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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

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

Posted on 8 April 2014 | 4:27 pm

Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

Posted on 25 March 2014 | 5:46 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

Bitcoin exchange Coinizy launches Bitcoin to PayPal redemption service - SiliconANGLE (blog)

SiliconANGLE (blog)

Bitcoin exchange Coinizy launches Bitcoin to PayPal redemption service
SiliconANGLE (blog)
The service allows users to redeem their Bitcoin into a payment via PayPal, Inc.'s payment service whereas traditionally Bitcoin exchanges have primarily only offered redemption services via wire transfer, although as we've seen recently with Coinbase ...
Coinizy Brings the World's First Bitcoin to PayPal ExchangeCoinTelegraph
Coinizy Launches World's First Bitcoin to PayPal
Coinizy Launches First Bitcoin-to-PayPal Exchange ServiceThe Merkle (blog)

all 4 news articles »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 8:44 pm

We Make Decent Lettuce Via Bitcoin !! - Launching NewsBTC's Live Trading Room - newsBTC


We Make Decent Lettuce Via Bitcoin !! - Launching NewsBTC's Live Trading Room
Trading Forex pairs in Bitcoin is a rather new trend and is somehow risky given that you should calculate your trade risks according to 2 parameters; the BTC/fiat price and the price oscillation of the Forex pair you are trading, so I decided to start ...
Bitcoin Black Friday Back in FocusForex Market (blog)

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 4:40 pm

Bitcoin Startups Face Backlash for Perceived Pivots - CoinDesk


Bitcoin Startups Face Backlash for Perceived Pivots
Bitcoin industry startups are facing backlash over a new series of articles in which they have been portrayed as pivoting away from the digital currency and toward more general FinTech applications. Spurred by articles in Business Insider and The ...
Uphold Launches Additional Account Funding Options for US (blog)

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 1:42 pm

Mining Difficulty Increases by over 10% Due to Bitcoin Price Increase and next ... - Bitcoin Magazine

Bitcoin Magazine

Mining Difficulty Increases by over 10% Due to Bitcoin Price Increase and next ...
Bitcoin Magazine
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 ...
Is Bitcoin Group's IPO In Sight?Bidness ETC
Bitcoin Group's IPO Delayed Again After Australian Regulator Requests to Hire ...Coinspeaker
Bitcoin IPO: Aussie Bitcoin Firm Asked to Get Mining Expert Before

all 4 news articles »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 11:43 am

Bitcoin Price Watch; Here's Tonight's Plan of Action - newsBTC


Bitcoin Price Watch; Here's Tonight's Plan of Action
Earlier this morning, we published the first of our two bitcoin price watch pieces highlighting the downside break we saw in the markets overnight, and suggesting that – in response to the bitcoin price returning to trade within our predefined range ...

and more »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 11:31 am

Vote for 2015's Most Influential People in Bitcoin and Blockchain - CoinDesk


Vote for 2015's Most Influential People in Bitcoin and Blockchain
We no longer just talk about 'bitcoin', but use that other b-word: 'blockchain'. Institutional interest in bitcoin and blockchains has surged. Banks, exchanges and financial services firms are major players now. Last year, we asked you to vote for the ...

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 10:03 am

Former bitcoin companies are erasing their embarrassing 'bit's - The Guardian

The Guardian

Former bitcoin companies are erasing their embarrassing 'bit's
The Guardian
So spare a thought for the companies scrabbling to jump off the bitcoin ship before it sinks. The currency's value has been static for months (except for a brief boom and bust in early November when it was caught up in a Chinese ponzi scheme), but ...
BitPay, Bitreserve, and Circle Distancing Themselves from BitcoinCoinspeaker

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 9:35 am

Bitcoin Trading Into The Blue Corner - CryptoCoinsNews


Bitcoin Trading Into The Blue Corner
Bitcoin trading finds itself in crushing indecision, once again, as the looming macro-economic crisis confounds both bulls and bears. Its not so much about what the Fed will say on December 16, but about what exactly rising rates and a US dollar rally ...

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 9:01 am

Bitcoin Startups Face Backlash for Perceived Pivots

Bitcoin industry startups are facing backlash over a new set of articles in which they have been portrayed as pivoting away from the cryptocurrency.

