Elon Musk: Bitcoin is ‘Brilliant, Far Better’ than Paper Money; Tesla Isn’t Jumping in Just Yet

Nearly everywhere Elon Musk goes, people want to talk about Tesla. On Tuesday, however, the media magnet went along with a change in focus by discussing his views about cryptocurrencies. His opinions come within months of a Bitcoin-related tweet that landed him in hot water with the social media platform. He ended up getting his account suspended by Twitter. Musk discussed this and more in a very lighthearted interview with Ark Invest. We had @elonmusk on the latest episode of @ARKInvest's podcast! He had a few things to say about Bitcoin. "Paper money is going away and cryptocurrency is a

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Mastercard, Visa Greed Could be the Catalyst For Merchants Accepting Bitcoin

Visa and Mastercard are reportedly on the cusp of hiking fees they charge merchants who accept credit and debit cards. They could hike the fees they charge merchants as early as April, according to the Wall Street Journal. While the behemoth credit card payment processors anticipate the move will help them further line their financial coffers, merchants could be chased away. In the wings waiting for them is the crypto space, where Bitcoin payments are a lot cheaper to process. A few observers of the happenings told CCN about how merchants stand to gain from these looming higher fees. Unrelenting

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No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio

In an age where governments are trigger happy at censoring or shutting down networks, it is reassuring to know that Bitcoin can operate sans internet. Network censorship, after all, is not some dystopian storyline but a power exercised by many democratic governments across the world. Thankfully, there are solutions that enable people to send and receive bitcoin even in a worst case scenario. For an advanced technology, it turns out that cryptocurrency can get surprisingly low-tech.

Also read: Bitcoin and Weak Frequency Signals: Bypassing Network Censorship With Radio

Send Bitcoin by Radio and Circumvent Network Censorship

Imagine waking up one morning to find that the internet is down. Not because the wifi’s been disconnected: instead, your government has pulled the plug . You’ve no idea when it’ll be back online, and in the meantime, you’re cut off from life as you know it, ranging from contact with loved ones abroad to paying for anything by card. Since society isn’t big on keeping cash these days, and ATMs stock up on only so much paper money at a time, chances are you’ll have to sidestep – or engage in – a few fistfights if you’re to put a meal on the table.

Since bitcoin is, itself, a form of digital currency, it takes a good amount of preplanning to set up a transaction, but in theory, it could still operate even when conventional options are forcefully removed from the equation.

While most of us will hopefully never experience a dystopian world of intermittent internet, the productivity sages remind us that a failure to plan is planning to fail. Knowing how to transact with cryptocurrency in a chaotic world is the sort of knowledge that might just come in handy one day, and in the meantime will make you the most interesting guest at the dinner party.

Depending on the political stability of your geographic location, learning how to send bitcoin without internet could be nothing more than a fun Saturday afternoon science project. Then again, it could provide the way out of a tight spot one day, whether it’s transferring funds to a buddy stuck in the middle of the ocean or bribing a zombie to feast on the coins stored in your brain wallet instead of devouring your brain.

Bitcoin Over Airwaves

2014 saw the earliest mentions of bitcoin being sent via the airwaves. Hamradiocoin was one of the early vanity altcoins, geared at the ham radio industry. While it wasn’t entirely clear why said niche industry needed a dedicated currency, its current $794 market cap – unchanged since May 2017 – adds to crypto’s rich historical arsenal of questionable coins.

But the idea of marrying Marconi and Satoshi was bound to lead to more useful experiments. A step in the right direction saw Finnish company Vertaisvaluutta.fi propose the creation of a P2P half-duplex CB/HAM radio cryptocurrency. Also in Finland, Kryptoradio partnered with a national broadcaster to pilot a cryptocurrency data transmission system that broadcasts bitcoin transactions, blocks, and currency exchange data via national DVB-T television networks in real time. The project failed to launch its commercial phase, with founder Joel Lehtonen explaining:

The project raised huge audience and there has been some serious commercial interest but nothing I am really interested in because they would destroy the original idea of Kryptoradio – distributing the Bitcoin ledger autonomously without internet connectivity.

Come 2018, there was a new experiment in town. Ingredients: Brooklyn-based gotenna, a mobile, long-range, off-grid consumer mesh network, and bitcoin privacy wallet Samourai Wallet. A New Zealand developer transported crypto from a distance of 12.6km away, entirely offline, using only a network-disconnected Android phone and four portable antennas. Though as his Twitter recount acknowledges, it took one heck of a prep, including setting up relay stations.

Fast forward to this year, and in perhaps the most simplistic effort yet, Coinkite founder Rodolfo Novak managed to move BTC some 600km away from Toronto, Canada to Openbazaar co-founder Sam Patterson in Michigan, USA. And in that moment, Bitcoin-by-sky went international.

Advocates for Bitcoin by Air

In 2017, computer scientist Nick Szabo and PhD researcher Elaine Ou delved into the topic at Stanford’s Scaling Bitcoin conference, introducing a research project that proposed tethering bitcoin to radio broadcast to secure consensus proofs using weak signal radio propagation. (View their talk, a copy of the presentation, and our coverage of the event for further information.)

With Novak and Patterson’s latest feat, crypto Twitter went wild. Szabo, showing that he’s still a firm proponent of taking bitcoin skyward, chimed in to congratulate the duo for a successful sendoff that not even a snowstorm could stop.

How to Send Bitcoin by Radio

As Novak and Patterson have illustrated, you don’t need to overload on gear or make space for satellite storage in your backyard to send bitcoin by air. Accompanying an SDR ham on this quest was nothing more than a 40m 7Mhz antenna and the JS8call application.

While the setup seems simple enough (Google “ham radio for beginners” for a primer), in practice this is probably not something you’ll dive into unless you’re just messing around or, in real life, shit gets real.

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio
Gearing up is as easy as H-A-M

In truth, there are restrictions aplenty when it comes to sending bitcoin by radio.

First off, legalities. To stay on the right side of the law, some countries require you to be a licensed ham operator, and even then you’re unable to send any encrypted messages or use the airwaves for commercial purposes unless so licensed. At this point, it’s not yet clear which governmental task force will join the SEC and co in clamping down on illegal apocalyptic bitcoin-via-radio transactions.

Since legal restriction is the mother of all invention, Novak and Patterson circumvented this by broadcasting their experimental, non-commercial wallet encryption sendoff via public cypher.

Then there’s prepping it all. For this to be a viable – albeit last resort – solution in an actual nail-bite situation, sender and receiver would have to set it all up in advance. Novak and Patterson were able to execute their experiment by communicating and collaborating in lieu of the transfer, using a brain wallet. (The brainwallet, which is simply storing your mnemonic recovery phrase in your brain, is not to be confused with the recent more nefarious version – the deathwallet popularized by CEO Gerald Cotten who took the keys to Quadriga’s crypto kingdom to his grave.)

Thus, if you’re going to use this as a backup plan for when stuff hits the fan, you’d better secure a right-hand wo/man and a fool-proof project management blueprint while things are still web-friendly. If this process seems as though it walked off the pages of a James Bond novel, yes. It’s decidedly more involved than a mere intra-wallet send-off.

However, if you’re gung-ho on testing out alternative bitcoin transports, don’t let the naysayers stop you. Yours might well be the next proof of concept the interweb is waiting for. The blog Better Off Bitcoin, for one, offers a run-through protocol tutorial.

Scalability Is a Big Bottleneck

Clearly, scaling is a non-issue here. For the foreseeable future, sending bitcoin by radio isn’t happening unless it absolutely has to.

According to Australian crypto trader Boss Cole, “As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are moving into the future, it is an interesting concept to think about what would happen if we instead went into the past. It is possible and easy to transfer Bitcoin without an internet connection, but it is not convenient. There are a number of projects working on this with satellites or their own infrastructure, however at the time of this writing they are not “popular” simply because there is no real demand.” He continues:

In the case of government censorship, the infrastructure would change rapidly. If we were dealing with serious problems, the infrastructure would follow. Because it is possible. If we went into the dark ages, the main way to transfer Bitcoin would be transferring private keys between individuals. This would be simple, but not convenient.

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio
Not even extreme weather conditions can deter the determined from sending bitcoin via radio waves

So while it’s theoretically possible to take to the skies and send crypto wallets around the world and all the way into space, DIY bitcoin ionosphere amateurs won’t be sending satoshis to the dark side of the moon any time soon.

Why Radio Wave Transmission Might Be Necessary

We tend to associate worst-case scenarios in which the main character has nothing but a walkie talkie and an old ham lying around with Hollywood’s portrayal of doomsday.

Yet for unstable regimes like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, internet blackouts were how 2019 got its start. In reality, network censorship is an all-too-common control tool for many governments around the world.

India leads the pack with 288 shutdowns between 2012 and 2019, with 134 instances in 2018 alone. The Middle East and Africa aren’t strangers to forcing citizens into offline mode, either.

