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Susan Athey On How Digital Currency Could Transform Our Lives

Stanford business school professor Susan Athey (Peter Tenzer)

forbes.com / Laura Shin / 11/24/2014

This article is the first installment in a three-part series on digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple and others. 

Insofar as this is possible, Susan Athey is a rockstar economist.

At age 36, the Stanford Graduate School of Business professor became the first woman to receive the prestigious John Bates Clark Medal, awarded to an American economist under age 40 who has made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. The former MIT and Harvard professor has a whole host of other accolades to her name: member of the National Academy of Sciences, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, plus many more. She also was the first chief economist hired at Microsoft, as a consultant, and she now serves on the board of Ripple Labs, the creator of the Ripple protocol, a more bank-friendly alternative to Bitcoin.

Her work has focused on the cutting edge of technology. One theme in particular has been how complex platforms and marketplaces, such as internet search advertising and online advertising auctions, can be designed to make them work more efficiently — for instance, using big data to predict how advertisers would react if online ad prices were changed and how that would change the users’ experience of and interaction with ads.

She also has concentrated on how technology enables the creation of new platforms, and how that affects the industries involved — for instance, how the internet has affected news media. “This is a new frontier of statistics and econometrics — the statistics of economics: to try to combine tools that are geared toward large data sets with lots and lots of covariates and not a lot of structure with the ability to answer very structured questions,” she says.

 Because of her interest in the effect technology has on our lives, cryptocurrency immediately piqued her interest for its potential to disrupt financial services. I recently met with her at her office at Stanford GSB to talk about what digital currency is, its potential, the hurdles it faces and other related issues, including an exciting new project involving Bitcoin. Because of the length of our interview, I’ve separated them into individual stories in a series. In this first installment, we discuss what Bitcoin is and applications for digital currencies.

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Bitcoin Needs an Aggressive Legal Defense

coindesk.com / Jon Matonis / November 24, 2014 at 15:55 GMT

Across the board, bitcoin requires forceful and aggressive legal defense, not complicity with governments in crafting policy and regulations. It’s going to get a lot rougher for bitcoin in the months and years ahead. We have to be prepared.

As Rick Falkvinge, author of Swarmwisestates, “The copyright monopoly war wasn’t the war, it was the tutorial mission. The Internet generation is using technology to assert its values and its place in society, the old industrial generation is pushing back hard against irrelevance. Things are about to get much worse.”

It is a superb analogy. Legal tender is essentially an unearned copyright privilege over the production of money. It is unlikely to be easily disrupted.

Only the naive can delude themselves into thinking that governments will embrace bitcoin in the name of monetary innovation or a modern techno-transition to the ‘Internet of Things’. What government permits with one hand, it restricts and strangles with the other. Therefore, any regulatory gains by the bitcoin community are elusive, because they are designed to appease, while government enforcement actions reveal a contradictory agenda.

The real battle lies elsewhere, beyond the public policy debate.

There hasn’t been a judicial test case for bitcoin legal issues yet, primarily because at least two candidates that got sufficiently close to a legal challenge elected to comply with authorities rather than risk the uncertain outcome of a test case.

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Bitcoins and Gravy #43: Shooter Jennings and BCRMedia.com

Published on November 24th, 2014 by Bitcoins and Gravy

On today’s show I travel out West for a lively conversation with America’s own Southern Rockin musician Shooter Jennings. Shooter is the President of Black Country Rock Media, a fair and intelligently managed music label out of Southern California. Shooter talks to us about the future of music, how Bitcoin is going to play a part in that future and of course we talk a bit about good old Nashville, Tennessee.

Last Event in Russia? Bitcoin Conference Returning to Saint-Petersburg

cointelegraph.com / Allen Scott / 2014-11-24 05:54 PM

Bitcoin Conference is headed to Saint-Petersburg and CoinTelegraph is proud to announce that it will be the official general media sponsor of the event.

Enter the promo-code COINTELEGRAPH to receive a 10% discount on the ticket price.

