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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

Broadridge Pilots Blockchain for Repo Trades With French Banks

The investor services firm worked with Natixis and Societe Generale on the pilot, which was based on the Hyperledger Fabric codebase.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 3:00 pm

This family bet it all on bitcoin - CNBC


CNBC

This family bet it all on bitcoin
CNBC
Didi Taihuttu, his wife, three kids and their cat bet all they have on bitcoin. The Dutch family of five is in the process of selling pretty much everything they own — from their 2,500-square-foot house, to their shoes – and trading it in for the ...

and more »

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 1:34 pm

UBS Tells Clients How to Place Bets on Blockchain Tech

A new report from UBS says that firms and early adopters should be considered by investors hoping to ride the "blockchain wave"

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 1:30 pm

Traders bet on obscure e-commerce stock in speculation over bitcoin's blockchain technology - CNBC


CNBC

Traders bet on obscure e-commerce stock in speculation over bitcoin's blockchain technology
CNBC
Overstock.com shares surged to four-year highs as investors bet on the company's investment in blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin. Attention on the viability of blockchain has grown as IBM and JPMorgan Chase separately announced this week they ...

and more »

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 12:52 pm

Web Creator Tim Berners-Lee: Blockchain Builders Should Beware Misuse

Sir Tim Berners-Lee encouraged the blockchain space to think about the unintended consequences of its actions in a talk at Ripple's Swell conference.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 12:40 pm

Brazil Central Bank Chief Compares Bitcoin to Pyramid Scheme

The president of Brazil's central bank compared bitcoin to a financial scam, according to newly published statements.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 11:45 am

Blockchain-Focused Presentations to Watch at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas

Blockchain-Focused Presentations to Watch at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas

Money 20/20 Las Vegas is only a few days away. The event, to be held on October 22–25, 2017, at the Venetian, will be packed with people from the top tiers of banking and finance looking to learn more about the future of money.

One thing is for sure, blockchain technology will play a key role in that future. Since 2014, the financial event, which will attract more than 11,000 visitors this year, has devoted an entire track to blockchain topics. Originally, the track was called “Bit(coin) World,” but that changed as conversations shifted to Bitcoin’s underlying ledger technology.  

For blockchain enthusiasts struggling to sort through the 450 presentations at Money 20/20, the following is a breakdown of the blockchain track and other blockchain-related talks at the event.

Blockchain Tuesday

Tuesday is the main day for blockchain programming at Money 20/20. Kicking off the blockchain track will be Adam Ludwin, CEO and co-founder of Chain, a company that provides blockchain solutions to banks. Ludwin’s talk will center on whether crypto-assets are in a sort of ‘90s bubble or if something real and substantial is happening beneath the hype.

To give a sense of how fast things are moving, bitcoin was around $650 at last year’s Money 20/20, when one panelist at the event, then Blockstream developer Eric Martindale, predicted bitcoin would increase 10x in value over the next 12 months. His prediction was nearly spot on. Bitcoin reached more than $5,800 just last week.

With crypto-assets hitting all time highs across the board, the new funding model known as initial coin offerings (ICOs) have raised $2.2 billion this year alone. Yet, amidst the enthusiasm, the threat of increased regulations hover like a dark cloud. Last month, the SEC brought the first charges against two so-called ICOs in what may be just the beginning of a long-anticipated crackdown.   

Four more panels on Tuesday will focus on issues like: What problems are private blockchains solving? Are ICOs here to stay or are they just a passing fad? What threats do regulatory agencies pose to ICOs? And, how will blockchain technology potentially transform stock exchanges? These panels will include experts from companies like Bloq, Kik, Fenbushi Capital, AngelList, Pantera, JP Morgan Chase, R3, Hyperledger, Nasdaq, and the London Stock Exchange Group. 

In between those, Arthur and Kathleen Breitman will talk about their new smart contract platform Tezos. The project raised $230 million in an ICO in July.

Tezos is a proof-of-stake cryptocurrency and smart contract platform built in the functional language OCaml. Eventually, Tezos’ goal is to compete with the likes of Ethereum and Cardano, another emerging platform. A primary feature of Tezos is its formal governance scheme, where coin holders get a say in how the protocol evolves.

It will be interesting to see how Tezos plans to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Finally, Bobby Lee, CEO and co-founder of BTCC, China’s longest running bitcoin exchange, will share war stories on what it has been like operating an exchange in the biggest payments market in the world.

He should have a good story to tell, given that China’s central bank recently cracked down on digital currency exchanges, causing BTCC to halt all China-facing trading last month.  

