A Crying Foul Coinbase Withdrawal Delays Leave Users Frustrated

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received yet another request to approve Wall Street bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This time, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) wishes to list five new ETFs, so-called leveraged and inverse funds which increase risk and reward.

Also read:bittrex-wallets-are-taken-offline-as-companies-scramble-to-patch-the-intel-bugFrustrated-1068x1068

Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk/Reward

Wall Street Goes Short, Gets Bear, with Proposed Risky Bitcoin ETFs

The trope for years has been bitcoin’s volatility, risk, is too great for the sober adults of professional finance to be bothered. That myth was thoroughly smashed on 4 January 2018 when the NYSE Arca filed a fifty page request with the SEC. Wall Street wants Direxion Asset Management’s five ETFs, known as leveraged or inverse funds. The proposed funds up the risk level by twice, in either direction, and are short term investments. They’re easily some of the riskiest funds put forward.

ETFs are prized because they’re traded like stocks with the muscle of mutual funds. The SEC has yet to approve bitcoin ETFs, and applications for rule-changes are stacking up. Some estimates have requests for the cryptocurrency to be formally listed at nearly a dozen. This year enthusiasts will learn the financial product’s fate, most experts believe.

Direxion is presently asking five funds be listed: Direxion Daily Bitcoin Bear 1X Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.25X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 1.5X Bull Shares, Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bull Shares, and Direxion Daily Bitcoin 2X Bear Shares. If approved they’d trade on the NYSE’s Arca market. Investors could see their returns as much as double; they could also see losses compound in the other direction just as fast.

Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

Twice as Fast in Either Direction

The funds aren’t necessarily tethered to bitcoin’s spot price, but are instead a way to track bitcoin futures on markets such as those created by NYSE rivals Cboe and CME, with “investment results (before fees and expenses) that correlate positively to either 125%, 150%, or 200% the daily return of the target benchmark,” according to the filing.Wall Street Wants Bitcoin ETFs with Twice the Risk

That assumes a bull market, but, again, losses are multiplied as well which logically means these are for short term investing (longer options are available). ETFs would bring even more mainstreaming to bitcoin with regard to the broader investment community.

It’s a curious move, but the risks are sure to attract investment. One would assume the natural bitcoin price spikes would be enough for adrenaline junkies. But there is still widespread skepticism and worry about actually owning and holding bitcoin among Wall Street types. Nevertheless, such short-term volatility is something many traders value. Indeed the filing insists the Direxion ETFs “enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace.”

What do you think of bitcoin ETFs? Let us know in the comments section below

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

 

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

dip-1068x1068The price of bitcoin dropping over 8 percent immediately after the digital currency’s all time high of $4,980. On September 4, bitcoin dropped to a low of $4,140. Speculators now believe the price drop today may be due to the recent announcement from the People’s Bank of China banning Initial Coin Offerings (ICO).

 

Bitcoin Markets Shave a Few Billion Again

There’s a bearish sentiment throughout bitcoin markets, just as we predicted would happen two days ago in our last price analysis. At press time, bitcoin’s price is trying to hold above the $4,150 territory as the currency’s value dropped another six legs down on Monday, September 4. Volume is still pretty decent with over $2.4B traded over the past 24-hours, but most of the action is stemming from this morning’s huge sell off. Bitcoin’s price dip caused the entire top eighteen cryptocurrency market capitalizations to drop, slashing prices from 5 to 34 percent, as most altcoins right now are in the red. This past week’s sell off has been the largest to date since mid-July, and we are seeing a similar 25-30 percent total correction during the bearish cycle.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

Bitcoin price 11:30 am EDT September 4, 2017. Prices are now below the sub-$4,300 range.

Technical Indicators

Right now technical indicators show the Relative Strength Index (RSI) continues to head downwards, confirming that sellers right now have the upper hand. Of course, over the past three days, the two Simple Moving Averages (SMA) crossed hairs, and the long term 200 SMA is well above the short term 100 SMA. This again assures traders the storm is not yet over, and there is great resistance down the road. Looking at order books on some of the most popular exchanges, there are monstrous walls between the $4,600-5,000 positions. If support holds steady in the $4,160-4,200 area, bulls will have some work to do to eat through the next wave of resistance levels.

