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ConnectBTC Launches Bitcoin Mining Pool To Public

ConnectBTC, the Bitcoin network’s newest mining pool is announcing today its launch to the public.

ConnectBTC pool is developed and operated by Bitmaintech Israel, Bitmain’s first R&D center outside of China, working to innovate pooled mining services, and deliver advanced capabilities to bitcoin mining operations of all sizes.

Being the newest product out of Bitmaintech Israel’s lab, the ConnectBTC pool puts the latest in pooled mining services directly in the hands of miners. ConnectBTC’s pool provides highly detailed real-time information and analytics to miners, and gives mining operators a better understanding of their performance, without having to develop custom internal monitoring tools.

“Our role as pools is to provide miners with liquidity and stability. We provide miners with real time data in an easy to use UI, while keeping payment plans simple and stable. In recent years, pools have come up with imaginative new payout methods that confuse customers and displace risks back to the miners” noted ConnectBTC’s Manager Mr. Gadi Glikberg. “High subsidies on regular PPS plans allow miners to benefit from the increase in transaction fees while avoiding any risks” he added.

Miners who wish to join the new pool can register at connectbtc.com and start mining immediately. There’s no configuration or setup required. ConnectBTC automatically sets-up workers, liberating mining operators from having to maintain two sets of configuration both locally and at the pool.

ConnectBTC was fully developed by Bitmaintech in Israel, independently of any other pool. Operating under a robust infrastructure and employing the latest cutting-edge technologies to ensure members can maximize their profit and minimize the work required of them, ConnectBTC aims to be the new home for miners.

####

Press Contact:

Gadi Glikberg

gadi@connectbtc.com

17 Hatidhar, Ra’anana, Israel

+972 (0)77 346 3410

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BitPay Says Alternatives Not as Compelling as the Bitcoin Blockchain

BitPay co-founders Stephen Pair and Tony Gallippi have been around Bitcoin for about as long as anyone else in the industry. The company was founded in 2011, and their actions generally indicate the future direction of the industry.

“When we started in 2011, we would be excited to get five or six transactions through BitPay in a day.” said Pair in a fireside chat with Gallippi, held during the recent Distributed: Markets 2017 conference in Atlanta.

BitPay would go on to cut deals with the likes of Microsoft, Newegg, Expedia and other major corporate customers to provide payment processing services.

Challenges for Bitcoin’s Use in Consumer Payments

While many early Bitcoin adopters claimed the P2P digital cash system was going to replace the use of credit cards and completely overthrow the banking system in 2013, things haven’t exactly panned out that way — at least not yet.

Bitcoin is currently dealing with some issues as a consumer payments platform, mainly because the system is experiencing growth at a rate faster than it can safely scale.

“We have seen an increase in customer service inquiries because of transaction confirmation delays for bitcoin purchasers,” Pair told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview. “We’re also seeing substantially higher transaction fees on our own settlement transactions.”

Recently, BitPay decided to stop covering Bitcoin network fees on invoice payments.

“This friction is making us get more creative in how we do user experience design for delayed payment states on the BitPay platform,” said Pair. “Often delays are an educational opportunity to explain how the Bitcoin network works and point people to wallets that use dynamic transaction fees. Copay and BitPay wallet users have been largely immune from transaction delays because their wallets calculate transaction fees dynamically.

“Our designers and engineers are constantly attuned to how we can make using Bitcoin intuitive,” Pair added.

The lightning network is a proposed method of dealing with the issues related to transaction delays and higher transaction fees on the Bitcoin network. The transaction caching layer would effectively enable potentially improved versions of many of the features people have associated with Bitcoin in the past, such as instant transactions at nearly no cost.

“We’re exploring all possible solutions for scalability,” Pair said. “It’s not a surprise to us that Bitcoin needs to scale — scalability is something we’ve been thinking about for years. The only surprise is that while we anticipated short-term bumps in the throughput, we thought that changes for more on-chain throughput would have happened a couple of years ago. This slow movement to increase network throughput is something we did not foresee. At some point we’re going to reach an actual scalability limit that will only be overcome through solutions like these.”

Some have wondered whether companies like BitPay may turn away from Bitcoin and toward alternative options, such as altcoins or permissioned blockchains, due to the historically high U.S.-dollar-denominated fees and general congestion on the network.