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 1:40 pm

Post-Trade Tech Firm Seeks to Build Commodities Blockchain Consortium

Post-trade services firm Kynetix is seeking to assemble a consortium of commodities market stakeholders to explore the use of blockchain tech.

Posted on 24 November 2015 | 12:05 pm

Ethereum Swaps Tool Added to Microsoft's Blockchain Sandbox

Microsoft has added a new decentralized application to its Ethereum blockchain-as-a-service toolkit introduced in October.

Posted on 23 November 2015 | 3:04 pm

BIS: Digital Currencies Could Disrupt Central Banking Model

Digital currencies could disrupt the ability to central banks to oversee the economy or issue money should global adoption take place, says the BIS.

Posted on 23 November 2015 | 1:51 pm

Bitcoin Miner Faces New Pressure from Australian Regulator

Australian bitcoin firm Bitcoin Group is hiring a bitcoin expert after the country's top regulator raised concerns about its forthcoming IPO.

Posted on 23 November 2015 | 10:51 am

Europol Seeks Intern With Bitcoin Tracing Skills

Europol wants an intern with blockchain analysis skills for an open source intelligence project.

Posted on 23 November 2015 | 9:10 am

5 Insights from a Bitcoin Founder Seeking Funding

Wealthcoin founder Simon Burns discusses what he's learned trying to raise seed capital for his latest bitcoin startup.

Posted on 22 November 2015 | 8:01 am

Hands On With Linq, Nasdaq's Private Markets Blockchain Project

CoinDesk goes under the hood of Nasdaq's first blockchain product Linq, a platform for private shares trading.

Posted on 21 November 2015 | 7:57 am

Insurer Denies Fault in BitPay Security Breach Lawsuit

An insurance company sued by BitPay following a claim dispute has fired back, denying the bitcoin payment processor’s allegations in a new filing.

Posted on 20 November 2015 | 3:46 pm

State Street Names ‘Blockchain Advocate’ to CIO Role

Financial services giant State Street is touting the blockchain experience of its newly appointed executive vice president and global CIO.

Posted on 20 November 2015 | 3:17 pm

Bitcoin, Paris and Terrorism: What the Media Got Wrong

Bitcoin became embroiled in a debate about the financing of terrorism following the Paris attacks which resulted in over 100 deaths.

Posted on 20 November 2015 | 12:00 pm

Brazil Holds Hearing on Bitcoin Regulation Bill Amid Oversight Push

Brazil’s House of Representatives held a hearing this week to discuss a bill that would give the central bank oversight of digital currencies.

Posted on 20 November 2015 | 11:20 am

Bitcoin Payroll Startup Bitwage Raises $760k

Bitcoin payroll startup Bitwage has wrapped up a period of fundraising during which it brought in a total of $760,000.

Posted on 19 November 2015 | 10:24 am

European Union to Crack Down on Bitcoin After Paris Attacks

Countries in the EU are reportedly planning to crack down on virtual currencies such as bitcoin in an attempt to tackle the financing of terrorism.

Posted on 19 November 2015 | 5:30 am

Commonwealth Bank Seeks Leading Blockchain Role with Sydney Conference

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia will host a two-day blockchain conference in Sydney next month in an attempt to explore the technology's potential.

Posted on 19 November 2015 | 4:32 am

UK Treasury: Digital Currencies Pose Lowest Money Laundering Risk

Digital currencies were deemed a “low” risk for money laundering and terrorism financing in a report published last month by the UK government.

Posted on 18 November 2015 | 1:20 pm

German Bank Association: Blockchain Could Revolutionize Securities

The German banking industry association Bankenverband has stated it believes blockchain technology may have a revolutionary impact on finance.

Posted on 18 November 2015 | 12:56 pm

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.

The post Mining Difficulty Increases by over 10% Due to Bitcoin Price Increase and next-Generation Chips appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Law Enforcement and Regulators Agree: Bitcoin Not Useful for Terrorists, Thoughtful Regulation and Education Needed

In the aftermath of the Paris attack on November 13, the European Union (EU) is looking to crack down on bitcoin with the hope of preventing the financing of future attacks. Regulators and advocacy groups agree, though, that kneejerk regulation is not what is needed; rather, the need is thoughtful regulation and an increase in education.

