange called Bitso. While the details of the acquisition have not been released, this news signals a growing trend in the industry as fewer players will be able to capture a large opportunity in the market. In the past year alone, Coinsetter bought out rival Canadian exchange Cavirtext, Vault of Satoshi was shut down, and government authorities shut down BTCXIndia. The consolidation in the industry is expected to continue as companies seek to buy out rivals and others continue to shut down. 

Taiwanese Company Brings Bitcoin to 10,000 Convenience Stores
Bitcoin startup Maicon has launched an app called MaiWallet that lets users buy bitcoin at 10,000 convenience stores in Taiwan. It is common for people in Asia to pay bills at convenience stores by giving cash to store clerks in exchange for electronic checks. Maicoin's process is similar as customers order bitcoin via the mobile app or web-based platform and hand cash to the store clerk to complete the transaction. Maicon has also integrated its platform with Facebook Shopping Cart in an effort to allow smaller Taiwanese merchants to accept bitcoin. Finally. the company has taken a step in the remittance market by partnering with Philippines exchange to access a large number of Filipinos working in Taiwan.  

What BitLicense Regulations Mean for Bitcoin
While the final version of the BitLicense is a major step for the bitcoin industry, there still remains several elements of the document that prove to be over the top requirements of regulated firms. For example, bitcoin companies that are regulated under the BitLicense must state that virtual currencies are suscetible to fraud or cyber attacks, meanwhile almost all financial transactions between companies around the wolrd are also conducted virtually and are open to the same cyber risks. The BitLicense also missed several opportunities, such as addressing important issues including key security, which will have to be added to the document at a later date. Overall, the BitLicense is a major step for the bitcoin space and will help drive consumer adoption in the industry. 

Dark Net Drug Sales Using Bitcoins Are Booming After Fall of Silk Road Marketplace
Multiple illegal drug marketplaces continue to operate despite government authorities shutting down the most notorious drug bazaar, Silk Road, and its founder, Ross Ulbricht, being sentenced to life in prison without parole. The study shown in the article illustrates that buying drugs online is not only safer, but also more cost affective when compared with traditional methods of obtaining illegal substances. Bitcoin remains the most viable currency available to trade illegal drugs as it is very difficult to track payments and people. At the time of the survey, less than 1% of the 100,000 respondents said that law enforcement was the main reason to avoid purchasing drugs on the Internet.

BitLicense Exemption a 'Huge Deal' for RibbitRewards
Despite many bitcoin startups facing increased government regulation, blockchain based loyalty rewards program RibbitRewards was excluded from the final version of the BitLicense, The BitLicense explicitly stated that digital currencies can be redeemed as a part of a rewards program but cannot be redeemed for any other form of currency.  This is very positive news for the company as it does not have to fear increased scrutiny and can continue conversations with potential investors and large players in the loyalty points industry. 

ShapeShift Founder Erik Voorhees Launches First iOS Cryptocurrency Trading App
During Apple's Developer Conference, Erik Voorhees announced that his company, instant digital currency exchange ShapeShit.IO, has launched an app on the Apple app store. What separates the company from other apps, such as Coinbase or BitPay, is that ShapeShift does not need users to enter usernames, email addresses, or passwords. Instead, users just input their wallet addresses and can convert one digital asset into roughly 36 different cryptocurrencies. Voorhees hopes that this move can help the company secure a small piece of a massive global exchange market.

The Bitcoin Startup That Lured Nike's CIO has Now Hired the Nike CISO Sued by MasterCard
Former Nike Chief Information Security Officer William Dennings has joined bitcoin startup Bitreserve as the company's first CISO. Dennings will be leaving Nike despite an ongoing lawsuit between Nike and Denning's previous employer MasterCard over allegations of Dennings and Nike poaching cybersecurity talent. Dennings will lead Bitreserve’s security and data protection infrastructure as the company tries to establish itself as a leading cloud money service.    

