In this interview with CoinGeek’s Becky Liggero, Bitstocks founder Michael Hudson explains what makes Bitcoin, Bitcoin.
Michael Hudson founded Bitstocks in 2014, when “Bitcoin was really Bitcoin.” In terms of its technical properties, such as ability to scale, Bitcoin Cash—now Bitcoin SV—continues functioning as an instant medium of exchange.
“So we’re now in a transition in our business where we are building an ecosystem. For us, if you’re building an ecosystem and you’re building a business, you want the most solid, robust foundations,” Hudson said. Bitstocks initially supported Bitcoin Cash as it has “the most solid and robust foundation for us to put our house, our ecosystem, our work on top of; however, Hudson announced at the recently held CoinGeek Week Conference that they will now use Bitcoin SV as the supporting cryptocurrency.
ICYMI: @btchudson has FINALLY revealed what we're building. This is Gravity, the Bitstocks Banking Ecosystem, underpinned by #BitcoinSV. Get a sneak peek at just some of the products coming in 2019. https://t.co/31aRPMHpjW pic.twitter.com/vRAT3QyZGn
— Bitstocks (@Bitstocks_) November 30, 2018
Practical application of the technology is most clear when this is embraced by merchants. “Merchants play a huge role, especially from a miner’s perspective as well. Miners are making huge amounts of financial investment which, over years, they need to get a return on investment,” according to Hudson. “In order for miners to feel truly secure and not flip-flop with their hash power, we need activity, we need genuine merchants. If there’s businesses built on top of this technology, then miners have the security to keep and continuing funding this initiative, funding this project.”
Hudson also pointed to initial coin offerings (ICOs), which he said were not bad in themselves. “ICOs gained a lot of traction in the space. There is some positive to ICOs. The negatives clearly are, you have a bunch of wasted energy, which is getting funded, to curate more inefficient wills than the original will. Bitcoin was the original will. So having projects being funded to create a more inefficient version is a complete, utter waste of time and resources. However, it has brought a lot of attention into the space,” he explained.
The important thing at present, he said, was to shift attention gained from ICOs, for real-world use. “What we need to ensure that we’re doing is that when this attention which is now being attracted to the space, the narrative and how they’re guiding that attention is done in a correct way. Education is there so people can now make real choices. We need to move from just speculation, and speculation is very fickle as well, especially with investors, to now real, genuine businesses,” he said.
Hudson also pointed to outlets such as CoinGeek as having “a very important role… in controlling this narrative and ensuring that the right education is being put out there, where people realize, ‘Hold on, maybe it’s not just all about this, this is real, this is not a fad, this isn’t just a way of making a quick buck. There’s real businesses being built on top of this stuff.’”
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The chief scientist at nChain, Dr. Wright expressed his theories on the philosophical and technical underpinnings of Bitcoin in conversation with Michael Hudson, founder and CEO at crypto advisory service Bitstocks, in the first episode of the Bitstocks podcast.
Dr. Wright and Hudson also discussed the universal importance of the numbers 3, 6 and 9 in Bitcoin protocols, as well as touching on the role of quantum mechanics and Wolfram 110 of cellular automation in shaping the Bitcoin network.
The discussion explores the philosophy behind bitcoin in technical detail, as well as Dr. Wright’s views on the role of Bitcoin in the wider economy. He suggested that in order to become a global commercial currency, Bitcoin would have to become a universal unit of measurement.
According to Dr. Wright, “If we want one system that can become a global commercial backbone, we need something that can be as universal as a metre. If you take a meter, it’s the same metre here as in France as it is in America. That’s really what we want for money, and a backbone to the economy.”
On ICOs and tokens, Dr. Wright drew parallels with collateralized debt obligations, and the negative impact of the so-called shadow banking industry, which proved damaging to the wider economy.
“Everyone jumping on board this idea of creating tokens and tokenizing things for the sake of it is a more democratised version of the shadow banking industry,” he said. “All the problems that allowed us to have the boom a bust in the housing market and the false economy, we’re now seeing pumped into tokens to make a quick buck.”
One of the most vocal proponents of Bitcoin—now reborn as Bitcoin SV—Dr. Craig Wright summed up by calling for greater cooperation between divergent factions in the bitcoin space, to fully leverage the global free trade benefits of Bitcoin.
