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Saturday, 31 October 2015

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Let's Talk Bitcoin! #260 New Growth

On Episode 260...

Adam sits down with Daniel Larimer, leader of the Bitshares project. They talk about the new release, the lessons learned over the last nearly three years and what comes next.

Relevant Links

Download Bitshares 2 Lite Client

Download Muse Lite Client

Migrating as an existing user to Bitshares 2.0 guide

Bitshares 0.9.3c download

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Credits for Episode 260

Content for todays episode was provided by Daniel and Adam

This episode was edited by Adam B. Levine

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

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The Ether Review #3: Roman Mandeleil

Roman Mandeleil, builder of the Ethercamp blockchain explorer and the java implimentation of Ethereum, discusses (among other things) what it is like to be a longtime developer in the Ethereum community.

[Note: This episode does not contain a magic word.]

Content: Roman Mandeleil, Arthur Falls

via The Let's Talk Bitcoin Network

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Friday, 30 October 2015

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It's Much Too Soon to Regulate Bitcoin, Says Deloitte Exec

Jon Watts, director of enterprise services at Deloitte, has weighed in on Bitcoin regulatory issues with clear and cogent arguments. Watts’ thesis is that Bitcoin is at the crossroads, and the race to regulate it could be happening much too soon.

Deloitte is a professional services firm headquartered in New York. Considered one of the Big Four auditory firms along with PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG, Deloitte is the second-largest professional services network in the world by revenue and largest by the number of professionals. The company provides audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services with more than 200,000 professionals in more than 150 countries.

Watts, based in the New York office, is a core member of Deloitte’s Capital Markets Technology practice and a national leader of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) service offering. The reputation of Deloitte should ensure that Watts’ advice on Bitcoin regulation is taken into account by regulators and policymakers.

“The Bitcoin 'blockchain' is a fundamental breakthrough in computer science that solves what seemed to be an unsolvable problem: how to ensure that a digital transaction happens only once,” notes Watts. “Yet there is a critical question that is hanging over Bitcoin, potentially slowing the pace of innovation, and adoption, i.e., how will Bitcoin be regulated​?”

Watts argues that global policymakers and regulators should consider giving Bitcoin more time to develop before insisting on regulation. Other key technology innovation such as the telephone, airplanes, radio, mobile phones, and the Internet, were given much more time to develop before coming under serious regulatory supervision.

“In fact, serious efforts to regulate disruptive technologies have traditionally been a function of the technology achieving mass adoption,” says Watts. Overwhelming regulatory supervision of Bitcoin is happening much too soon, only six years into the development of Bitcoin and “a long way away from the time it has typically taken for new technologies to achieve mass adoption in the past.”

In fact, Bitcoin is still very far from mass adoption, and represents but a very small fraction of the global economy. Though Bitcoin is all over the press – albeit often with shallow and sensationalist coverage – and venture capital investments in the Bitcoin space are taking off, only a tiny minority of people own bitcoin and use it to pay for goods and services.

“The highest daily dollar volume for Bitcoin transactions globally in February 2015 was less than $57 million, which is less than 1 percent of the average daily transaction volume for credit card platforms as measured in 2012,”notes Watts. Therefore, Bitcoin adoption is not yet skyrocketing with such a disruptive speed to warrant panic regulatory interventions.

Another important argument is that we could be still very far from real products that can generate true demand for Bitcoin-related services from mainstream consumers.​ In fact, Bitcoin's most valuable and important uses may have yet to be invented. Watts notes that Bitcoin is much more than just digital money – its real value is the ability of blockchain technology to establish trust between parties who don’t know each other.

That, Watts notes, may very well change how people live and interact. “Bitcoin is likely to follow a path where one innovation leads to another and ultimately, the very products, services, and capabilities that were once difficult or impossible to imagine, become necessities in our daily lives,” he said.

Watts worries that policymakers and regulators, in looking to protect the public from all of the bad outcomes we might anticipate today, could “end up stifling the myriad (as yet) unimaginable capabilities that could potentially change the world for the better.”

His concluding recommendation is that American industry groups, policymakers and regulators should collaborate and consider whether the United States should be the country that provides the most supportive environment for Bitcoin-related innovation.

The post It's Much Too Soon to Regulate Bitcoin, Says Deloitte Exec appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine

Bruce Fenton: Blockchain Alliance is a Profoundly Bad Idea

It was announced earlier this week that a significant group of prominent Bitcoin companies, individuals and institutions have united in a “Blockchain Alliance.” This alliance will serve as a resource for law enforcement to help combat criminal activity involving bitcoin and the blockchain, and has so far engaged with the Department of Justice (including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service), the U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

However, the Blockchain Alliance was not welcomed by the entire community.

One of the fiercest opponents of the initiative has been Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Bruce Fenton. Shortly after the Blockchain Alliance was announced, Fenton took to Internet forums and Twitter to voice his concern about the industry’s outreach to law enforcement.

