Revolut adds Ripple and Bitcoin Cash support

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Fintech startup Revolut is adding Bitcoin Cash and Ripple to its cryptocurrency feature. While cryptocurrency isn’t really Revolut’s focus point, it’s a good way to get started with cryptocurrencies.

If you have a Revolut account, you can now buy and hold Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash. Behind the scene, the startup has partnered with Bitstamp to process the transactions. Revolut currently charges a 1.5 percent fee for cryptocurrency transactions. There are currently 100,000 cryptocurrency transactions per day.

Compared to a traditional cryptocurrency exchange, you can’t send or receive cryptocurrencies from your Revolut account. You don’t get a bitcoin address for instance. All you can do is buy tokens in the app. If you want to transfer those tokens somewhere else, you’ll have to sell them for USD, GBP, etc. and then buy cryptocurrencies on a traditional exchange using your fiat money.

Recently, the startup also announced a new feature called Vaults. Revolut users can set up a vault to save money over time.

You can round up your spare change every time you make a transaction. For instance, if you pay $3.47 for that delicious ice cream, you’ll save 53 cents in your vault. You can also multiple that amount so that you save multiple times your spare change with each transaction. Many fintech startups also provide this feature.

You can also set up recurring payments to set aside a bit of money each day, each week or each month. Interestingly, you get to choose the currency of your vault. So it means that you can decide to buy ethers with spare change and weekly payments for instance. It’s a great way to hedge against the volatility of cryptocurrencies.

Users don’t earn interests on vaults. It’s just a way to set some money aside that doesn’t appear in your main Revolut account. You can decide to close your vault whenever you want.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/23/revolut-adds-ripple-and-bitcoin-cash-support/

South Africa kidnappers make ransom demand in bitcoin

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Abductors of boy, 13, left note demanding 92,000 worth of cryptocurrency for his release

A gang that kidnapped a South African teenager from a playground at the weekend have demanded a ransom in bitcoin worth about $123,000, police have said.

The 13-year-old boy was taken in the town of Witbank in the eastern province of Mpumalanga while he was playing with two friends near his home. Witnesses said a Toyota Corolla pulled up nearby and the teenager was dragged in and driven away.

We are investigating a case of kidnapping that happened on Sunday in Witbank. There was a demand that was made that the parents should deposit cash in bitcoins, the police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said on Tuesday. Local media said the ransom note was left at the scene.

Q&A

What is bitcoin and is it a bad investment?

Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, cryptocurrency a decentralised tradeable digital asset. Whether it is a bad investment is the big question. Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it is hard (but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.

This is a kidnapping We demand ransom of 15 bitcoins to be paid into the below bitcoin wallet address to secure your childs safe release non-negotiable, the note reportedly read.

The first deadline for payment of part of the ransom passed on Monday night. In the note, the kidnappers threatened to kill the boy if their demands were not met. A police official said boys parents were going through trauma.

They dont even know what this bitcoin is. Theyre devastated and you can see theyre worried and asking themselves: Wheres our son? local media quoted the official as saying. The boys mother made an emotional appeal on Tuesday, pleading with the kidnappers to bring back [her] son.

Police in South Africa have reported a recent rise in kidnappings, although it is usually wealthy businesspeople who are targeted. The latest case appears to be the first ransom demand in made for a cryptocurrency in the country.

In December 2017, an employee at a cryptocurrency exchange in Ukraine was released by kidnappers after a ransom of more than $1m worth of bitcoins was paid.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/22/south-africa-kidnappers-ransom-demand-bitcoin

A Bitcoin mining company just organized a fake protest

It's the dirty bankers, man.
Image: jack morse/mashable

It’s difficult to stand out in the often bonkers world of cryptocurrency.

With all the scams, hacks, and animated dancing coins, it can be really hard to break through the noise and into the public’s consciousness with your surely revolutionary tech. That’s where the fake protest comes in. 

As the 2018 Consensus blockchain conference kicked off today in Midtown Manhattan, one bitcoin mining company apparently decided that the best way to make a splash was with a few shouts. As the event was getting started, a group of people could be found marching in front of the hotel hosting the 8,500-person-strong gathering. They chanted slogans like “hey hey, ho ho, Bitcoin has got to go,” and held signs informing anyone who passed by that “paper checks use less electricity!”

And, as things often go in the world of Bitcoin, everything was not as it seemed. 

