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What is Bitcoin?

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

Bitcoin Latest News

Through the Roadblock? Bitcoin's Price Might Be Priming for a Boost

Bearish signals appear to be reversing as chart analysis suggests the quiet bitcoin price might be close to making noise.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 9:15 am

Change Healthcare Announces Enterprise Blockchain Solutions on Hyperleger Fabric

Change Healthcare Dist Health

Today, at the Distributed: Health 2017 conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Change Healthcare announced blockchain solutions on an enterprise scale. According to the company, which is one of the major independent healthcare technology providers in the U.S., the utilization of blockchain technology will help their clients in boosting revenue cycle efficiency, improving real-time analytics, cutting down costs and creating “innovative new services.” Using the organization’s Intelligent Healthcare Network, Change Healthcare processes 12 billion transactions covering over $2 trillion in claims annually.

Change Healthcare CEO Neil de Crescenzo stated that the company is working together with both customers and organizations, such as the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, to make access to blockchain technology — and the benefits of the tech — and to develop “additional, advanced use cases.”

“We are excited to work alongside our customers and partners to make blockchain real in healthcare. As today’s healthcare system becomes more value-based, it’s essential that we aggressively and pervasively introduce new technologies into healthcare at scale — whether they leverage blockchain, artificial intelligence or other emerging capabilities with the potential to improve outcomes and efficiencies. We are initially introducing blockchain technology to create a distributed ledger that makes claims processing and secure payment transactions work more efficiently and cost effectively for all healthcare stakeholders,” Mr. de Crescenzo said.

“We want to make it easier and more efficient for health care as an industry to utilize this technology and make it a better experience for the consumers as well as the clinicians who don’t want to spend their time on the computer,” Aaron Symanski, CTO of Change Healthcare, told Bitcoin Magazine. “They just want to go out there and help more people every day.”

According to the company’s plans, blockchain technology will be implemented on the Intelligent Healthcare Network by the end of the year. Change Healthcare highlighted that their vendor partners and customers will not have to develop new code, interfaces or data formats.

Change Healthcare will utilize the Linux Foundation’s open-source Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 blockchain framework. Change Healthcare is a premier member of the Hyperledger Governing Board; therefore, the company will be contributing code innovations to the open-source community in order to improve blockchain applications in the United States and on a global scale.

“Change Healthcare is uniquely positioned to lead blockchain innovation for healthcare, and we are excited to participate in this transformative undertaking with them. With its security, transparency of transactions, and ability for all stakeholders to access the same information, blockchain technology has potential to increase payment accuracy and revenue velocity, which will benefit payers, providers, and consumers themselves,” Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger, said in a statement.

According to Change Healthcare, today’s blockchain announcement is a part of a series of strategic actions taken by the company. In May, Change Healthcare joined Hyperledger’s premier membership as the first healthcare IT vendor. By implementing blockchain technology to the company’s services, Change Healthcare seeks to hold its position as a leading innovator along with accelerating the adoption and the development of blockchain and other innovative technologies.

The post Change Healthcare Announces Enterprise Blockchain Solutions on Hyperleger Fabric appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 9:14 am

Mizuho CEO: Financial Firms 'Should Have Courage' to Take Blockchain Live

The president and CEO of the Mizuho Financial Group "megabank" has spoken out on the potential of blockchain to disrupt financial incumbents.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 8:30 am

What Happens to Cryptocurrency When You Die? - Fortune


Fortune

What Happens to Cryptocurrency When You Die?
Fortune
A young man died suddenly in Colorado this year, leaving his family the burden of sorting out his estate. Little did they know their loved one had been investing in Bitcoin, the digital currency that cost as little as $13 in 2013 and recently climbed ...

and more »

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 8:01 am

What Happens to Your Bitcoin When You Die? - Fortune


Fortune

What Happens to Your Bitcoin When You Die?
Fortune
What Happens to Your Bitcoin When You Die? 9:40 AM EDT. Why Marathons Are Attracting Fewer Runners 8:24 AM EDT. Governor John Kasich: Healthcare Reform Should Be Bipartisan September 25, 2017. Here's How Gov. John Kasich Wants to Reform ...