Markets Update: Bitcoin Price Dives Deeper in the Midst of ICO Shakedown

Bitcoin price, September 4, 2017. 200 SMA (white trendline) is well above the 100 SMA (green).

PBOC: ‘No ICOs For You’

Market sentiment seems to be geared towards the recent announcement from China’s central bank concerning ICOs. Cryptocurrency markets were already battling through a significant correction after bitcoin reached new price highs. So speculators think the recent banning of ICOs in China adds uncertainty to these types of markets. Otherwise, bitcoin is running its course through a typical 25-30 percent correction, after rocketing close to the $5K levels. Other spectators believe banks are spreading ‘fake news’ about bitcoin right now, because cryptocurrency popularity has risen exponentially. The UK publication the Mirror reports that certain banks are spreading these phony news stories to “restore the status quo.”

Bitcoin’s dip redlines the top eighteen altcoins below bitcoin’s market cap.

The Verdict

Right now bitcoin is holding above $4,150, so it may consolidate in this territory and push higher this week with some bounce back. Most of the top ten altcoins below bitcoin’s market cap lost larger percentages than bitcoin, which is likely tethered to the ICO news. This has pushed bitcoin’s market dominance up to 48.5 percent among the hundreds of altcoin market caps in existence. After the lull, bitcoin could follow its typical trend of moving up higher than before after a deep correction. So far this has been a consistent trend this year for bitcoin’s price, but we should never place all of our bets on this trend, because it may not be the case going forward.

Bear Scenario: Bitcoin markets could drop lower if the $4,100 floor collapses, bringing the price into the $4,000-3,900 territory. Right now big players have stepped off to the sidelines to catch more satoshis from weak hands and wait to choose a better entry point. Most technical indicators like the Stochastic, RSI, SMA, and order books are showing a strong negative sentiment at press time.

Bull Scenario: Right now, we are either going to consolidate in the $4,125-4,200 range, or we are seeing a short term bull trap at the moment. Bitcoin needs to break upper-level resistance past the $4,600 territory, but right now walls are considerably high. Of course topping the $5K range again is not out of the question, but it’s going to take some significant time to get there again.

Where do you see the price of bitcoin heading from here? Let us know in the comments 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. 


Coinbase Seeks $1 Billion Valuation From Committed Investors

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the bitcoin company Coinbase is seeking investors in a new funding round that aims for a $1 billion dollar valuation.

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Coinbase Seeks Investment Pledges of ‘$100 Million or More’ for a $1 Billion Valuation Goal

Coinbase Seeks $1 Billion Valuation From Committed InvestorsSources familiar with the matter told the publication Coinbase is currently having discussions with potential investors. Currently, investors that may pledge towards the round are undisclosed, but the source has disclosed it will be one of the biggest funding rounds in the digital currency space. The company has been one of the most well-known startups since Brian Armstrong, and Fred Ehrsam founded the company in 2012.

Over the course of the company’s life, it has so far raised $117 million over five funding rounds. This includes funding from big-name venture firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, BBVA Ventures, and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The Wall Street Journal says the company is now seeking “$100 million or more” from investors looking to pledge.

“There’s more interest in bitcoin when prices go up, and then trading volume goes up,” explains one investor to the news outlet.

Therefore there’s more interest in bitcoin companies.   

Investors Are Noticing the San Francisco Bitcoin Company’s Popularity Continues to Grow

Besides getting large capital injections from venture firms and individual investors the company has grown massively. For instance, Coinbase claims to have 7.4 million users and works with 46,000 merchants who accept bitcoin. Additionally, the company has issued 24.2 million wallets and its software team has released 10,000 developer applications. On May 26 the company’s CEO Brian Armstrong told the public the company was seeing a significant influx of new registrants.

“Coinbase had 40,000 new users sign up in one day, or approximately one San Francisco Giant’s Stadium,” exclaimed Armstrong.