When and Where

Bitcoin Conference is returning to Russia’ cultural capital, St. Petersburg, after the success of the #CryptoForum Conference held back in August of this year. The event will host some of the brightest industry minds, experts, and thought-leaders from the world of cryptocurrency as well as legal and foreign experts, who will share their vision of cryptocurrency’s development in Russia and the world on December 4, 2014.

The topics that will be discussed at Bitcoin Conference Saint Petersburg will include:

  • Market analysis;
  • The Bitcoin landscape and its opportunities;
  • Modern technology and the technical aspects of cryptocurrency operations;
  • Investment strategies;
  • Update on Bitcoin’s legal status in Russia and abroad;
  • Bitcoin business specifics and best practices.

The event will be held at the Ambassador Hotel, Conference hall 5-7, Rimsky-Korsakov Avenue, in St.Petersburg, Russia.

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“Uncoinventional” Bitcoin Only Tour Does Libertopia

bitcoinmagazine.com / CATHERINE BLEISH on NOVEMBER 24, 2014

When John and I were invited to speak at Libertopia this year, I was extremely excited about the prospect of visiting California again. The last time I had been that far West was February of 2011 for the Freedom Law School Conference in Ontario, California. I happened to be pregnant at the time and I also happened to be selected for the body scanner when trying to board our flight home. To make a long story short, we had to take a train back to Texas and I have not flown since.

Since we knew we would need to drive, I thought a second Uncoinventional Bitcoin-only family road trip was in order. This would allow us to see what has changed in the Bitcoin travel space since our June bitcoin-only trip, while inspiring others to get out and spend their BTC!

With these situational factors in mind (spending bitcoin only, driving, and having children with us), I knew that I would have to approach this conference differently than most people attending the event.

Logistics

While the Libertopia organizers got a great rate on the Town and Country hotel for attendees, it was not a rate that we could pay via bitcoin. This is because the hotel does not accept bitcoin directly, and the special block room rate was not available through hotel booking companies like CheapAir.

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BUYING BITCOIN: THE “HIGHEST-RISK, HIGHEST-RETURN INVESTMENT YOU CAN POSSIBLY MAKE”?

insidebitcoins.com / Ian Jackson / Nov 24, 2014 5:19 PM EST

LONDON (InsideBitcoins) — One common talking point surrounding bitcoin that is returned to again and again is the question of its volatility. Whilst all currencies fluctuate relative to the value of the world’s principle reserve currency, the US dollar, the value of bitcoin remains unpredictable; speculation, loss and gain, has become an everyday cost of doing business with the cyrptocurrency.

But how risky is it? In a recent article for InvestopediaPrableen Bajpai quotes bitcoin investor and venture capitalist Barry Silbert as saying bitcoin is pretty much the highest-risk, highest-return investment that you can possibly make.” On what basis was this conclusion reached?

Two important figures taken at face value do indeed seem to back up the claim; a one day drop of 61% in the value of bitcoin in 2013 and another of 80% in 2014 stand out as landmark moments. Certainly, investors with significant reserves of bitcoin choosing to panic-sell on what amounted to bitcoin’s very own version of ‘Black Tuesday’ would have felt the pinch. And yet, viewing two specific dates as examples of an overall trend has the tendency to mire the observer in a wealth of academic speculation or to put it less politely, ill-informed guesswork.

Inside Bitcoins asked Dr. Kevin Aretz, senior lecturer in finance at The University of Manchester’s business school to help clarify the issue.

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USE BITCOIN TO FIGHT EBOLA

cryptocoinsnews.com / Jonathan Saewitz / November 25, 2014

Ebola, a deadly disease, has wreaked havoc in countries in Western Africa for almost a year. Thousands have died and continue to die. Bitcoin Against Ebola, a non-profit initiative created byBeam, allows people to send Bitcoins (that are converted to the Ghanaian Cedi) to Ghana to support the efforts to contain Ebola.

