A Bitcoin mining company just organized a fake protest

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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/

Facebook reportedly working on its own Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency

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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/

Famous investors are running out of insults for Bitcoin

Warren Buffett: An expert on rat poison.
Image: Daniel Zuchnik / Gettyimages

Bitcoin bashing has been a popular sport among the very rich for quite a while, but this week the usual suspects have considerably upped their game. 

These days, it’s no longer enough to call Bitcoin a bad or dangerous investment. If you want to convince the world that Bitcoin is no good, you need to conjure up a string of adjectives so scathing that it makes the Bitcoin sound worse than the plague. 

Just yesterday, in an interview with Yahoo Finance,  Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman  Charles Munger called Bitcoin “anti-social,” “stupid,” “immoral,” and a “turd.” He likened it to organ trading, said people pushing Bitcoin are a “disgrace,” and he somehow managed to squeeze the word “dementia” in there, too. 

And I didn’t just make the plague thing up; in an earlier comment, dating Dec. 2017, Munger actually likened Bitcoin to that largely eradicated, extremely infectious disease — though he mercifully didn’t specify whether he’s talking about the pneumonic or the marginally less horrible bubonic form. 

Munger’s boss, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, shares his outlook on Bitcoin. He, too, has recently become creative when it comes to bad-mouthing the popular cryptocurrency. A few days ago, he told CNBC that Bitcoin is probably “rat poison squared.”

I’m not exactly sure how you square rat poison, but it sounds very bad — far worse than regular rat poison. Though, to be completely frank, rat poison is only bad if you ingest it. Perhaps Buffett, who’d built his empire with long-term investments in no-nonsense stocks including Coca-Cola and Apple, is referring to owning a rat poison manufacturing business. That doesn’t sound so bad, unless you’re a rat. 

On Monday, Bill Gates himself joined the party, calling Bitcoin a “greater fool theory” type of investment. He added that he would short it if there was an easy way to do it, which was somewhat odd as there is a pretty easy way to short Bitcoin, as noted by investor and cryptocurrency proponent Tyler Winklevoss. 

If you’re keeping count, that’s two out of three richest people on the planet. Jeff Bezos, if you have something bad to say about Bitcoin, you had better start working on your derogatory remarks because the bar has been set high. 

I get it: Journalists like to ask rich people and famous investors about Bitcoin and they oblige them with answers. But some of these comments are borderline comedy, and are more likely to provoke a few laughs than to sway anyone’s opinion. 

Obviously, if you’re looking for quality information on Bitcoin, you probably shouldn’t listen to people who keep setting unrealistic price goals or just keep yelling “HODL,” either (in cryptocurrency lingo, “hodl” means holding on to an asset for dear life and never selling it, no matter the losses). There are plenty of smart, reasonable people in the cryptocurrency space who’ll likely skip the price talk altogether and focus on the technology, which is at the very least promising. 

Bitcoin’s price has pulled back somewhat following the remarks from Buffett, Munger and Gates, despite The New York Times‘ report that the New York Stock Exchange’s parent company ICE is looking to launch a Bitcoin trading platform. Historically, however, scathing remarks from famous investors have done little to stifle its price growth. Perhaps what’s needed is stronger words still — or perhaps the crypto crowd doesn’t really care about comments from people who are otherwise more or less uninterested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. 

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH .

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/05/08/bitcoin-insults/

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 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/

Homeowners now accepting bitcoin in latest cryptocurrency trend

Bitcoin for homes.
Image: bob al-greene/mashable

The bitcoin craze has officially jumped to real estate. 

Despite the risky, volatile nature of cryptocurrency, homes and property across the U.S., Australia, Canada, and beyond are for sale for the unpredictable coin. Even after one bitcoin dropped from $14,000 to $11,000 in value in a matter of days, homeowners are still putting up their homes for some of that flashy money.

It’s not just a few listings here and there. According to Bitcoin Real Estate,  a site that has been tracking the business for several years, the trend is growing more and more and not slowing down.

