Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchange

LedgerX, parent company of Ledger Holdings, generated $11.4 million in a financing campaign to open a regulated options exchange for bitcoin and other digital currencies in the U.S. The venture is led by Miami International Holdings Inc. and Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments. 

shutterstock_136945139-640x410Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchange

The company is in the process of being granted approval by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). When approval is granted, companies can leverage LedgerX’s platform to acquire bitcoin using exchange-traded and other centrally regulated distributed contracts.

“We believe a regulated bitcoin market could substantially expand the bitcoin economy. In this regard, a vibrant options market, which LedgerX plans to build, is a critical foundation to the entire ecosystem,” said James Wo, President of Huiyin Blockchain Venture Investments.

The president of LedgerX, Paul Chou, also commented on investments inside the bitcoin space:

In the short term, these investments will further our application to become a regulated exchange and clearing house for bitcoin options. In the long term, these strategic investors will help us enter additional marketplaces and territories.

Bitcoin Ecosystem and Company Asset Background

This new investment opportunity comes as bitcoin’s price hits $2275 on coinmarketcap.com. It appears the rising price and Japan’s recent acceptance of bitcoin has created a massive upward trend in the global ecosystem. Now, investment firms and hedge funds have taken an even more keen interest in developing strategies and expanding their regulated portfolios to include more bitcoin options.

The primary company involved Ledger Holdings Generates $11.4 Million to Open U.S. Bitcoin Options Exchangein the recent investment options, Miami International Holdings, Inc., is the parent company of Miami International Securities Exchange, LLC (MIAX Options) and MIAX PEARL, LLC.

The press release by LedgerX says that MIAX already offers trade options in 2,600 different classes. This implies bitcoin and other digital currencies will expand the company’s global monetary influence. This will put bitcoin into the U.S. securities and exchange limelight as the cryptocurrency tries to edge toward a price point of $3,000.

Do you see the creation of this centralized venture exchange for bitcoin as a net positive? Let us know in the comments below. 

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region

Bitcoin is surging in Japan in regards to popularity and trade volume, since the country legitimized the digital currency as a legal form of payment this past April. Now one of Japan’s largest discount airline providers Peach Aviation Ltd. has announced it will be the first Japanese service to accept bitcoin for airline tickets.

 

Japanese Airline Service Peach Aviation Will Soon be Accepting Bitcoin for Flights

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region Headquartered in Osaka Japan, Peach Aviation is a well known Japanese air carrier service offering low-cost air travel since 2011. The company stated that bitcoin will be accepted for flights and services at some point towards the end of 2017. Peach said the recent law change regarding the digital currency had bolstered the business move. According to reports Peach also plans to introduce bitcoin to other partner companies and local governments.

“We want to encourage visitors from overseas, and the revitalization of Japan’s regions,” Shinichi Inoue, the founder and CEO of Peach explained. “This is a real first step in partnerships for Japan, and we are aiming for more company and service tie-ups.”

Bitcoin Fever Takes Hold in Japan

The news of Peach Aviation accepting bitcoin follows other merchants in the region accepting bitcoin like the company Bic Camera. Furthermore, the announcement comes at a time where Japanese bitcoin trade volumes and price spreads have been through the roof.

According to Charles Hayter of the bitcoin data and analysis website Cryptocompare at the moment in Japan, “USD-BTC markets are trading at $2100 whilst the JPY-BTC pair is trading at the equivalent of $2500.” Over the course of the past 32 hours, the decentralized currency has been trading at a 19 percent premium, and Hayter says it is due to “Bitcoin fever taking hold.”

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region

The country has taken the spotlight in overall global BTC volume as Japanese volumes are 42-50% of trading with 132k BTC volume or $300 million per day, explains the Cryptocompare founder. Hayter describes the current trading environment in Japan stating;

The Japanese have caught the Bitcoin bug and inefficiencies across markets are being exposed. Irrational exuberance is taking hold as the Japanese stumble over each other to enter the Bitcoin market and drag up international prices.

Now Bitcoin Enthusiasts Can Fly to 22 Destinations Across Asia Using Bitcoin

The Japanese Peach Aviation will join other global airline services that accept bitcoin for flight tickets like the Latvian airline, Airbaltic, LOT Polish Airlines, and more. Alongside this, bitcoin businesses like Coincheck and Bitflyer aim to sign up thousands more Japanese merchants this summer. As bitcoin fever takes hold in the country, Japanese residents from the region and international travelers will be pleased to know they can fly to over 22 destinations across Asia utilizing bitcoin as a form of payment.

