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The number of cryptocurrency exchanges participating in self-regulation has nearly doubled in South Korea. The crypto self-regulation efforts are led by the Korean Blockchain Association which has recently launched with 66 members. The association also plans to develop standard price indices for the main cryptocurrencies.
25 Crypto Exchanges to Self-Regulate
The Korean Blockchain Association has been leading the cryptocurrency self-regulation efforts in South Korea. The group formally launched on January 26 with 66 members, local media reported. Among its members are 25 crypto exchanges including all of the country’s major platforms such as Upbit, Bithumb, Korbit, Coinone, and Coinplug.
An inaugural ceremony for the launch was held at the Yeouido National Assembly Hall in Seoul. It was attended by 58 out of 66 member companies along with Min Byung-Doo, a member of the Democratic Party, and Kim Sung-tae, a member of the Free Korean Party, Inews24 reported.
Former South Korean Minister of Information and Communication, Chin Dae-jae, became the first chairman of the association. Top Star News quoted him saying, “The public interest in cryptocurrencies represented by bitcoin has soared, and the excessive speculative funding has flowed into exchanges. It’s our reality now.” He emphasized, “The association wants to be an effective communication channel between the government and the industry.”
During the first half of the year, the association “plans to create an information system that allows the public to easily understand virtual currency,” Chosun detailed, adding that:
The association also plans to develop a standard index of key virtual currency prices and transaction data…The intention is to provide credible information as standard transaction data.
Self-Regulation for Korean Exchanges
Prior to its official launch, the association initially announced self-regulatory measures in December, at the suggestion of the regulators and in consultation with the banking sector. Fourteen cryptocurrency exchanges jointly declared self-regulation at that time, including all major crypto exchanges in the country except Upbit, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. The Kakao-backed exchange, which has grown to be one of South Korea’s largest exchanges, joined the association and declared self-regulation in January.
The association has established a self-regulatory committee to work with cryptocurrency exchanges. Chin was then quoted by Chosun:
I will launch a self-regulation review in the first half of the year.
He further noted, “We will study the Japanese regulatory framework and make sure that the entire ecosystem is stable.” In addition, he elaborated, “I will also take the initiative to create an environment where investors can learn how to use virtual currency,” Maekyung reported.
According to the Hankyoreh, the association’s self-regulatory measures will “include minimum operating requirements such as the capital base of virtual currency exchanges, employee ethics regulations, and consumer protection.”
What do you think of Korean crypto exchanges declaring self-regulation? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Yonhap, and the Korean Blockchain Association.
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Cryptocurrency miners in Singapore can now buy their rigs pre-assembled right at the mall as more retail computer hardware shops enter this booming market. This is another strong sign of how retailers are diversifying away from their traditional costumers such as PC gamers, all due to the allure of cryptocurrency earnings.
Singapore Mining Mall
At least five computer stores are now selling cryptocurrency mining rigs in Singapore’s Sim Lim Square, according to a report from the region. The six-story complex is mainly known for attracting tourists from around Asia with its cheap electronics, shopping bargains, and many computer spare parts and service shops. However, Singaporeans these days want more cryptocurrency hardware than another knockoff mobile phone or gaming laptop, and local businesses are adopting to meet this demand.
One shop owner, Wilson Josup sells about ten rigs on a weekly basis, up from just one or two when he first started selling them about six months ago. He said that based on customer testimonials, letting a S$ 4,000 rig operate non-stop can earn around S$ 400 a month. And clients range from those in their 20s to retirees, he told the South China Morning Post. “Most of my customers would ask me to help transfer the rigs from their homes to a data center because they don’t like the heat and noise,” noted Josup, adding that his profit margin on each rig was around 10%.
Another store owner, Trecia Tay, has yet not sold any mining rigs but explains she now receives about ten inquiries about them every week, five times the amount of questions from just three months ago.
Singapore serves as a global regulatory, financial and logistics hub for many companies in Asia. When the government of China started to threaten a clampdown on bitcoin-related activities under its jurisdiction, a number of Chinese businesses officially migrated to the island nation including bitcoin exchanges and miners. The country stands to benefit much more from this trend if it will continue to provide an accommodating and stable regulatory environment.
