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Monday, 31 August 2015

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Former US agent who stole bitcoins in silk road case tried to change identity

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Bitcoin FAQ

What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is an online payment channel that is not hosted or regulated centrally by any agency as in the case of real world currencies.

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Bitcoins in Iran, Cuba & Greece Plus Other Bitcoin News (BCS, OSTK & AVRN)

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End-of-Summer Business Reading: Dreamers and the Defiant


Former Agent Pleads Guilty in Silk Road Drug Site Probe


The Eerie Realism of ‘Mr. Robot’


OKCoin Restricts Bitcoin Deposits for US Customers

OKCoin has stopped accepting bitcoin deposits from customers in the US, citing regulatory pressure.

via CoinDesk

Barclays Set to Start Experimenting with Bitcoin

via Gmail

The Eerie Realism of ‘Mr. Robot’


African Remittance Firm Beam Stops Bitcoin Service in Pivot

Beam has announced it will no longer focus on using bitcoin in an attempt to disrupt the Ghanaian remittance market.

via CoinDesk

Goldman Analyst: Blockchain Tech Will Change Asset Ownership

A Goldman Sachs analyst has revealed insight into the global investment banking giant's developing thesis on bitcoin and blockchain technology.

via CoinDesk

EB94 '" Gavin Andresen: On The Blocksize And Bitcoin's Governance

As the debate about the blocksize continues to roar through the Bitcoin community, Gavin Andresen joins us to take a step back and ask the big questions: How should these decisions be made in the first place? What does the governance of Bitcoin look like now and what do we want it to look like in the future?

In a challenging time for Bitcoin, it's a critical discussion to have with the Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation and successor of Satoshi. We cover everything from the current blocksize debate to the nature of forks to how decisions will be made in Bitcoin XT.

Topics covered included:

  • MIT Digital Currency Initiative
  • The way Gavin thinks about Bitcoin
  • How were decisions made throughout Bitcoin's history
  • What the Nakamoto/market consensus is
  • Forking the software vs a fork of the blockchain
  • Who should make decisions in Bitcoin and how the interest of different stakeholders should be reconciled
  • Why the desirable state is to move towards many different implementations
  • How decisions will be made for the Bitcoin XT code base

Links mentioned in this episode:


  • Ledger Nano: Smart card security for your Bitcoins - Get 10% off your first order when you use the code EB09 at (valid until 09/30/15)
  • Vaultoro: Invest in the gold-Bitcoin trading platform on Bank to the Future.

Show notes



Epicenter Bitcoin is hosted by Brian Fabian Crain & Sƒbastien Couture.

via Lets Talk Bitcoin!

Commonwealth Virtual Currencies Working Group Issues Statement about Bitcoin’s Potential


This week, the Commonwealth Virtual Currencies Working Group made up of Australia, Barbados, Kenya, Nigeria, Singapore and Tonga, together with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, concluded a three-day conference in London with a consensus: “Member states should consider the applicability of their existing legal frameworks to virtual currencies and where appropriate they should consider adapting them or enacting new legislation to regulate virtual currencies.”

The group has come up with the consensus because it recognizes the benefits and the disruptive nature of bitcoin and other digital currencies in the financial sector. The conference was joined by experts from the banking sector, academia, virtual currency operators, users and law enforcement agencies, to discuss the unique applications and the risks of criminal misuse.

One of the main members of the Commonwealth Virtual Currencies Working Group, Aminiasi Kefu, Tonga’s acting attorney general explained:

“From Tonga’s perspective, virtual currencies are a phenomena that has already arrived. Today, real estate, buildings and businesses held or owned by individuals resident in Tonga are being advertised for sale on the Internet for virtual currency, namely bitcoin.”

The Working Group received presentations from nine groups involved with virtual currencies, including the U.K. Digital Currency Association, BitPesa, Bitt, Bankymoon, Ripple Labs and Minku.

Many experts and representatives explained to other member states that the decentralized nature of virtual currencies, specifically bitcoin, has been the solution to economic inequality and remittances worldwide.

Bankymoon CEO Lorien Gamaroff explained the importance of virtual currencies in severely underbanked regions such as Africa.

“In Africa, around 80 percent of the population doesn’t have access to banks and are mainly engaged in a cash economy,” said Gamaroff.