At the end of 2017 a Miami condo reportedly sold for 17.7 bitcoin and actual cryptocurrency was exchanged between the buyer and seller. Not just bitcoin converted into cash, which is the more popular way to use the coin.

Trulia spokeswoman Andrea McDonald found 80 listings on the site that reference cryptocurrency in some way. Many just note “bitcoin accepted,” but others really get into it.

A property near Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California makes that case for paying with cryptocurrency, insisting that the property “can be a nice investment for future at a very reasonable $5,250 per acre for a total of $2.1 million or 124 bitcoins.”

Another home in West Palm Beach, Florida, is open to buyers with bitcoin and ethereum and litecoin, but with the caveat that cryptocurrencies are constantly changing. “Owner financing possible $149,900 USD, 13 bitcoin 375 ethereum, 950 litecoin (crypto price subject to change. Inquire crypto price at time of interest),” the listing says.

So far Trulia hasn’t officially seen a sale go down with the coin, McDonald said, but it’s probably just a matter of time.

Redfin, another online real estate database, has also seen a crypto trend in its listings, especially in hubs like the Bay Area and Miami. The number of listings that accepted cryptocurrency jumped from 75 in December to 134 in mid-January. Some of those 134 listings have sold, but as a Redfin spokesman explained it’s unclear if cryptocurrency was used for all or a portion of the sale price.

Some of the listings are trying so hard to initiate a cryptosale. A Florida home used all caps and asterisks to lure in investors, screaming, “**BITCOIN SALE PREFERRED! Unique opportunity to be one of the first transactions using Bitcoin.**”. Another listing for a property in Washington state, meanwhile, was generous with exclamation points: “Seller willing to accept BITCOIN!!! The new rate of cryptocurrency that [sic] taking the world by storm!” 

Aaron Drucker, a Redfin agent in Miami, said in a phone call that including cryptocurrency in a listing gives a property more exposure. He’s also noticed that bitcoin listings tend to be luxury condos. “Earlier investors in bitcoin have made a lot of money,” he said. “They may want to convert some of that into a tangible asset.”

“I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers.”

But bitcoin sales aren’t for everyone. “I wouldn’t recommend this for first-time home buyers,” he added. “But if you want to buy a second home, this might be something to consider.” No matter how you look it at, Drucker said, it’s “definitely risky.”

Others are using bitcoin and other coins for their lucrative value. A Redfin agent in San Diego helped a buyer cash out two bitcoin valued then at nearly $7,500 each to cover closing costs for a home in Carlsbad, California. 

Carina Isentaeva, a Redfin agent in San Francisco, is in the center of the crypto-mania. In a call she said it’s all about “crypto homes” now. She had a deal that fell through because the buyer’s ICO flopped. But more surprising to Isentaeva was that the seller was willing to work with a cryptocurrency contingent sale. “You couldn’t imagine this a few years ago,” she said. “Everyone would want to see a bank statement,” not ICO filing paperwork.

Another big issue holding up more sales with actual cryptocurrency is regulation. Just finding an escrow service that will handle a crypto sale instead of traditional cash is difficult. As Isentaeva noted, the technology is moving much faster than government and laws. So the workaround is to convert bitcoin into cash and then buy property. But eventually the tech should catch up and the transaction will be more streamlined — at least that’s what Isentaeva hopes.

But no matter the difficulties, the crypto listings keep coming. Welcome to the neighborhood, bitcoiners.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/22/cryptohomes-real-estate-bitcoin-cryptocurrency/

Bitcoin could change the world by making governments change money

Image: Bob Al Green/Mashable

Russia is working on a government-run cryptocurrency. And they’re not alone. 

Governments around the world — including the U.S., China, Japan, Canada, Venezuela, Estonia, Sweden, and Uruguay — are either actively working on some form of digital currency or exploring the topic. 

But don’t expect a bunch of bitcoin clones. Governments have very different priorities, and decentralization — a main feature of most cryptocurrenices including bitcoin — doesn’t tend to be one of them. In fact, government digital currencies could herald a new era of centralization, posing serious questions about privacy and the viability of true cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. 