“We have carefully studied the most significant alternatives to the Bitcoin blockchain and have concluded that none of them are compelling,” Pair responded.

Bitcoin’s Use in Consumer Payments Is Still Growing

Although Pair admitted Bitcoin has some issues with scaling right now, BitPay is still seeing growth in the use of the technology among consumers.

“Bitcoin is the fastest, most secure and most cost-effective means of doing value transfer on the internet,” said Pair. “We think of ourselves as a payment innovator, and from a functional perspective, consumer payments and B2B payments are no different on the Bitcoin network and on BitPay’s platform.”

At the Distributed: Markets fireside chat, Gallippi claimed that their transaction count has more than doubled over the past year. Much of that growth, he said, has been seen in the areas of digital goods and video games. Specifically, he pointed to digital distribution platform Steam’s acceptance of bitcoin through BitPay as a source of this growth, and pointed out that there is a lot of overlap between the Bitcoin and gamer communities;

Growth for Bitcoin Outside of Consumer Payments

In addition to continued growth in the area of consumer payments, Pair noted that BitPay is also seeing growth in the use of Bitcoin for B2B money transfers.

“We’re seeing significant interest and transaction volume growth from businesses that need to transfer value to other businesses,” said Pair. “Bitcoin is a fantastic solution for these business-to-business transfers, especially when it comes to international payments, where bank transfers are still slow and inefficient.

“They’re using our platform for billing and settling internationally with a lot of their suppliers,” Pair stated during the fireside chat.

Gallippi added that there has been an uptick in the use of Bitcoin for payment disbursements.

“It’s not that easy to pay people on a regular basis to the majority of the world. Eastern Europe, Israel, Africa, India [and] the Middle East — where a lot of these apps are being [developed] — it’s very difficult to pay them,” said Gallippi, as he explained how app stores pay developers who sell apps on their store.

Gallippi noted that for the app store example or digital marketing companies, BitPay can receive one payment from the business and then disburse payments in bitcoin at all of the endpoints.

“We built that product originally because we had our own needs to pay our own employees in bitcoin,” added Pair. “We’ve got a lot of Fortune 500 companies coming to us now every day asking us to solve these kinds of payments problems.”

 

Written by Kyle Torpey for Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: www.bitcoinmaga….

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Moscow Eyes Blockchain Tech for Infrastructure and Security

The Moscow City Government supports the optimization of the transport infrastructure with the use of blockchain technology through the “shared registry” system when it comes to controlling land-based transportation.

Blockchain technology will help create more transparent, just and reliable models for travel fare payment and system financing.

Sources in the room told Bitcoin Magazine that in a meeting with principal blockchain experts, Maksim Liksutov, deputy mayor of Moscow and head of the Moscow City Transport Agency, stated that the city’s primary task at the moment is to establish and support a safe and reliable data transmission system both within the department as well as with suppliers. He went on to suggest that a blockchain shared registry system would be an appropriate mechanism.

Liksutov was also enthusiastic about the potential for blockchain technology to facilitate the application of biometric information techniques, especially in terms of security solutions. He noted that with its data verification abilities, blockchain technology’s distributed nature could mean easier verification for travelers, while providing widespread confirmation of identities where necessary.

“Using blockchain technology in transactions between users and machines (which requires a high level of trust and permissions) is a question of time. This technology could be used also as an unprecedented anti-terror system,” the lead coordinator of Blockchain International, Alexander Mikheev, told Bitcoin Magazine.

According to the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, these steps will become a part of a wider initiative the government will take to ensure advancement of new technologies. “Such projects are only begging to be realized in various areas, and we, without a doubt, owe it to ourselves to keep, in that respect, leading the array of cities across the globe,” Sobyanin said in a televised public address.

Among the other industries that will benefit from the integration of blockchain technology are the property sector, banks, health services, electrical power systems, digital commerce and tourism. “The users will just have to input their personal data once (or the company data), after which the information will be verified in the blockchain network in all the governmental and private structures, including banks and insurance companies,” Sobyanin said.

Written by Peter Chawaga for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: www.bitcoinmaga….