What do you think about Peach Aviation accepting bitcoin? What is your opinion about the Bitcoin fever taking place in Japan? Let us know what you think in the comments below.Screenshot_1

Shapeshift Launches Decentralized Portfolio Platform Prism

Today at the Consensus Conference in New York City the Shapeshift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees has announced the launch of Prism, a “trustless asset portfolio platform”. The Swiss blockchain technology company says investors of all types looking to build a portfolio can do so using the decentralized digital asset holding application.

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Shapeshift Launches Prism – the Decentralized Digital Asset Portfolio Without Third Party Risk

Shapeshift Launches Prism the Decentralized Portfolio PlatformLaunched today, the Prism platform provides users with the ability to secure a basket of cryptocurrencies without exposure to third party risk. The platform is built using Ethereum-based smart contracts that enable investors to construct a crypto-portfolio with a broad range of cryptocurrencies to choose from including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero, and Ripple.

Shapeshift says bitcoin and altcoins as an alternative investment have grown exponentially over the past two years, as the combined market cap has expanded over 200% in the past year to over $40 billion, explains the company. Prism will forward the cryptocurrency fever by offering the first live platform in a trustless environment dedicated to the users’ crypto-asset portfolio.

“Prism enables investors to gain secure, transparent exposure to digital assets in a way that has never before been possible. The days of leaving funds at an exchange ‘because it’s easier’ are over,” Erik Voorhees, CEO of ShapeShift detailed during the announcement.

Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart-contracts, demonstrates a new standard in financial security.         

A Diversified Crypto-Portfolio That Competes With Other Prism Investors

The company says that it has used its proven model from the Shapeshift design to build Prism. The new platform is a “diversified crypto-portfolio that was distilled down into a simple interface: buy, rebalance, and settle, all of which the user can execute with nothing more than their Ethereum wallet,” explains the Swiss startup.

Shapeshift Launches Prism the Decentralized Portfolio Platform

Moreover once a Prism portfolio has been created it is positioned on a leaderboard competing with other Prism users based on investment performance. Furthermore, users can learn from top traders and copy their portfolio choices as well by visiting the public Prism performance leaderboards.

Prism Aims to Open a Whole New World of Borderless Finance

After creating a name for a personal Prism portfolio, users choose from a wide range of digital assets and determine how to split their investments. The investor then provides an Ethereum address that enables them to fund and track their Prism assets. The address gives Prism users proprietary control over their funds and the ability to track the investment vehicle via the Ethereum network. Shapeshift says the following ether wallets have been tested and vetted for use on the Prism platform Exodus.ioJaxx.io and Myetherwallet.

If an investor wants to close out their Prism account, they are asked to send a zero ETH transaction to a provided Ethereum address that will signal the smart contract to close the portfolio. If the Prism’s components went up 20%, the investor will receive 20% more Ether back than they put in, minus displayed fees.

“Prism takes us one step closer to a world of truly borderless finance. We suspect it will kickstart a vast horizon of financial experimentation upon smart contracts,” concluded Voorhees.

What do you think about the Shapeshift’s new portfolio platform? Let us know in the comments below.

Why Michigan’s Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Stores Goes Bitcoin

As bitcoin grows in value, more merchants every day are accepting the digital currency to stay ahead of the times. This week one of Michigan’s largest and oldest lawn equipment and power sports stores — Ball Equipment is now accepting bitcoin.

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73 Year Old Business Thinks Outside the Box

Michigan's Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Store Goes BitcoinThe fourth generation family owned superstore, Ball Equipment, is one of Eastern Michigan’s largest and oldest outdoor power equipment dealerships operating for over 73 years. The store has two locations that sell heavy duty lawn equipment and power sports gear from brands like Polaris, Honda, Can-Am, Cub Cadet, and Husqvarna. This week the business decided to accept bitcoin allowing any of their customers to purchase rideable lawnmowers, ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes and more.

Bitcoin.com talked to Chris Ball, one of the owners of the Michigan state superstores to see why the business decided to start accepting bitcoin. Mr. Ball says that even though they are an old and well-established company the team has always had the corporate philosophy of “getting ourselves outside the ‘we have always done it this way’ box.”

“The quickly evolving world of cryptocurrencies and the media attention it has received is something that attracted our interest. Even before fully understanding it, we knew it was something we should work towards adopting immediately,” explains Mr. Ball.

Bitcoin: ‘Very Appealing from a Profitability Standpoint’

Mr. Ball tells us there are other reasons why the company decided to accept the digital currency.

“For instance, many of the larger ticket items Ball Equipment sells like the ATV’s, and Motorcycles, are typically very low margin products to retail to consumers,” the Ball Equipment executive details.