Under the Communications Act 2003 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, the U.K. has an internet kill switch, which could be enforced in light of a serious threat such as a significant cyber attack. The U.S. has had, for the past 85 years, the power to kill electronic communications under the Communications Act of 1934. And with talks of Russia considering a test run to decouple from the global internet, we risk taking a rude awakening if we assume the world’s 72,558 Google searches every second to be an unquestionable given.

Bitcoin for Every Situation

It might have taken a mini-library worth of code to get NASA astronauts to the moon, but sending bitcoin there won’t be nearly as hard. All you need is a radio. Okay, that and a moon rocket. But the point is, this new technology can be just as comfortable – or accessible – even when when the tech you’re using is decidely old school.

Bitcoin might have been invented on the internet for the internet, but it can straddle both the digital and analog worlds. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin walk the line between money under the mattress and cash in the bank. As these trailblazers show, bitcoin can straddle those worlds not only functionally, but also technically. Thanks to the efforts of the pioneers profiled here, crypto has shown it can survive in even the most challenging environments.

Sending bitcoin by radio isn’t quite carrier pigeon, but in tech terms it might as well be. Which, says crypto developer John Villar, is “probably the most low end you can get before smoke-signaling a brain wallet.”

Can you envision a situation in which you might have to send bitcoin by ham radio? What other ways could you picture cryptocurrency being transferred without the internet? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com.

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Ether to Have Dealt with the Major Crypto Issue

By Dmitriy Gurkovskiy, Chief Analyst at RoboForex

The ETH is rising on Tue, Feb 19, trading at around $147.19.

The ascending trend broke out the resistance and reached 76%, now the coin may bounce back to $137.20 in the short term, and then target the major high at $160.44.

ethusd

On H1, the Stochastic formed a black cross in the overbought territory, which signals a possible pullback with the targets at 23.60% ($141.20), 38.20% ($136.30), and 50% ($132.30) Fibo. In case the high at $149.28 gets broken out, the price is likely to hit the resistance at $157.

ethusd

This time, the ETH price went up due to fundamentals. Streamr presented Monoplasma, a scalability technology that in fact is able to solve the major crypto problem, making Ether quicker and more effective.

Steamr may be applied to DAPPS, including for distribution. Henri Pihkala, Steamr CEO, sent dummy tokens to 200,000 Ethereum addresses in order to demonstrate the technology. Working with it is like taking the TV signal: you can get money with a transaction, but can’t send it back. With such a ‘one-to-many’ technology, the users will be able to re-distribute the values through a large dynamic set of Ethereum addresses.

Monoplasma, however, will not only be used for money distribution, its initial purpose being dividend distribution and bet fees.

Monoplasma has a double protection system enabled against hacker attacks, which is a good idea, as tokens get very often hacked. ETH made new yearly highs thanks to the news on Monoplasma release.

Meanwhile, on Feb 27, the Constantinople hard fork is finally due to take place, which should also support the token.


Disclaimer

Any predictions contained herein are based on the authors’ particular opinion. This analysis shall not be treated as trading advice. RoboForex shall not be held liable for the results of the trades arising from relying upon trading recommendations and reviews contained herein.

Image(s): Shutterstock.com

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Gambling with Cryptocurrency: Is it legal?

Anyone who might question the continued growth of the online gambling industry has surely been living under a rock. The reality is this industry is one of the fastest growing industries on the Internet.

In light of this massive expansion that’s spanning the entire globe, there’s a number of issues with which every nation is having to deal. Most of the issues revolve around the legalities of online gambling from one jurisdiction to the next. These issues are sure to have effects on online operators like Casumo. It’s notable that the US, one of the world’s largest consumers of gambling products, is seeing a number of states that have moved forward with the legalization of online casino gambling and online sports betting for its residents. Given the huge tax revenue incentives for the states associated with such legislation, it’s a good bet every state will eventually allow online gambling operations within its respective states.

Cryptocurrency and the Online Gambling Industry

Thanks in large part to some amazing advancements in the world of technology, there’s a new issue for each nation to contemplate in the online gambling realm. That new issue involves the use of cryptocurrency as a legal means of funding gambling accounts. Cryptocurrencies are managed through a process known as “blockchain technology.”

Here’s a brief definition of blockchain technology: Blockchain is a distributed database or ledger spread over a network of electronic devices where records of cryptocurrency transactions are kept, away from revision or from tampering.

By definition, this means of exchange is making national governments nervous because it eliminates the middleman (banks, credit card processors) and the transparency the taxing agencies like to see for accountability. At a broader level, each country is working to determine the legality of using digital currency by its residence.

At a lower level, the online gambling industry is wrestling with the same issues. Moving forward, online gambling will likely be looking at Bitcoin as a favorite casino banking option because of the low fees, fast transactions and the anonymity offered by the blockchain technology. Let’s take a quick look at where each major gambling jurisdiction currently stands on the issue cryptocurrency for the online gambling industry.

UK – In the UK, all gambling operations fall under the rules and regulations set forth by the UK Gambling Commission. The first and most important requirement for online gambling operators wishing to provide services within the UK is the proper licensing provided by the UKGC. To date, any online gambling operator that holds the required licensing is free to accept cryptocurrency as a mode of banking.

Australia & New Zealand – Overall, Australian online gambling operations are governed by the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). Under said law, online casino gambling operators are not permitted to operate within the country. However, online sports books and race books are legal. There are no laws that prohibit Australian residents from using offshore services in countries that will permit such participation. It’s further noted that most Australians can use cryptocurrencies when the accommodating jurisdiction permits it. The one caveat is Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) has issued an informal ban against the use of cryptocurrencies by its residents. In New Zealand, residents fall under the Gambling Act of 2003, which states residents are permitted to gamble offshore. The legality of using cryptocurrencies is therefore remanded to the offshore gambling jurisdiction.

US – As noted, the legalization of online gambling in the US has a long way to go. With only 3-4 states currently on board with such activities, the notion of using cryptocurrencies to fund gambling accounts is yet to be tested. However, the 2006 the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) made clear that banking by electronic means is illegal. With that said, it’s safe to assume cryptocurrencies in not currently a legal means of funding online gambling accounts.

Canada – Canada’s laws closely resemble those as set forth by Australia and New Zealand. There appears to be no regulations in place that would disallow Canadian residents from using cryptocurrencies to fund offshore gambling accounts so long as the proper gambling jurisdiction finds it legal.

In summary, we can expect to see a lot of changes in the coming months/years related to both online gambling and the use of cryptocurrencies. For now, it is the responsibility of each prospective online gambler to understand the laws in the country where their favorite gaming sites are licensed.

Image(s): Shutterstock.com

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How can blockchain technology impact the travel industry?

Traveling these days can be a headache. From security checkpoints and canceled flights at the airport to lost reservations at our favorite hotels – it can be a nightmare. One clear way to cut through some of the difficulties, however, is to utilize the blockchain technology. Is it possible to track every step on the blockchain? From the first reservation made, continuing on through stepping out of the last cab home- are we there yet?

Let’s take a look at how implementing different technologies would create a more secure, faster, cheaper, pleasant and unique experience for the user.

AI in the travel industry

Today, when somebody goes online to book a hotel reservation, often times there will be a chat box available for the user to ask questions. This is an example of AI working in the realm of travel. When there is no customer service representative available these chatbots can obtain and filter information quickly, supplying the user with answers promptly. People want quick service without mistakes. In other words, these chatbots provide just that- a solution. The more information the chatbot communicates, the better it learns to correspond with people. Because a bot can work 24 hours a day 7 days a week without vacation, it reduces costs in paying for employees, thus saving the business time and money.

Intelligent hotels

Intelligent hotels have many benefits. Some hotel chains have even been implementing intelligent features in their rooms. How they do this is; the hotel collects information and preferences from customers such as the type of lighting they prefer, or how warm or cool they like their room. That information is then loaded into a database. This allows the customer to gain more control over their room, and what happens in it. There are hotels that even have intelligent conference rooms where a customer can order more plates or pens if needed.

Ron Galloway explains Hotel Intelligence and blockchain technology in the hotel industry here:

Wynn announced in the summer of 2017 all their rooms (4,748) will be equipped with the Amazon Echo. Allowing customers to interact with Alexa, they will be able to control their drapes, temperature, TV and lighting, along with personal requests. As of February 2019, Amazon announced that Alexa has released it has over 80,000 skills set world-wide.

Some to watch for

LockTrip helps customers find hotels using blockchain technology, totally cutting out the middle man, saving on average of 20%, providing the lowest cost for the customer.

Atlas launched in the summer of 2018 is a decentralized company to watch for this year. It is a Dapp that connects suppliers and consumers alike. It offers commission-free infrastructure to suppliers to list inventory. And consumers are completely accommodated to purchase event tickets or reserve a time at their favorite restaurant. They plan to launch the first half of this year by creating an exchange listing.

Arise Travel plans to use blockchain technology through a cache distribution of hotels and rates all in one place. Hotels set up the nightly rate, and their commission and all connected systems are able to use it at the same time. Through smart contracts, any service can sell that hotel room and make the commission.

