Jon Southurst (@SouthTopia) provides in a post on CoinDesk some examples of how with Bitcoin is not just 9/10ths of the law, it is the law. Bitcoin is a bearer instrument — meaning if a payment gets sent to the wrong party, or a thief gains control of a wallet, the funds can be spent. Excerpts:
"A simple concentration lapse can see exponentially more bitcoin leave your wallet than you’d intended, never to be seen again." - "The difference between bitcoin and cash, though, is that much larger amounts may be at stake. Cash transactions tend to be smaller, while (reputedly safer) credit cards and bank transfers handle larger ones. Bitcoin allows you not only to transfer a million dollars in a heartbeat, it gives you a chance to send it to the wrong place. Or nowhere at all." - "Mike Hearn, developer at the Bitcoin Foundation, says most loss-causing errors are the result of users not backing up locally-stored wallet files at the right time, and by misusing paper wallets." - "The bitcoin development team also hopes to add human-memorable address aliases and a messaging function to transactions. Messaging would allow users to include a refund address with transactions."
Beccy and Austin Craig (@LifeOnBitcoin) have been filming their lives for the first three months of their marriage while they live on Bitcoin for a documentary. Provo Utah’s KSL5 TV news reporter Jed Boal (@JedBoal) interviews them. Excerpts:
"The Craigs will test the principal of currency when they begin roadtripping across the county Saturday. ”I am nervous about food,’ Beccy said. ‘As soon as we leave Utah County, we are starting over, we don’t have food.’" - "During their travel, the Craigs expect to discover more businesses using Bitcoin, and they’ll continue to negotiate with those that don’t. When they return home, the Craigs plan to end their experiment of living only on bitcoins. ’I am super excited to go back to good old American currency, just for its convenience,’ Beccy said. But, the Craigs said they believe in Bitcoin and plan to make it part of their financial future."
Security expert Brian Krebs (@BrianKrebs) was first with news that the FBI had taken over the Silk Road marketplace website and later that the site’s founder was arrested by U.S. authorities. Excerpts:
"Federal agents in San Francisco arrested the Silk Road’s alleged mastermind. Prosecutors say 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR), will be charged with a range of criminal violations, including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking and murder for hire." - "[The FBI’s big break came] on July 23, 2013, when investigators gained access to a Silk Road server and made a complete copy of the data on the machine." - "Finally, DPR tripped himself up when he ordered some fake IDs from an international Silk Road vendor and had them sent to his residence. The fraudulent IDs were intercepted at the border by customs agents working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which paid a visit to the address to which the documents were to be delivered." - "Ulbrich graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelors degree in Physics in 2006, and that from 2006 to 2010, he attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Materials Science and Engineering." - "The government also announced today that pursuant to this action, it has also seized approximately 26,000 Bitcoins worth roughly $3.6 million, in what it’s calling the largest ever seizure of Bitcoins."
Ankit Ajmera (@TvventyOne)’s article, published in the Mumbai Mirror, describes Bitcoin’s presence in India. Excerpts:
The Reserve Bank of India, for instance, has not yet formulated regulations to govern trading or profits generated from Bitcoins.” - ”The only time Bitcoins will come under the purview of law is if a case of fraud is reported, following which cops can then initiate action against the fraudulent party.” - ”There have been an estimated 29,400 downloads of Bitcoin wallets from Indian IP addresses. There’s the possibility that one person has downloaded more than one wallet.”
Brandon Glier’s post on Bitcoin became a Medium.com Editors Pick. Excerpts:
"To really understand the power of Bitcoin, you need to think about it as 3 things: (1) a protocol, (2) a commodity, and (3) an ecosystem." - "Bitcoin has taken a very hard problem — how do you facilitate and record transactions online — and solved it for anyone to leverage for free. This capability may have profound implications that are not yet well-understood […]" - "It’s important to keep in mind that it takes time for the true market use case of a commodity to be developed. […] Like oil, Bitcoin can be refined and put to use in novel and yet-to-be imagined ways." - "According to the GSMA 1.7 billion people have a mobile phone and no alternative to the cash economy. As digital cash, Bitcoin appeals directly to consumers as an accessible payment alternative without the risk and fees associated with existing credit and debit networks." - "For the first time in Internet history, settling transactions between multiple parties can be dictated and applied directly through open-source software and not through (largely) for-profit 3rd party institutions."
Writer Carrie Kirby (@CarrieKirby), in an article on Coindesk, describes some experiences by those who earn their incomes in Bitcoins. Excerpts:
"It’s interesting to learn how little inconvenience and uncertainty is being reported by the select few who collect their pay in bitcoins." - "San Francisco bitcoin wallet company CoinBase pays all six of its employees entirely in bitcoins, and employee Olaf Carlson-Wee says: ‘I try to stay within the bitcoin economy as much as possible.’” - “’If I received my bitcoin on September 1 and it’s worth $10, but then I sell it at $20, the initial $10 is (subject to) payroll tax, but then the additional $10 would be considered a capital gain, from the advice that I received,’ Holland said.” - "The companies issue W2 forms and report the salaries paid to the government as they normally would." - "Carlson-Wee, who keeps most of his savings in bitcoins aside from a small USD reserve, admits that a personal financial emergency could put him in the position of having to sell off a lot of his bitcoins at a low price."
Jeffrey Tucker (@JeffreyATucker) writes of meeting Bernard von NotHaus why Mr. NotHaus is relevant to digital currency. Excerpts:
"Economist F.A. Hayek wrote that it was entirely possible that a high-quality private money could compete with a government money." - "But who would step out and make the attempt? What entrepreneur would dare come forward and offer up an alternative as a product in the consumer market? Bernard von NotHaus was the man" - "The notion that government was trying to protect a marvelous system against domestic terrorism is mind-boggling, since the truth is rather obvious: The government was trying to protect a terrible system from being overthrown by competition." - "Bitcoin is a brilliant combination of the Liberty Dollar’s soundness and Napster’s distribution methods, with a few extra features thrown in to protect it against shutdowns." - "The revolution will not occur with guns and battles, but through enterprise, entrepreneurship, and a billion tiny acts of peaceful consumer choice."
