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| February 21, 2019

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Toys R Us blew a hole in the toy industry, but 2019 looks a little better

February 16, 2019 |

After trekking to Manhattan every February from his headquarters in Coconut Creek, Fla., for the largest trade show in the U.S. toy industry, Gary Atkinson decided to skip this year’s event. And for good reason: Toys R Us Inc., once his largest customer, wouldn’t be there.

But the chief executive…


L.A. Times – Business

CNN

India wants to make medical tourism a $9B industry by 2020

February 14, 2019 |

There are many reasons people go to India: the culture, the food, the weather. But in recent years, another factor drawing visitors is health care.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

California Inc.: Weed industry growing proactive in expanding its customer base

February 11, 2019 |

Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

Amid so much uncertainty, it’s reassuring to know there’s still a place for Barbie and…


L.A. Times – Business

Cutbacks at Stratolaunch, Virgin Galactic show the space industry is entering a second stage

January 31, 2019 |

Even space projects backed by billionaires are not immune to Earth-bound realities.

Almost two weeks ago, after the death of founder Paul Allen, Stratolaunch Systems Corp. said it would cease development of a rocket engine and two planned satellite-launching rockets as well as a rocket-powered…


L.A. Times – Business

U.S. Places Sanctions on Venezuela’s Oil Industry

January 30, 2019 |

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil giant in a dramatic move designed to empower the opposition and cripple the government of President Nicolás Maduro by preventing the proceeds of U.S. crude sales returning to Caracas.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry

January 20, 2019 |

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry

As bitcoiners celebrate the 10th anniversary of Satoshi’s invention, veteran enthusiasts will be aware that a lot has changed since the early days. One business that was once incredibly popular is the art of manufacturing loaded physical bitcoins. Government regulations have forced operations to cease, causing the physical bitcoin minting business to virtually grind to a halt.  

Also read: 8 Crypto Debit Cards You Can Use Around the World Right Now 

Manufacturing Loaded Physical Bitcoins Is a Lost Art

Not long after Bitcoin was launched, people managed to create paper wallets and soon the concept of physical bitcoins was born. After that, individuals took the idea to another level and minted metal bitcoins were created. Casascius coins quickly became a collector’s item with these shiny keepsakes loaded with digital currency. However, after Mike Caldwell, the creator of Casascius coins, started selling his physical bitcoins loaded with whole units or fractions of BTC, he was shut down by the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The U.S. regulator considered minting Casascius coins illegal money transmission and Caldwell had to stop selling loaded coins. Since then a number of other manufacturers have attempted to sell loaded bitcoins to investors who may find numismatic value in these physical collections.

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry
This Casascius coin funded with 1BTC sold for $ 28,700 on Ebay a year ago on Jan. 13, 2018. At the time of sale, 1BTC was worth $ 14,300.

From 2013-2016, physical bitcoins were extremely popular and demand for these coins has remained robust among collectors. Some rare Casascius coins have sold for more than 4-10X their loaded value. In the early days there were so many physical bitcoins that cryptocurrency proponent Elias Ahonen managed to author an entire encyclopedia of physical bitcoins. In recent years, however, the art of molding loaded physical bitcoins is all but lost. Companies like Ravenbit, Alitin Mint, Cryptmint and Titan Bitcoin have all gone out of business. Last April the Japanese manufacturer Satori Coin told customers it was forced to close operations due to the Financial Services Agency’s AML/KYC standards introduced in 2018. Similarly, the cryptocurrency firm BTCC launched its own physical bitcoin forge and ended its operations in October 2018.

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry
Loaded Titan Bitcoins. The physical bitcoin manufacturer Titan is no longer in business.

Bobby Lee, the co-founder of the company, explained to his Twitter followers how BTCC Mint’s physical bitcoin sales in China touched record highs before it closed operations. The mint did manage to produce a 2018 series, which is still available to U.S. customers through a company called Rogue Bitcoin. In fact, there are plenty of physical bitcoins for sale on secondary markets as third parties have managed to hoard these coins and sell them for a profit. On Ebay, and many other auction and e-commerce websites, there are plenty of Casascius, Satori, Titan, and BTCC loaded coins. However, collectors will find that prices are way higher than what the coin was sold for originally and well above what it holds digitally.

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry
Loaded Satori coins. The Japanese manufacturer announced this past April it had to close up shop due to the FSA’s strict regulations.

Governments Don’t Like Competing Bearer Bond Instruments 

The biggest reason for most of these firms going out of business is predominately overreaching regulation. The U.S. government, for instance, may be okay with people exchanging cryptocurrency in a regulated manner digitally. However, issuing physical bitcoins that are loaded or any other type of manufactured bearer bond instrument that competes with the U.S. dollar is not a good idea and you could wind up in prison.