He said, “What people need to start considering is not any nationalistic idea of borders, but to remember we’re all one people in one world. That means we should be willing to open up and trade with everyone. Bitcoin allows us to have that level of trade…with free trade, we choose.”
The Bitstocks podcast is available on YouTube from Bitstocks TV and Spotify.
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The Swiss financial regulator has issued fresh guidelines for fintech startups, giving leeway to licensees to accept up to CHF100 million ($100.1 million) in public deposits, in a radical move designed to boost innovation in the sector.
The move comes as part of the new Banking Act, which has been designed in part to create more favourable conditions for fintech businesses, including expanding the options for crowd-lending models within a regulatory sandbox environment.
The guidelines are part of a wider strategy of supporting the crypto sector by the Federal Council of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, which aims to boost Switzerland’s profile as a global destination for crypto and fintech startups.
Crucially, the new guidelines give crypto businesses the ability to accept deposits from the public without the need for the same authorisations as a bank, enabling them to explore innovative models without the full range of compliance expectations.
According to a statement from FINMA, which will oversee firms in the regulatory sandbox and is responsible for issuing the new licenses, the measures will begin to come into effect at the turn of the year. It explained, “With the new measure, companies with special authorisation can accept public funds of up to CHF100 million from 1 January 2019, provided they neither invest nor pay interest on these funds.”
The statement goes on to reference amendments to the Bank Ordinance (BankO), which will come into force in April 2019, noting, “In the BankO, the sandbox will additionally be extended to include crowdlending business models, whereby public funds up to a total amount of CHF1 million can one day be brokered not only for commercial and industrial purposes but also for private consumption.”
The fintech license is aimed at startups looking to explore models of taking deposits, without investing or paying interest on those deposits.
The policy is designed to help cement the reputation of Switzerland and the city of Zug as a haven for cryptocurrency innovation, with an already established and booming crypto sector in the country.
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has become the latest arm of government to take an interest in blockchain, this time with a view to develop forensic analysis tools for analysing blockchain transactions.
The department is seeking submissions from blockchain experts as part of a consultation exercise, inviting design applications as well as commentary from interested parties. The process is aimed at exploring solutions that would allow Homeland Security investigators to conduct detailed analysis of blockchain transactions, including privacy coins, which have until now eluded existing analytics technologies.
Interestingly, the Department of Homeland Security specifies that while previous analysis work has been conducted on Bitcoin Core (BTC) blockchain, it is interested in new options for analysis on privacy coins such as Monero and Zcash, which exist within private blockchains.
This is relevant given the association of privacy coins along with BTC in alleged criminal use cases for these digital currencies, with criminals turning to the anonymity afforded by transacting on these blockchains.
According to the solicitation document, the technology should “provide working approaches to treating newer blockchain implementations,” as well as having applicability in other administrative use cases. It noted, “Because of the significant impact in areas such as governance, data sharing agreement enforcement, and encrypted analytics interchanges, there are a wide variety of applications in government and the commercial marketplace that can benefit from successful product development.”
The pre-solicitation notice will be finalised on December 19, at which point formal applications will be welcomed, as part of the initial stages of a process that could offer greater access for the authorities to these closed blockchain networks.
In launching the pre-solicitation notice, the Department of Homeland Security becomes the latest government agency to increase its focus on blockchain technology.
Recently the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced plans for a two day research event, as part of its interest in “several, less-explored avenues of permissionless distributed consensus protocols.”
It comes at a time of increasing awareness of the value of blockchain technologies in public administration across different sectors, with government agencies exploring a number of use cases for blockchain systems.
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Medici Ventures, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Overstock.com, Inc., has purchased a 10% stake worth $2.5 million in Grainchain, a blockchain software provider that facilitates payments in the agricultural sector.
According to the terms of the acquisition, Medici will have the option to purchase another 10% in the company at a later date.
Grainchain said in its press release that currently, small- to medium-sized farms were behind much of agricultural output worldwide, and that these lacked the resources for more modernized and secure transactions. This is where blockchain technology is seen to help, while cutting middlemen and allowing farmers to keep more earnings.
“At the end of the day, we’re just leveling the playing field for the farmer, giving them much more power and control over the selling process,” Grainchain CEO Luis Macias said.
