The @Bitcoin Twitter Account Is at the Heart of Bitcoin’s Big Schism

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Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash’s most fervent supporters are at it again and Twitter has become a bitter battlefield.

The latest victim? The @Bitcoin Twitter account was suspended.

@Bitcoin carries the name of the largest cryptocurrency but, just like Bitcoin.com, frequently issued statements supporting Bitcoin Cash, which split from Bitcoin last year over a disagreement on how the technology should scale. These posts don’t sit well with supporters of the original Bitcoin blockchain, including a group of developers called Bitcoin Core.

The fight between the two groups prompted prominent blockchain developer Jeff Garzik and others, to attribute the suspension to the endless complaints about @Bitcoin that Twitter was likely getting from Bitcoin Core supporters. Twitter didn’t state reasons for the suspension.

Roger Ver, an early Bitcoin evangelist whose work earned him the nick-name of Bitcoin Jesus, has now become a vocal supporter of Bitcoin Cash. Ver, who owns the Bitcoin.com website, tweeted:

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The latest skirmish in the war which started with the so-called Bitcoin Cash fork in August, highlights the downside of decentralized organizations and technologies. The lack of a management team means contributors globally can work on improving the technology, which will be implemented only if a majority agrees, but it’s also cause for disagreements and splits.

“The cryptocurrency development is open source, which means disagreements get aired publicly with the additional angle of the forking of a blockchain, where you have to take the entire network with you, and that creates much more tension," said Neeraj Agrawal, a spokesman at blockchain research advocacy Coin Center. “I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.”

Litecoin creator Charlie Lee, a well-known Bitcoin Core supporter, was likely one of the first to alert to the suspension with this tweet on Sunday:

The account now seems to be under new control. The bio now reads "My name is Andrei from Moscow Russia." The private account, which means Tweets aren’t visible to those @Bitcoin doesn’t give permission to follow, has less than 2,000 followers and a background picture that reads "I love you."

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-09/bitcoin-schism-escalates-after-twitter-suspends-bitcoin-account

Bitcoin Is One of the Few Things Surging in a Sea of Losses

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Amid a sea of red in financial markets, Bitcoin is still flashing green.

The biggest cryptocurrency climbed as much as 5.4 percent Tuesday to $9,412, the highest since March 7. Bitcoin has gained 20 percent in the past week and 37 percent in April, on track for its best month since its record-breaking December.

Bitcoin is rebounding from its worse start to a year ever, as it slumped more than 50 percent in the first quarter and plunged to as low as $5,922 from almost $20,000 at the end of last year. The cryptocurrency market is gaining as tax-related selling ends and regulatory-related headlines fade, while Wall Street signals increasing interest in the space.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said Monday that it hired Justin Schmidt as head of digital asset markets to help clients gain exposure to cryptocurrencies, and cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds have continued to open even amid the market slump earlier this year.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-24/bitcoin-is-one-of-the-few-things-surging-amid-a-sea-of-losses

Why do companies still accept Bitcoin? We asked them

Image: mashable

Bitcoin dipped, once again, below $10,000 early in March. In February, it dipped below $9000. It’s currently floating in the $6,000-7,000 and where it will go next is anyone’s guess.  

As Bitcoin faces global setbacks and its value responds accordingly, several companies, from Steam to Microsoft, have stopped accepting the currency. But some have held on through it all — the crashes, the rises and falls.  

I spoke with executives at companies who continue to allow Bitcoin payments, even as the storm grows rougher, to figure out why they still accept the cryptocurrency. They all sell different products, but there’s one thing they have in common: They don’t do very much business in Bitcoin.

The luxury watch dealer

Danny Govberg, CEO of WatchBox, which claims to be the world’s leading e-commerce platform for pre-owned luxury watches, says that when it comes to cryptocurrency, “I just have a hunch that it’s not going away.” WatchBox has accepted Bitcoin payments since 2014. 

“If I’m wrong, okay, so I got educated in an entire structure of cryptocurrency and blockchain,” says Govberg. “If I’m right, then I got educated early on, and was able to adopt it early on.”

For luxury-good companies, Bitcoin transactions are a tool in the toolbox for easing expensive international sales. “When they [international customers] wire us the money and our bank has to convert the money into different currencies, it’s not easy,” Govberg says. “If somebody in the future is in Germany and they want to pay in Bitcoin, they’ll be able to transact that business within a matter of seconds. It’ll come with the blockchain warranty and our bill of sale, everything that customer’s looking for.” 

