'cryptocurrency' Archives -
Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain technology have become mainstream terms and are now featured in most dictionaries. Crypto-related terms have a lot of value when they are tethered to a web domain, and these days digital currency domains are prime real estate, with some selling for up to seven figures.
Crypto Domains Are Being Snatched Up, Squatted and Sold for Profit
Cryptocurrencies have been around for 10 years now and the entire ecosystem is worth more than $ 250 billion. The many tentacles of the crypto industry have grown thanks to third-party platforms, competing blockchain projects, exchanges and brokerage services, wallets, and payment processors. Each of these projects and businesses has a unique web domain and some of the top bitcoin and blockchain websites are now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – and even millions in a few cases.
Desirable crypto domains include Blockchain.com, Bitcoin.com, Ethereum.com, Crypto.com, Btc.com, and Bitcoin.org. A rough estimate of how much one of these sites is worth can be seen by referencing a domain value calculator. However, that doesn’t mean the owner will be willing to part with the domain at that price; these tools only give a ballpark figure based on traffic scores and ratings from Alexa and Google. For example, the owner of Ethereum.com has left a message for the website’s visitors.
“Ethereum.com was registered on March 11, 2011. It has no relation to the blockchain technology, which later adopted the same name,” the website explains. “Ethereum.com is for sale for $ 10,000,000 USD.”
Apparently, the person who registered the Ethereum.com domain just happened upon an internet gold mine, but there are many individuals and businesses who register a domain with the intention of selling it later for a profit. Ever since web domains have been tradable, ‘domain squatting’ has been prevalent. This involves a person buying up a bunch of website names that are tied to a specific product or industry and then waiting for a more profitable time to sell them. In the crypto industry, domain squatters are prevalent and individuals and businesses of all sizes have to deal with the pressure of people snatching up the best domain names early. Because of the rising popularity of digital assets, especially after the bull run in 2017, crypto and blockchain-related websites are selling or have been sold for top dollar.
Observers Witnessed the Crypto Domain Price Peak in 2017
In 2009, the website Eth.com sold for just under $ 20K to a company which held it until 2013 when the subsequent owner used a Whois history privacy protection plan. Then in October 2017, the site was sold for $ 2 million and the website is now dedicated to ethereum mining. A few months beforehand, in April, the website Cryptobank.com was sold to Craig Ellis, the cofounder of Triangl, but the site is still undeveloped. Allegedly in 2018, Binance purchased the domain Cryptoworld.com from Mike Mann, the founder of Domainmarket.com, for $ 195,000. At the time, Mann told the world that he purchased the domain for only $ 11 back in 2011. In 2017, Globalcoin.com sold to someone from Shanghai, China for $ 35,516 and in January 2018, Cryptotrading.com was sold to William Thomas for $ 35,000.
There’s a large list of cryptocurrency-related domains for sale today for thousands of dollars on various marketplaces. This includes Bitcointransfer.co ($ 12,000), Coinsbio.com ($ 1,000), 360crypto.com ($ 30,000), Block-chain.com.de ($ 20,000), Btcwallet.club ($ 10,000), and Tokenpay.es ($ 12,000). On Twitter there are also many individuals selling cryptocurrency domains and these days it’s hard not to stumble upon some shilling their domains. One person on Twitter explains the domain name Coinistical.com is a “fantastic brandable domain that’s for sale now.” Another person writes: “The domain name Bitcazino.com is for sale — A fun take on the words ‘bitcoin’ and ‘casino.’” The account @Dotonlydomains, a business that sells dotcom website names only, is also selling the domain Realcryptocurrency.com.
Cryptocurrency-Related Website Sales Are on the Rise Again
Searching through the depths of social media and digital currency forums shows that the crypto domain real estate market is in high tempo. Search results from Namebio suggest a lot of websites associated with crypto names have been sold over the last few months. Cryptocpa.com sold for $ 12,000, Owncoin.com ($ 2,050), Cryptofocus.com ($ 1,155), Bitcoin.red ($ 4,860), Bituniverse.com ($ 3,156) and Coinpig.com ($ 1,225).
Just the other day, Runsonripple.com sold for $ 10,000, Bitsec.com was purchased for $ 4,550, and Cryptoman.com was sold by Namejet for $ 1,350. The average selling price for a digital currency styled domain name was around $ 1,057 on August 18. Between September and November 2017, domain names involving crypto could range between $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 and on October 22 average prices touched a high of $ 75,000. The most active website brokerage service which has sold the largest number of digital currency domains today is Go Daddy.
With the popularity of digital currencies growing, the domain names attached to this industry will follow the same path. Squatters are gambling as well because they don’t know if that specific name will be a good internet brand and one that will entice a future buyer. On the forum Namepros.com, a marketplace where people buy and trade popular domain names, one user explained that digital currency domains are following market prices.
“The overall momentum in the crypto market has changed from bearish to bullish and we can expect to see higher highs in crypto prices in the near and distant future,” the top member Judgemind detailed this April. “This switch in the market is great for domain investors, more new startups will emerge in the crypto space and blockchain technology will continue to evolve. Keywords to focus on for investment in .com, .org, .io include Bit, Btc, Bitcoin, Crypto, Coin, Chain, Block, Blockchain, Faucet, Token, and Airdrop.”
What do you think about the demand for cryptocurrency domains? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned companies, domains, domain vendors, and websites associated with this article. Bitcoin.com or the author 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, domain products and website vendors mentioned in this article. This editorial review is for informational purposes only.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Go Daddy, Twitter, Namebio, and Pixabay.
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Global leaders from the Bitcoin Cash community will gather at the first Bitcoin Cash City Conference in Australia, being held in Townsville on September 4 & 5.
Townsville has really embraced Bitcoin Cash, so hosting this conference in the cozy, coastal suburb was a natural next step. Australia’s first gathering of enthusiasts and global business leaders will convene to use the low-cost, friction-less payment system and digital money, while enjoying the region’s temperate climate and many attractions.