Australia's 'Big Four' Banks ANZ & Westpac Test Out Ripple Payments
Ripple continues to gain traction in Australia as two of the country's biggest banks began testing the Ripple protocol for more cost efficient cross border payments. Integrating the payment system would help avoid money laundering by allowing the banks to identify the origins for each transaction. Although banks are beginning to test the Ripple system, they are still hesitant in adopting bitcoin citing concerns of various risks associated such as a lack of regulation.

World's First Cryptobond Has First Buyer CEO Patrick Byrne purchased the world's first cryptobond for $500,000. This comes after the company has decided to sell a total of $25 million in digital bonds that will be listed on the blockchain. The company will sell the bonds on its own platform called TØ.com, and trades will be settled the same day rather than the typical 3 day settlement on Wall Street (T+3). Byrne not only wants to prove his faith in his own company and its TØ platform, but also prove that bitcoin's technology can facilitate an effective and transparent method to secure capital by emerging companies.

MasterCard Expresses Doubts over Bitcoin's Long Term Viability
In response to the UK government's call for information on digital currencies, MasterCard criticized bitcoin on the basis of high-risk exposure and a lack of benefits from using the currency. The company also stated that the low transactions costs would soon falter as bitcoin companies will face additional costs to comply with consumer protection and anti-money laundering laws. Additionally, MasterCard warned the UK Treasury with other potential risks associated with the currency such as unprotected exchanges, volatility, and unreliable mining methods that can pose serious threats to consumers and businesses who adopt the digital currency. 

NY's BitLicense Reveals the Difficult Trade-offs Of Regulation Bitcoin
Under the leadership of Benjamin Lawsky, New York has become the first state to issue a comprehensive set of regulations for the bitcoin industry through the BitLicense. While drafting the BitLicense, Lawsky had to find an effective balance of regulation and oversight that would protect consumers without stifling innovation in the industry. Throughout the drafting process, Lawsky remained very open to the industry's feedback, and he incorporated many of the proposed changes in the BitLicense. While his most recent draft is a major step for the organization and regulatory environment for bitcoin, many key players in the industry still believe the department fell short of expectations.

Overstock Will Issue a Private Bond Powered by Bitcoin Tech has proposed a $25 million blockchain bond offering to several hedge funds, PE Firms, and potential investors. Overstock's CEO Patrick Byrne is very bullish on the blockchain and bitcoin as his company was one of the first to adopt the currency as a method of payment. Byrne has confirmed that Overstock is prepared to issue bonds immediately and is willing to issue a bond for less than the total just to make a cryptosecurity available on the market. The bond will be issued as 25 one million dollar digital tokens and will trade on an alternative trading system, or ATS. Last year. Overstock has purchased a 25% stake in an ATS called PRO Securities

Money Isn't Free, but Moving It Is Now Cheaper                
Payment startups have disrupted traditional cash-transfer companies as they offer more innovative and cost effective means to transfer money. Companies like Venmo, Google Pay, and Facebook Messenger transfer bits around a network rather than dollars between banks. The remittance market is also changing, as companies such as Rebit introduce more cost effective means to send money overseas. Bitcoin stands to be one of the most effective means to transfer money; however the large scale adoption of bitcoin for money transfer, specifically between the unbanked, will take a much longer period of time.

BitPay Launches Open Source, Multisig Wallet Copay
BitPay launched a multi-signature wallet called Copay. The wallet is efficient for those concerned about privacy as well as businesses because it requires multiple people to verify a payment or a withdrawal from the account. The shared wallet can be used by several people such as a small business looking to budget funds to a family account that wants to monitor spending. Even if a wallet was compromised, every transaction would have be approved by multiple people thus bringing security to a new level.