May was a crazy month for Coinbase as the price spike caused “Slow load times and degraded performance” and “partial outage” issues on May 22 through 25th.

If venture organizations and investors give more funding to Coinbase, the startup will be the largest funded bitcoin-based company on the record. The valuation will push Coinbase higher than other bitcoin-focused companies with significant funding capital such as 21 Inc. and Circle Financial.

What do you think about Coinbase looking for more venture capital? Let us know in the comments below. 

Bitcoin Solves Runaway Inflation by Undermining Trusted Third Parties

Bankers, governments, and other trusted centralized organizations require society to be steeped in runaway inflation. These fiduciary cartels thrive when they manipulate the money supply and cause drastic shifts in prices within the market economy they lord over. They believe the money supply must be regulated and controlled for the economy to function optimally, lest society collapses as a result of too little currency injection. 

shutterstock_565449664-640x360Bitcoin Solves Runaway Inflation by Undermining Trusted Third Parties

Luckily, bitcoin solves the dilemma of needing a trusted third party to control the money supply. Before delving further into why this is the case, everyone must possess a proper and clear grasp of inflation and deflation as economic concepts.

Inflation and Deflation Explained

Inflation refers to the rise of the cost of goods and services in a market environment and the decrease of the purchasing power of the prescribed currency.

Investopedia defined inflation,

Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising and, consequently, the purchasing power of currency is falling. Central banks attempt to limit inflation in order to keep the economy running smoothly.

Conversely, deflation is the decline in the cost of goods and service resulting from contraction of a money supply within an economic environment. Deflation generally causes an increase of the purchasing power of a currency within circulation. According to some economists, excess deflation can cause market actors to horde money. However, inflation tends to be the more troubling and nefarious problem.

For example, if a currency is Bitcoin Solves Runaway Inflation by Undermining Trusted Third Partiesheavily inflated, and you travel to the local supermarket to buy groceries, you may notice an upswing in the price of bread. This price “inflation” could be the result of the grocer arbitrarily altering the price, but more likely it occurred as a result of an inflated currency. In other words, too much printing and distribution of the currency would have devalued its purchasing power and caused bread to appear more expensive. In reality, the bread likely has had the same value as always, but the decreased value of the circulated currency provided the illusion that the bread was more expensive.

With a basic understanding of deflation and inflation clearly in mind, it would seem obvious that central money manipulators are needed to keep the economy grounded in a state of equilibrium, where money is created with integrity and circulated for the betterment of society. However, there are several reasons why having a small trusted group of elites control society’s wealth is impractical, unneeded, and dangerous…and has only instigated economic woes.

The Problem of Central Money Manipulation by Fiduciary Cartels

In some places, governments and central authorities have caused such extreme runaway inflation that a currency has lost all of its value and become worthless.

Recent examples include Venezuela and Greece. Mass currency devaluation through inflation likely also occurred in the United States, which led to the Great Depression. The Austrian economists suggested that creation of the Federal Reserve bank and its manipulation of the currency supply directly caused the depression, among other, more recent economic catastrophes.

A Mises article on Greece captured the effects of credit expansion and money manipulation, then the subsequent runaway inflation:

When currencies collapse, price inflation usually picks up. More units of the currency must be offered to acquire goods and services. What had started with credit expansion and distortions in the real economy, then, may well end up with high price inflation rates and currency reform.

Another reason to avoid allowing a handful people control currency in a centralized manner is because it provides a subtle way for those individuals to “steal” value from everyone. Whenever central authorities inflate the currency supply, as mentioned, it causes the value or purchasing power of the currency to decline. This value is basically lost or “stolen” from the people.

In other words, one group caused another group to lose their property’s value. In most places, this activity by another name is called “destruction of property” or “theft.” However, currency devaluation is such an esoteric and ingenious form of theft or destruction that it goes unnoticed and unexamined by the majority of the population.Bitcoin Solves Runaway Inflation by Undermining Trusted Third Parties

A last major reason to reject central suppliers of money is more obvious and terrifying. When a small group of people have direct access to the wealth supply of whole economies, what prevents them from electronically keying that wealth into their own personal accounts? What stops them from making themselves richer and the rest of the world poorer? What stops them from taking that wealth and using it to start wars or harm people in the name of national defense or protection?