Bitcoin Cash has caught-on among merchants in Townsville, mostly because it enables anybody to move any amount of money anywhere in the world: instantly, securely, and consistently, with fees less than a cent. Essentially, Bitcoin Cash does away with banks and puts users in full control of their money. According to locals, merchants are taking up Bitcoin Cash because it competes with Visa and Mastercard, eliminating fees and giving them an extra three percent on all payments. Local enthusiasm for the cryptocurrency has made Townsville a hotbed of Bitcoin Cash activity: many Townsville businesses from coffee shop owners to helicopter operators now accept Bitcoin Cash as payment for goods and services, via a smartphone app.
Noel Lovisa, CEO of Townsville-based software company Code Valley explained, “Townsville enjoys the highest per capita merchant adoption of Bitcoin Cash in the world. The North Queensland Bitcoin Cash Merchants’ Group leveraged that to secure the Bitcoin Cash City Conference.” Townsville has become known as “Bitcoin Cash City,” and so the conference naturally takes advantage of such notoriety. North Queensland has also quietly founded nearly a dozen Bitcoin Cash-related software companies, several attracting venture capital in the millions.
Lovisa continued, “We’ve got 20 top international Bitcoin Cash speakers coming to this conference. The number one speaker, Amaury Séchet, helped write the original Bitcoin Cash client known as Bitcoin ABC, successfully upgrading Bitcoin to scale on-chain. That was the genesis of getting the original Bitcoin mission back on track after it was derailed.”
Hayden Otto, CEO of Townsville-based BitcoinBCH.com stressed a key difference in this first-of-its-kind conference for Australia. “Bitcoin Cash is so popular in Townsville that conference delegates will be able to pay with it for everything they need during their stay,” Otto insisted. “In addition to flights, accommodation, car rental and tourism activities, you can get all your food, drink and even pay for your laundry with Bitcoin Cash.”
He says the Bitcoin Cash City Conference presents a unique opportunity for Australians to discover the potential of cryptocurrency. “I want to personally invite you to the world’s premiere Bitcoin event. Bitcoin is peer-to-peer electronic cash that’s paving the way for financial sovereignty and greater economic freedom for people of all walks of life. Not everyone understands this, but we’re bringing together all those who do for an unparalleled conference which won’t be forgotten.”
Through a free Bitcoin.com wallet app, attendees can navigate the brave new world of cryptocurrency while learning more from guest speakers such as developers, legal experts, and entrepreneurs active in the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem.
Noel adopted Bitcoin Cash initially to solve a problem for Code Valley’s emergent coding project. “We’ve created a new technology for producing software by combining tiny fragments from around the world. Bitcoin Cash enables me to send a million dollars or as little as 20 cents to somebody in another country with it clearing instantly for a tenth of a penny. I can operate in 150 countries without needing to support 150 currencies,” he recalls. “There is also a roadmap of regular upgrades to meet demand so Bitcoin Cash is very reliable. And it’s hassle-free because there is no central point of authority. Bitcoin Cash is going to be the world’s number one cryptocurrency. Come along to the conference to find out why.”
The Bitcoin Cash City Conference will be held on September 4 and 5 at Quayside Terminal, Lennon Drive, South Townsville, Queensland.
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Cryptocurrencies cannot be purchased with the new Apple credit card according to the American multinational technology company’s recently published customer agreement guidelines. The Apple card’s restrictions indicate that the company’s partner, Goldman Sachs, is leery toward cryptocurrencies and other “cash equivalents” like lottery tickets and casino chips.
No Crypto Purchases With the Goldman Sachs Backed Apple Card
The technology giant Apple (AAPL) recently announced the launch of a credit card, which allows people to spend credit with an annual percentage rate (APR) between 13-24%. The California-based firm revealed the card will be released at some point this month, according to the firm’s third fiscal quarter earnings call. Some of the biggest selling points for the new Apple Mastercard include: virtual use, no annual fees, and no fees for transactions and penalties. Another interesting aspect is that the card will not feature the traditional Mastercard 16-digit number or CVV code. “Thousands of Apple employees are using the Apple Card every day in a beta test and we will begin to roll out the Apple Card in August,” Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed during the earnings call on July 30. Following Cook’s statements, the Apple card’s terms of service (ToS) were published via the Goldman Sachs’ website this week.
Two of the biggest issues that stand out for people who have read the customer agreement include the restrictions against jailbreaking an iPhone and restricting “cash equivalents” like cryptocurrencies. This is first addressed in the user agreement’s first section called “Important Definitions,” which essentially defines the terms used within the agreement. “‘Cash Advance and Cash Equivalents’ means any cash advance and other cash-like transactions, including purchases of cash equivalents such as travelers checks, foreign currency, or cryptocurrency; money orders; peer to peer transfers, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions; lottery tickets, casino gaming chips (whether physical or digital), or race track wagers or similar betting transactions,” explains the Apple card ToS.
Being against “cash equivalents” is not all that different than most traditional credit ToS agreements, and banning things like lottery purchases is standard procedure for credit cards. Some skeptics believe it’s not that Apple wants to police what you can purchase, but that the blame likely falls on Goldman Sachs. Crypto purchases using credit cards already experienced pushback from banks and regulators after it was revealed that lots of people were using charge cards to purchase bitcoin and other digital assets during the last bull run. By the end of 2017 it was revealed that Capital One, Chase, Bank of America, Lloyds Banking Group, Discover, Virgin Money, and TD Bank Canada had all banned digital currency purchases. According to Capital One, the bank sees digital assets may lead to high risks of fraud and severe losses. “Capital One continues to closely monitor developments in cryptocurrency markets and exchanges,” the bank said back in 2018. “And [Capital One] will regularly evaluate the decision as cryptocurrency markets evolve,” the bank explained.