In closing

In conclusion, blockchain technology is not as expensive as one may think. It is fairly affordable to implement. And by implementing this tech, it is impacting the travel industry by cutting out the middleman. Eliminating the third party and the supplier profits, blockchain tech can eventually pass some of the savings to the consumers. Companies that use or plan on using the blockchain will know their exact inventory available at all times. The many other benefits available are pricing integrity, validation of transactions and payments, securing customer data and borderless transactions, to name a few. This creates a safer experience for all. It is a win-win for companies and consumers involved.

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Billionaire Bitcoin Bull Tim Draper Has a Wild 5-Year Prediction for Cash and Crypto

Tim Draper has been one of Bitcoin’s most enthusiastic proponents. He was steadfast in his optimism even when other finance gurus thought he was crazy for giving the new-fangled crypto the time of day. Forgetting about the naysayers, Draper became about $89 million richer for sticking to his Bitcoin guns. He was steadfast while others, including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, made jokes about Bitcoin being tulips. FOMA, or simply recognizing the staying power of cryptos, JP Morgan shocked the financial community this month when it announced it would be the first major institutional bank to release its own cryptocurrency.

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Major Crypto Exchange OKEx Adds Four New Margin Trading Pairs

Third-largest cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has added 4 additional crypto assets pairs to its margin trading platform.

Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange OKEx has added four new crypto derivative pairs to its platform, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Feb. 19.

OKEx, the third-largest crypto exchange by trade volume, has announced the listing of Bitcoin SV (BSV), QTUM, DASH and NEO against Bitcoin (BTC) or Tether (USDT) on margin with a 3x leverage option.

Last month, OKEx added seven new crypto derivative pairs to its platform, including Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), EOS (EOS), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP), as Cointelegraph reported on Jan. 3.

As Cointelegraph wrote on Dec. 4, the digital asset exchange OKEx had earlier launched a derivative product, dubbed a “perpetual swap,” that supports BTC/USD with up to 100x leverage. In January, the exchange noted that the newly added contracts would only support up to 40x leverage, as opposed to today’s press release noting a 3x leverage option.

Also in December of last year, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex launched margin trading for stablecoin Tether (USDT) against USD, as Cointelegraph reported on Dec. 22.

Earlier today, Cointelegraph wrote that major United States exchange and wallet Coinbase has acquired a blockchain intelligence startup, dubbed Neutrino, underlining that the new deal is aimed at helping add more cryptocurrencies and features to Coinbase services.

Fintech Company TrueDigital Appoints Former Bridgewater Associates Executive as CEO

New York-based True Digital announced the appointment of former Bridgewater Associates COO Thomas Kim as its new CEO.

New York-based fintech company TrueDigital Holdings (TDH) announced the appointment of former Bridgewater Associates chief operating officer Thomas Kim as its new CEO through a post on its website on Feb. 19.

Before his time at Bridgewater Associates, which had almost $125 billion assets under management in 2018, Kim worked at now-defunct global financial services firm Lehman Brothers in charge of the Townsend Analytics Electronic Trading franchise.

According to today’s post, Kim will manage TrueDigital’s existing initiatives, such as the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) swaps planned for this year. In January of this year, blockchain platform Qtum also announced that it was introducing Bitcoin atomic swaps to its mainnet infrastructure.

TrueDigital’s announcement states that TrueDigital launched Signature Bank’s blockchain-based payment infrastructure earlier this year, which was approved by the Department of Financial Services of New York (NYDFS) in December 2018.

The aforementioned payment platform also attracted a “significant number of institutions within the first 30 days of operation,” according to the announcement.

As Cointelegraph reported in March of last year, TrueEX — whose affiliate is TDH — partnered with a blockchain tech company led by Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Joseph Lubin, ConsenSys, to create a benchmark rate for the price of Ethereum.

In early December 2017, CBOE had launched the first Bitcoin futures contracts, with CME Group launching the second around a week later.

Walmart Stock Surges on Blowout Earnings, Dow Ain’t Biting

The Dow and U.S. stock market were stuck in neutral on Tuesday despite a blowout earnings report from Walmart, a sign that traders were treading more cautiously ahead of a slew of macroeconomic indicators later in the week. Dow Struggles for Direction Wall Street’s benchmarks traded tepidly through the morning session, mirroring a relatively uneventful pre-market for Dow futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened 34 points lower. It was last seen trading at 25,923.31, having gained 40 points, or 0.15%. The broad S&P 500 Index nudged up 0.1% to 2,778.003, having erased an earlier drop. Six of 11 primary

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Coinbase Neutrino Acquisition Reveals History Of Spying and Gov’t Data Selling

surveillance camera Coinbase

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is facing an increasing publicity nightmare after it emerged the CEO of a company it took over sold private user data to governments.


Coinbase: Neutrino ‘Will Help Prevent Theft’

Announced February 19, Coinbase now owns Italian blockchain surveillance startup Neutrino, having acquired the company for an undisclosed sum.

“By analyzing data on public blockchains, Neutrino will help us prevent theft of funds from peoples’ accounts, investigate ransomware attacks, and identify bad actors,” engineering director Varun Srinivasan wrote in an accompanying blog post.

It will also help us bring more cryptocurrencies and features to more people while helping ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

Neutrino’s staff will now relocate to Coinbase’s London office and will continue working as before without redundancies.

Neutrino CEO Worked For ‘First Police Spyware Sellers’

No sooner had Coinbase revealed the takeover did cryptocurrency industry participants immediately sound the alarm over Neutrino’s roots.

Giancarlo Russo, its CEO, previously worked as COO of HackingTeam, a Milan-based outfit with a scandalous reputation. Described by Verge as “the first sellers of commercial hacking software to the police,” HackingTeam’s spyware enables clients to engage in a huge number of surveillance activities.

These include the covert collection of emails, SMS messages, call history and address book data, as well as keystroke logging, phone tapping of Skype calls and even data about cryptocurrency wallet usage.

A further article in UK newspaper the Telegraph in 2015 saw the company’s founder David Vincenzetti confirm such capabilities were being sold to governments and other entities in 20 countries.

Social media commentators picked up the HackingTeam connection with the Coinbase acquisition, while others appeared to quickly catch on.

“[G]oodbye (Coinbase)… not interested in having my data, identity, and crypto ownership data served to every government agency on a silver platter,” CoinShares CSO Meltdem Demirors added in her own response.

As Bitcoinist reported, Coinbase has felt the pressure from elsewhere this month. In another questionable security move, the exchange now allows users to store the private keys to wallets in the cloud.

What do you think about Coinbase acquiring Neutrino? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post Coinbase Neutrino Acquisition Reveals History Of Spying and Gov’t Data Selling appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

‘Twitter is a Disaster’: CNN Expat Unloads after Reporter Exposed Dishing out Wardrobe Advice to Kamala Harris

A CNN national political reporter provided a glimpse of the cozy relationship between some members of the press and political elite Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) in a Twitter video that has gone viral. We kind of forced @kamalaharris to try on this awesome oversized rainbow sequin jacket … She snapped it up. @alivitali perfectly named it as “the Mardi Gras Jacket” #2020 #SouthCarolina #CampaignFashionReport pic.twitter.com/2G0NFRkKL6 — Maeve Reston (@MaeveReston) February 16, 2019 The free press was hard at work holding US politicians accountable over the weekend. In an incident that occurred at a boutique fashion shop owned by a female

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Cryptocurrency Can Now Be Purchased at 10,000 French Tobacco Shops

A partnership between French company Digycode and national point of sale (POS) provider Ingenico has gone live, making it possible to buy cryptocurrencies offline at 10,000 tobacco shops in France – just under half of the total number of licensed tabacs in the country. BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, and DASH are currently available, with BCH and XMR scheduled for sale in the near future.

Also read: Bitcoin Goes on Sale in 24 French Tobacco Stores

Significantly Expanding Customer Reach

Digycode, a subsidiary of Toulouse-based parent company Digital Service, has not seen much reseller traction for its crypto services since its launch in August 2017, with only 30 POS spread across the country by the latter half of 2018. Not that this has impacted profits: Digital Service CEO Christopher Villegas reports that the Digycode product, previously in the form of prepaid cards, brought in revenue to the value of €1 million ($1.1 million) serving over 20,000 customers.

Their hitherto limited reach is now set to change thanks to a triage partnership agreement with payment solutions firm Ingenico and numerous tobacco outlets dotted all over the nation. Ingenico has POS terminals in 10,000 shops spread out across the country, significantly broadening Digycode’s end-customer reach. In effect, this gives Digycode access to a 42% market capture of the 24,000 licensed tobacco shops open for business.

Cryptocurrency Can Now Be Purchased at 10,000 French Tobacco Shops
Buyers can pinpoint their closest participating tabac crypto seller on the Digycode website

A Packet of Smokes and Some Bitcoin, S’il Vous Plait

In France, tabacs, as tobacco outlets are commonly known, sell more than just nicotine. They also offer national lottery tickets, resell mobile recharge vouchers, act as utility bill payment points, and have a selection of newspapers and magazines up for grabs. Thus, in customer’s minds, it’s a one-stop-shop for miscellaneous on-the-go transactions.