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One Bitcoin Just Became Worth More Than One Ounce of Gold

One bitcoin has now, at least briefly, been worth more than one ounce of gold, hitting $1239.9 at the bitcoin exchange Bitstamp, while an ounce of gold was priced at $1238.67.

The last time a single bitcoin might have been worth more than an ounce of gold happened in November 2013, more than three years ago. Having taken place based on Mt. Gox pricing models, possibly manipulated due to internal Mt. Gox trading bot(s), the legitimacy of bitcoin’s first dance with gold parity faces continued scrutiny. Regardless, the price of gold in bitcoin terms is now trading at an all-time low.

When, according to Mt. Gox, the bitcoin price exceeded that of an ounce of gold, it had just broken through the $1,000 threshold. Similarly, the bitcoin price crossed the $1,000 mark January 1 before gold-bitcoin parity in the first week of January 2017.

Everything You Need to Know Before SEC Bitcoin ETF DecisionIn April 2011, bitcoin realized parity with the US dollar. It later reached parity with silver (so nicknamed the “devil’s metal” for its ties to populism) at approximately $29.65 per bitcoin on February 19, 2013.

Bitcoin Outshines Troy Ounce of Gold in 2016

Bitcoin, long called ‘digital gold’ due to its strict coin creation protocol involving a computational process dubbed ‘mining,’ performed as a better safehaven, perhaps, than gold bullion.

Gold demand stoked by Negative Interest Rate Policies (NIRP) in Japan led to stalwart demand for the ‘yellow metal’ by July 2017. Gold fell nearly 20% for the remainder of the year.

Bitcoin increased more than 125% over the course of 2016. Fiat crises throughout 2016 in emerging or underdeveloped markets like India, China, Venezuela, and Greece is perceived to have benefited bitcoin more than gold.

Bitcoin: Gold’s “Digital Counterpart”

In “An Analysis of Bitcoin Exchange Rates,” economist Jacob Smith, who calls bitcoin a “digital counterpart” of gold,  “highlights the similarities between the traditional commodity and its new digital counterpart.” He writes:

…the most appropriate way to think about bitcoins is as digital gold. While nominal bitcoin prices are extremely volatile and seemingly uncorrelated with other nominal exchange rates, relative bitcoin prices or implied nominal exchange rates are indeed highly cointegrated with conventional market exchange rates. This mirrors the relationship between physical gold and conventional nominal exchange rates…

One Bitcoin is Now Worth More Than One Ounce of Gold for First Time
Casascius gold bitcoin.

The bitcoin and gold markets have long been intertwined. One of the most popular companies early in bitcoin’s existence, Casascius, produced the most expensive physical bitcoin ever produced, one of which sold for $1,000,000 in 2013.

Comprised of one ounce of fine gold (which was worth about one-third the value of 1,000 BTC when produced), Casascius offered the coins at $5,500. An owner of one such rare coin recently used bitcoin’s price rise as an opportunity to share the rarity on Reddit. The redditor explained how it worked:

“I have a confirmation code that proves that my passphrase unlocks an encrypted private key that maps to the bitcoin address on the coin,” the coin holder wrote. “If I ever sell these coins, I will give the passphrase and confirmation code to the buyer. So the only trust is that Mike Caldwell didn’t screw up and not put the correct encrypted private key under the hologram. So far, Mike’s work has been top notch. But of course, would you trust it with $1M if you have that kind of money? That is for you to decide. Do note that I have not funded these with any BTC.”

Everything You Need to Know Before SEC Bitcoin ETF Decision

At gold-bitcoin parity, the bitcoin market cap ($18 billion) expressed as a percent of gold in circulation ($7 trillion) is currently at about 0.388%. Bitcoiners see this as evidence of bitcoin’s room for growth.

The last time bitcoin approximated the gold price, however, it marked the top of the bull run in 2013 for the digital currency.

 

Written by Justin Connell for Bitcoin.com | Original article: news.bitcoin.co…

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Russian Bank’s VP Says Bitcoin is the Only Successful Blockchain

Over the past couple of months, Russian politicians and banks have been changing their tune when it comes to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency solutions. On February 21 Nikita Smirnov vice president of the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank had some positive things to say about the digital currency bitcoin. In fact, Smirnov believes the Bitcoin network is the only “successful” blockchain technology.

