FastCoin Crypto News
FOR ALL the talk of a Bitcoin bubble, it’s easy to miss the real significance of what is currently happening. The rise of Bitcoin is just the beginning. Cryptocurrencies are no longer the domain of activists and grassroots movements, they are nothing less than “new money”.
Many are waiting for the moment when a central banker or government drives a stake once and for all through the logic of this digital upstart. But the arrival of cryptocurrencies on the lips of US Senate committees and regulators in China marks a dramatic ascent to another level of credibility.
Six months ago, my appearances as a cryptocurrency analyst on financial news networks helped clear the fog around what they were and how they worked. Now hosts admit to cheeky crypto investments off-camera. On-camera the questions are all about daily price changes and opportunities to spend this new money on anything from college courses to space travel.
Does fast transaction time matters? Some claim that fast transaction time and/or speed don’t really matter when it comes to cryptocurrencies. Is this true? We address the issue in this article.
Pete (a.k.a. toknormal) noted the following at the Bitcoin Forum. Our remarks are in bold:
I am a professional eCommerce systems developer and this is something that has been bothering me for a while regarding coins which are promoted as being “fast”.
The only advantage I can see of a coin having fast transaction times is for use at POS (Point of Sale) terminals. However, if cryptocurrencies ever get near supermarket checkouts, I think it’s very unlikely that people will be doing actual blockchain transactions right at the checkout. – Are fast transaction times at POS terminals the only advantage of a fast cryptocurrency? What about transactions where ordinary folks like you and I choose to transact, especially when the value of the product/service bought, sold or traded is very time-sensitive? In terms of supermarket checkouts, logic dictates that actual block chain transactions could be done right at the checkout if you’re dealing with a fast cryptocurrency. E.g. transactions in FastCoin (FST) can be completed within 48 seconds! Now even if the only benefit of fast cryptocurrencies was to reduce the transaction time at POS, wouldn’t you say that is an excellent benefit on its own, especially when security is not compromised? Yet, Pete and others wish to claim that “there’s very little advantage in pushing transaction times for “cryptos” below the level of a few minutes because they’re not going to be manifesting themselves at the point of sale anyway.”
You see, I'd have first advised you against investing any money in this weirdo, much-hyped crypto-currency last April, when the price soared to $100 per coin. And, when I started planning this piece, with its whole "don't buy bitcoins!" line up the top, the price was an eye-popping $500 per coin. But that was yesterday. Today, it's $600 per coin.
Personally, I spent about $130 on bitcoins last February. Not listening to myself has proved pretty damn profitable.
Perhaps, though, I get ahead of myself, and you don't even know what bitcoins are. Very roughly, and quite boringly, bitcoin is an internet currency. More interestingly, it is unregulated, stateless and increasingly employed as a means of doing all sorts of dodgy things. Some reckon it's a pyramid scheme and a con, others think it's the future of global finance.
Imagine a world in which you can buy anything in secret. No banks. No fees. No worries inflation will make today's money worth less tomorrow. The digital currency Bitcoin promises all these things. And while it's far from achieving any of them -- its value is unstable and it's rarely used -- some have high hopes.
"There will be alternatives to the dollar, and this might be one of them," said former U.S. congressman Ron Paul. If people start using bitcoins en masse, "it'll go down in history as the destroyer of the dollar," Paul added.
It's unlikely that Bitcoin would replace the dollar or other government-controlled currencies. But it could serve as a kind of universal alternative currency that is accepted everywhere around the globe. Concerned about the dollar's inflation? Just move your cash to bitcoins and use them to pay your bills instead. Tired of hefty credit card fees? Bitcoin allows transactions that bypass banks.
Bitcoin Developer Sells $8 Million Worth Of Hardware In 24 Hours, As Mining Technology Arms Race Goes
Stockholm-based KnCMiner sold $8 million worth of their new $10,000-a-pop bitcoin miners in 24 hours last Wednesday, according to KnC spokesman Alex Lawn. Bitcoins are mined by directing intense amounts of computing power at solving math problems. The faster and more efficiently you can solve math problems, the more bitcoins you get.
Bitcoin is structured so that it gets harder and harder to mine bitcoins over time, so there's a huge arms race to build the most hardcore computers dedicated to mining the coins.
Bitcoins suffered a new setback after China’s central bank said Thursday its banks and payment systems are barred from handling the virtual currency.
The central bank said bitcoins did not qualify as a currency but private individuals still are allowed to trade them at their own risk.
Bitcoins are created, distributed, and authenticated independently of any bank or government. Their relative anonymity holds out the promise of being able to spend money across the Internet without scrutiny.
My editors thought the best present they could give me this holiday season was a bitcoin, the increasingly popular form of digital currency that uses cryptography instead of government regulation to validate transactions. It was a kind gesture, and it made me very worried about my reputation at the office.
But never one to turn down free money, I happily obliged. If I secured a bitcoin, I had to make one promise: to use a bitcoin and only a bitcoin to purchase Christmas gifts for my family and friends.
Created in 2009, bitcoin is a libertarian’s dream currency: unregulated and pseudonymous for users. Mocked by the business press as a shady fad, bitcoin saw its unit value pass that of an ounce of gold on the day after Thanksgiving, hitting $1,242, and peaking at a 9,000% gain for the year.
Government officials and central banks don’t quite know what to make of Bitcoin. Certain law enforcement agencies disapprove of the online currency, particularly because of its use in illicit transactions, while Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke favorably of Bitcoin. Meanwhile, Chinese officials are sitting back and waiting to see how Bitcoin will affect revenue streams.
And now it seems Bitcoin is getting stronger with the introduction of a new Bitcoin ATM.
Known as the Travelers Box, users can convert foreign currency into Bitcoins for their e-wallets, or the money can be transferred to their Paypal accounts. This will save travelers the hassle of having to leave behind their old currency, and it will allow them to keep their money wherever they go.
It is also a big step in introducing Bitcoin into the mainstream.