Speaking toBitcoin Magazine , Fenton explained why:

Bitcoin's relative anonymity has obviously led to it being used for criminal purposes. Don't you consider that a problem that needs solving?

First off, I challenge the notion that the American government has an absolute and irrefutable right to know all financial information and private records of every person within our borders. This is a relatively new idea, and it's a very bad one. Some things are just not their business, and the fact that I'm a little afraid to say that out loud shows how sad our current state is.

As for criminal activity, note that something being a crime is not always a measure of morality. In some countries right now being gay is a criminal act. Even in the United States we once had segregation mandated by law. “Aiding a runaway slave” was once a crime... Would we have wanted to “partner with law enforcement” to track the blockchain for purchases made by escaped slaves?

Today we have laws related to asset forfeiture and federal prosecution of crimes which voters in states decided to decriminalize. These are actions by law enforcement that many citizens feel are immoral.

But Bitcoin can also be used for criminal purposes that we probably all agree are undesirable. Extortion comes to mind.

Sure, Bitcoin makes some bad things easier to do -- just as do shoes, phones and the Internet. But it's unwise to punish technology and innovation rather than the actual harmful actors.

The Blockchain Alliance is established exactly to help law enforcers make this distinction...

But taking care of these bad actors is the responsibility of the law enforcers, not that of the innovations or the industry. Cars make it far easier for criminals to escape than by foot, but the technology of the motor vehicle and its industry has no responsibility for this.

The job of innovators is to innovate, not to catch those whom the state deems criminal. The job of law enforcement is to deal with new technology as best they can without harming or interfering in the lives of peaceful people who have harmed no other.

The Blockchain Alliance has no intention to conduct blockchain analysis, blacklisting, or anything like that. It's just a forum where law enforcement can ask questions. Why do you consider this such a big deal?

Would the Blockchain Alliance be willing to put in writing a set of conditions under which they would break off ties with law enforcement? If not, then their stated intent is worthless.

Essentially every time any industry has had experiences with government which turned out to be destructive, it started with good intent. The Bitcoin community's engagement with the New York Department of Financial Services, and the resulting BitLicense, is actually a good example of that.

These government organizations have poor track records and continually seek to expand authority. We even have blatant violations of the Constitution such as those of the NSA exposed by Edward Snowden. The very same agencies who seek to capture Snowden are now partners of the Blockchain Alliance...

Law enforcement will, eventually, figure Bitcoin out with or without the Bitcoin Alliance. Why not help them in the process, and build up some goodwill among regulators?

The job of law enforcement is not to figure new things out, not to be our friend, not to determine right or wrong, nor even to craft new laws or listen to logic -- but to follow orders. Even if these orders flow from protectionist laws created by corrupt bureaucrats. And even if the banks and other special interests push for laws giving them a further competitive advantage over Bitcoin.

What about Bitcoin's image problem? Bitcoin is often seen as the currency for criminals, at least among many regulators...

We seem to forget that this is our country. The regulators are supposed to work for us. I challenge the notion that they are “serving the public” here, unless they can produce evidence that a large number of public citizens are concerned about Bitcoin technology. They aren't. No college students and grandmothers are lining up outside the doors of elected officials telling them that something must be done about “the scary blockchain.” Citizens are much more concerned about jobs, innovation and a competitive economy.

I believe we should first and foremost educate the public. Aside from educating citizens, we can also spend some effort educating lawmakers, preferably elected ones with some accountability rather than the unelected (Benjamin) Lawsky types.

But most importantly, we should take a page from the playbook of Uber and build something that's loved by millions... then when the fat wrinkled hands of bureaucrats are raised with a signal to stop, the public collectively shrugs and ignores them.

As Bitcoin becomes more popular, not in the least among criminals, the trend of more and stricter regulation will probably continue. If you care about privacy, fungibility, censorship resistance, and these sorts of things, wouldn't it make sense to focus on protocol-level solutions, rather than to fight regulation and law enforcement?

Definitely. The ultimate solutions are those of a technical nature. My goal in speaking about this is not to fight law enforcement or even regulation... but to simply question why it could make sense to work so hard to help law enforcement with a dubious mission.

I respect the members of that group a lot, many are good friends. I hope I'm wrong and it turns out great. Meanwhile, let's all work together to build something amazing that changes our world for the better.

Photo Office of Public Affairs / Flickr (CC)

The post Bruce Fenton: Blockchain Alliance is a Profoundly Bad Idea appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine


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Bots run amok in World of Warcraft

Blizzard's World of Warcraft has a retention problem. The game that peaked at over 11 million players at one point, now is shedding players as the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack, released in fall 2014, appears to be a failure to many long time players.

After a brief peak due to the WoD expansion, the subscriber count begins to tumble.

The latest expansion package from Blizzard failed to deliver a compelling enough experience for many users to stay engaged with the game, but for automated bot players, the expansion did little to curtail the use of bots in the game.

If anything, the issue of bot playing has become more widespread and more rampant as Blizzard appears to take a more "hands-off" approach to the game. The company appears to be focusing more on creating a new expansion pack. An expansion pack the company hopes will bring the game's subscription numbers back up.