Deutsche Bank Set to Launch 3 'Innovation Labs' to Accelerate Fin-Tech Startups
Deutsche Bank is set to launch 3 startup 'innovation labs' located in Silicon Valley, London, and Berlin, to help accelerate financial technology services companies. The German bank is committed to investing about $1.11 billion over the next three to five years to fund the 50 startups that will be in the accelerators. The bank will partner with Microsoft in Berlin, HCL in London, and IBM in Silicon Valley to manage the labs and help provide expertise, relationships, and resources needed for the startups. This move is primarily seen as a push for innovative technologies rather than an investment for Deutsche Bank.

Chinese Exchanges Reject Gavin Andresen's 20 MB Block Size Increase
Two of China's biggest bitcoin exchanges have criticized Gavin Andresen's proposal to raise the block size limit citing that 20 megabytes is a very large increase from the current 1-megabyte limit on block size. Both BTCChina and Huobi are concerned about higher operating costs for miners, which could drive several miners out of the market and produce a much less secure bitcoin network. Both exchanges did agree that a larger block size is needed for mainstream adoption; however they propose increasing the block size gradually over a period of time starting with a raise to a 4-megabytes.

ISIS is Moving Money Using Bitcoin - Digital Currency Aiding Recruitment, Training, and Weapons Procurement?
ISIS has adopted the use of bitcoin to transfer funds throughout its terrorist network spread all around the world. The terrorist organization leverages the anonymity of bitcoin and the efficiency of sending funds using the system to avoid any government agency from seizing its funds. It is increasingly difficult to monitory these types of transactions of the vastness of the internet. 

NY Financial Regulator Lawsky Releases Final BitLicense Rules for Bitcoin Firms
Ben Lawsky, New York Superintendent of Financial Services, introduced new rules for the bitcoin industry in the organization's latest version of the BitLicense. One key takeaway from the new version is that bitcoin based companies, specifically exchanges, will have to apply for a license from the Department of Financial Services in addition to complying with several specific rules including consumer protection and anti-money laundering. However, the BitLicense does exempt software developers from facing regulation, which addresses the concern of over regulation and stifling innovation. In addition, companies will only have to apply for a BitLicense and not a money-transmitter license as well. While there is still backlash against the proposed update, many believe this is an opportunity to bring legitimacy to the currency.

Bitcoin Regulation Bill Approved by Californian State Assembly
California's State Assembly has approved a bill that would regulate digital currency companies similar to the way banks are regulated. If the state's Senate passes the bill, digital currency companies will have to obtain an annually renewable license from the Department of Business Oversight to operate in the state. This news comes after an increasing regulatory presence in other states such as New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina.

Core Developer Mike Hearn: Internal Politics Limit Google From Adopting Bitcoin              
Mike Hearn, core bitcoin developer and former Google employee, spoke with the bitcoin community regarding several prominent topics in the industry. Hearn commented on the current hype with the blockchain stating that it is limited because the blockchain is not as generally applicable as many financial institutions think, and that the blockchain is closely tied with bitcoin and cannot be separated. Hearn also stated that Google is not moving into the bitcoin space because of internal political tensions and a highly bureaucratic nature. Hearn does believe that bitcoin can replace the banking system; however he's not convinced that the blockchain technology needs to be decentralized system.

Bitfinex First Bitcoin Exchange to Offer On-Blockchain Transactions
In a move for greater transparency, Bitfinix now allows users to check their bitcoin wallets directly on the blockchain. The company is the first bitcoin exchange to offer on-blockchain transactions, and trade settlements will be broadcasted once each day. This move comes following a suspected hack on the exchange.

BlockTrail Acquires SendChat, Welcomes New Member
Bitcoin platform provider BlockTrail has acquired digital currency messaging app SendChat. BlockTrail cites that the company has synergy with SendChat and the acquisition will help the company develop its own mission. SendChat founder Alejandro De La Torre will join the BlockTrail team to help reinforce existing businesses/marketing efforts and lead new project developments.