“There’s nothing wrong with Bitcoin, it just means it’s another part of our financial system,” said Dana Syracuse, managing director and a member in the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Regulatory Compliance Practice at K2 Intelligence, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

K2 Intelligence is an investigative, compliance, and cyber defense services firm. Prior to joining K2 Intelligence, he worked in the New York State Department of Financial Services and was the author of BitLicense.

“As time goes on, Bitcoin’s place is going to grow," Syracuse said. "One of the things that I talk about is, if you look at the story of bitcoin and the kind of enforcement and prosecutorial action, it shows the evolution and growth of the space.”

“Bitcoin is not the problem, and further restrictions on it are not the solution. Criminals and terrorists are using all sorts of technology to try to hide their activities over the Internet, but those who turn to bitcoin as part of that effort are making a big mistake,” said Jason Weinstein, director of the Blockchain Alliance, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) explained at a Digital Currency Summit held by the Department of Justice that $4 million worth of bitcoin is circulated through regulated entities. Outside the regulated entities, $10 million worth of bitcoin is circulated. At the event, Calvery made clear that her agency didn’t regulate bitcoin; instead, it regulated the financial institutions.

Perianne Boring, the founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, echoed those thoughts. In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine , she said, “Virtual currency is already highly regulated, especially within the G7 nations. Despite the high degree of regulation, the majority of bitcoin transactions are taking place outside regulated entities, which are mostly outside the G7 nations.”

“Increasing regulation within the G7 would only increase burdens on the companies that are working hard to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and related regulations and could potentially push more bitcoin into the unregulated entities,” Boring said.

“What is needed is rolling out regulations in a rational, thoughtful, and constructive way,” said Syracuse. “When you regulate in the face of a crisis, there is often a temptation to overcorrect, which you want to guard against. We have to be careful on the back end of a travesty like this not to overregulate.”

Regulation is not the problem; it is education

Fundamentally, it is education that is problem, not regulation. Once regulators have sufficient education, they tend to come to the same conclusion that many others do: Bitcoin is not the problem.

“I’m a little skeptical of what new regulation would exist that would help,” said Vincent D’Agostino, associate managing director in the U.S. Cyber Investigations and Incident Response practice at K2 Intelligence, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Before joining K2 Intelligence, he was the FBI’s trial agent for Silk Road 1 and the case agent for Silk Road 2.

“If more people on the counter-terrorism side took the time to educate themselves on blockchain technology, so when they did a raid and the first thing they did was take that seized data and identify the public keys so they could start to make links," he said. "They could go, we didn’t know who this linked to, but now we know everything they’ve done. It attaches that person to those wallet files."

“Every financial innovation, every new form of value transfer brings with it its own unique challenges," Syracuse explained. "Bitcoin is not unique in that. Terrorism is a major concern of major financial systems. The use of bitcoin in those kinds of activities is no different than what goes on in the traditional banking system. Education in this space is key, and that is what will lead to rational and productive regulation and communication between the regulators.”

According to a report by the U.K. Treasury, “there is little evidence to indicate that the use of digital currencies has been adopted by criminals involved in terrorist financing, whether as a means by which to raise funds (crowd funding etc.), to pay for infrastructure (e.g. server rental), or to transfer funds.”

The report also explains, “The money laundering risk associated with digital currencies is low, though if the use of digital currencies was to become more prevalent in the U.K. this risk could rise.”

That is because bitcoin is actually an inefficient method for transferring value for illicit purposes since it is a completely public ledger.

“It would be far easier to launder euros or dollars than it would be to launder a decentralized, blockchain-based currency like bitcoin,” said David Long, the principal and senior consultant at the Northern California Fraud Prevention Solutions, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine . “Though from an initial investigative standpoint, bitcoin might present more of a challenge due to the necessity of uncovering who is actually responsible for a given transaction or transactions. However, once the actor's identity is uncovered, the blockchain makes it possible to uncover most, if not all, of a person's transactions. This capability is without parallel when the subject is dealing in euros or dollars.”

Weinstein further confirmed that point, saying, “Reports of bitcoin’s anonymity are greatly exaggerated. Criminals or terrorists who use bitcoin to facilitate their activities are foolish, because bitcoin is traceable in a way that other payment methods, including cash, are not.”