Other Talks

Two other blockchain-related talks will take place at Money 20/20 on Monday. Bridget van Kralingen, who leads a group called “Industry Platforms” at IBM will talk about how AI, blockchain and cloud computing are converging to create better customer experiences.  

Bill Barhydt, co-founder and CEO of Abra, a cryptocurrency wallet, will give a keynote announcement on Abra’s “next chapter.” Barhydt attracted some attention recently when he chose actress Gwyneth Paltrow as an advisor for Abra in “Planet of the Apps,” a kind of “Shark Tank” for iOS apps.  

Also on Tuesday, BitGive Foundation, a nonprofit that receives bitcoin donations for charitable causes, will be giving a presentation on GiveTrack, its blockchain-based system for tracking donations in real time.

The topic of blockchain applications is sure to come up in plenty of other talks and discussions at Money 20/20, such as this one on financial inclusion on Sunday and those centered around pressing issues like security (the event comes on the heels of the Equifax breach), identity and more.  

The post Blockchain-Focused Presentations to Watch at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 11:13 am

Wall Street Driving Bitcoin Price 6k Surge, Says Bloomberg - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Wall Street Driving Bitcoin Price 6k Surge, Says Bloomberg
CoinTelegraph
Wall Street is driving Bitcoin's price rise this month according to Bloomberg, even as Goldman Sachs still picks gold over crypto. In comments on Bloomberg TV, the publication's analyst Edward Robinson said bank clients are “knocking on the door” after ...
Goldman Sachs Says Gold Is Better Than BitcoinBloomberg
Is Bitcoin The New Gold? Goldman Sachs Doesn't Think SoBenzinga

all 183 news articles »

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 10:42 am

Swiss City of Zug Backs Blockchain Asset Trade Group

The government of the Canton of Zug is supporting a newly launched blockchain trade group

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 10:00 am

GoldMint and the Future of the Gold Trade

GoldMint Header

As a precious metal, gold is often associated with wealth, prestige and power. And as a commodity it has long been considered a prized asset for scores of investors throughout the world.

Beginning with bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies have also seen their prominence rise due to some of the qualities that they share with gold, the most prominent of which is their scarcity.

One of the big issues that has continued to hamper gold as a physical asset is that it can often be difficult to transfer from one place to another. Moreover, the managing and handling of gold can be quite logistically challenging and laborious.

With the emergence of today’s digital age, a startup called GoldMint is seeking to alter this trend with a new means of exchange for physical gold, with transactions occurring over a blockchain-based platform.

This gold-based venture aims to assist investors and traders in managing volatility risks and gaining competitive commissions on commodities sold via GoldMint to financial institutions, pawn shops, and other business and individual stakeholders.

GoldMint’s platform will leverage the private and individual gold trading market, including potentially the management of larger physical stocks such as those in central banks. It will also deliver an electronic payment solution tethered to physical gold, as well as a gold-backed peer-to-peer lending system.

The GoldMint ecosystem is fueled by two types of tokens, GOLD and MNT.

The GOLD cryptoasset is an investment tool that is 100 percent backed by physical gold and/or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). One GOLD token represents one ounce of gold on the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

MNT  is GoldMint’s native cryptocurrency, which is used to confirm GOLD cryptoasset transactions. For GoldMint miners, the amount of MNTs reflects how many assignments, or transaction blocks, they can accept.

Fostering Digital Gold Trading

There are two options for trading GOLD for fiat or cryptocurrencies. First, there is a method for seeking a GoldMint-guaranteed buyback. And second, a loan can be requested. For either option, the process is as follows:

      Through the use of a special app which is not yet available, GOLD can be transferred as collateral to a designated GoldMint account.

      GoldMint utilizes the current price of gold, as set by the LBMA, to fix the rate of a loan.

      GoldMint requires the customer to undergo its know-your-customer (KYC) process as well as consent to GoldMint’s loan terms to receive the loan. Various repayment options for the loan amount and the means of repaying it are then offered.

      If a customer defaults on repayment, their GOLD cryptoassets are transferred to GoldMint.

GoldMint also has a process for converting gold into GOLD tokens and reconverting these tokens into gold for cross-border passages. This is designed to alleviate the hassles associated with carrying gold from one country to another, often resulting in untold expense and aggravation. By converting gold into GOLD, this hassle can not only be avoided, but a person can retrieve 100 percent of the value of their gold at the end of their travels.

“Custody Bot” is GoldMint’s decentralized storage unit, which computationally identifies and stores gold jewelry, small ingots (up to 100 grams) and coins. In this case, it functions as a DApp, a decentralized application that runs rapidly and efficiently without the need for a third-party intermediary to control it. Through the use of cutting-edge technology, Custody Bot inspects and assesses the value of incoming gold to ensure its purity and quality.

