Pakistan Set to Become a Major Bitcoin Hub

Pakistan is currently the seventh most populous country in the world with approximately 202 million residents. Today, the country exhibits many traits ripe for accelerated bitcoin adoption. Bitcoin.com discussed bitcoin trends in Pakistan with Danyal Manzar, the co-founder of Pakistan’s first and largest bitcoin trading platform, Urdubit.

 

Huge Freelance Market, but Payment Solutions Lacking

Despite having no access to Paypal, Pakistan still ranks among the top countries for freelance outsource workers. In fact, “Pakistan is ranked 3rd on freelance websites,”paypal According to the New York Times10,000 IT graduates in Pakistan are estimated to enter the Pakistan job market every year.

Remittances are also a “very big market” in Pakistan, . “We see about 20 billion USD coming in annually,” . “Since there are not enough jobs, the major remittance is seen from the UAE and Saudi Arabia followed by western countries.”

Despite the lack of jobs, however, life in Pakistan has been modernizing in recent years. Rapid lifestyle change, technological innovations, and increasing broadband access in Pakistan have all accelerated the number of Pakistani freelancers. However, “the payments are always a problem,” adding that:

Since the job market is also limited we see many freelancers turning to bitcoin, there is no Paypal in the country and no proper payment processor which could aid payments.

High Broadband Subscription Growth

Mobile broadband use is growing very fast in the country. The World Bank describes Pakistan as “leading the way in South Asia in digital finance” with 6% of adults having mobile accounts, compared to South Asia’s average of less than 2.6%.world bank

Last June, the number of 3G/4G subscribers in the country had reached 29.53 million, up from 14.6 million in July 2015. Total broadband subscribers grew 92% to 32.41 million from 16.88 million, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The World Bank also notes that about 100 million adults in Pakistan are unbanked, without access to formal and regulated financial services. Only 13 percent of adults there have a formal account and 27.5 million adults said the distance to a financial institution is a barrier to opening a financial account.

With so many unbanked, no access to Paypal, a huge freelancing industry, a major remittance destination, and so many subscribed to a high-speed mobile account, Bitcoin could find a huge home market in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Bitcoin Market

Admittedly, the bitcoin market in Pakistan “is still very new,” but it is fast growing. Citing low banking penetration and “very limited POS terminals in the country,”Pakistan-flag-1068x712

Bitcoin provides a cross-board payments system, as well as local payment solution at a much cheaper cost.

www.easypaypakistan.com is a real-time bitcoin exchange using the blinktrade engine. According to Coinhills, www.easypaypakistan.com trading volume has been growing steadily in the last few weeks, and the exchange has the largest bitcoin trading volume in the country, twice  in a 24-hour period. “I would say our market share is 1/3 of the total market,” he explained. If he’s correct, that indicates Pakistan trades around 40 bitcoins each day, putting it somewhere around 27th place among all currencies in volume rankings.

However, he also admitted that there are still not many shops accepting bitcoin. Online, the situation is a bit better, since many websites in the country have started accepting bitcoin as a payment “due to quicker payment times and no charge backs.”

We believe it’s only a matter of time before we see Pakistan follow India and become a major user of bitcoin.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government “hasn’t taken any stance on bitcoin as of yet,” blog.Easypaypakistan.com added. This company will soon be approved by the State Bank Of Pakistan. “They believe that bitcoin is a commodity and not a currency,”

Do you think Pakistan is ripe for bitcoin adoption? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bitcoin ATMs On the Rise in Russia

The number of bitcoin ATMs is on the rise in Russia. Ten of them were recently installed in five districts of Novosibirsk by a local startup. Last week, a different company announced their plans to install a hundred cryptocurrency ATMs in Moscow hotels and airport terminals starting this month. Meanwhile, the regulators have said that they will not legalize cryptocurrencies anytime soon.

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Novosibirsk’s Ten Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs On the Rise in Russia
A BBFpro Bitcoin ATM.

In Russia’s third most populous city, Novosibirsk, ten one-way bitcoin ATMs were recently installed by a local startup BBFpro, according to RBC. The machines were placed in five districts of the city; Kalininsky, Zheleznodorozhny, Oktyabrsky, Leninsky and Kirovsky districts, detailed the company’s director, Anton Friedel.

Most of the terminals are located in stores selling bottled beverages, he told the publication. “All ten devices are located in such a way that each resident of the city has the opportunity to quickly and easily reach the point of sale of bitcoins,” he was quoted. His team originally wanted to place them in the city’s large shopping centers, but the rent is too high, he elaborated, noting that:

Large shopping centers requested a rent which is almost impossible for us as a startup. The amount for one place reached 15-20,000 rubles, while in beer shops we pay 2,000 rubles for each place.