‘A New Philosophical Concept’

Russia’s relationship with digital currencies has been confusing, to say the least. Over the past few years, a few Russian bureaucrats have perceived bitcoin use as a criminal activity. Moreover, in the past, there have also been website blockades against bitcoin domains such as BTC-e and Localbitcoins. However, it seems politicians and banks are slowly changing their minds towards the country’s relationship with bitcoin. Just recently Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister, Alexey Moiseev told the public that bitcoin was “not a threat,” and Russia’s largest bank Sberbank has also been bolstering blockchain technology.

Now one of Russia’s well-known state banks Vnesheconombank (VEB) vice president has told the regional publication Kommersant that bitcoin has many benefits. Additionally, Nikita Smirnov says that bitcoin has an indisputable network effect.

“Bitcoin is the only blockchain technology in the world that has widespread adoption,” explains Smirnov. “It has existed for several years already, people tried to hack it, but no one has succeeded. So right now, if you ask whether there’s another algorithm, which established itself as a solution to distributed consensus problem, then the answer is probably NO.”

As of the present moment, the only successful solution to that problem is Bitcoin.

‘Bitcoin Forms a Symbiotic Relationship with Humans’

Meanwhile, the Russian bank Sberbank has been researching and developing its own enterprise-grade distributed ledger prototype for quite some time. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref believes commercial blockchains will be ready in two years and the company is working with the government on this project. However, according to the VEB vice president bitcoin is really the only successful blockchain today and can be considered a positive bacteria in his opinion.

Bitcoin is kind of a philosophical concept. Compare it to a bacteria, which exists separately from humans, but is in a symbiotic relationship with humans. But the word bacteria has a negative connotation, whereas Bitcoin in many ways is a positive thing, which satisfies many necessities, involves people in the process and allows itself to exists in this way.

Vnesheconombank also works with the Russian government managing state debts and pension funds. The bank, instituted in 1922, has grown significantly over the past few years acting as a progressive “Russian Development Bank.” Smirnov’s opinion may not reflect the bank’s official stance towards bitcoin but may push the bank to research the cryptocurrency further.

“[Bitcoin] truly is a new philosophical concept, which isn’t very well understood quite yet,” Smirnov concluded in his interview.


Written by Jamie Redman for Bitcoin.com | Original article: https://news.bitcoin.co….

What do you think about the vice president of Vnesheconombanks statements? Do you agree that Bitcoin is the only successful blockchain implementation? Let us know in the comments below.

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Bitcoin in Japan to be a Legal Payment Method Soon

Bitcoin will soon be legally recognized as a method of payment in Japan. The bill with provisions for cryptocurrencies has recently passed through the period of public consultation and will enter into force in April.

Bitcoin.com examines what the bill means and how it could affect Bitcoin with Special Counsel at Anderson Mori & Tomotsune, Ken Kawai, who has held numerous speaking engagements on the legal issues of virtual currency regulations in Japan.

Countdown: The Long Awaited Bill

Since Bitcoin’s inception, its legal position in Japan has not been clear. The first bill containing provisions for virtual currencies including Bitcoin was submitted to the Diet last
March. It amends the existing Payment Services Act and the Act on Preventing of Transfer of Criminal Proceeds.

“The revision of the Payment Services Act, which sets out the basic framework of virtual currency regulation, was promulgated last June”, Kawai told Bitcoin.com. The drafts of detailed regulations and guidelines were published in December and the period for public consultation on the bill ended on January 27, he continued, adding that:

The new regulations will enter into force in April 2017.

New Method of Payment but Not Currency

This bill defines virtual currencies including bitcoin and imposes
certain regulations on virtual currency exchange services with the aim to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing as well as to protect users.

While the bill recognizes them as a new method of payment in Japan, virtual currencies are not classified as “currencies” however. Kawai confirmed:

“Virtual currency” is distinguished clearly from “currency” in the regulations.

Even though Bitcoin is not considered a currency, being recognized by the government as a payment method will “likely
have a positive effect on people’s mind and facilitate usage of VC’s [virtual currencies]”, he believes.

Bitcoin usage has already been growing considerably in Japan. Japanese exchange Coincheck revealed significant growth in its user base, rising from 14,000 users last April to 76,400 in January. In addition, the exchange reported gigantic growth in the number of bitcoin-accepting merchants using its service. Also, Japanese giant GMO Internet group has recently announced that it would be developing a bitcoin exchange and wallet service.