Silicon Valley is starting to catch Bitcoin fever – though the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists being drawn to the virtual currency claim that the biggest profits will come from using it to build a new digital finance industry rather than just as a vehicle for speculation.
Digital currency companies that have attracted early rounds of venture capital in recent weeks include Circle Internet Financial, headed by Jeremy Allaire, a serial entrepreneur from the media technology industry, and Ripple Labs, whose founder, Chris Larsen, was behind pioneering peer-to-peer lending company Prosper.
Prominent investors who have been drawn to the field include Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel and early backer of Facebook, as well as Google’s venture capital arm, which has invested in Ripple and Buttercoin, a Bitcoin exchange.
After more than quadrupling in one month, many question whether bubble trouble is looming for bitcoin.
Like it or loathe it, bitcoin is an entity of extremes. Not merely its value oscillations but also the vehemence with which its acolytes support it and indeed its detractors seek to destroy it. BTC supporters are ecstatic with a vertical leap from barely 215 bucks to over 1000 dollars during November alone. Prices never move in a pure straight line; rather they tend to ebb and flow like tides and emerging currencies are often very volatile. Indeed, bitcoin has been more volatile than most during its 4-year existence. Moreover markets can remain irrationally priced longer than contrary investors can remain solvent.
Readers vested with a dose of realism will recall great historical bubbles like Tulipmania, where Holland became obsessed with flower bulbs imported from Turkey. Vast inflation in blooms sadly led to bust.
Leading Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has released a new website that provides a simple explanation of what Bitcoin actually is. The site, Bitcoins.com, is essentially a tutorial on the virtual currency, a single unit of which last week reached the price of $1,000 for the first time ever last week. Mt. Gox's site walks users through the basics — what Bitcoin is, why people use it, and how it works — before leading into a step-by-step guide on how to get started. It's certainly not a comprehensive rundown, but the site could prove useful for the uninitiated or those who struggle to understand the Bitcoin concept.
Mt. Gox also released a new one-time password (OTP) card this week as part of an effort to strengthen the security of user accounts. The OTP card, announced Wednesday, allows users to set one-time passwords for their Mt. Gox accounts, thereby preventing hackers and scammers from gaining access to compromised accounts. (Security has been an ongoing issue for Mt. Gox and other Bitcoin-related services.) And, like many other companies this week, Mt. Gox is offering a Black Friday deal: zero-percent trading fees for four days. The promotion runs from Friday morning through midnight on Monday (Tokyo time).
THE TERM BLACK FRIDAY in the context of holiday shopping dates back to the 1960s, when Philadelphia officials used it to describe the chaos on the day after Thanksgiving as cars and pedestrians flocked to town.
Today, Black Friday bargains can be found at a more leisurely pace over the internet from the comfort of the sofa, and the retail marketeers that drive the Black Friday shopping hype call that sensible approach Cyber Monday. But this year, Black Friday has a new currency, and its name is Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Black Friday has arrived, with retailers flocking to offer discounts on their goods to anyone paying in the cyber currency. Most of the offers seem somewhat underwhelming, but what is notable is their sheer number, with companies from beekeepers to mobile phone unlockers offering their wares and services for prices denominated in Bitcoins.
ALL currencies involve some measure of consensual hallucination, but Bitcoin, a virtual monetary system, involves more than most. It is a peer-to-peer currency with no central bank, based on digital tokens with no intrinsic value. Rather than relying on confidence in a central authority, it depends instead on a distributed system of trust, based on a transaction ledger which is cryptographically verified and jointly maintained by the currency’s users.
Transactions can occur directly between the system’s participants at almost zero cost, without the need for a trusted third party or any other intermediary, and are irreversible once committed to a permanent and fully public record. Bitcoin’s mathematically elegant design ensures that the money supply can increase only at a fixed rate that slows over time and then stops altogether. Anonymity, while not assured, is possible with the right precautions and tools. No wonder Bitcoin is so appealing to geeks, libertarians, drug dealers, speculators and gold bugs.
It's Thanksgiving! And, judging by the fact that you read tech blogs, you're probably at least a bit of a geek. Know what that means? Today's the day you get to answer all of your extended family's tech questions! Hurrah!
For the last few years, that's probably meant explaining the difference between iPhone and Android. This year, you'll probably get to explain what the heck this “Bitcoin” thing is at least twice.
Fortunately, one of the top Bitcoin exchanges has just launched an informational site that ought to make things a bit easier to understand.
Putting their Bitcoins.com domain to a pleasingly non-spammy use, Mt.Gox has just relaunched the domain as an introductory repository of information focused on all things Bitcoin. While they could've just put up a big static page that says “WANT BITCOIN? GO TO MT.GOX” and called it a day, it seems like they're actually trying to stay relatively neutral; while Mt.Gox is mentioned a few times on the page, it's generally alongside mentions of other exchanges.
The list of places that accept Bitcoin has grown into the thousands - making it hard to believe just one year ago this virtual currency was more associated with criminals than consumers.
Initially considered by some to be a rogue electronic currency best suited for trading on the black market, Bitcoin has quickly become a legitimate payment option for retailers worldwide.
Even government officials are beginning to back Bitcoin. Several high-ranking officials spoke to the legitimacy of Bitcoins at a Congressional hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee on Nov. 18. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote to the committee that Bitcoin "may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system."
NEW YORK - The price of the digital currency bitcoin soared above $1,000 for the first time on Wednesday, extending a 400 percent surge in less than a month that some see as a growing bubble in an asset that is still a mystery to many.
Bitcoin hit a high of $1,073 on Tokyo-based exchange Mt. Gox, the best-known operator of a bitcoin digital marketplace, compared with just below $900 the previous day.
At the beginning of the month, bitcoin, a prominent digital currency that is not backed by a government or central bank, traded at around $215. The spike in its price has some believing that it has become overvalued in a short period of time, owing to its limited supply and increasing demand.
"A narrow asset class and lots of liquidity is the perfect environment for a rapid burst up in value, and then corrections," said Sebastien Galy, a currency strategist at Societe Generale in New York.