Apple’s Long History of Cryptocurrency Restrictions
Despite Goldman Sachs involvement with Apple this time, the corporation had already had a long history with certain cryptocurrency restrictions. For instance, in February 2014, Apple had removed all the bitcoin wallets from the App Store including Blockchain.com’s Wallet, Coinbase, and Coinjar. After the wallet ban, Blockchain.com wrote a blog post which denounced Apple’s choice to remove the wallet application. “These actions by Apple once again demonstrate the anti-competitive and capricious nature of the App Store policies that are clearly focused on preserving Apple’s monopoly on payments rather than based on any consideration of the needs and desires of their users,” Blockchain.com’s scathing critique stated. “[Blockchain wallet] had no customer complaints and a broad user base. The only thing that has changed is that bitcoin has become competitive to Apple’s own payment system. By removing the Blockchain app, the only bitcoin wallet application on the App Store, Apple has eliminated competition using their monopolistic position in the market in a heavy-handed manner.”
A few months later, after the Bitcoin community got riled up and some enthusiasts even filmed Youtube videos of themselves blowing up iPhones in protest, Apple silently let crypto wallet apps back into the App Store. However, in September of 2016, Apple started banning certain types of digital currency wallets that supported coins like dash and ethereum. The creator of the Jaxx multi-cryptocurrency wallet and CEO, Anthony Di Iorio, received word from Apple at the time that his startup was required to remove support for dash. Apple again had a change of heart later, and quietly allowed wallet developers to add a variety of digital assets. On June 8, 2018, Apple finally defined its cryptocurrency rules for the App Store and gave people better clarity on what kind of crypto apps would be allowed.
“Wallet apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization,” explained Apple’s revised App Store rules. “Exchange apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself.”
Apple did restrict initial coin offering applications, and mobile platforms that provided crypto mining applications using an iPhone’s chipset were strictly prohibited. Any ICO application would have to be established by: “banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions.”
Apple Can Decline Transactions for Any Reason and Jailbreaking a Smartphone Could Cause Service Disruptions
As far as the Apple card is concerned, if the company or partner bank (Goldman Sachs) finds out that an individual has attempted to purchase digital currencies, the card could be shut off indefinitely. Apple may decline transactions “for any reason” and the company will advise the digital currency sales associates why the transaction was declined at the time of rejection. In addition to the cryptocurrency purchasing restrictions, the Apple user agreement highlights that if a user decides to modify, root or “jailbreak” their mobile device, Apple will disconnect the credit card from the device as it constitutes a violation of the customer agreement.
What do you think about Apple and Goldman Sachs restricting cryptocurrency purchases on the new Apple card? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Apple card, Apple Inc., Goldman Sachs & Apple card ToS.
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A recently published document reveals that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has plans to hire contractors to run specific cryptocurrency full nodes for the government agency. According to the SEC documentation, the regulator wants third-party contractors to run nodes for Bitcoin Core (BTC), Ripple (XRP) and Ethereum (ETH) in order to monitor compliance risks.
Also read: SEC Begins Green-Lighting Token Offerings
Running a Full Bitcoin Node for the SEC
Depending on whom you ask, the news of the SEC soliciting contractors to run full cryptocurrency network nodes could be seen as either positive or negative. The government document was first spotted by Trustnodes news outlet. Despite the fact that there’s a wide range of blockchain explorers out there, the agency wants to pay contractors to run nodes for BTC, ETH, and XRP. In the future, the SEC may also contract others to run nodes for Stellar, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, and NEO. The document doesn’t really explain precisely why the SEC wants to outsource contractors to run these full node implementations, but the notice does highlight that it’s meant “to support its efforts to monitor risk, improve compliance, and inform commission policy with respect to digital assets.”
The SEC also emphasized that the “subscription shall source all blockchain data from hosted nodes, rather than providing this data as a secondary source (e.g., via blockchain explorers).” Node operators can work remotely and use the SEC’s electronic e-mail invoices and a preliminary base period of one year. The contract can be extended up to four years, the agency’s paperwork explains. Interested contractors may submit a price estimate with a complete data scheme, dictionary, and sample data file to be reviewed. The SEC “intends to procure a commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) enterprise-wide data subscription for blockchain ledger data,” its documentation details. The advertisement states:
The [SEC] intends to award a firm-fixed-price contract in accordance with FAR Subpart 13.5 in conjunction with FAR Part 12, Acquisition of Commercial Items, for a commercially available enterprise-wide data subscription for blockchain ledger data in accordance with the attached requirements list.
Crypto Community Debates the Meaning and Importance of SEC’s Node Advertisement
Of course, the crypto community has a lot to say about the U.S. agency wanting to hire contractors to run nodes. “It took them this long?? Welcome to the playground, kids — Hopefully, they’re not the bullies in the sandpit,” L.A.-based crypto news correspondent Omar Bham wrote on Twitter. “Never thought I’d see the day,” Etoro analyst Mati Greenspan tweeted. “The SEC is seeking quotes from contractors to run Bitcoin and Ethereum nodes on its behalf — Great, I welcome it — These are public blockchains that can be queried by any basic blockchain explorer,” another crypto proponent explained this week, viewing the news as “bullish.”
Coinmetrics founder Nic Carter said that he didn’t believe the headlines that say the SEC will be running nodes and, in contrast, he referred to the advertisement as outsourcing node-running. “You’d never see the day because it’s not happening — They are looking to outsource node-running,” Carter responded to Mati Greenspan’s tweet. “They will never run nodes (not according to this prompt at least), they are outsourcing everything and just ingesting the data. Your parent tweet is not honest,” he claims. Carter further tweeted:
‘SEC to run … nodes’ is just false — It’s like hiring mercenaries and claiming it’s your own army. It’s just not the case. The XRP army is now using the headline to claim the SEC is a validation — It ain’t true.