The service, which went live on Feb. 11 2019, is available at all tabacs equipped with Devlyx cash registers – a brand particularly popular with tobacconists and newsagents. Thanks to this agreement, consumers can now turn cryptocurrency investors as easily as lighting a cigarette.

Shoppers can purchase vouchers to the value of €20 ($23), €50 ($57), or €200 ($226), and convert them for the crypto of their choice on the Digycode website, where they’ll be added to the user’s wallet. On the menu is bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), ripple (XRP), and DASH.

Better Benefits, Higher Fees?

According to Villegas, the hefty 8 percent service fee will be offset by the value-added benefits that differentiates this service offering from online purchasing platforms, including privacy concerns with sharing bank details online, scam concerns on unrecognized platforms, and “devirtualization” of digital currency by bringing it into the real world.

The company is no stranger to the world of virtual currency. Digital Service has been active in the country’s crypto space since 2014. In 2016, it launched bitcoin purchasing platform Zebitcoin and extended its service offering in 2018 with the launch of Zebitex, the first euro-crypto exchange in France.

Regulators’ Stance

In November 2018, overeager reporting by French radio station Europe1 stated that the Federation of Tobacconists had obtained authorization to act as cryptocurrency point of sales. Both the Federation and the Banque de France, the country’s central Bank, were quick to clarify that no such agreement had been reached.

Instead, what was being referred to was a commercial agreement between POS-terminal supplier Bimedia and bitcoin platform Keplerk. The partnership would enable tabacs to provide coupon sales for the Keplerk platform, a service that came into effect in January 2019.

Cryptocurrency Can Now Be Purchased at 10,000 French Tobacco Shops
The French have been able to start the new year with an interesting new addition to their daily tabac shopping options

French regulators continue to maintain the position that cryptocurrencies, as speculative assets, should not be deemed currency, and has issued several warnings to lay investors that partaking in such investments are done at their own risk. Since cryptocurrency sales are legal tender, authorities have no bearing on such transactions.

Small Steps Lead to Giant Leaps

Similar to Zebitcoin, Digycode requires KYC. The initial onboarding process, therefore, isn’t quite as plug-and-play as tabac clientèle will be accustomed. Seeing a “Bitcoin sold here” sign at the corner store is also not akin to lining up to buy it. On the other hand, with cryptocurrency continuing to gain traction and the Yellow Vest movement burning banknotes, it could very well be a case of “build it and they will come.”

While the availability of cryptocurrency at convenience shops is a way off from actively fostering adoption, awareness and availability are crucial first steps.

Digital Service CTO Pierre-Guy Bareges explained to news.Bitcoin.com:

We strive to democratize access to cryptocurrencies for the general public by making local availability and simplicity at the core of our product. Prior to Digycode, buying cryptos in cash was a cumbersome experience especially if you happened to live in small towns or rural areas.

He divulged that they’re planning expansion to other European countries and French territories abroad, as well as the addition of other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin cash (BCH) and monero (XMR).

With this move, Villegas’ grand vision that “anyone [in France] will be able to buy bitcoins for less than 10 kilometers from home” could become a reality.

What are your thoughts on French tabacs starting to sell cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Digycode.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Cryptocurrency Can Now Be Purchased at 10,000 French Tobacco Shops appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Japan’s Central Bank Examines Central Bank Digital Currencies in New Report

Japan’s central bank examines central bank digital currencies in a new report, laying out their benefits and drawbacks.

Japan’s central bank has examined the role of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in the current monetary system in a report released on Feb. 19.

In the document, the bank describes the possible ways to implement a CBDC and the hypothetical consequences of different approaches. The report divides possible CBDCs in two categories, the first being those accessible to the general public in a form like banknotes, and the other as those limited for large-value settlements.

The source of this categorization is attributed to the report released by the Bank for International Settlements in March 2018, which divided CBDCs in general purpose and wholesale CBDCs.

Moreover, after explaining that CBDCs of the latter kind wouldn’t bring many new features to the monetary system, the Japanese report’s authors focused on the first kind throughout most of the document. The report also noted that distributed ledger technology and blockchain could be used for a token-based CBDC.

As Cointelegraph reported in October last year, the deputy governor of Japan’s central bank, Masayoshi Amamiya, has expressed a negative stance towards central bank-issued digital currencies.

More recently, South Korea’s central bank issued a warning over central bank digital currencies a week after saying it would not introduce one itself.

Crypto Dividends: Staking Coins for Gains Potentially a Good Strategy in a Bear Market but Is Not Without Risk

According to Bloomberg, investors turn to staking for gains in the crypto bear market, but there are risks.

Volatility coupled with one of the longest bear markets ever experienced by the cryptocurrency industry have compelled many investors to consider staking as a method of “playing it safe,” according to a Bloomberg article.

Staking, which is similar to earning dividends or interest on your investment, is not a new concept. However, in a long bear market, it does become more prevalent among cryptocurrency investors, as possible gains from regular trading are not as fruitful. As Kyle Samani, managing partner at Multicoin Capital Management, stated to Bloomberg:

“Regardless of market conditions, staking provides returns denominated in the asset being staked. If you’re going to be long, you might as well stake."

Staking rewards are a byproduct of the proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, first introduced by Sunny King and Scott Nadal in a white paper in 2012 for peer-to-peer cryptocurrency Peercoin (PPC).

Since then, hundreds of cryptocurrencies have adopted a PoS consensus algorithm as a method to verify transactions.

Proof-of-stake, explained

The majority of cryptocurrencies use either proof-of-work (PoW) or PoS — or some iteration of it.

PoW relies on the proof that a certain amount of work has been done to verify transactions. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum use PoW to validate transactions, although Ethereum has been making it clear that they will be moving to a PoS system, called Casper, as part of the Serenity network update expected for later in 2019.

At an August 2018 Blockchain at Berkeley event, hosted by the student-run organization Origin, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, stated he can’t wait for all crypto networks to move away from PoW:

“I am seriously looking forward to when the cryptocurrency community basically passes away with proof-of-work.”

With PoW, nodes (or miners) compete to verify blocks of transactions by running highly specialized and expensive processing equipment (such as Application Specific Integrated Circuits, or ASICs) to solve complex mathematical equations. The first node to solve the equation can add the next block of transactions and collect the reward, which could either be a set amount or percentage of the transaction fee. The process, also called mining, has a number of drawbacks:

  • It is highly energy intensive (the Bitcoin network consumes almost the same amount of energy as the entire country of Singapore).
  • The high energy dependence is not only expensive but also bad for the environment in countries where nonrenewable fossil fuels (such as coal) is burned to generate electricity.
  • Specialized mining equipment requires a significant upfront investment, which can be risky, considering that rewards are not guaranteed.
  • With the advent of large centralized mining pools, the risk of a 51 percent attack on PoW networks is a very real threat.

PoS, on the other hand, only requires network participants to hold a certain amount of the native cryptocurrency in a specific wallet for a certain period of time. This is called staking and doesn’t call for any expensive computer equipment or massive amounts of processing power to solve complex mathematical equations.

Key differences from POW are:

  • Nodes are often called “validators” rather than “miners.”
  • There’s no specialized computer hardware requirement to become a node, which means the burden on power resources is drastically reduced. This is not only cheaper but also more eco-friendly.
  • With PoS, there’s no threat of centralized mining pools.
  • A 51 percent attack would be much more expensive to carry out. In order to take control of a PoS network, an individual or entity would have to purchase 51 percent of the available tokens. Not only that but, if you owned 51 percent of the tokens, you would want to do everything in your power to see the network succeed and continue to turn a profit. That means you are less likely to do anything to defraud the blockchain.

PoW & PoS

Different levels of PoS staking for different levels of rewards

It is common in PoS cryptocurrencies to award those with a bigger vested interest in the network with bigger benefits. This is both in network authority (such as voting weight) and rewards.

As such, cryptocurrency networks will often offer different levels of staking — i.e., the more coins you lock away for staking, the bigger the network will reward you.

This gives rise to two distinguishable types of staking: masternode staking and non-node staking.

Masternode staking to validate transactions

Masternodes are network participants that are tasked with validating and authenticating transactions on a PoS blockchain.

To apply for a masternode, participants will generally have to comply with some minimum requirements. This will be different from network to network but may include locking away a set number of tokens (typically a large minimum), being a network participant and holding tokens for a certain period of time, and being an active community member with a good reputation. The number of masternode positions will generally also be limited.

Rewards are distributed as part of the network fees (transaction fees) and tend to be big, as the vested interest in the network needs to be big. But the barrier to entry is also quite high — i.e., you would need a large initial investment to become a masternode.

For example, to become a Neo masternode (also called bookkeepers or consensus nodes), a participant will need to stake 1,000 GAS ($2,150) — the fuel token on the Neo network that represents the right to use the Neo blockchain and is used to pay the network fees for issuing new assets, running smart contracts and storage — to nominate themselves as a bookkeeper and also obtain a consensus authority certificate before Neo community members can vote for them. The Neo mainnet is limited to seven consensus nodes

According to Neo’s economic model, the maintainer of a Neo consensus node will be rewarded with network fees.