Products on WatchBox can range from a few hundred dollars to over $150,000. Among those sales, Govberg says Bitcoin transactions are “infrequent.” 

The tech company

Richard Kirkendall, CEO of domain-name registrar Namecheap, says Bitcoin payments are becoming a necessity for companies that sell products exclusively online. “I believe the core of our customers are very tech-centric, and believe in the ideals of Internet freedom,” Kirkendall says. 

Namecheap was one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin payments. This month is the five-year anniversary of its adoption. “It serves to drive new business by those who would prefer to use this type of currency,” Kirkendall says. 

That’s not a huge demographic — only three percent of Namecheap’s transactions are done in Bitcoin — but Kirkendall is sure that it’s growing. 

“I believe Bitcoin will be seen more and more as a legitimate method of payment,” he adds, “especially once the technology to bring transaction costs down is implemented in the near future.” 

The furniture retailer

Jonathan Johnson, president of Medici Ventures, a blockchain-focused subsidiary of Overstock.com, also believes that the transition to Bitcoin payments is a natural one for an internet-based company. Overstock was the first major online retailer to accept Bitcoin payments in January 2014. 

“When we first started accepting Bitcoin, enthusiasts came out in droves,” he said. The novelty gave Overstock quite a bit of Bitcoin revenue: around a quarter of a million dollars in the first three weeks. 

Demand for Bitcoin transactions declined sharply after that point, and only makes up about .2% of Overstock’s sales currently. That said, the percentage has been growing since Bitcoin began aggressively appreciating last year.

The average order size of a Bitcoin transaction is more than twice the average order size of other Overstock customers, Johnson said. He believes in Bitcoin as an extension of Overstock’s mission to “let people spend the way they want to spend.” 

He’s such a believer, in fact, that he takes part of his salary in Bitcoin. “My bonus was worth a little bit less when I got it, and I think over time it’ll be worth more,” he assured me.

The NGO 

Ettori Rossetti, senior director of marketing and digital innovation at Save the Children, believes that accepting Bitcoin means more younger, tech-savvy people will donate, where they otherwise might not be considering charity. “If we’re in the game in many ways, we make more money and save more kids,” he says. 

The international NGO is a cause of choice among gamers and YouTube influencers who, according to Rossetti, overwhelmingly prefer to donate in Bitcoin.

Save the Children entered the Bitcoin market in late 2013, when the currency’s value was in the hundreds of dollars. Since then, it has received “tens of thousands” of dollars in Bitcoin contributions. This isn’t much compared to the organization’s annual revenues of $600 to $700 million dollars, but according to Rossetti, it only takes about ten dollars to reach a child in a natural disaster. 

Is Bitcoin a bubble? Rossetti doesn’t care — it’s what the people want. “I’m not in the business of calling winners or losers,” he says. “Whether it’s a bubble or not, I’m not gonna play favorites.” 

Research seems to agree that over time, it’s gotten easier to spend Bitcoin. Consumers spent an average of $190.2 million in Bitcoin in 2017, compared to $9.8 million per month in 2013. And after Square started accepting Bitcoin, a study found 60% of its U.S. merchants willing accept Bitcoin payments. A Bloomberg analyst called this “surprising, especially amid Bitcoin’s elevated volatility.”

However, a report from Morgan Stanley last year revealed that Bitcoin acceptance is at an all-time low, and getting lower. “Bitcoin owners are reluctant to use the cryptocurrency given its rate of appreciation, more evidence that bitcoin is more asset than currency,” one of the analysts wrote. 

It seems that the businesses that still accept Bitcoin, even its earliest adopters, are those who are playing the long game. When Bitcoin makes up a small percentage of profits, rather than an integral aspect of a business model, its value is clear as a symbolic gesture to young, techy customers, and as a foot in the door in case cryptocurrency blows up. Meanwhile, high transaction fees are infrequent enough not to be prohibitive, and the hit to profits from depreciation is relatively small. 

When Bitcoin becomes more than that, it’s a problem. 

The ones who left

Leading online payment company Stripe stopped accepting Bitcoin payments in late January. The company attributed its decision to the volatility in Bitcoin’s price. “Transaction confirmation times have risen substantially; this, in turn, has led to an increase in the failure rate of transactions denominated in fiat currencies,” Tom Karlo wrote in a blog post. “For a regular Bitcoin transaction, a fee of tens of U.S. dollars is common, making Bitcoin transactions about as expensive as bank wires,” he added. 