SpectroCoin Launches as Bitcoin Debit Card for Eastern Europe
SpectroCoin has launched its bitcoin debit card in Eastern Europe. The debit card, which costs €7, can be used at any retailer that accepts credit or debit card transactions and has a €10,000 maximum card balance. The company has decided to move into Eastern Europe as this region is widely overlooked by most digital currency companies.

News of Bitcoin's Death Greatly Exaggerated
Beginning late least year, bitcoin headlines were signaling an imminent death for the currency. The value of bitcoin had fallen more than 56%, outpacing the drop in the ruble and Ukrainian hryvnia. However, the grim news was over exaggerated as bitcoin has gained much steam in recent weeks with financial firms adopting the blockchain, major banks investing in bitcoin based startups, and key figures are joining the boards of some of the biggest names. Many are eyeing bitcoin's potential benefits, such as being an effective medium for exchange/mechanisms for recording information.

How the Bitcoin Market Cap Explains a $1 Million Price Prediction
At its core, bitcoin's value is derived from pure supply and demand. With a finite number of bitcoins and a countless number of applications for the currency, the value of each bitcoin can reach up to $1 million as demand begins to grow. The currency has the potential to capture a large share of the $2 trillion electronic payments market, the $1 trillion e-commerce market, and the $514 billion remittance market. The larger the demand for the currency, the higher the market cap and ultimately higher prices for each bitcoin held. 

BitBeat: Grand Plans for Bitcoin From Necker Island
Some of the bitcoin industry's most prominent figures gather on Richard Branson's private island for the Blockchain Summit. The group discussed various projects that would leverage the blockchain to change the lives of billions of people around the world. Something worth noting is that a fair amount of non-tech expertise attended the summit, which shows that bitcoin and the blockchain can find success through those who fully understand political, social, and cultural realities. Some of the most prominent ideas discussed was the use of the blockchain for land titles and BitFurry's light bulb that was designed to mine bitcoins. 

Bitcoin App Issues Critical Update After Rare Bug Leads to Total Crypto Breakdown
Bitcoin wallet Blockchain suffered from a bug that left multiple users sharing a bitcoin wallet and bitcoins being sent to the wrong addresses. The bug came after the company released an update for its Android app. Certain versions of the Android operating system failed to provided sufficient entropy which directly caused multiple users to generate duplicate addresses. The company recommends downloading the latest version of its app on the Google Play store and users updating their Android OS. 

Why Banks Are testing Bitcoin's Blockchain (Without Bitcoin)
The financial industry is warming up to the prospects of bitcoin, and more specifically the blockchain. Financial institutions see opportunity in using the blockchain to increase efficiency and security in current payments systems. While major banks will not use the public ledger on the blockchain, they are instead going to develop in house blockchain ledgers that would remain on their own internal servers. Several institutions have already begun experimenting with the blockchain such as Bank of New York Mellon, Nasdaq, and CBW Bank.

Apple Approves New 'Game of Birds' App With Bitcoin Tipping
Bitcoin is gaining traction in the App Store as Apple approved the second bitcoin enabled tipping app called Game of Birds. Players who receive in game rewards are given bitcoin, which comes from the games own bitcoin wallet. The game derives bitcoin from advertisers who give the currency in exchange for advertising space on the app. While the game does not focus on bitcoin, developers said that they wish to contribute to the growing popularity of bitcoin and help the currency become more mainstream.

Bitcoin’s Tech is Entering the Major Leagues
Major companies, investors, and technologists are betting that the blockchain, rather than bitcoin, will have a lasting impact on the global financial system and on our everyday lives. Numerous major players have begun experimenting with the blockchain such as Seagate, Overstock, Nasdaq, IBM, and Samsung. During the Blockchain Summit hosted by Richard Branson, Jeff Garzik compared the current state of the blockchain to the Internet pre 1990. He continued to describe how the blockchain is the lowest layer of a network, similar to that of TCP/IP, and that in the coming years the industry will shift from discussing the blockchain to focusing on the myriad of applications that are built off the underlying technology.