Photo The Commonwealth / Flickr (CC)

The post Commonwealth Virtual Currencies Working Group Issues Statement about Bitcoin’s Potential appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine

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Barclays to Begin Offering Bitcoin Payments for Customers, Beginning with Charities


Barclays is about to become the first mainstream bank to openly and directly support bitcoin transactions, The Sunday Times reportsThe Daily Mail echoed the news for its huge readership.

Barclays has been experimenting with Bitcoin and working with digital currency start-ups for some time.  Speaking at the Morgan Stanley European Financials Conference in London, Barclays’ CEO Antony Jenkins warned the “banking sector has not yet felt the ‘full disruptive force’ of technology – but it will.” He elaborated on the growing concern among financial institutions that faster, cheaper payment systems will start to seduce their consumer and business customers in the coming years. In June, Barclays signed a deal with Bitcoin company Safello to explore financial applications of the blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin.

Barclays is not the only bank to express interest in Bitcoin’s technology and launch internal experiments and pilot projects. In fact, as recently reported by Bitcoin Magazine, major banks including Citi, UBS, Santander, BNP Paribas, and BBVA are taking serious note of Jenkins’ warning and committing resources to preliminary blockchain studies.

Now, as reported by The Sunday Times, Barclays plans to test the virtual currency, allowing people to make donations to charities in bitcoin. The bank has gone into partnership with a bitcoin exchange and aims to begin the experiment by the end of the year. Derek White, chief design and digital officer at Barclays, said: “Barclays is enabling the bitcoin exchange to help charities accept bitcoin.”

Barclays has two sites in Notting Hill and Old Street, London, dedicated to researching Bitcoin and blockchain technology, with a combined capacity of 75 staff, and is also operating a blockchain workspace in a revamped warehouse in Whitechapel, east London.  The bank “is inviting start-ups, academics, and the government to work at the space to connect with others that are interested in the Bitcoin and blockchain community,” said White.

With this move, Barclays will be the first major bank to help selected customers to receive bitcoin payments directly in their bank accounts, establishing an important precedent. Focusing on charities first seems a very smart decision, which can shield Barclays from the potential regulatory and image problems, giving it time to prove the value of Bitcoin in a context that can’t be easily criticized. It can be expected that, after this first initiative focused on charities, Barclays could consider gradually allowing ordinary business and residential customers to receive bitcoin payments.

The Sunday Times mentions that a Bitcoin company was included in the trade mission to southeast Asia led by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron a few weeks ago, which underlines the rising status of Bitcoin in Great Britain. On the trade show, Cameron enthusiastically praised the Innovate Finance Manifesto: 2020, issued by Innovate Finance, which aims to advance Great Britain’s standing as a leader in financial technology (fintech) innovation both domestically and abroad and create 100,000 jobs in U.K. fintech.

The manifesto is focused on generic fintech innovation and doesn’t mention Bitcoin- and blockchain-based digital currencies explicitly. However, Great Britain is on its way to becoming a global hub for bitcoin and other digital currencies, with both the government and Bank of England having made recent moves designed to stimulate the development of digital fintech.

The post Barclays to Begin Offering Bitcoin Payments for Customers, Beginning with Charities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine

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Coinbase Expands to Canada

Coinbase Expands to Canada

We’re pleased to announce the expansion of Coinbase services to Canada. As of today, our customers in Canada can buy and sell bitcoin with CAD using our Buy/Sell service, as well as trade the BTC/CAD currency pair on Coinbase Exchange.

As part of our effort to make bitcoin easy to use throughout the world, customers in Canada can now:

  • Buy and sell bitcoin with a Canadian bank account (via EFT direct debit)
  • Deposit CAD to a Coinbase wallet to buy bitcoin or trade on Coinbase Exchange (via EFT direct debit or Interac Online)
  • Trade BTC/CAD on Coinbase Exchange
  • Use our suite of Coinbase wallet services, including hosted bitcoin wallets

To celebrate the launch, Coinbase will waive its retail conversion fees for Canadian customers of the direct Buy/Sell service, available at, through September 6 (11:59 Pacific time). Standard trading fees on Coinbase Exchange apply. To get started, simply sign up for a Coinbase Wallet or Coinbase Exchange account. You can learn more about funding your account here.