Meanwhile, Japan now has the second-largest bitcoin trading volume globally, according to Coinhills.

Bitcoin’s Other Legal Considerations in Japan

While usage as a payment method should not be affected whether bitcoin is legally considered a ‘currency’ or not, Kawai explained that, from a legal standpoint, there are some considerable differences.

“For instance, if they are defined as “currencies”, lending of VCs must comply with Money Lending Control Act (which requires lenders to register as “Moneylenders”) and VCs’ derivatives must comply with the Financial Instrument Exchange Act”, he described.

Some other countries have classified virtual currency as an asset or property for tax purposes such as the U.S. Recently, Israel has issued a draft which considers Bitcoin an asset, therefore imposing Value Added Tax (VAT) as well as capital gains tax on bitcoin transactions.

However, for Japan, this bill does not define virtual currency as “property”. Instead, virtual currencies are defined as ‘proprietary value’, Kawai contrasted, adding that “a precedent of Tokyo District Court denies the concept of having ‘property rights’ of Bitcoin”. Furthermore, “it is not uncertain what is the legal nature of proprietary value in Japanese civil laws”, he clarified, adding that “I do not expect that the government is leaning towards proactively considering it as “property”.

 

Written by Kevin Helms for Bitcoin.com | Original article: https://news.bitcoin.co…

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Will Trump’s New Policies Boost U.S.–Mexico Bitcoin Remittances?

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to build a wall along the U.S.–Mexico border as he had promised during his presidential election campaign. Aside from the ethical and practical issues of building the border wall, the issue of how it will be financed was also raised by opponents during his campaign. Trump’s proposed solution to funding the wall is either to heavily tax U.S.–Mexico remittances or to fully prohibit them altogether, so that the funds needed to build the wall will stay in the U.S.

According to the World Bank, U.S.–based Mexican immigrants send around $26 billion annually to their families back home in Mexico. Trump’s proposed legislation would hit Mexican families that rely on remittances from their U.S.–based relatives hard. The Mexican economy would also suffer as the multibillion-dollar remittance inflow to Mexico adds substantially to the country’s domestic spending.

In light of Trump’s proposed policies to fund the border wall, remittances from the U.S. to Mexico jumped to a ten-year high after Trump’s election win in November in anticipation of possible legislation restricting cross-border money transfers to Mexico. Remittances in the month of November jumped by almost 25 percent compared to the same month the prior year, according to data collated by the Mexican central bank.

Will Bitcoin Be the Answer if New Legislation Is Imposed?

If U.S.–Mexico remittances using traditional channels such as banks or large money transfer operators (MTOs), such as Western Union or MoneyGram, are to be heavily taxed or severely restricted, then bitcoin remittances could offer a solution.

Bitcoin allows users to send and receive money from and to anywhere in the world at a very low cost using online or mobile wallets to make the transfer. Furthermore, legal restrictions on money transfers could easily be circumvented using the digital currency, as no paperwork needs to be filed when sending money abroad. That way, both documented and undocumented Mexican immigrants would still be able to send money back home without any restrictions, should the new laws be put in place.

Alternatively to bitcoin, anonymous digital currencies such as DASH, Monero or Zcash could also be used to make cross-border money transfers, should Trump decide to go through with his legislation and attempt to crack down on bitcoin remittances.

Bitcoin in Mexico

The main reason bitcoin hasn’t taken any notable market share of the $500 billion global remittance market is the challenge of transferring fiat currency into bitcoin and then bitcoin back into fiat currency without having to pay too much in bid/offer spread costs. Illiquid local exchanges in developing countries can easily hike up the cost of the remittance to the extent that it would make more sense to use traditional money transfer solutions.

Fortunately, for Mexican bitcoin users, there are several exchanges to choose from when needing to convert bitcoin into pesos or vice versa. Mexico’s main bitcoin exchanges include Bitso, Volabit and LocalBitcoins.

Given the liquidity of both U.S-based, Mexico-based and international exchanges that residents of the two nations have access to, the costs of converting bitcoin to and from fiat currency are reasonable low, making bitcoin remittances from the U.S. to Mexico a viable solution should Trump’s remittance restrictions be enforced. Furthermore, there are bitcoin remittance companies such as Abra and Cashaa that aim to make cashing out bitcoins in local fiat currency easier.