Bots in World of Warcraft are nothing new to this game, or any other online game. The bot software was written to play automatically or grind certain areas of game content to earn in-game currency. The software has been around for a long time and in the past Blizzard relied on many measures to protect the game from bots.

Blizzard was previously embroiled in a lengthy lawsuit against a company named MDY Industries. MDY created a piece of software that automated gameplay for World of Warcraft called MMOGlider. The MMOGlider software had been sold over 100,000 times, according to court documents. It is clear that many players of World of Warcraft were using the automated game play software to get ahead in the game.

Blizzard has taken an aggressive stand against bots publicly. It repeatedly states in the rules of the game that using botting software will result in a ban and termination of your account. In the past, Blizzard backed up that hard stance with firm action. Recently, however, it appears that Blizzard is backing down from taking strong actions against the bot players.

A recent former employee of the company spoke with LDT editors about how Blizzard handles bots in World of Warcraft under the stipulation that her identity be left omitted from this piece out of fear of retaliation from her former employer. When asked why Blizzard is letting very obvious bots take over some areas of the game she told LDT,

Blizzard receives and reviews the reports for players that are cheating using bots. If they determine a player is using a bot they might let it go on for a while to be sure, to gather information about the software being used so they can detect it better in the future and because to be frank they can keep making money from the offender in subscription charges until they do a mass ban of many players on a single day.

Blizzard is not trying to let bots run amok in the game, but they certainly do profit from it just as much as they do from legitimate players. While the bots are "being studied," they can continue making profits from the bots while all human players suffer.

The bottom line is that players who run bots are destroying the economy of many World of Warcraft servers. They disrupt gameplay for those who wish to grind legitimately. (Grinding is the act of completing repetitive actions in a video game such as World of Warcraft for gold, experience points or other purposes.)

Bots frequently run amok in certain areas where grinding can be the most profitable with the highest GPH, or gold per hour. In certain areas of the game where the mobs are often spawning quickly, the items being dropped can be dumped on the auction house for a profit, and the grinding can be performed with Area of Effect abilities and spells. Area of Effect abilities or spells allows a player to cast a single spell or ability and cause damage to several groups or mobs of enemies at a single time. Players can kill several monsters at the same time using these abilities. This can make grinding some areas of the game significantly more profitable than others.

One such area in World of Warcraft, being heavily visited by both legitimate players and bots alike, is currently from the previous expansion pack. An area by the name of Sra'Vess. Sra'Vess has been an extremely popular zone for botters and manual grinders alike. The mobs are on a fast respawn timer, are quickly killed, and drop a variety of items for selling on the auction house '“ not to mention plenty of fast gold.

The area in question is being farmed very heavily by a myriad of bots and legitimate players. I set out with a maximum level character (on a highly populated realm) to the zone and began farming the area. As I arrived, I immediately saw several other players doing the same. It was only minutes into my manual grinding that I received several private messages in the game from other players in the area.

Most of them would say something along the lines of hello and ask if I wanted to farm some mobs nearby. I was polite and thought it was great to see other players in the game. It had been a while since I had seen other players outside of the major cities. It did not dawn on me for several more minutes that some of these players were simply messaging me to see if I would reply.

Often people who are cheating using bots in World of Warcraft will do other things and won't reply to the private messages. My fellow players were testing me and after about ten minutes I immediately was able to see why for myself.

Within fifteen minutes, I had spotted a player who kept running the same path, casting the same spells over and over for the next 45 minutes. It could just be a dedicated player. Alternatively, it could be a bot.

After an hour of grinding the area, I logged out of the game. The next morning I returned to the game and to the same area to find the same player was still running the same path. I was intrigued and watched as this player kept the same routine for the next three hours. During this time, several players messaged me, and we began talking about the suspected bots in the area.

One player explained to me they had parked a character in the area to report the characters they thought were bots and had logged things inside of a spreadsheet showing the hours that this one particular character was online and running the same sequence repeatedly. We quickly determined it was logged in for 15 hours or more at a time. During those 15 hours, it would keep running the same path, casting the same spells and not responding to any messages.

I was highly intrigued. I began messaging the player in question and never received a response. I also began reporting the player to Blizzard as instructed by the Blizzard website and never received a response. I also noted that this activity with this individual character continued for over 30 days.

Screencap from a video showing another player exhibiting bot-like behavior.

After talking to other players in the area and explaining that I was a journalist who was fascinated by these bots and Blizzard's lack of response, I was beginning to become inundated with emails to my personal email address regarding bot information. Several players began making videos, sometimes hours in length and sending them to me. The videos would show characters with very bot-like behavior running rampant in this particular section of the game. I watched nearly 30 hours of videos from several players. Each of them showing the same three or four players and many of them showing the players reporting the bots and following them.

Personal experience following characters exhibiting bot like behavior for hours.

I even began to take my own videos. I targeted one player, in particular, plugged in a large external hard-drive to my computer, and hit the record button. I recorded for several hours. It was always the same path, the same spells, the same looting pattern. It was apparent and almost undeniable.