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 7:55 am

Gaming Firm to Buy $80 Million Stake in Korean Bitcoin Exchange Korbit

Gaming firm Nexon has agreed to buy a majority stake in South Korea's Korbit cryptocurrency exchange for roughly $80 million.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 7:30 am

North Korea may be mining bitcoin in addition to hacking it - Quartz


Quartz

North Korea may be mining bitcoin in addition to hacking it
Quartz
Last month, North Korea was banned from exporting coal to China, its biggest buyer. The rogue regime may have found a new use for these idle coal supplies: powering bitcoin mines. That's according to research by Recorded Future, an information security ...
Bitcoin market may be financing North Korea after sanctionsNew York Post

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 6:14 am

Like It or Not: Public Companies Are Feeling the Crypto Mining Boom

Public companies like AMD and Nvidia are benefiting from a surge in cryptocurrency mining, but analysts say they may not be ready to commit long-term.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 6:00 am

Banks Simulate €100,000 Security Transaction in R3 DLT Trial

German banks working with the R3 blockchain consortium have successfully replicated the sale of a €100,000 security on a DLT platform.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 5:00 am

Bitcoin and Copper in Lockstep Show Chinese Speculators' Power - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin and Copper in Lockstep Show Chinese Speculators' Power
Bloomberg
It's not just copper that has been rising and falling in tune with bitcoin. Barry Ehrlich, analyst at Citigroup Inc. in Moscow, pointed out in a note that nickel, palladium and the share price of MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC all displayed a strong ...
Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fearsCNBC
Bitcoin is poppingBusiness Insider
Bitcoin's Price Is Behaving StickyInvestopedia
Forbes -CoinDesk -The Merkle
all 90 news articles »

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 4:51 am

Patent Filing Suggests Bitcoin Exchanges may be Monitored - Bitcoin News (press release)


Bitcoin News (press release)

Patent Filing Suggests Bitcoin Exchanges may be Monitored
Bitcoin News (press release)
A new invention patent has been filed by FICO. The invention is a tool that will allow FICO, government, and others to collect financial data from Bitcoin exchanges. The tool is designed to support AML and KYC regulations. The patent is called ...

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 4:10 am

London Gold Dealer Sharps Pixley to Accept Payment in Bitcoin - New York Times


London Gold Dealer Sharps Pixley to Accept Payment in Bitcoin
New York Times
"Many investors in Bitcoin would like the option of holding intrinsic value in a traditional safe haven asset like gold; and be able to switch across in a simple and cost effective way," said Sharps Pixley CEO Ross Norman. "That avenue is now open to ...

and more »

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 4:06 am

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Malta's Government May Test Cryptocurrency in Regulatory 'Sandbox'

A report by the Times of Malta suggests the country's government may soon be launching a novel cryptocurrency trial.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 4:00 am

'Big Four' Chinese Bank to Launch Blockchain Bancassurance Product

One of China's "Big Four" banks is close to launching a blockchain application for the insurance and banking sectors.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 3:00 am

MimbleWimble Won't ICO But Will Launch Cryptocurrency

One of the more theoretical attempts at scaling blockchain networks is taking steps toward launching it's own network for further testing.

Posted on 26 September 2017 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin Trading at 85% Premium in Zimbabwe - Priced at $7200 - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin Trading at 85% Premium in Zimbabwe - Priced at $7200
CoinTelegraph
The use of Bitcoin in Zimbabwe has grown exponentially as the government has begun to stop all credit card payments and has restricted the flow of cash into and out of the country. People wishing to make payments for vehicles have been forced to use ...
Venezuelan Hyperinflation Makes Bitcoin An Ideal Way To TransactBitcoinist

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 9:08 pm

New SEC Cyber Unit to Police ICOs and Other DLT 'Violations'

The SEC is making cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger tech a focus of a new cybercrime task force, announced today.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 8:05 pm

Ukrainian Central Banker: Bitcoin Is 'Definitely Not a Currency'

A Ukrainian official described bitcoin as a risky investment and a vehicle for fraud but downplayed any systemic concerns about the cryptocurrency.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 3:35 pm

Why China's Ban On Bitcoin May Be Temporary - Forbes


Forbes

Why China's Ban On Bitcoin May Be Temporary
Forbes
China's ban on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies may be temporary, to appease international agencies and hardcore communist members ahead of the upcoming Communist Party convention. China's big government and banks cannot tolerate Bitcoin.

and more »

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 3:01 pm

Nigerian Central Bank Director: Cryptocurrency Wave 'Cannot Be Stopped'

A representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria opened up about his views on cryptocurrency at a technology-specific conference this week.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 2:35 pm

Interview With Roger Ver: His Plans to Start a New Libertarian Country

rogerverland.jpg

Imagine a country where you could live free without a central government telling you who to be, what to do and how to act. Roger Ver does, and he is inviting people to join him on a ground level in plans for creating a libertarian utopia.