ETFs & Nodes
The SEC has been very involved with the cryptocurrency industry as many companies have applied to launch bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF), but the U.S. regulator has not approved any yet. It previously denied the Winklevoss ETF attempt and postponed its decision on the Vaneck/Solidx bitcoin ETF proposal in May. The regulator also has issues with Ripple and whether or not the project’s XRP tokens are considered securities. However, William Hinman, Director of SEC Division for Corporate Finance, recently revealed that the agency may send “no-action” letters to projects that comply with its guidelines and demands. Letters like these reassure token issuers that the SEC will not seek legal action against them going forward unless any transgressions arise.
In addition to the leniency offered by no-action letters, the SEC approved two token offerings under Regulation A+ in mid-July for “Props” tokens by the Props Project and “Stacks” tokens by Blockstack PBC. The SEC’s plan to hire contractors to run full nodes is an entirely different animal and the document seems to address third party blockchain surveillance operations. The regulator wants data like “hashing algorithms, hashing power, mining difficulty and rewards, transactions quantity and size, coin supply and blockchain size.” Additionally, the contractor should be able to “demonstrate the level of rigor of data cleansing and normalization meets requirements of financial statement audit testing.” At the end of the advertisement, the SEC states that the data supplier could be granted another blockchain project with advanced notice.
What do you think about the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission soliciting contractors to run full cryptocurrency nodes? Do you see this as a positive development or do you see it as a net negative? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, SEC, Wiki Commons, and Pixabay.
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Since the Indian government unveiled a draft bill to ban cryptocurrency, the crypto community has ramped up its efforts to influence the government’s final decision. The community has plans to reach out to parliament members to show them how flawed the crypto recommendations the government is examining are.
Fighting ‘Flawed’ Crypto Report
Ever since India’s Ministry of Finance released the long-awaited crypto report including the draft bill to ban cryptocurrencies, the Indian crypto community has ramped up its efforts to influence the government’s final decision.
“Different parts of the crypto community has been trying to make the government officials aware of the benefits of crypto from the last 24 months or more,” Nischal Shetty, CEO of local crypto exchange Wazirx, told news.Bitcoin.com. However, he said “the flawed crypto report suggests that the inputs from the community were never taken into account while preparing the report,” emphasizing that “Now, the entire crypto community of India is coming together and going in harder than before.” The CEO detailed:
We’re going to reach out to our elected members of parliament in India as they will be the final authorities to decide whether this report should be adopted.
“We want to ensure our ministers hear us out and understand that the report is flawed in multiple ways including the simple fact that it does not even classify crypto into assets, utilities and securities,” he continued.
There are many areas in the report that suggest that the committee either did not understand the fundamental concept of cryptocurrency or did not do enough research before producing the report and the draft bill. Shetty opined:
The flawed crypto report punishes people of India & startups for participating in public blockchains while it encourages corporates to create private blockchains
The committee claims to have studied how some countries (Russia, China, Switzerland, Thailand, Japan, the U.S., and Canada) treat crypto assets. With regard to banning, the report says cryptocurrency is “completely banned” in China. However, Shetty reiterated that holding crypto is not banned there and a Chinese court recently recognized bitcoin as virtual property. In addition, Bank of China, one of the country’s biggest state-owned commercial banks, published an infographic on July 26 about bitcoin, how it works, and why the price is going up; the cryptosphere views this move as bullish.
Further, the crypto report being examined by the Indian government is dated Feb. 28, even though it was released to the public on July 22. Many believe that the committee should have taken into consideration some recent developments such as the G20 summit and the crypto standards released by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). India and other G20 nations have declared their commitments to applying the FATF standards.
Shetty additionally shared with news.Bitcoin.com details of a number of initiatives brewing within the Indian community to help the government understand crypto. The community hopes to convince the government to introduce positive regulations instead of adopting the bill to ban cryptocurrencies.
He explained that the community is planning a campaign for Indians to write physical letters to their prime minister and finance minister, adding:
We’re trying to get in-person meetings with our elected representatives in parliament.
He is also appealing to local and international media to help give voice to this issue. “India is the largest democracy in the world and banning crypto would undermine all the innovation that crypto has done for this world,” the CEO opined. “We’re also open to suggestions and feedback from people of India as well as internationally on how to ensure India positively regulates crypto.”
Shetty has been actively running a Twitter campaign calling for positive crypto regulation in India. It has been 270 days since the start of his campaign.
In addition, the community is fighting the banking restriction imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The central bank issued a circular in April last year banning regulated financial institutions from providing services to crypto businesses. In response, a number of industry participants filed writ petitions challenging the ban, which the supreme court is scheduled to hear during the case this week after repeatedly postponing it.
Crypto Not Banned, but There Is a Ban Proposal
While the Indian government has not made its final decision on what to do with cryptocurrency, it has confirmed that crypto is currently not banned. The aforementioned draft bill is, however, a proposal to do so, which the Ministry of Finance revealed on July 22 as being examined “in consultation with all the concerned departments and regulatory authorities before the government takes a final decision.”
The proposal was submitted by the interministerial committee constituted on Nov. 2, 2017, under the chairmanship of former Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Subhash Chandra Garg, to study all aspects of cryptocurrency and provide recommendations. According to the proposal:
The committee recommends that all private cryptocurrencies, except any cryptocurrency issued by the state, be banned in India.
Two days after the report was released, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on July 24, reshuffled top-level bureaucrats. Garg was replaced by Public Asset Management Secretary Atanu Chakraborty as the new DEA Secretary and reappointed as the Secretary of the Power Ministry. On July 25, Garg tweeted that he had applied for voluntary retirement, effective Oct. 31. Comments flooded his announcement tweet, as many crypto enthusiasts in India expressed their joy at his departure.
Prior to the publication of the committee’s report and draft bill, various industry participants had made efforts to help the Indian government better understand cryptocurrency.