Several of the players with whom I had been conversing with took to the Blizzard forums to begin making public complaints about the situation. The alleged bot players were destroying the economy of a few key items in the auction house. Anger began mounting after one particular character had been reported by a cabal of players repeatedly for the past thirty days, and nothing had been done.

Blizzard's response indicated that it could take several months to address the issue. Many of the players who had been sending me private messages began spreading my contact information around and emailing me about how furious they were with how Blizzard was handling the situation.

A few quick searches on the Internet and I had quickly found profiles for several popular World of Warcraft bot applications to help others farm the area.

Profile for botting app.

With just a few minutes of application setup, you could be running a bot in the same area that would farm the same points, take the same paths, and kill all of the monsters in the same area.

It will take months to determine if a player is using one of these illicit applications in violations of the game's Terms of Service according to Blizzard. Here, in the clear, on the Internet, was available to download in plain-text the exact points. It just didn't make sense.

I spoke to several experienced World of Warcraft players whom all asked not to be named out of fear of retribution, and all of them agreed that Blizzard was simply ignoring the issue to generate more revenue from the players using bot applications. They could ban them after several months, but not before they collected more revenues from them.

I eventually decided to go truly down the rabbit hole and joined a major botting community. I would never personally use the software myself as I could not bring myself to be part of the problem, but I wanted to get into the heads of others who used the software.

One player had recorded the entire process of going from nothing to the maximum level of 100 in the game using nothing but bot software. Another had shown me how they were able to reach 1.3 million gold in under 23 days when they only began with 93,000 gold.

Most botters were very fearful of talking with me. They feared I may report them to Blizzard, but after assurances that I would keep their identifies secret, many of them opened up and began talking frankly about bots and banning in World of Warcraft.

One player, known simply as "The Warrior", had been using World of Warcraft bots for an extended period of time. He had three accounts, and only one had ever been banned. He was able to get it back after a year. He merely told Blizzard it was not him doing the bot playing, but rather someone "who had hacked" his account. The other two accounts are automated nearly 12 hours per day and have remained unmolested.

His current goal is to have a level 100 character of each class in the game. A lofty goal, but one in which after just a month of setting the goal he is nearly 75% complete with. Over and over again I heard the same story of very few bannings outside of massive ban waves that occur once in a great while. It seemed as if a large number of people were using bots to get ahead in the World of Warcraft.

Why were they doing it? Some were doing it for gold to pay for subscriptions, others to sell the gold and a few were simply doing it because they did not have time to farm content and wanted to "get to the good stuff" at the later levels.

While leveling a new character I joined several instance groups. These groups are formed across servers and require a varying set of player classes to complete content. In nearly 5% of the groups I had joined, I found other players in my group who were using bot software that had been carefully designed to appear like legitimate players.

Several pieces of software allow those who wish to use bot applications the ability to join and play inside of dungeons in World of Warcraft. The software simply begins attacking once the tank begins damaging a target and follow the tank without performing any other actions, casting the same spells, not responding to messages and exhibiting other odd behaviors.

Searching the Internet I quickly find that I am not alone and that many others, especially tanks, are reporting the same sort of things.

(NSFW Video '“ Language)

We've seen the bot applications become more sophisticated with time and have expanded to do a wide range of World of Warcraft actions.

Others were simply using bot applications to farm player versus player content.

(NSFW Video '“ Language)

The Player versus Player or PVP Botting is one of the worst parts of the World of Warcraft experience for legitimate players. The PVP aspect of the game is nearly destroyed when players are matched up against computer programs versus other human players. One World of Warcraft application named HonorBuddy makes the process of playing battlegrounds automated. It has since expanded to be a wide range of other things but began as merely a way to earn battleground points for players.

With the game subscription numbers already sagging one could see why Blizzard would be slow to ban players using automated means of playing. They are paying for subscriptions just as much as legitimate players. However, the loss of many players due to being angry about the current situation in several areas of the game could be an even larger long-term issue for the game.

via The Let's Talk Bitcoin Network

BitFury Looks to Go Green With 3M’s Novec 7100 Engineered Fluid

In an attempt to further decrease energy costs and its impact on the environment, BitFury announced that it was launching the world’s largest two-phase immersion cooling (2PIC) project at its new data center in the Republic of Georgia.

By using the technology from Allied Control, bought in January, and the Novec 7100 Engineered Fluid from industrial giant 3M, the company is hoping to optimize its operations and make them more green. The firm intends on using 3M’s fluid to cool more than 40 megawatts of processing power.

“The maintenance cost of traditional low-cost air cooling systems is quite high compared to immersion cooling, and it is very problematic to use low-cost air cooling systems in the areas with hot weather, it becomes very costly,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO of BitFury, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Vavilov explained that the utilization of immersion cooling allows for a reduction in maintenance costs. Further, it opens up the possibility of the company launching mining operations in parts of the world that would otherwise not provide efficient cooling.