The early Bitcoin investor and voluntaryist (someone who advocates nonviolent strategies to achieve a free society) took the stage last week at Nexus Conference, a three-day event in Aspen hosted by the cryptocurrency platform Nexus Earth, to announce Free Society, a project aimed at raising money to organize the venture.

Ver, who is founding the project along with Olivier Janssens, another early Bitcoin investor, stated he has already raised $100 million, but hopes to raise plenty more.

As Ver explained to a surprised audience, who settled into their seats expecting a talk about Bitcoin Cash, he is currently negotiating with different countries to purchase sovereign land with the hope that fellow libertarians will begin populating the area in one to two years.

Bitcoin Magazine caught up with Ver in Aspen to learn more about his ambitious plans for a free country.   

Non-Country

Inspiration for the libertarian country or “non country,” as Ver called it, comes from David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom, a book that explores the idea of a society organized by private property, individual rights and voluntary cooperation.

Ver’s dream is to create a free society where people voluntarily abide by a set of rules they sign off on when purchasing a land title. “It will be a new experiment where it is the first time it’s been tried in the world,” he said.

The Bitcoin enthusiast hopes to raise more money for more land. “I think very realistically, we can raise half a billion dollars and maybe a billion dollars. If we have a billion dollars, we will have a lot more capital to play with for a bigger piece of land,” he said.

Right now, the seed funding comes from early Bitcoin and Ethereum adopters. “I’m one of them,” he said. He would not disclose who the others are, saying if they wanted to come forward, that was up to them.  

But the general idea was to open the door to the public. “We were planning to have an ICO, but the regulators have kind of gotten in the way of that at the moment. But basically, we are working out the details as to how people can participate directly,” he said.

Ver added that this type of project is only possible due to cryptocurrency. “Thanks to cryptocurrencies, now there is a way to fundraise for people all over the world who are interested in this. Myself and my other friends all have a fair amount of capital now because of cryptocurrency. Dying with a pile of money isn’t any fun, so let’s make the world a better place,” he said.

Search for Land

But before he can build out his libertarian paradise, Ver and his team need to find some land to buy. He doesn’t see that as being an issue though.

“We have approached a number of different governments already, and we have actually been really surprised at how eager they are. Governments love money, and so, we will have to negotiate the final details.”

Of course, they have criteria. “We want to have a seaport, we want to be geographically close to other economic powerhouses so we have trading partners. We don’t want to be out in the middle of nowhere,” he said, adding that something close to Europe or South America or parts of Asia would be best.   

Once they buy the land, the next step is putting the infrastructure in place. “When we auction off the land, we suspect a lot of the people who would be most interested in buying land will be development companies that will want to develop the land into big buildings,” he said.  

Governance

The concept of libertarianism revolves around the idea that order evolves spontaneously, rather than through some central authority pushing out arbitrary laws.

Still, for many, it can be hard to imagine how that might work exactly. How will the country resolve disputes? What if someone gets out of line?  

Right now, decisions are easy because so far only a handful of people are involved, said Ver. Otherwise, instead of laws, there will be guidelines similar to what someone might agree to before joining a condominium homeowner’s association.

“Everybody can do whatever they want within the guidelines, and they will be agreeing to the guidelines by the time they purchase in. There will not be a government. It will all be private institutions and private organizations,” he said.  

The idea is to purchase land from a government that will allow sovereign behavior. “We are guessing that the governments will still try saying things like, you can’t export drugs, you can’t have nuclear weapons and that sort of thing,” he said, adding, “I think the main answer is there isn’t going to be some centralized institution imposing these rules. That is what we are trying to escape.”

He also emphasized that there would be no taxes. People would need to raise money for roads and other projects on their own.

Who Will Live There?

What will people do for work in the country? “We suspect it will be a lot of people working on the internet,” said Ver, adding that he thinks 90 percent of the population will come from the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

And will citizens be forced to use cryptocurrency? “People will be free to use whatever form of money they want,” said Ver. But whatever the case, he made it clear, the time to act was now. “Life is short,” he said. “We want to move quickly.”

The post Interview With Roger Ver: His Plans to Start a New Libertarian Country appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 1:20 pm

Buying Bitcoin And Crypto Assets: The Ultimate Guide - Forbes


Forbes

Buying Bitcoin And Crypto Assets: The Ultimate Guide
Forbes
Cryptocurrencies are the latest investing craze, attracting everyone from technology executives and Wall Street pros to novice speculators. Bitcoin, for example, has gone from $611 to a high of nearly $5,000 in the last year. Cryptomillionaires are ...

