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Is Bitcoin’s Merchant Appeal Fading?

coindesk.com / Pete Rizzo / March 13, 2015 at 10:15 GMT

While it’s safe to say that 2014 was a banner year for bitcoin in terms of merchant adoption – with the likes of Overstock, DISH, Dell and Microsoft entering the space – 2015 hasn’t quite started with the same bang.

Though rumors continue to swirl about a possible Uber or Airbnb entrance, the highest profile merchant to accept bitcoin this year has been a local subsidiary of global real estate franchiseRE/MAX.

Members of the bitcoin processing ecosystem seem divided on the state of this industry sector entering March.

Those contacted by CoinDesk all agreed that, after months of grabbing the lion’s share of headlines, big merchant announcements have been “tapering off” for bitcoin. But, while some voiced their belief that the current lapse in mainstream media attention will pass, others suggested it points to new challenges for merchant acquisition.

Akif Khan, vice president of solutions strategy at Bitnet, suggested this development says little about the underlying appeal of bitcoin as a payment tool:

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Bitreserve Clarifies Comparison to Netscape: ‘Bitcoin Could be Integral but Invisible’

cointelegraph.com / Ian DeMartino / 2015-03-12 05:14 PM

When Bitreserve’s CEO Halsey Minor made a blog post comparing Bitcoin to Netscape, it made a lot of people upset. Why, many thought, would the CEO of a Bitcoin company compare Bitcoin to the long defunct web browser? Does he not believe in Bitcoin? If that is the case, what is he doing in the industry?

Predictably, Bitreserve backed off from the comments and edited the post in an attempt to squash the rising outrage by clarifying what Minor meant. But editing posts can only go so far. There is an invisible line where clarifying becomes changing, and changing things while a public debate is going on can seem dishonest, or even cowardly.

But, they never did feel like the true essence of what Minor was trying to say was properly conveyed. I reached out to Bitreserve in hopes of speaking to Halsey Minor again and getting a chance to better understand what he meant when he compared Bitcoin and Netscape.

Instead, I was offered an interview with the head of their product division, Byrne Reese. He has been with the company for a year and whose resume includes the likes of Livejournal, Typepad and Snap.com. He certainly has the qualifications to speak on Bitreserve’s behalf, but I was disappointed that I didn’t get to speak to the man that wrote the post himself.

That being said, the conversation with Byrne was illuminating and helped clarify the controversial comparison.

Byrne told me that TCP/IP would have been a more apt comparison than Netscape. The primary intention of the post wasn’t that Bitcoin would go away, but that the term “Bitcoin” would fade into the background, like TCP/IP and HTTP and HTML did as the internet grew. Both TCP/IP and Bitcoin are protocols. Everyone who uses the internet uses TCP/IP, but the vast majority of internet users have no idea what that means, and that may have fueled Halsey’s decision to use Netscape as an example instead. The average user might not know about the protocols that run the internet, but Netscape was very visible and like bitcoin the currency is now with Bitcoin the protocol, was almost synonymous with the Internet for a time.

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BITCOIN ENTHUSIASTS INVITED TO JOIN THE DECENTRALIZED ANONYMOUS STATE

cryptocoinsnews.com / P. H. Madore / March 13, 2015 at 10:16 am CET

There are many reasons for citizens of the world to be dissatisfied with the current government of their nations. For those with a keen interest or expertise in cryptography, the Decentralized Anonymous State (DAS) has been founded. Yes, you read that right: a decentralized state.

What does that look like in real terms? Well, it’s an online community, essentially. This eliminates the need for borders and banks and such. The DAS, as its citizens call it, functions as a way to incorporate businesses and congregate with other free-minded, like-minded individuals worldwide. So far there has been no discussion of the re-establishment of Esperanto, but this project is very reminiscent of that constructed language’s brief spell as a real thing.

CCN reached out to the founders of DAS to get a few questions answered and concepts clarified.

DAS will function free of taxation and will be established to reduce the types of corruption and coercion normally found in terrestrial states. Should a tax ever be imposed it will be in acceptable crypto currencies not to exceed the equivalent of .0001 Bitcoin per annum for human citizens and .001 Bitcoin for corporate/entity citizens.