“In addition, we are able to deploy it in the areas with hot weather climate which opens possibility to operate literally in any location in the world. Also, for chips, this fluid is ideal exploitation environment and it allows to run them with maximum possible efficiency that just cannot be achieved using low-cost air-cooled systems,” he explained.

2PIC works by placing hardware in a specially designed tank with a liquid coolant such as the Novec 7100. What makes this fluid particularly useful is that it has a low boiling point, which means that as it heats, it starts to evaporate much more quickly. That pulls the heat away from the hardware in the device, allowing them to operate at a higher rate for much longer. When the vapor hits a water-cooled condenser coil, it becomes a fluid again and falls back into the tank, thus reducing the amount of fluid loss significantly.

“One of the primary limitations for computer performance is the thermal environment. Two-phase immersion cooling with Novec fluids provides tight coupling between device temperatures and the fluid boiling temperature. This means that these devices operate in a narrower temperature band,” explained Michael Garceau, 3M Business Development Manager, Data Center Markets, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “This is true not just for the processors, but for the circuits and devices delivering power to them. This, in turn, allows the hardware to be driven harder on average than would be possible in air and “overclocked” as is often done in the most profitable early stages of a mining deployment.”

Garceau also explained that because these 2PIC-specific boards don’t require heat sinks and cold plates, the processing hardware can be more densely packed with the 2PIC boards. This enables improved overclocking capacity.

“500-watt ASICs have been successfully overclocked to well over 750 watts. 2PIC with a Novec fluid will enable BitFury to lower operational costs by allowing them to run ASICs more efficiently,” Garceau explained.

The Environment is Key for BitFury

According to Garceau, “The streamlined system can deliver as much as 95 percent cooling energy savings with minimal fluid loss.” The cost of cooling hardware is an additional expense that many miners don’t consider when first starting out. Big scale fans require electricity.

“Green transaction processing is a significant and important part of our business strategy. With our acquisition of Allied Control, we have been able not only to utilize renewable energy sources like hydropower in our datacenter located in the Republic of Georgia, but also achieve a very energy-efficient cooling despite hot daytime temperatures,” explained Vavilov.

The NovecTMEngineered Fluids are nonflammable, have zero ozone depletion potential, have a low global warming potential, are Hazardous Air Pollutant-free, and are U.S. EPA SNAP-approved. And because the majority of the fluid condenses and drops back into the tank, replenishment isn’t needed for multiple hardware generations.

All told, BitFury is focused on delivering blockchain transaction processing in an efficient and green environment.

“We strive to ensure low carbon print and high efficiency of all our operations and already rely on renewable energy – thermal and hydropower – for all our operations,” Vavilov said. “We are also in the process of developing low-cost wind turbine technology that will provide another affordable and effective energy solution. We plan that by next year our data centers will be powered by the low-cost renewable energy generated by our new wind turbines. This will allow to further significantly lower our electricity cost and secure a long-term access to cheap electricity on a predictable basis.”

With electricity being the primary outlier that separates the profitable miners from the unprofitable, taking control of the supply of that power ensures that BitFury can remain profitable while also doing its part to reduce the significant carbon footprint found in bitcoin mining.

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post BitFury Looks to Go Green With 3M’s Novec 7100 Engineered Fluid appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

via Bitcoin Magazine

Report: CryptoWall Creators Earned $325 Million in Bitcoin Ransoms

A new report looks at the CryptoWall ransomware and its components in an attempt to analyze its success.

via CoinDesk

Chinese Exchanges Agree: Bitcoin Price Has Nothing to Do With Capital Controls

The price of bitcoin continues to rise, led primarily by the exchanges in China, which have, oftentimes, been trading at a premium of $10/BTC higher than the other major exchanges around the world. With China driving such an increase in the bitcoin price, many have been speculating that it could be driven by capital controls.

In China, the law stipulates that individuals cannot send more than the equivalent of $50,000 out of the country in a year. To get around this, individuals have hired smugglers to get cash out of the country, bought extremely expensive real estate in cities like New York and London, and even set up businesses in other countries with the goal of overpaying for inventory from China. All of this just to get money out of the country.

According to pseudonymous blogger Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge , the primary driver has been the Chinese purchasing bitcoin as a way of getting around capital controls.

“If a few hundred million Chinese decide that the time has come to use bitcoin as the capital controls bypassing currency of choice … sit back and watch as we witness the second coming of the bitcoin bubble,” he wrote in a recent blog post .

But is this, in fact, what is occurring?

According to Bobby Lee, the Founder and CEO of BTCC, while a hedge against capital controls is certainly a use case for bitcoin, it’s not what is driving this run up.

“I can tell you, being on the ground with the bitcoin exchange in China, I can guestimate that the vast majority of trading volume is not for that reason. The reality is, there are many loopholes around the capital controls. For the most part, it’s not a strict, strict capital controls,” he explained in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “If you look at countries like Myanmar and Argentina, which have very strict capital controls, you’ll have the price of bitcoin to USD [U.S. dollars] is much greater.”