Steam halted Bitcoin transactions for similar reasons in December, citing difficulty calculating transaction costs in addition to the currency’s overall volatility. Valve engineer Kurtis Chinn wrote in a blog post that because the value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time, the amount of Bitcoin needed to purchase a game could change before Steam was able to update the game’s price, potentially losing the company money. 

Steam and Stripe has not released how many of their transactions were in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin transaction fees are currently under a dollar per transaction, but peaked at $37 in late December. BitPay, the transaction platform that many companies, including WatchBox and Namecheap use to accept currencies, instituted a $5 minimum transaction fee that same month and warned users that “Many invoice payments under $100 may still be uneconomical for bitcoin purchasers due to high bitcoin network fees.” 

Until Bitcoin is shown to be viable as a currency, rather than just an asset, it will be very difficult for these companies to comprise anything more than a vocal minority. Nevertheless, in a world where interest in Bitcoin is growing, and it’s impossible to predict what will come next, a small number of Bitcoin sales can serve as a large show of support for cryptocurrency on principle, and as a low-risk, but potentially high-reward gamble. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/07/businesses-that-still-accept-bitcoin/

Bitcoin, the Biggest Bubble in History, Is Popping

The greatest bubble in history is popping, according to Bank of America Corp.

The cryptocurrency is tracking the downfalls of the other massive asset-price bubbles in history less than one year out from its record, analysts lead by Chief Investment Strategist Michael Hartnett wrote in a note Sunday.

The cryptocurrency has fallen more than 65 percent since peaking in December at $19,511. Bitcoin rose 2.2 percent to $6,750 on Monday.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-09/bitcoin-seen-popping-like-the-greatest-bubbles-by-bofa

Bitcoin Bounces Back Above $8,000 Level After Earlier Slump

Bitcoin Bounces Back Above $8,000 Level After Earlier Slump

Bitcoin rebounded back above the $8,000 level in Asian trading, hours after dipping below that threshold for the second time in a week as Twitter Inc. joined other social media platforms in banning advertisements for initial coin offerings and token sales on its service.

The largest cryptocurrency rose as much as 4.8 percent and was trading at $8,193 at 8:59 a.m. in Hong Kong, reversing an overnight decline that took Bitcoin down to about $7,850 according to consolidated Bloomberg pricing. Rival coins Ripple, Ether and Litecoin also advanced. Bitcoin remains down 22 percent in March.

Cboe Global Markets Inc., which was the first U.S. exchange to list Bitcoin futures last year, continues to have plans to introduce more cryptocurrency-related products. The exchange operator prodded U.S. securities regulators Monday to consider approving crypto exchange-traded funds in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Since Bitcoin reached a peak of almost $20,000 in mid-December at the height of the cryptocurrency frenzy, the digital currency has lost more than half of its value as investors weigh the future of the emerging space amid intensifying scrutiny from global regulators.

Twitter confirmed Monday it’s banning the advertisements on its platform due to concern the content is often related to deception and fraud, according to a company spokesperson. The decision comes after Facebook Inc. banned cryptocurrency ads in January and Alphabet Inc.’s Google said it would do the same starting in June.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-27/bitcoin-bounces-back-above-8-000-level-after-earlier-slump

‘Big bitcoin heist’ suspect escapes prison and flees Iceland ‘on PM’s plane’

Sindri Thor Stefansson escaped through window before reportedly boarding same flight to Sweden as prime minister Katrn Jakobsdttir

The suspected mastermind behind the theft of 600 computers used to mine bitcoin in Iceland has escaped from prison and fled to Sweden on an aeroplane reportedly carrying the Icelandic prime minister.

Sindri Thor Stefansson escaped through a window of the low-security Sogn prison in rural southern Iceland before boarding a flight to Sweden at the international airport in Keflavik located 59 miles from the prison on Tuesday. Police said he travelled under a passport in someone elses name, but was identified via surveillance video.

He had an accomplice, police chief Gunnar Schram told local news outlet Visir. We are sure of that.

Guards at the prison, which has no fences and where inmates have access to the internet and phones, did not report him missing until after the flight to Sweden had taken off. Stefansson had been in custody since February, but was moved to the low-security prison 11 days ago.

An international warrant has since been issued for his arrest, but Swedish police spokesman Stefan Dangardt said no arrest has been made in Sweden.

