Be it a brief altcoins recovery or not, this is exactly what the cryptocurrency market needs. From Lumens, NEO, LTC, Monero and even EOS, there is reliever and a pause of this relentless bear pressure. Our focus today goes to Lumens and while it is generally bearish, the response at $0.20 or the 78.6% Fibonacci… View Article
Archives for March 16, 2018
Cryptocurrency may not be mainstream yet, but it’s well on its way to be. Due to the blockchain’s revolutionary power and abilities, it’s no surprise that as cryptocurrency progresses in changing the financial landscape, it impacts other industries along the way. Real estate is no exception—and for that, we should be grateful. Real estate is… View Article
One of the top executive’s at global payments processing company Visa has absolutely slammed cryptocurrency and its users. Speaking with the Financial Times, Vasant Prabhu sees Bitcoin and other digital currencies as a tool used by “every crook and dirty politician” around.
Talking Sense, or Talking Scared?
Prabhu told the publication that he’s getting asked more and more about cryptocurrency. This to him signals that the whole space is nothing more than a giant speculative bubble. The Visa executive spoke of his interactions with various retail-investors. He said they were “a real shock” to him:
“The people asking me are the ones who scare the hell out of me… You know, guys like the limo driver to the airport . . . They have no idea what they are doing.”
Evidently, these would-be crypto investors don’t really know what they’re doing. Why anyone would take investment advice from the chief financial officer of a company who has the most to lose from a successful cryptocurrency revolution is unclear.
It kind of feels similar to asking a turkey what they think of Christmas, or a horse breeder in the 1890s if they’d heard about these “motor cars” everyone’s talking about.
Visa current operates at the centre of the global payments network. They profit greatly from the system. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is a direct threat to the status quo of the planet’s financial services industry. We therefore shouldn’t be surprised when the likes of Prabhu spout anti-cryptocurrency sentiment at every available opportunity.
The Visa executive hadn’t finished lambasting cryptocurrency just yet though. He recounted hearing non-financial people talking about investing in Bitcoin. This to him was a telling sign of things to come:
“This is the ultimate thing that you hear about when you have a bubble, when the guy shining your shoes tells you what stock to buy.”
What Vasant Prabhu, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their legacy payment industry chums fail to recognise is that historical paradigm shifts frequently begin with a speculative mania. Cryptocurrency seems to be following that trend perfectly too.
Such transformative technologies begin with everyone but the enlightened core claiming they’re dangerous or stupid. Like how people said the internet would only be used for child porn and other nefarious uses back in 1994. Eventually the narrative changes and the masses get excited. This leads to a speculative bubble that inevitably bursts – just like the dot-com bubble around the turn of the century.
Eventually, all the ridiculous and over-hyped projects crash to zero. This leaves the truly revolutionary ideas standing, gaining value through their utility rather than simply wild speculation. Examples like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook highlight this. We don’t need to tell you that these companies are some of the largest financial powerhouses on the planet today.
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He’s scribbling a series of 12 words on the blue paper handed to him by one of the two women at the other side of the desk. Marco is his name. Graying hair, blue jeans, and still wearing the fat, black winter coat that protected him against the cold Alpine air outside, he just drove 80 kilometers from his hometown and is now in the process of installing the Atlana Bitcoin wallet, as recommended.
“I had heard of Bitcoin but didn’t own any,” he explains, when asked why he didn’t just buy bitcoins on an online exchange. “I prefer the human contact if I’m going to purchase some.”
The other of the two women walks him to the white mailbox-sized machine in the corner. “Compro Euro,” it reads, the same words that are plastered across the wall and the window of the small shop. And “Bitcoin ATM.”
The woman explains how the machine works, pointing to the small black window that hides a camera and then to the QR code on Marco’s phone screen. Marco nods and gets out his brown leather wallet.
Buying bitcoin in Rovereto
As the woman retakes her seat at the desk in front of the bookshelf with copies of Mastering Bitcoin and Antifragile, Marco starts shoving orange 50 euro notes into the Bitcoin ATM. The machine responds with a buzzing and clicking sound for every slip inserted. This goes on for several minutes before Marco puts his wallet and phone back in his jean pockets and walks back to the desk to give a final handshake to both women.
“I’d like to get some of my money out of the bank, and bitcoin seemed like a good option,” he says, briefly explaining his investment decision before leaving the shop with a thankful smile.
In the same northern Italian town about four years ago, another Marco, Marco Amadori, was discussing Bitcoin with some fellow local enthusiasts. Working on tech projects for the province of Trento, Amadori pitched them a dream. Schooled as a developer, in his late thirties at the time, Amadori wanted to turn Rovereto — the name of his town — into a “Bitcoin Valley,” with Bitcoin companies, bitcoin-accepting merchants and, of course, Bitcoin users.