Jack Liu, head of international at OKCoin, also disagreed with the notion that it had anything to do with capital controls. In an email to Bitcoin Magazine , he said, “I don't think so. It's speculation.”

Leon Li, CEO of Huobi, said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, “to be clear, it’s not about capital controls.”

BTCC, OKCoin, and Huobi are the three biggest exchanges in China. All three don’t see a fear of capital controls driving the recent run-up of the price of bitcoin.

If it’s not capital controls, what is it?

It’s About Perception

“Over the last two months, we’ve seen a steady increase in bitcoin activity and bitcoin volumes and price appreciation. The reason this price has happened is because of renewed interest,” Lee explained. “All the bad news has come out over the past year and a half, and now it’s over.”

Lee walked through a list of the bad news that held bitcoin back: Mt. Gox imploding, the Chinese government offering ambiguous opinions on bitcoin, and the Silk Road bitcoin being sold en masse. “We’ve been in a bear market for the past 18 months,” he said.

And with that bear market came the need for miners to liquidate more of their bitcoin than normal because they didn’t know what the future price would be, Lee explained. “There’s a constant selling pressured caused by bitcoin miners.”

“The price is recovering on a rebound after several months in a narrow range. Some Chinese traders are expressing a view on the CNY exchange rate after the last devaluation, and you have interest by mainland speculators to move to other assets after the stock market fallout,” Liu of OKCoin said to Bitcoin Magazine.

What Lee does believe is that there is only one reason that the price of bitcoin is going up:

“It’s mostly new users,” he said, referring to who was signing up for the site during this recent run-up in price. “Bitcoin price, if I may be bold, has been going up in the recent years for only one reason: more usage, more acceptance and more awareness. When bitcoin is in more hands, the price naturally goes up. It’s the law of scarcity.”

Li of Huobi believes that there are a multitude of reasons driving the price higher. He touched on the recent regulatory environment with the CFTC saying bitcoin was a commodity and, in Europe, the courts saying that it was exempt from VAT.

“More financial institutions entered this industry,” he said, “such as bitcoin-based ETN and ETF were founded in Europe. Organizations and individuals involved more in bitcoin market as the policy and funding is becoming in favor of bitcoin.”

But Li also offered some negative reasons in China that might support the recent rise.

“Finance industry is developing rapidly in China during recent years, however, there still exists a distance in terms of trading mechanisms compared to the developed countries, which hindered the small and medium-sized investors from enjoying convenient services and trades," he said. "Chinese banking industry is still charging high transaction fees despite the fact that we’re living in the Internet Age.”

Nonetheless, bitcoin is rising, and China is leading the pack. Whether this run will last for only a short while or this is the beginning of another bull run, no one is certain. But the energy within the community is certainly more positive, this run-up encouraging more people to talk about bitcoin.

And as Lee said, as more people become aware of bitcoin, more people will use it, and that alone will drive the price up.

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post Chinese Exchanges Agree: Bitcoin Price Has Nothing to Do With Capital Controls appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin in the Headlines: Blockchain Scores Economist Cover

Who's said what and where? CoinDesk has rounded up the hottest bitcoin and blockchain related headlines from across the globe.

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Newsflash: Bitcoin Price Scales a New Year-High

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Quiz: This Week in the World of Bitcoin

Are you up to date with the latest bitcoin and blockchain related news? Test your knowledge with our latest quiz.

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Bitcoin Price Hits New High for 2015

The price of bitcoin has hit a new high for 2015, with the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) peaking at $333.75 this morning.

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Former Mt. Gox CEO Karpeles Re-arrested for Embezzlement Mainstream Media Misreports ‘Bitcoin CEO Arrested’

Today, Tokyo police re-arrested former Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles for the embezzlement of $166,000 worth of U.S. funds, according to local Japanese newspaper Yomiuri.

Karpeles is currently in custody for fraud and money-laundering allegations and will be held by Japanese police for further interrogation.

Over the past two months, the Karpeles investigation has developed into a national scandal, involving the Japanese government and various law enforcement agencies, due to the inaccurate reporting from both international and Japanese media networks including Yomiuri and MSN.

Since the beginning of the investigation, Microsoft news network MSN and a few other mainstream Japanese media outlets have misreported Karpeles as the “bitcoin CEO,” confusing viewers who are not fully aware of the situation.

This morning, MSN reported, “Bitcoin CEO spent embezzled funds on prostitutes,” infuriating many bitcoin entrepreneurs and developers.

In response, security expert, author and Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast host Andreas Antonopoulos said, “If your local journalists are reporting about the "Bitcoin CEO" today, they understand neither bitcoin nor journalism.’

The post Former Mt. Gox CEO Karpeles Re-arrested for Embezzlement Mainstream Media Misreports ‘Bitcoin CEO Arrested’ appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Heartland CEO: Blockchain Could Power Trillions in Bank Transactions

CoinDesk speaks to Heartland Payments CEO Bob Carr about his merchant payment services firm and its thesis on bitcoin and the blockchain.