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 1:19 pm

Miner Argument Continues Over Ethereum's Byzantium Economics

The question of how ethereum is incentivizing miners is developing ahead of an expected hard fork on the platform this month.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 1:15 pm

Neo ICO Token Wins Traders as China Worries Fade

A popular ICO token launched in China is showing signs of recovery, weeks after the country took moves to limit similar domestic activities.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 11:01 am

Gibraltar Issues ICO Advisory Amid Drive Toward Blockchain Regulation

Gibraltar's financial watchdog has said it will soon put in place new regulations aimed to bring oversight to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 9:26 am

Wait and Watch? Bitcoin Prices Hover Near Make or Break Level

The price of bitcoin may be headed toward a fork in the road, if current chart analysis is any indication.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 7:00 am

Barclays Joins CLS Blockchain Consortium in Search of Swift Alternative

Barclays has become the latest major financial institution to join the foreign exchange-focused blockchain consortium CLS.

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin: The Case For A $10000 Coin - Forbes


Forbes

Bitcoin: The Case For A $10000 Coin
Forbes
You've probably read it on a multitude of news outlets, but the decentralized virtual currency Bitcoin is on a seemingly unstoppable tear, rising over 54% in value the first two weeks of August alone. As of late August, its value was at $4,625 per coin ...
Will bitcoin become mainstream in a decade? ThroughBit founders believe soYourStory.com
You'll Be Shocked by How Much $10 Invested in Bitcoin in 2010 Is Worth TodayMadison.com

all 8 news articles »

Posted on 25 September 2017 | 4:20 am

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG

Vaultoro, a bitcoin-to-gold exchange, has secured funding from Finlab AG, a fintech company based in Frankfurt, Germany.

Vaultoro co-founder Joshua Scigala stated that the funding from Finlab will allow them to reach their goals faster. The first upgrade the company plans to implement will be a real-time gold-backed debit card. The card will allow the customers of the firm to hold their allocated gold — stored in a high-security Swiss bullion vault — while they can easily spend the funds anywhere Visa or Mastercard is accepted.

This latest funding announcement is in keeping with Vaultoro’s history of seeking funding and support from venture capitalists and established players in the space, rather than following the recent ICO trend.

In 2015, Vaultoro conducted a BnkToTheFuture raise. The funds were raised primarily from VCs, as opposed to ICOs. That same year, it hit its first $1 million in gold traded on the platform and was one of three finalists from the blockchain space to compete for the BBVA Open Talent Competition in Barcelona, Spain. Most recently, Vaultoro was selected as one of eight startups for the 2017 Techstars Berlin program.

“We decided against an ICO because coins that pay a dividend are not really legal yet, equity taken absolutely illegal[ly], and we didn’t want to confuse the product with a utility coin when we don’t need one. Also, we found that so many ICOs are scams and we didn’t want to be associated with this kind of hype. We have been solidly working on making Vaultoro a name people can trust, a brand with the highest principles.”

However, Scigala is not opposed to ICOs in general:

“I’m not saying ICOs are bad,” he added. “In fact, I love them, I think they are the future of fundraising because they enable anyone to invest in startups. In fact, we want to launch an ICO later to enable our users to profit from our success, but we want it well thought-out and fully legal for our investors. For this reason, we decided on a standard VC funding round that would not only bring us money but also strategic contacts that will help us grow as quick as possible.”

Gold on the Blockchain

According to Vaultoro, the latest financial crises have been a cause for concern for citizens around the world. People are worried about leaving their fiat funds in a bank account while earning low or no interest. The Vaultoro debit card will allow its customers to hold their funds in gold without the need for a bank.

“We see gold as a gateway to crypto. Many people don’t trust crypto, they don’t understand it, but they understand the 3000+ years of value that gold has held. We are currently building an easy-to-use euro/gold wallet so people can easily buy and save in gold. But here is the kicker. They will see a little button, spend your gold as SEPA, SWIFT, debit card or bitcoin. So, many people will want to see what that is,” he said.

A Secure Store of Value

“Our goal is to have real asset vaulting,” said Scigala. “We have always been a bitcoin-only business but we will bring some other promising digital assets on board. IOTA, ETHEREUM and DASH will be the first. We will also be adding silver, platinum and palladium. The wallet software will enable you to tell the card which asset you would like to spend from.”

The firm emphasized that all gold is allocated in the users’ name as their legal property so that even if Vaultoro were to experience a negative event, users’ gold holdings would be protected: even liquidators wouldn’t be able to touch the assets of the company’s clients.