The “protest” was ostensibly organized by a group calling itself Bankers Against Bitcoin, which, as you have probably guessed, is not a 100-percent real protest group. It does have real backing, though. Specifically, that of Bitcoin mining company Genesis Mining

Importantly, it’s not like Genesis Mining is trying to hide it. As the organizer’s website explains, the company wants everyone to get on the cryptocurrency rocket ship before it’s too late. 

“This protest is representative of what will happen to those industries and companies that fail to understand times have changed,” explained Genesis Mining CEO Marco Streng on the Bankers Against Bitcoin website. “The consumer abuse that’s been possible due to a lack of competition is over. The biggest competitor big banks have ever faced has arrived and it’s not a company or organization, it’s a decentralized technology.”

And Genesis Mining is here to help you avoid the soon-to-be grisly fate of the big banks with a “small,” “medium,” or “large” mining package for the low cost of $1,520, $4,440, or $12,960, respectively. 

Act now! Before it’s too late!

Image: genesis mining

We reached out to Genesis Mining with the hope of getting a little more background info on what appears to be, in effect, a well executed publicity stunt. Were the protesters, for example, paid? Unfortunately we don’t know, as we didn’t hear back as of press time. 

But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, when it comes to making it in the world of cryptocurrency, simply grabbing headlines is often good enough. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/05/14/consensus-2018-bankers-against-bitcoin/

This Kanye West Twitter troll is the cryptocurrency hero Bitcoin needs

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/pomp-kanye-west-bitcoin-blockchain/

Dont let bitcoin greed blind you to the potential of blockchain technology | John Naughton

The mechanism that underpins cryptocurrencies could help to provide secure public records in countries susceptible to corruption

Because I write about technology I am regularly assailed by people who are exercised about so-called cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, which most of them regard as a scam. But when I reply that while bitcoin might be newsworthy, the really important story concerns the blockchain technology that underpins it, their eyes glaze over and they start looking for the nearest exit as they conclude that they are in the grip of Coleridges Ancient Mariner.

And, in a sense, they are. Blockchain technology is indeed important, but it seems largely incomprehensible to ordinary mortals, even though the web teemswith attempts to explain it. This is partly because cryptography lies at its core, and since crypto involves complex mathematics it therefore lies beyond the ken of most people. But if one is prepared to take the maths as given, then really the basic idea is simple. As Don and Alex Tapscott put it in their book, Blockchain Revolution, a blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

Until recently, the banking establishment was unremittingly hostile to cryptocurrencies. Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase,for example, famously described bitcoin as a fraud. Butrecently, the wind seems to havechanged. Last December, two big exchanges the CME Group andCboe Global Markets launchedbitcoin futures trading operations. This week Goldman Sachs announced that it would follow suit and is looking into the direct trading of bitcoin. And now according to Wednesdays Financial Times even the New York Stock Exchange is setting up an online platform for buying and holding bitcoin.

So whats going on? To interpretityou need to understand that the cryptocurrency story has two interwoven strands: human greed on the one hand and utopianidealism on the other. Itsnoaccident that bitcoin emergedjust after the 2008 bankingcrisis as people realised thatwe had been taken for an epic ride by the financial services industry. In a world where nobody even the biggest banks could betrusted, an unknown genius going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper arguing that cryptography could be harnessed to enable trustworthy transactions without having to rely on fallible or corrupt human institutions. A new digital currency bitcoin was the working example he proposed. And underpinning it was the cryptographic tool the blockchain which ensured that alltransactions in the new currencycould be validated withoutneeding an institution to guarantee or underwrite them.

Because the total number of bitcoins that can exist is limited by the design of the system to 21m, the currency was rapidly perceived as an asset or a store of value like gold. Accordingly greed kicked in, triggering waves of speculative mania that are still continuing. Andit is this speculativewave that Goldman Sachs and conow belatedly wish to surf.

No surprise there, then. But implicit in the blockchain concept is an endearing strain of technocratic utopianism, a hope that technology can overcome some aspects of human frailty and corruption. The key to that lies in the latter half of the Tapscott definition quoted earlier the idea that a blockchain can record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value in a ledger that cannot be falsified.

This is a really big idea, because well-governed societies depend on keeping certain kinds of documentation birth and death certificates, title deeds, wills and so on in ledgers that are both public and secure. In industrialisedsocieties we have achieved this by having trustworthyinstitutions (registrars,solicitors, local authorities, etc), which have legal responsibilities and democratic oversight. But other societies are not so fortunate. In developing or authoritarian countries, for example,registries of land titles arecritically vulnerable to tampering by corrupt officials. Usinga blockchain to hold such titles could provide a way of ensuring that credible records endure, which is why countries such as the Republic of Georgia arebeginning to do it.