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Capital One Survey Finds Blockchain Interest Growing at Money20/20

Capital One has released a new survey that affirms the financial industry is increasingly optimistic about blockchain technology.

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Bitcoin Price Hedge Pledge

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The Crypto Show: Darth Vader vs. Chewbacca, Ladar Levison, and Cliff Baltzley

We're joined in studio by Cliff Baltzley, creator of Hushmail and partner of StashCrypto. Ladar Levison, creator of Lavabit and DarkMail, also joins in. This is all one show, not two separate interviews. This was one of the funnest episodes we've had the privilege of doing to date. We also have a cameo appearance by Darth Vader and Chewbacca.

Original air date on the Logos Radio Network: October 28, 2015

Links and Info

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Deloitte Partners With Blockchain Startup Colu

Coloured coins startup Colu has revealed it is embarking on a partnership with multinational consulting firm Deloitte.

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Digital Asset Holdings to Acquire Blockchain Startup Blockstack

San Francisco-based blockchain startup has entered into an acquisition agreement with Digital Asset Holdings.

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How Payment Giants Are Embracing Bitcoin and Blockchain Tech

Here's a round-up of some of the most notable interactions between payment giants and the world of crypto.

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Bitcoin and Blockchain Square Off at Money20/20

Money20/20 hosted its second (Bit)coinWorld track this year, a forum that highlighted ongoing terminology debates in the industry.

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Microsoft Rolls Out Ethereum Toolkit for Business Users

Computing giant Microsoft is rolling out a toolkit that will let its enterprise users build on the Ethereum protocol.

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SAFE Crossroads Podcast #22 SAFE School, Class V, Connecting All

In this Episode

Class V of the School of the SAFE Network brings clarity on another component of the SAFE Network configuration which is critical to the autonomous functioning of the network.

We explore some of the problems and solutions of peer-to-peer networking, and explore some of the key terminology necessary to communicating about it.

We really only scratch the surface enough to better understand what the SAFE Network needs to accomplish to operate properly, but the miracles regularly performed all the time in providing us all with the connectivity we've come to expect become more appreciated in view of an understanding of the wild and amorphous Internet environment.

We have a talk with Peter Jankuliak, lead maintainer of the SAFE Network connection library, on topics related to today's class, and progress on the current technical sprint.

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Listen for the magic word, and submit it to your account to claim a share of this week's listener award distribution of LTBcoin. Listeners now have a full week from the release date to submit a magic word. The magic word for this episode must be submitted by 1 pm Pacific Time on November 4, 2015.


Music for this episode: Arrivals, and Magic Words original pieces, composed and performed by Nicholas Koteskey of Two Faced Heroes

Show Notes

SAFE Network Wiki

SAFE Network Glossary

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NYDFS Chief to Resign Amid Reported Tension with Governor’s Office

Infighting between the New York State Department of Financial Services and the governor’s office has reportedly led to the resignation of key figures.

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Russian Minister Confirms Plans to Ban Bitcoin-to-Fiat Conversions

Russia's Deputy Finance Minister has confirmed the country's plans to penalise the conversion of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin into the ruble.

via CoinDesk

Don Tapscott, WEF Senior Advisor, Joins Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Advisory Board

The Chamber of Digital Commerce, a trade association focused on promoting digital currencies and assets, announced today, at Money 20/20, that Don Tapscott had joined its board of advisors.

The goal is for him to advise on government affairs and public policy related to technology and economic policy. He will also be working on a framework for best practices on blockchain technology for regulators.

Tapscott is the author or co-author of more than 15 books about technology, such as The Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in The Age of Networked Intelligence and Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. Along with his many books, Tapscott is also CEO of Tapscott Group, a senior adviser to the World Economic Forum, and the Chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

“I am delighted to join the Chamber of Digital Commerce in its mission to develop pro-growth public policy for digital assets,” Tapscott said in a statement. “The blockchain will radically transform the way we do commerce, redefine the very nature of industries worldwide and has the potential to fundamentally shift the way in which our society’s is [sic] hierarchically organized. However, without a regulatory framework that allows for such innovation, the blockchain could be severely stifled.”

"The digital asset industry has significant public policy challenges to overcome. We look to our Advisory Board to provide thought leadership in developing policy proposals and solutions. Don Tapscott's influence in technology and financial services will be helpful in building relationships and credibility in Washington for the digital asset industry,” said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Originally a skeptic on bitcoin, Tapscott has since changed his mind and said, in an interview at a Toronto school: “Bitcoin. Well, I’ve changed my mind. I used to think it would never fly, and now I think it’s not only going to fly as a currency, but the underlying blockchain technology is part, core part, of a next generation of the Internet, that it’s going to radically transform commerce, or the nature of the corporation, but many of our institutions of our society, and everybody needs to pay attention to this.”

Along with his son, Alex Tapscott, he is writing a book titled The Trust Protocol: How Blockchain Technology is Changing Money, Business and the World , which will be published by Penguin Random House in Spring 2016.