In conjunction with our Canadian expansion, we’re delighted to be sponsoring the Hack the North hackathon at the University of Waterloo. Coinbase will award the group that makes best use of our API with a $1,000 bitcoin prize and guaranteed interviews for an engineering internship.

Coinbase buy/sell functionality is now available in 27 countries worldwide. As always, please be sure to let us know what you think on Twitter and in our Community Forum.

via The Coinbase Blog

Coinbase Expands Bitcoin Services to Canada

Bitcoin users in Canada can now buy and sell bitcoin using Coinbase, a move that brings the startup closer to launching in 30 countries by 2016.

via CoinDesk

Morning Agenda: Challenges on All Sides for the Fed


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15-Year-Old 'Bitcoin Kid' Wants to Make Ethereum Easier

CoinDesk profiles Whit Jackson, the 15-year-old developer working to make Ethereum easier for developers.

via CoinDesk

Block Size Debate: Who's Picking Sides?

Which companies are supporting BIP 100 or BIP 101? We've tracked down the answers here.

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Community Roundup #26 '" Forks Over Knives

To fork, or not to fork '" that is the question.

I'd like to claim I understand the intricacies of the current BIP101 vs BIP100 debate, but unfortunately I don't. What I (think I) understand is that we won't be solving this block size puzzle through logic, algorithms and code alone, but through good, old-fashioned, face-to-face negotiations.

What we've seen taking place on social media, Reddit, Bitcoin mailing lists, forums and other platforms, is what all of us are already used to '" an initial back-and-forth of ideas, followed by a steady descent to accusations, all the way down to name-calling '" eventually driving both (all) parties' heels solidly into the ground. Unlike most online arguments from which we can just walk away (And admit defeat? Never!), while cussing out our opposition, this Bitcoin block size argument doesn't allow us to do so. This needs to be fixed now/soon/eventually, but it needs to be fixed.

So how do you resolve a digital dispute with the online tools we have today? My answer is simple: you don't. Plain text exchanged in emails, blogs, PMs, chats '" heck, even video calls '" do not do justice to a conventional meeting with real face time, accompanied by solid handshakes and coffee breaks, and ending with hearty laughter. . . . So my suggestion to the involved parties is to book a conference room, brew a pot of joe, and don't come out of the room until you have a solution.

'"Bitcoin fork pen by BTC Keychain

What is that you are saying? You already have a venue booked in Montreal for this?

Get to it.

Tokenly's chief architect Nick started a thread "Upcoming Bitcoin Hard Fork & /r/bitcoin censorship" in which he mentions:

For the record, at [the] LTB [Network] we support an increase in the blocksize (for fairly obvious reasons), and will always stay on the majority chain, even if that means using an alternative client such as XT for our backend systems. If you are a more casual user and do not run your own Bitcoin nodes or participate in mining, you have nothing to worry about and can just sit back and watch the developer drama unfold.

An expected storm of replies and an appropriate amount of drama ensued. Currently, we are on page 18 of the thread, and counting.

In another thread, Chris, Community Director of the Counterparty Foundation, asks "So, is Factom just a defacto scam now?" More specifically, he wants to know whether Factom intentionally misled investors during its crowdsale by implying the project had secured a contract with the government of Honduras for transferring Hounduras' land registry in to the blockchain. Earlier, Factom announced in their blog "Honduras to Build Land Title Registry Using Bitcoin Technology," originally published in May by Reuters. We now know the project has stalled due to some political roadblocks within the Honduran government. You can go deeper into the controversy by digging into this 42-page chat log and Factom's "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit from three months ago.

Did you invest in the Factom crowdsale on Koinify, and if so, do you feel you mislead by the Factom team? Do we call this all a scam, or do we brush it under the "project marketing speak" carpet?

Howard questions whether the Let's Talk Bitcoin! Network is "Staying true to the original vision of LTBcoin":

Effective July 1st, 2014, the Let's Talk Bitcoin! show, and the LTB Network will only sell sponsorship space (on the web properties) or airtime (on the show) for LTBCOIN, to the highest bidder, in LTBCOIN, at our regular auction events.