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Bitcoin Boosts Business at Las Vegas Casinos

coindesk.com / Pete Rizzo / March 12, 2015 at 20:20 GMT

A Las Vegas casino owner’s decision to start accepting payment in bitcoin has paid off, with business at his venues improving following the move.

Derek Stevens, CEO of the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel and the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino started accepting bitcoin at the sites in January 2014. Of the two casinos, the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel, is processing the highest number of bitcoin transactions, Stevens revealed, though he declined to disclose exact figures.

Bitcoin is now accepted at the front desks of the Golden Gate and the D and as well as the gift shop and three restaurants at the D, giving the latter destination the edge in terms of the number of bitcoin-accepting locations.

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Block Verify Uses Blockchains to End Counterfeiting and ‘Make World More Honest’

cointelegraph.com / Cheryl Hulseapple / 2015-03-13 09:59 AM

The team behind the “blockchain-based anti-counterfeit solution,” Block Verify, wants to have a global, positive social impact by using blockchain technology to “make the world more honest.”

They started by focusing their efforts on the pharmaceutical industry because they believe that they may be able to do the most good where counterfeiting has the potential to cause the most harm. Pavlo Tanasyuk, founder of Block Verify (and co-founder of SpaceBit), told CoinTelegraph:

“We decided to start with pharma as it is one of the sectors where people are directly affected by using counterfeit products. That can lead to various complications and even death of the consumer. It is also one of the most challenging environments.”

Counterfeit drugs top the list of goods that cause the greatest economic loss and impact worldwide. Block Verify has been testing solutions in pilot programs with both a Swiss pharmaceutical company that has a UK presence and a London-based beauty company. (Counterfeit cosmetics rank 15th on the list.) They hope to help disable theUS$1.77 trillion value of the global trade in counterfeit (and pirated) goods projected for 2015 by the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC).

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Someone May Be Deanonymizing Your Bitcoin Transactions

insidebitcoins.com / Kyle Torpey / Mar 13, 2015 6:56 AM EDT

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — One week ago, a thread popped up on bitcointalk that questioned whether someone may be attempting to surveil the bitcoin network by way of a large number of nodes that were owned by the same entity. User Evil-Knieval noted that “it is obvious that one person seems to be running hundreds of bitcoin nodes which aggressively try to connect to everyone.” Bitcoin core developer Greg Maxwell popped in on the thread and requested information related to the “naughty peers” while they were connected to Knieval’s node. After Knieval reported back to Maxwell, the bitcoin wizard admitted that “this is moderately concerning.”

A sybil attack on the bitcoin network

Maxwell explained, “What it looks like to me is a rather ham-fisted sybil attack trying to trick nodes into leaking private data to them.” He then went on to note that the possible attack could cause issues for certain bitcoin wallets. It’s possible that this unusual node activity could be related to issues that Breadwallet users were dealing with recently. Maxwell also noted that bitcoin does have a “degree of resistance” against sybil attacks, but the reason that these sorts of attacks usually fail is because attackers are required to obtain 100% of a victim node’s connections during more sinister activities. Since this potential sybil attack is about leaking private data, the attacker does not need to worry about gaining every last one of a victim’s connections.

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Solidify Bitcoin technology for complete decentralization: Charles Hoskinson

newsbtc.com / nikhil gupta / Mar 13, 2015 11:42AM GMT

In the latest episode of “fireside chat” with Paul Buitink, which was co-hosted by Tim Pastoor, co-founder of Identifi, and Jop Hartog, co-founder of www.blocktrail.com, Charles Hoskinson,  founder of The Bitcoin Project, and former Ethereum CEO, discussed at length about Bitcoin and how to decentralize everything, among other topics.

Charles dubbed the recent trend of bankers and ex-bankers, some even from JP Morgan, entering the Bitcoin space as positive. He also said that the reason for their transition could be that they want to be the first in line when the Bitcoin startups are being acquired for several millions or billions of dollars years down the line.

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A FEW WORDS ABOUT FIAT… BECAUSE BITCOIN IS NOT JUST A CAR

cryptocoinsnews.com / Joel Dalais / March 13, 2015 at 10:06 am CET

Apparently the financial voice for baby boomers (those born post World War II), Neale Godfrey has a poke at describing fiat and bitcoin, and differences via a Forbes article. Neale starts with the explanation that the fiat she is referring to is not the model of car. And to be fair, most people in this generation and the last do not have an understanding of what fiat in the monetary sense is.