None of this is easy to do, and there are lots of practical difficultiesahead. But in the greed and cynicism surrounding bitcoin and its peers, we shouldnt lose sightof the great potential of blockchain technology. Many yearsago, an engineer called Paul Baran had a Big Idea that we could make a great communications network by using digital data packets rather than analogue phonelines. He was laughed out ofcourt by AT&T. But it turned outthat Barans idea was what gaveus the internet.

What Im reading

Gone and forgotten
Honestly! Kids these days! Opinion pollster YouGov did a survey to find out how much todays schoolchildren know about the communications technologies of the past. They were shown 12 pictures of relevant objects from the past typewriter, Nokia mobile phone, overhead projector, floppy disk, cassette, pager etc. Two-thirds didnt know what a floppy disk was (though some recognised it as the icon for Save), 27% didnt recognise a typewriter and 40% didnt know what an audio cassette was. (On the other hand, analogue nostalgists can take comfort that only a quarter of the kids couldnt recognise a record player. So vinyl may not be a lost cause with future generations. Biggest surprise: 23% didnt recognise a postcard.

Scandal you say?
Facebook users inhabit an ethics-free zone. A Reuters survey has found that the Cambridge Analytica scandal has had no real impact on those who use the service. Three-quarters of US users say theyre using Facebook as much as or more than before the revelations.

Take back control
MIT researchers have built a tool that enables you to control what you see in your social media feeds. Its called Gobo and its free.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/may/13/dont-let-bitcoin-greed-blind-you-to-the-potential-of-blockchain-technology

Bill Gates reveals himself as one of Bitcoins harshest critics

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/debug/bill-gates-short-bitcoin/

The crypto-future is female: bitcoin innovators push for inclusion

At the worlds largest blockchain conference, female leaders in the industry sought to shake off bitcoins boyish image

Satoshi is female was one of the more pervasive slogans at Consensus 2018, the worlds largest blockchain conference that saw thousands of crypto-believers descend on midtown New York for a packed, three-day meet-and-greet last week.

Satoshi refers to Satoshi Nakamoto, the still mysterious creator of Bitcoin who has never been identified but who, nonetheless, is credited as the founding father of cryptocurrency, or a digital form of money, and blockchain, a public and uneditable system for recording transactions. Both developments are hailed by their evangelists as potentially revolutionary technological tools.

As crowds packed Manhattans midtown Hilton to listen to leadingtechnology figures such as Twitters Jack Dorsey and the cryptography pioneer Bailey Whitfield Whit Diffie, the question of Satoshis gender was purely symbolic. But it was also understood by many attendees: blockchain should not simply perpetuate the white male tech nerd stereotypical worldview of Silicon Valley.

We think cryptocurrencies should be built with a different system and values in mind, said Nyla Rodgers, the creator of the Satoshi Is Female group. Silicon Valley is completely run by men. Women only receive 2% of venture capital funding so their ideas never rise to the top. Weve been living with a very one-sided view of the world.

The launch of #satoshiisfemale at the Women of Crypto event in Puerto Rico.

A post shared by Satoshi Is Female (@satoshiisfemale) on

The expression of a male-led crypto world is already self-evident. The frothy, unstable cryptocurrency sector is dominated by images of Lamborghinis Lambos and going moon as cryptocurrencies surge in price.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain has already received bad press for being overly gendered and insufficiently woke. In February, the North American Bitcoin Conference wrapped up 10 hours of speeches by inviting 5,000 attendees to what it called a networking party in a 20,000 sq ft strip club.

To women in the crypto sector attending Consensus, theres no time to lose if blockchain technology isnt going to follow the same path as Silicon Valley.

A recent study found that while there was improvement in the number of women in the industry in the wake of several sexism and discrimination scandals, the participation of racial minorities was worsening.

The blockchain sector has only been around for 18 months so we, as women, can help define what the culture looks like at the beginning, said Rodgers who is raising money to fund women-led tech groups, many in the developing world, through her charity Mama Hope. The urgency is there for women and minorities to create a system that actually values them.

On the first day of New Yorks crypto-week, the entrepreneur Cindy Chin held a seminar Women on The Block with the express purpose of creating a sense of inclusion in the blockchain world.

We think theres an opportunity to change what has really been an all-male space, Chin says. We want to be part of the conversation, we want to drive the leadership, to be part of the deal-flow and we want to be invested in we want the money!