Bitcoin ATMs On the Rise in Russia
Another BBFpro Bitcoin ATM.

He also revealed that it took his team about three months to develop software and install the terminals, adding that the project cost about two million rubles. The machines charge a commission of 6%. “We made such a small percentage because we are counting on a large flow of customers,” RBC quoted him saying. According to him, BBFpro currently has no competitors in Novosibirsk.

In the near future, Friedel said he plans to expand his network of cryptocurrency ATMs in Novosibirsk as well as to neighboring areas. He specifically named Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Barnaul, and Irkutsk. In addition, “we are developing a terminal that will not only sell but also buy cryptocurrency,” he explained, adding that they also plan to start selling other cryptocurrencies.

100 Crypto ATMs Coming to Moscow

Last week, Rambler News reported that approximately 100 one-way cryptocurrency ATMs will be coming to Moscow between this month and the year’s end. They will be installed by Investcoin24 throughout the city center such as in hotels, according to the company’s co-owner, Pavel Panova. In addition, he added that negotiations are currently underway with airport owners for some units to be installed in their departure and arrival areas.

Bitcoin ATMs On the Rise in Russia
Investcoin24’s Bitcoin ATM at Vintage77.

The machines can be programmed to sell four cryptocurrencies, Panova explained, adding that they can also sell Initial Coin Offering (ICO) tokens. Initially, the commission will be 4%, he told Innov publication.

Last month, Investcoin24 installed a one-way bitcoin ATM at the Moscow restaurant “Vintage77,” according to an Instagram post by the founder of Iventurer Foundation, Alexey Olin.

Another restaurant in Moscow, Valenok, which started accepting bitcoin payments in June also said that they have plans to install a bitcoin ATM if there is demand from customers, according to RIA Novosti.

Regulatory Uncertainties

The number of cryptocurrency ATMs is growing in Russia despite the government saying that they will not legalize cryptocurrencies anytime soon. The Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said last month that “bitcoin settlements in Russia will not be legalized.” His statement followed a meeting where the regulators could not agree on how to regulate cryptocurrencies and decided to postpone their plans to draft a regulatory framework for them to next year. The central bank, however, is adamant that these instruments cannot be treated as money substitutes.

Friedel told RBC that he hopes to advertise his bitcoin ATMs to attract more customers. However, since cryptocurrencies are currently unregulated, many large platforms refuse to advertise them, he explained. In addition, he is uncertain how his cryptocurrency business will be taxed. “We will provide the tax authorities with documents, but we do not know whether they will accept them,” he elaborated.

Do you think Russia will allow bitcoin ATMs to flourish across the country? Let us know in the comments section below

 

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a ‘Fraud’ — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

JP Morgan executive Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a “fraud” and claiming he would fire any employee from his firm who traded the digital currency for being “stupid.” Now it seems JP Morgan has been caught red-handed purchasing a bunch of XBT shares, otherwise known as exchange-traded-notes, that track the price of Bitcoin.

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After a Few Harsh Statements from Executive Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Ltd., and Morgan Stanley Purchase Bitcoin ETNs

According to public records of Nordnet trading logs, the two associated firms JP Morgan Securities Ltd., and Morgan Stanley bought roughly 3M euro worth of XBT note shares. Interestingly after the recent regulatory crackdown in China, and the statements from JP Morgan’s senior executive Jamie Dimon talking trash about bitcoin, his firm bought the dip on September 15. In fact, out of all the companies on the list, like Goldman Sachs and Barclays, the JP Morgan team of buyers purchased the most XBT notes.

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

Image via @IamNomad on Twitter.

Bitcoin exchange-traded-notes (ETNs) are a popular investment vehicle for mainstream investors and financial management firms who want exposure to bitcoin. A few institutions offer ETNs, among them Denmark-based Saxo Bank, which sells notes called the “Bitcoin Tracker.” These bitcoin-based ETNs track bitcoin price movements against the Euro and USD. Bitcoin ETNs have done extremely well over the course of 2017 following suit with bitcoin’s meteoric price spike.

JP Morgan Applies for Blockchain Patent 175 Times

JP Morgan doesn’t just purchase bitcoin notes, but is also heavily involved with the ‘blockchain fever’ that has infected banks across the world. The financial firm has applied for a “bitcoin alternative” patent with the U.S. over 175 times in 2013. The company is also working on an ethereum-based blockchain alongside, according to people familiar with the matter, working with Zcash development as well. With the ethereum project called “Quorum,” JP Morgan has its own Github repo that explains how the permissioned blockchain does not need consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Work (POW) or Proof-of-Stake (POS).