“The most important thing about Vaultoro is that all physical assets are allocated to the user and are not on the company balance sheet. That means if anything happens to Vaultoro as a company, no one, not even liquidators, can touch our clients’ property because it has nothing to do with us. It’s the full property of our clients. We are figuring out if digital currencies can also be allocated under bailment laws,” Scigala said.

By allowing users to purchase gold for bitcoins and back, Vaultoro customers can benefit from the ease of BTC payments while investing in a stable asset. Unlike bitcoin or a lot of fiat currencies, gold has a very low volatility rate. Investors can invest and trade in cryptocurrencies; however, many of them dislike the volatility associated with them — especially when there is an event that drives the prices toward the bottom, like the recent Chinese regulations on bitcoin exchanges and ICOs.

“We are also working on a maker-taker trading fee model for the marketplace so people that place orders into the market don’t pay as much fee[s] as people taking an order from the order book. We hope to lift liquidity drastically.”

The post Vaultoro Continues on Its VC Funding Road to Future Growth With Finlab AG appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 September 2017 | 8:44 am

Op Ed: Lessons From a Cryptocurrency Hack (A Public Service Announcement)

Op Ed: Lessons From a Cryptocurrency Hack (A Public Service Announcement)

Cryptocurrency-related cyber attacks are on the rise. As cryptocurrency continues to explode in value and public awareness, we can only expect this trend to continue. I was recently the target of such an attack. I also personally know of multiple other cases of the same attack being successfully carried out. Even worse, this type of attack is becoming ever more common and is likely to see an even bigger boost thanks to the professional excellence of firms like Equifax, making it an urgent topic as almost everyone is at immediate risk.


This article describes this increasingly common attack vector and provides immediate steps you can take to protect yourself. I will also provide additional tools and best practices to further safeguard yourself and your funds more generally.


As a computer programmer active in the crypto ecosystem since early 2013, I’ve always been too aware of the constant threat of cybersecurity attacks and the possibility that I could be targeted at any time. Cryptocurrency is the perfect hacker pay day. Once it’s transferred away from your control it’s gone forever, and it’s easily liquidated in any number of ways. Black hats are constantly prowling for possible cryptocurrency holders.

As such, I’ve always taken the minimum precaution of keeping my coins off third-party accounts, and have always advised others to do the same. But what I couldn’t prepare for was how unnerving being the target of an attack could be regardless of your level of preparation. The hypothetical can become reality in a matter of seconds, and you never truly understand the personal value of putting proper security in place until it’s too late. For those with enough at stake, it can be ruinous. Ultimately none of my funds were compromised by this attack, but others have not been so lucky.

“But not all accounts are created equal for data thieves  —  and the most valuable online accounts to steal are like the ones belonging to Mr. Burniske, who is a cryptocurrency fan. In the few minutes it took to get control of his phone, the virtual currency investor saw his virtual currency password change and its accounts drained of $150,000.” -PYMNTS

The Attack

It started when I received a text message from my cellular service provider alerting me that my SIM card had been “updated.” Included in the text was a number to call if this “update” wasn’t in fact authorized by me. I read this text several minutes after it had been sent, and by the time I called the number provided a minute or two later, my cell service and data were suddenly cut off by what I began realizing must be an attacker. Almost immediately, I was also logged out of my Facebook messenger window right before my eyes. With control of my phone number, my attacker had managed to quickly reset my Facebook password and gain control of the account.

As the reality of what was happening to me sank in, I felt an initial wave of panic. Suddenly, I didn’t know if the years of precautions I had taken amounted to anything at all. I had no idea how robust the attack was, how deep the attacker had penetrated my numerous online accounts or what my first reaction should even be. I momentarily feared the worst. Could my coins be at risk?

I forced several deep breaths. Thankfully my coins were not at risk via a phone, social media or email hijacking. Reminding myself of this eased my fears and allowed me to focus on going on the defensive and taking back control of my accounts as quickly as I could.

Using FaceTime from my laptop, I was able to get a family member to call the number provided by my cellular provider’s text message and initiate the process to eventually retake control of my phone number. Using an old email strictly used as an emergency recovery email for situations such as these, I was also able to lock down my Facebook account and regain control soon after.

What I discovered once I logged back in confirmed that the attacker had specifically targeted me due to my public cryptocurrency involvement. In the brief span of time they controlled my Facebook account, they had sent the same message to several friends of mine also involved in the ecosystem, many of whom I’ve known for years. The messages claimed I had an emergency and needed to borrow several bitcoins or the equivalent value in alternate coins for a day. The attacker was in the middle of sending out many more such messages to even more of my friends when I regained control.