The Let's Talk Bitcoin Network currently allows purchase of show sponsorship with not just LTBcoins, but with bitcoins and US dollars as well. Adam responds:

Before you get too upset, realize that what you quoted was an announcement that our policy had changed, not a statement that this is the foundational vision of LTBCOIN and is how things must always be. In practice we found our auction engine was too transparent plus nobody knew how to use tokens and there were no good tools out so the program stagnated and eventually was ended.

In the bottom of all of this is the lackluster LTBcoin performance, currently at 43 satoshis, and the reason as explained, the lack of its utility. Adam again:

The core issue is LTBN has always been a no-cost-to-its-users volunteer run [sic] operation with no sales department or infrastructure, so we haven't had any "dominant" revenue streams and are still in the red. I've looked at LTBN like an experiment where long term sustainability was more important than immediate utility but as the dynamics of our experiment change and people who want to build this thing out make themselves known that is changing.

One of those people building the LTBcoin marketplace and ecosystem, thus giving LTBcoin utility, is Martin. Head over to his "Crypto Project Vinyl Stickers" thread for feedback and comments regarding his new crypto sticker sale! To obtain some of those stickers, fill out your order using Martin's sticker vending machine.

In addition to being an active LTB Network community member, Martin runs a popular Our Every Day Earth '" Green Blog, on which you can find the latest tips about healthy and environmentally friendly living, as well as information and reviews on biodegradable products.

Another LTB Network marketplace contributor is Pi, a professional glass blower from Eugene, OR. Pi accepts LTBc, BTC, and DRK for his glass works. Check out Pi's thread for pricing, shipping information, and any questions you may have about his pretty awesome works of art!

Thank you gentlemen for your contribution and product offerings. Much obliged.

Roman, CEO and founder of Bitcoin Suramƒrica as well as the WoodShares Project, proved Tokenly is making its way around the global block already '" pun intended '" by sharing a video of how to get Tokenly Pockets (token wallet) running on your Chrome browser. The video was originally posted on NewsBTC Latin America. In addition, if you have language skills and would like to contribute to the Tokenly project, allowing users to choose a different language on the Tokenly Pocket interface, make yourself heard on Roman's thread, or message Joe, the creator of Tokenly Pockets, and resident code ninja for the LTB Network and Tokenly.

And finally, some numbers. I've learned that one picture says more than no picture. The Let's Talk Bitcoin Network in the past 30 days:

Be excellent to each other.


Community Manager

via Lets Talk Bitcoin!

UK Banking Giant Barclays to Allow Charities to Accept Bitcoin

Barclays has revealed it will be pursuing a new partnership with an unnamed bitcoin exchange to help charities accept digital currency.

via CoinDesk

XCP Weekly Update #14 - New Symbiont Development

Weekly Update #14:

Robert Ross is a Counterparty Foundation Community Director and the Director of FoldingCoin Inc. Each week Robert and various guests will bring you the news of what has been going on in the Counterparty communities and also touching base on the other Bitcoin 2.0 communities.

I am happy to announce the ability for paid sponsorship's. I accept any Counterparty Token that is on in addition to TOPFOLDER tokens, please click below

Thank you to Chris DeRose and Joshua Unseth for the chit-chat recap of the week. I am looking into finding a permalink so you can simply click here to join the chit chat (an admin setting in the channel needs to change), but in the meantime please tweet @derosetech and he will grant you access.

Please contact me with any Counterparty projects you are working on with suggestions to feature them on the show. Or contact me if you would like assistance or advice on how you can create your project on the Counterparty platform. I may not be able to answer your question or help your project, but I will do my best to find the person who can.

If you are an independent artist and would like to hear your song on this show, please email me at and we can arrange something. Thank you to Cyrus Youngman and the Kingfishers for the audio segways.

Please join in the discussions on the forums at and

All tips, donations, and sponsorship payments from this podcast will be used to better the Counterparty Foundation.


This show is not intended for investment advice.