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

The financial publication Zerohedge reports that JP Morgan applied for a “Bitcoin Alternative” patent in 2013 and was rejected 175 times.

Former JP Morgan Executives Leave the Firm for Bitcoin and Blockchain Projects

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

Former JP Morgan derivatives executive, Blythe Masters, is all about the Blockchain hype.

Additionally, former JP Morgan executives are all about blockchain technologies these days and even bitcoin. The veteran commodities trader, Daniel Masters, joined JP Morgan right after graduating college and in 2014 announced he was starting a bitcoin-based hedge fund. Another former JP Morgan mogul, Blythe Masters, started her own blockchain startup Hyperledger which is now run by the Linux Foundation. Masters is still heavily involved with the blockchain project and has a seat on the governance board.

Whether Jamie Dimon wants to admit it or not his firm was trading bitcoin-based notes after his statements. Further, over the past few years, JP Morgan cannot hide the fact that they are infatuated with blockchain technology, just like the hundreds of other financial institutions hoping they won’t be replaced.

What do you think about JP Morgan Securities Ltd. purchasing bitcoin-based exchange-traded-notes? Let us know in the comments below. 

U.S. Pressures BTC-e Exchange as They Plan to Distribute Funds Next Month

Last week the Russian bitcoin exchange, BTC-e, told the public about the trading platform’s plan to repay customers. Now the exchange is back and says there will be a full update come August 30 and the organization will follow with daily announcements. Further, BTC-e answered multiple questions from customers who want access to their funds.

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Releasing 55% of Funds & Pressure from the U.S.

U.S. Pressures BTC-e Exchange as They Plan to Distribute Funds Next MonthEarlier this summer news.Easypaypakistan reported on the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e being taken down by U.S. law enforcement for connections to bitcoin laundering and illegal money transmissions. Following the FBI arresting alleged employees and seizing funds, the exchange announced on August 3 it had control over its servers and “some of its bitcoin purses.” The trading platform has released a few messages through Twitter and the forum Bitcointalk.org over the course of the past two weeks.

In those messages the exchange spoke of rebranding, working with other partners, and utilizing a unique in-house token to pay customers back similarly to how Bitfinex handled their hack. Now the exchange says come August 30th the organization will update customers every day.

“To date, there is a process of transferring digital resources to an investment company,” explains BTC-e’s latest announcement. “The company is preparing the resource for our launch. As it was announced earlier, at startup users will be able to withdraw 55% of the funds.”

We want to notify all users that there is a political background in closing our service and pressure from the U.S.

BTC-e Claims Fully Functional Exchange is Coming and Bitcoin Cash Refunds

The exchange also fielded questions from forum visitors who said they lost a lot of money due to the trading platform “going under.” Many of the traders were not happy with waiting and called BTC-e’s situation a “circus.” “There was a problem, and we will try to solve it in the shortest possible time,” the exchange says to upset clients. Another person stated that he needed his money now and called the exchange “evil.” BTC-e responds by saying that if it were possible funds would have been given out earlier and the real ‘evil’ resided with a “flag with a bunch of stars.”

The organization says they are hoping to open this September and will publish a “FAQ” in the near future. The FAQ was delayed due to an agreement with lawyers, BTC-e explains, and they can’t release it until the investigation completes. The exchange also answers a trader who asks if the exchange will have only “minimal functionality” and the company seems to think trading will be fully operational. Moreover, the exchange also detailed when they disperse customer holdings next month, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) will also be given to customers at a 1:1 rate.

What do you think about BTC-e’s recent announcement? Let us know in the comments below.

New York Regulator Reports on Cryptocurrency Licensing, Inspects Businesses

An annual report by the New York State Department of Financial services reiterates the importance of regulating digital currency businesses. The report was released on June 15, and it summarizes the departments activities with regards to its Bitlicense regulation for crypto-companies. 

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It said cryptocurrencies provide new New York Regulator Reports on Cryptocurrency Licensing, Inspects Businesseschallenges for regulators, because of their transaction speed and anonymous movement of funds. The report said, “Blockchain technologies present both opportunities and challenges for industry as well as regulators. Building innovative platforms for conducting commerce can help improve the efficiency of financial transactions, record-keeping and clearing.”

The report went on to say the technology allows for too many risks, because regulation can simply be bypassed by people or organizations. The speed of transactions and relative anonymity tend to deter oversight and control. The New York Agency said they want to protect customers and investors from fraud and other illegal behavior.