Marco Amadori overlooks the town of Rovereto in “Bitcoin Valley.”
Four years later, Amadori and his fellow enthusiasts own and run two Bitcoin businesses in Rovereto, with a nearby education center and a communication company coming up. Inbitcoin, Amadori’s first Bitcoin business, is a research and development company, working on various bitcoin-related software applications, including point-of-sale payment solutions for merchants and the Atlana wallet.
The second, Compro Euro (Italians will understand the pun), is a brick-and-mortar exchange, the first of its kind in Italy. Anyone can walk in to buy or sell up to 3,000 euro worth of bitcoin, on the spot. The service applies full Know-Your-Customer (KYC) identification and charges a 12 percent markup to boot. Italians in and around Rovereto don’t seem to mind.
“It has calmed down a bit now, but last December was crazy,” says Compro Euro cofounder Alessandro Olivo. “The shop was full, and we had people waiting in line to use the Bitcoin ATM.”
A bit younger than Amadori, Olivo quickly got involved with the Bitcoin Valley project when it was pitched to him. “A second Compro Euro brick-and-mortar exchange is about to open in Pordenone next month, and there are concrete plans for Bologna and Carpi as well. All together we’ve had hundreds of requests from cities across the country. Demand is huge.”
Inbitcoin and Compro Euro are now at the heart of Bitcoin Valley — very literally so, in the case of the exchange: it’s situated right in the center of town, where three streets meet. Hard to miss for anyone strolling around the old brick streets of Rovereto.
But they are also at the figurative heart of Bitcoin Valley: Inbitcoin and Compro Euro stand out as the flagship enterprises in the town that has come to be known as the Bitcoin capital of Italy. With about 30 bitcoin-accepting merchants and less than 40 thousand people, it is one of the most Bitcoin-dense cities in the world. (Arnhem, in The Netherlands, is probably still in the lead.)
Pizzeria Da Papi
Amadori, Olivo and other enthusiasts are trying to get a bitcoin economy going in Rovereto. The Inbitcoin and Compro Euro teams get paid in bitcoin and tend to visit the establishments that accept bitcoin more than most others. Their restaurant of choice is often Pizzeria Da Papi, owned by Ivan: a tall, slim man with friendly eyes.
Ivan is one of a growing number of Rovereto merchants who accept bitcoin.
Ivan started accepting bitcoin in early 2017 and has kept most of his coins, he says with a wide smile. The price has gone up significantly. But for Ivan, Bitcoin is not just a new payment method or even just a form of money. Having been introduced with the digital currency (and possibly inspired by a thieving former employee, Olivo suggests), Ivan imagines a world wherein the flow of money across supply chains can be traced and automated.
“I would like to set up a system where my suppliers — those that sell me cheese or vegetables — get paid their share automatically when I sell a pizza,” he explains. The last customers have left the restaurant, so he’s locked the doors and is lighting up a cigarette as he sits down to talk Bitcoin. “This solves a liquidity problem. I would no longer need to put investment up front, and instead, automatically forward a part of any payment I receive.”
Ivan admits he hasn’t worked out the details. He’s not yet sure how his system can prevent him from lying to his suppliers about the number of pizzas sold, or why his suppliers would want to take the risk that he might not sell any. But that’s not the point, he says. “It’s early days, Bitcoin is just starting. It’s about what will possible in the future.”
As a first step in the shorter term, the pizzeria and Inbitcoin are working on an accounting system. Even if the pizzeria accepts bitcoin for payment, Ivan needs to pay tax in euros. The Inbitcoin payment terminal — a software layer on top of BitPay — lets him convert a percentage of the bitcoins into euros automatically and keeps track of how much tax he needs to pay at the end of the day.
The Trust Factor
Ivan may be more interested in Bitcoin than most shop owners — but in Rovereto he’s no fluke. From the local extreme sports store (most bitcoin payments are for ski and snowboard gear) to the horse meat butchery, to the newspaper stand at the edge of the town square, the “Bitcoin accettatti” stickers pop up on store fronts across the intimate city center.
A cornerstone of the local scenery
And while the amount of commerce that takes place in the cryptocurrency is still relatively small, Rovereto has received lots of attention from Italian media. As such, everyone in town is aware of its status as the Bitcoin Valley — even those that don’t care about Bitcoin at all.
Merchants were open to Bitcoin in Roverato exactly because it is a relatively small town, suspects Claudio Gobber, the thirty-something chatty senior business development manager for Inbitcoin. It has proven to be such a fertile breeding ground, he thinks, because the small-town familiarity gave local merchants the confidence they needed; Amadori’s family in particular has been living there for generations.