GoldMint ICO Accelerates Ahead

On September 20, GoldMint launched its initial coin offering (ICO), allowing users to send bitcoin or ether and receive MNTP (MNT pre-launch) tokens, issued on the Ethereum blockchain at a price of $7 per token.

The value of these tokens is expected to grow, because MNT is limited in its supply and is used in the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Participation in the GoldMint crowdsale involves more than the purchase of cryptocurrencies. It involves a stake in the consensus algorithm that will be utilized by the GoldMint blockchain post-launch.

Owning MNT allows users to achieve 75 percent from commissions earned when transactions are validated through the GoldMint blockchain. The number of MNT tokens owned determines the number of transactions that can be validated.

 

The post GoldMint and the Future of the Gold Trade appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 9:06 am

BNP, EY Complete Blockchain Trial for Internal Treasury Operations

BNP Paribas and EY say they have "successfully" tested a private blockchain for the bank's global internal treasury operations.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 8:32 am

JPMorgan Integrates Zcash Privacy Tech Into Quorum Blockchain

The developer of zcash has announced the first integration of its zero-knowledge privacy tech into JPMorgan's enterprise grade Quorum blockchain.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 7:00 am

Pump or Progress? Bitcoin Cash Nears $400 on Korea Trading Surge - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Pump or Progress? Bitcoin Cash Nears $400 on Korea Trading Surge
CoinDesk
Still, today's move is a jolt for the cryptocurrency, created via a hard fork of the bitcoin blockchain in early August this year. As bitcoin cash was awarded to investors who owned bitcoin before the fork, its built-in investor base helped catapult it ...
The OG Ticker: Bitcoin and Hard ForksBBN Times
Bitcoin Cash Price Returns to $350 Thanks to South Korean PumpThe Merkle

all 13 news articles »

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 6:34 am

Top Secret? Microsoft Opens Door to Government Blockchain Use

Government secrets on a blockchain? Following recent security upgrades, Microsoft has launched a platform specifically for that purpose.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 6:00 am

Downplaying 'Digital Assets': Blockchain Reigns at Ripple's Swell Event

An upstart financial conference yesterday saw discussion of digital assets – though so-called "unregulated" cryptocurrencies were the butt of barbs.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 5:30 am

Bitcoin is a 'speculative bubble' and unlikely to become a real currency, UBS says - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin is a 'speculative bubble' and unlikely to become a real currency, UBS says
CNBC
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are in a "speculative bubble" and are unlikely to become mainstream currencies, according to UBS. There are over 1,000 cryptocurrencies, bitcoin being the biggest by market capitalization, and many have seen huge rises in ...
Two Factors Influencing Bitcoin's Price Right NowInvestopedia (blog)
TD Bank Prevents Customers From Buying Bitcoin and Other CryptocurrenciesThe Merkle
What If You Could Have Bitcoin Without The Problems Of A Blockchain? IOTA May Be The Solution.Forbes
TheStreet.com -CoinTelegraph -Deutsche Welle -The Independent
all 92 news articles »

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 5:08 am

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Pump or Progress? Bitcoin Cash Nears $400 on Korea Trading Surge

Bitcoin cash saw a big boost today, spurred like many recent rallies by strong volumes from South Korea's local exchanges.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 5:07 am

Standard Chartered Joins EquiChain's Capital Markets Blockchain Pilot

Standard Chartered is partnering with fintech startup EquiChain to assist its blockchain pilot focused on bringing efficiencies to capital markets.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 4:00 am

Former Bitmain Chip Designer Seeks to Revoke Mining Giant's Patent

A former employee is engaged in a tit-for-tat battle with mining giant Bitmain over the alleged misuse of intellectual property.

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 3:00 am

Photos: The secret Swiss mountain bunker where millionaires stash their bitcoins - Quartz


Quartz

Photos: The secret Swiss mountain bunker where millionaires stash their bitcoins
Quartz
Kon won't tell me how much bitcoin is stored in the vault, but he says he sometimes takes customers with “millions” of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency stored with Xapo to tour the vault. It's odd to think of a virtual currency needing physical ...

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 2:01 am

The New Classic? Protesters Are Already Plotting Alternative Ethereums

An Ethereum hard fork wouldn't be complete without a protest movement or two. But what do the latest rebels want?

Posted on 17 October 2017 | 2:00 am

Sibos Highlights Swift's Complicated Relationship With Blockchain

Day one of Swift's annual Sibos conference found the interbank messaging platform under pressure from the rising tide of cryptocurrencies.