The short answer to these questions is nothing. Nothing stops them. These individuals can fill their coffers at a whim, and control the rise and fall of whole country’s by arbitrarily inflating and deflating a currency as they see fit…and the result of allowing this kind of trust to be placed in the hands of these elite few have been absolutely devastating. It has led to mass warfare, mass exploitation of the population, and in some cases to runaway inflation, mass starvation and death.

Thank goodness the solution to these problems is here. It is called bitcoin.

Bitcoin Solves the Problem of Runaway Inflation, while Abolishing the Need for Centralized Trust

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that is automated by a consensus network algorithm. This algorithm, which was predetermined by creator Satoshi Nakamoto, has a set supply of bitcoins that will be distributed over the long term. This number is currently set to 21 million units of bitcoin.

This mathematically encoded Bitcoin Solves Runaway Inflation by Undermining Trusted Third Partiesnumber of bitcoin means that no central group or fiduciary cartel can control the currency. In other words, they cannot inflate or deflate a currency to the detriment of the population. In this sense, bitcoin is naturally deflationary or disinflationary. This denotes Bitcoin has utility in the sense that it neither inflates or deflates on a whim or caprice. No human actor can make changes to the protocol without achieving consensus.

In this regard, users of bitcoin have hedged themselves against control, against the small groups of trusted elites who can manage the flow or circulation of money across a population. When a currency like bitcoin is protected from artificial manipulation, it prevents people from using the creation and control of money to exploit and defraud others. It is the solution to the problem of runaway inflation and all forms of monetary control.

Some people think that bitcoin is naturally inflationary as a result of its algorithm. It is true the protocol specifies the minting of new coins via mining, but this is not the same as arbitrary inflation that causes ungodly increases in price of goods and services. The protocol was built to create coins in such a way that both heightens the value of bitcoin and does not allow for the market to be flooded. It is enough to keep the market humming, yet not overburdened.

Bitcoin, then, is the most obvious solution to stopping the fiduciary cartels and other central entities from lording over everyone and causing massive undue harm to millions. It prevents runaway inflation. It stops theft through that inflation. It thwarts loss of monetary value caused by unscrupulous actors. It kills the evil of greed. It is the economic panacea par excellence. Time to open a bitcoin wallet and take the power back.

Do you think bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are a hedge against runaway inflation and the banking cartels? Let us know in the comments below. 

India’s Government Divided Over Bitcoin Legalization

As the period for public comments regarding the regulatory framework for bitcoin comes to an end, a debate heats up among members of the Indian Parliament about the legalization of digital currencies. Meanwhile, bitcoin trading volumes remain strong in the country.

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Parliament Members Divided Over Bitcoin

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin LegalizationAt a Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance meeting last week, a heated discussion erupted among members of the Indian Parliament about bitcoin.

A number of Parliament members, including BJP member Kirit Somaiya, “cautioned the finance ministry officials present at the meeting against any move to legalise bitcoin,” according to The Economics Times, India’s leading business newspaper.

A source told the publication:

Members feared that it [bitcoin] could become a parallel instrument for cycling black money and dodgy transactions and also be a source of terror financing.

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin Legalization
Kirit Somaiya

They wanted the government to look into the vulnerability of bitcoin. Somaiya who has repeatedly spoken against the digital currency, calling it “illegal” on numerous occasions, raised a series of questions.

He asked the officials why the government was being ambivalent about this instrument, citing that they have not clarified whether it was a legally permissible instrument or not.

He also demanded to know whether officials are properly briefing the prime minister about the risks of bitcoin.

Bitcoin Could Soon Be Regulated in India

Currently, the same government has been considering legalizing the digital currency. Last week, the Finance Ministry started soliciting comments from the public on how to best regulate bitcoin. The deadline for submissions is May 31, and 3,357 comments have been submitted at press time. The majority of them are in support of regulating bitcoin.