Fiat is commonly referred to as paper money, centrally controlled and inflatable to infinity. Usually created by a government and defined as the countries legal tender and the means to pay one’s taxes.

Bitcoin and Fiat

Neale then proceeds to point out “the biggest phenomenon around fiat currency today: Bitcoin.” Which is essentially correct, however, she then labels bitcoin as a fiat currency that is not controlled by any government.

One of the purposes of her article is to guide the readers, the baby boomers, to talk with their children and grandchildren, to explain to them what fiat is.

It should be clarified that fiat is not always a medium of exchange. The Zimbabwe dollar, for example, it is a fiat currency, but good luck trying to use Zimbabwe dollars as a medium of exchange.

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Wall Street Bitcoin Alliance Looking to Shape the New ‘Finance 2.0′ Era

cointelegraph.com / Diana Ngo / 2015-03-12 09:00 PM

The Wall Street Bitcoin Alliance (WSBA), a trade advocacy group composed of financial market professionals, is looking to “guide and promote comprehensive adoption of digital currency and blockchain technology across financial markets.”

The organization, which launched today, wants to educate and promote the usage of bitcoin and blockchain technology to financial professionals. Another part of the job will consist in engaging with regulators, policymakers and technology leaders to lead public discussions around digital currencies and blockchain technology, the organization said in a release.

According to Founder and Executive Director, Ron Quaranta:

“Bitcoin and blockchain technology and protocols represent a seismic shift in how financial markets, and all aspects of the global economy, will operate in the future.”

Quaranta said his organization will be working to incorporate and adapt these “powerful technological advances” to the world of “Finance 2.0.” He believes that in the long run, these innovations will lead to “more efficient markets, more cost-effective solutions for equity ownership, investment and trading, and ultimately greater value and wealth creation.”

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MIT’s Madars Virza: Bitcoin Privacy Issues and How Zerocash Can Help

insidebitcoins.com / Kyle Torpey / Mar 13, 2015 7:00 AM EDT

NEW YORK (InsideBitcoins) — Madars Virza is a graduate student at MIT CSAIL and one of the co-authors of Zerocash: Decentralized Anonymous Payments from Bitcoin. Zerocash is a proposed method of improving the privacy and anonymity offered by bitcoin, and its deployment has been anticipated in the cryptocurrency community for a few years — at least when including its older sibling Zerocoin. Virza was able to explain some of the issues related to bitcoin privacy at the recent MIT Bitcoin Expo. After describing the current problems with bitcoin, Virza was able to provide an eloquent summary of how Zerocash can solve these issues and create a truly decentralized, anonymous payment system.

Bitcoin’s public ledger is a privacy issue

For anyone seeking financial privacy, the public nature of the bitcoin blockchain should be a serious concern. While it’s true that real-life identities are not used in the blockchain, there are plenty of metadata available, which analysts can use to find out more information about specific transactions. Virza explained the reality of bitcoin’s privacy issues during his presentation:

“Bitcoin is not really anonymous. If you look at a very simplified example of a blockchain, you see ‘address from’, ‘address to’, ‘amount’, [and] how many bitcoins. And all of the transactions are going to be there forever.”

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ChangeCup NYC Brings Coffee and Care to Homeless: Interview with dmnyc, Part 1

letstalkbitcoin.com / by Cheryl Hulseappl / March 13th, 2015

After countless people walked over the body of a homeless man on the Upper West Side of New York City before someone called an ambulance,Daniel Modell (dmnyc on the forums) decided he didn’t want to be “the one who walked by.” He wrote:

“If just one person had decided not to walk past this man, and instead, stop to talk to him, ask if he needed some help, just show him that someone cared, he might not have died that day in such a sad way.”
I wanted to find out more about Daniel, the project he calls ChangeCup, and the people he has met on the streets of NYC.

Cheryl Hulseapple: How did you get started bringing coffee and food to the homeless?

Daniel Modell: I started this campaign on February 3 in response to reading a story in a local newspaper about a homeless man who had died on the street and people just kept walking over him. I knew that this was a symptom of a huge problem, and I decided that the best thing I could do would be to try to bring some awareness of this crisis to people who, by and large, have been totally desensitized to it.