Posted on 16 October 2017 | 4:10 pm

Bernanke Thinks Bitcoin Will Fail (But He Likes Blockchain) - Fortune


Fortune

Bernanke Thinks Bitcoin Will Fail (But He Likes Blockchain)
Fortune
What does the former head of the Federal Reserve think of a digital currency that operates outside the control of central banks? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not much. “Bitcoin is an attempt to replace fiat currency and evade regulation and ...
Bernanke: “Eventually Governments Will Take Any Action They Need to Prevent BitcoinBitcoin News (press release)

all 13 news articles »

Posted on 16 October 2017 | 4:00 pm

An Australian University Is Giving Out Ether to Students

The University of New South Wales' consumer loyalty research effort will pay students in ether for making purchases at on-campus retailers.

Posted on 16 October 2017 | 2:45 pm

Bank of America Report: Bitcoin's True Value 'Impossible to Assess'

A new research note from Bank of America explores the investment implications of cryptocurrencies.

Posted on 16 October 2017 | 1:30 pm

Bitcoin is finally buying into US real estate - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin is finally buying into US real estate
CNBC
Bitcoin is already in retail and restaurants — so it was only a matter of time before the cryptocurrency took on real estate. That time is now. Bitcoin is slowly making its way into closings on everything from Lake Tahoe land in California to ...

and more »

Posted on 16 October 2017 | 8:23 am

Yes, Bitcoin Can Do Smart Contracts and Particl Demonstrates How

Particl Thumb 3

The Bitcoin blockchain is not known for its ability to enable smart contracts. In fact, most developers creating smart contracts use a different blockchain, like Ethereum.

 

But the truth is that the Bitcoin protocol can be used to create smart contracts. Particl.io, the blockchain eCommerce platform, is doing just that by using Bitcoin-based smart contracts to manage funds in their trustless escrow: Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) escrow.

 

For Particl, Bitcoin provides the ideal mix of smart contract functionality — enough to make smart contracts easy to implement but without the security and privacy risks of a more complicated platform like Ethereum.

Smart Contracts Overview

A smart contract is an agreement that can be enforced through a blockchain. Rather than relying on trust or a legal framework to ensure that each party that enters into a contract will adhere to its terms, you can use the blockchain to create a contract that is automatically enforced, between two people, in a decentralized fashion.

 

Ethereum has become the most popular blockchain for creating smart contracts. One of the major design goals of the Ethereum platform was to support smart contracts. From the start, this set Ethereum apart from Bitcoin, which was created first and foremost as a digital currency platform.

Smart Contracts on Bitcoin Codebase

As the Bitcoin protocol has evolved, it has gained support for smart contracts. Smart contract functionality is not as programmable and extensible on Bitcoin as it is on Ethereum. However, using features added to Bitcoin through improvement proposals, certain smart contract functionality can be achieved through Bitcoin scripting.

 

For Particl, the most important smart contract feature in Bitcoin is the OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY opcode, which was introduced by Peter Todd as Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) 65. The opcode makes it possible to write scripts that prevent funds in a multi-signature wallet from being spent until a certain signature pattern is implemented or a certain amount of time passes.

Particl, Smart Contracts and MAD Escrow

MAD escrow is a technique that effectively prevents fraud in a transaction without requiring the oversight of a third party. In a MAD escrow contract, a buyer and seller both place funds into escrow. The seller starts by depositing an amount they want the buyer to match to symbolize a virtual handshake. This could be between 0 and 100 percent of the item’s purchase price. The buyer then deposits an amount equal to the handshake amount plus the price of the item they are buying. The escrowed funds are not released to anyone until both parties confirm that the transaction has been completed satisfactorily. The technique prevents either party from profiting through cheating in a transaction.

 

Particl uses the BIP 65 opcode to enable MAD escrow contracts by locking funds in a multi-signature wallet until all of the parties sign off on the transaction. With this approach, buyers and sellers on Particl’s ecommerce platform can operate without worrying about fraud or paying unnecessary fees.

 

They also don’t have to sacrifice privacy because no third party is involved in the transaction. Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, because there is only basic scripting involved, security concerns are minimal.

 

Particl’s approach to MAD escrow smart contracts is arguably better than building smart contracts on a platform like Ethereum. While Ethereum provides more extensible support for smart contracts, that flexibility comes with a higher risk of security and privacy threats. The more code that goes into a smart contract, the greater the risk of introducing a vulnerability that could enable an intrusion.

 

Ethereum might be a strong foundation for writing very complex smart contracts, or ones in which security and privacy are not priorities, but Bitcoin provides a simpler and more reliable scripting framework for the private escrows that Particl requires.