Bitcoin Against Ebola has a nice interface which lets you to choose from three charities to donate to: Build on Books, LunchBoxGift, and Sierra Leone Liberty Group. Here are descriptions of each from the Bitcoin Against Ebola website:

  • Build on Books: Children who have lost their parents to Ebola are alone, scared, isolated, confused and HUNGRY. The Build on Books team takes fresh food to the orphans of Ebola who are trapped under quarantine in their homes.
  • LunchBoxGift: LunchBoxGift provides freshly cooked meals to communities in crisis. They are currently focused on the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone where they provide meals for vulnerable communities affected by the outbreak.

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Bitcoin might fail but the blockchain is here to stay

Brock PierceNate Lanxon

wired.co.uk / JAMES TEMPERTON / 24 NOVEMBER 14

Bitcoin could end up being the MySpace of cryptocurrency, but the underlying technology powering new payment methods is here to stay. That’s according to Brock Pierce, a tech entrepreneur with his eyes firmly fixed oncryptocurrencies.

“By having a baseline protocol that allows you to innovate around finance, a lot of interesting things can happen,” he says. The protocol Pierce is talking about is the blockchain — a public, transparent ledger that gives a chain of transactions that is secure and reliable.

“This protocol is going to democratise the global financial system,” Pierce explains to the audience at WIRED Retail. In South America and Africa the blockchain, be it throughBitcoin or another cryptocurrency, has huge transformative potential.

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Bullion Dealer Agora Commodities Will Rebrand to Focus on Bitcoin

coindesk.com / Stan Higgins / November 24, 2014 at 22:59 GMT

Precious metals dealer Agora Commodities has announced that it will rebrand to emphasize its increasing interest in digital currency.

The company expects to adopt the name Crypto Bullion Group, a process that will include the launch of a new online platform. Crypto Bullion Group will continue serving precious metals customers that want access to bitcoin.

The move continues Agora’s long-standing involvement in the digital currency industry, which in recent weeks has inspired the company to forge partnerships with other precious metals-focused startups like crypto 2.0-powered bitcoin-to-gold exchange DigitalTangible.

CEO Joseph Castillo told CoinDesk that rebranding affirms what he called the company’s growing focus on bitcoin. This process, he said, grew out of the grassroots support of customers and advocates.

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Redditor says Western Union demanded takedown of this Bitcoin ad mocking the company

vox.com / Timothy B. Lee / November 24, 2014 

A lot of people — myself included — see Western Union as one of the companies most vulnerable to disruption by Bitcoin. Western Union allows people to send money around the world, but it’s somewhat slow and expensive. Bitcoin boosters say their technology can do the same thing faster, and for a fraction of the price. One Bitcoin enthusiast made a graphic to illustrate the point:

Now another Bitcoin enthusiast, Dave Aiello, is reporting that when he posted this image to his Facebook page, he was hit by a copyright claim from Western Union. Copyright law gives sites like Facebook a strong incentive to comply with these requests by taking down the image, and according to Aiello that’s exactly what Facebook did.

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Bitspark unveils world’s first end-to-end Bitcoin-leveraged remittance solution

coinreport.net / Katherine Fletcher / 24 Nov 2014

Hong Kong-based Bitcoin firm Bitspark recently announced the launch of its end-to-end remittance service from Hong Kong to the Philippines that leverages the low fees associated with Bitcoin. The service “is the first bitcoin remittance solution in the world” that is cash-in-cash-out, quick, cost-effective, and scalable, said the company in a news release sent to CoinReport.

In the weeks since CoinReport last spoke to Bitspark founder George Harrap, the company had been busy at work developing its remittance service, ensuring that everything was secure at both ends.

“We have to have a physical location here in Hong Kong,” said Harrap in an interview. “We have to have the means to transfer Hong Kong dollars into Bitcoin and we partnered with Rebit.ph at the other end to handle the disbursement in the Philippines.”

A service of Satoshi Citadel Industries, a Philippines-based holding company for Bitcoin-related ventures,Rebit.ph supports remittances powered by Bitcoin. Under its partnership with Rebit, Bitspark offers its customers a choice of more than 30 destinations in the Philippines where recipients can pick up sent funds. Bitspark is very happy to work with Rebit, said Harrap, describing the service as “the connector” that understands the market.