Similarly, to apply for masternode status (also called Authority Masternode) on VeChain (VET), a participant will have to stake 25 million VET ($97,500) to be considered and will have to complete Know Your Customer (KYC) verification in the VeChain portal. Its masternode positions are limited to 101 members.

VeChain masternodes are compensated in part by transaction fees and part from a predetermined foundation reward pool.

Non-node staking to earn interest or dividends

Non-node staking is less complicated, and users are not involved in validating transactions. There is no minimum staking amount and often no minimum holding period, meaning the barrier of entry is much lower.

All a network participant has to do is hold the specific cryptocurrency in the network’s dedicated wallet to start earning interest or dividend payouts.

Both the Neo and VeChain examples above have calculators to show you how much you can earn per amount of tokens staked.

NEO Calculator / VeChain Calculator

Other popular PoS cryptocurrencies for staking include Ontology (ONT), Tezos (XTZ), Waves (WAVES), EOS (EOS), Cardano (ADA), Pivx (PIVX), Dash (DASH), Decred (DCR), Livepeer (LPT) and Factom (FCT).

Potential gains and risks of PoS staking

According to POS List and masternodes.online, rewards and earnings for both masternode staking and non-node staking vary significantly between cryptocurrencies, anything from 0.7 percent to well over 1,000 percent.

The possibility of long-term gains has also given birth to a number of startups that focus specifically on providing staking services to investors, including Anchorage, Eon Staking Inc., Figment and Staked.

Perhaps as an indication of the strong market interest in the possibilities of cryptocurrency staking, on Jan. 31, 2019, Staked announced that they raised $4.5 million in seed investment from a number of institutional investors that included Pantera Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Winklevoss Capital, while Anchorage launched on Jan. 23, 2019 after a $17 million funding round led by venture fund Andreessen Horowitz.

PoS staking is not without risk, though. It’s not just a bear market game, it’s a long game. So, a significant level of trust has to be put in the cryptocurrency network — trust that they will make it through the bear market and still be operational on the other side, and trust that they will consistently payout earnings and rewards in the long run.

Another risk is monopolization of a network, where a few large token holders end up getting the lion’s share of the rewards. Linked to the risk of monopolization is the possibility of a 51 percent attack. Although it would be much more expensive and counterintuitive, it is still possible for such an attack to be orchestrated and to devalue the network.

South Korean Capital to Invest Over $1 Billion in Fintech and Blockchain Startups by 2022

The government of Seoul plans to spend $1 billion to support blockchain and fintech startups via an investment fund.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has announced plans to invest more than $1 billion in blockchain and fintech startups by 2022, according to the official announcement published on Feb. 18.

According to the release, the South Korean capital’s government plans to use the “Seoul Innovation Growth Fund” for startups that have various investments problems with Series A funding rounds. The fund, launched last year, will primarily focus on startups related to blockchain and fintech industries.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government announcement underlines that the average investment per company in London and Silicon Valley is approximately $6-7 million, while in Korea, it is only about $1.1 million. Jo In-dong, the head of the economic policy department at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said:

"Innovative startup investments will be the cornerstone of corporate growth that creates innovation in our society and will be a crucial driving force for the growth of innovative venture companies. We will expand our investment to [...] stimulate the startup investment market and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem."

Last month, the capital city’s government announced the launch of the Seoul Blockchain Governance Team, which consists of 100 employees, with the goal to examine the potential and benefits of blockchain applications in various government services, as Cointelegraph wrote on Jan. 31.

As Cointelegraph reported on Oct. 4, the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, revealed a five-year plan, dubbed “Blockchain City of Seoul,” for promoting the development of blockchain-related initiatives in South Korea’s capital city.

Full Moon ahead for ether

We are “mooning” today – today is the day when the Earth and the Moon will come the closest (221,681 miles or 356,761 km) in 2019. In the anticipation of this event, ether started to “moon” yesterday. Has the crypto community been right all along – and the cryptocurrency price fluctuations are correlated with the movement of the Earth’s satellite? Stranger things have happened in the past, but this is unlikely. A more plausible explanation for this phenomenon is the upcoming Constantinople Fork that is currently planned for 7,280,000 which should occur on February 27, 2019

.

Flag of the Republic of Turkey, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The irony here is that crescent is on the flag of Turkey, which is the successor to the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans are those that conquered Constantinople, destroyed the Byzantine Empire, renamed Constantinople to Istanbul, and replaced the cross on Hagia Sophia with the crescent moon. There is no doubt that Mr. Buterin is aware of this historical curiosity as one of the prior forks was called Byzantium – that what Constantinople had been called before emperor Constantin gave it an eponymous name.

But let’s switch back from the history of Constantinople to the history of ether price movements following various Ethereum forks predating the Constantinople fork. There have been seven Ethereum hard forks thus far, four of the forks that had been on the original roadmap and three forks had been ad hoc reactions to the discovered vulnerabilities. We examined the movements in Ether price 30 days prior to the fork versus the price 30 days after the fork for all the past forks except for the very first fork – Frontier – as it took place before ether was introduced into the markets.

The average change for all the forks is an unexciting -0.19%. However, once we segment the forks into “on the roadmap” and “not on the roadmap”, we start seeing more interesting results. The average change for the three forks that were not “on the roadmap” is -20.83% and for the other three, it is 20.45%. Furthermore, if we exclude the Frontier Thawing Fork which took place in 2015 when there was no real market established for ether, then the average change for “on the roadmap” forks becomes 37.50%. And this distinction makes intuitive sense – the forks that were on the original roadmap are expected to add new features, improve efficiency etc., whereas the ad hoc ones pinpoint the shortcomings of the original design and infuse general uncertainty about the overall design of the platform.

Ethereum Hard Forks

The -30 day for the upcoming Constantinople Fork is December 29, 2018, ether price on the closing of that day was $105.01. If we were to forecast the price of ether on the +30 day – assuming that the fork does happen on February 27, 2019 – then we expect $126.48 (based on the average for all the “on the roadmap” forks) or $144.38 (excluding Frontier Thawing Fork). Although at the time of this writing the price of ether has already exceeded even the more liberal prediction, it is important to note that the price doesn’t necessarily move in the linear fashion. In addition, the upcoming fork is only one of many factors that affect the price; other factors could either override the “fork effect” or amplify it. There is no denying the fact that this approach for the prediction of the price movement lacks scientific rigor, it sure beats the “when Moon?” approach.

The post Full Moon ahead for ether appeared first on Crypto Insider.

NEO Establishes US Foothold in Seattle, Mission to Become “Number One Blockchain by 2020”

NEO announced it has established a foothold in the US market with a new office in Seattle, Washington. In an interview, Da Hongfei explains what separates NEO from Ethereum and Bitcoin—and he asserts why he believes NEO could become the number one blockchain by 2020.

Da Hongfei, the founder of NEO, announced at NEO DevCon on Feb. 16th that NEO Global Development had established a base of operations in Seattle, Washington—with immediate plans to begin recruiting. The new offices will give NEO a “significant foothold” in the US market said Hongfei.

The reasoning behind the move: Seattle’s robust software development scene. As the birthplace of companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Expedia—and home to large engineering offices from Facebook, Google, and Twitter—the city is an ideal place to recruit software talent.

To gain greater insight into NEO’s motives for the strategic move, CryptoSlate interviewed founder Da Hongfei on Feb. 17th at DevCon.

Da Hongfei’s North American Vision

To understand the gravity of NEO’s new US offices, it’s important to clarify how NEO is structured. According to Da Hongfei, there are two subsidiary companies under NEO Foundation: NEO Global Development (NGD) and NEO Global Capital (NGC).

NGD is responsible for executing the strategies established by the NEO Foundation and for building out NEO’s software. Meanwhile, NGC is the project’s investment arm responsible for fostering the enterprises around NEO, with Hongfei going as far as to claim that NGC is performing “better than 95 percent of crypto funds all over the world.”

“We are now in Seattle, the hometown of one of the biggest software companies in the world—Microsoft,” Hongfei proclaimed to a crowd of two hundred at DevCon. He went on to make an analogy between NEO and the software juggernaut:

“Nobody knows how to win a platform competition better than Microsoft, especially for computer language frameworks and platforms.”

And, by extension, it seems that Hongfei wants to emulate Microsoft’s success and win the blockchain “platform competition.”

For further insight into the reasons behind the move, during the interview with CryptoSlate he elaborates on why the organization chose Seattle over many other high-tech American cities:

“We tried to compare different locations in the US and Seattle seemed to be the best choice. New York is more for the financial sector. San Francisco or Silicon Valley is good for startups if you want to do fundraising, or [for] more consumer side internet companies. But, if you want to do serious software development, I think Seattle is a better choice.”

He goes on to talk about NGD’s expansion plans for Seattle. For context, there are roughly 45 people working at the NGD offices in Shanghai.

“In Seattle, we will start small but gradually expand. We don’t want all the engineers [for NEO] to move to Seattle and work in the office. NGD Seattle will orchestrate all the things [related to the development effort].”