Beyond just Singapore, this story exemplifies how cryptocurrency miners are overcrowding the retail computer market all over the world. In a related matter, GPU manufacturer Nvidia recently requested retailers take measures to try and ensure its products get into the hands of gamers, not miners.
When do you expect it will be possible to get a cryptocurrency mining rig right off the shelf in your local mall? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Imagine getting treated by a doctor with a fake diploma, or losing a job to another candidate who faked his resume. Unfortunately, such cases are all too prevalent these days in various parts of the world where proper documentation verification is too cumbersome or too costly. However, bitcoin might provide the answer to making sure this reality is preventable in the future.
Bitcoin CV Verification
University College London (UCL) has announced that its Centre for Blockchain Technologies has concluded a pilot program enabling MSc graduates in Financial Risk Management to offer instant verification of their academic qualifications using bitcoin.
All graduates of this course in 2016 and 2017 could register their degree details on a platform developed by London-based startup Gradbase. The school checked the validity of this data and then the system issued a transaction validating the authenticity of these degrees via bitcoin. The participating graduates received a QR code they can place on their CV documents, business cards or professional profiles which anyone can scan to verify their credentials.
The company’s co-founder, Cédric Colle, commented: “Academic fraud is a global issue which needs a global solution. The ambition of Gradbase is to become the first platform for easily and trustworthily verifying any qualification around the world.”
University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies
Founded in 1826 in the heart of Britain’s capital city, UCL is the third largest university in the UK by total enrolment and the largest by postgraduate enrolment. It has about 38,000 students from 150 different countries as well as more than 11,000 staff.
Its Centre for Blockchain Technologies (CBT) serves as an academic interdisciplinary research hub for bitcoin and related innovations, as well as a think tank connecting developers and regulators. It provides consultancy services to industry members, knowledge-transfer activities and in-house solutions.
“We are very excited to have collaborated with Gradbase on a pilot which is a UK first. The UCL CBT is playing a leading role in enabling the use of Blockchain technology in the education sector, and we believe that, in the future, such technology will become mainstream,” said Paolo Tasca, Executive Director of UCL CBT.
Would you want to have verification of your ID, CV or academic qualifications stored on the bitcoin blockchain? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin favors “self-regulation” in the cryptocurrency sector. He believes it will be more effective, at this early stage, than any imposed regulations. Others have expressed similar views about the currently proposed regime. Kudrin shared his opinion on social media, commenting on the latest developments in the crypto debate. The longtime member of Putin’s administration now heads a think tank working on the strategic development of Russia.
Inevitable Crypto Future Beyond the Fault Lines
Cryptocurrency circulation will inevitably increase in Russia, but before standards are created and technologies improved, risks are very high for investors, and especially for ordinary citizens, Kudrin warned. “In this respect, self-regulation is more effective than regulation”, he tweeted. He attached his comment to an article exposing one of several disagreements between the two institutions tasked to set up the legal framework for bitcoin. Kudrin, who served as Russia’s Minister of Finance for 11 years (2000 – 2011), now heads the Center for Strategic Research – a think tank founded on Putin’s initiative, which is mulling strategies for the development of Russia in the next decade.
The debate about cryptocurrency regulation in Russia is going on amidst a pre-election atmosphere. Several fault lines have appeared between the Central Bank of Russia and the Ministry of Finance working together on the new legislation. At times their cooperation looks more like an argument over several aspects of the law. Kudrin’s comment came with the announcement that “Minfin” and “Centrobank” have reached agreement to legalize initial coin offerings but remain diametrically opposed on the legal status that should be attributed to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
The Finance Ministry has just published the draft law “On digital financial assets” prepared together with CBR representatives. The bill defines terms like smart contracts and tokens, sets rules for conducting ICOs, and establishes the legal regime for cryptocurrency mining. Exchanging cryptos for rubles, foreign fiat, or other property is the “Apple of Discord”, however. The ministry argues that legalizing widespread crypto transactions would limit law violations, improve transparency for taxation and increase budget receipts. Reluctant to accept this reasoning, Russia’s main monetary authority remains opposed to such legalization of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “They are not backed by anything or guaranteed by any government”, CBR insists.