At the end of the day, the damage done to myself was limited to being spooked. Unfortunately, however, at least one of the recipients of my fake Facebook messages was later the target of the same attack. I’ve decided to learn from these events and share those lessons, and hopefully help some avert the worst. First and foremost is eliminating this specific and trivially easy attack vector completely.

How to Stop It Before It Happens

Text message two-factor authentication (2FA) is the default security precaution for most online accounts today, and cellular service providers are woefully unprepared for this reality. It is almost trivially easy for an attacker to contact your service provider and pretend to be you.

In all the cases I’ve personally observed, it began with the attacker identifying an individual likely to have cryptocurrency and contacting their cell provider. They impersonate their target using personal information like social security numbers and home addresses from any number of possible leaks, Equifax being the most obvious and concerning source.

After successfully convincing your cell provider that they are you, they then port your SIM card to a phone they control. This approach is known as a social engineering attack, and with today’s common security default of using text messages for 2FA, they immediately have the keys to the kingdom. With your phone number they can now reset the password to any account you have with text 2FA enabled, including cryptocurrency wallets and accounts.

The minimal action you should take right now to prevent this: Contact your cellular service provider and request restrictions to be placed on your account so that no changes can be made to it without special verification. This can include setting a password on your account or requiring you to physically visit a store with your ID to make any account changes. Call again once this is in place and attempt to change your own SIM card as a test to ensure the restrictions have indeed been put in place and are being properly enforced by your cellular provider.

This simple step means that no matter what information an attacker may have on you, socially engineering a takeover of your SIM card is no longer a trivially simple endeavor. However, this precaution isn’t ironclad, and there’s also a variety of other attacks you can be the target of.

Taking It a Step Further

Black hat actors tend to focus on the low-hanging fruit, which is why the social engineering SIM attack has become so prevalent. But it is by no means the only way to compromise your accounts, and as the low-hanging fruit become harder to find, attackers will move on to these other methods. I highly recommend everyone implement these precautionary steps to further secure yourselves. The upfront investment needed to set up these measures may seem tedious now, but can pay invaluable dividends in the future.

1. If you hold any significant amounts of cryptocurrency, invest in an offline hardware storage solution.

These devices contain your cryptocurrency private keys and can remain completely disconnected from the internet or any computer until you need to make transactions, so that your funds remain totally safe regardless of any of your other devices or accounts being compromised. These devices include OpenDime, TREZOR and Ledger. Even if you do not opt for any of these solutions, at a bare minimum do not store funds on third-party services such as Coinbase or exchanges, especially on any service or wallet that integrates email or a phone number to authorize access to funds.

2. Ditch text messaging 2FA.

Placing verification restrictions on your cellular service account is a big step up in security, but can still be circumvented by an insider or even just a careless customer service rep who doesn’t do their job properly. Text message authorization is also still too incredibly insecure to be relied on in any way, period. Recent research shows that intercepting text messages is a trivial task for someone with the right tools, and many other exploits are likely to be discovered in the future.

The first item on this list will protect your personal funds from theft, but as I learned the hard way your money isn’t the only thing at risk. With access to your social media accounts and emails, an attacker can trick your friends into giving them funds or exposing themselves in other ways. They’ll also obviously have a clear look into all your messaging and file history on those accounts, which can expose you and your social circle even more. Shoring up your 2FA is a big step in preventing this.

Eliminate all of your text messaging–based 2FA and at a minimum replace it with Google Authenticator. However, like storing cryptocurrency, you can take it a step further with a dedicated hardware solution. I highly recommend YubiKeys.

You can configure many major online accounts (not Coinbase yet) to require you to physically insert and activate your YubiKey as your 2FA authorization, eliminating the risk of a remotely compromised phone.

3. Use multiple emails with interlinked recovery options, and use completely different and robust passwords for those emails and other online accounts alike.

Luckily I did not have text messaging 2FA enabled on the email account associated with my Facebook profile; otherwise my attacker could have seized control of that as well. If they did, I have a chain of recovery emails I could have used to regain control of it, all with different passwords. This practice also means that having your password being captured or leaked for any one of your accounts won’t jeopardize all of them.

4. Stay vigilant, stay paranoid.

To quote the Onion Knight, “Safety is never a permanent state of affairs.” Don’t get lazy and begin recycling passwords or leaving funds on Coinbase or other third-party accounts. Be aware of the technology you are using and the tradeoffs you are making or exposure you are generating by doing so. Stay up to date on the latest breaches, exploits and technology. Opt to use end-to-end encrypted messaging services like Signal, Telegram or WhatsApp. Don’t answer calls from strange phone numbers, and use apps like Hiya to filter out known spam numbers to reduce the risk that you do. Ultimately, however, there is no easy fix for security and no list that can guarantee you won’t get hacked.