In terms of bitcoin regulation, Mexico has taken a stance similar to many of its international peers. In April 2014, Mexico’s National Commission for the Protection and Defense of Users of Financial Services issued a warning on the risks of using bitcoin stating that it is not legal tender and not regulated by the Mexican authorities. Therefore, the commission warned, “any individual or business that uses or accepts virtual currencies as a means of payment does so at their own risk and on their own responsibility because the use of this type of asset entails high volatility and potential monetary losses.” In other words, bitcoin is not illegal but the commission warns against its use due to the risks involved in dealing in the digital currency.

Not surprisingly, following Trump’s election win in November, bitcoin trading volumes in Mexico on global peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins and on the country’s leading bitcoin exchange, Bitso, increased substantially as Mexican bitcoin users moved funds away from the weakening peso and into a better-performing currency.

Should Trump succeed in imposing strict remittance restrictions from the U.S. to Mexico, this could become the first case study of bitcoin remittance succeeding and actually become a viable means to make cross-border payments.

 

Written by Alex Lielacher for Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: www.bitcoinmaga…..

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As India Goes Cashless, Both E-Money Stocks and Bitcoin Benefit

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on November 9, 2016, that 500 and 1000 rupee notes would be taken out of circulation in an effort to reduce corruption, terrorism, black money and counterfeiting, and will no longer be accepted as legal tender in India. His surprise announcement caused chaos in the country as citizens scrambled to adjust to a new monetary norm that banned about 85 percent of cash in circulation.

This move was meant to bring billions of dollars worth of unaccounted money back into India’s economy. The Indian economy has thus far run primarily on cash transactions. This, in turn, has left a substantial proportion of India’s national income unaccounted for, as it doesn’t fall into the tax net. According to a research note by Ambit Capital Research, the size of India’s untaxed black market economy is worth $460 billion. In a “cashless” India, financial transactions will be more easily traceable, and previously unaccounted transactions will not fall through the net of the tax authorities.

The demonetization of the two highest-denomination notes in India has led to an increase in the use of electronic payment services and is a big step toward a cashless society. This, in turn, has two key benefactors: e-money payment companies and bitcoin.

E-Money Stocks Are Rallying

As reported by Bloomberg, e-money stocks have soared since Prime Minister Modi announced that he wants India to become a cashless society. India’s publicly listed electronic cash companies’ stock prices have surged in the wake of the currency reform in November. They are expected to continue to outperform since the government has introduced a range of discounts for making digital instead of cash payments.

Of the 23 e-payment solutions companies listed on India’s National Stock Exchange, 5 have been key outperformers since the new currency reform.

The stock prices of e-commerce software developers Intense Technologies Ltd. and Vedavaag Systems Ltd. increased by over 50 percent, while e-payment service provider RS Software India Ltd., technology solutions provider Aurionpro Solutions Ltd. and telecom solutions provider Tanla Solutions Ltd. have all rallied by over 20 percent.

On the day after the announcement, Credit Suisse Singapore made a strategic investment in Vakrangee Ltd., which provides digital financial services to governments and lenders, by buying 3.83 million shares in the firm and thereby signaling that it is prepared to bet on the profitable future of this sector in India.

A. K. Prabhakar, Head of Research at IDBI Capital in Mumbai, told Bloomberg that his team expects “double-digit revenues growth for e-governance firms over the next 3 to 4 years if the government systematically encourages cashless transactions” and that “growth in digital modes of payments will continue to be strong if the safety is increased and charges are reduced.”

According to the Reserve Bank of India, digital payments have increased by almost 50 percent from November to December, which shows that the shift toward a cashless economy is happening despite initial chaos in the country. This development will bode well for e-payment solutions providers and mobile money services.

Bitcoin Is Booming in India

India’s aggressive move toward becoming a cashless society, however, is not only benefiting e-money companies.It has also created a boom for bitcoin in the world’s seventh largest economy.

According to data compiled by Coin Dance, trading volumes at peer-to-peer bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins has spiked aggressively in India since November 9, while leading Indian bitcoin exchanges Zebpay, Unocoin and Coinsecure are witnessing a surge of new users coming onto their platform to exchange rupees for bitcoins.