Easier facilitation of payments and anonymous movements of funds can be dangerous without the compliance and oversight designed to safeguard consumers, and to prevent money laundering and funding illegal activities

The regulation agency has already applied its licensing regulation requirements to several companies, which were mentioned in the report. It determined the Gemini Trust Company LLC could trade in ether. Recently it approved XRP II LLC, an affiliate of Ripple Labs, Inc. In total, 5 companies are registered with Bitlicense, and they are currently receiving periodic inspections and examinations via direct oversight from the agency.

The History of Bitlicense; Great Crypto-Company Exodus

The regulatory agency originally initiated the Bitlicense back in 2015 with the help of Ben Lawsky. The document was 44 pages and it outlined all the necessary requirements for businesses who want to trade in cryptocurrencies. To this day, it is mandatory that companies submit an application to manage and use digital currencies.

Jamie Redman covered it atNew York Regulator Reports on Cryptocurrency Licensing, Inspects Businessesbitcoin.com. He mentioned how many businesses criticized the licensing requirements. He said, “Executives and investors have been very concerned that the Bitlicense would hurt New York innovation and starting businesses. With KYC and AML rules and quite an extensive guideline to give the state private information many companies are unsatisfied with this law.”

The executives warnings rang true. When Bitlicense was put into place, it caused several popular companies to discontinue services in the State. Many of them made statements about how Bitlicense negatively impacted their ability to serve their customer base. They included Xapo, Shapeshift, Poloniex, Bitfinex, and Kraken among others.

Kraken’s response to Bitlicense was most pointed. The company said, “Today Kraken discontinues service to New York Residents. Regrettably, the abominable Bitlicense has awakened. It is a creature so foul, so cruel that not even Kraken possesses the courage or strength to face its nasty, big, pointy teeth. It’s at least a 40-man, bro.”

Do you think Bitlicense has been success or failure? Share your thoughts below!

Nevada Senate Bill 398 Becomes Law, Prohibiting Tax on Blockchain Technology

Judging by recent legislation, which is mostly hostile towards blockchain technology, Senate Bill 398 in Nevada seems like an unprecedented step in a positive direction. SB398 prohibits taxation and regulations regarding the use and implementation of blockchain technology, and it was approved by Nevada governor Brian Sandoval. 

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The bill is meant to create an environment that is hospitable Nevada Senate Bill 398 Becomes Law, Prohibiting Tax on Blockchain Technologyrather than hostile to new technology startups, and it is the first one to recognize smart contracts as legitimate and binding.

The bill was filed by Ben Kieckhefer on March 20. It appears he did not want the State to follow in the footsteps of places like New York who have generated regulations that harm bitcoin and other blockchain-based companies. The politicians in Nevada overall want the blockchain and technology industry to grow and benefit their State.

A Minutes of the Senate Committee On Judiciary record document read, “The bill will help ensure the State keeps pace with technological advancements and provide a legal framework for people using a blockchain to not do so in a legal gray area.”

The bill includes the following legal requirements for county commissioners to follow:

A board of county commissioners shall not: 13 (a) Impose any tax or fee on the use of a blockchain by any 14 person or entity; 15 (b) Require any person or entity to obtain from the board of 16 county commissioners any certificate, license or permit to use a 17 blockchain; or 18 (c) Impose any other requirement relating to the use of a 19 blockchain by any person or entity.

Towards Blockchain Recognition and Acceptance…or not?

These type of bills that seem to be pro-blockchain may be a meaningful positive step toward creating more acceptance for cryptocurrencies. Seeing these kinds of bills are a nice change in tempo, because other bills have demonized crypto for contributing to money laundering schemes and other forms of crime.

For instance, in Florida, an appropriations committee recently Nevada Senate Bill 398 Becomes Law, Prohibiting Tax on Blockchain Technologypassed an anti-money laundering bill to target people who leverage bitcoin to hide finances. Also, Federal senate bill 1241 defines digital currencies as “monetary instruments,” and its intent is to target bitcoin exchanges to intercept criminal activity and undermine cryptocurrency freedom and neutrality.

Nonetheless, pieces of legislation that are bad and good for blockchain technology will continue to crop up in lockstep as politicians decide what is best for their constituency. In the end, crypto-enthusiasts can only hope for the disruptive technology to be shown in a positive light rather than be paraded alongside images of a dark criminal underworld, rife with its hackers and fraudsters and shysters and monsters.

Do you expect to see more anti-blockchain or more positive blockchain legislation in the future? 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.