This is not the first time the two financial authorities have made their crypto disagreements public. They couldn’t get along on the introducing of crypto trade or the idea of a national cryptocurrency. The Ministry of Finance has been pushing for trading cryptocurrencies and their derivatives on Russian exchanges, but the Central Bank does not fully support its initiative. And, when CBR saw potential in the so-called cryptoruble, now delayed, its enthusiasm was not shared by the MF, which called the idea “inappropriate”. Meanwhile, the leading candidate for the Kremlin has been cautiously avoiding “yes” and “no” answers, when questioned by media about the crypto future of Russia. The ambiguity is likely to persist until the presidential election in March.
Voices of Reason From the Sidelines
Both praised and criticized, Alexei Kudrin has been widely credited for steering Russia through the last global financial crisis. Analysts say he pulled that off largely thanks to the Stabilization Fund, believed to be his creation. Considered one of the masterminds of Kremlin’s economic policies under both Putin and Medvedev, Kudrin has been hailed as a “free market champion” and a “fiscal manager of the highest order” by foreign observers.
In Russia he has been praised for paying off a large portion of its debt, while pensions and salaries were going up. Critics say, however, that his liberal visions for the future may hurt Russia’s economy and bring down the standard of living. Nevertheless, Kudrin has been acknowledged for balancing the views of government officials with security background.
In his critique, Kudrin has been joined by another prominent public figure in Russia. The Business Ombudsman Boris Titov also commented on the draft law prepared by the MF and the CBR. They are proposing “much harsher regulation than Japan, Switzerland, Belarus, and Armenia, i.e. the countries that have adopted some legislation so far”, Titov said. “Better not adopt anything”, he added.
Titov is convinced that with the offered legislation Russia will “lose its attractiveness” in the eyes of the crypto community. He also warned that such strict conditions for crypto mining and digital assets circulation will complicate the implementation of the blockchain technology in the country. “It gives people, entrepreneurs and the tech society an opportunity to control government officials – of course they don’t like this”, said Boris Titov, a bitcoin advocate who is also running for the presidency of the Russian Federation.
Do you think that views like those of Kudrin and Titov can influence Russia’s final decision about cryptocurrency regulation? Tell us in the comments section below.
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The Tether Report, a pseudonymously authored analysis examining the speculative assertion that bitcoin price volatility is highly correlated to the issuance of new USDT, has claimed that approximately 48.8% of bullish price movements have occurred within the two-hours immediately following ninety-one individual Tether grants.
Pseudonymous Author Scrutinizes Tether’s Operations
The Tether Report is authored under a pseudonym comprising a long string of alphanumeric symbols – with the author attributing such to their desire not to be identified out of concerns relating to the possibility of a “backlash” in response to their findings. Tether is described as a “stablecoin” – a cryptocurrency of which the tokens seek “to maintain a stable value of one USD per Tether or ‘USDT’.”
The report states that “Tether in its current incarnation is a 2014 rebranding of Realcoin [that] ostensibly function[s] by taking USD deposits from customers and exchanging them for an equal amount of USDT.” The author describes “the ability to price digital assets in USD without having USD-denominated bank accounts” as a major function enticing exchanges to adopt the cryptocurrency, stating that “the extreme difficulty many exchanges have faced in maintaining banking relationships” makes USDT “quite attractive.”
Tether Subject to Speculation Regarding Suspicious Activities During 2017
The report states that “A number of worrying events […] brought attention to Tether throughout 2017.” During April, Tether and Bitfinex “revealed that their banking relationships in Taiwan had been severed,” – which “led to a general suspension of deposits and withdrawals for retail customers.” Then, in April, the number of Tether issued began to undergo “a massive expansion,” despite the company’s “self-proclaimed inability to accept deposits from non-Taiwanese bank accounts.”
In early September 2017, Tether sought to reject suspicions that the company may be undercapitalized, “promis[ing] a historical audit that is still incomplete” to this day. Instead, the company “produced an internal document” later that month, which “purport[ed] to show USD balances back the then modest amount of [approximately] 440 [million] USDT. The internal memorandum did not divulge the “service agreements and institutional names attached to these funds,” comprising a “reduction of transparency since their April report,” which “establish[ed] the names of their earlier banking partners.
In November, Tether revealed that it had suffered a hack which was quickly “mitigated via an amendment to the Tether network code.” The next month, the company then announced that “the existing platform would be phased out and no further deposits [to] the current wallets should be attempted.”