The plane that Stefansson took was reported to have been carrying the Icelandic prime minister, Katrn Jakobsdttir, to a meeting with Indias prime minister in Stockholm on Tuesday.

The
The plane that Stefansson took was reported to have been carrying the Icelandic prime minister, Katrn Jakobsdttir, to a meeting with Indias prime minister in Stockholm on Tuesday. Photograph: Claudio Bresciani/EPA

The prison break is yet another twist in a criminal case without parallel on the peaceful island nation with a population of 340,000 and one of the worlds lowest crime rates.

Dubbed by local media as the big bitcoin heist, Stefansson was among 11 people arrested for allegedly stealing the cryptocurrency mining equipment in what is thought to be Icelands biggest theft. The computers, which were stolen in four thefts and have yet to be found, have been valued at 200m kronur (1.45m), described as a grand theft on a scale unseen before by Icelandic police commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson.

Police have arrested 22 people altogether, including a security guard, without solving the burglaries.

Helgi Gunnlaugsson, a sociology professor at the University of Iceland, said keeping a high-profile prisoner in such low-security surroundings was unusual but more so was his organised escape.

Prison breaks in Iceland usually mean someone just fled to get drunk, he said. The underworlds are tiny and it is extremely difficult to hide, let alone flee the country.

Iceland has become a hotspot of for data centres and cryptocurrency mining thanks to its abundance of renewable energy and cold climate, which provides low electricity prices and lower cooling costs for the high-powered computer equipment. The low costs have made it easier for cryptocurrency miners to turn a profit, but have also led to the operators within Iceland consuming more electricity with their intensive computing endeavors than households.

Owners of the stolen computers have, in a rare public outreach, promised a $60,000 reward to anyone who can lead detectives to the stolen computers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/18/big-bitcoin-heist-suspect-sindri-thor-stefansson-escapes-prison-flees-iceland-pm-katrin-jakobsdottir-plane

Bitcoin Whale Sightings Are Leaving Cryptocurrency Traders Jumpy

Occasional sighting of Bitcoin whales are leaving advocates of the biggest cryptocurrency anxious after what’s already been a choppy week of trading.

Sudden market swings in the cryptocurrency this week have left price charts looking like a jack-o-lantern’s smile. And some investors are blaming the gyrations on actions by large Bitcoin holders, known as whales.

“The best explanation is coming from those whales in the market who want to have some sort of control on what’s going on,” said Jonathan Benassaya, the founder and chief executive officer at San Francisco-based IronChain Capital. “It’s some sort of manipulation from actors."

Bitcoin’s recent choppy moves aren’t that unusual, cautioned Tom Lee, head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors. "I think it feels off right now because, you know, we’ve been on a down trend since December, and now, even though the volatility hasn’t changed much, it’s hard to tell if Bitcoin is trying to stage a recovery or if it’s continuing its down trend," Lee said.

In a less mature market that lacks the same history and complexity that the stock market holds, the digital currency is a lot more vulnerable to liquidity movements. "It’s the state of it now because there isn’t a ton of liquidity and there is regulatory uncertainty and general nervousness," he said.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-18/bitcoin-whale-sightings-are-leaving-cryptocurrency-traders-jumpy

Bitcoin no longer option to pay for premium Reddit Gold subscription

Reddit Gold no longer accepts bitcoin.
Image: David Ryder/Getty Images

Reddit Gold is done with bitcoin.

The premium version of the online forum Reddit used to let you pay for an upgraded membership with the cryptocurrency, bitcoin. But in the past few days it looks like the ad-free version of the site isn’t as gung-ho on the digital coin as it once was.

When I went to sign up Monday for a month of Reddit Gold I was given two payment options: PayPal or credit card.

No bitcoin for Reddit Gold.

Image: reddit gold/screengrab

A conversation two years ago in the “goldbenefits” sub-reddit conversation shows that bitcoin was an option at one point.

Now with bitcoin below $8,000, it looks like it’s fallen out of favor on the message board site. Though, as Cointelegraph first reported, it looks like the decision was based on cryptocurrency exchange Coindesk changing its terms of its merchant service Coindesk Commerce

To confirm this is the case we reached out to Reddit,  who referred back to a Reddit admin’s comments about the Coindesk changes and the slim chance that the cryptocurrency will return to the site.

The admin wrote over the weekend, “The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option.”

