Bitpay’s Bitcoin Prepaid Card Now Available to 131 Countries

On May 22, Bitpay’s chief commercial officer, Sonny Singh, revealed its prepaid bitcoin debit card product will now be available in 131 countries. Initially, the card was only available for U.S. residents but due to the expansion users worldwide can now convert bitcoin into spendable euros, pounds, and many other fiat currencies.

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Bitpay’s Bitcoin Visa Debit Card Goes Global

Bitpay's Bitcoin Prepaid Card Now Available to 131 Countries
Bitpay’s chief commercial officer Sonny Singh.

Bitpay’s recent announcement will mark the company’s pre-paid Visa card as the first cryptocurrency tethered debit card that’s available to over 130 countries worldwide. The Atlanta-based firm believes the improved accessibility of the Bitpay card will enable global citizens the ability to utilize the tool with their digital currency savings.

“Today’s news makes the Bitpay Card the first prepaid Visa debit card available for bitcoin users in both the United States and in major bitcoin-using countries such as the UK, Germany, China, Japan, Argentina, and Brazil, along with 125 other nations,” explains Bitpay.

With a growing bitcoin user base and a bitcoin market cap of $36 billion, the Bitpay Card is poised to become a powerful spending tool for bitcoin users around the world.

‘More Convenient Than Online Exchange Methods’

Bitpay's Bitcoin Prepaid Card Now Available to 131 CountriesAccording to Bitpay, the company has issued over 15,000 cards since revealing the bitcoin debit card in May 2016 and has a waiting list of applicants as well. The card available for bitcoin users was the first to offer conversion ability in all 50 U.S. states.

“The card is significantly more convenient, more affordable, and faster — by an order of days — than many online exchange methods for bitcoin today,” Bitpay’s announcement states. “The Bitpay Card’s recent integration with Bitpay’s bitcoin wallet allows users to convert bitcoin funds to dollars, euros, or pounds on the card in one in-app swipe.”

What do you think of the Bitpay bitcoin card being available to 131 countries? Have you tried Bitpay’s Visa card? Let us know about your experiences and what you think about the bitcoin card in the comments below.

56 Bitcoin Companies Approve Segwit-2Mb Combined Fork Plan

Barry Silbert’s firm the Digital Currency Group (DCG) revealed a scaling agreement on May 23 with a letter of intent backed by 56 Bitcoin companies, for Sergio Demian Lerner’s recent Segwit-2Mb plan. The announcement states the signed agreement represents a “critical mass of the bitcoin ecosystem” with 83.28% of hash power supporting the proposal.

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The Anticipated ‘Barry Silbert Scaling Proposal’ Has Been Revealed

For a few days bitcoin enthusiasts have been anticipating the56 Bitcoin Companies Approve Segwit-2Mb Combined Fork Plan “Barry Silbert” scaling plan  hinted at a few days ago. Following Silbert’s statements about a new scaling effort, a meeting took place in connetion to the Consensus 2017 conference. As the conference came to an end, Silbert’s venture capital firm DCG revealed the compromise proposal.

The agreement is supported by 56 digital currency companies stemming from 21 countries worldwide. The letter states the agreement has the backing of over 83 percent of the network’s hash power. This group represents 5.1 billion USD monthly on chain transaction volume and 20.5 million bitcoin wallets within the economy.

“We agree to immediately support the following parallel upgrades to the bitcoin protocol, which will be deployed simultaneously and based on the original Segwit-2Mb proposal,” explains the DCG announcement.

Activate Segregated Witness at an 80% threshold, signaling at bit 4 and activate a 2 MB hard fork within six months.

A Proposal to Lower the Segwit Threshold to 80%

Prior to DCG’s announcement 56 Bitcoin Companies Approve Segwit-2Mb Combined Fork Plandiscussions of lowering the Segwit threshold that took place during the Consensus 2017 scaling panel, Eric Lombrozo stated it was possible to lower the Segwit threshold. After the discussion on May 22, Bitcoin developer James Hilliard proposed a “Reduced signaling threshold activation” BIP.

“I would like to propose an implementation that accomplishes the first part of the Barry Silbert proposal independently from the second: ‘Activate Segregated Witness at an 80% threshold, signaling at bit 4,’” explains Hilliard. “The goal here is to minimize chain split risk and network disruption while maximizing backward compatibility and still providing for rapid activation of Segwit at the 80% threshold using bit 4.”

By activating segwit immediately and separately from any HF we can scale quickly without risking a rushed combined segwit+HF that would almost certainly cause widespread issues.