Bitcoin is pseudonymous in that all that is shown is on the public ledger is a public address. However, once a law enforcement officer is able to identify who owns that public address, he would then be able to track every transaction that went to and from that address. If the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were to transfer bitcoin, and a law enforcement officer knew that it was their address, he could track each transaction and start building a case accordingly.

Cash, on the other hand, is completely anonymous. An individual in ISIL could take envelopes of cash across state borders and easily pay for the necessary assets for committing an act of terror. A law enforcement official would have no way of verifying how the funds were used. Long gave an example where a trade-based money-laundering scheme using dollars or euros conducted by professionals could be virtually undetectable.

The problem with this is that more people don’t realize it.

“They [law enforcement] are not using existing bitcoin investigative techniques as much as they should,” D’Agostino said. “There is no doubt that when done correctly, using bitcoin can be extremely anonymous but as long as there are human beings involved in the transfer of bitcoin, the creation and maintenance of those wallets, and the movement of that digital currency, they are going to make a mistake at some point. Those mistakes are typically catastrophic from an anonymity perspective. If it’s a group of people within a terror network moving a high volume of bitcoin both directions, they’re going to make a mistake eventually. They’ll forget to encrypt their wallets or leave their abandoned keys on a piece of discarded or seized digital device. That’ll give you an opening, a crack in the door, to give law enforcement you a chance to exploit that information and connect the subject with a set of address and transactions. So what may have started as completely anonymous set of transactions now has ends up having the opposite desired affect”

The key is educating law enforcement and national security authorities about how the technology works, so they can enhance their ability to use it to follow the money and protect public safety, Weinstein said. "We need more education, not more regulation.”

Jerry Brito, the executive director of Coin Center, explained in a recent blog post why more education is needed: “Overreaction by jittery policymakers in the wake of a crisis is always a concern, which is why education before such crises is so important. We’ve been engaged in just such education for over a year, and we’re hopeful policymakers understand that an overreaction would be counterproductive, whatever the headlines may say."

Brito echoed the point made clear by Boring and Weinstein: "The fact is that regulators understand that digital currencies do not pose the greatest risk for terrorist financing, and to the extent digital currencies pose some risk, a 'crack down' on their use would likely only serve to drive out legitimate players, which in turn would only serve to limit governments’ visibility into illicit uses.”

Bitcoin financial institutions already follow many of the same money transmitter laws that traditional institutions have to follow. Creating further regulation over them will not help prevent further acts of terrorism. Instead, educating law enforcement on the ways in which it can use the blockchain to seek and capture terrorists is one way to prevent future catastrophes.

Photo / Flickr(CC)

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.

The post Law Enforcement and Regulators Agree: Bitcoin Not Useful for Terrorists, Thoughtful Regulation and Education Needed appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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How a Bitcoin Backbone Gives Small Miners a Leg Up: Matt Corrallo's Relay Network

Bitcoin is designed as a peer-to-peer network, where nodes randomly connect to other nodes. Transactions and blocks are transmitted over this network by these nodes, until each node receives all the latest transactions and blocks. This works quite well, as the distributed model makes Bitcoin relatively censorship-resistant; there is no central point of control to shut down or pressure into compliance.

But there are other, more centralized alternatives for transmitting transaction data, too. The best known of these is “the” relay network, introduced in 2014 and maintained by Bitcoin Core developer Matt Corallo: “It's centralizing, but, hopefully, democratizing.”

On propagation

Corallo's relay network serves two distinct purposes. First, it adds diversity to Bitcoin. Rather than just needing to rely on the peer-to-peer network, Bitcoin users can opt to receive transaction data and blocks through an alternative channel. This makes it harder to successfully attack the Bitcoin network; the relay network functions as a fallback. But the second, and more important reason, is a potential decrease of network latency.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Corallo explained:

The peer-to-peer code in Bitcoin Core is pretty gnarly. It's stable and it works, but it's not very efficient, and it's not very fast. The resulting network latency is a problem, especially for miners. It can sometimes take 10, 15 seconds before they receive newly mined blocks. If you're a miner, 10 seconds is like 1.5 percent loss in revenue. That is potentially a big deal. You don't want that.”