So long, bitcoin.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/26/reddit-gold-bitcoin-payments-removed/

Bitcoin tools could make finance system safer, says IMF boss

Christine Lagarde believes revisiting crypto-assets could harness gains and avoid pitfalls

The advance of bitcoin and other digital currencies could make the global financial system safer despite the prospect of inevitable accidents waiting to happen, the head of the International Monetary Fund has said.

Christine Lagarde said some tools built using the technology behind bitcoin, which are known collectively as crypto-assets, hold the potential to revolutionise the world of high finance by making it faster, cheaper and safer. Among them, there are real threats and needless fears, she said.

Writing in a blogpost as politicians and central bankers gather in Washington for the IMFs regular spring meetings, she said there was hope for a world where firms using digital currencies could coexist alongside traditional banks.

That level of diversity could build a financial ecosystem that is more efficient and potentially more robust in resisting threats, she said.

An increasing number of consumers have used cryptocurrencies as an alternative to the old ways of holding and moving money and prefer them to traditional banks, which crashed in the 2008 financial crisis. However, many have lost money from volatile price movements and after some cryptocurrency exchanges have been hacked.

Lagarde has previously issued warnings over the risks posed by bitcoin and other digital currencies, calling for global regulators to stage a crackdown by using its technology to fight fire with fire.

Last month, she said authorities around the world could harness the potential of cryptocurrencies to help bring them under control. Failure to do so would allow the unfettered development of a potentially major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism, she added.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has called bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies inherently risky and that they have failed to fulfil their most basic function as money. Bitcoin hit almost $20,000 (13,958) in value in the run-up to Christmas, before crashing by more than half earlier this year.

But ahead of the IMFs forthcoming global financial stability report, which looks at emerging risks from the world of banking, Lagarde said there were merits from looking again at crypto-assets. A clear-eyed approach can help us harness the gains and avoid the pitfalls, she said.

Comparing recent developments to the advances of the 1990s – when thousands of technology companies were started only to collapse a few years later during the dot-com crash – she said many crypto-assets were bound to fail. More than 1,600 digital currencies are in circulation, having ballooned in number in recent years.

However, just as a few technologies that emerged during the dot-com era have since transformed the world, she said crypto-assets that survived this process of creative destruction could have a significant impact on how we save, invest and pay our bills.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/16/bitcoin-tools-could-make-finance-system-safer-says-imf-christine-lagarde

Bitcoin Ban Expands Across Credit Cards as Big U.S. Banks Recoil

A growing number of big U.S. credit-card issuers are deciding they don’t want to finance a falling knife.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. said they’re halting purchases of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on their credit cards. JPMorgan, enacting the ban Saturday, doesn’t want the credit risk associated with the transactions, company spokeswoman Mary Jane Rogers said.

Bank of America started declining credit card transactions with known crypto exchanges on Friday. The policy applies to all personal and business credit cards, according to a memo. It doesn’t affect debit cards, said company spokeswoman Betty Riess.

And late Friday, Citigroup said it too will halt purchases of cryptocurrencies on its credit cards. “We will continue to review our policy as this market evolves,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Bombardier said.

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Allowing purchases of cryptocurrencies can create big headaches for lenders, which can be left on the hook if a borrower bets wrong and can’t repay. There’s also the risk that thieves will abuse cards that were purloined or based on stolen identities, turning them into crypto hoards. Banks also are required by regulators to monitor customer transactions for signs of money laundering — which isn’t as easy once dollars are converted into digital coins.

Bitcoin has lost more than half its value since Dec. 18, falling below $8,000 on Friday for the first time since November. The drop occurred amid escalating regulatory threats around the world, fear of price manipulation and Facebook Inc.’s ban on ads for cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings.

Now, cutting off card purchases could exacerbate those pressures by making it more difficult for enthusiasts to buy into the market. Capital One Financial Corp. and Discover Financial Services previously said they aren’t supporting the transactions.

Mastercard Inc. said this week that cross-border volumes on its network — a measure of customer spending abroad — have risen 22 percent this year, fueled partly by clients using their cards to buy digital currencies. The firm warned that the trend already was beginning to slow as cryptocurrency prices fell.

Discover Chief Executive Officer David Nelms was dismissive of financing cryptocurrency transactions during an interview last month, noting that could change depending on customer demand. For now, “it’s crooks that are trying to get money out of China or wherever,” he said of those trying to use the currencies.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-02/bofa-to-decline-all-cryptocurrency-transactions-on-credit-cards