Contributing to Bitcoin’s Future

 

Particl’s choice of Bitcoin as the backbone for its smart contracts is also a reflection of the team’s efforts to build a completely private platform on top of the Bitcoin codebase, arguably the most secure, battle tested and contributed to protocol on the market.

 

There are many dozens of Bitcoin-based blockchain projects out there, but most are simply building cryptocurrencies forked from Bitcoin. They’re not taking advantage of Bitcoin’s potential to create the foundation for a completely decentralized platform that supports a multitude of DApps and programmable functionality.

 

In this sense, Particl is helping to ensure that Bitcoin’s future will evolve more than just creating another cryptocurrency. Privacy enhancements Particl has already implemented onto the latest Bitcoin codebase such as Confidential Transactions and RingCT can just as easily be one day adopted upstream to further harden Bitcoin.

 

The post Yes, Bitcoin Can Do Smart Contracts and Particl Demonstrates How appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 October 2017 | 9:18 am

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rally Shows Strength for Continued Growth

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Today, bitcoin reached a new all time high as it rose by $500 in just a few short hours. At the time of this article, bitcoin is sitting in the $5300s as it looks ready, once again, to spring for a new all time high:

Figure_1 (14).JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, GDAX, Macro Trend

On a macro level, BTC is showing signs of upward strength as the RSI and MACD are showing bullish strength. There are no clear signs of bearish divergence yet and the market is starting to pick up in volume as the price climbs, thus indicating that a healthy bullish continuation is likely. Looking at the 50 and 200 EMAs, we can see the slope is pointing upward and the market is trending well above both EMAs, showing us that the market is pushing upward in a sustainable manner.

On a micro level, there are slight signs of bullish exhaustion that may indicate the need to either consolidate sideways or pull back slightly before continuing upward:

Figure_2 (11).JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 30-Minute Candles, GDAX, Micro Trend

The MACD and RSI are showing clear signs of bearish divergence on the smaller timescales (shown via the red arrows on the indicators). Also, the current growth is decreasing in volume which usually indicates a lack of buyer interest at the current price levels as the trend continues upward. It’s important to note that the trend can remain healthy on a macro scale, while simultaneously remaining divergent on a smaller timescale. The divergence doesn’t imply a macro reversal — it simply means the current trend is lacking momentum to continue upward in the immediate future and likely needs to cool off before continuing any further.

On the higher timescales, bitcoin appears to be adhering to the ascending channel shown below:

Figure_3 (11).JPGFigure 3: BTC-USD, 1 Day Candles, GDAX, Ascending Channel

Since the beginning of the year, bitcoin has adhered to very nicely to this channel where it routinely tests the top, then tests the bottom, then tests the top, and so on and so forth. If we continue this pattern we can expect to see bitcoin test the $6000s before we see any major correction. However, it is important to note that, compared to Bitcoin’s last bull run to the $5000s, the volume is considerably lower. This may affect bitcoin’s ability to push toward the upper bounds of the channel. On the other hand, the indicators discussed in Figure 1 are showing healthy bullish signals, so we will have to see how the market responds to tests of new highs.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin found new all time highs in the $5300s after having a sudden $500 rally.

  2. The macro momentum indicators are showing signs of bullish continuation which may push further new all time highs.

  3. The smaller time frames are showing signs of bullish exhaustion so we may see some consolidation before any bullish continuation is seen.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rally Shows Strength for Continued Growth appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 October 2017 | 4:09 pm

Op Ed: Is There a Future for Banking in a Cryptocurrency-Dominated World?

Op Ed: Is There a Future for Banking in a Cryptocurrency-Dominated World?

What is the future of banking, central banking and financial intermediation in a world in which cryptocurrency is dominant? Let’s speculate a bit, with the proviso that no one can fully anticipate how these markets will evolve.

We can find hints in the speech by IMF head Christine Lagarde at a Bank of England conference in September 2017. She dropped some words that likely sent some chills down a few spines in the audience. She explained that cryptocurrency is not a passing fad but a genuine innovation in money. The only remaining barriers to widespread adoption are technical, fixable and likely to be overcome as the sector develops. This, she argued, has profound implications for the future of financial intermediation and central banks.

“In the future,” she explained, “we might keep minimal balances for payment services on electronic wallets. The remaining balances may be kept in mutual funds, or invested in peer-to-peer lending platforms with an edge in big data and artificial intelligence for automatic credit scoring … Some would argue that this puts a question mark on the fractional banking model we know today, if there are fewer bank deposits and money flows into the economy through new channels.”

She continued to press the point, as it relates directly to the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve.

“How would monetary policy be set in this context? Today’s central banks typically affect asset prices through primary dealers, or big banks, to which they provide liquidity at fixed prices — so-called open-market operations. But if these banks were to become less relevant in the new financial world, and demand for central bank balances were to diminish, could monetary policy transmission remain as effective?”