“When people first hear about bitcoin they start asking questions — about the technology, about mining. But what they really want to know is if they can trust it. We were able to skip this step because people trust us. We have familiar faces,” Gobber explained. “This is how we grow Bitcoin: We start small and have it spread from there.”
And that’s what makes it special, he thinks.
“Bitcoin is a bottom-up revolution; that’s what gets me excited. It’s local pizza shop owners like Ivan that come up with ideas; they tell us what problem they encounter so we can solve it. Bitcoin is all about openness and permissionless innovation. The tax-accounting solution is only one example.”
Mani al Cielo
The very first establishment in Rovereto to accept bitcoin was the local bar, Mani al Cielo, back in 2015. It’s still the establishment that receives most the bitcoin payments in town today.
Mani al Cielo Bar
“I also pay my employees in bitcoin now,” Gianpaolo Rossi says, while he pours four spritzes for the girls that just walked in. He’s the owner of the bar, in his late thirties with a black crew cut. He chuckles a little when asked whether his employees are happy with that arrangement. “I’m not leaving them much choice.” He pays them through Bitwage, he says, which converts euros into bitcoin. “But if they don’t want to keep the bitcoin, I will offer to buy it back.”
Like Ivan, Gianpaolo doesn’t see bitcoin as just a payment method. He is an enthusiast, trading altcoins in his free time to try and increase his holdings. Bitcoin’s volatile nature doesn’t bother him — he enjoys it.
“If you don’t like the roller coaster, go with the Caterpillar,” he had told an Italian television crew two weeks prior, comparing the stability of the euro with a kiddy ride in a nearby theme park. “No one is forcing you.” It made him a local Bitcoin celebrity. He’s now having the sentence printed on a shirt like a catchphrase, he says.
If you don’t like the roller coaster, go with the Caterpillar.
Rovereto is probably getting closer to establishing a circular Bitcoin economy than anywhere else in the world — with Mani al Cielo at the center of the payment carousel. Not only does Gianpaolo take bitcoin from the Inbitcoin crew, who will often drop by after work, but the bar owner has also convinced a local beer producer to accept bitcoin from him.
“But I’m not paying them in bitcoin right now,” he says emphatically. “Not now — now is the time to hold!”
Gianpaolo acknowledges that, for bar owners like him, Bitcoin does have one problem: Fees can be high sometimes. “In November and December almost no one paid with bitcoin,” Gianpaolo says. “Even my mom complained about fees. If my mom starts to notice, that’s not good.”
Yet there was no way Gianpaolo would accept Bitcoin’s cheaper offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, he said.
“Nah, that’s Roger Ver’s coin, and that of a few Chinese miners. I’m not interested. And with Bitcoin — my team — it’s like a football derby. I would never switch sides.”
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
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Bitcoin miners may be turning off their machines, at least until the bitcoin price rebounds. It’s no secret the BTC price has been in a rut, which has dampened investor sentiment but now it’s also interfering with the plans of ambitious mining projects that have flooded the market since bitcoin’s peak at year-end. The leading
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Bitcoin development took a major step forward this week when Lightning Labs announced the first beta release of the much anticipated “Lightning” protocol for Bitcoin, while also raising $2.5 million to fund continued development.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrency and ICO regulation stories have continued to dominate the headlines, as the U.S. Federal Government held hearings and the Dutch finance minister released a letter relating to how their respective legislators should approach cryptocurrencies and ICOs. On a positive note, a New York state assemblyman has introduced a bill to protect cryptocurrency investors and ease regulation on crypto-related businesses.
Featured stories by Shawn Gordon, Colin Harper, David Hollerith, Erik Kuebler and Aaron van Wirdum.
Lightning Labs announced lnd 0.4-beta, the first beta release of the Lightning software implementation spearheaded by the development company. This is the first beta release from Lightning, which means they believe the project is feature complete and safe enough to use on the Bitcoin mainnet. CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun said, “We’re calling this lnd release a beta as it has all the necessary safety, fault-tolerance and security features that we’ve deemed necessary.”
Significantly, the beta release is compatible with various Bitcoin implementations, where the alpha versions required btcd to interact with Bitcoin’s blockchain. The beta allows users the options to use their own preferred backend, such as bitcoind.
In conjunction with the software release, Lightning Labs announced a seed-funding round of $2.5 million to fund continued development of lnd. Investors include big names in the Bitcoin, blockchain and broader tech industry.
The U.S. government held a hearing in their House Financial committee entitled “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.” This was the first hearing in which members of the U.S. Congress addressed cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Witnesses at the hearing included representatives from Coinbase, and Coin Center, as well as various law firms and others.