The transaction fees and potential fraud that exists with traditional payment methods when compared to the ease of secure low-cost payments on high-value transactions made bitcoin very appealing from a profitability standpoint.

“In addition, becoming an early adopter in our very ’old school’ industry gives us the potential to do business on a local and even national level that we would otherwise not have the opportunity. Considering we have found very few of our competitors anywhere accepting bitcoin currently, we do not see much if any downside other than accepting the risk of short term bitcoin value fluctuations.”

A New Customer Base, and Being Prepared for the Future

Michigan's Oldest Lawn & Power Sports Store Goes BitcoinAs of today, Mr. Ball says customers can stop in one of the Ball Equipment showrooms or visit the website, browse the selection of vehicles and products, and then fill out a request quote form to let the company know you are interested in a purchase with bitcoin as a payment method.

“A member of our sales team will follow up to provide a quote and once a final decision is made an invoice will be provided with a QR code from our wallet to send coins for payment,” Mr. Ball explains.

As Bitcoin.com explained last week, as the digital currency continues to see more popularity the trend also follows with people purchasing luxury goods, real estate, and high ticket items. Merchants like Ball Equipment are starting to see the value in opening up sales to a new customer base, a currency that appeals to profitability and allowing their business model to stay on course with the future of payments.

Do you think merchant acceptance is growing as bitcoin becomes more valuable? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones

Today cryptocurrency enthusiasts around the world are celebrating the notorious “Bitcoin Pizza Day” where two Papa John’s pizzas were purchased for 10,000 BTC. Not only is the transaction deemed the first bitcoin exchange for real-world value, the trade is now appraised at US$20 million at today’s exchange rates.

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‘I Like Having Leftover Pizza to Nibble On Later’

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones The Bitcoin network had been in operation for a little more than a year on May 22nd, 2010 when a developer named Laszlo Hanyecz purchased two pizzas using the forum Bitcointalk.org. The trade Hanyecz made that day is widely celebrated every year by bitcoiners as it is considered the first real-world transaction using bitcoin as a medium of exchange.

“I’ll pay 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas.. like maybe two large ones, so I have some leftover for the next day — I like having leftover pizza to nibble on later,” explained Hanyecz.

You can make the pizza yourself and bring it to my house or order it for me from a delivery place, but what I’m aiming for is getting food delivered in exchange for bitcoins where I don’t have to order or prepare it myself, kind of like ordering a ‘breakfast platter’ at a hotel or something, they just bring you something to eat and you’re happy!

It Took Two Days for Someone to Accept the 10,000 BTC for Pizza Offer

After Hanyecz had published his post, a few bitcoin enthusiasts talked about making the trade with him. A couple of people contemplated a few ways they could get the pizza to Hanyecz who was living in Florida at the time. A whole day passed, and Hanyecz writes “So nobody wants to buy me a pizza? — Is the bitcoin amount I’m offering too low?”

I just think it would be interesting if I could say that I paid for a pizza in bitcoins   

Another 24 hours later Hanyecz announces that a successful transaction was made thanks to a user named “Jercos.” “I just want to report that I successfully traded 10,000 bitcoins for pizza,” the developer tells people on the thread. A few commenters thought it was great the exchange happened and congratulated Hanyecz that day. The 73-page thread discussion has been kept alive for years, with people commenting on how expensive the pizzas became as time had passed.

‘It Wasn’t Like Bitcoins Had Value Back Then’

Bitcoin Pizza Day: Reliving the Memories and Forging New Ones Years later the transaction is considered one of the greatest moments in Bitcoin history and the two pizzas purchased for $25 USD is now worth over $20 million. Hanyecz did an interview with the New York Times a few years later reminiscing about the infamous day.

“It wasn’t like Bitcoins had any value back then, so the idea of trading them for a pizza was incredibly cool,” Hanyecz told the publication.

Today as bitcoiners celebrate Bitcoin Pizza Day they’ll always wonder how those pizza’s tasted and whether or not Hanyecz really doesn’t regret eating the most expensive pizzas sold on the planet. As long as the pizza didn’t have weird toppings like fish, Hanyecz was pleased with his decision to offer 10,000 BTC for two pies.

“I like things like onions, peppers, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni, etc.. just standard stuff no weird fish topping or anything like that. I also like regular cheese pizzas which may be cheaper to prepare or otherwise acquire,” Hanyecz said at the time.

Celebrating This Year’s Festivities

There will be a lot of people enjoying Bitcoin Pizza Day in 2017 as the decentralized currency is more popular than ever before. There are businesses such as the Bitcoin Store featuring specialty pizza-themed goods, and some merchants are offering discounts like the artist Satoshi Gallery.

