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SpaceX isn’t the only one interested in heading to the moon. Here’s who else is planning missions

September 17, 2018 |

SpaceX’s plan to send a person on a trip around the moon is just one of a handful of lunar missions proposed by NASA and private firms.

SpaceX plans to announce the lunar traveler’s identity during a livestreamed event Monday evening at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne. The individual will travel…


L.A. Times – Business

Novichok Suspects: We Only Wanted to See Stonehenge

September 13, 2018 |

That was fast. A day after Vladimir Putin hinted at an interview , two Russians claiming to be those accused of depositing a nerve agent on the door of a former Russian spy living in England announced they were only on a sightseeing trip. Describing themselves as victims of a “fantastical…
Newser

Dog Buried Alive Is Rescued, Only to Be Euthanized

September 12, 2018 |

Kaylee Belanger’s Facebook post begins with a trigger warning: What follows is the lengthy tale of a dog that was allegedly buried alive, rescued, and euthanized in Massachusetts. The post was made Sunday night, hours after Belanger called the Northbridge Police Department to report that she found the elderly Shih…
Newser

Only 2 NFL Players Took a Knee for the Anthem

September 10, 2018 |

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks led the league when it came to the number of players willing to make a statement while the national anthem played. To start this season, that wave of Seahawks has dwindled to only two players. Linemen Duane Brown and Quinton Jefferson walked off the field…
Newser

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country’s Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run Dry

September 1, 2018 |

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country's Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run Dry

The Golix bitcoin ATM took on obvious importance when it was first introduced in the Zimbabwean capital Harare, early April. In a country without a currency of its own, where conventional automated teller machines (ATMs) have become useless due to a severe cash crisis, the bitcoin machine was seen as the new gateway to faster cash transfers and cash availability. Now, it is a ‘white elephant’ – unused and redundant. But Golix trudges on.

Also read: South African Tax Authority Going After Crypto Traders

A Digital Cash Machine Without Cash

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country's Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run DryThe ban on cryptocurrencies issued by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in May of this year upset ambitious plans by Golix, the Southern African country’s biggest digital currency exchange, to mainstream virtual money, and to its bitcoin ATM – a novelty at the time – hardly four weeks after it had come online.

Today, the machine no longer dispenses cash, or facilitates any trades at all, even though it can still be seen in the Golix offices in central Harare. There is no point, after all, to have on display a little piece of furniture if there is uncertainty about the future of cryptocurrencies in the country.

Golix spokesperson, Nhlalwenhle Ngwenya, refused to comment about any operational issues, claiming such matters were still under litigation. The exchange is challenging the RBZ ban in the Zimbabwe High Court, a case still pending. But at the time the ATM was activated in April, Golix said:

After realizing that the public is still struggling to understand or in some cases access bitcoin, we felt that the bitcoin ATM would be a huge and necessary step towards engaging people on how they can use cryptocurrencies for their daily business.

Crowning Moment Shattered

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country's Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run DryThe Bitcoin machine was, perhaps, the Harare-based trading platform’s crowning moment since it became Zimbabwe’s first digital currency exchange in September, 2015 with only a handful of trades. By the time of the ban in May, Golix had traded more than $ 20 million worth of bitcoin. Its reported revenue climbed 6,200 percent to $ 158,000 at the end of last year. About 50,000 people were actively trading bitcoin, bitcoin cash, litecoin, dash and ethereum on the platform in May, compared to a few dozen customers two years earlier. Things were looking pretty good until the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announced an unexpected ban on cryptocurrencies.

Virtual money had long operated under a cloud of uncertainty, but the RBZ move at the time suggested they were entering a dark, unpredictable phase. They have. Often, investors look at digital currencies as an investment. But the RBZ’s chokehold on limited foreign currency means that some Zimbabweans had started to use cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services abroad – like school fees, health bills or car imports. Golix was their intermediary. And the central bank didn’t like that. It accused Golix of mimicking banking activities by accepting deposits, something they weren’t allowed to do because, one – the exchange was not a bank, and two – it wasn’t licensed to do so. The RBZ pointed to Golix’s, or any other crypto exchange, ability to transfer cash across borders like a remittance company, without its approval and, obviously, control, as perhaps the highest form of mischief and anarchy.

Cut All Ties

On May 11, RBZ governor John Mangudya ordered banking institutions that were offering services to Golix and the other Zimbabwean exchange, Styx24, to cut all ties with the crypto exchanges within 60 days. The banks were a lot swifter in their responses and severed ties within days of the instruction. Panic ensued and there was a run on Golix deposits. A ban had taken effect, albeit through the backdoor.

This is the ban that has taken cryptocurrency investors in Zimbabwe away from centralized, stable exchanges to social media forums like Whatsapp and Facebook, where the risk of theft, loss and fraud is significantly higher – apparently anathema to the central bank’s intentions. A ban that has frustrated Golix’s maiden token sale of $ 32 million in July, an offer floated in defiance of the ban, was itself seen by pundits as having clearly spooked the RBZ into the prohibition in the first place.

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country's Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run DryKeen to conquer Africa, the Golix issue, which was released outside Zimbabwe and closed July 25, was under-subscribed by 35 percent. The idea (to defy the ban) was, ostensibly, to portray a-business-as-usual atmosphere to fresh-faced investors in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda, where the exchange had just opened an office and started to promote the Golix token, and also to prove a point to the conservative Zimbabwean financial regulators, who had made trading in Golix’s primary market virtually impossible, that the business could still flourish elsewhere.