She put a question mark after that last sentence, but she might as well have made the statement: Monetary policy cannot be effective in this world. In fact, it is worse. It might not matter at all.

It’s an astonishing thing to consider. For more than a century, academics, regulators, captains of finance and high-level government officials have worked to find the perfect monetary policy to stabilize the macroeconomy, provide liquidity for growth without inflation and otherwise become masters of economic planning.

But this entire machinery is premised on two important conditions. First, the government must have the monopoly on money. It has held this for more than a century. Government prints the money, controls its supply, imposes legal tender and regulates against the enforcement of contracts denominated in unofficial currency. And second, most of this money has to be held in some way in the banking system. If you take away both of those, the cause of central banking has a serious problem pursuing any form of monetary planning at all.

That is indeed a very different world. And it is no wonder that the ruling class is concerned.

Today, banks like JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs are experimenting with blockchain technology and cryptoassets. And Lagarde’s own statement might be seen to portend the issuance of a new global cryptocurrency to replace the Special Drawing Right. The core problem of these large-scale attempts to reproduce the power of the distributed ledger is that it might be too little, too late. The model of a new world of banking and credit is already revealing itself.

Would Banks Exist?

How is conventional banking affected by cryptocurrency? Lagarde offers that it raises questions about fractional-reserve banking, the practice of keeping fewer deposits on hand than can be immediately paid out to customers at any one time. The practice has been well established for hundreds of years, and yet it can lead to unwarranted expansions of credit and fuel system-wide instability.

Consider the history of banking. What was the purpose of the bank? There have been traditionally three primary functions that banks have provided since the ancient world.

The first has been to provide safe storage for money itself. This is the warehousing function. It is essential and worth paying for. People need a safe place to store their money.

The second is the loan function. The more credible the warehousing function becomes, the more the bank is in the position to leverage its specie holdings for its credit-granting functions. This is the origin of fractional-reserve banking. The bank cannot pay all depositors on demand. Instead, it relies on its financial soundness and a rate of return for depositors who entrust the bank with the responsibility of maintaining its balance sheet.

The third is the clearing system. Because there is always counterparty risk in such transactions — the bank and the depositor must trust each other to tell the truth and make good on promises — the system settles transactions and certifies that all promises to pay have been kept. In the period between the transaction and the clearing, money becomes a credit issued and accepted based on trust.

What happens to these three functions in a crypto-based monetary economy? Let’s go through them.

Warehousing

That money needed a warehouse has always been taken for granted. This was a technological limitation of salt, gold, silver and so on. Specie takes up space. You need a secure space for it. It is also weighty and impractical for moving from space to space by a single individual. Murray Rothbard, in his book “Mystery of Banking,” regrets that these factors even exist and pointedly says that if people had carried coins rather than relying on paper money from banks, we could have avoided a century of financial panic and inflation. That’s a theoretically sound point that runs into practical limitations. The reason for notes to represent specie is to facilitate trade in a way that meets the needs of consumers.

However, thanks to Bitcoin, we can now see that this warehousing service was in demand due to physical factors and not fundamental ones. Bitcoin has all the attributes of traditional money but adds two advantages: it is weightless and takes up no physical space.

The money is “stored” in the cloud on the blockchain. The personal wallet serves the function of providing access via double-key cryptography. If you have your private key — and this can be on physical paper or on a device not even connected to the internet — you have all you need to set up your own private banking empire. Anyone in the world can do it without trust relationships, personal identification or credit history. The institutions that seem like banks — services like Coinbase that hold your key for you — maintain a full-reserve policy or risk losing the trust of their customers.

It is impossible to anticipate what kinds of crypto-derivatives will end up being securitized and traded in the future. Surely, the last nine years of the previously impossible should cause everyone to be humble in their predictive outlook. That said, there is good reason to believe that the diminution of counterparty risk inherent in every non-cash transaction will drive markets toward greater accountability in every sense. And this alone might solve the age-old debate about fractional versus full reserves with the best possible resolution.

The question does not have to be resolved by intellectuals and policies. It is settled by the market, so long as technology permits people to pay for goods and services with a spaceless and weightless money that requires no warehousing.

Clearing

As for clearing, the single most difficult-to-grasp feature of Bitcoin is the manner in which it reduces or eliminates counterparty risk associated with monetary exchange. Transactions are cleared as they are made. This has never before been possible in the history of money and finance on a geographically noncontiguous basis. With traditional money, for clearing to occur instantly, you have to actually be there, trading physical dollars for goods and services.