According to a report published on virtual currency news aggregator Coindesk, the Robocoin Bitcoin ATM accepted over 1,500 transactions at more than CAD1 million since its launch in Canada on October 30. The ATM machine for Bitcoins was placed in a Waves Coffee House in Vancouver.
The machine acts out the services of an automated teller machine, but processes sales and acquisitions of bitcoins. It has biometric time locks and a privacy-shielded touchscreen, which is used to identify the user via a palm scanner. The Bitcoin ATM can dispense and accept cash in international denominations. The ATM is reportedly 3G and Wi-Fi enabled. Daily transaction is reportedly regulated with a daily limit of CAD3,000 in Canada.
The debate may continue to rage over whether bitcoin is a viable alternative to the dollar or just another Ponzi scheme, but there's no denying of its ability to boost a brand's awareness.
Billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson announced on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Friday that his commercial space flight venture will accept bitcoin as payment. His tweet confirming the move received nearly 500 retweets and the corresponding story on CNBC received over 4,000 Facebook shares and was one of the most read articles on the site that day.
The viral nature of the cryptocurrency is also evident at a much lower level. A university in Cyprus, a sustainable grocer, a travel website, a delicatessen and a guitar repair shop are just some of the businesses that have received attention online with their decisions to accept bitcoins as payment. A simple tweet showing a business in Soho Village, New York was now accepting the currency received nearly 200 retweets.
The price of a bitcoin topped $900 last week, an enormous surge in value that arrived amidst Congressional hearings where top U.S. financial regulators took a surprisingly rosy view of digital currency. Just 10 months ago, a bitcoin sold for a measly $13.
The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: “What the hell is a bitcoin?” It’s a good question — not only for those with little understanding of the modern financial system and how it intersects with modern technology, but also for those steeped in the new internet-driven economy that has so quickly remade our world over the last 20 years.
The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: ‘What the hell is a bitcoin?’ Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it’s money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world. But it’s much more than that, and many people — including the sharpest of internet pioneers as well as seasoned economists — are still struggling to come to terms with its many identities.
Everything we do and every choice we make has an opportunity cost. In a world of scarce time and resources each choice necessarily means rejecting many other possible opportunities. One of the best illustrations of this concept was made by President Eisenhower in a 1953 speech. Eisenhower criticized the use of scarce resources for military purposes because of the opportunity cost:
The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: A modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. [The Chance For Peace]
These kinds of choices are just as difficult as they were for Eisenhower in 1953. How much time, resources, and effort should be dedicated to military activities? It's still a contentious argument, and opinions greatly differ.
Businesses face similar dilemmas. Every dollar spent on marketing is a dollar not spent on product development and testing. Every dollar spent on purchasing new equipment to expand the business is a dollar not given back to shareholders as profit. These are difficult choices.
For many people, bitcoin seems like something from the day after tomorrow.
For Lawrence Blankenship, it's already a thing of the past.
A software engineer from Springfield, Missouri, Blankenship is putting his money on PeerCoin, one of the biggest of the virtual currencies that are being promoted as alternatives to bitcoin.
With mounting interest from prominent investors and growing acceptance from regulators, bitcoin - either the new gold or the next Dutch tulip craze, depending on who is being asked - is at the centre of the virtual money universe. Yet there are dozens of digital alternatives, like PeerCoin, Litecoin and anoncoin, whose backers point to advantages they say their currency has over bitcoin.
PeerCoin, according to Blankenship, is closer than bitcoin to perfect, communal money. Blankenship, 34, has arranged to accept PeerCoin as the virtual currency of choice at a Star Trek convention he is organising in his hometown.
"Looking down the road 10 years from now, I definitely see bitcoin being ousted," he said.
If you want to buy drugs or guns anonymously online, virtual currency Bitcoin is better than hard cash. Canny speculators have been hoarding it like digital gold. Now the world's leading bankers are even talking about as a rival for real money. How does it work, where can you get it and is it the future?
The past weeks have seen a surprising meeting of minds between chairman of the US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, the Bank of England, the Olympic-rowing and Zuckerberg-bothering Winklevoss twins, and the US Department of Homeland Security. The connection? All have decided it's time to take Bitcoin seriously.
Until now, what pundits called in a rolling-eye fashion "the new peer-to-peer cryptocurrency" had been seen just as a digital form of gold, with all the associated speculation, stake-claiming and even "mining"; perfect for the digital wild west of the internet, but no use for real transactions.
Bitcoins are mined by computers solving fiendishly hard mathematical problems. The "coin" doesn't exist physically: it is a virtual currency that exists only as a computer file. No one computer controls the currency. A network keeps track of all transactions made using Bitcoins but it doesn't know what they were used for – just the ID of the computer "wallet" they move from and to.
For many people, bitcoin seems like something from the day after tomorrow.
For Lawrence Blankenship, it’s already a thing of the past.
A software engineer from Springfield, Mo., Mr. Blankenship is putting his money on PeerCoin, one of the biggest of the virtual currencies that are being promoted as alternatives to bitcoin.
With mounting interest from prominent investors and growing acceptance from regulators, bitcoin — either the new gold or the next Dutch tulip craze, depending on who is being asked — is at the center of the virtual money universe. Yet there are dozens of digital alternatives, like PeerCoin, Litecoin and anoncoin, whose backers point to advantages they say their currency has over bitcoin.
PeerCoin, according to Mr. Blankenship, is closer than bitcoin to the perfect, communal money. Mr. Blankenship, who is 34, has arranged to accept PeerCoin as the virtual currency of choice at a Star Trek convention he is organizing in his hometown.
“Looking down the road 10 years from now, I definitely see bitcoin being ousted,” he said. “Everyone’s going to start switching to other coins, and hopefully PeerCoin comes out ahead in that.”
Bitcoin continues surging towards heady heights, closing in on $1000. Following growing demand in China and US validation after a convivial Senate hearing, the total transaction volume of the futuristic money has now surpassed PayPal. But bitcoin’s momentum has revived an old debate. Is bitcoin, like Tor and the internet itself, the creation of the US government?