There’s important differences between true cryptocurrencies and what are generally called “centralized digital currencies” (CDCs). One of the main qualities — if not the central feature — of cryptocurrencies is that they’re decentralized. This means no single person, government, company, or group can control them. CDCs, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are as centralized as can be.

That centralization could provide governments with some world-changing capabilities — some good, some rather scary. There’s the upside of giving people a secure and cheap way to buy thing. There’s also serious privacy concerns, especially when talking about authoritarian countries. 

Russia has, in particular, floated some interesting ideas around why it would want to introduce some form of government-led cryptocurrency. Details are scant, and it’s not clear if the “cryptoruble” would be a true cryptocurrency using decentralized ledger technology or if it could be mined. What is clear, however, is that Russia is interested in some sort of digital currency to get around international sanctions and possibly even allow the government to tax its sizable black markets.

“There have been two reactions from central governments. One is to try to figure out how to regulate the darn things, and the other is, do we figure out how to make our own?” said Paul Triolo, head of geotechnology at the Eurasia Group. “2017 was sort of a watershed year in that 2017 saw the regulatory response globally really pick up.”

Why now?

The technology behind digital cash isn’t new in concept of execution. Long before Venmo had become a verb, companies were working toward entirely digital transactions. 

Adoption wasn’t terribly quick or widespread. Nor were the systems that emerged to service digital transactions terribly efficient or cheap. Governments and banks weren’t in any hurry to adopt this tech since nobody else was either.

Then bitcoin happened. The explosion of BTC and other cryptocurrencies have forced governments to take a look at just what these technologies mean for the future of commerce, finance, and centralized authority over the creation and movement of money.

Jacob Eliosoff, founder of cryptocurrency investment fund Calibrated Markets, said governments are now seeing the benefits of this technology but are also going to need time to understand it.

“In principle there could be various benefits: the simple efficiency of instant global electronic transactions, preventing counterfeiting, better record-keeping and monitoring of transactions, no printing press, etc,” Eliosoff wrote in an email. “But also right now some governments, like some companies, are probably just dazzled by the hype and making stuff up so as not to get left behind.”

There’s also some larger conceptual issues at play here. Bitcoin has proven that it’s possible to create money outside of government-based financial systems. Ole Bjerg, an associate professor in at Copenhagen Business School, said this is forcing governments and central banks to ask tough questions about their role in the economies of the future.

“What bitcoin has done is it’s sort of made a lot of people aware that you can actually create money in new ways,” Bjerg said.

By many definitions, digital currencies backed, issued, and tracked by a government or central bank would not be a cryptocurrency. 

“To many of us Bitcoiners, the essence of ‘crypto’ is decentralization: a currency that no person or institution owns or controls, so no one can take it from you or prevent you from sending it, or print it at will,” Eliosoff wrote. “Countries like Denmark have been moving towards cashless societies since before Bitcoin existed, but of course those are still centrally managed currencies. You don’t have to be against fiat per se (I’m not) to see it as fundamentally different from cryptocurrencies.”

To some, the question of what is and isn’t a cryptocurrency is besides the point. The mechanism is just a detail. 

“The main point is you can have digital money which is a liability with a central bank rather than a private bank. Whether you do that with a blockchain or you do it with a database doesn’t make much of a difference,” Bjerg said.

Why should I care?

There’s a very simple reason a government digital currency could be good for you. 

It’ll save you money.

Andrew Levin, a professor of economics at Dartmouth College, said digital currencies could cut out middlemen and banks, meaning fewer people taking a cut out of transactions.

“One important reason for trying to move ahead with a central bank digital currency is to create a payment system that is essentially free for consumers and businesses,” Levin said.

If you have a debit card, there’s a good chance it says some combination of MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, or any variety of other companies. They’re not providing that service out of the goodness of their hearts. They make money when you use that card.

Under the new system, you’d pay with money directly held by the government (or really a country’s central bank) through what some call a “Centralized Digital Currency,” or CDC.

With a CDC, you’d have a card but it wouldn’t say any of those companies. It would say probably say “U.S. Federal Reserve” — the U.S. central bank. It wouldn’t take any cut, and the U.S. government is much less likely than a bank to go under and take your cash with it.