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/may/17/consensus-2018-conference-bitcoin-satoshi-is-female

After you decide what your Bitcoin is worth…

Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/ravJO42

Facebook reportedly working on its own Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency

Image: mashable

Hoping to invest in the next Bitcoin? Keep an eye on Facebook. No, but really. According to a Cheddar report, the company is hard at work on its own cryptocurrency. 

Cheddar, citing sources familiar with the matter, claims that Facebook users could use the new “digital token” to buy and sell through the platform. The social network is also “exploring other ways” that it could use such a currency. 

Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that Facebook planned to “go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of” new technologies such as cryptocurrency. 

Four months later, it seems his vision is coming to fruition. Earlier this week, Facebook announced that its head of Messenger, David Marcus, would spearhead a group researching potential uses of blockchain across Facebook’s platforms. Marcus is a former Paypal president and CEO, and a member of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase’s board of directors, so it’s pretty clear what they’re going for here. 

We’re a bit puzzled as to why exactly Facebook would want to create a new currency, but it would certainly make it easier for customers in different countries to buy and sell through the platform without extra conversion fees. It could also be a transaction resource for Facebook buyers in countries with more volatile currencies. 

At least, that may be what Facebook tells us in order to pass this all off as a project for the greater good. Of course, it’s also likely to come with a transaction fee, so we’re guessing it won’t hurt Facebook’s bottom line.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/05/11/facebook-working-on-cryptocurrency/

As Bitcoin Plunged, These Crypto Hedge Funds Kept Making Money

  • Amber AI’s PTD2 fund surged 30% in first three months of 2018
  • Hedge fund advised by BitSpread made 5.7% in quarter

Bitcoin’s terrible start to 2018 is highlighting the appeal of cryptocurrency hedge funds that make money in both bull and bear markets.

Funds specializing in virtual currency market making and arbitrage strategies delivered first-quarter gains even as their mostly bullish peers lost 40 percent on average. That’s a big reversal from last year, when digital assets soared and market-making funds lagged far behind their long-biased counterparts.

Pivot Digital Trading-2, managed by Hong Kong-based Amber AI Group, generated some of the biggest gains among cryptocurrency funds that avoid directional bets. It rose 4.3 percent in March to bring its first-quarter return to 30 percent, according to the firm. Market Neutral Liquidity SP-Institutional, domiciled in the Cayman Islands, earned 5.6 percent in the first quarter, said Cedric Jeanson of BitSpread Group, investment adviser to the portfolio.

The results suggest some managers are finding ways to profit from wild swings in cryptocurrencies without having to predict whether the coins will rise or fall. Such tactics may appeal to investors who want exposure to digital assets without their extreme volatility.

As a group, cryptocurrency hedge funds are still highly correlated to the market. A Eurekahedge index for the category posted its biggest three-month slump on record last quarter as Bitcoin sank more than 50 percent. The index soared 1,709 percent in 2017, when Bitcoin jumped about 1,400 percent.

Among funds that lost money was Silver 8 Partners. It dropped 25 percent in March and 32 percent in the first quarter, according to a commentary sent to investors. Silver 8 invests in digital assets, along with fintech, blockchain and machine learning companies.

"High levels of uncertainty and low market liquidity make investments in blockchain-related assets volatile," the firm said in a newsletter. "They tend to overreact to cycles of euphoria and pessimism, where the market price itself acts as a catalyst for further momentum."

The fund has made more than 1,000 percent for investors since its inception in 2016, including a more than 750 percent gain in 2017.

While funds from Amber AI and BitSpread tend to not post such high returns during boom times, they provide investors with some protection when prices of digital assets fall.

Weathering Turmoil

Market-neutral crypto hedge funds fared better in 2018

Sources: Companies and investors

2018 returns for the first quarter

Read more on crypto hedge funds that made a killing last year

PDT2, as the Amber AI fund is otherwise known, trades the 25 largest digital currencies on exchanges including Huobi, OKEX, Bitfinex, Binance, Kraken and BitStamp, said Tiantian Kullander, one of the four former Morgan Stanley traders who started the firm with a one-time programmer at Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

The fund began trading early this year and oversees about $25 million, said Kullander. Its quantitative trading strategies include market-making, short-term trend following and exploiting pricing discrepancies between different currency pairs and exchanges.

Market Neutral Liquidity SP-Institutional, with more than $100 million of assets under management, makes markets for currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple, BitSpread’s Jeanson said.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-19/as-bitcoin-plunged-these-crypto-hedge-funds-kept-making-money