Counterparty News:

Symbiont launched its first blockchain-based private security earlier this month, converting its founders' shares, convertible preferred shares and convertible note terms to function on the blockchain. Symbiont CEO Mark Smith opened up on the firm and its market strategy, suggesting that the private equities market will be its main focus. The FX trading veteran and founder of early ETrade alternative MatchBookFX called a robust private securities market 'œthe only future' given that many startups are avoiding public offerings. Adam Krellenstein indicated that Symbiont has created its own 'œfull-featured smart contract language' that works with bitcoin using embedded consensus, and that was built from the ground up to be transferable to other blockchains. 'œWe have a smart securities system, it's a layer on top of bitcoin, it encodes execution data and publication data in transactions, publishing to the blockchain, so all the data is on the bitcoin blockchain,' Krellenstein said. With this developed, he continued, Symbiont is now focusing on developing its front end and APIs, which will seek to enable its clients to use the technology on their own. Krellenstein suggested this technology was different from token-based systems, such as those in use at Overstock's tƒ˜ platform. Symbiont has not applied for a BitLicense in New York, but suggested it is in talks with FINRA and the SEC to ensure its compliance. 'œWe don't touch fiat or crypto, we don't money transfer,' Smith said. 'œOur customer is responsible for KYC and AML that they sponsor onto our permissioned network. We're never a counterparty for a trade, we never custody a currency fiat or crypto."

Project News:

Guess what? Now I like video games, It's a mirable!

We are ready for Test Group B. We will give users a few hours before we take a snapshot and distribute 100,000 SJCX in rewards for the second milestone. Any SJCX address can participate for testing purposes, but to receive a reward holding a 10,000 SJCX balance is required. If you haven't already joined Test Group B, you can find a step-by-step guide to our client software here. If you already installed the software in the previous email, an upgrade to version 1.3 is mandatory to receive a reward. Non-crowdsale participants will have to contribute to the rewards pool at a later date (we would rather move forward on testing and do that later). We are happy to have you with us and look forward to reaching the 1 PB milestone with your help!

  • GetGems has released their development update #16. In this update Gems has announced a few new things. Gems has hired Chen Eilat who is a problem solving enthusiast, focusing on the user's needs. 3 new features are available on the Android version of GetGems (iOS to come later I am assuming) and they are:
  1. Smart Contextual Stickers: Forget the boring smileys, inconvenience of searching for Gifs, now GetGems analyzes your text and highlights key words and phrases that can easily be replaced by native Telegram Stickers and cool gifs!

  2. Quick Money Transfer Button: Gems added the Gems Button, now you can send and tip Gems with one click.

  3. Telegram Merge: This update also includes the latest Telegram code (3.1.2)
  • IndieSquare has released a new update the mobile wallet. There is a discussion going on at the CounterpartyTalk forums. The following is a list of the newest features:
  1. push notifications, Right now, only between IndieSquare wallets but in the future will be available for any incoming transactions. By setting up your username from setting, your name will be include in the other party's notification

  2. Sign out of the account

  3. Token icons for bitcoin and XCP

  4. you need to type in your pin to see the passphrase

In the Community

Proof of Burn works exactly the way you thought: instead of burning electricity you should destroy your digital coins. No, you do not have to format your hard drive. You "burn" them by sending to such address where they cannot be redeemed. For example, to the address, which is a hash of a random number: chances for someone picking public and private keys for it are negligible.

Shout Outs and Sponsorship's

  • None this week

via Lets Talk Bitcoin!

Gyft Co-founder: Bitcoin Payments Have Decreased by 80%

Vinny Lingham, Gyft co-founder and CEO, explains how bitcoin payments on his digital card platform have decreased.

via CoinDesk

Bitmain Announces Launch of Next-Generation Antminer S7 Bitcoin Miner


Bitmain, the Bitcoin mining ASIC provider, Sunday announced the release of its next-generation Bitcoin miner, the Antminer S7, using the recently announced BM1385 ASIC.

The company argues that “this machine is not only our most efficient ever, using less than half the energy per gigahash of the S5, but it is also our most powerful miner to enter mass production.” It had released the S5+ in limited supply, which offers nearly 3,000 more GH/s than the announced S7.

“It’s true that the S5+ had a greater overall hashrate, but the S7 squeezes more juice from a smaller, more power efficient package,” said Jake Smith, Bitmain’s head of North America, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “When comparing hashrate to weight, size, or power consumption, the S7 comes out ahead.”

The Antminer S7 is a denser mining rig than previous models. Whereas the S5 used 60 chips per miner, the Antminer S7 uses 162 of the BM1385 chips. Each S7 will be able to generate upwards of 4,850 GH/s while only needing approximately 0.25 J/GH of power.