A CDC, then, is the functional equivalent to using cash, with one big caveat that we’ll get to shortly.

Even the economists are getting excited

There’s a good reason that economists have been getting excited about CDCs. 

Governments control the economy through central banks. In the U.S., that’s the Federal Reserve a.k.a the Fed. The Fed controls the economy through a relatively arcane system in which it tweaks interest rates to control the money supply. It’s a multi-step process that attempts to influence spending and saving behavior by consumers and businesses. But since financial resources are held by private institutions, the ultimate effects of the Fed’s decisions are filtered through these other organizations. 

The major upside of a CDC is that central banks would be able to directly change the interest rates on the currency, meaning it’s incentives for saving and spending would pack a much bigger punch. And not just that, it could easily turn the interest rate negative — something central banks can’t really do now — when it really needed to stimulate growth. 

After the financial crisis and the ensuing global economic slowdown, these measures did not prove terribly effective at stimulating growth. Central banks did what they could, lowering interest rates about as much as they could in order to try to goose their economies. 

Giving central banks the ability to aggressively push the economy through control of a digital currency would make a major difference in peoples’ lives, Levin said.

“This has been a very long slow painful recovery that’s been very painful for lots of normal households. Normal American families have really suffered for the last ten years and part of the reason for that is that the Federal Reserve was constrained,” he said. 

Imagine that the financial crisis was just a speed bump instead of a giant crater that the U.S. (and really the world) is just barely climbing out of. That’s the kind of promise that some economists think CDCs could deliver on.

OK, so what are the downsides?

There’s two main drawbacks here.

The first is that the promise of decentralization isn’t just negated by a central digital currency; a CDC is even more centralized than the existing system. For people who believe that decentralization is a good thing that will free people from dependence on governments and big companies, 

The other main drawback is privacy. Cash is anonymous, giving people a certain amount of freedom to spend money without having to worry about explaining their actions.

A CDC would conceivably remove any and all privacy from your spending (at least as far as hiding it from the government). 

“This sounds glib, but many of us would argue that untraceable transactions are actually an important civil liberty which cryptocurrency enables, but digital fiat impairs,” Eliosoff wrote.

Russia’s nefarious goals for its cryptocurrencies point to how governments around the world could start embracing digital currencies for their own ends both good and bad. Meanwhile, countries like Russia and China — two of the countries most aggressively pursuing their own digital currencies — are the ones cracking down hardest on bitcoin and other distributed currencies.

Cache money

In the near future, not much will change. Governments don’t tend to move quickly. There will be any number of tests to see how this could work, as some countries have done with ideas like a minimum basic income

They could, however, be forced to adapt if cryptocurrencies begin to offer a real, viable alternative to the existing financial system. There’s plenty of blockchain enthusiasts who believe that’s just a matter of time, though it could be a while.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/08/cryptocurrency-bitcoin-governments/

As Bitcoin plummets Coinbase temporarily halts trading

Image: AFP/Getty Images

Coinbase — the largest Bitcoin market in the U.S. — has disabled all buying and selling as the digital currency Bitcoin dramatically loses value. 

At 11:11 a.m. EST, Coinbase posted that it had temporarally disabled trading:

All buys and sells have been temporarily disabled. We are working on a fix and apologize for any inconvenience. 

About 25 minutes later, at 11:35 a.m. EST, the company said it’s still monitoring the problem:

Due to today’s high traffic, buys and sells may be temporarily offline. We’re working on restoring full availability as soon as possible. 

This “high traffic” is largely in reference to activity in the Bitcoin market. Bitcoin is the world’s highest-valued currency, as one Bitcoin hit nearly $20,000 this December.

But it’s lost about a quarter of its value in the last 24 hours and the fickle currency is now trading at around $12,874 — and some exchanges around $11,000.

Other cryptocurrencies have followed the pattern: Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin cash have all lost a quarter of their value over the last day. 