According to Zebpay Co-Founder Saurabh Agarwal, Zebpay’s trade volumes have increased by 25 percent from October to November; they have had 50,000 new users sign up to their exchange in the month of November alone, well above the usual 20,000 new-user increases they have experienced in previous months.

Coinsecure experienced a 300 percent increase in user sign-ups in November, while Unocoin had their user base increase threefold in the wake of India’s currency reform.

While bitcoin merchant adoption is still next to none in India, the new currency reform and the subsequent push toward digital payments will give bitcoin a boost as a means of making online payments. More merchant adoption will also lead to more individuals adopting the digital currency, which, in turn, will help bitcoin flourish in India’s future cashless society.

Written by Alex Lielacher for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: https://bitcoinmagazine.co….

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WINGS, a Next-Generation Crowdfunding Community for Projects That Fly

WINGS, a decentralized platform for the creation, participation and management of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), is bringing to the crowdfunded blockchain space a visionary new model that builds community while offering opportunity.

WINGS can be described as mix between DAO, Augur and Kickstarter, allowing project DAO governance, prediction markets for startups potential, and a decentralized crowdfunding platform. More than that, the WINGS team is building an international community in the crypto space where members can build trust while evaluating new projects and funding those they like.

In traditional crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, backers are rewarded with perks – typically early or free access to the product or service developed by the project. In next-generation crowdfunding platforms like WINGS, backers are rewarded with tokens and become stakeholders of a project, involved in decision-making, providing services and entitled to payments for services guaranteed through the DAO’s smart contracts. WINGS will enable project creators to submit proposals to the WINGS platform, and those meeting the approval of the community of WINGS users will be launched for crowdfunding by the community.

A year from now, the WINGS team hope that people will have such trust in its community that the first question asked of a new project is: “Does it have WINGS?”

Whether a new project can fly is evaluated by the WINGS community, by leveraging “swarm intelligence” – the wisdom of the crowd, augmented via prediction markets – to provide risk-assessment and potential evaluation. Projects will be scored by the community according to how realistic they are to achieve, how transparent the teams are, and whether their fundraising and other goals are realistic.

In a recent paper titled “DAOs, Democracy and Governance,” renowned futurist and cryptographer Ralph Merkle argued that DAOs and crowdsourcing could lead to better decision making and even new forms of democracy. “We call this new form of democracy a DAO Democracy,” said Merkle.

The current version of the WINGS white paper describes the platform as “the first project governance and backing social platform of its kind that utilizes novel technologies such as swarm intelligence through decentralized forecasting markets, smart contracts generators, focus on accessibility and community post-funding engagement, flexible governance and participation models, [and] deep learning assisted project evaluation.”

Forecasting markets borrow core concepts from prediction markets – speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. The current market price for a prediction ‒ for example the election of a particular candidate ‒ can be interpreted as an aggregate, crowdsourced estimate of the probability of the prediction.

In WINGS, forecasting markets are used to evaluate projects. Members of the WINGS community are asked to predict things like how much funding a project will receive, and whether its scheduled milestones – such as the successful product delivery or marketing campaign launch – will be met. Those who make accurate predictions receive the project tokens, providing the necessary financial and reputational incentive rewards, for taking an active role in project evaluation. Thus the WINGS team places a strong emphasis on the creation of a vibrant global community of committed participants.

With WINGS’ crowdsourced approach to filtering and focusing on quality projects, potential backers can see how a project is rated and valued by the community, and what the estimated chances are of a project achieving its milestones and final goals, which reduces the backers’ need to perform their own evaluation and research. Once submitted to WINGS, new project proposals are evaluated and forecasted by WINGS token holders, discussed, and amended (pivoted) by project creators if appropriate. This solves the “one-shot chance” problem that crowd-funded projects usually have, by enabling the project creator to fine-tune the offering before starting the actual crowdfunding. After the initial assessment, a successful proposal becomes a new DAO with a unique set of DAO smart contracts and digital tokens, and the crowdfunding begins. Once the crowdfunding period is completed, the new DAO starts operating according to the governance model and rules defined by its smart contracts. Besides direct voting, WINGS will support representative governance and “liquid democracy” with flexible delegation.