NEO selected two former Microsoft executives to lead US initiative, John deVadoss and Peng Huang, both of which have over a decade of experience at Microsoft and were deeply involved with the development of .NET, a proprietary software development framework by Microsoft. It is also the primary programming language used by much of NEO’s blockchain.

“We are moving from the industrial economy to the smart economy or digital economy. In the smart economy, a lot of things happen at a global scale. There is different talent in different countries and different cities. The US definitely has lots of lots of talent. We do think that we do need an office in the US and an office in China. So we will have the best of both worlds.”

Executives Behind the NGD Seattle

John deVadoss and Peng Huang are both co-founders of messaging app text11, a machine learning startup that they claim to have “successfully exited.”

DeVadoss is a 15-year Microsoft veteran and software engineer. During his time at the company, deVadoss was responsible for leading .NET in Microsoft’s competition with Java. DeVadoss also was one of the executives responsible for building Microsoft Digital, the segment of Microsoft responsible for tech advisory and consulting—he took the business from $0 to $500 million in revenue.

DeVadoss was appointed as the president for NGD North America and as head of software development for the entire organization.

Meanwhile, Huang is an 11-year Microsoft executive and former strategy and marketing lead for .NET patterns and practices. Huang is now tasked with leading platform strategy for NEO.

What Differentiates NEO from Other Blockchains

During his state of NEO address at DevCon, Hongfei asked the audience:

“Why is NEO different than other blockchains? What’s the difference between NEO and Ethereum?”

To find the answer, Hongfei talks about what makes a blockchain successful. One of the best indicators, he claims, is a community’s sense of “shared mission”:

“If a team or community has a very unified and shared values, a shared vision and mission, then it will likely lead to the success of the community and that blockchain. I think Bitcoin has a very clear vision… Ethereum has a very clear vision, so does NEO.”

Allegedly, it’s not the different governance model or consensus mechanism that separates NEO from Bitcoin and Ethereum. Instead, Hongfei claims that major difference is “design philosophy”:

“The shared value of the communities [in NEO] is pragmatic idealism. Pure pragmatism can’t imagine a bold future and pure idealism can’t get anything done. It’s the delicate blend of both that drives innovation [for NEO].”

During the interview, he elaborates what constitutes “pragmatic idealism”:

“We are not trying to go directly at the goal. We will see what are the obstacles. Some of the obstacles we will overcome, some of them we will work around. So we are more pragmatic than other blockchains. We will find the balance and sweet point between efficiency and decentralization, between current success and future success.”

Ultimately, Hongfei’s talk about design philosophy ties into NEO’s larger mission, to become the “number one blockchain,” and not by brand recognition or coin market cap. According to Hongfei, the number one blockchain is the platform with the “best performance, a diversified ecosystem, and compliant solutions.”

“We set our mission to make NEO the number one blockchain by 2020. We only have a year, or two years, depending on how you define 2020… Time is ticking.”

The post NEO Establishes US Foothold in Seattle, Mission to Become “Number One Blockchain by 2020” appeared first on CryptoSlate.

Major Spanish Bank BBVA Issues $40 Million Green Bond Based on Blockchain Platform

Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has announced the use of blockchain technology for the bank’s first such issuance of a green bond.

Spain’s second-largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has announced the launch of the first blockchain-backed platform for structured green bonds. The news was announced in a press release published on Feb. 19.

BBVA has closed the deal with Spanish insurance house Mapfre, which has invested 35 million euros (approximately $40 million) to finance sustainable products. To close this deal, BBVA has “issued the first structured green bond using blockchain technology to negotiate the terms and conditions,” the press release states.

The press release underlines that the funds have been specified for the financing of green projects, under the umbrella of BBVA’s sustainable development goals. BBVA’s head of global sales, Juan Garat, noted the company’s focus on innovative, sustainable solutions, adding:

“Using DLT — distributed ledger technology — for this transaction allowed us to simplify the processes and streamline the negotiation time frames.”

Previously, in last December, BBVA had already announced the closing of a 150 million-euro ($169 million) loan on blockchain, which was claimed as BBVA’s first blockchain-based loans deal with a non-Spanish borrower, as Cointelegraph reported on Dec. 14.

As Cointelegraph reported on Nov. 22, two major Spanish banks — BBVA and Banco Santander — joined the European Union International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications, which aims to develop EU blockchain regulation, along with preparing for the launch of EU-wide blockchain applications.

Bitcoin Tips Now Available on Twitter via Lightning Network

bitcoin tipping

A new Chrome and Firefox browser extension is has enabled Bitcoin (BTC) tipping on Twitter via the Lightning Network. 


Tippin.me uses Bitcoin’s second-layer scaling solution, the Lightning Network, to make tipping almost instantaneous and with incredibly low fees of fractions of a cent.

The project was created by Sergio Abril and is still in development. However, Tippin.me’s state is already functional. Installation of the browser extension allows users to see a new tipping button Twitter tweets — opening the door to a future where the Lightning Network may facilitate tipping across a wide variety of social platforms. Explains Dan Rusnac in a post on Medium:

Not only the Twitter experience completely changes but it also open limitless future scenarios: an internet where, thanks to this extension/s, you can tip people on all socials (it can be for a tweet, for an article, for a video, for a comment, etc.), thus creating a new way to raise money by content creators without the need of a central agency and without the need of creating a new social platform and economic system from scratch!

Setting up Tippin.me is relatively simple. Users simply need to login to the web-app via their Twitter accounts to set up a custodial wallet for BTC on the Lightning Network. This wallet is where received tips may be stored and managed.

In its current form, Tippin.me is not limited to Twitter. Users may also place a web button on personal websites or blogs to receive tips in a similar fashion.

If you want to be a tipper, you must first set up a Lightning Wallet. Once a reliable wallet has been chosen, it must be funded with a relatively small amount of BTC — such as $5 or $10. Next, a payment channel must be opened with Tippin.me, after which users may tip until their hearts’ are content (or until they run out of funds).

What do you think of Tippin.me and the future for Bitcoin (BTC) payments across the Lightning Network? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter.

The post Bitcoin Tips Now Available on Twitter via Lightning Network appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

Bernie Sanders is Running for President. He’s the Only One Who Can Beat Trump

Bernie Sanders has officially launched his presidential campaign for 2020. The 77-year-old is now the Democratic front-runner and the only candidate who can realistically beat Donald Trump. Not only is he the most popular Senator in the country, but recent polls also show he would pip Donald Trump in a hypothetical election.  Beating Donald Trump is a huge motivator for Sanders’ 2020 run. The Vermont Senator branded Trump an “embarrassment.”  I'm running for president. I am asking you to join me today as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign that will begin with at least 1 million people

The post Bernie Sanders is Running for President. He’s the Only One Who Can Beat Trump appeared first on CCN

Did Pre-IPO Uber ‘Lose’ $1.8 Billion in 2018, Or Aggressively Invest In Its 85% Market Share Dominance?

Uber posted $1.8 billion in losses for 2018, an improvement over its 2017 bottom line, a loss of $2.2 billion. At The Drive Stephen Edelstein says, “That’s bad news for Uber as the company looks to charm investors into an initial public offering (IPO) later this year.” Maybe. But maybe not. Focusing on the high tech taxi company’s negative profits in 2018 might be missing the bigger picture of the value it represents over a bump in the road. It is an understatement to say Uber has no problem making money. The 2017 and 2018 “losses” aren’t because of bad

The post Did Pre-IPO Uber ‘Lose’ $1.8 Billion in 2018, Or Aggressively Invest In Its 85% Market Share Dominance? appeared first on CCN

Why Is VPN Use Important for Crypto Miners?

cybersecurity

Crypto miners need VPN. The community of cryptocurrency miners are denizens of the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are emerging as the new arbiters of online financial transactions that need an extra layer of safeguards, which VPN gives.

This post will address the following three areas: 1) Crypto miners: what they mine and how they do it, 2) VPN: what it does and how it adds more online security for Bitcoin users, and 3) the added security of VPN: why crypto miners need it.

  1. What Bitcoin miners do

Let’s follow the money and explore the concept of crypto mining.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are poaching into world economics. Bitcoin miners stand astride of the stream of Bitcoin trades and exchange by doing the coding grunt work. They are like wranglers in that they rustle up and verify previous Bitcoin transactions. In return for their “auditing” services, and with a little lucky guesswork in solving mathematical “proof of work” problems, miners can earn lucrative Bitcoin rewards.

Blockchain is the Bitcoin “vault”

Think of blockchain as a virtual ledger spread out over a network of many computers. Each computer (or “node”) on the network has an exact copy of the ledger. However, there is no one central owner of the data. Also, no one can access, use, or change the data without a unique private key. To hack into the system would require compromising every node on the network—a nearly impossible feat.

The “block” part of the arrangement is how the database grows while it collects data. In other words, “blocks” of record accrue, and each block gets a timestamp and link to the record that preceded it.

So, Bitcoin miners oversee the chain of transactions. Instead of a using a middle agency like a bank or credit card service, Bitcoins rely on miners. The miners assure that the transactions are not fraudulently duplicated, as they group the transactions in blocks. Those blocks generate their own additions to the finite number of Bitcoins—currently capped at 21 million.