Despite the many hurdles recently faced by Tether, the number of USDT in issuance has “increased ten-fold in only 5 months” following the release of September’s memo.
Report Finds USDT Issuances and Bitcoin Price Volatility to be Highly Correlated
The dramatic explosion in the number of USDT has led to speculation that Tether has been used as a means by Bitfinex to in order to maintain liquidity on the exchange following the loss of its banking partners – with some analysts going as far as to accuse Tether of mass-producing USDT as a means to manipulate the price of bitcoin.
The report seeks to test this assertion using empirical data, providing analysis of the relative price volatility experienced by bitcoin leading up to and immediately following the issuance of new Tether. The article concludes that “48.7% of bitcoin’s price growth between 3/29/17 and 1/4/18” took place during the “two-hour blocks” immediately following the ninety-one individual grants of new USDT – the collective time of which “total[s] less than 3% of the trading hours during that time period.” Transversely, the report concludes that “the average price behavior on a 2-hour timescale the compounded growth is just 6.5%,” leading the researchers in estimating that “a rough estimate of [approximately] 40% price growth attributed to Tether is defensible.
The report makes a number of damning assertions, including the assertion that “extremely significant deviations from the shape of natural transaction data” across leading cryptocurrency exchanges may suggest that “coordinated market manipulation could be occurring” across the bitcoin markets.
Of Tether, the data is said to indicate that USDT “may be created when bitcoin is falling,” concluding that “Tether could account for nearly half of bitcoin’s price rise, not even allowing for follow-on effects and the psychological effects of rallying the market repeatedly.” The research emphasizes that “The statistics presented herein do to not establish wrongdoing but merely give rise to the opinion that the observed behavior appears questionable and should be further examined.”
Ultimately, the report advocates that Tether should “Conduct an audit by a reputable auditor,” adding that given the scale of the company’s operations that a “Big Four” accounting firm should be employed. The report suggesting that “The audit [should] not solely include a snapshot of accounts on a single date. It should also confirm that each Tether is backed by a dollar now and was for all points in Tether’s history. More than confirming that accounts of the proper amount do and have existed, the nature of those accounts and the service agreement between the banks and Tether should be divulged to show that these accounts exist solely for the benefit of Tether holders.”
What is your response to The Tether Report’s analysis and assertions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Over the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of hyped up discussion about the Lightning Network (LN) from those who believe it will help scale the bitcoin core (BTC) protocol. The Lightning Network topic has now moved from BTC testnet experimentation to trialing LN over the currency’s mainnet using real BTC. LN development and mainnet testing is growing and people are excited about this off-chain scaling feature. However some people are still skeptical as there’s been a few reported bugs, warnings from developers, and discussion of the cost required to create and close the 781 channels currently being used on the network.
781 Channels and 3.6 BTC
The Lightning Network (LN) is a proposed scaling solution that many hope will help cure the bitcoin core protocol’s transaction congestion and rising fees. The idea is to enable off-chain transactions and micropayments through a peer-to-peer network of bidirectional payment channels. Over the past six months there’s been a lot of LN testing using test-BTC, but lately there’s been a big transition to mainnet experimentation and actual payments using real BTC. Currently, there are 781 mainnet LN channels and 285 nodes all with different names. According to current data, there is 3.635 BTC ($ 41,689 USD) being used within the network of Lightning channels.
The Debated On-chain Costs to Open and Close Lightning Channels
Users have been talking about relatively cheap fees to process transactions on mainnet using the LN protocol. However what’s not discussed is the initial cost to open the 781 channels with 3.6 BTC. One individual on Reddit estimates the cost to open the channels using today’s standard fees using data from Bitcoinfees.info would be roughly $ 4,740 USD. Closing the channels would cost roughly the same which means that opening and closing all of the LN channels would run 0.83 BTC ($ 9,480 USD). Of course, the individual’s calculations were met with fierce debate because bitcoin core’s unconfirmed transaction count has dropped and fees have been lower this week. The Redditor explains it’s just a rough estimate but “a pretty generous one, as most of those nodes came online when the median fee was much higher.”