At present, Grainchain offers its services in the U.S. and Mexico, but said that the Medici acquisition will allow for an expansion of operations to Central and South America.
Medici President Jonathan Johnson said of the investment, “Producers operate on razor-thin margins and are up against a host of factors far beyond their control… GrainChain helps to support those producers by simplifying and securing the measuring and payment process and bringing unprecedented transparency to the industry.”
Grainchain was founded in 2013, and uses a three-part blockchain-based system to eliminate error and fraud in the process of delivering goods to end-users. According to the company, smart contracts are used between buyers and sellers, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices measure both weight and quality of grains at each step of the way. According to its website, the company has facilitated about 84,000 transactions with over 1,400 active participants, and has overseen the processing of nearly 5.3 billion pounds of various commodities.
While Overstock is most known as a retailer, it has also invested in blockchain through subsidiary Medici, which also holds a stake in VinX, a company that tracks wine futures through blockchain. It has been estimated that about 20% of wine worldwide is labeled fraudulently, which makes blockchain a potential alternative to present tracking systems for wine.
Overstock has also invested in tZero, a new exchange specifically for the selling of tokens.
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It’s no secret that Japanese authorities are looking to take control over tax money it feels is lost in the crypto space. The country is behind an effort being developed by the G20 to implement a global crypto tax strategy that could see governments receive millions of dollars in payments. Back home in Japan, regulators are now looking to introduce a new system that will report significant profits from crypto-based transactions, helping the country recover even more funds.
According to the Japanese media outlet Mainichi Shimbun, the new system to be implemented will give the National Tax Agency (NTA) the ability to gather data from transaction intermediaries, which include crypto exchanges. The NTA will have the authority to request information – such as names, addresses and personal ID numbers – on customers that it suspects of tax evasion. If everything goes according to plan, the system will be developed next year, with an anticipated implementation for the new fiscal year beginning in April 2020.
Not all individuals would be targeted by the new system. The media outlet quotes several sources who said that only those who earn over 10 million yen ($88,700) through crypto transactions would be held accountable.
Currently, crypto exchanges and other companies that are deemed intermediaries only give up data voluntarily. They have the legal ability to refuse to hand over information, but this could change with the new legislation. The exchanges could be forced to adhere to the requests, but would still maintain the right to appeal any request it feels is unwarranted.
The impact won’t be felt widespread, at least not initially. According to a recent survey conducted by the NTA, only just over 300 people indicated that they earned more than 100 million yen through crypto last year. Given the current market slide, the number has probably dropped significantly.
Japan is also ready to come down hard on initial coin offerings (ICO). The Japanese Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced this week that it would introduce stricter regulations on the offering in order to protect investors from fraud. Going forward, any entity wishing to launch an ICO would have to first register with the FSA.
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A payment processor with a significant footprint in the U.S. has joined forces with tech company Vaultbank to bring crypto payments to retail customers. SpotOn, which provides a payment processing solution to more than 100,000 merchants in the country, will soon include crypto payment transactions to its platform, allowing retailers to accept a number of digital currencies, including Bitcoin Core, Ripple, Ether and Stellar.
According to a company press release, customers will now be able to pay in the currency of their choice and merchants can choose whether or not to almost instantaneously convert crypto payments to fiat, or to hold them in their original form. SpotOn also has additional developments in the pipeline, including the introduction of a crypto-based loyalty rewards program and the ability to buy and sell crypto directly on its platform.
SpotOn President RJ Horsely states, “Today’s ever-evolving digital market demands that merchants need a payment service capable of accepting a wider diversity of currencies including virtual currencies. Our new technology will allow thousands of SpotOn merchants to accept cryptocurrency without having to onboard to another payment processor or manually convert cryptocurrency funds into fiat.”
Vaultbank is a firm that creates, issues and trades financial instruments using the blockchain. SpotOn invested in a seed-funding round held by the company, which is developing a platform that will allow users to buy, sell and spend their crypto assets on a single solution. The Vaultbank website indicates, “The Vaultbank Platform plans to tokenize securities like Mutual Funds, and will be a securities compliant platform that performs KYC [Know Your Customer], AML [anti-money laundering], FATCA [Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act] and Accreditation. Users will be able to buy and sell security tokens and top utility tokens at industry competitive rates.”