Additionally, the German-based bitcoin banking startup Bitwala recently started a campaign so the cryptocurrency community can donate pizza slices using bitcoin to refugee kids in Berlin. All the proceeds will go to Champions Ohne Grenzen, a Berlin-based NGO that works with children. Every week they hold football training sessions with qualified coaches to empower kids and help them overcome trauma. People from all around the world sent in their donations and the money received will help provide more than 100 slices to the refugee children.

“The fact that someone halfway around the world can have pizza delivered to war fleeing refugees without having to enter credit card info is a great and humane way to explain the power of bitcoin,” explained Bitwala’s CEO Jörg von Minckwitz.

What do you think about the two pizzas sold for 10,000 BTC? Would you have regretted this decision now? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Three Services That Aim to Create Bitcoin Professionals and Experts

Bitcoin can be a very technical subject, and oftentimes people have to find various resources online to educate themselves. However, there are a few organizations that instruct cryptocurrency enthusiasts through training and curriculum in order to edify the growing field of bitcoin professionals.

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Education and Professional Expertise Helps the Growing Bitcoin Economy Flourish

As the bitcoin economy grows, there are many people looking to learn about the bitcoin protocol and the growing cryptocurrency ecosystem. A leading-edge network of professionals that understand the technology is needed to bolster the innovative technology into the future. In 2017, there are few ways an individual can become a certified bitcoin professional to advance their knowledge and careers.

Three Online Academic Bitcoin Courses

The Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium

Three Services That Aim to Create Bitcoin Professionals and ExpertsOne educational program called the Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium (C4) teaches students how to be certified bitcoin specialists. C4 has three types of courses that enable people to become either a Certified Bitcoin Professional (CBP), a Certified Bitcoin Expert, and a Certified Ethereum Developer.

A graduating CBP claims to give an individual a significant grasp at understanding the bitcoin protocol, transactions, and network operation. “CBPs are able to apply Bitcoin technology to their professional area of expertise and understand privacy aspects, double-spending, and other issues that relate to the currency,” explains the educational consortium. The cost to become a CBP involves two years of study at the cost of $95 for the course and a $30 renewal fee.

A CBX gives an individual “expert-level knowledge” about bitcoin, says the consortium. C4 also claims the certification gives a person the ability to develop blockchain applications as well. “CBXes understand how peers communicate on the Bitcoin network, how transactions are crafted at the byte level and how Bitcoin scripts can be written to customize the behavior of transactions,” C4 details. This course is three years long but is not yet available to students.

The consortium is backed by a board of directors which include Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Vitalik Buterin, and Michael Perklin. Furthermore, C4 has well-known advisers such as Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson, Director of the Bitcoin Education Project, Peter Todd, Bitcoin Core Developer, and Steve Dakh, author of Kryptokit and Rushwallet.

Digital Currency Council

Three Services That Aim to Create Bitcoin Professionals and ExpertsThe Digital Currency Council (DCC) was created in 2014 in New York by David Berger, the school’s founder and CEO. DCC claims to have over 1500 members from 90 countries worldwide utilizing the organization’s digital currency training, and certification. The group calls itself an “association of professionals in the digital currency economy.”

The DCC Professional Certification Training Program is shorter than the two-year consortium course with only a seven-hour online program. However, the course is far more expensive costing $299 for students taking the final exam. The DCC advisory faculty covers the six sections called “core competencies” which include cryptocurrency technical underpinnings, monetary implications, practical use, bitcoin’s ecosystem, accounting, and legal subjects. DCC also offers a self-assessment test to see if you qualify for the certification training program. The school is also backed by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group and the Silicon Valley accelerator 500 Startups.

“The DCC Certification, like other professional certifications, allows us to hold professionals who are advising clients to a higher standard, and provide a benchmark for evaluating skill and professional value,” Barry Silbert, CEO of the Digital Currency Group explains on the DCC website.

Coursera: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies

Three Services That Aim to Create Bitcoin Professionals and ExpertsPrinceton’s Coursera computer science class called “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” is a free course from Princeton University. Assistant Professor Arvind Narayanan instructs the class on a variety of lessons that cover the innovative technology at a “technical level.” The next class begins on May 15 and begins to discuss cryptographic building blocks and introduces the concept of cryptocurrency.

“After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” explains the Princeton Coursera website. “You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.”

The Coursera class is eleven weeks long discussing subjects like decentralization, the mechanics of bitcoin, regulation, mining, altcoins, and more. Every week the course offers an interactive textbook, pre-recorded videos, quizzes, and projects. Furthermore, students can connect with other peers and converse about course material.