A ‘Stripe-like’ Lightning Network API and the Zap Wallet Beta Release
There have also been other Lightning Network developments like the startup Acinq’s recent Strike API. The organization released the API shortly after the company Stripe stopped offering their API merchant services and opted not to deal with bitcoin anymore. So Acinq’s Strike offers a similar approach but Strike is only working for testnet right now but the startup says mainnet integration will be “seamless.”
“We believe that some businesses may be interested in a tradeoff where they get most of the benefits of Lightning, while keeping their integration costs as low as possible,” explains Acinq.
This is what Strike is about: add Lightning payments to your business in no time and with as little impact on your operations as possible.
Another LN product released this week was Jack Mallers Zap wallet beta which adds a host of new features. However, the release is again built for testnet Mallers explains and “Zap will not publish mainnet releases until the developers and greater Lightning Network community are ready.” Although “if you do some self-configuration, you can use Zap on mainnet,” Mallers notes.
Lightning Developers Warn Against Mainnet Use
Lastly, last week there’s been a few reports of LN bugs where one LN developer Rusty Russell experienced a bug and asked, “so, who was first to lose money on Lightning Network bitcoin mainnet?” Russell’s question was answered by another individual who experienced a bug sending a transaction as well. “Happened to my node too,” the person replies.
Additionally, with all the hype surrounding the LN protocol being used on mainnet, some developers who work on the protocol are warning people not to use it on the real network. Lightning Labs CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun has told people not to use LN on mainnet and the company’s co-founder Elizabeth Stark has also cautioned people who were testing LN on mainnet. With a nascent protocol that’s surrounded by a lot of hype, there’s a lot more work to do as far as trial and error on the live network.
What do you think about the Lightning Network projects and discussions? Do you think this infrastructure will help scaling issued or do you think LN adoption is very far away? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, Acinq’s Strike GIF, Zap Wallet beta, #Recksplorer, Twitter, and Reddit.
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This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.
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The Crowdsale Information
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This is a paid press release. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the promoted company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the press release.
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Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets, in general, have been bearish during the first month of 2018 after many digital assets reached all-time price highs this past December. A lot of people have been following the correlation between the newly added bitcoin-based derivatives markets offered by Cboe and CME, alongside bitcoin spot prices over the past four weeks. Over the last few weeks, most of the bitcoin futures contracts have been bearish as traders forecasting the recent downtrend in value ‘shorted’ the market. However, according to recent data, bitcoin-futures bets are showing that a great majority of the contracts are betting ‘long’ on bitcoin’s price — predicting that BTC’s value will be rising shortly.
CFTC Report: Bitcoin Futures Contracts Are Overwhelmingly Bullish This week
The introduction of the recent futures markets stemming from Cboe and CME had brought a lot of hype and overheated trading to cryptocurrency markets. Following the launches bitcoin’s market value spike to $ 19K per BTC but since the new year, the currency has seen a 40 percent loss in value. Since the bitcoin derivatives products began, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has published reports on Cboe’s market performance. Since December the CFTC’s reports show that futures traders were betting against the price of BTC, indicating bearish sentiment and spot prices followed the contract predictions. This past Friday’s CFTC data tells a different story as the contracts are overwhelmingly bullish — meaning Cboe traders expect the price to rise.
This week’s CFTC report states that leveraged positions show 1,142 contracts are ‘long’ (betting the price will rise) while only 518 contracts are ‘short’ (betting the price will drop). The data is in stark contrast to the weeks prior when Cboe contracts bet way more ‘short’ as contract counts indicated shorts overwhelmed longs 4 to 1. Even news.Bitcoin.com’s weekly trading analyst, Eric Wall, has the same inclination as he writes in his most recent report:
I believe we are about to break out from an extended period of consolidation. I’m opening a medium-sized long position (saving some of my trading balance in case we do get a chance at ~$ 8k).
‘Shorters Prepare to be Routed’
The columnist Miko Matsumura from the Evercoin blog recently wrote how he believes individuals who short bitcoin markets should be prudent — especially those who don’t have ‘skin in the game.’ For instance, Matsumura says that most futures traders especially the ones trading Cboe and CME products are all just “speculators” who just see the price action. Most don’t understand that the limited downside to shorting is there’s a lot of believers and individuals who see a buying opportunity during price dips, Matsumura adds.