And is Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s auspicious prophet—who, by the way, is still the largest individual holder of the cryptocurrency—really an agent working under instructions for the NSA and DARPA? The idea may not seem as far fetched as it sounds.
“The IMF has been openly calling for a digital, one-world, deflationary currency for 2 decades,” one conspiracy theorist tantalizing wrote. “OPENLY. It has been discussed and promoted OPENLY at G8 and G20 summits”
The user cites an NSA investigation on crytopgraphic money networks that began in the early-'90s and believes that Satoshi is actually Tatsuaki Okamoto, one of the main NSA researchers.
Thinking of buying trinkets in Beijing? Don’t forget to bring your Bitcoins. China, in the last few weeks, has gone crazy over the cryptocurrency, which is now accepted by Chinese online retailers, a Shanghai real estate developer, and traders in Tiananmen Square. Perhaps you want a latte in Zhongguancun? Yes, you can use Bitcoins to pay for caffeine in Beijing’s high-tech zone.
There’s no mystery why Chinese vendors just love to take the digital currency. China continues to hold the record for the highest price paid for a Bitcoin, and prices continue to climb. On Tuesday, the price of a Bitcoin exceeded 7,000 yuan (about $1,120) on the BTC China platform.
And the Chinese are paying premiums for their Bitcoins. On Tuesday, when the price broke the 7,000-yuan mark, Bitcoins were trading at about $900 on the closely watched Mt. Gox exchange in Japan.
Bitcoin has become a global financial phenomenon, soaring from under $1 less than three years ago to nearly $850 recently. But even if you've missed out on the Bitcoin craze, it's not too late to get valuable insight about the digital currency.
In the following video, Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool's director of investment planning, talks about three lessons everyone needs to take from Bitcoin. First, Dan notes that prices of any investment can climb much further than you'd think possible, especially when demand becomes extremely high. Next, Dan points out that investments that rise in value almost always include big declines along the way. Just as Bitcoin has suffered many plunges of 50% or more in its short history, so too have stocks like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) and Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG ) experienced substantial declines that interrupted their long upward moves. Even the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) have suffered through major bear markets in their inexorable rise over the decades.
Dan concludes by noting that any successful investment inevitably gets Wall Street interested, with a Bitcoin ETF in the works. In the end, Dan advises that investors be careful about Bitcoin and its prospects, but to learn the lessons it has to teach you about investing more generally.
Here at The Switch, we love it when our writing sparks a new idea or raises a new question. So that's why, every weekend, we pull together some of the week's most thoughtful comments in one place.
Friday, my colleague Timothy Lee reported on a massive bitcoin transaction amounting to $150 million. That prompted our reader Frazil to ask why bitcoin exchanges often offer varying price quotes.
Here's what I don't get. There seems to be a large difference between bitcoin prices on the various markets For example at Mt. Gox bit coins are currently trading at $724.80 per bitcoin, while at bitstamp its $846.00 per bitcoin. That seems to be unbelievably huge arbitrage opportunity. If fact too big to be true. What am missing.
There are all kinds of reasons to think that Bitcoin is a joke, and that the value of the bitcoins themselves will ultimately go to zero. Its inherently unstable as a currency, prone to hyperdeflation, has an artificial scarcity, and is subject to hoarding. But there is one important thing about Bitcoin that its advocates correctly identify. As a payment processing platform, it's very intriguing.
From Jeff Sommer at NYT:
Bitcoin gives file-sharing a brilliant twist. In essence, it has created “a decentralized virtual currency that uses a peer-to-peer consensus system to confirm and verify transactions,” two researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis concluded in a recent study. And François R. Velde, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, made this assessment in a new report on bitcoin: “It represents a remarkable conceptual and technical achievement, which may well be used by existing financial institutions (which could issue their own bitcoins) or even by governments themselves.”
Korean startup Coinplug has closed an investment round paid partly in bitcoin.
Coinplug raised $400,000 from Cupertino-based fund SilverBlue, with half the amount raised in bitcoin and the rest in fiat currency. The startup plans to launch a digital currency exchange, wallet and merchant platform in Korea in mid-December.
“It’s SilverBlue’s first investment,” said SilverBlue managing director Richard Yun. “In Korea, people take to new technologies really quickly, so I think [bitcoin usage] is going to boom in Korea, like China.”
According to Yun, who has a board seat at Coinplug and will serve as interim finance director, the investment will be used to develop a trading and merchant platform on the web and across multiple mobile operating systems.
Coinplug is expected to launch on 17th December and has 15 engineers on its team, which is spread across Korea and Silicon Valley. Yun claims Coinplug will provide “financial institution-level security” to its users.
The Internet just can’t get enough of bitcoin.
That much was apparent this week, which kicked off with two Senate hearings on virtual currencies. While the hearings included many questions about bitcoin’s potential for criminal activity, the Treasury Department’s Jennifer Shasky Calvery noted that cash is still the best way to launder money.
“Even though we had an idea of the testimony, I think we were all pleasantly surprised at the bitcoin-friendly atmosphere,” Jeff Garzik, a bitcoin core developer, said in an email.
That “bitcoin-friendly” environment was followed by a surge in prices above $900 early Tuesday on the trading exchange Mt. Gox, the second-biggest exchange by volume. And the combination of price action and media coverage of the Senate hearings helped lead to a spike in Google searches for bitcoin on Tuesday. The chart below shows the surge in searches for the word bitcoin over the last month on Google. The values represent search interest relative to the highest level on the chart, which was Tuesday in this one-month period.
Richard Branson believes in Bitcoin, and he's putting his money where his mouth is. The billionaire CEO has announced that his commercial space startup Virgin Galactic will now accept payment from future astronauts in the virtual currency.
"Virgin Galactic is a company looking into the future, so is Bitcoin," Branson writes in a blog post on the Virgin site. "So it makes sense we would offer Bitcoin as a way to pay for your journey to space."