Looking For a Way Out

As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country's Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run DryToday, the Golix office in Harare is still open, manned by a threadbare staff, but only to manage its growing presence in Africa, and in anticipation of a favorable outcome of the case in the High Court, whose hearing date has yet to be set. The exchange continues to make noise about its new GLX token on social media, while sidelining issues around repaying Zimbabwean investors and the thousands of dollars it owes them, both in real cash and cryptocurrency, since its bank accounts were frozen with the ban in May.

Ngwenya, the exchange’s spokesperson, refused to discuss the matter, citing the pending court challenge. But some investors are starting to express concern: “I have had no explanation besides an email saying they (Golix) will provide updates… and they have been quiet since,” complained an investor, who had just $ 70 worth of bitcoin left on the platform at the time of the ban.

On paper, cryptocurrency withdrawals would have been the easiest thing to do because Golix keeps some of the coins in their hot wallet – a kind of live online purse that allows for instant cryptocurrency transfers. And those in the cold storage – the offline wallet, where the majority of crypto is stored, shouldn’t be difficult to transfer to investors. The RBZ ban affected fiat withdrawals, not crypto.

Do you think financial regulators in Africa will allow cryptocurrencies to flourish unhindered? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support views, opinions or conclusions drawn in this post. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. 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 information in this Op-ed article.

The post As Zimbabweans Struggle For Cash, Even The Country’s Only Bitcoin ATM Has Run Dry appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

New USA Gymnastics Coach Fired After Only 3 Days

September 1, 2018 |

Not a month into her new job as CEO of the US Olympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland has seen enough from USA Gymnastics. She’s calling for yet another shake-up in the federation’s leadership as it tries to remake itself in the wake of the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal. Hirshland sent out…
Newser

Report: Miner Spends Only $1567 per Bitcoin

August 30, 2018 |

Report: Miner Spends Only $  1567 per Bitcoin

Electricity is the number one cost for cryptocurrency mining, giving an edge to whoever can secure it for the lowest price. Bitfarms, which has access to cheap renewable energy in Canada, reports that mining a single BTC cost the company just $ 1567 in the first half of the year.

Also Read: The Daily: Huobi Nears Backdoor Listing, Musk Still Loves Scambots

$ 1567 Per BTC

Report: Miner Spends Only $  1567 per BitcoinTel Aviv Stock Exchange listed firm Bitfarms Technologies Ltd. (TASE: BLLCF), today reported its consolidated results for the half-year period which ended June 30, 2018. The report shows that the company generated 1,923 BTC, 2,222 BCH, 3,324 LTC, 567 ETH and 220 DASH during the first six months of 2018. And the figures also reveal that it cost Bitfarms just $ 1567 to mine each BTC.

Financial highlights for the period include mining operations segment revenue of $ 21.1 million, gross profit of $ 12.3 million (58% gross profit margin), gross mining profit of $ 17 million (80% gross mining margin), operating income of $ 8.1 million (38% operating margin), EBITDA of $ 13.9M (66% EBITDA margin) and net income of $ 6.2 million. Bitfarms also executed an acquisition of a company with 40 electricians specialized in building infrastructure for computing centers, and installed over 6,500 ASICs at a St. Hyacinthe, Quebec facility producing about 91 PH/s of hash power.

Low-Cost, Clean Energy

Bitfarms has bought land and two industrial properties in Sherbrooke, Quebec where it plans to build a “mega-facility”. It negotiated energy purchasing agreements with Hydro-Sherbrooke to secure 98 MW of low-cost electricity, enough to grow its mining operation five times their current size. The company also reports it completed the Report: Miner Spends Only $  1567 per Bitcoinconstruction of leasehold improvements and installation of all electrical infrastructure for a new 10MW facility in Magog, Quebec.

“We are very proud of the tremendous progress made in the first half of Fiscal 2018,” commented CEO Wes Fulford. “Through disciplined execution and responsible financial management, our team has successfully completed several key initiatives that align with our strategic objectives of securing low-cost, clean energy, growing mining infrastructure and operations, vertically integrating to minimize dependence on costly third-party service providers and exploring exciting new business verticals within blockchain technology. Contrary to industry trends, we achieved strong revenues and robust margins throughout the period. Our impressive cost structure, enabled by long-term, affordable electricity and real-estate leasing costs, allows us to maintain profitability during periods of volatile cryptocurrency pricing. We are committed to executing our vision as we strengthen Bitfarms’ position as a leading player within the global blockchain industry.”

Does access to cheap energy guarantees that mining will support the development of renewable sources? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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The post Report: Miner Spends Only $ 1567 per Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Only 36 of These Were Made, and One Just Sold at Auction

August 27, 2018 |

A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold at auction over the weekend for $ 48.4 million—setting a world record for the most money ever paid for a car at auction, CNNMoney reports. Thirty-six 250 GTOs were made and all are still running, creating an exclusive club of owners; this particular…
Newser

At Tesla, Elon Musk’s jape blows up, leaving only a legal morass and questions about his fitness to be CEO

August 25, 2018 |

So what the hell was that all about?

Late Friday, after the markets had closed, Wall Street was heading for bed, and the average person was at home with Netflix or otherwise gear-shifted into the weekend, Elon Musk announced that he was no longer planning to take Tesla Inc. private.

Thus ended…


L.A. Times – Business

Cohen Wasn’t the Only One Handling Hush Money

August 23, 2018 |

President Trump is highly unlikely to be indicted under current Justice Department policy—but he’s not the only one facing potential repercussions from Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to charges violating campaign finance laws. Court documents show that when Cohen was reimbursed by the Trump Organization for hush money payments, it…
Newser