“Where those who short bitcoin are weak because they don’t actually believe in the value of Bitcoin — This means that many of them think the value can “go to zero” — What they don’t see is an army of HODLers, and a mass of people who can’t wait to get into bitcoin at massively discounted prices,” explains Matsumura.
Bitcoin investors, you’re safe. Speculators whether me-too newbies or futures trading people shorting bitcoin, prepare to be routed.
Matsumura’s example can be confirmed by recent investors getting burned trying to short GBTC’s stock and the millions of dollars liquidated from Bitmex, Bitfinex, and Okcoin traders trying to bet against bitcoin’s value every day. At the moment most leverage traders are betting long across traditional crypto-exchanges. Bitfinex leverage positions today show 26,982 long contracts and only 18,226 short consignments (59%L – 40%S). The recent CFTC reports documenting bitcoin futures contracts held on Cboe indicate traders are also not willing to continuously bet against bitcoin — And this week mainstream bitcoin derivatives traders stemming from Cboe are predicting a bitcoin price reversal is imminent.
What do you think about futures contracts overwhelmingly betting that bitcoin’s price will rise? If you were to bet right now how is your current outlook towards the price? Short or long? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Shutterstock, the CFTC, and Twitter.
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Japan’s largest consumer electronics retailer Yamada Denki has partnered with the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Bitflyer to trial bitcoin payments. Initially, bitcoin will be accepted at two of Yamada Denki Labi stores in Tokyo, but the company plans to roll out the digital currency payment option nationwide in the future.
Yamada Denki Stores Accept Bitcoin
Japan’s largest consumer electronics retailer, Yamada Denki, has announced that it has begun trialling bitcoin payments starting on January 27. This is in partnership with Bitflyer, Japan’s largest bitcoin exchange by trading volume.
According to a guide published by Japanese mobile phone operator NTT Docomo and an independent research by a Japanese investment research service, Kenkyo Investing, “Yamada Denki is the largest home appliance and electronics chain in all of Japan.”
Yabai’s guide to Japan’s biggest electronics stores describes, “Yamada Denki is known to be Japan’s biggest electronics store that carries a large selection of products sold at reasonable prices,” adding that:
Some of their products include computers, tablets, massage chairs, cell phones, air conditioners, kitchen appliances, cameras, and home remodeling items…Most of their displayed items and old models are offered at discounted prices, making Yamada Denki one of the best places tourists can get more bang for their bucks.
For the trial, two directly operated stores have started accepting bitcoin: Yamada Denki Labi Shinjuku east exit pavilion and Concept Labi Tokyo.
The company says that these locations have many foreign visitors, making them good test locations for the digital currency integration. There is a limit of 300,000 yen (~USD$ 2,760) for using this payment option. To commemorate the event, Bitflyer is giving away 500 yen to the first 500 customers paying with the digital currency using Bitflyer wallet at each store.
After the two test stores, Yamada Denki aims to deploy bitcoin payments nationwide, according to Bitflyer. “Through collaboration with Yamaka Denki, we are contributing to improving the convenience of more customers in Japan and overseas,” Bitflyer commented. The exchange has recently launched in Europe.
In addition to providing an additional payment method, Yamada Denki wrote:
We will implement initiatives to improve bitcoin recognition and usage promotion.
With the introduction of bitcoin payment service, we respond to the diverse needs of our customers both in Japan and overseas. We believe that we can provide improved service and convenience.
Future Stores Could Accept Bitcoin
Yamada Denki operates stores under a few brands including Tecc Land stores, Labi stores, Yamada Mobile, and Yamada Outlet.
Tecc Land stores are often found as standalone shops across Japan. Labi stores are large-scale outlets often found in front of train stations in city centers. Yamada Mobile specializes in mobile phones and computing. According to the company’s latest statistics, there are 956 directly-operated stores as of March 2017.
In April of last year, another major electronics chain partnered with Bitflyer to accept bitcoin payments. Bic Camera also trialed the bitcoin payment method at two of its stores initially. Then in July of last year, the company announced that it was rolling out the bitcoin payment options to all of its stores. There are approximately 40 Bic Camera stores across Japan.
What do you think of Yamada Denki stores accepting bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia, Touch J, Nikkei, Yamada Denki, and Bitflyer.