The Ministry of Finance invited lawyers from Nishith Desai Associates earlier this year to present their suggestions for India’s crypto regulation. The lawyers proposed a balanced approach, emphasized “Regulation not prohibition,” and suggested a number of ways to license crypto businesses. They believe that “An outright ban on crypto-asset activity should not be considered for several reasons,” noting:
History has taught us that such technologies [blockchain] should be regulated and not banned, since banning is likely to be counter-productive and may also suffer from legal infirmities.
Sandeep Goenka, co-founder of Zebpay, formerly one of the largest crypto exchanges in India, recently shared a list of efforts he participated in between March 2017 and April 2018 “to educate the government why bitcoin would greatly benefit India.” He met with officials from various ministries including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Niti Aayog, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the RBI, and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.
Suggestions From Open Town Halls
Regulatory suggestions gathered at open town hall roadshows, in which over 400 people participated, were also provided to the government. The roadshows, organized by Blockchained India, took place in eight major cities in March and April. The group subsequently released a report highlighting key recommendations. Co-founder Akshay Aggarwal wrote:
We have provided our recommendations to be considered by the concerned authorities in designing a regulatory framework that helps cater to the innovation in the industry and helps it grow towards adding value to the economy of India.
Among the suggestions is for the term cryptocurrency to be “defined authoritatively,” as event participants believe that it is essential to distinguish cryptocurrencies from “virtual currencies” since the latter includes a larger array of products and digital assets.
Another recommendation is for the government to mandate crypto exchange compliance with a number of measures including consumer protection, transparency, anti-money laundering and countering financial terrorism. There is also a self-regulatory suggestion. Crypto exchanges in India could formulate an industry-wide self-regulatory framework of best practices for all exchanges to follow, the report conveys. Moreover, crypto trading could be “limited only to whitelisted addresses held by consumers,” while measures to reduce risks to uses of exchange hacks could also be implemented.
What do you think of the Indian community’s efforts? Do you think the government will listen to them? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and India Today.
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Crypto assets have come a long way since Bitcoin. What started out as a P2P payment system has spawned an array of use cases that extend far beyond the original designation of cryptocurrency. While the primary function of crypto assets such as ETH and BTC is a matter of some debate, what’s indisputable is that digital currencies can now be used for more than merely paying for goods and services. Here are five use cases for crypto assets that demonstrate the extent of the fintech revolution taking place.
Use Case 1: Digital Cash
Conceived as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system, if the title of Satoshi’s whitepaper is to be taken at face value, Bitcoin lived up to its billing for the first five years. Before the mainstream came to terms with Bitcoin, it fueled a nascent digital economy that included black market goods (Silk Road) and gambling (Satoshi Dice). It was also accepted by hundreds of tech-savvy merchants and early adopters, for purchasing everything from graphics cards to t-shirts.
As network fees began to rise, forcing numerous merchants to drop support for BTC, a growing cult of Bitcoin Core loyalists, who would come to be known as maximalists, started advocating a store of value (SoV) narrative over that of a medium of exchange (MoE). With BTC becoming unsuitable for low cost payments, the P2P torch passed to Bitcoin Cash, which sprung to life in mid-2017 as a fork of Bitcoin. The BCH network has since maintained its community’s goal of facilitating fast and low-cost payments, with thousands of merchants accepting bitcoin cash in store and online.
Meanwhile, during the 2017 ICO boom, scores of crypto projects sprung up with generic payment tokens attached to them as the justification for raising funds. When the tide went out on the crypto market in early 2018, it became evident that native ERC20 payment tokens simply weren’t feasible, with most dying a slow death due to high velocity and low liquidity. The crypto assets that survive today as P2P currencies are largely limited to pre-2015 coins such as dash and litecoin.
Use Case 2: Programmable Money
Smart contracts actually predate Bitcoin, having been conceived by Nick Szabo (who is himself credited with being one of the likelier candidates to be Satoshi Nakamoto). Smart contracts are simply blockchain-based executable code that actions a particular outcome provided certain conditions have been met. Although synonymous with Ethereum, most crypto networks have a degree of smart contract functionality, including Bitcoin itself.
RSK has devised a smart contracting platform that capitalizes on the security of the Bitcoin blockchain and its network effects. As BTC’s dominance over altcoins has grown this year, so has the appeal of building on Bitcoin ahead of less decentralized alternatives such as Tron and EOS. As a result, developers that might have previously flocked to so-called “second-gen” blockchains, have had cause to look at Bitcoin in a whole new light. As for the Bitcoin Cash network, Simple Ledger Protocol has facilitated the issuance of sub-tokens, created using opcodes that Satoshi originally incorporated into the Bitcoin protocol.
Use Case 3: Collateral
Lending has become one of the most important applications of the burgeoning decentralized finance (defi) movement, enabling individuals to collateralize fiat loans against cryptocurrency and vice-versa. On the Ethereum network, lending services such as Maker, Compound, and Instadapp have flourished, with hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assets now locked up in lending protocols. Other defi lending solutions include Dharma and Dydx, while centralized alternatives include Salt, Youhodler, and Nexo, which allow people to obtain a fiat loan in exchange for locking up their crypto. There’s also the option for hodlers to earn annualized interest by locking their cryptocurrency into these lending protocols.
Use Case 4: Governance
Governance might not sound like the most exciting of use cases for cryptocurrency, but on-chain voting is a very effective means of ensuring provable voter turnout. Bitcoin miners have long engaged in primitive governance by signalling support for protocol changes by signing new blocks; in June 2017 for instance, 80% of the BTC network’s hashrate was adding the letters “NYA” to blocks in support of the New York Agreement (which ultimately failed).
Aragon Network Vote #3 is now over!