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin Legalization“Regulating bitcoins will address many such concerns and queries, including market acceptance, customer trust, investment security, money laundering, hawala, etc,” Hesham Rehman, co-founder and CEO of Bitxoxo Bitcoins Online, was quoted by The Times Group as saying. “For instance, regulations like strong eKYC and penalizing bitcoin trading in cash will help proper transaction records which will negate all the chances of any sort of illegal activity.”

Karthik Iyer, India’s Ambassador of the blockchain think tank P2P Foundations, also offered his viewpoint on the situation:

The government should think about treating cryptocurrencies as a commodity if not a full-fledged currency with exchange value. There is a lot of arbitrage in the markets and it can generate a great deal of wealth for India’s crypto traders.

India’s Bitcoin Volume

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin LegalizationMeanwhile, bitcoin trading volumes in India have exploded. Last week, the price of a bitcoin skyrocketed globally. During that spike, it traded at nearly a $1,000 premium in India as supplies to the country have been limited.

This month, leading Indian bitcoin broker Zebpay announced that it had reached a milestone of over 500,000 app downloads and is adding more than 2,500 users daily. Struggling to keep up with the surge in new users and volume, Zebpay announced, “we have put a temporary buy limit of Rs 50,000 per day due to the shortage of bitcoin stock.”

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin LegalizationNew user growth was also the cause of the downtime experienced at leading Indian bitcoin exchange by volume, Coinsecure. “We have been experiencing exponential growth of users on our website, causing slowness and stress on our systems,” according to a statement from CEO Mohit Kalra to Coinsecure’s customers.

Meanwhile, on the peer to peer Localbitcoins exchange, trading volumes in Indian rupee hit record highs as well, with nearly double the previous week’s volume of rupees traded for bitcoin.

India's Government Divided Over Bitcoin Legalization

Do you think that the Indian government will listen to their people and regulate bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.

Japan’s Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ Stores

Bitpoint has recently partnered with Peach Aviation to provide bitcoin payment tech to the company, and now plans to do the same at “hundreds of thousands of Japanese retail outlets.”

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From Peach Aviation to 100,000+ Stores

Japan's Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ StoresPeach Aviation Ltd announced last week that it will be the first Japanese airline to accept bitcoin for tickets. Peach is Japan’s first Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) and is majority owned by the country’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd (ANA).

To accept bitcoin, the low-cost airline has partnered with Bitpoint Japan Co, a bitcoin exchange and payments startup founded on March 3, 2016. In addition to allowing Peach to accept bitcoin for flight tickets, the companies are working together to add bitcoin Japan's Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ Storespayment options to souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels at travel destinations. Furthermore, “we will jointly install bitcoin ATMs where customers can withdraw cash from bitcoin,” their partnership agreement reveals.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Bitpoint is “planning to give hundreds of thousands of Japanese retail outlets the ability to accept the digital currency.” The company’s president, Genki Oda, said, “We’re holding discussions with a retail-related company,” adding that:

We’re also talking to a big convenience store operator about using it [bitcoin] … By going through a company providing payment terminal services to shops, we have the possibility of increasing its use at one stroke. It’s easier than talking to lots of individual retailers.

Japan's Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ StoresBitpoint currently has ties with several retailers and plans to expand that number, Oda told the publication. The aim is to promote the use of bitcoin in retail stores instead of as a speculative investment, he detailed.

Oda also runs Bitpoint’s parent company, Remixpoint Inc., a publicly-traded conglomerate with a market value of about 21 billion yen ($189 million).

400,000+ Stores Could Accept Bitcoin

Japan's Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ StoresSince April 1, when the Japanese government started recognizing bitcoin as a legal method of payment, a slew of Japanese companies have started considering accepting bitcoin. The first major retailer to do so following the government’s move was Bic Camera, one of the country’s biggest electronics retailers. The company partnered with Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange by volume, Bitflyer, to accept bitcoin.

Also in April, another bitcoin exchange, Coincheck, announced that it had been working with Recruit Lifestyle to bring bitcoin payments to over 260,000 stores by this summer. Claiming to hold 99% of the bitcoin payment market share, Coincheck said that about 5,000 stores already accept the digital currency using its payments system.