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Washington and legacy media are in a tizzy about Venezuela reportedly thwarting international sanctions by way of a dreaded state-backed cryptocurrency. A closer look reveals several stumbling blocks for the Bolivarian Republic: nonexistent reserves, hyperinflation, centralization, and the impossibility of actual redemption. The attempt will fail, if it’s ever rolled out, adding woes to a region plagued by years of monetary failure.
Venezuela’s Desperation Leads to Crypto
Rice University’s Francisco Monaldi put it succinctly to Foreign Policy, “The idea that it is a currency backed by reserves is pure fiction. So you are left with a currency issued by a country in hyperinflation and in default,” dismissing out of hand the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s attempt at a state-backed cryptocurrency, the Petromoneda (Petro).
Geographically, Venezuela is the envy of most countries. Sitting atop South America’s bulbous north, it opens to a natural seaport and is bordered by the continent’s largest, most successful economy, Brazil. Natural resources abound. None of that seems to matter at the moment, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects 2018 the year Venezuela reaches 13,000% inflation. Half of its economy has vanished as it approaches a third annual double digit contraction. UNICEF warns of a growing child malnutrition crisis, suggesting this might be a generational problem for some time. There are tales of daily horrors, and they’re mounting.
A softer step away from war, international sanctions have played their part in Venezuela’s demise. From the United States’ long belligerent stance since the W. Bush administration to recent chirpings from the European Union and newly elected French president Macron, blockades and access to capital surely took a heavy toll.
In an effort to get around sanctions, the present administration has put forward a bold new plan: create a state-backed cryptocurrency, Petro. It is seemingly a last-ditch effort by a dying executive to reclaim fiscal sovereignty. Offered during the height of bitcoin’s rise last year, its mere mention has caused worry in Washington. Though the country has opted not to adopt bitcoin in particular, it has piggybacked off its press, and notoriously lazy US lawmakers are not exactly keen on tech literacy. All they know are headlines touting bitcoin’s spectacular price run, and that’s cause enough to fear Petro as a sanctions killer.
Redemption Problems, Reputation Problems
Nicolás Maduro Moros has presided over the country’s decline since his ascendancy in 2013, and Petro is his baby. Mr. Maduro’s retort to skeptics has been to double down, and back the nascent state crypto with barrels of oil and minerals. He’s even gone to coaxing neighbors with discounts. A white paper has yet appear, and his own legislative body has deemed Petro illegal and a possible violation of existing sanctions. There are plenty more hurdles.
Fundamentally, Venezuela hasn’t been able to keep its state fiat paper, bolívar fuerte, afloat (itself only a decade old), and much of its resources, including precious oil, remain frustratingly earth locked or just plain undiscovered — a result due at least in part to lacking foreign know-how. What’s more, the country’s state run oil program is itself a hair-pulling-out exercise, placing commodity redemption more toward the spectrum of impossible: traders and dealers in the Petro would have to believe, have faith, their crypto could be redeemed. In the best of times, Venezuela has had massive trouble in this area. Today, it’s a bonafide mess. For good measure, its bolívar fuerte is already “backed” by the country’s commodity-rich promises, which should give massive insight into the crypto’s prospects going forward.
Models based upon bitcoin cause most regimes immediate pause. It’s just too volatile, and the last couple months of price swings have come with more people aware of the decentralized digital asset than ever before. This would discourage a great many from adopting Petro as a store of value or medium of exchange. What might still attract rogue regimes to a bitcoin-clone notion is its reported anonymity. But that too, with any kind of research, proves to be completely untrue. Reports surface daily about the ease of private companies to track down wallets and transactions, not to mention a newer study claiming to sleuth purchases made long ago subject to deanonymization.
Lastly, the ultimate irony of the Petro is it’s not a cryptocurrency in any meaningful sense. Gone would be its defining feature, decentralization — the distributed ledger designed to replace trusted third parties. A country of 30 million people beaten down by government monetary policy might not be too eager to hand over literally all control to state computer algorithms. The problems of fiat tickets would be dwarfed by a nosy government with the ability to literally monitor every purchase, every account, every fiscal movement, and shut down access instantly. At least cash offers some privacy.
What are your thoughts on El Petro? Let us know in the comments section below.
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The post Why Venezuela’s New National Cryptocurrency El Petro Will Fail appeared first on Bitcoin News.