Bitcoin is a semi-anonymous, decentralized digital currency built on an open source protocol that was released by a pseudonymous programmer in January 2009. It's captivated many fans because it allows for person-to-person payments without the fees typically charged by payments processors. Bitcoin is now accepted by organizations including Wordpress and Reddit, but Branson is arguably the highest-profile businessman to endorse the currency.
Do Bitcoin’s and gold’s price trajectories of recent weeks have anything to do with what’s going on in the real world?
Maybe. But even if they are, they’re focusing on different fundamentals.
Bitcoin’s price went vertical, hitting $900. Though it pulled back slightly since, it is still way up, at $780 against around $14 at the start of the year.
The temptation is to say that investors have been rushing into Bitcoin because it is a supra-national currency, beyond any one country’s control and, because of the nature of its construction, impervious to being inflated away at a time when central bank printing presses have been cranking away for more than five years.
Except that gold, another currency substitute, has had a miserable year. In dollar terms, its price is down by more than a quarter since the start of the year. In Bitcoin terms, its value has been shredded.
Bitcoin is acting a bit cr-oizy. Well, more than a bit crazy, that bitcoin has swung from $350 to $900 in the past ten days.
Just today, bitcoin has traded from $450 to $750 on Mt. Gox and other exchanges. Volatility, anybody? There’s no major exchange like a normal currency and/or a stock or bond would trade on for $BITCOIN (yet), so it’s going to be wildly volatile for a long time, I would expect, even if it does end up becoming a de facto alternative currency.
If you haven’t bought any bitcoins yet, and want to do so, go read Bitcoin: Everything you need to know and why you might want to join in the frenzy and go read some of the news and latest scuttlebutt on bitcoin first. And then look to put in a bid to buy a first small tranche below $600 and then bid on another tranche down below $500. Don’t stress over the process and the time it will take to get it all filled and executed. This is a market truly in its infancy.
Bitcoin becoming not-so-funny money
Bitcoin has been on a tear of late, hitting record levels this week, and with both the U.S. and Chinese government sending signals they have no plans to clamp down on the virtual currency, it’s beginning to look more and more like a legitimate financial instrument. But why would anyone invest in the stuff? In ROB Insight, Anna Nicolaou examines the trends that are driving its value.
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 22, 2013) - On behalf of the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, I wish to invite you to one of the largest planned international Bitcoin events to date. Join us on April 11th-13th at Bitcoin Expo 2014 in Toronto. The prevailing theme will revolve around the growth and development of Bitcoin communities worldwide with a focus on collaborative and decentralized models. The Expo will be a showcase of prominent Bitcoin leaders, speakers, and businesses, and will be a stage where Canada can display its world class Bitcoin communities and business startups. Canada is fast becoming known for its Bitcoin innovation and leadership charge. Recently, the world's first Bitcoin ATM went live within our borders. This was made possible by the legal and regulatory environment we're currently enjoying in Canada which is proving to be more Bitcoin friendly than many other nations around the world. We're excited to show you firsthand the enthusiasm and dedication of the Canadian Bitcoin community.
The Expo will be held at Metro Toronto Convention Center, Canada's largest conference and meeting facility, located next to Toronto's renowned financial district. Toronto is within a five-hour drive of some of the most populated cities in Canada, and is an hour drive from Niagara Falls and the border to the United States.
In addition to Bitcoin community building, other themes will revolve around Bitcoin and charitable giving, benefits Bitcoin can offer to developing nations, and policy and regulatory environments that we see being constructed around the world in response to this disruptive new innovation.
Online gaming company E-Sports Entertainment has agreed to pay $1 million to the State of New Jersey to resolve a bitcoin mining case.
The settlement is designed to resolve allegations that the company infected thousands of PCs with malicious code.
According to a formal complaint, the state alleges that the code "enabled E-Sports to monitor users' computers even when they were not signed onto or using E-Sports services. E-Sports also created a botnet -- a network of computers running malicious software -- using its customers' computers.
"The botnet used the computing resources of users' computers to mine for bitcoins, a virtual form of currency. It is estimated that, during a single two-week period, E-Sports took control of approximately 14,000 computers in New Jersey and across the nation, and generated approximately $3,500 (around £2,60) by mining for bitcoins."
Someone just transacted $148 million worth of Bitcoin. That's about 195,000 Bitcoins.
We say transacted because there is no way of knowing whether any money actually changed hands. The Bitcoins were transferred from several Blockchain "addresses" to another single address. Addresses are basically routing numbers, and an individual's Bitcoin wallet can contain multiple addresses.
So barring some kind of deal that would almost certainly be required to be reported to some sort of third party, it's likely to have just been an individual consolidating accounts.
You can see more discussion of this on reddit and ycombinator.
But it does show that someone out there owns 195,000 Bitcoins, which are increasingly becoming more valuable.
The virtual currency Bitcoin can be used to purchase pizza and to make apartment rentals – and now it can be used to buy tickets to space. Virgin Galactic, the space-flight branch of Richard Branson’s empire, announced on Friday that it will accept payments made by Bitcoin.
“All of our future astronauts are pioneers in their own right, and this is one more way to be forward-thinking,” Branson said, in a blogpost for the company. He said a female flight attendant from Hawaii purchased a Virgin Galactic ticket using bitcoin on Friday.
Flights on Virgin Galactic cost $250,000; passengers can cancel up to three months before departure. Bitcoin topped $700 on the MT Gox exchange, where it is traded, earlier this week. Branson said on CNBC on Friday that payments will be transferred into US dollars to establish a fixed price in case the customer requests a refund.
Bitcoin’s value benefitted in recent weeks from growing support from investors, including China, who believe the decentralised currency could hold long-term promise as an alternative form of payment.
The University of Nicosia, a private school in Cyrpus, says it is now the first university that lets you pay tuition and other fees in bitcoin, the world’s most popular digital currency.
The 5,000-student university made the move as it seeks publicity for a new master’s program in digital currency, set to launch next spring. The program is designed to appeal to everyone from government administrators to entrepreneurs.