Companies/Individuals that Approved Consensus; The Future of Bitcoin

Some of the notable companies and people that agreed to this Segwit activation compromise include Decentral, Grayscale investments, Jaxx, Bitmain, Xapo, Yours, Bitpay, Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin.com and Guy Corem.

The medium article further suggested 56 Bitcoin Companies Approve Segwit-2Mb Combined Fork Planthe community is prepared to handle any growing pains as a cohesive whole that has proven technical compromises can be made in the most challenging and high-risk environments. The consensus article echoed this sentiment:

“We are also committed to the research and development of technical mechanisms to improve signaling in the bitcoin community, as well as to put in place communication tools, in order to more closely coordinate with ecosystem participants in the design, integration, and deployment of safe solutions that increase bitcoin capacity.”

Do you think this concludes the mining debate? Will Bitcoin be able to scale successfully? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Sidechain Juggernaut RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet After $3.5M in New Funding

he highly anticipated project by RSK Labs officially moves into open beta status today with the launch of their public testnet named Ginger. The company is inviting everyone to try out their smart contracts using Bitcoin with their ethereum-like sidechain. They have also secured new funding that will allow them to take the project to full production, planned for later this year.

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Ginger Testnet Launched

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingRSK Labs, the company behind Rootstock, announced at Consensus 2017 on Monday the global release of their open source testnet, Ginger. Developers worldwide can now deploy an RSK node, grab some testnet coins, and try out ethereum-style smart contracts on RSK’s sidechain to the Bitcoin network.

Ginger’s source code is now available on Github. A network stats page, an RSK block explorer, and a testnet RSK coin faucet are also available to the public.

The RSK platform is a layer on top of Bitcoin, which aims to better transfer its value. Ginger “adds more functionalities to the Bitcoin network such as smart contracts, greater scalability and a new revenue stream for miners,” RSK Labs described.

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingUsers of the network will be able to move the value of their bitcoins back and forth onto the RSK sidechain. RSK’s tokens have no value of their own, and primarily exist to speedily shuttle bitcoin around, giving it greater functionality with RSK’s varied smart contracts. Ginger allows a glimpse of this technology with some of the first smart contracts used on the system, including those that allow for merged mining, private networks, scaling benefits, and confidential transactions.

The RSK team says that over time, they will keep adding new features to Ginger. “These improvements will focus on the company’s vision of bringing the unbanked to the financial system, changing government through liquid democracies and building the Internet of Things,” they conveyed.

Second Announcement: New Funding

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingAlong with Ginger’s release, RSK Labs also announced on Monday that it has raised $3.5 million pre-Series A funding from various investors, including Jaxx CEO Anthony Di Iorio, Bitfury and Bitmain.

This amount is on top of the $1 million raised last March by the company from Barry Silbert’s DCG, Coinsilium, and Bitmain.

RSK Labs plans to use their latest funds for R&D, strengthening network security, and deploying a “mainnet in a few months,” which would end the Ginger trial and launch RSK for real usage this year.

Scaling Benefits

RSK Labs plans to add three-tiered networks on top of Bitcoin to scale transactions to new levels. With Ginger, smart contract users can already see scaling benefits up to 20,000 transactions per second using Lumino, the company claimed.

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New Funding

RSK’s Gabriel Kurman (Photo\ Micheal Hudson)

Developers should be able to see the full speed improvements now, RSK Labs explained, adding that:

With Ginger, users will be able to run their smart contracts in a platform that can scale up to 2,000 tx/sec on chain and 20,000 tx/sec off chain, providing the scalability needed for global financial solutions.

Merge-Mine Bitcoin with RSK

RSK Labs Launches Ginger Testnet, Receives $3.5M in New FundingRSK Chief Scientist Sergio Demian Lerner gave a presentation on Monday at Consensus 2017. He said miners will be attracted to RSK because it is possible to mine their blockchain and Bitcoin, as well as other coins, all “at the same time and on the same hardware, and with the same power consumption.” The developer revealed that his team has “worked for over a year with mining pools” to develop “open-source plugins for merged mining that are highly efficient.”

This new form of merged mining is a cornerstone feature to RSK that incentivizes the use of their network and also of Bitcoin itself. Similarly, RSK’s smart contracts will reward people who run RSK nodes “from transaction fees,” Lerner described, and then announced that these contracts can be extended to “reward people running Bitcoin full nodes too.”

What do you think of RSK Labs’ Ginger Testnet? Let us know in the comments section 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.

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.