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Blockchain Factory Is Creating The Tools For Today And Governance Services For Tomorrow

cointelegraph.com / by Ian DeMartino / 2014-11-24 06:51 PM

Last month we brought you an interview with Nathan Wosnack, David Mondrus and Matt McKibbin, who had left the crowdfunded Bitnation days before the launch of its crowdsale due to concerns over transparency, customer/investor protection and potential regulatory issues. Last week, we caught up with two of the former Bitnation members, Nathan Wosnack and David Mondrus, to talk about what they are doing now.

While they never came out and said it, their current projects seem to have been born directly from their experiences at Bitnation. Wosnack has started a company, uBitquity, that focuses on “PR/Media, Advisory/Development, and Compliance Services (AML/KYC manual dev and consulting).” Which shouldn’t be surprising considering his concerns over the potential legal issues he fears Bitcoin 2.0 projects may be running headlong into.

Of more interest to Bitcoin users is what he is working with Mondrus on, Blockchain Factory. Blockchain Factory is a company that, along with various tools designed to make navigating and using the Blockchain more accessible, also is building some projects that are very much in line with what Bitnation is offering.

But, it is also no mere imitation. Blockchain Factory isn’t trying to be the “other” Bitnation, and their short term goals with government services are less lofty and more lighthearted. Blockchain Factory doesn’t so much plant to replace your current government as much as it gives people the tools to add supplementary services using the Blockchain. That is essentially the same goal of Bitnation, but the feeling isn’t that they are coming to create “Governance 2.0” or at least not right away. They are both borderless, decentralized and voluntary services, but the difference is in tone and Blockchain Factory seems willing to take it one step at a time.

The feeling I got speaking with them was that the Blockchain Factory’s governance services, at least in the early stages, aren’t designed to make Bitcoin-citizens, but simply offer up alternatives for services that may or may not be offered by their current government. Citizens in the U.K. are used to supplementary health insurance. Why not supplement marriage or pass ports or notaries with the verifiable security of the blockchain?

A particular point of pride with them is how Blockchain Factory is being funded. As of now, there is no Blockchain Factory coin (although a coin is coming, it isn’t a share or pay any kind of dividend and details are scarce at this point), no IPO or ITO or ICO or whatever people want to call it today. Instead, they are going to traditional route, self-funding the project and bringing in select outside investors. They don’t hate the idea of crowdfunding or even crowdinvesting, but they do have concerns about the legal ramifications and how distributing a company, regardless of what you call it and the reaction of U.S. regulatory bodies.

We spoke about their upcoming projects, their concerns about crowdfunding and the future of governance services on the blockchain.

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GUY COREM OF SPONDOOLIES-TECH TALKS NEXT GEN CHIPS AND INDUSTRY TRENDS

cryptocoinsnews.com / Scott Fargo / November 25, 2014

Spondoolies-Tech CEO Guy Corem and CCN’s Scott Fargo At Las Vegas Bitweek

Guy Corem of Spondoolies-Tech is a very thoughtful leader who built his team carefully when entering the ASIC Bitcoin Miner industry. That careful approach extends to every step in the process as well as adapting as needed to bring the best Bitcoin miners they can to market. Their first miner to market was the SP10 a 1.4 th/s miner with an excellent hardware and software engineered package.

They followed up with the SP30 capable of 4.5 th/s in one unit. The SP30 brought further refinement to the Spondoolies software, chip and chassis showing marked improvement across all levels. Their newest Bitcoin miner the SP20 is a step back into the home mining market. The miner is small and modular and accepts standard PC PSUs. CCN will have a review posted soon look for that in the coming days.

CCN had the opportunity to speak with Guy Corem at the Bitweek in Las Vegas conferences many times and a formal interview at the end of it.

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NCR Exec: Merchant Response to Bitcoin Eclipsed Apple Pay

coindesk.com / Pete Rizzo / November 24, 2014 at 21:00 GMT

Bitcoin has been the most well-received alternative payment method that NCR Silver has added to its point-of-sale (POS) platform, according to product manager Reggie Kimble.