The program, apparently the world’s first “Master of Science Degree in Digital Currency,” covers both the technical underpinnings of systems like Bitcoin as well as how such systems will evolve and change society. “Digital currency is an inevitable technical development that will lead to significant innovation,” Christos Vlachos, the university’s chief financial officer, said in a press release.
The program’s first course, Introduction to Digital Currency, will be made available for free enrollment online. Classes at University of Nicosia are taught in English.
Bitcoin’s move into the registrar’s office underscores growing mainstream acceptance of a currency born among digital cryptography geeks. Such acceptance is no doubt made easier by the fact that bitcoin prices have generally marched upward over the past year, finally surging from $100 per bitcoin in July to more than $600 today.
Gavin Andresen is chief scientist at the . I first talked with him about bitcoin, the virtual currency, . I checked back in with him this week, because so much has been going on with bitcoin lately.
Silk Road, an underground drug marketplace, was shut down last month by the FBI. Court documents in the case allege that bitcoins were used to try to take out contracts on peoples lives. I asked Andresen about the case. He said:
...that's really disturbing. That really bothers me. For me as a tech geek, my first thought is alright how can we stop this? How can we fix it? This is a case where maybe it can't be fixed with technology.
Despite the criminal case, bitcoin seems to be gaining legitimacy in the eyes of federal officials. There were not one but two Congressional hearings on bitcoin this week. And an official from the Justice Department said that "virtual currencies in and of themselves are not illegal, we've all recognized that innovation is important." Andresen seemed pleased with the attention:
I received a number of thoughtful comments on yesterday’s article on Bitcoin and wanted to follow up on a couple of important points that they raised and provide some new information.
Some of the pro-Bitcoin enthusiasts were keen to emphasize the difference between Bitcoin and previous potential sources of private money. It’s digital, so doesn’t have physical production or storage issues and it’s hard to melt down a Bitcoin and pass it off as two Bitcoins, thus perhaps ruling out the role governments played in verifying and securing money in the past.
However, commenters were also keen to emphasize that Bitcoin is special because it can only be created according to a special algorithm that ultimately limits the total number of Bitcoins to 21 million and guarantees that payments are anonymous and irreversible.
The way director Alex Winter sees it, Napster, WikiLeaks and Bitcoin are just threads in the same yarn – a story of a deep divide growing between the internet that everyone can see and a more mysterious web where peer-to-peer pioneers rule. He should know – he’s a time-traveler.
OK, not really. He just played one in a movie. He was Bill S. Preston in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But in recent years he’s become a documentary filmmaker adept at finding the connective tissue between what happens in the back-channels of the internet and how it affects everyone IRL, even those that don’t understand how it works. His last doc was Downloaded – a thoughtful look back at the growth and impact of Napster – and his latest will go even deeper, looking at Bitcoins, the uber-popular digital currency that he first became fascinated with while still working on his file-sharing film.
“With Downloaded I was less interested in the implications of music or file-sharing… and more concerned with what peer-to-peer architecture meant in terms of creating global community, which could be used for good or ill,” Winter told WIRED. “What’s going on with [Bitcoin] is just the evolution of peer-to-peer architecture – this is just an outgrowth of the story I started to tell with Napster.”
The director’s latest effort is also striking while the iron’s hot. Bitcoin has had a lot of tongues wagging of late. Last month, the FBI arrested Ross William Ulbricht, whom they allege ran the online black market Silk Road that used Bitcoins for transactions involving anything from LSD to heroin.
In the last few days Bitcoin has dazzled, with record highs and steep declines. Though Bitcoin fell more slowly from its peak than I expected, the currency did manage to shed half its value in a roughly daylong period. So that likely caused a few people to sweat.
But we’re back, baby! After slipping from $900 to $450 or so, Bitcoin has risen to the $735 level, with a firm upswing being its most recent MO. Here’s the chart of Mt.Gox prices for Bitcoin over the past week:
According to RealTimeBitcoin, the current market capitalization is around $8 billion. However, that total is calculated using a different Bitcoin price.
It is very, very possible that Bitcoin could find another market updraft akin to what it enjoyed two days ago, and reach new highs. It is also very possible that the Great Bitcoin Rally of 2013 is all but over, and the currency is set to fall as interest in it subsides, undercutting speculative buying that previously gave it such momentum.
Fans of the virtual currency Bitcoin have organized their own version of the nightmarish American shopping tradition known as Black Friday, recruiting a coalition of 100 merchants and counting to offer discounts on November 29th.
"Supporters of the math-based currency are rallying the internet to solidify Bitcoin’s place in the most mainstream sphere: the holiday shopping season," reads a press release from Fight for the Future, a digital rights advocacy group coordinating the campaign.
The virtual currency, which approximates cash on the internet without a central authority or bank, has had a fresh round of attention as its price soared above $700 last week and a Congressional committee signaled it would not attempt to outlaw the four-year-old money. The US government has prosecuted creators of digital currencies in the past, including E-Gold and Liberty Reserve, arguing that they were used for money laundering. Bitcoin advocates were worried their currency would have a similar fate, especially because it was used on the underground drug website Silk Road.
The volatile price of bitcoin, which is traded on a number of exchanges for almost every other currency in the world, has discouraged some from spending it in the hopes that the value will go up. However, people who bought Bitcoin at the beginning of the year when it was cheaper are now finding they have a lot more money to spend on Christmas presents, says Holmes Wilson, co-founder of Fight for the Future.
One day it's up. One day it's down.
The volatile, electronic bitcoin has quickly become the currency topic du jour, attracting investments from entrepreneur heavyweights including Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Andreessen Horowitz.
While adoption among merchants is still minimal, businesses are increasingly accepting bitcoin as a way of avoiding credit card fees and attracting enthusiasts, who use the currency.
Click ahead to read about various businesses, from a plastic surgeon to a rental software start-up, which are dabbling in the bitcoin world.
For those that got in early, bitcoin has made for a fantastic investment. But a new paper from Desjardins doubts whether the virtual currency can ever replace fiat money.