The results have been locked in using the Aragon Governance Voting apps:https://t.co/b3JJ2FDz6C
Here is a thread with the results from the vote:
— Aragon (@AragonProject) July 27, 2019
Blockchain governance has gotten more sophisticated since then, with Dash, introducing a successful budget voting mechanism that’s been emulated by scores of projects. There are now crypto assets whose primary function includes governance, such as 0x, maker, decred and dfinity. In addition, crypto projects such as Aragon incorporate governance through enabling token-holders to vote on key decisions using a dapp. So far, participation in on-chain governance has been low for crypto projects, showing that voter apathy is a universal problem.
Use Case 5: Collectibles
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) represent unique digital assets. These typically comprise in-game collectibles such as skins or characters, or in virtual reality games can represent digital land or property. This makes it possible to trade the assets to fellow collectors or players, and ensures full ownership of the collectible. That’s not to say that NFTs are fully decentralized, however, as their value still depends on a central authority, say Cryptokitties or Cheeze Wizards, which hosts the image associated with each token and controls the virtual world it operates in. Nevertheless, collectibles represent a growing vertical within the cryptosphere, with NFTs likely to become deeply embedded into esports and virtual reality in the years to come.
Evolving Applications for Crypto Assets
Cryptocurrencies are still young, and thus many of the envisioned use cases for them have yet to fully materialize, often because the infrastructure is still being built. Security tokens, hybrid tokens, derivatives, crypto commodities, privacy coins, stablecoins, work tokens, discount tokens and many more have still to establish themselves, but are likely to gain a foothold as crypto adoption increases and the ecosystem matures.
From national reserve currency to time-stamping documents, Bitcoin continues to prove its versatility. One of the best things about permissionless networks is that anyone can use them however they see fit, be it at the base layer or via secondary and tertiary layers. The crypto space has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past decade. 10 years from now, crypto assets will be serving functions that we have yet to envisage, let alone design.
What other use cases do you envisage for crypto assets in the future? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Defi.pulse.
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On July 26, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that the tax agency has started sending letters to American cryptocurrency owners advising them to pay their taxes. According to the organization, three types of letters will be sent to more than 10,000 taxpayers by the end of August. The news follows the recent IRS taskforce slide that shows alarming recommendations on how tax agents should investigate digital currency users.
Through Compliance Efforts the Internal Revenue Service Has Collected 10,000 Names
The IRS media room has published a press release explaining that the government tax agency plans to send letters to Americans who own digital currencies. The organization’s announcement, published on Friday, says that the letters will be sent to taxpayers who have participated in virtual currency transactions or otherwise did not report past transactions properly. The IRS calls the letters of recommendation “educational” and started sending the notices last week. Through IRS “compliance efforts,” the tax agency has obtained the names of more than 10,000 Americans who will receive this correspondence.
“Taxpayers should take these letters very seriously by reviewing their tax filings and when appropriate, amend past returns and pay back taxes, interest, and penalties,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig explained. “The IRS is expanding our efforts involving virtual currency, including increased use of data analytics. We are focused on enforcing the law and helping taxpayers fully understand and meet their obligations.”
The Virtual Currency Compliance Campaign addresses individuals and businesses who don’t comply with the U.S. tax code by using “multiple treatment streams.” The IRS highlights that cryptocurrency compliance follows the “general tax principles applicable to all transactions in property.” The initial testing grounds for the campaign begins with the Withholding & International Individual Compliance unit led by Director John Cardone.
Enforcement Campaigns and the Promised Issuance of Guidelines Concerning the Tax Treatment of Digital Assets
The news follows the recent enforcement campaign the tax agency started in order to combat noncompliance. Through “outreach” and taxpayer “examinations” the IRS started the campaign by issuing educational resources, “audits, and criminal investigations.” The IRS recently announced that the tax agency would be issuing guidelines on the tax treatment of digital currencies. “[We] strongly urge the IRS to issue updated guidance, providing additional clarity for taxpayers seeking to better understand and comply with their tax obligations when using virtual currencies,” a group of bipartisan congressional leaders wrote to the IRS commissioner in September 2018.
“I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions and have made it a priority of the IRS to issue guidance,” Rettig wrote responding to the request.
News.Bitcoin.com spoke with Node40 CTO, Sean Ryan, last June and he said the issuance of the new guidance is long overdue. “New guidance will be forthcoming and will address specifically the three most talked about uncertainties: acceptable methodology for calculating cost basis, an acceptable methodology for assignment cost basis (FIFO, Specific Identification, etc.), and treatment of forks,” Ryan told our newsdesk. “I do believe it will be this year,” he added.
Cracking Down on Noncompliance and the Tax Agency’s Ongoing Focus
Furthermore, over the last couple of years, various three-letter agencies like the IRS, FBI, and others have been prosecuting a slew of Americans for illegal money transmission, particularly traders who utilize the Localbitcoins.com exchange. On July 9, a slideshow created by IRS-CI cyber crimes program manager James Daniels was published online, and proposes draconian tactics to investigate crypto users. The slide suggests investigating a person’s social media accounts and questioning family members. If needed the agents can request a Grand Jury Subpoena in order to obtain records from Apple, Microsoft, and Google. When the New York Times (NYT) questioned an IRS representative about the educational letter situation, the agent declined to reveal where the tax agency received the names of the 10,000 individuals targeted. NYT also asked Coinbase if the IRS letter recipients stem from when the IRS compelled the company to forfeit data on 13,000 users. A Coinbase representative declined to comment on the subject.
In regard to the letters that will be delivered this August, people will receive three different versions: Letter 6173, 6174 or 6174-A. Of all the notices, Letter 6173 requires a signature from the recipient under perjury that they are compliant with the U.S. tax code. “All three versions strive to help taxpayers understand their tax and filing obligations and how to correct past errors,” the announcement states.