All of this frenetic activity likely overburdened Coinbase’s services — something it might better account for going forward: New currencies are inherently unstable, and the today’s cryptocurrencies will be swinging up and down for quite some time.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/22/coinbase-halts-trading-as-bitcoin-falls/

Ethereum and Ripple reach new all-time highs while Bitcoin stagnates

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It’s another green day in the world of cryptocurrencies, with all of the ten largest coins rising significantly in value in the last 24 hours. However, this time it’s not Bitcoin that’s leading the charge. 

Yes, Bitcoin’s price rose to $14,043 — a 4.99% increase in the last 24 hours — bringing the most popular cryptocurrency’s market cap to $235.6 billion. But it’s still a long way from Bitcoin’s all time high of $19,962 in December. 

But all of the other major cryptocoins rose far more than Bitcoin. Ripple, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, rose 11.48% to a new record of $2.47. Ethereum, which is in third place, rose 16.97%, to $889.77 — another all-time high. And Stellar, which is currently in eighth place by market cap, grew a whopping 36.03%, which brought its price to a record high of $665. 

All in all, the market cap of the entire cryptospace is currently at a record $654.2 billion, an impressive feat considering Bitcoin has lost thirty percent of its value in the last couple of weeks. 

There’s no significant news to which we can attribute this recent growth. Ripple, which had recently overtaken Ethereum as the second-largest cryptocoin, has been growing like a weed for a while now without any major developments. As for Ethereum, it likely benefitted from the launch of a test network for Casper, a significant upgrade for Ethereum which is currently in alpha stage. 

While it historically wasn’t very smart to bet against Bitcoin, it looks like it’s time for all the other cryptocurrencies to shine. Bitcoin dominance as measured by CoinMarketCap — the percentage of Bitcoin’s market cap compared to the market cap of all other cryptocoins — is at a historic low of 36%.

It’s possible that the hoards of investors who recently entered the crypto space (popular exchange Coinbase has grown its user base by millions in the last couple of months) are now diversifying into coins that aren’t Bitcoin. It’s also possible that Bitcoin’s largely stagnant development — in contrast to the extremely busy roadmaps from most of its competitors — is driving investors away. On the flip side, it’s not unimaginable that Bitcoin is just taking a little break before it explodes again.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2018/01/02/ripple-ethereum-records/

Ethereum takes cue from Bitcoin, starts growing like crazy

Image: Wit Olszewski/shutterstock

Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap (behind Bitcoin), is currently trading at $707, a 20% increase in the last 24 hours. 

This is a new record for Ethereum, which has kept pace with Bitcoin for the better part of the year but started falling behind sometime in the summer. Bitcoin’s price grew tremendously in the second part of the year. One bitcoin is currently worth $17,176. 

Ethereum’s market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap, is currently $66.5 billion. 

Besides being a blockchain-based cryptocurrency, Ethereum has fairly little to do with Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is primarily a payment system, Ethereum is a platform for decentralized apps running on its blockchain. 

Ethereum’s platform ushered in a completely new breed of startups that raised funds via initial coin offering or ICO events. Participants exchange Ethereum for new digital tokens created on the Ethereum blockchain. ICOs raised more than $1.24 billion in the third quarter of 2017, according to CoinDesk

Most recently, Ethereum has been in the news due to a popular game called CryptoKitties, which lets users collect and trade digital kittens stored on Ethereum’s blockchain. 

Looking at price alone, Ethereum’s growth has been even more impressive than Bitcoin’s this year. The cryptocurrency was trading for about $8.3 in January; its current price represents a 8,500% increase. 

Ethereum might be rising due to recent comments by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, who published a statement on Monday warning about the dangers of ICOs, which are largely unregulated. He also said that some digital tokens traded in ICOs aren’t securities and do not fall under SEC’s jurisdiction. 

Numerous other cryptocurrencies continue yesterday’s rally, most notably, the banking-oriented Ripple, which grew by 73% in the last 24 hours and now has a market cap of $18 billion. 

Disclosure: The author of this text owns, or has recently owned, a number of cryptocurrencies, including BTC and ETH, as well as a swiftly rising number of digital kittens.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/13/ethereum-700/