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry
Liberty Dollars created by Bernard von Nothaus. U.S. law enforcement said the Liberty Dollar coins were marked with the dollar sign ($ ); the words dollar, USA, Liberty, Trust in God (instead of “In God We Trust”); and other features associated with legal US coinage.

This can also happen to coin creators even if the products are minted without digitally loaded value inside them. On March 18, 2011, the U.S. government convicted 67-year old Bernard von Nothaus for being the monetary architect of a currency. Essentially von Nothaus’s “Liberty Dollar” operations ended immediately and U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins did not take kindly to the creation. “Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” Tompkins explained at the time.

Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry
Denarium products can still be purchased from the Finland-based dealer with up to 2BTC loaded on certain coins.

There are plenty of coin makers that sell metal ‘bitcoins’ with no digital funds, but there is one company that still issues physical bitcoins that are loaded. Denarium sells a variety of pre-funded physical coins in bronze, silver, and even .999 gold. The pieces are made by a Finnish company called Prasos and private keys are covered by a tamper-resistant hologram. Some of Denarium’s products have units like 1 BTC tied to them, while with other types of coins, the customer can add a custom sum. The Denarium Custom Gold Plated 2018 piece can be loaded with fractions of BTC and up to a maximum of 2 BTC per coin. Besides Denarium and overpriced secondary markets, finding physical cryptocurrency manufacturers who are willing to sell coins loaded, unfortunately, is now all but impossible.

What do you think about the lack of physical bitcoin manufacturers in 2019? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Images via Denarium, Satori coins, Titan Bitcoins, BTCC Mint, Casascius, and Pixabay. 


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The post Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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‘They Own the System’: Amazon Rewrites Book Industry by Marching Into Publishing

January 17, 2019 |

The online retail giant, the world’s largest public company, commands an unrivaled customer base for the books, ebooks and audiobooks it publishes. As a result, it’s jolting the publishing industry, creating instant best sellers out of self-published writers and pushing down earnings for others.
WSJ.com: US Business

Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn

January 14, 2019 |

Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn

Over the last year, cryptocurrency prices have dropped significantly and mainstream attention has been waning in recent months. However, according to recent data, the digital currency and blockchain conference circuit did not see a steady decline during the last six months of 2018.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Digital Currency and Blockchain Focused Conferences Are Still Trending 

Cryptocurrency and blockchain related conferences did not see a decline in popularity last year. The number of crypto-infused events held was a stark contrast to the many other sectors within the digital asset economy, according to recent data collected by the analysis site Tradeblock. In 2018, cryptocurrency conferences really started heating up and event organizers pulled in millions from steady ticket sales and initial coin offering (ICO) exhibition booths. For instance, last year at Consensus Week (May 11-17) in New York the conference scored a whopping $ 10.5 million with event tickets being sold for $ 1,500-2,000 for all 7,000 attendees.

Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn

In fact, blockchain conference tickets sold for big money all year long and most of the events in 2018 sold out. The two-day Ethereum Ethereal Summit hosted by Consensys sold tickets for $ 1,300 a pop, even after Vitalik Buterin publicly spoke out against expensive conference tickets and rampant scams. The Women on the Block conference on Mother’s Day sold for $ 299-599, and Token Summit on May 17 sold out its early bird tickets at $ 649 and sold the rest of the seats in the house for $ 979. Last May, the company Eventbrite was selling NYC Blockchain Tech & Invest Summit tickets for $ 899-$ 1,299 per person.

In the face of massive layoffs, the declining cryptocurrency market values in 2018, and tickets selling for hundreds and even thousands of dollars — Blockchain conferences have remained unscathed from the faltering crypto economy. The well known provider of institutional trading tools and digital currency data Tradeblock explained this week that 2018 blockchain event organizers continued to host conferences all around the world.   

“Despite the crypto bear market during 2018, the number of industry related conferences did not see a steady decline in the latter half of the year,” the analytical data website Tradeblock detailed on Thursday.

Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn
The number of cryptocurrency and blockchain conferences in 2018. Photo via Tradeblock. 

Pricey Crypto Events See Sold Out Exhibit Halls and Thousands of Attendees

Many of the 2018 blockchain events had upwards of hundreds to thousands of attendees, according to the vast list of conferences held last year. The Paris Fintech Forum saw 2,000 guests, Finovate Europe 1,400, Malta Blockchain Summit 9,500, Cryptocurrency World Expo Berlin 1,600, Blockchain Summit Vienna 2,000, Deconomy South Korea 2,000, Blockchain Conference Moscow 2,000, and the Blockchain Expo Global in London saw 6,000 participants. Blockchain conferences saw appearances from numerous cryptocurrency developers and blockchain luminaries as well, such as Tim Draper, Joseph Lubin, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, Vitalik Buterin, Charlie Lee, Balaji Srinivasan, and many other speakers.

Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn
Moscow, Russia – March 27, 2018: People attend blockchain conference in congress hall. Photo via Anton Gvozdikov.

