Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM Business

As the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in Japan grows, companies are incorporating the digital currency into their business models in different ways. Japan’s leading printer, info-telecom and ATM manufacturer, Oki Electric Industry Co Ltd, has entered into the Bitcoin ATM business. Their first line of Bitcoin ATMs is launching this month.

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Leading ATM Manufacturer

Leading Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM BusinessFounded in 1881, the Tokyo-based Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd (Oki) manufactures and sells products, technologies, software and solutions for telecommunications systems and information systems. Among other offerings, Oki supplies ATMs, cash-handling equipment, bank branch terminals for financial institutions, automated check-in machines as well as ticket reservation and cash-handling equipment for the retail and service industries.

The company claims to be the first to develop the world’s first cash recycling ATM in 1982. These ATMs recycle banknotes by taking deposits from customers and dispensing them to other customers who withdraw cash at a later time. They are expensive but are more efficient and save on the cost of labor.

According to London-based Retail Banking Research, there were 3.3 million active ATMs in 2016, about 30% of which were cash recycling machines. Oki’s corporate brochure says:

Oki is a leader in ATMs, with a leading share in the domestic market for financial institutions and the retail/service industries. In overseas markets, we actively sell “ATM-Recycler G7”, a cash recycling ATM that can handle banknotes in multiple currencies.

The Recycler G7 (RG7) is the company’s latest line of legacy ATMs, which is the seventh generation of its cash recycling machines.

Oki Launching Bitcoin ATMs

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the company’s next line of ATMs will be launching this month, and they will be Bitcoin ATMs (BTMs). The Recycler G8 (RG8) will allow customers to withdraw local currency from their bitcoin wallets as well as charge expenses to them. The publication describes:

It [the BTM] lets users link their online bitcoin wallets to the machine in order to withdraw funds based on the virtual currency’s market price, as well as deposit physical cash into their digital stashes.

Leading Japanese ATM Manufacturer Oki Gets into Bitcoin ATM BusinessThere will be other functionality as well, such as settling payment on invoices sent via smartphone. The features an ATM will have depend on the country where it will be located and what services local banks offer.

Initially, Oki aims to launch the new machines in China and other emerging nations. “Oki has no plans to deploy the ATM back in Japan yet, given the relatively quiet demand for bitcoin by financial institutions here,” Nikkei Asian Review wrote.

While the company has not announced where these Bitcoin ATMs will be installed, the RG7 units are installed in high foot-traffic areas such as international airports in Narita and Haneda, and other commercial facilities in Japan. In June last year, Oki installed 600 RG7 units in the State Bank of India, which is the largest bank in the country.

What do you think of Oki entering into the Bitcoin ATM business? 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bitcoin Ecosystem and Company Asset Background

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

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

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

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

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region

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

 

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

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

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

Bitcoin Fever Takes Hold in Japan

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

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

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region

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

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

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

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

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

Shapeshift Launches Decentralized Portfolio Platform Prism

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Diversified Crypto-Portfolio That Competes With Other Prism Investors

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

Shapeshift Launches Prism the Decentralized Portfolio Platform

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

Prism Aims to Open a Whole New World of Borderless Finance

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

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

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

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

Three Services That Aim to Create Bitcoin Professionals and Experts

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

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Education and Professional Expertise Helps the Growing Bitcoin Economy Flourish

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

Three Online Academic Bitcoin Courses

The Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium

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

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

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

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

Digital Currency Council

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

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

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

Coursera: Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies

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

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

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

Furthering Bitcoin Careers and Creating Crypto-Professionals

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

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

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

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Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of Existence

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

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The Acquisition by Canaan

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

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

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

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

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

Avalon Mining Family

Bitcoin Mining Manufacturer Canaan Acquires Proof of Existence
Avalonminer 741

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

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

Proof of Existence

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

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

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

Manuel Aráoz’s Other Projects

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

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

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

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

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