Cryptocurrency reproduces this exact financial arrangement on a peer-to-peer basis between any two individuals anywhere in the world. You are literally trading your stuff for his or her stuff. Ownership titles are rearranged when the transaction is confirmed in the ledger.

What role is then here for traditional banks to be the guardians of settlement? When it comes to clearing services, so far as I can tell, that role is eliminated for all transactions that are settled in the instant of their confirmation (the time delay involved in moving crypto is nothing more than a delay; it creates no credits).

What About Credit?

We are habituated into thinking that the whole world runs on credit. That’s because it does. This isn’t because we are financially irresponsible, are unable to say no, absolutely adore large financial institutions or are willing to pay high rates of interest. It’s because the sophistication of modern financial technology has been hobbled by old-fashioned payment technology that still operates today the way it did in the time of the Medicis.

In any case, the fundamentals are the same in conventional finance today as compared with the Medicis. It still relies on trust relationships, credit instruments that represent property but do not embody it, and a time delay for transactions to clear. As a result, every transaction that is not conducted in person via cash depends on some extension of credit and thus involves intermediating third parties, and that in turn necessarily involves some counterparty risk.

It is fascinating how little we understand this today, but the truth becomes obvious on close examination: Every transaction today is either based on cash (instant title exchange and clearing) or credit (which involves trust relationships and counterparty risk). Services like Venmo, Google Payments, PayPal or dozens of others are no different in this respect from Visa, Mastercard or American Express. They can be more or less expensive, charge different user fees, and employ different interfaces and security protocols. But in the end, these services all rely on credit terms and do not offer instant clearing. They simply cannot because the decrepit technology of national monies does not allow it.

Cryptocurrency as a means of facilitating exchange is different in another respect. Its value is not tied to a nationalized currency at all. Not only that, it has no value as a commodity or asset at all. Its value is based on the use value of services provided by the cloud-based distributed ledger.

The massive use of credit-based exchanges as we see in national monies would not exist in Bitcoin precisely because the technology disintermediates the financial industry, removing both the need for trust relationships as well as clearing services. Might there emerge a market for crypto-substitute monetary derivatives? Only the evolution of these markets can reveal this for sure, but this much remains true. It will not be about creating new money being allowed by the protocol. The distinction between money and money substitutes will be clear and not obscured by retrograde documentation technology.

At the same time, the scaling problem of prevailing blockchain solutions will likely necessitate a convention of using off-chain platforms for smaller transactions, as Nick Szabo has suggested. Such transactions do involve counterparty risk but not credit creation as such; such networks operate more like debit cards. The main blockchains will likely be used for final settlements while “lightning networks” become trust-based credit tools (money substitutes) — by choice but not by necessity.

Additionally, the massive industry associated with credit-based transactions includes a vast machinery of fraud prevention and prevention of identity theft. This is also made unnecessary because identity is cryptographic and not personal.

Credit Markets

All this said, there is still a role for credit markets in cryptocurrency. They emerge precisely as they would in a purely specie-based monetary regime in which everyone carried around their own coins or stored them in the home. If you have excess monetary reserves in your own possession, you may be willing to loan them for others to use and do so at a profit. In order to reduce the risk of default and guarantee your investment, you need collateral; this can take any form. You also need to establish a trust relationship, same as with any other loan market.  

The difference is subtle but foundational. When you loan virtual money, you lose title to that money, just as if you had transferred physical property. Contractual terms would specify the ways in which a later exchange would occur in accordance with the terms of use. Again, the way to think about this is how it works in a cash economy: You loan a friend $20 and hand him cash. You cannot get it back by force. As the lender you rely on establishing a contractual relationship that creates expectations for future payment, along with some measure of risk.

These markets have already developed. Companies like Bitbond and BTCPOP offer services both for lending money and borrowing money, with the terms of exchange favoring both parties. For now, such standalone services are risky simply because the upstart sector is replete with sketchy schemes and fraud (“Lend your BTC to me and I will pay you back, I promise.”).

Much more promising is a simple margin lender service provided by dollar/Bitcoin exchanges themselves. The borrower does not take direct possession of the coins but is rather extended by the exchange at the behest of the customer who wants to earn a regular rate of return. An example is the lending service provided by Poloniex. The trouble these markets have so far encountered is that holding crypto is more profitable than lending it at prevailing rates. This might not always be true.

As these markets develop, it would not be a surprise to discover that the rate of return for the lender would be above the rate one would earn from nationalized money. The risk of default would not be guaranteed in any way as with government-backed financial institutions, much less a central bank that is capable of printing unlimited amounts of money. On the other hand, this would also eliminate the moral hazard of making unwise loans or securitizing debt obligations without proper documentation, such as happened during the housing bubble.