Part of the reason the chip is so much stronger is because the company went away from using standard design flow methods. “From the BM1385 onwards, we’ll be using full-custom design flow,” Smith explained. While full-custom design flow is more work intensive and does have a greater margin of error, it results in greater efficiency, which is where profit can be found.

“It’s difficult to predict the how long our new chip will take to bring to market, but development on our next chip began almost as soon as this one was completed. Our next chip, the BM1387, will be our second full-custom chip, and our first chip built on a 16-nanometer process node,” Smith said.

With each new chip released miners have to weigh their options on whether to upgrade. Smith said that there has been considerable interest in the S7 by current Bitmain miners, in particular because older hardware may become obsolete. “The inevitable large deployment of S7s will cause network hashrate to rise and some older hardware to be forced offline. More recent hardware like the S5 will still be profitable, but to a lower degree than at present,” Smith said.

‘We’ll continue to make our machines available to Joe Miner …’

Bitmain has deployed a different strategy than other Bitcoin hardware companies has. Other companies have focused their development efforts on creating miners for internal use rather than widespread adoption. For example, Bitcoin Shop (BTCS) announced that it would be merging with Spondoolies-Tech, which would give BTCS access to Spondoolies’ latest miner to give it a competitive advantage. Bitmain, on the other hand, continues to sell its hardware to the general population.

“We’re very strong believers in keeping Bitcoin decentralized. Until recently, most mining was done by so-called average users and not by large mining operations,” Smith said. “It would be a real shame to see this dedicated group left without options for supporting the network in their own way, and perhaps even present a dangerous situation for the network to be secured only by large and well-capitalized firms.”

As mining does continue to get more expensive, only those companies that have the resources to create large operations will be able to survive. The fewer operations that are mining, the more likely it is that one, single source could take a majority of the hashrate, creating potential security problems.

“We will continue to make our machines available to Joe Miner for as long as we are making hardware,” Smith said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that we’re the only big ASIC manufacturer selling directly to consumers right now; we’d love to see more competition in this space and for the miners themselves to have more options available.”

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and journalist covering finance and bitcoin. He runs a weekly newsletter all about bitcoin and digital currency called Crypto Brief.

The post Bitmain Announces Launch of Next-Generation Antminer S7 Bitcoin Miner appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine

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Let's Talk Bitcoin! #242 - Ride The Lightning Network

On Todays Show

  • Matthew Zipkin speaks with Rusty Russell of Blockstream about his work on the Lightning Network. They talk what it is, what it does, how it does it, why it matters and when it'll be something you're actually using.

Additional Links

Original white paper by Joseph Poon & Thaddeus Dryja:

Rusty's update paper:

Rusty's blog posts (part one starts here):

The best place to get started

Subscribe to the LTBn All Podcasts feed or the Let's Talk Bitcoin! show only feed and never miss an episode again.


KeepKey Hardware Wallet (Available Q3 2015)

Credits for Episode 242

Image Credit:

Content for todays episode was provided by Matthew and Rusty

This episode was edited by Matthew Zipkin

Music for todays show was provided by Jared Rubens and General Fuzz

via Lets Talk Bitcoin!

Andreas Antonopoulos Thinks Bitcoin ATMs Need to Be Completely Redesigned


Mastering Bitcoin Author Andreas Antonopoulos recently gave at talk at Harvard’s i-lab, spending much of his time in front of a small audience describing the various issues with Bitcoin as a brand. He noted many problems with the terminology[add link to bitcoin terminology is broken and wrong piece] used in Bitcoin, and he also focused on specific products or services in the Bitcoin space that seem to be doing a disservice to potential users.

At one point during the presentation, Antonopoulos turned his attention to Bitcoin ATMs, asking the audience how many of them had used one of the machines in the past. While a few people raised their hands, those hands went down when Antonopoulos then asked how many of them enjoyed their experience with the Bitcoin ATM.

How Traditional ATMs Work

To explain the user experience issues with Bitcoin ATMs, Antonopoulos first talked about the setup of traditional bank ATMs:

“When you interact as a person with an ATM, 1. you have a pre-existing relationship with the bank or financial institution; 2. you have a pre-existing balance; 3. your primary objective is to get in, get cash, [and] get out. Twenty seconds is too long. Three clicks is too long.”