Furthering Bitcoin Careers and Creating Crypto-Professionals

There are other ‘certification style’ digital currency education programs online but do some research on the course and organization before registering. Teaching a broader audience of professionals is a good idea to continue progressing the new digital economy.

These types of certificate programs may even further an individual’s career, and it’s also possible to learn at home for free. Besides Coursera’s free course, there is a boatload of information on bitcoin and its technical aspects. However, people often enjoy a class setting and a certificate from an organization from accredited luminaries in the bitcoin space could go a long way.

What do you think about these certification programs and courses covering the cryptocurrency environment? Let us know in the comments below.

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Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of Existence

The first document timestamping service for the Bitcoin blockchain, Proof of Existence, has been acquired by Bitcoin ASIC mining hardware manufacturer Canaan. The company has also retained the founder of Proof of Existence, Manuel Aráoz, as an advisor on future product development.

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The Acquisition by Canaan

Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of ExistenceFounded in 2013 and headquartered in Beijing, Canaan Creative Co. Ltd (Canaan) produces Bitcoin mining rigs, designs ASIC microprocessors and operates data centers.

On Sunday, May 21, the company’s Hong Kong-based subsidiary, Canaan.io, announced that it had acquired Proof of Existence from founder Manuel Aráoz. “The blockchain space offers us opportunities on the hardware side and on the services side,” said Xiangfu Liu, Canaan co-founder, adding that:

We make the hardware that secures the blockchain; and now with the acquisition of Proof of Existence, we will also build services on top of the tamper proof features of the blockchain.

Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of ExistenceEarly this month, the company also announced that it had raised RMB300 million (approximately US$43 million) in a series A funding round. Its investors include Chinese hotel operator Jin Jiang International Group Co. Ltd, Chinese investment firms Baopu Asset Management Co. Ltd., and Tunlan Investment.

The funding will support Canaan’s “upcoming 7nm designs and to enter the AI [Artificial Intelligence] market with its first Knowledge Processing Unit (KPU),” the company revealed on Sunday. Its products can be applied in AI fields including smart home appliance, autonomous driving, voice interaction and image recognition.

Avalon Mining Family

Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of Existence
Avalonminer 741

Canaan is the company behind the Avalon mining family of hardware which produces ASIC mining chips and rigs. The line of hardware was launched in late 2012 and was the first to successfully pre-sell commercially available ASICs. Avalon mining rigs were sold and delivered before any other brands of ASIC bitcoin miners, even pre-dating the infamous Butterfly Labs brand, making it the oldest brand of Bitcoin mining equipment still in production today.

When Avalon first debuted their then-powerful, 65 gigahash mining rigs on Ebay for $1,500, the response was so overwhelming that the last unit sold for over $20,000. Today, their 7.3 TH/s Avalonminer 741 sells for $715, as shown on Canaan’s website.

Proof of Existence

Proof of Existence was another historic debut for Bitcoin. Launched on May 21, 2013, it was the first blockchain-based service to allow users “to publicly prove that you have certain information without revealing the data or yourself, with a decentralized certification based on the bitcoin network,” its website describes. According to Sunday’s announcement:

It [Proof of Existence] has processed thousands of documents supplying customers with immutable proof of existence for their assets.

The service offers document proofs that are stored on Bitcoin’s blockchain, without storing the document itself. The first of many similar services and protocols to do the task, Aráoz’s website uses a special bitcoin transaction that contains the hash in Bitcoin’s OP_RETURN script, embedding it into the bitcoin blockchain. It also lets users come back and verify their documents later.

Manuel Aráoz’s Other Projects

As part of the acquisition agreement, Canaan has retained Aráoz as an advisor on future product development and other blockchain related services. “Aráoz has agreed to continue on and advise the company on improvements to the product as well as other software services,” the company wrote. “The agreement ensures that there will be no interruptions in services and no changes in the API.” Commenting on the acquisition, Aráoz said:

I’m really happy to close this deal with Canaan.[…] I’m looking forward to enhancing the product, and exploring other blockchain services.

Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of ExistenceAráoz, who lives in Buenos Aires, has been involved in many projects surrounding and supporting the Bitcoin ecosystem. Proof of Existence was his first, which led to him working for Bitpay in 2014, where he helped develop the popular Javascript Bitcoin library, Bitcore.

That project led to the creation of Multipaper, the first multi-signature address paper wallet, which uses Bitcore. Then in May 2015, he created Streamium, a video livestreaming application like Periscope or Meerkat. Streamium was the very first application to use Nakamoto payment channels for micropayments while streaming live P2P video. Today Aráoz is working on Decentraland, a blockchain-based virtual reality project.

What do you think of Canaan acquiring Proof of Existence? Let us know in the comments section below.