CH: How many homeless people are there in the city?

DM: Statistics say that there is an average homeless population of around 64,000, with over a third of those being children, but those numbers are only what is reported by the shelter system, so it’s hard for me to know if that’s accurate or not. The fact that there is even one homeless child in the United States should be enough for massive action, but clearly, that hasn’t happened.

CH: The day you decided to take your own action, what were your initial plans or expectations?

DM: When I started, I had no real expectations other than to deliver coffee on #TippingTuesday, a day when people seem to be generous with their tips. After a few tweets, I began receiving enough tips to deliver coffees throughout the day, so I decided to see if I could keep it going. I began by simply promoting the idea on ChangeTip to see what would happen. I had recently watched a YouTube video from a man named Adam who had been using his Bitcoin debit card to buy coffee and food for the homeless people of Montreal, as well as handing out cash during the holidays. It was a simple act that I thought could, if repeated by enough people, grow into a small movement.

CH: What kind of response have you had?

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New Company to Provide Data on Bitcoin Blockchain?

newsbtc.com / Gola Yashu / Mar 13, 2015 10:51AM GMT

The appeal of using bitcoin as a cryptocurrency has been mostly rooted in the blockchain, which is a sequential  key or database attached to each transaction. It is seen as the main technological feature of bitcoin transactions, as each block is added in a linear fashion to the record of every exchange.

Just recently, a new company called Chainanalysis is claiming to provide financial institutions access to blockchain information, which might have repercussions on the anonymity and security of bitcoin usage. According to its website, the company will provide customers with access to an API that will enable them to identify which entity the transaction came from. With that, customers can be able to decide if they want to do business with the entity or not, depending on its reputation.

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Bitcoin Mining Pools Targeted in Wave of DDOS Attacks

coindesk.com / Stan Higgins / March 12, 2015 at 18:54 GMT

AntPool, BW.com, NiceHash, CKPool and GHash are among a number of bitcoin mining pools and operations that have been hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks in recent days.

The incidents appear to have begun in the first week of March. For example, on 11th March, AntPool ownerBitmain sent an email to customers disclosing the DDOS attacks and advising external pool users to set up failsafe pools in the event of an outage.

According to many of the companies affected by the incidents, those behind the attacks demanded payment in bitcoin in return for stopping the attacks.

BW.com alerted customers via its official blog to possible service disruptions owing to DDOS attacks, but did not say whether or not a ransom notice had been sent. Other pools took to Bitcoin Talk to warn users about the DDOS attacks.

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IBM AND FEDERAL RESERVE WANT TO CREATE A BITCOIN KNOCK-OFF

cryptocoinsnews.com / Evander Smart / March 13, 2015 at 9:42 am CET

It was only a matter of time. The ultra-advanced, superior technology of the digital currency Bitcoin and it’s Blockchain public ledger system are in danger of being co-opted. The tacit compliments of the financial establishment for the Bitcoin Blockchain, not Bitcoin the currency, over the past year are starting to be followed with action. IBM, in conjunction with your centralized banking elite, have discussed plans to perpetuate the future of national currencies, like the U.S. Dollar, through their own digital fiat-currency system.

A Centralized Digital Fiat Currency made by IBM

Think of it as a knock-off of the Bitcoin Blockchain, only to service the central banking system and those who have become beholden to it. Bitcoin technology creates a better mouse trap, and the central bankers discuss with IBM “How do we make our funny money currency work like that?”

“When somebody wants to transact in the system, instead of you trying to acquire a bitcoin, you simply say, here are some U.S. dollars,” a source familiar with the project said. “It’s sort of a bitcoin but without the bitcoin.”

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Charles Hoskinson talks about Ethereum, Bitcoin and how to decentralize everything

deBitcoinStreamed live on Mar 12, 2015

Bitcoin Startup 21 Announces $116 Million All-Star Backing

coindesk.com / Joon Ian Wong / March 10, 2015 at 16:41 GMT

Stealth bitcoin startup 21 Inc, formerly 21e6, has announced new information about its funding history, staff members and investors, revealing it has raised $116m in fundraising over multiple rounds.