Make no mistake, there are individuals out there who want to harm you and are actively working to do so. The time needed to reasonably secure yourself can seem tedious and time-consuming up front, but can easily and quickly become a priceless investment as I and many others have learned firsthand. 

This guest post by Ariel Deschapell was originally published on Medium and is reproduced here under a Creative Commons License. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: Lessons From a Cryptocurrency Hack (A Public Service Announcement) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 5:13 pm

Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World

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To a complete outsider, the worlds of art and cryptocurrency do not appear to be linked. But for content creators of all kinds, blockchain technology provides an ideal solution to preserve intellectual property, create demand and increase value for digital content.

The digital revolution is often blamed for making life harder than ever for artists. We are always hearing stories of artists realizing their work has been ripped off by a major brand or that they are not being paid or credited for the content they create.

However, thanks to blockchains, ownership rights can be restored in favor of artists. The very digital landscape that proves so difficult for artists could well increase the possibility of profits for artists online.

Physical art was one of the first big applications of blockchain technology.

The concept of integrating blockchain technology into the art industry is not untested. Blockchains have already been a part of the physical art world for a few years now as a reliable way to verify creation and ownership details. The application of a trustworthy system of verification like the blockchain to artworks makes perfect sense.

A number of companies are actually already authenticating artwork with blockchain technology, including Verisart in Los Angeles, Tagsmart in London and Ascribe in Berlin. For both collectors and artists, they provide digital certificates of authenticity and provenance records that enable buyers to verify the authenticity of the artwork they purchase while creating an accredited ownership history for the artwork over time.  

What blockchain technology provides is its unmodifiable digital ledger which logs every single digital transaction. More importantly, this ledger is public so everyone can see its history. This means, for example, that you can see that the painting you are interested in has been purchased three times from buyers in London, Madrid and Milan. Because the log is decentralized and cannot be edited, there is no potential for lies or trickery — no one can sell you a fake copy if a digital record of the authentic piece exists.

By allowing records like provenance, authorship and ownership to be unmodifiable, blockchain technology potentially solves the issue of forgeries and thefts in the art world. According to the FBI, billions of dollars worth of art and cultural property go missing every year. Being able to prove and track the ownership of artwork could make it almost impossible to resell stolen artwork in the future.

By increasing trust in the art world, blockchain technology could also help increase the value of art. One important factor in art is scarcity — it is what drives demand. People covet beautiful things: the more unique, the better. The Mona Lisa wouldn’t likely be worth $2 billion if there were 10 originals on the market.

Blockchain technology may pave the way for a robust new market of digital art.

It is no secret that life for digital artists can be difficult. In the music world, for example, physical sales are almost non-existent. Artists earn less than a cent from each time their music is played. At Spotify, the average payout for a stream to labels and publishers is between $0.006 and $0.0084. By the time the label has taken its share, artists receive an estimated $0.001128.

The digital art and design world is arguably just as bad — or worse. While individuals can easily download a music file from a file-sharing website, it is even easier to screenshot or share digital art without any attribution or financial benefit for the artist. As long as people don’t consider digital assets “objects,” digital artists won’t be paid what their work is worth. However, being able to certify the ownership of digital assets through the blockchain could assure the value of digital art and change the behavior that it is okay to swipe art from the web without a thought. People already consume all kinds of creative content on digital screens, be it books, movies, media, or music. The time has come for them to value digital art they can appreciate just as thoroughly on their devices.

A new generation of blockchain-based art collections is bringing the digital art and cryptocurrency worlds together.

For many people, a painting on the wall is worth money; but a digital work of art online has no financial value. A new business model, however, is now emerging for digital art that could alter this perspective.

CryptoPunks by Larva Labs is one known example. The company has created 10,000 computer-generated digital characters, each one unique, with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each one is owned by a single person and verified by a smart contract. As the blockchain data is public, you can see exactly which of the characters have been purchased and which remain available. Some people have spent 10 ETH (around $3,000) on the rarest types of CryptoPunks on the secondary market.

Another example is the selling of “Rare Pepes,” crude depictions of the meme often used online as an alt-right symbol. Meme artists previously tried to watermark their memes; nevertheless, they continued to be downloaded and shared. The solution was to use the Counterparty platform, which allows users to make anything into a unique digital token. Now the Pepes can be bought and sold — the rarest costing $11,589 — with RarePepeWallet.com.