  1. VPN basics: what it does

When someone connects to the internet through their internet service provider, their data goes through routers to reach the dialed-up destination. The ISP can view and monitor the user’s activity through their connection. In one sense, logging on to the internet without VPN is equivalent to using an open party line.

Closing that line is VPN, or Virtual Private Network. VPN creates a secure point-to-point tunnel between the client and the provider. The VPN provides privacy and online security. It unblocks or bypasses restricted content (censorship and tracking by a government, for example).

Also, VPN connections can allow the user to disguise the connection location as if it were in a different country. VPN accomplishes that through encryption the internet connection and bouncing elsewhere it via an external VPN server. In short, it replaces or masks the user’s IP address, the key to tracking the user’s online activity.

To access VPN services, the user needs to sign up with a VPN provider. The provider downloads the software to gain access to its remote servers. Some VPN services are free; others have paid, premium options.

Free VPNs usually come with restrictions as to bandwidth and a cap on operating speed. You might even have to put up with annoying ads or risk having your data used in ways you didn’t foresee. Paid VPN services offer a feature risk environment for the most secure and robust online experience. According to a report by Surfshark, one of the main reasons to use a VPN when performing bitcoin transactions is the fact that a VPN encrypts your data making those transactions nearly impossible to intercept. Furthermore, by having encrypted traffic it protects you from deanonymization attacks that rely on tracing a user’s IP and correlating it to a bitcoin transaction.

  1. If Blockchain is secure, why rely on VPN to protect Bitcoin transactions?

Blockchain offers encryption protection, but once an access key is compromised hackers can get in. VPN adds another level of security and anonymity at the entry point. While Blockchain is distributed and secure, once a Bitcoin is stolen through fraud or phishing scams, for example, it is gone forever.

Online cryptocurrency exchanges have been raided through spear phishing and hacking. For example, according to Coindesk, a Japan-based cryptocurrency exchange was hacked in 2018. They lost about $60 million in cryptocurrency, including almost 6,000 Bitcoins.

Why crypto miners and Bitcoin traders need VPN

Bitcoin owners can fall victim to other security risks with cryptocurrency:

  • Hackers can deploy Trojan hacks to steal Bitcoins from offline wallets.
  • Bitcoin initial coin offering scams are becoming common. Bitcoin entrepreneurs need to be wary of tempting deals on new startups, which can be fakes.
  • Bogus trading exchanges can be worse than “fly by night” outfits. They can disappear completely. Users should rely on reputable Bitcoin exchanges like Coingate, a cryptocurrency payment gateway that handles a variety of cryptocurrencies.
  • Through carelessness or technical error, a Bitcoin owner can compromise a secure Bitcoin address. Some users have posted their addresses on social media or messaging clients. Hackers are alert to link those addresses to the user’s true identity.
  • There is no way to make Bitcoin addresses completely anonymous. That is because blockchain addresses are publicly available to ensure transparency. When the blockchain address is available, hackers can link to the address and target an individual with Cryptojacking malware.
  • New malware known as Cryptojacking is in the wild nowadays. A crypto-jacked computer or smartphone opens up its CPU and provides entry to everything on the user’s device.
  • Finally, cryptocurrency—specifically Bitcoin—is banned in China, Russia, Bolivia, Columbia, and Ecuador. Even those countries that allow Bitcoin closely monitor online financial transactions, which can be traced through user IP addresses.

The above bulleted security risks connected to Bitcoin transactions are exactly why VPN is the layer of security Bitcoin transactions need. More reasons to do all Bitcoin transactions over a VPN are that your Bitcoin trading data becomes encrypted through VPN. The data you transmit via a VPN service is encrypted in transit.

Caution: Important note about VPNs

VPNs do not prevent computer viruses and malware attacks. VPN users need to understand this important distinction. VPNs keep private data safe from hackers, but they do not have the power to preempt computer viruses from attacking your data. It is vital to use a reliable anti-virus program alongside the VPN.

Conclusion

VPN creates an encrypted stream of information. That stream is anonymous. Crypto miners and Bitcoin traders have an extra element of security in a business where there are no do-overs. Once someone steals a Bitcoin, it disappears into cyber space as an untraceable ill-gotten asset.

VPN is an added layer of security and the due diligence Bitcoin users need. 

Image(s): Shutterstock.com

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$1.3 Million Bitcoin Scam Swindles Victims in Thailand. Are Tougher Crypto Regulations Necessary?

A virtual bitcoin mining farm in Thailand has allegedly scammed users out of 42 million baht (approximately $1.35 million), according to a report in the Bangkok Post.  30 victims have filed a complaint against the company, CryptoMining.Farm. Although police believe the scam may have hit up to 140 individuals. It comes just months after a group of Thai siblings was accused of defrauding an investor of $24 million in bitcoin. Although Thailand is a booming market for cryptocurrencies, is it time for tougher regulations to crack down on scams and frauds? Victims report alleged blockchain mining scam https://t.co/W0dgXJ54j3 — Bangkok

The post $1.3 Million Bitcoin Scam Swindles Victims in Thailand. Are Tougher Crypto Regulations Necessary? appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Contributes 95% Of BitPay’s Business, CEO Confirms

BitPay

Bitcoin payment processor BitPay conducts almost all its business using Bitcoin (BTC), its CEO has revealed in a marked U-turn on previous claims.


BitPay Drops Bitcoin Bashing

Speaking during a recent panel, Stephen Pair discussed the recent hard fork activity around the Bitcoin blockchain as a result of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) split last November.

“95 percent of our payments are done in Bitcoin,” he said quoted on social media by commentator StopAndDecrypt.

While the figure itself is unsurprisingly, Pair’s advocacy contrasts dramatically with comments he made just two years ago. As StopAndDecrypt noted uploading videos of two appearances, at the Consensus conference in May 2017, BitPay appeared to want to abandon Bitcoin altogether.

At the time, the likely alternative was already on the horizon; Bitcoin Cash launched two months later.

“At BitPay, the Bitcoin blockchain has stopped working for us,” Pair said.

…We have a couple of options: one is we start using a fork of Bitcoin, the second option is we start using a fork of Bitcoin and the third option is we start using a fork of Bitcoin.

Easy Come, Easy Go?

Pair added that BitPay’s “bread and butter” two years ago was payments between $5000 and $20,000.

As Bitcoinist has reported, fees for the Bitcoin network have decreased dramatically since the advent of BCH, leading to the suggestion from StopAndDecrypt that Pair’s aversion to the BTC network was due to its then higher transaction cost.

Fast forward to this year, however, and the company is actively discouraging alternative cryptocurrencies from asking for its support.

Pair continued:

Over the years the Dogecoin fanatics… the Litecoin fanatics came after us; they all tried to bend social media to create this perception that their coin is the one and… is going to beat Bitcoin, and therefore you should accept it.

On the top of BCH, he said BitPay would continue to support the legacy fork, Bitcoin ABC, over Bitcoin SV.

“That’s not changing,” he commented.

In January, major Bitcoin SV proponent Calvin Ayre publicly said he had stopped his businesses from using BitPay.

BitPay has faced an increasing backlash over its business practices over the last year, with rival developers intent on putting it out of business using open source alternatives for businesses wishing to accept Bitcoin.

2018 became the company’s highest grossing year despite the Bitcoin price market, with revenue reaching $1 billion.

What do you think about Stephen Pair’s comments on Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post Bitcoin Contributes 95% Of BitPay’s Business, CEO Confirms appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

What Is the FREEDOMX Movement?

freedomxmovement

In the United States alone, there are over half a million homeless people on a given night. Out of those, over 190 thousand are unsheltered and have no access to any emergency shelter. Finding yourself in such a position can be devastating. Nobody expects to end up homeless, but sometimes life just hits your hard and there is no other way. Wouldn’t it be great if we can actually help the homeless and get them off the street?

The WHO (World Health Organization) says that poverty is decreasing rapidly. However, Marco Robinson the founder of the FREEDOMX movement disagrees. Marco has been homeless for 8 years in the UK – a first world country. He was able to turn his life around and decided to give back to the homeless community with his channel 4 tv show in the UK called “Get a house for free”. Having first hand experience being homeless, Marco started a charity called FREEDOMX which is a fully registered 501(3)(C) non-profit in the US. The charity uses a concept called “conditional altruism” meaning, I help you if you help someone else.

The charity business is one of the most abused industries in the world. Over 90% of the funds received by charities do not end up in the hands of those who need it. The main reason behind it, is because there is no transparent tracking system. This causes a massive misappropriation of funds which hurts the legitimacy of the industry overall. Because the FREEDOMX charity uses blockchain technology to track the funds, you know the donations actually end up in the hands of those who need it!

Moreover, nonprofits don’t work because there is usually no real incentive to the donor beside feeling good that they donated money to help a cause. However, with FREEDOMX you get rewarded with a share of the benefits you provide to others.