Bitcoin is generated by an algorithm and shared via a peer-to-peer system that also acts as a ledger of sorts to track all transactions. New bitcoin is issued based on a predetermined rate, with about 12 million bitcoins generated so far and a target to eventually release a maximum of 21 million bitcoins.
There’s a lot to like about bitcoin. It offers anonymity, there is little need for intermediaries like banks, which passes on cost savings to users and bitcoins are easy to move and store. It’s especially alluring for those that doubt the competency of central banks and their monetary strategies because bitcoins issuances are not centralized.
But therein lies the problem.
“Cryptocurrencies [like bitcoin] make it difficult to implement monetary adjustment mechanisms, which are required to ensure our economies run smoothly,” said analysts at Desjardins in their report. “As an example, the central banks can temporarily lend liquidities to another financial institution in difficulty as a last resort. This mechanism allows a panic situation to be contained and prevents the domino effect from rippling through the financial system.”
Bitcoin is getting more buzz than ever thanks to an apparent thumbs-up in Washington this week, which triggered a new bout of speculative mania that saw the virtual currency brush $900. Now, if only someone could find a use for the stuff.
Recall that a big problem for Bitcoin is that it’s great in theory but, in practice, it’s not good for much besides speculating. A handful of places in New York and San Francisco accept it, but most retailers haven’t even heard of Bitcoin and, besides, it’s still much easier to pay by swiping a card.
One way this could change is by incentive programs like the one offered by online gift card service Gyft. The site, which offers users an online way to combine retail gift cards from places like the Gap and Target, is offering a 3% discount whenever someone uses its service to make a purchase with Bitcoin.
The Gyft program is significant because it gives consumers a reason to use Bitcoin instead of a credit card. While merchants have an obvious incentive to avoid credit cards — since they can save the 3 percent charged by Visa or MasterCard and avoid chargebacks — the reverse has been true for consumers, since most cards offer 1 percent cash back or other rewards.
NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Cyprus' biggest private university said Thursday it will start accepting the digital currency Bitcoin as an alternative way to pay tuition fees.
The country had been a hub for international banking before suffering a collapse in its financial system this year, leading the government to impose controls on the flow of capital as it accepted an international bailout.
But the University of Nicosia said the move to accept Bitcoin was unrelated to the controls. Rather, it was meant to help foreign students in countries where traditional banking transactions are either difficult or costly to pay for programs such as online degrees.
The university's chief financial officer, Christos Vlachos, said the institution, which has about 8,500 students enrolled, is the first in the world to take Bitcoin payments.
Bitcoin is a cryptography-based digital currency that advocates say is counterfeit-proof. Its value is determined by supply -- which is limited by its design -- and demand. Among the various criticisms levelled at Bitcoin are that it is too prone to price swings against other currencies to be useful.
Vlachos said payments are free of risk for the university since it immediately converts the digital currency to euros at the day's exchange rate.
He said that the university is also offering a new Masters' degree in digital currency, a field he says is the monetary equivalent of the Internet in its infancy.
"It's the gold of tomorrow," Vlachos told the Associated Press.
Bitcoin has been in the news a lot lately. Is it a legit form of currency? Can the government regulate it? Why are banks trying to harsh its vibe so hard? We don’t know. But what we do know is that you can now use it to buy breast implants in–where else?–Miami.
That’s right, all those Bitcoin miners spending their nebulous fortunes on cocaine and shitty $20 margaritas in South Beach can now fit in better at topless beaches by inflating their chests with silicone furnished by online currency. We’re talking about the dudes, by the way. Imagine the Winklevoss twins with matching sets of double-Ds.
But the idea of using Bitcoins to buy faux fun-bags results in major cognitive dissonance, akin to using an AmEx black card to buy canned hot dogs and a Wet ‘n’ Wild lip gloss. But it’s happening, the Daily Dot reports, and of course it’s going down in Florida, at the aptly named Vanity Cosmetic Surgery.
At a Senate hearing, financial regulators, law enforcement, and even the chairman of the Federal Reserve show support for digital currencies.
Why It Matters The financial system contains inefficiencies that could be solved by a decentralized digital currency such as Bitcoin.
The crypto-currency Bitcoin gained some valuable—and surprising—new allies at a U.S. Senate hearing on Monday: financial regulators, law enforcement, and even the chairman of the Federal Reserve. The value of the currency reached a record high shortly after the hearing.
Interested observers might have expected yesterday’s hearing on the potential risks, threats, and promises of virtual currencies to presage a regulatory crackdown: the hearing came just a month after the bust of Silk Road, a notorious online market that accepted bitcoins for guns, drugs, and other illicit goods. Though the hearing was nominally about digital currencies in general, the focus was really on Bitcoin, a currency that uses cryptographic techniques to allow money transfers directly between peers, rather than through a central authority like a bank or PayPal (see “What Bitcoin Is, and Why It Matters”).
Instead of focusing on the potential threat posed by digital currencies such as Bitcoin, the emphasis at the hearing was more on Bitcoin’s promise. For a currency best known for its appeal to drug dealers and tech-savvy libertarians, the hearing was a significant move toward the mainstream. It was likely also a relief for the growing number of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists looking to Bitcoin for a new form of frictionless money transfers.
Gary Thomas plans to get rich off virtual currencies—but not bitcoin. The electrical engineer is betting big on newcomers like alphacoin and FastCoin.
Mr. Thomas started trading the digital currencies from his home outside Boston earlier this year. He said he is convinced this is his ticket to fortune, even after an earlier attempt—investing in Internet stocks during the dot-com bubble—ended in disaster.
"I think this is a point in history that will never be repeated," said Mr. Thomas, who is in his 50s. "These things will take off like nobody will imagine."
A "cryptocurrency" craze has spawned more than 80 entrants, from peercoin and namecoin, to worldcoin and hobonickels. In October and November alone, developers launched gridcoin, fireflycoin and zeuscoin. Bbqcoin has enjoyed a renaissance after a false start in 2012. Litecoin, launched in 2011, has turned into the strongest bitcoin alternative.