This is just the tip of the creative iceberg. Imagine the possibilities with digital art created by actual artists becoming desirable and more valuable. In addition, artists who otherwise would have been forced to use a large-scale centralized company to distribute their work are now able to distribute their work in a decentralized way and receive fair compensation.

Soon, people may begin collecting digital art in the very same way they collect it in its physical form. This may also require a cultural shift in the perception of digital art and its value, but this cultural shift could well be instigated by applying technology, thereby adding financial value and scarcity to digital art. This may well turn out to be a significant boon in the lives of artists all over the world who will be able to profit and take control of their creative output and their intellectual property in a dynamic, budding market.


The post Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Could Save Struggling Artists Around the World appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 September 2017 | 2:54 pm

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution

 Stellar, a nonprofit decentralized financial network, and the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), the country’s dedicated fintech platform, have published a joint report on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

According to the report, organizations have raised over $1.8 billion through ICOs since January 2017. As this popular new fundraising method provides a simple and fast method to acquire serious funding, there has been “tremendous momentum” growing around ICO launches among new businesses in the blockchain industry, the report said.

On the other hand, the report also detailed that there are high risks associated with ICO investments. Since there is still a lack of regulation and control surrounding the industry, Stellar and LHoFT compared the current ICO sphere to the “Wild West” — a term that has become rather popular of late in reference to ICOs.

“ICOs raise issues for consumer protection, combating money laundering, and other regulatory compliance goals. Complications may arise from several sources, including the mechanism through which ICOs are conducted, the teams spearheading ICOs, the identities of contributors to ICOs, the quantity of money that is raised, the validity of ICOs’ technology and processes, marketing claims, and the impact that ICOs have on the greater cryptocurrency markets. All these factors must be scrutinized so that the heralded benefits of ICOs are balanced against market and legal risks as the model matures and gains broader acceptance,” the report states.

LHoFT and Stellar addressed both the upsides and the downsides of ICO fundraising. Organizations launching ICOs benefit from a built-in customer base, a committed group of customers that will stay with the product or service until it officially launches. Furthermore, according to the report, the fundraising method has positive effects on the network, can target global investors (or donors) in a non-discriminatory manner while providing a fast and easy fundraising mechanism. Additionally, retail investors are keen on participating in ICOs, and open-source projects can benefit from the fundraising method too.

Similarly, investors can benefit from the high liquidity of the tokens (sold during ICOs), in addition to being able to sell them through cryptocurrency exchanges or over-the-counter (OTC) transactions, which would allow the investors to transfer the tokens easily without the authorization of the token issuer (the organization launching the ICO).

Token holders are often offered bonuses, such as “gift cards” or “licenses” that will incentivize them to support the growth and the development of the project. ICO investors also benefit from the lack of “geo-lock” — they can invest in the project no matter the location (unless specified otherwise). Most importantly, ICOs have a high potential for big gains.

On the other hand, there are plenty of risks associated with ICOs, according to the report. Firstly, ICOs lack the formal process for auditing the organizations.The writers of the study highlighted a potential problem with smart contracts: If the contract is not programmed correctly, it could lead to unexpected transfers without the authorization of the token owner. Some tokens are not based on any fundamental value, thus, may facilitate bubbles and Ponzi schemes.

Furthermore, Stellar and LHoFT emphasized the issue of “investor education” — some investors are not informed well enough about an ICO project before investing in it. The report also detailed security problems, such as phishing scams and the loss of private keys, which can result in the investors losing their tokens.

As with most cryptocurrencies, tokens also tend to be volatile. According to the report, ICO cashouts may create price distortions on the market. Furthermore, the market can be subjected to manipulation, such as the “Whales” method, in which the token issuer organization holds back a percentage of the tokens and distributes them between the team members. Both investors and organizations can experience network lag during popular ICOs, while some token distribution mechanisms can cause unpredicted difficulties for both parties.

The lack of regulations within the ICO space presents various problems for both the investors and the organizations, such as being subject to the financial regulations of multiple jurisdictions. The anonymous nature of the cryptocurrency sphere can result in many of the investors being seen only as pseudonyms, which could cause issues for law enforcement and regulators. Since there is uncertainty about the taxation of tokens, both investors and organizations could face legal issues, such as tax evasion charges. Furthermore, the report discusses that there is an increasing concern that ICOs can be used by criminals for money laundering or terrorist financing purposes.

The post Joint Report by Stellar and Luxembourg Fintech Platform: Approach ICOs with Caution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 September 2017 | 12:35 pm

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Advertise with Anonymous Ads

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

September 26, 2017 -
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