“Taxpayers are pointed to appropriate information on IRS.gov, including which forms and schedules to use and where to send them,” the press release adds. According to traders on the Reddit forum r/Bitcoinmarkets, a few individuals have already received letters and assessments. The IRS announcement on Friday emphasized multiple times that there will be continued tax enforcement and investigations. During the end of the press release the tax agency stressed:
Virtual currency is an ongoing focus area for IRS Criminal Investigation
The press statement also refers to Notice 2014-21, the only guidance the agency has ever issued in regard to digital assets. Essentially the 2014 documentation states that virtual currencies are considered a “property for federal tax purposes” and those who wish to comply should follow general practices. Toward the end of the IRS announcement, the agency noted that it will issue “additional legal guidance in this area in the near future.” Even though the IRS hasn’t issued guidance in five years, the agency still warns that enforcement against noncompliance will continue to the full extent of the law.
“Taxpayers who do not properly report the income tax consequences of virtual currency transactions are, when appropriate, liable for tax, penalties, and interest,” the IRS press release specifies. “In some cases, taxpayers could be subject to criminal prosecution.”
What do you think about the IRS sending “educational” letters to more than 10,000 American taxpayers this August? Do you think it’s ok that the IRS enforces the law while the agency still hasn’t issued clarified guidance since 2014? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Getty Images, Wiki Commons, Pixabay, and IRS Notice 2014-21.
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Online casinos and betting sites have proliferated since the first of their kind came on the scene in 1994. Thanks to the convenience of playing from home, the allure of winning real money, and a degree of privacy, these popular sites continue to evolve. There have been major problems, though, regarding perceived fairness and randomness of play. Blockchain technology offers a solution in provably fair gaming, taking trust out of the picture almost entirely.
Mistrust of Old Models
Consumer mistrust of online gaming sites has been understandably high in the past, as the relationship between house and player is often shrouded in slick talk and foggy uncertainty. A 2013 survey of online gamblers showed that 91.5% of the 10,000+ interviewed wanted some kind of reputable, third party report to guarantee fairness in play. Things like hashing and open source, blockchain-based code are now making this possible.
What Is ‘Provably Fair’?
Provably fair means that the mechanisms used to generate results on a gaming platform can be vetted by the user independently for authenticity and randomness. Prior to the rise of blockchain solutions, users had to simply trust that their online casino was generating results without altering them according to the player’s bet, or some other arbitrary factor.
The house could stand to win a lot more by knowing how players bet, and purposefully broadcasting results not favorable to the user. With blockchain-based gambling, however, all the information about every single bet and result, and how the outcomes were arrived at, is stored on a public ledger, and these algorithms can be verified by users.
Instead of relying on a website’s bold claim of “third party-verified gaming” players can now prove this fairness to themselves using randomly generated seeds and hashes, as well as verification tools unaffiliated with the site itself. While the words “provably fair” in and of themselves do not necessarily denote a trustless system (some sites can still “rig” outcomes in subtle ways if users aren’t careful), this innovation does take things leagues beyond “just trust us.”
How It Works
Let’s say online gamer Susan wants to play some dice games. She heads to a provably fair site and places her bet. Before her bet is placed, however, the site’s server provides her with a hash (a near impossible-to-reverse, fixed-length output scrambling of data) of the predetermined server-side result or outcome of the roll (server seed). Now, Susan’s browser — or Susan herself — provides a random seed (client seed) which modifies the predetermined hash to something neither she nor the gaming site can predict. When all this has taken place, the dice are rolled.
After Susan has finished her gaming session, she can check the hashes provided by the site against the seeds she provided, using a now unhashed server seed. Via verification tools, she can be sure that the outcomes of her rolls were generated both according to the gaming site’s original seed (unchangeable after being decided prior to the bet or roll), and her own random client seed (existing only in her browser) via a predetermined algorithm.
In essence, the process is like someone writing a math problem on a piece of paper (such as 2 + 2 = ?) but with one of the values written in invisible ink (2 + ? = ?) This person then folds the paper and places it in another person’s pocket. This other person removes the paper, and now secretly writes a new number in black ink, crossing out the first, visible integer. Both people can then examine the paper with identical “magic flashlights.” The intended result “4” can be understood via the original magic ink value of “2,” but now must be adjusted based on the newly placed first value in black ink. In this way, neither party is able to predict the result without the magic lights (open source code, seeds, and hashes) showing the invisible ink (unhashed server seed) and newly written number in black (client seed).
Though much more complex than the simple illustration given above, this is the basic idea. In provably fair gaming, nobody has to trust anyone else about the outcome being random and fair, as long as the underlying mechanisms are transparent.
Transparency Is Paramount
As alluded to earlier, not all sites claiming to be provably fair actually are, so it is important to exercise caution. Most online gamblers and gamers are not programmers, and wouldn’t know how to verify these things without some useful tools to help. Reputable sites include links to open source tools by which to check seeds and verify results. Oftentimes these tools are found on the sites themselves, and utilize the client’s browser. Beyond this, the algorithm used to generate randomness itself should also be clearly defined and open source.
In cases where this information is not transparent, platforms can potentially gather client browser data, and analyze the gambling patterns of individual players to avoid payouts. This is why a gaming site’s transparency and soundness of underlying mechanism is of utmost importance. It’s also why it’s good to manually generate new seeds with each play or session.
Less Trust Equates to More Reliability
Provably fair gaming and betting are continuing to evolve with the aid of blockchain innovation. Newly developing ideas such as atomic, on-chain betting would remove trust elements from transactions even further. As it stands, even on provably fair, completely reliable sites the player is still required to trust that they will indeed receive their payout after a randomly-generated outcome has given them a win. Using the opcode OP_Checkdatasig, however, it may be possible to remove this element completely, automating trustless gaming from start to finish.
Bridge to the Future: Fair Money and Fair Play
As online gaming — and finance itself — continue to evolve, permissionless systems are revolutionizing the way humans conceptualize fairness. Whereas altruistic, trust-based norms have held sway for most of history, it now appears that the best way to build trust might be by removing it completely. That is to say, in creating systems so transparent and understandable that bad actors and scammers will have nowhere to hide.