2019 cryptocurrency and blockchain related conferences are still in full swing as there are many scheduled for the next few months already. There are conferences such as Blockchainge DC, Crypto Investor Show Manchester, TNABC Miami, and the Binance Blockchain Week event. Some of these conferences will host up to 4,500 people depending on the blockchain event. Even though online attention and crypto trends may be dwindling, the general public is still very inquisitive toward cryptocurrency and blockchain focused events.

What do you think about the cryptocurrency and blockchain conference circuit still thriving? Did you attend any blockchain conferences last year? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Images via Shutterstock.


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The post Cryptocurrency Conferences Continue to Thrive Despite Industry Downturn appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Mortgage industry gets shutdown relief after appeal to senior Treasury officials

January 12, 2019 |

After an intense lobbying campaign by the mortgage industry, the Treasury Department this week restarted a program that had been sidelined by the partial government shutdown, allowing hundreds of Internal Revenue Service clerks to get paid to process forms vital to the lending industry that help…


L.A. Times – Business

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bills to Regulate Cryptocurrency Industry

December 31, 2018 |

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bills to Regulate Cryptocurrency Industry

South Korea’s top financial regulator has exclusively shared with news.Bitcoin.com information about six cryptocurrency-related bills that have been submitted to the National Assembly. The most recent bill seeks to protect the rights of crypto owners and to ensure the safety and reliability of crypto transactions.

Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations

Six Crypto-Related Bills

South Korea’s top financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), exclusively shared some information with news.Bitcoin.com on Thursday about various crypto-related bills that have been submitted to the National Assembly. A spokesperson for the regulator said:

There are six proposals made by the National Assembly members … [however] there is no crypto-related bill submitted by the FSC to the National Assembly.

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bill to Regulate Cryptocurrency IndustryWhile each bill contains unique proposals for crypto regulation, all of them include clauses for user protection such as damage compensation, prohibition of money laundering and market manipulation, use of nonpublic information, and disclosure requirements.

The South Korean government has not announced any follow-up measures relating to cryptocurrencies since it implemented the real-name system in January. In addition, initial coin offerings (ICOs) have been banned domestically since September last year.

First Crypto Bill

The FSC spokesperson confirmed that the first crypto-related bill submitted to the National Assembly is an amendment to the Electronic Financial Transactions Act introduced in July last year by Rep. Park Yong-jin.

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bill to Regulate Cryptocurrency Industry
Park Yong-jin.

The bill presents that, with the rapid rise in crypto transactions, users have been hacked and “investment fraud has been increasing due to multi-level sales.” Noting the lack of “definition for virtual currencies and regulations for virtual currency transactions in the current law,” it proposes definitions for virtual currency, virtual currency handling business, virtual currency brokerage business, virtual currency issuer, and virtual currency management business. The bill also proposes a few measures to protect crypto users including restricting transaction methods.

Registering With FSC

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bill to Regulate Cryptocurrency IndustryThe next two bills were submitted to the National Assembly in February. The first of the two was submitted by lawmaker Jung Tae-ok. It “institutes a virtual currency exchange system to guarantee freedom of business and protect investors,” Yonhap News Agency described.

This bill defines and proposes obligations for crypto-related entities including “virtual currency trading business, virtual currency account management business, and virtual currency assistance business,” according to the Korean government’s website. It further states:

Those who want to operate a virtual currency trading business or a virtual currency account management business shall be approved by the Financial Services Commission.

The next bill, submitted by lawmaker Jung Byung-guk, proposes to regulate cryptocurrency transactions. In addition to user protection measures, this bill seeks to require all persons in charge of a cryptocurrency transfer business — including trading, brokerage, and management — to register with the FSC.

Other Bills

South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bill to Regulate Cryptocurrency IndustryThe fourth bill submitted to the National Assembly is the Act on the Reporting and Utilization of Specified Financial Transaction Information. It was submitted by Rep. Je Youn-kyung of the ruling Democratic Party.

The fifth bill, submitted in September by lawmaker Ha Tae-keung, proposes more amendments to the Electronic Financial Transactions Act.

It calls for crypto businesses that sell, buy, broker, exchange, manage, and issue cryptocurrencies to obtain approval from the FSC. “In order to ensure the safety and reliability of the currency transaction, it is necessary to establish and implement technological, physical and administrative security measures in accordance with the standards set by the Financial Services Commission,” the bill states.

The sixth bill, submitted in November by lawmaker Kim Sun-dong, is known as the Digital Asset Trade Promotion Act. According to the text of the bill:

The purpose of this law is to protect the rights of digital asset owners and to ensure the safety and reliability of digital asset transactions and to contribute to the development of the national economy by stipulating matters concerning the transactions of digital assets.

What do you think of all these South Korean crypto-related bills? Do you think more regulations will be introduced soon? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Park Yong-jin.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post South Korea Ends Year With 6 Bills to Regulate Cryptocurrency Industry appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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