The hearing addressed the economic efficiencies and potential capital formation opportunities that cryptocurrencies and ICOs offer to businesses and investors. Notable points addressed included the need for security and investor compliance for U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges; the need for regulators to distinguish the difference between cryptocurrencies that are considered digitally scarce commodities and securities tokens; among other points, all in such a way that won’t stifle domestic innovation by forcing investors and businesses to leave the country.
In New York, state Assemblyman Ron Kim introduced a bill to protect cryptocurrency investors and ease regulation on crypto-related businesses. Known as The New York Cryptocurrency Exchange Act (A9899), the bill relates to “the audit of cryptocurrency business activity by third party depositories and prohibits licensing fees to conduct such cryptocurrency business activity.”
The law would mandate that any cryptocurrency business or entity be subject to routine audits by a public or third-party depository service. Any entity in full compliance will receive a digital New York Seal of Approval to reassure consumers that the outlet is trustworthy and secure. This seal would ideally replace the BitLicenses currently issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services, doing away with this fee-based license in favor of one earned by audit.
Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra sent a six-page letter to the House and Senate that outlined his concerns over the rapid and dramatic growth in cryptocurrencies. He emphasized that there has been little time to understand and react to the changing landscape and that the current supervision and regulatory framework is ill equipped to deal with it. He said he will actively be working in a European context, but the entire process will take time and coordination between disparate governments and agencies.
Our reporter Aaron van Wirdum visited the town of Rovereto in the Italian Alps, where it’s easy — and encouraged — to buy pizza with bitcoin. He profiles the local business owners and Bitcoin advocates whose enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies is turning the close-knit community into a thriving “Bitcoin Valley.”
“When people first hear about bitcoin they start asking questions — about the technology, about mining. But what they really want to know is if they can trust it. We were able to skip this step because people trust us. We have familiar faces,” Claudio Gobber of Inbitcoin explains. “This is how we grow Bitcoin: We start small and have it spread from there.”
This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.
The co-founder of PayPal says there will be only one online equivalent to gold, and bitcoin, as the ‘biggest’ cryptocurrency, will triumph.
The co-founder of PayPal says there will be only one online equivalent to gold, and bitcoin, as the ‘biggest’ cryptocurrency, will triumph.
One of the NBA’s latest prospects is Jontay Porter. The 18-year-old has high hopes for the future. Firstly, of course, he’s wanting to be picked in June’s draft. Secondly, he’d love to help his team, the Missouri Tigers, win the NCAA Tournament that they’re competing in. Finally, he’s hoping for a big rebound off the court – in the cryptocurrency market.
An Enterprising Young Mind
In a recent interview with the Kansas City Star, the young NBA hopeful spoke of his interest in cryptocurrency and how he himself was invested in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Tron. He told the publication about how he approached putting together his diverse crypto portfolio:
“I did my own research, obviously; that’s what you should always do if you’re investing… I’m obviously not going to put all of my money in cryptocurrency.”
He started by buying $300 worth of Bitcoin. This was followed by smaller purchases of more crypto assets using his student-athlete allowance.
Unfortunately, the Tigers’ leading rebounder was forced to cash out some of his investment. He explained to the Star how he had been bought a used SUV by his parents. Owing them the money back and with no way to pay it yet, he was forced to sell half of his crypto assets. He was, however, careful to keep some skin in the game as he’s optimistic of a rebound in the markets:
“I was kind of sad, because [the market] was about to bounce back. But my mom needed it right away.”
Missouri Tigers’ assistant coach and father of the budding basketball star turned investor, Michael Porter Sr., told the publication about his son’s inquisitive mind. He said, “he’s always been a thinker.” Meanwhile, Lisa Porter, the teenage athlete’s mother added:
“He had the gumption to just do it… All my other kids would really debate over it.”
From a young age, Jontay had an inquisitive mind and sought ways to turn that into financial gain. In the Sixth Grade, he started dismantling, repairing, and jail-breaking his iPhones. This transformed into something of a business. He’d advertise his repair services for cracked screens and the like on CraigsList. He always made sure to undercut the local businesses offering the same services in his town.
Of course, Jontay Porter isn’t the first athlete to embrace cryptocurrency. The US Winter Olympic luge team famously declared that they’d accept Bitcoin donations for their medal challenge this year. Unfortunately, Olympic rules prohibited the team from wearing any Bitcoin branding on their official uniforms. This is a real shame too as the event was held in crypto-loving South Korea and had the whole world’s eyes upon it.
All of us at here NewsBTC are hoping that Jontay Porter is successful in his bid to make the big time as an NBA star. He’ll certainly become one of the higher-profile proponents of Bitcoin if he does. Hopefully, he won’t be shy about plugging his investment interests in his post-match press conferences too!
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