In the century of central banking, we’ve seen interest rates decline inexorably and the terms of credit issuance shifting dramatically to favor longer terms, ever less collateral and ever more confusing titles for ownership. In cryptocurrency-based credit markets, we are likely to see the opposite trend: shorter terms, higher collateral requirements, very clear titles demarcating indisputable rights of ownership and enforcement of terms built into lending protocols.

The Future of Sound Money

Christine Lagarde is right: There are dramatic challenges to the status quo that are being offered up by the advent of cryptocurrency. Monetary exchange will operate the same as cash exchange, and the sophistication of our payment and settlement technologies will sync up with the sophistication of our financial tools.

In some respects, cryptocurrency might appear to be more stingy than our current highly leveraged, unstable and centrally regulated systems. In contrast, the new world will be financially sound, stable, radically disintermediated, decentralized and democratized because anyone, of any financial means and access to financial institutions, can participate within it.

We’ve only begun to think about what a radical change it would be if our money actually gained value over time (as crypto has for nine years, and the dollar did in the late 19th century), so that you actually grow more wealthy merely by not spending. Such a change would be huge, not only for finance but also for the culture at large.

For more than a century, the banking system has been used to fund the state, destabilize the economy, loot private savings, exclude people who don’t have access, promote financial dependency and even make violence possible on an unprecedented scale, all because we didn’t have a different technology for making possible monetary exchange. That monopoly is now being shattered. Sound money is born. The panic of the ruling class has just begun.

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Tucker. Opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: Is There a Future for Banking in a Cryptocurrency-Dominated World? appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 11 October 2017 | 7:42 am

Hyperledger and Linux to Offer a Massive Open Online Blockchain Course

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Hyperledger, the international blockchain collaboration of corporate giants and young startups in partnership with the Linux Foundation, is launching a new free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to meet the rapidly accelerating worldwide demand for blockchain education.

The pace at which the “red hot” blockchain technology market is evolving and increasing in popularity makes it difficult for the established education system to keep up with the demand.

In an announcement, Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger said:

"Interest in blockchain technology is exploding. Software developers, product teams, and business managers are all desperately eager to figure out how this technology can solve real-world problems.

"This first introductory-level course is carefully designed for both non-technical and technical audiences, to bring everyone further up the learning curve and get started with it on their own business needs.”

The Linux Foundation, responsible for training and certifying more developers in open source software than any organization in the world, together with the worldwide open source community, is aiming to solve the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology community in history.  

The MOOC will be on the edX.org website, a free online education platform started by MIT and Harvard University in 2012. The site is now a collaborative effort of more than 50 top-rated universities and colleges including Cornell, University of California Berkeley, the Sorbonne, McGill, Juilliard, the University of Hong Kong, Oxford, Notre Dame, the University of Tokyo and the University of Toronto.

MOOC is Designed for Technical and Non-Technical Audiences

Some universities, like the University of Edinburgh, MIT, Stanford, University of California Berkeley and Princeton University, have already begun to offer courses in blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies at the college level, while a new Blockchain University is tailoring its courses to professionals looking to upgrade their knowledge. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus offers the world’s first MSc in Digital Currency. But these courses are designed for the post-secondary and graduate knowledge level markets.

In contrast, Hyperledger’s MOOC is set up for both beginners and trained developers, and includes an introduction to the Hyperledger organization and its key business blockchain platforms, including Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth.

It covers key features of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, current Hyperledger projects and common use cases, and the differences between various types of Hyperledger projects in the fields of finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains and manufacturing technologies.

The course includes how to install Hyperledger Fabric and Sawtooth frameworks and how to build simple applications on top of the Fabric and Sawtooth frameworks.

In a statement, edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal noted:

“Hyperledger and blockchain are two key skillsets that are increasingly in demand in today’s digital world. Our global community of learners have told us that they are seeking courses to help them gain the career-relevant skills they need for the modern workplace. We are thrilled to once again partner with the Linux Foundation to offer a course on this popular, in-demand subject that will provide the building blocks needed for success within the exciting and rapidly expanding field of blockchain technologies.”

Recent job numbers show that the demand for cryptocurrency jobs has doubled in the past six months and are soon to triple from 2016. The job board AngelList reports that cryptocurrency job postings remain one of the largest non-corporate startup opportunities..

Pre-registration is now open. The free Hyperledger course will become fully available on October 25, 2017 (with the option to add a verified certificate of completion for $99).

The post Hyperledger and Linux to Offer a Massive Open Online Blockchain Course appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 10 October 2017 | 1:35 pm

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $ 3,000

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

October 17, 2017 -
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