Japan's Bitpoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to 100,000+ StoresThen last week, Bitflyer CFO, Midori Kanemitsu, independently told Nikkei that the number of stores accepting bitcoin “is expected to rise to 300,000 or so in 2017.”

If Kanemitsu’s estimation is added to Monday’s announcement by Bitpoint, then the total number of stores that could start accepting bitcoin soon could rise to 400,000+.

Do you think Bitpoint will successfully add bitcoin payments to 100,000+ stores? Also, how many stores do you think will accept bitcoin in Japan this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wyre Switches From High-Fee Bitcoin to Ethereum – Launches Payment Tool for Wechat and Facebook

Blockchain payments startup Wyre has announced the launch of a payment tool for Wechat and Facebook. Bitcoin.com spoke with CEO Michael Dunworth to find out more about Wyre Bot, which utilizes Wechat and Facebook Messenger for business invoicing.

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Wyre Bot Launched

WyreWyre Launches Chatbot Payment Tool for Wechat and Facebook offers cross-border payments to large scale enterprises and payment companies using open blockchain technologies. Currently operating in the US, China, and Brazil, the company began offering an API and a client dashboard to their customers in the spring of 2016. At the end of last year, Wyre raised $4.5 million in a series A round funding. The company also claims to have moved over $1 million in payments per day by the fall of last year, according to its website.

On Wednesday, May 24, Wyre announced:

We’ve built Wyre Bot — the first blockchain payments tool on Wechat and Facebook.

Wyre Launches Chatbot Payment Tool for Wechat and FacebookUsing the bot platform Recime, Wyre Bot was created for use across Wechat and Facebook to generate payment invoices as well as respond to customer support tickets via chat.

“Currently the bot’s focus is on the invoicing piece of the payment,” Dunworth told Bitcoin.com. “We’re just trying to tie the communication channel of Wechat into the westerners’ more used channels like email/Facebook,” he said, citing how this will reduce friction for businesses in China sending invoices.

Wyre Bot currently supports USD payments to China, a channel the company calls its core focus. “We’re going to be opening this up though in the near term and are already seeing some demand for new currencies,” Dunworth detailed. Additional currencies could include the Euro, British pound, Mexican peso, and Japanese yen.

Wyre Launches Chatbot Payment Tool for Wechat and FacebookFurthermore, more functionalities could be added to the bot in the future, such as the ability to execute payments directly in the bot and multi-invoicing in one request. Another expansion plan the company is considering is adding more social platforms such as Whatsapp, Slack, Line, and Viber.

How Wyre Bot Works

Wyre Launches Chatbot Payment Tool for Wechat and FacebookUsing a standard social chat window, the supplier first sends a message with the transaction details to Wyre Bot. The bot will then generate an invoice in a .pdf format which is emailed to both the supplier and the person paying the invoice.

Invoices are hashed, timestamped and stored on the Ethereum blockchain for fraud protection, according to Wednesday’s announcement. Dunworth explained to Bitcoin.com that this method is “a way for our clients to feel confident that the invoice they’re receiving was generated through our platform, instead of being from a spoofed email address that looks like it was generated by us,” adding that:

If the hash is on the chain, they can just search through it and see it there. It’s a SHA256 hash of the invoice they’re emailed.

Can’t Use Bitcoin at the Moment, but Maybe in the Future

Wyre Launches Chatbot Payment Tool for Wechat and FacebookThe CEO went on to describe why they made the switch from Bitcoin’s blockchain to Ethereum’s. The company would record these transactions on “the Bitcoin blockchain but it’s too expensive to do that,” he shared with Bitcoin.com.

The higher Bitcoin network fees restricted him from making hourly timestamps, which Dunworth said that his customers need. “So it’s either we put it on once per day,” he continued, “which means our customers can’t verify their invoice” as often, or “use a cheaper chain and do it hourly. So we opted for the latter.”

However, he hinted that in the future, Bitcoin’s blockchain may make a comeback, stating that:

RSK is super interesting and we could jump back over there if things become more cost effective.

What do you think of Wyre Bot? Let us know in the comments section below.