Some of the bigger miners (typically mining pools) have therefore come up with an alternative solution. Rather than using the peer-to-peer network to transmit new blocks, they have created an alternative – private – network. If one of these miners finds a new block, that miner immediately sends it over to the other miners on their private network, meaning all these miners can start mining on the new block immediately.

The problem, of course, is that this disadvantages all miners not using this private network. When a select group of miners starts mining on a new block faster than other miners this select group gets a head start every time one of them finds a block. This is especially worrisome because it is typically the bigger miners who have the time and resources to set up private networks. Smaller miners might, therefore, become less profitable and eventually drop off the network entirely, which centralizes mining even further.

A Leg Up

Corallo's relay network is essentially a hub-and-spoke network, which consists of servers set up in eight well-connected Internet traffic hubs: New York, Seattle, Amsterdam, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Novosibirsk (located in central Russia). Additionally, the relay network uses a fairly basic compression algorithm. Any Bitcoin node can connect to the nearest hub on Corallo's relay network, and send and receive transactions and blocks to and from other connected nodes.

But unlike Bitcoin's original peer-to-peer network, Corallo's relay network is centrally controlled: by Corallo. This means that users of the network need to rely on Corallo, most importantly for maintenance. (Though this doesn't stop the peer-to-peer network from propagating transactions and blocks in the mean time, of course.)

The relay network is not the most reliable thing,” Corallo acknowledged. “There is no service-level agreement ... once in a while servers go down and I don't fix it right away... sometimes I'm sleeping, or drunk.”

But absent better alternatives, the relay network can still save small miners on cost, meaning they can increase their profit, and remain competitive, Corallo hopes.

It's democratizing in the sense that larger miners do something like this already,” he said. “The relay network gives smaller miners a leg up, since they don't need to spend a proportionally large portion of their resources to establish these types of relay networks themselves. So it's centralizing in some ways, but, hopefully decentralizing, in others.”

The post How a Bitcoin Backbone Gives Small Miners a Leg Up: Matt Corrallo's Relay Network appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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ePaisa Brings Bitcoin Payments to Merchants Across India

In 2014, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi outlined a vision for a “Digital India,” a place in which all citizens in all parts of the country are connected, informed and part of a global economy.

Other hallmarks of this new India would be a transparent government with strong ties to its citizens where government services could be accessed from mobile devices.

EPaisa, a free point-of-sale app, has become India’s first mobile point-of-sale provider to integrate bitcoin as a payment option, becoming a part of this new, Digital India.

“To digitize India, you need to digitize the point of sale,” says ePaisa’s CEO and co-founder Siddharth Arora. EPaisa was founded in 2012.

“Bitcoin is currently becoming more and more popular in India because there is no need to provide any payment information,” says Arora. “However, the issue of accepting it has become a timely question for Indian merchants.”

The ePaisa app comes with a credit-card sized card reader to securely accept chip-and-PIN card payments and has now integrated Bitcoin, prepaid wallet and invoice payments for businesses. Merchants can request a bitcoin payment by letting their customers scan a QR code and receive the funds in their bank account the next day, free of charge. EPaisa works on any smartphone or tablet in India.

In 2013, ePaisa was awarded TechCrunch’s “Most Disruptive Company” and made it to the 2014 Global Red Herring Top 100 as well as Asia’s Top 100 awards.

The app works in 32 languages, it is free and works on all smartphones and tablets running on Android and iOS. They plan on introducing Apple Pay, Android Pay and other forms of payments for the Indian business owner.

With options like contactless payments, Apple Pay and bitcoin,” says Arora, “customers expect to pay however they want. Given this trend towards cashless shopping, not able to accept these modes of payments means lost sales for Indian merchants. We do not want that. We want to empower them to conduct any form of transaction and give the buyers a satisfying experience of making a purchase. With this new feature, we hope to offer our merchants more ways to accept payments and stand true to our commitment of enabling commerce.”

EPaisa expects that the user experience will be no different for the sellers. It works as follows:

At the point of sale, when the customer wants to pay for a product with bitcoin, the ePaisa merchant taps the bitcoin icon in the ePaisa POS application. As a result, a QR code pops up with the due amount, and the customer will scan that code using his or her bitcoin wallet app.

Prime Minister Modi’s vision for a seamless digital economy is materializing because of companies like ePaisa, which continues driving bitcoin adoption in the East.