The WINGS technology stack will include Ethereum, its smart contract programming language Solidity, the RSK (Rootstock) implementation of Ethereum smart contracts asa Bitcoin sidechain, and integrate with a decentralized storage system such as IPFS or Swarm. Users will be able to interact with the WINGS platform not only via conventional web or desktop interfaces, but also via smart chatbots in popular messaging apps including Telegram, Slack, Facebook Chat and WeChat. Eventually, the WINGS team plans to leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to allow natural language user interaction with the platform.

“No other platform so far has integrated DAO technology or used crowd intelligence based forecast markets to help potential funders and project stakeholders understand whether a project will fail or fly,” WINGS team member Dominik Zynis, in charge of marketing and communications, told Bitcoin Magazine.

“Any project that wants input from stakeholders, any project that wants access to an international network and community that can give a social network boost to a project and help it grow, is suitable for WINGS,” explained Zynis. “Also any project that wants to build credibility with financial supporters by going through being evaluated by the WINGS community.”

WINGS wants to attract not only the backers and project creators, but also and especially those who want to get involved in projects as early adopters and opinion leaders, playing a strong role among their local constituency by providing support for projects, evangelizing, and building their local communities. Zynis noted that the WINGS team gives priority to getting people involved in supporting projects, over getting more people to start projects.

Zynis added that venture capitalists and bankers are interested in using the WINGS platform. “We’ll need to make adjustments to it to enable stock or debt equity, but the power is using a global community to value and evaluate projects,” he said. “So WINGS will enable the next generation of project analysts.”

Interested readers can join WINGS by donating to the backing campaign, which has collected more than 1,500 bitcoins – more than $1.4 million – so far. WINGS is expected to launch in Q1 2017, and a first DAO project has been pre-announced – Stremio AdEx, a transparent ad network and marketplace running on top  of the Bitcoin blockchain via the RSK side-chain and smart contracts.

 

Published by Bitcoin Magazine. Original article: https://bitcoinmagazine.co…….

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Weekly News Roundup – 25 November 2016

IRS Files Petition in Court to Get Coinbase Users’ Info

On 17th November, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filed a petition in the District Court for the Northern District of California asking for permission to serve a summons to the Bitcoin exchange Coinbase to turn over records about every transaction of every user from 2013 to 2015.

According to court records,  the basis of IRS’s claim that all U.S. Coinbase users “may fail or may have failed to comply” with the internal revenue laws is an instance of a tax-defaulting Bitcoin user and two instances of tax-defaulting companies.

 

Bitcoin Price Flirts with Year’s High

Fueled by Indian government’s move to “hard-fork” the Indian Rupee, the Bitcoin price continued to rise since our previous bitcoin news roundup and, on 16 November, it rose by $30 in roughly one hour! On 17 November, it flirted with $780 on Chinese Bitcoin exchanges such as HaoBTC and BTCC.

At time of writing, it was swinging about $730 on Coindesk’s BPI.

Bitcoin Price 11-25 November 2016

Blockchain Partners with Coinify

The Bitcoin wallet Blockchain has partnered with Danish blockchain startup Coinify to offer its wallet users near-instantaneous funding options.  According to Blockchain, this partnership will allow its wallet users to avoid lengthy Know your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) verifications to purchase bitcoins more efficiently.

The Coinify integration will first be beta tested by invite-only participants in the UK and, after successful completion of the testing, will be available across Europe.

 

Blockchain Ads Ten Millionth Wallet

Following Blockchain’s previous news, the company announced a new milestone: it surpassed the ten million-wallet mark. The company mentioned that they have seen unprecedented levels of activity following the Brexit vote, the US presidential election and a weakening Yuan.

 

iPayYou Integrates Bitcoin Payment for Amazon Purchases

While major e-retailers like Overstock.com or Newegg.com have long been accepting Bitcoin payments, Amazon has still not adopted the most popular digital currency for payments on its retail platform.  However, early this week, Seattle-based payment platform iPayYou announced a feature called Amazon Direct that allows users to use their Bitcoin to make purchases on Amazon.

According to iPayYou’s CEO, the money is transferred from iPayYou’s bank account to that of Amazon so Amazon only deals with fiat transfers.

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