Andresen Considering Shift to Bitcoin Xt
In an email chain with other bitcoin developers, Gavin Andresen expressed a strong interest in moving forward with a patch on the Bitcoin Core, called Bitcoin Xt, in response to a growing debate about the potential increase of the 1 MB block size limit. Andresen laid out a plan for the adoption of Bitcoin-Xt that would involve lobbying merchant services, exchanges, and wallet companies to utilize the new patch, and gaining a larger support for bigger block size in the bitcoin community. However, there has been backlash against the proposed initiative as some fear the overall bitcoin system can be comprised if Bitcoin Xt is integrated. The topic continues to be a hot topic for debate amongst individuals in the industry. 

Will Bitcoin Kill Don Drapper? Mad Men and the Real End of an Era
The business model for the advertising industry has changed little since the Mad Men time period. Media companies generate a majority of their revenue from advertising space because it is seemingly impossible to charge consumers for a single article or video they watch online. However, with the introduction of bitcoin and the blockchain, micro-payments become feasible and economically efficient. Micro payments changes the business model for media companies as they can begin to generate revenue from actual users rather than relying solely on advertising space that has remained virtually unchanged for years.

Australia's Commonwealth Bank Latest to Experiment With Ripple         
Australia's Commonwealth Bank (CBA), one of Australia's largest banks, will begin integrating Ripple technology to facilitate payments between its subsidiaries. The bank will begin testing the Ripple protocol with one of its subsidiaries to fully understand the benefits of using a crypto payment system rather than existing payment providers. This news comes after German bank Fidor becoming the first bank to integrate Ripple's protocol, followed by US banks CBW Bank and Cross River Bank.

Bitcoin ATMs Reach 400 Units Worldwide, 2-Way Machines on the Rise
Bitcoin ATM adoption has risen sharply in the last few years as 400 machines are currently available around the world. According to Coin ATM Radar, one bitcoin ATM is installed every two days which signals stronger demand for consumers. US and Canada have more than half of the machines available in the world with 133 and 69 respectively, followed by Europe and Asia. Lamassu, the industry leader for bitcoin ATMs with 32.5% market share, released data showing that its machines produce an average profit for $1,000 - $3,000 a month for its operators.

The Future of Bitcoin Is Bright; Jesus Would Know
Roger Ver spoke about the rapid growth of digital currencies at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna. Ver highlighted that as the number of startups and investors increase, the overall moral of bitcoin will grow, as consumers will begin to adopt the currency across all sectors including buying goods, remittances, and online gambling. Ver also noted that if Amazon adopted bitcoin the company could significantly reduce the roughly $2.6 billion on credit card fees it pays. Ver believes that an increase in adoption by businesses, consumers, and investors will ultimately increase the value of each bitcoin to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ross Ulbricht, Creator of Silk Road Website, Is Sentenced to Life In Prison
Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison due operating a drug bazaar and soliciting murders of those who he saw as a threat to his operation. Ulbricht used bitcoin to trade goods through the online marketplace and he collected millions of dollars in commissions in bitcoin from each sale. In three years of operation, over 1.5 million transactions occurred with 100,000 buyer accounts and several thousand seller accounts. The New York Judge wanted to set a precedent for future cases as Ulbricht was the first person to be convicted for operating an online drug marketplace.
Accenture: UK Government Should Regulate Bitcoin Wallets
Multinational management consulting company Accenture responded to the UK Treasury’s call for information on digital currencies by proposing minimal regulation on bitcoin wallets. While taking an overall positive stance on the digital currency, Accenture believes that government regulation of bitcoin wallets will encourage larger UK bank participation in the industry, and add security features such as individual wallet identification and money laundering oversight. In addition, the company proposes creating an Authorized Digital Currency Wallet Institutions list that would monitor transactions, ensure payments are between identifiable wallets, and be able to freeze wallets in case of suspicious activity. Accenture has begun to experiment with blockchain technology in its Technology Labs to test how its financial services clients can leverage the technology in their own businesses'.