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

Photo Dan Tapscott / Flickr (CC)

The post Don Tapscott, WEF Senior Advisor, Joins Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Advisory Board appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Distributed Ledger Firm R3CEV Gains Three More Banking Partners

Distributed ledger startup R3CEV has gained an additional three banking partners, raising the number of total banks involved to 25. Japan's Mizuho Bank, Nordea Bank – which operates in Northern Europe – and Italian bank UniCredit join the likes of Citi, HSBC, Barclays and Goldman Sachs in R3CEV's blockchain project which sets out to spread the […]

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Bitcoin Price Hits $300 Amid Continuing Price Rally

The price of bitcoin reached $300 today for the first time in over three months, continuing a steady climb since mid-September.

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Silbert's Digital Currency Group Announces Major Fundraise from MasterCard, CIBC, and Others

Barry Silbert, Founder of the recently acquired SecondMarket, announced at Money20/20 that the Digital Currency Group had raised its round of capital.

Digital Currency Group, otherwise known as DCG, was formed when Genesis Global Trading—a bitcoin OTC trading firm—and Grayscale Investments—a digital currency asset management firm that manages Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC)—were combined into one entity.

Along with these two companies, Mr. Silbert also combined his diverse portfolio of seed investment in the bitcoin and blockchain space. Some of his early investments include BitPay, Coinbase, itBit, and Xapo.

“Our companies have raised over 70% of venture capital that has been invested in the space if you don’t count the miners,” Silbert said at Money 20/20.

Bain Capital Ventures, Canadian Imperial Bank of Comerce (CIBC), CME Ventures, FirstMark Capital, MasterCard, New York Life, Novel TMT, Oak HC/FT, RRE Ventures, Solon Mack Capital, and Transamerica Ventures are all new investors in DCG.

“I wanted to work with firms who have a long-term perspective, and were willing to explore with us and invest not only money, but real organizational and intellectual capital into building businesses and partnerships that will enable us to unleash value in new, unprecedented ways,” Silbert said in a statement.

DCG is being launched a holding company rather than an investment fund. Silbert believes that this gives the company the necessary flexibility and diversification. “Being structured as a company, versus a fund, allows us to evolve with the industry given our permanent capital base and flexible mandate,” Silbert said in the statement. “It is our view that broad exposure with the optionality to concentrate our focus is a winning strategy.”

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post Silbert's Digital Currency Group Announces Major Fundraise from MasterCard, CIBC, and Others appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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BTCC Announces Launch of Pro Exchange Allowing 20x Margin Trading

BTCC, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges in the world, announced its Pro Exchange at a Money 20/20 panel held at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.

Pro Exchange is a bitcoin margin trading tool that will allow traders to exercise 20x leverage on spot trading.

Unlike BTCC’s regular spot exchange, which might be useful for those who are looking to buy or sell one or two bitcoin, Bobby Lee, CEO of BTCC, explained that this product is better suited for more experienced traders.

“If you want to buy a lot of bitcoin, it’s a quick way to get a lot really fast,” Lee explained in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine . Lee explained that miners looking to hedge against price decline, those looking for arbitrage opportunities, and “people who are professional and directional traders would all find the tool useful.”

“We’re the first exchange to launch a radically new trading platform,” Lee said. “We’re going to reinvent the game and not wait to be marginalized. We’re going to disrupt ourselves with this. This is big. This kind of trading will be adopted by other companies, I guarantee you.”

Margin trading is effectively borrowing bitcoin to make trades with it, returning it once an individual’s trade is completed. If a user had 1 BTC and the price appreciated by $10 before selling, their profit would be $10. However, if someone borrowed bitcoin at 20x margin, they’d have 20 bitcoin to trade with. If the price went up by $10, they’d have effectively made $200 profit. Users effectively get more buying power than they physically have to trade with.

There are two parts to the fee structure that BTCC charges. “There’s a commission once you open a position to go long or go short,” Lee explained. “There’s also the overnight carry fee because of 20x leverage. It’s sort of like an interest rate. It’s very competitive.” More details on pricing can be found on the exchange website.

“It’s also the first platform that allows users to earn interest,” Lee explained. In essence, if a user allows their bitcoin to be lent out to other traders, they will earn interest on the bitcoin based on the fees that BTCC charges.

The company recently underwent a branding change from BTC China to the now current BTCC. While the Pro Exchange is one of the first products it has launched under this new moniker, the company has many plans coming.

“Our mission is to launch more and more of these convenient and trustworthy digital currency products,” Lee said. “Whether it’s merchant payments, remittance, and our wallet later this year. There’s a bunch of things coming over the horizon.”

Pro Exchange is just step one to the company’s goals of building the “world’s greatest company to serve this global bitcoin audience,” Lee said.

Jacob Donnelly is a full-time product manager and freelance journalist covering stocks, business and bitcoin. He runs a weekly digital currency and blockchain newsletter called Crypto Brief.

The post BTCC Announces Launch of Pro Exchange Allowing 20x Margin Trading appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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