In a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, 21 CEO Matthew Pauker indicated that Andreessen Horowitz, Data Collective, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures and Yuan Capital are among the firms that have participated in the company’s funding rounds.

Dropbox CEO Drew Houston; eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll; Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi; PayPal co-founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin; and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus have also invested in the startup.

Perhaps most notable is the involvement of Qualcomm Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of the global semiconductor company that designs and markets wireless telecommunication products.

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More Like FiatDesk: CoinDesk Launches Deal Site Without Bitcoin Support

cointelegraph.com / Ian DeMartino / 2015-03-12 01:30 AM

The world’s most visited Bitcoin news site has decided to implement a deal section full of “exclusive” offers. The problem is, they don’t accept Bitcoin and the offers don’t appear to be exclusive.

Coindesk Deals appears to be using StackSocial, a platform that is a bit like Groupon or LivingSocial, only with a focus on software and gadgets. StackSocial also allows other sites to act as a sort of front for them and sends a kickback to the publisher for each purchase in a program called StackCommerce.

From the StackCommerce About page:

“The StackCommerce platform is a full-service commerce solution that provides publishers a simple and effective way to generate additional revenue by organically weaving relevant commerce into the reader’s daily experience. Add a new, incremental revenue stream by offering exclusive products to your audience directly on your site.”

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BITCOIN DEVELOPER TAKING HITS: SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE LUKE-JR CONTROVERSY

cryptocoinsnews.com / P. H. Madore / March 12, 2015 at 10:46 am CET

For the third time, open source developer, creator of BFGMiner, and founder of the Eligiusmining pool, Luke-Jr, has been publicly attacked for what some view as unilateral patching of Bitcoin core packages in the Gentoo Portage repository.

At issue is the Bitcoin Core developer’s implementation of what he considers “improved spam filtering.” The commonly accepted definition of “spam” in relation to Bitcoin blocks is non-transactional data. Folks who run Bitcoin nodes, be they miners or everyday users, keep a ledger of all transactions that take place.

As part of dealing with the denial-of-service weakness inherent in an open ledger system, work has been done since version 0.3.19 to aid nodes in dealing with non-standard, oversized, double-spend, or otherwise unacceptable entries. The nature of the open protocol is that the entries can always be submitted. Whether or not mining nodes confirm them and place them into finalized blocks, and whether or not other nodes broadcast them, is another issue.

In the case of gambling sites that remit a single satoshi in order to inform the user of a loss, the transaction not only costs more than it is worth to move, but it has long been considered abusive of the collective ledger. Such uses of the network indubitably contribute to the phenomenon known as “block chain bloat.”

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California Lawmaker Introduces Draconian Bill to Ban Unlicensed Bitcoin Business

newsbtc.com / Gola Yashu / Mar 12, 2015 7:58AM GMT

Just when the things were looking right for Bitcoin in the State of California, a new draconian bill jumped in to step on the silver platter.

Proposed by Californian Assembly Member Matt Dababneh, the Bill AB 1326 proposes an enduring law that could ban unlicensed Bitcoin businesses in the state. While obtaining a license means like a normal job, the trouble lies in the fact that the bill never categorizes the kind of businesses that come under the newly proposed law.

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Bitcoin: The Benevolent Virus (Op-Ed)

cointelegraph.com / Travis Patron / 2015-03-11 05:21 PM

Bitcoin is a virus spreading with no cure. It transmits itself through the ideas of others and travels via digital networks of information. Eating up the processing power of computer systems and decaying the roots of analog money, Bitcoin is the spread of a benevolent virus.

The ALS ice-bucket challenge is a prime example how an idea can spread virally, and enabled by digital information. Every participant becomes involved by being referred by a previous one, and they themselves refer two more in turn, creating viral growth of the idea. The driving factor behind this viral growth is the implanting of an idea of the host, from there it can often come to consume the participant.

A cancer which develops in the body grows by way of turning existing cells into deadly cancer cells. Every patient who has ever dealt with cancer before knows that once that growth of cancer reaches a particular point, there is no hope of a recovery. The cancer will take its course and there is very little the host can do to combat it. Eventually, this cancer grows so large that it self-destructs as it effectively kills the very environment, which had allowed it to thrive.

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