If you think most homeless people are addicted to drugs and alcohol you are wrong, only a very small percentage are. FREEDOMX recipients are qualified and vetted individuals who need your help. They are not drug addicts or alcoholics. Those individuals are vetted by the FREEDOMX team and get mentored to start their own business. Once their business starts generating a profit, those who helped get it started in the first place receive a share of it – win win for everybody!

Some key features of the FREEDOMX movement includes:

  • A social network the documents and gives identity to the 2 billion + unbanked individuals around the world
  • An education system that will create a sustainable ecosystem for homeless families. This includes job training and placement into the Naked Dollars ($NKD) business ecosystem.
  • A volunteer network of FREEDOMX Fighters that get rewarded with FREEDOMX tokens based on the contributions they make to their communities.

The FREEDOMX movement is an incredible breakthrough that forces local businesses to help their community. Similar to tripadvisor, you can rate how well these local businesses are helping the homeless community.

If you would like to find out more information about FREEDOMX and take a look at their whitepaper, visit their site: freedomxmovement.org


Disclaimer: The author of this article is an adviser to the company mentioned above.

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Bullish Sentiment Back? Cryptocurrencies Rally on ‘Green Monday’

The cryptoeconomy saw a series of stark selloffs across the board in 2018, and general rallies in its markets have been few and far between since then. Accordingly, traders perked up on Monday, February 18th, as the top 25 cryptocurrencies were all in the green on the day, several markedly so.

Ether (ETH), the second largest cryptocurrency per market capitalization, seemed to lead the latest buy swell, its price having gained nine percent from $123 USD to $134 on Sunday while most other big-cap and mid-cap cryptocurrencies were still flat. As Monday arrived, the ether price took another 10 percent climb from $134 to a high above $148 while buy pressure began hitting the other top cryptocurrency markets.

Bullish Green Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin (BTC) rose more than seven percent in the rally to reach $3900, a mark that’s within striking distance of the round and psychological $4,000 price point. The move up comes as the genesis cryptocurrency had settled amid sideways chop around $3,500 in recent weeks.

Other popular assets fared just as well on the green day. Ripple’s XRP, Tron (TRX), and stellar lumens (XLM) all gained more than six percent respectively. The biggest rises among the top coins came from EOS (+22 percent), bitcoin cash (+19 percent), litecoin (+12 percent), and Cardano’s ADA (+12 percent). The top privacy coins, Monero and Zcash, each saw their prices rise more than eight percent.

The Times They Are a Changing?

There have been acute daily rallies in the current cryptoeconomy bear market, which earlier this month became the longest in Bitcoin’s history to date. But what’s been lacking in the downturn is consecutive days of upward momentum. The sharp rise of the ether price two days in a row has some traders in the space wondering if the beginning of the end is nigh for the bearish market cycle.

Bullish rumblings this February have price watchers wondering what comes next. On Feb. 8th, cryptocurrency markets saw their last rally with litecoin leading the way atop a 30 percent rise. That surge combined with the latest round of buy pressure may suggest that demand, whether it be retail or institutional demand, is materializing once more around the top digital assets.

Fundstrat, the firm of high-profile Wall Street cryptocurrency analyst Tom Lee, thinks the page will be turning for the ecosystem this year. Fundstrat published its 2019 crypto outlook two weeks ago, and in it the firm projected the bear market would bottom out within the next several months.

“By the end of 2019, we expect prices to be staging a visible recovery,” the outlook said.

Of course, that estimation is a far cry from saying a bull run is imminent, and as always it’s anyone’s guess where cryptocurrency markets go from here, but the firm’s bottom call is another sign that optimism seems to be returning to the space after sentiments turned generally bleak in 2018.

Even a modest recovery throughout the year would be welcomed by cryptocurrency diehards, as it’s now been more than 400 days since bitcoin peaked near $20,000 in December 2017. As such, any steps toward that mark will be championed by proponents in perpetuity. Unless, that is, the bitcoin price ever breaks through $20k again, at which their hopes of a return will have been borne out.

But the cryptoeconomy isn’t out of the wood’s just yet. Concerns about the possibility of a global economic recession still linger around the world stage, and if such a recession were to occur, a de-risking investment atmosphere would reign supreme for the interim. Speculative assets like cryptocurrencies would likely be among the investment instruments hit hardest if global markets go down. For now, the only thing to do is wait and see what happens next.

The post Bullish Sentiment Back? Cryptocurrencies Rally on ‘Green Monday’ appeared first on Blockonomi.

Indian Police Arrest ‘Cashcoin’ Gang Accused of Scamming Millions From Investors

Police in India Arrest Gang Allegedly Involved in Crypto Scam After Investors Were Duped out of Millions With 'Cashcoin'

Police in Mumbai have busted a gang allegedly involved in a cryptocurrency scam that amassed an estimated 1 billion rupees (nearly $14 million). The gang targeted people by launching a cryptocurrency called Cashcoin and sold it to investors, promising to double their money. 

Also Read: Indian Blockchain Summit Draws Policy Makers to Speed up Crypto Regulation 

An Intention to Cheat

Four people have been arrested in relation to the scam, which saw investors swindled out of nearly $14 million. The Times of India reports that those arrested are Sanjay Sontakke, 44; Rajnikant Kumavat, 46; Alpesh Barodia, 32; and Kirankumar Panchsara, 38. The four suspects allegedly launched Cashcoin a year ago, with the inspector involved in the case, Sunil Jadhav, quoted as saying: “The accused held meetings in Mumbai, Surat and other parts of Gujarat, and lured people into investing their hard-earned money by promising to double it in two months.” He added:

Initially, the gang repaid a few investors to lure more people in and then defaulted. Their intention was to cheat.

The offences drawn up by the police include cheating, breach of trust, criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code and sections of the Information Technology Act. The complaint was initially lodged by a resident of Surat who alleged that 10.2 million rupees ($145,000) were stolen from him. Police are in the process of freezing a number of bank accounts in the country as part of the investigation. The Times reports that the police are still looking for a fifth suspect, Ashok Goyal, who reportedly played a key role in the alleged scam but is on the run.

Hostile Crypto Environment

The scam shows that even in India, where the government has been slow to come up with a crypto regulatory framework and where digital assets have historically been illegal, crypto scams can be successful. The crypto climate in India is hostile – the central and state governments are continuing to crackdown on crypto businesses, while authorities have been constantly warning investors against investing in cryptocurrencies. Banks in India have even stopped servicing crypto exchanges in the country. A scam of this nature and magnitude risks leaving the public even warier of cryptocurrencies.Indian Police Arrest 'Cashcoin' Gang Accused of Scamming Millions From Investors

There is evidence, however, that cryptocurrency adoption is moving in the right direction in India. Its crypto community has been campaigning on social media for “positive regulations” and the rollback of the banking ban, and the country’s Supreme Court is due to hear the petitions against the cryptocurrency ban by the country’s central bank. These moves will hopefully ease the world’s seventh largest economy closer to accepting cryptocurrencies, for the benefit of its 1.34 billion people.

What do you think about the Cashcoin crypto scam and others of this nature?  Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Norwegian ‘City’ Replacing Fiat and Cash for Its Own Cryptocurrency

norway cryptocurrency

Liberstad, a libertarian city in southern Norway, has reportedly dumped fiat currencies and cash. In their place, it has instituted its own cryptocurrency — City Coin. 


The not-so-cleverly-named cryptocurrency will replace all other forms of legal tender.

A spokesman told Express.co.uk:

City Coin is a secure and innovative cryptocurrency based on City Chain, a smart city platform that enables the design, implementation and use of next-generation services for smart cities and their inhabitants. As the first cryptocurrency to be officially adopted by a smart city, City Coin is the only medium of exchange within Liberstad. It will be used for the payment of city services and worker wages and for funding civic projects. Inhabitants can pay for anything ranging from haircuts, a dozen local eggs or an artisan loaf of bread using CITY, marking a milestone for real-world use of blockchain technology. Over 100 land plots have already been sold within Liberstad and more will become available to purchase using CITY in the near future.

While the prospect may seem farfetched, it bears remembering that Liberstad is a small city based on The Libertania Project’s principles of anarchism and non-aggression. According to its official website, it is a private city in which “all property is private and all services are performed by private actors” and founded on the belief “that all human interactions should be voluntary.”

norway blockchain

The spokesman also told the daily national middle-market tabloid newspaper:

We are a small group of individuals who are seeking a change in the way society works. We want a society where people decide over themselves and can live together without government authorities. Liberstad will become a city where anarchism can get a physical foothold in one of the world’s most socialist countries. We also want a city where everyone has the opportunity to buy both houses and land for a price that is far below other house and cottage prices in Norway. In Liberstad you will be able to live without high mortgage or rent, and without any direct and indirect taxes. Liberstad will become a city where life is easier, more relaxing and without the high cost of living. In the long term, we can together develop a private city where people have greater freedom and opportunity to live the life they desire.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and libertarianism have long gone hand-in-hand. Liberstad and City Coin are just further small examples of what could be in store for freedom-loving individuals in the not-so-distant future.

What do you think of Liberstad and City Coin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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