Speaking to CoinDesk about his company’s new partnership with bitcoin merchant processor BitPay, Kimble suggested that the addition of bitcoin payments has so far garnered more attention than integrations for options such as Apple Pay and PayPal.

Kimble said:

“When you look at our past alternative payment methods, I would say this has probably been the most well-received in terms of people commenting and people reaching out proactively to ask questions about the offering.”

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GST on bitcoin would be “monumentally stupid” says digital currency expert

startupsmart.com.au / Kye White / 24 November 2014

Taxing bitcoin with sales tax is a “monumentally stupid” idea, according to digital currency expert Andreas Antonopoulos.

Earlier this year the Australian Tax Office released its guidance on bitcoin, announcing that it did not consider the digital currency to be money, or a foreign currency. The decision means the Goods and Service Tax (GST)applies twice to some bitcoin transactions – firstly on the goods and services being supplied and secondly on the ‘supply’ of bitcoins as payments.

“It’s as monumentally stupid as it would have been in 1994 to classify the internet as a fax machine service, and put it under the control of telecom companies,” Antonopoulos said at a Bitcoin Melbourne meetup on Monday.

“Or to classify it as a CB radio, a fancy CB radio and ask every user of the internet to pass a Morse code exam and have an operator’s licence.

“Those things didn’t happen at the time because regulators took a wait and see approach and decided to let the technology itself flourish for a while before trying to apply regulations.

“By doing regulation in that way, Australia’s not making bitcoin slow down, what they’re doing is making bitcoin move out.”

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Crypto Next Now Powers 10 Digital Currency Exchanges, Targets 50 by March

cointelegraph.com / Diana Ngo / 2014-11-24

Isle of Man-incorporated Bitcoin startup Crypto Next, announces it has signed up 10 digital currency exchanges in only one month after public beta launch of its white label exchange platform. The company hopes to have as much as 50 exchanges live by the end of Q1 2015, says CEO Sharon Greenberg.

Launched on October 19, at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in Tel AvivCrypto Next‘s public beta white label exchange platform was introduced as a transparent and easy method for building a digital currency exchange business in just a matter of hours.

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How to Buy Bitcoins? – The Easy Way (November 2014)

MadBitcoinsPublished on Nov 24, 2014

HOW SPACEX, GOOGLE, AND FACEBOOK MAY HELP BRING BITCOIN TO THE MASSES

insidebitcoins.com / Kyle Torpey / Nov 24, 2014

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — One of the most popular memes in the bitcoin community is that digital currency will be much more helpful to the developing world than it will be to people in the United States or Western Europe. Although this may be true, the reality is that many of these developing countries cannot take full control of everything bitcoin has to offer without a connection to the Internet.

More than 60% of the world’s population does not have access to the Internet, which means that same percentage of the world does not have access to bitcoin. In order for bitcoin to become a usable alternative to local fiat currencies and banks in certain parts of the world, the number of people who are online needs to dramatically increase.

The good news is that many companies have an economic incentive to bring more users online, which can also introduce them to the new possibilities created by bitcoin. Let’s take a look at the three projects for wider Internet access currently in development by SpaceXFacebook, and Google.

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Bitcoin Black Friday is This Friday! — eBay Bitcoin — Did the NSA invent Bitcoin in 1996?

MadBitcoinsPublished on Nov 24, 2014

CALIFORNIACOIN IS DEAD, SO WHY DID THE PRICE RISE 900%?

After remaining low for the bulk of November, the CaliforniaCoin price exploded on SWISSCEX this week.

cryptocoinsnews.com / Josiah Wilmoth / November 25, 2014

CaliforniaCoin was a run-of-the-mill altcoin that hoped to capitalize on the media attention surrounding bitcoin investor Tim Draper’s “Six Californias” plan. However, Draper failed to acquire enough signatures to get the proposal on the California ballot. CaliforniaCoin suffered a similar fate, and the developer eventually abandoned the project. A core group of investors tried to revive the project, but they have since gone silent as well. Nevertheless, the CaliforniaCoin price rose 900% during the past week–but why?

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