This is akin to the way people trust a well-tested bridge, and not a blindfolded promise from a stranger of safe passage. There’s always some element of risk, but knowing how the bridge was built, how often it is maintained, and seeing it for oneself is always preferable to being blindfolded and simply invited to walk across a canyon.
What are your thoughts on provably fair blockchain gaming? Let us know in the comments section below.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Fair use
The post How the Blockchain Stops Cheaters: Cryptocurrency and Provably Fair Gaming appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission has approved four new crypto business operators to legally operate in the country. In addition to licensing a new crypto exchange, the government has officially approved the country’s first three digital token portals. Meanwhile, new rules, conditions, and procedures have been introduced for digital asset businesses.
Digital Asset Business Operators
Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has officially approved four new digital asset business operators. Under the country’s current regulatory framework for digital assets, which covers both cryptocurrency and digital tokens, a company can apply for a license to operate an exchange, a broker, or a dealer for cryptocurrency, digital tokens, or both. Separate licenses are required for cryptocurrency and digital tokens.
Among the four new digital asset business operators is Bitherb Co. Ltd. The company has received four licenses from the Thai SEC — one for providing a crypto exchange service, one for a digital token exchange service, one for a crypto brokerage service, and one for a digital token brokerage service. According to the commission’s website, the company has not begun operations.
Bitherb Co. Ltd. is a subsidiary of Japanese public company Remixpoint, which operates a regulated Japanese crypto exchange, Bitpoint Japan. It is co-founded by Asia Herb Association Bangkok Co. Ltd. Remixpoint revealed in February that it had obtained four licenses from the Thai SEC but the subsidiary had not been added to the SEC’s list of approved digital asset business operators at the time since its system still needed to be inspected and validated by the regulator. A representative of Bitpoint Japan told news.Bitcoin.com at the time that Bitherb “will begin to operate after [the] SEC inspects the company within 180 days after license acquisition (by July 30th, 2019).” Bitherb is now listed on the SEC website as an approved digital asset business operator.
Including Bitherb, Thailand now has four digital asset exchanges, all of which have been approved for both cryptocurrency and digital tokens. Three of them — Bitkub Online Co. Ltd. (Bitkub), Bitcoin Co. Ltd. (BX), and Satang Corporation (Satang Pro) — were approved in January. Another digital asset operator that has been approved by the Thai SEC is Coins TH. This company was approved in January to operate as a broker and a dealer for cryptocurrency.
First 3 Licensed ICO Portals Unveiled
Local media reported in March that the Thai SEC had approved the country’s first portal for initial coin offerings (ICOs). However, the commission neither made an official announcement about the approval nor disclosed the name of the portal it supposedly approved until now.
The country’s first three SEC-approved ICO portals have now been added to the commission’s website. They are Longroot (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (Longroot), T-box (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (T-box), and SE Digital Co. Ltd. (SE Digital). According to the regulator, none of them have started operations. Further, the latter two companies still need to have their systems inspected and validated by the SEC before they can begin operations.
ICO portals are an integral part of Thailand’s regulatory framework for digital tokens. To sell tokens to the public, the seller must obtain approval from the SEC and the tokens must be sold through an SEC-approved ICO portal. Thailand now has three ICO portals, but no ICO issuer has been approved so far.
In addition, the Thai SEC maintains two lists of “website, tokens, and coins the SEC has advised the public to be careful with any investment solicitations of such entities,” the commission detailed. The first list is for “digital tokens which have not applied or granted approval for offerings.” It comprises 21 names including Onecoin by OFC coin, DB token, ICO by Adventure Hostel Bangkok, and Muay Thai coin. The other list is for “persons and websites relating to digital assets which have not been licensed.” There are currently 18 entries on the list, including Q Exchange, a joint venture between Thai and South Korean companies.
Follow-Up Crypto Regulation
The Thai government’s Fiscal Policy Office has published the SEC’s follow-up regulation entitled “Rules, Conditions, and Procedures for Digital Asset Businesses.” It will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Among the rules set forth in this document is the capital requirements for digital asset businesses. For example, operators holding customer assets must generally maintain daily liquid capital of at least 15 million baht [~$ 485,572] and at least 5% of the customer’s asset value. The percentage requirement is lower if some of the assets are kept in cold storage. Digital asset exchanges that do not hold customer assets must maintain capital of at least 5 million baht.
Thailand enacted two royal decrees to regulate crypto assets on May 14 last year — the Royal Decree on the Digital Asset Businesses B.E. 2561 and the Royal Decree of the Amendment to the Revenue Code. The latter imposes levies on income derived from cryptocurrency and digital tokens. Prior to any token offerings, the issuers must obtain approval from the SEC and “the registration statement and draft prospectus shall be filed with the SEC office,” the government explained.
In March, the Thai SEC announced that four cryptocurrencies had been approved: BTC, ETH, XRP, and XLM. They can be legally used for investments in ICOs and as base trading pairs against other cryptocurrencies. This list replaces the previous one announced in June last year. However, approval does not make these coins legal tender, the regulator clarified.
Sunisa Thamphiban, Assistant Director of the Legal and Development Department at the Thai SEC, emphasized at a public seminar on July 11 that “the Digital Asset Act” aims to “supervise the middleman that will act as an intermediary in the exchange of digital assets.” She elaborated that they must comply with all of the requirements set by the SEC and the Office of the Anti-Money Laundering Committee in order to “prevent the use of digital assets for money laundering.”
What do you think of the way Thailand regulates cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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President Trump declared Thursday that he is “not a fan” of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies—including Facebook’s upcoming Libra currency . Cryptocurrencies “are not money” and their value is “highly volatile and based on thin air,” Trump tweeted . “Similarly, Facebook Libra’s ‘virtual currency’ will have little standing or dependability,” he added….