In other words, there is no need for long explanations or user-onboarding with traditional ATMs. Everyone who uses them already has a debit card, and they’ve already interacted with the corresponding bank in the past. The process can be simple because the user already has his or her bank account setup.

Bitcoin ATMs Have Nothing in Common with Traditional ATMs

According to Antonopoulos, many Bitcoin ATM developers have been looking too closely at how traditional bank ATMs work when designing their own machines. He noted that Bitcoin ATMs have “absolutely nothing” in common with the ATMs that are currently used by banks, and he went on to describe the experience an average person has when attempting to use a Bitcoin ATM for the first time:

“The average user of Bitcoin ATM is someone who has never seen bitcoin before. It is a person who doesn’t understand what bitcoin is, and the ATM is their first introduction to this currency. It is a person who does not have a pre-existing relationship with anyone in the Bitcoin space. It is a person who does not currently have a wallet because they didn’t know they needed one – because they don’t know what a wallet is (it’s a keychain). And so they walk up to this machine, and this machine has been designed by engineers to simulate the experience of an ATM, even though the experience shares absolutely nothing with the use case we’re putting it to. So you walk up and the ATM tries to give you bitcoin in as few clicks as possible with a minimum amount of interaction. Is that a way to build brand loyalty? Is that a way to build user experience? Is that a way to introduce new users? I mean, it just throws it at you, and you’re not ready for that. But, ‘Please open your phone and display your QR code.’ Like, what? What’s a QR code?”

In an effort to solidify the point that Bitcoin ATMs should not be operating in the same manner as traditional bank ATMs, Antonopoulos then went through a long list of questions that a user would likely have while attempting to use a Bitcoin ATM for the first time.

The Right Model for a Bitcoin ATM

After describing the problems with currently available Bitcoin ATMs, Antonopoulos explained how he would design such a device:

“If I was designing a Bitcoin ATM, first of all, I’d put it in bodegas. Secondly, it wouldn’t have a lick of English on it. It’d be all-Spanish because I’m going to really push the remittance model. Thirdly, the first function on the ATM would be ‘Send money to Mexico City.’ That’s it. Because I want people to use the bitcoin for something. [Fourthly], I’d have a big button on the front that says ‘Talk to a human.’ I’ve got an Internet-connected device with a forward-facing camera and a tablet screen, and I’m not using it to do video customer service? Are you kidding me?”

It’s clear that the device Andreas Antonopoulos is imagining is completely different from a traditional ATM. In addition to the focus on international remittances, Antonopoulos also expanded on the idea that the Bitcoin device needs to teach the user about the peer-to-peer digital cash system:

“I don’t want to interact for fifteen seconds. I want to interact for two hours . . . And it tells me where I can spend [bitcoin]. It gives me suggestions on wallets, and it can send them directly to my phone. It’s building loyalty, brand and experience. That’s not a 15-second interaction.”

This is a perfect example of how sometimes simply applying the old ways of doing things to Bitcoin will not work. The most impactful innovations in the Bitcoin space have been the ones that created something completely new rather than thinking about how things worked in the past. Developers and entrepreneurs should try to avoid simply replacing the carriage with an automobile. It’s time to get rid of the horse.


Photo BTC Keychain / Flickr (CC)

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Blockchain Tech Could Save Global Business $550 Billion Per Year

Jeremy Almond, CEO of payments-as-a-service platform PayStand, examines whether blockchain technology can rescue the last bastion of analog payments.

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Canadian Pension Fund's Venture Arm Exploring Bitcoin Investments

The venture arm of a major Canadian pension fund is reportedly looking at making investments in bitcoin and blockchain startups.

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Bitcoin Technology Piques Interest on Wall St.


Bitcoin in the Headlines: Kingpins and Dark Markets

CoinDesk looks at the top headlines from the last week including prominent pieces from Rolling Stone and The New Yorker.

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The Lightning Network Could Solve The Bitcoin Block Size Limit

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Coinbase Launches Instant Exchange to Help Users Avoid Bitcoin Volatility

Coinbase users can now send bitcoin payments without being exposed to the digital currency’s volatility.

Users with a fiat wallet (must be verified in order to get it) allows use of Bitcoin’s global payment network without being exposed to the price of the digital currency. Coinbase’s Instant Exchange deducts an equal amount to the bitcoin the user wants to send, effectively exchanging the two. The service is similar to one offered by Coinbase to bitcoin-accepting merchants.