Vaultbank Chief Operating Officer Aaron Travis added in the press release, “This partnership empowers the customer to pay in whatever digital currency they want, while the merchant gets paid in what they want, dollars.”
By giving merchants an easy-to-use crypto payments solution, coupled with the ability to convert the funds into fiat, can go a long way to helping crypto be accepted as an alternative payment solution. The market volatility has kept many retailers away, concerned about losing revenue. However, transferring funds to fiat – until the markets stabilize – helps to counter this issue.
Coinbase users now have an extra option available to them when choosing to withdraw their funds from the cryptocurrency exchange. In a move that didn’t receive a great deal of fanfare, Coinbase has added PayPal to its platform, allowing users to make easy fiat withdrawals through the payment services solution. As an added bonus, the withdrawals don’t incur any additional fees.
No official announcement of the PayPal support was provided by Coinbase. However, users have reported receiving an email informing them of the capability. The only mention of it in on the Coinbase website is in the company’s FAQ, and reads, “Beginning in November, Coinbase will add the ability for customers to link their PayPal and Coinbase accounts. Depending on country of residence, customers can either withdraw cash to PayPal or sell their crypto to their PayPal account.”
In order to make a withdrawal using PayPal, users must complete Coinbase’s Know Your Customer process. Once that’s complete, they receive an email confirming that they’re eligible to take advantage of the implementation.
Withdrawals using PayPal are available in U.S. dollars, UK pounds and euros. Currently, only customers in the U.S., Canada, the UK and the European Union are eligible, but this could change soon. Coinbase mentions in its FAQ that it plans to provide support for the Australian dollar, as well as the Canadian dollar, in the near future.
Whether or not deposits will be facilitated through PayPal remains to be seen. It seems like a logical next step, given the platform’s wide range of services.
This isn’t the first time Coinbase has integrated PayPal into the exchange. PayPal withdrawals were available last year, but Coinbase temporarily suspended the option and subsequently eliminated it completely due to what it described as performance issues.
PayPal has over 244 million customers and managed 7.6 billion payment transactions last year. That level of volume could prove to be extremely beneficial to Coinbase and help increase mainstream adoption, as long as it is marketed properly.
According to a number of reactions in social media, the withdrawal capability is somewhat spotty. Some have indicated that it takes up to 13 days to receive the funds and others – even those living in the specified countries – have said that the service doesn’t work at all. It may be a work in progress, but should prove to give Coinbase, and cryptocurrencies, a significant boost.
CoinZoom, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency exchange, will soon start its operations in Australia after its subsidiary, CoinZoom Australia, received approval from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).
According to the announcement, CoinZoom Australia will be able to offer its services to people across Australia lawfully. The exchange will now be able to accept and exchange fiat and digital currencies including BTC, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and other alt coins.
Under the license, CoinZoom Australia will provide its services to people in Australia and around the world.
CoinZoom CEO Todd Crosland stated that receiving the license will help actualize the company’s vision of providing global cryptocurrency traders with innovative trading technology. He added that the license was an essential step in the company’s goal to provide globally compliant digital currency trading.
With the license in place, CoinZoom is expected to launch Coin Zoom Australia next year, possibly in the first quarter of 2019. Customers wishing to use the exchange will be required to comply with Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements in America and Australia.
The exchange will provide a simple and easy “one-stop user experience” to link their credit card, bank account, and cryptocurrency wallets. CoinZoom’s trading platform also offers customers a pattern recognition system; CoinZoom Rewards debit card, and social trading capabilities.
CoinZoom has been offering crypto services to people in the United States for quite some time. It is registered as a money service business (MSB) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to operate in all 50 states.
AUSTRAC has been actively involved in trying to make sure businesses in the crypto space follow regulations during their operations. The authority has also grown its global network of financial intelligence. In November, the financial authority appointed the first ever AUSTRAC financial intelligence analyst to be posted in China. To facilitate its activities, AUSTRAC received additional funding of $5.2 million from the Australian government. In addition to helping grow its global imprint, the funding was aimed at assisting the authority to conduct a more profound analysis of risks, money laundering activities, threats, and terrorist activities in the country.
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