Regulation and Tax Breaks for Bitcoin Proposed by N.J. Lawmakers
New Jersey lawmakers proposed a bill, dubbed the Digital Currency Jobs Creation Act, that would create regulatory guidelines for bitcoin companies and offer tax breaks to firms that service or exchange bitcoin. The bill aims to be less strict in regulation than the current iteration of New York's BitLicense. The legislation is incentivizing bitcoin companies to operate in the state by offering very favorable tax credits for jobs created and exempting companies from paying taxes on money spent on electricity. The proposed legislation would add clarity to the regulatory environment for bitcoin and can possibly set a model for other states to follow.  

Top 10 Countries in Which Bitcoin is Banned
The bitcoin industry has experienced a tumultuous regulatory environment globally. Although some countries, such as America and UK, have shown positive attitudes toward the technology, other countries have banned the currency due to fear, desire to protect their local currency, or ignorance surrounding the technology. China has deemed the currency illegal strictly for banks, even though the country has the world's largest bitcoin trading market. Other countries include India, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Iceland.   

Official 'Life on Bitcoin' Documentary Trailer Released 
The trailer for a new documentary called Life on Bitcoin has been released. The two-minute video starts with the newly wed couple's goal to live 90 days strictly on bitcoin. However, the couple runs into serious roadblocks  as there were few places that even heard of bitcoin and even fewer that accepted the currency for payment. The documentary is expected to launch summer 2015.  

Richard Branson's Block Chain Summit Asked to Address Bitcoin's Massive Potential Power Drain
Richard Branson hosted a gathering of leaders in the bitcoin industry on his private island for the Block Chain Summit. One of the key issues surrounding the summit is with the large amount of electricity used to mine bitcoins. According to a model built by Australian think tank Long Future Foundation, someday bitcoin mining can consume 60% of the global electricity or 13,000 terawatt hours. Industry leaders will discuss ways to combat the rising demand for electricity by bitcoin miners. 

Announcing Xapos Advisory Board
In a blog post on its website, Xapo officially announced its advisory board with three key figures in the financial industry. Dee Hock, founder of Visa and visionary who developed the payment system we still use today, states that bitcoin offers a solution to dated command and control organizational structures. John Reed, former Chairman & CEO of Citibank, cites that bitcoin is the most effective way to keep a universal ledger for today's payment system. Finally, former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers believes that bitcoin is the first real method of transferring value without the need of any intermediary.

The EBA Looks Ahead at Blockchain and e-Identity
Vincent Brennan, Chairman of the European Banking Association (EBA), states that banks need to understand block-chain technology and how the innovative system can be leveraged for long-term benefits. He cites that banks should not focus on the mystique surrounding the technology and cryptocurrency, but instead begin to explore how the underlying technology can reduce costs and be used for various banking services such as foreign exchange remittances, faster payments, and collateral management. 

Long Way From Accepting Bitcoin at New Firm: Lawsky
In an interview with CNBC, Superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services Benjamin Lawsky spoke about his goal for regulating the bitcoin industry. Through the BitLicense, he wishes to impose modern regulatory guidelines that would protect consumers, add anti-money laundering controls, and ensure longevity for bitcoin firms handling consumer's money, while avoiding over-regulation that would stifle innovation. Lawsky also said that his new consulting firm is a long way from bitcoin as a means of payment. 

Risks & Rewards of Investing in Bitcoin
The investing site site Investopedia covered several different methods to invest in bitcoin as well as the risks and rewards associated. One of the easiest methods to gain exposure is to simply buy bitcoin through an exchange. More complicated methods include mining bitcoin, trading bitcoin derivatives, or investing in several tradable securities, including the bitcoin investment trust ($GBTC). Several risks include the anonymity of the creators, the volatile price movement, and no government recognizes the currency as any form of legal tender. 

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