As of today, Instant Exchange is available for users with a USD, EUR, or GBP wallet. After typing the bitcoin address and chosing a fiat wallet, users can hit the “Instant Exchange” button, and then send. A bitcoin amount equal to the fiat selected will be sent instantly, without exposing the user to bitcoin’s notorious volatility. The startup’s standard conversion fee of 15 cents will be deducted from each conversion, but sending payments to other Coinbase users is free.

The bitcoin is deducted from the user’s fiat wallet and not his or her digital currency wallet, meaning it can also serve as a way for users to instantly sell their bitcoin.

A different model

Volatility is a problem all too well-known in Bitcoin and is a chief complaint among people interested in using the technology’s payment network. Many services have looked to solve this problem by offering the ability to “lock” bitcoin to the price of the American dollar, British pound, and various other fiat currencies. Users can then unlock their bitcoin when they want to send them or be exposed to the digital currency’s price.

Latin American bitcoin startup Coinapult was first to launch such a service, but now many bitcoin businesses offer it, including Bitreserve, which designed its whole service around the concept.

One issue with these services is that though it makes storing the currency safer, it does not solve the problem when sending the digital currency. Also, if bitcoin’s price goes down, these businesses offering the ability to peg bitcoin will lose money. And though the price has been more stable in recent months, bitcoin’s price has declined dramatically over the last year, meaning that many “lock” services could be feeling some pain.

Coinbase’s model avoids the potential risk of being on the strong side of a price swing by exchanging bitcoin for dollars instantly, and not operating a one-to-one reserve (peg).

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Bitcoin Market Aimed at College Students, CoinBase Bitcoin Give Away


The San Francisco-based bitcoin wallet provider has successfully given away free bitcoin to more than 20,000 college students.

CyptoCoins News reported that any student signing up for Coinbase would receive $10 worth of bitcoin. Students were required to verify enrollment by signing up with an email domain ending in “edu.”

At the time Coinbase founder, Fred Ehrsam, announced the limited time offer on Twitter, it was only available to a handful of “edus.”

Now the international digital wallet has posted a list of the top 10 schools with the most signups. The University of Michigan led the way with 941 signups. The University of California, Berkeley wasn’t far behind with 939 signups, the University of Illinois had 873 and the University of Texas ranked number four with 698 signups.

Some users complained via Reddit that they were having trouble signing up. But Ehrsam quickly replied, “It’s because so many people have signed up from Berkeley today (seriously).”

Students at other colleges including Notre Dame and UCLA reported success in signing up.

Coinbase went the extra mile to ensure security by requesting students provide a phone number that could be verified.

“This extra check has greatly reduced scammers trying to take advantage of this promotion. So it allows us to keep this promotion going,” said Coinbase.

College investors

Giving away free bitcoin to college students in order to encourage investment is clever, but not new. Earlier this month, more than 4,000 MIT students enrolled in the 2014 fall semester will receive $100 worth of bitcoin.

The brains behind the program, Jeremy Rubin and Dan Elitzer, were able to launch the program after receiving nearly half a million dollars in donations from MIT alumni and the bitcoin community.

“Giving students access to cryptocurrencies is analogous to providing them with internet access at the dawn of the internet era,” said Rubin.

While many are excited about the giveaway, some are curious about what will happen if they try signing up with a school that’s not yet listed.

Others say the promotion could be taken advantage of by non-students creating an email account with the domain “edu,” which some experts say is relatively easy to do. Drew Cordell of CyptoCoins News wrote, “If the promotion is meant to have a long duration, it will need to be refined significantly in order to prevent abuse and provide full access.”

Despite Ehrsam’s reassurance that abuse will be prevented, Cordell argued, “It is very simple to create an .edu email address for free in minutes. Creating false email accounts could allow users to abuse the system and continually claim the $10 bonus if the system is not well regulated.”

By offering young people a chance to invest in Bitcoin, companies like Coinbase could be key players in expanding the market for digital currencies. This could potentially ensure monetary freedom for the future by allowing bitcoin into the hands of our youth.

Coinbase currently has over one million consumer wallets, 30,000 merchants, 5,000 API applications and U.S. bank integration. They also have a remote team consisting of 35 contractors.

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