“India has had huge success with prepaid wallets for online transactions,” Arora said. “We are enabling businesses to accept these wallets even for offline in store sales. Walk into an ePaisa-enabled store and you can make a payment with one of the top 10 wallets in India. We hope to power 25,000 businesses across all major metro cities in India by end of this year.”

The post ePaisa Brings Bitcoin Payments to Merchants Across India appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Nasdaq, LHV Bank, Technology Startups Develop Blockchain-Based Fintech Applications in Estonia

The leading stock exchange Nasdaq is no newcomer to the brave new world of blockchain technology. In May, Bitcoin Magazine reported that Nasdaq would begin experimenting with the blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin, starting with a pilot project in Nasdaq Private Market , a marketplace that handles pre-IPO trading among private companies.

Interestingly, Nasdaq didn’t plan to develop an alternative blockchain. Rather, the company said that it would leverage the colored coin protocol Open Assets, which works on the original Bitcoin blockchain. In June, Nasdaq partnered with San Francisco-based bitcoin API startup Chain to implement the Bitcoin blockchain technology.

Nasdaq is scheduled to launch the pilot project operationally later this year, helping companies keep track of the shares they issue and enabling them to almost instantaneously settle transactions, Nasdaq Co-President Hans-Ole Jochumsen, said in an interview reported by Reuters.

Jochumsen added that Nasdaq is planning to develop several blockchain applications through its operations in Estonia. Nasdaq owns the Tallinn Stock Exchange, Estonia's only regulated secondary securities market, as well as the Estonian Central Securities Depository (ECSD).

The ECSD administers share registers for all joint stock companies operating in Estonia, as well as all securities and pension accounts opened in the country and other electronic securities, such as private company shares, bonds and securities transactions histories. The ECSD also provides clearing and settlement services for securities trading, payments of corporate dividends and interest, and other securities-related services.

"[Estonia is] a smaller country, so it's not very complex in size, and there is a government that is very keen to use technology,” said Jochumsen. “They claim that they are in the forefront of using technology in the public center worldwide."

Estonia is, indeed, a leader in deploying advanced communication technologies in the administration and public services sectors. In 2014, Estonia invited anyone, anywhere, to become an e-citizen of the Estonian digital society, open a bank account in Estonia, or start a business. The Estonian e-Residency program, launched on December 1, 2014, is an innovative and potentially disruptive initiative that enables anyone with an Internet connection to establish a financial base in Estonia, with no need of being physically present.

Banks and startups in Estonia are developing financial service applications based on the blockchain, which use the same technology – colored coins on the Bitcoin blockchain – selected by Nasdaq, and could be related to Nasdaq’s initiatives in Estonia.

In particular, LHV Bank is developing CUBER (Cryptographic Universal Blockchain Entered Receivables), a new kind of certificate of deposit designed to be used to store or generate value, transfer value, manage liquidity and automate transactions between machines, which can be used as a building block for innovative financial products, Finextra reported in June. LHV claims it is the first bank in the world to experiment with real programmable money, issuing receivables in the form of colored coins.

In parallel, LHV Bank set up fintech technology startup Cuber Technology, which together with Swedish “blockchain 2.0” company ChromaWay is developing the IOS and Android app Cuber Wallet for fast, free, peer-to-peer (P2P) mobile fiat currency payment.

Both CUBER and Cuber Wallet are built on top of open colored coins technological standard and at the moment use the bitcoin blockchain as a database.

“The potential of CUBER is huge – think telecommunication industry developments last 20 years,” said Rain Lõhmus, CEO of Cuber Technology. “How many new cool applications we are daily using have come out from Development Departments of telecom companies. No, they are coming from startups. This is possible due to the widespread usage of decentralized TCP/IP protocols. We hope CUBER can do something similar to financial industry – liberate innovation from organizational borders, truly decentralize it. And true innovation in financial sector will flourish.”

“Our partnership with LHV Bank and the product Cuber is a milestone,” notes the Chromaway website. “[It] is the first time an established financial [institution] issues assets on the blockchain.”

The post Nasdaq, LHV Bank, Technology Startups Develop Blockchain-Based Fintech Applications in Estonia appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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November 25, 2015 -
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