As the Bitcoin phenomenon reaches new heights, developers are rolling out dozens of competing virtual currencies with colorful names like Litecoin, Peercoin, Namecoin and Feathercoin. Joseph Light reports on digits.
Virtual-currency experts credit bitcoin's explosion into the public consciousness for a flurry of new currencies—and an increasing legion of fans hoping to make a quick buck trading them. Bitcoin, launched in 2009, fetched about $548 a coin as of late-afternoon Wednesday in New York, making all the existing bitcoin worth about $6.6 billion, according to CoinDesk.com, which averages bitcoin prices across exchanges. Its rise sparked hearings on Capitol Hill this week during which enforcement agencies described it as a legitimate currency but expressed worries that it could be used for illegal activities.
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Senators have held a second hearing on Bitcoin as America's dinosaur politicians struggle to get to grips with the cryptocurrency.
On the second day of the hearing seven senators attended, as compared to just one in the initial proceedings on Monday.
Tuesday's panel included Ernie Allen, CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, who discussed the use of Bitcoin among paedophiles who use it to pay for child abuse images. Patrick Murck from the Bitcoin Foundation also spoke, along with Jeremy Allaire, CEO of the digital currency firm Circle, and Jerry Brito, a fellow from the Mercatus Center within George Mason University.
Senators wanted to know if Bitcoin was being used by terrorists, paedos, money launderers and other criminals. But their knowledge of the matter was limited at best.
“I have been worried about that bitcoin some,” said Senator Mark Kirk, who is the Republican representative for Illinois.
WASHINGTON: Call it a speculative bubble or the rise of a currency of the future: the bitcoin jumped in value Tuesday after US authorities appeared to give the virtual money their blessing. The electronic currency that is suspected of being used for illicit transactions on the Internet reached a value of $900 for the first time on specialized currency exchange websites.
But it is highly volatile, and a few hours later it was down to $700, according to Mt GOX, which manages trading done in bitcoin. Back in April it was worth just $200. At a Senate hearing, the bitcoin was "seen in a way more positive than the market had expected because I think the market anticipated almost by definition the authorities would be negative," said Steve Hanke, a professor applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Bitcoin’s rally is accelerating as the U.S. Department of Justice’s description of the digital currency as a “legal means of exchange” bolsters the prospect of wider acceptance as an alternative payment system.
6:05 Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, talks about the outlook for regulation of the digital currency Bitcoin. Johnson, speaking with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop," also discusses President Barack Obama's health-care law. (Source: Bloomberg)
1:10 Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs meets on virutal currencies in Washington. U.S. Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, the Treasury Department's Jennifer Calvery, the Justice Department's Mythili Raman, and Bitcoin Foundation Inc.'s Patrick Murck comment. (Excerpts. Source: Bloomberg)
Bitcoins, which exist as software and aren’t regulated by any country or banking authority, surged to a record $744 on Bitstamp, an active Web-based exchange where they trade for dollars, euros and other currencies, after the remarks at a hearing by the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The gains extended an advance that has seen the price of Bitcoins quadruple in the past two months and climb 45-fold so far this year.
Growing interest from investors in China and a limited supply of Bitcoins have also been fueling the increase in price, while last month’s closing of the Silk Road Hidden Website -- where people could obtain drugs, guns and other illicit goods using Bitcoins -- was already spurring speculators to bet Bitcoins would gain more mainstream acceptance. Now, government agencies from the U.S. Secret Service to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network have weighed in to say that the virtual currency that’s designed to be difficult to trace has potential benefits, as well as risks.
Congress wants to know all about Bitcoin, the popular virtual currency. Meantime, Bitcoin Surges To $600 Heading Into Senate Hearings. With no banking or government involvement, Bitcoin is more anonymous than cash. And market reactions make it a darling. It’s pushing the boundaries of its digital currency niche.
What about taxes? Back to earth, Bitcoin. Sure, it may be attractive for someone who intentionally tries not to pay tax. But our tax system is built on self-reporting. And most people report their income to the IRS regardless of whether it shows up on a Form W-2 or 1099.
Even so, as Bitcoin becomes ever more popular, it’s going to become more mainstream. Already a Government Accountability Office report says the IRS could do a better job telling people they have to pay tax on Bitcoin transactions. Bitcoin is peer-to-peer so there’s no central bank or government. Still, if you swap one product or service for another, the IRS taxes it, as the IRS explains at its Bartering Tax Center.
The Treasury unit called FinCEN, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, already has rules about Bitcoin. FinCEN rules say Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin miners should register as Money Services Businesses and comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Ordinary Bitcoin users don’t have to register just to purchase goods and services.
The bitcoin virtual currency has hit a new record value of US$900. The surge is “the beginning of something spectacular,” with bitcoin potentially soon displacing the dollar, Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education told RT.
“I think, that’s not a bubble, it represents a substantial paradigm shift,” Tucker said, commenting on the latest boom of the anonymous crypto currency.
“In fact $600 per bitcoin might be a thing of history, we might get it much –much higher,” the expert added.
“The important thing is that bitcoin I believe has a potential of becoming a new international monetary standard, something like gold standard in the 19th century had this real potential. So, I think, it could displace the dollar, and we are talking about maybe five, ten or fifteen years from now, but the bottom line is that the government currencies are broken at the moment, they don’t meet the modern needs of an internet age and Bitcoin does,” Jeffrey Tucker explained.
Later on Monday the US Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee is taking a close look at the existing virtual currencies, including bitcoin and holding a hearing entitled “Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies”.
Business investment banker Kevin O'Leary (O'Leary Funds) provided his commentary on the recent volatility in Bitcoin pricing during a CBC interview.
His take on the matter is that since Bitcoin has hit the $1B threshold and people are accepting Bitcoin for hard assets, the currency has earned its place among the world currencies. He also commented that he personally is interested in taking an active position of 1-2% in the currency itself through O'Leary Funds.