Ruben Alexander (@BitcoinBash) created a transcript of the interviews published in a LetsTalkBitcoin podcast (@LetsTalkBitcoin) for those voting for candidates for the Individual Seat of Bitcoin Foundation board election.
A new version of the Bitcoin-Qt and Bitcoind clients, v0.8.4, includes a fix for a bug that can be exploited as part of a denial-of-service attack against the Bitcoin network. Without this fix, Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind nodes that receive a specific message that can cause the client to crash.
Jonathan Stacke writes on Bitcoin in India for his latest article on The Genesis Block (@TheGenesisBlock). Excerpts:
"With talk of inflation and capital controls familiar to the bitcoin community, one might think Indian citizens would be jumping at the opportunity to adopt the digital currency, yet the hurdles to wide-scale bitcoin proliferation in India may be significant for the foreseeable future. While demand for gold has grown in India, the multiple applications it offers culturally and industrially in addition to acting as an alternative store of wealth may mean that such demand does not translate to bitcoin." - "[A correlation exists] between bitcoin adoption and internet penetration in a given country. India, with just 12.6% of its citizens having internet access, has the sixth lowest internet penetration of the 100 largest countries. Despite that fact, the size of the total Indian population – more than 1.2 billion – makes India the third largest internet-using population in the world, with 150 million users, behind only China and the US." - "It is possible to buy and sell bitcoin through a number of websites including buysellbitco.in and there does appear to be a healthy LocalBitcoins market." - "Not to be overlooked is India’s mobile phone penetration of 71%, or approximately 900 million total users. […] only 44 million Indians are smartphone subscribers." - "M-PESA, the mobile payment system that has changed the lives of millions in Kenya recently rolled out in India. […] If mobile payment systems like these gain traction in India as they have in Africa, acceptance of digital currency would prove to be a less significant hurdle." - "India had the highest remittance volume in the world in 2011 with $58 billion, or 3.1% of GDP, according to the World Bank." - "Forward-thinking companies like Buttercoin have recently stepped in to apply the potential of bitcoin to these markets […]" - "The Reserve Bank of India has stated that it does not immediately intend to regulate bitcoin, but their historic actions indicate that may change soon enough […]"
Marco Santori, Chairman of Bitcoin Foundation (@BTCFoundation)’s Regulatory Affairs Committee, gives a basic primer on the state of US law as it applies to digital currency entrepreneurs. Excerpts of the post on Coindesk:
“If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that there will soon exist a new and evolving body of law: The Law of Digital Currency, or, as some would prefer it: Bitcoin Law.” - ”[…] ‘virtual currency’ is something of a loaded term, and bitcoin may not even be best described as a currency at all.” - "[In addition to regulators FinCEN and the SEC, the] consensus among legal professionals is that two more government agencies might soon have a hand in the market as well: the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)." - "Some have called [FinCEN’s issuance of guidance] bitcoin’s ‘watershed moment’ because of its clear, unequivocal positive message: bitcoin is not illegal. The negative consequence, though, was just as obvious: Many bitcoin businesses models are illegal." - "In effect, the [Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)] deputizes financial institutions, requiring them to act as the government’s foot soldiers in its war on money laundering."
Correspondent for IDG Jeremy Kirk (@Jeremy_Kirk) published a report providing an update on the security vulnerability affecting nearly all mobile Bitcoin wallet apps for Android. Excerpts:
"Four Android Bitcoin clients — Bitcoin Wallet, Blockchain, Mycelium Bitcoin Wallet and BitcoinSpinner — have been fixed, according to an updated notice on Bitcoin.org." - "In some cases, the supposedly random numbers were the same for different transactions, which could allow an attacker to determine someone’s private key and steal their bitcoins." - "Tens of thousands of other [non Bitcoin-related] Android applications may be vulnerable, Symantec wrote. The company found more than 360,000 applications that use the SecureRandom class in the same way as the affected Bitcoin applications." - "Symantec noted that applications running on Android version 4.2 and up may not be affected […]".
Published on media service LetsTalkBitcoins (@LetsTalkBitcoins) is the panel discussion from Inside Bitcoins (NYC) from last month that had covered Bitcoin and Freedom of Speech. Moderated by Marc Hochstein. Panelists: Trevor Timms (executive director, Freedom of the Press Foundation), Jonathan Mohan (organizer, Bitcoin NYC), Stephanie Murphy (radio and podcast host), Alan Safahi (CEO, ZipZap) Michael Terpin (Co-Founder, BitAngels).
Forbes.com contributor Kashmir Hill (@KashHill) highlights a new development regarding ways existing laws can be applied to Bitcoin-related activity. Excerpts:
"In defending himself against the SEC suit, Shavers argued that Bitcoin isn’t actually money and that the SEC shouldn’t be able to prosecute him." - “‘Shavers also contends that his transactions were all Bitcoin transactions and that no money ever exchanged hands.’” - “‘It is clear that Bitcoin can be used as money,’ writes Judge Mazzant in a ruling on Tuesday. ‘It can be used to purchase goods or services, and as Shavers stated, used to pay for individual living expenses.’” - ”’[Bitcoin] can also be exchanged for conventional currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, and Yuan,’ writes Mazzant. ‘Therefore, Bitcoin is a currency or form of money, and investors wishing to invest in BTCST provided an investment of money.’”
Wired writer Robert McMillan (@bobmcmillan) makes some face-to-face, in-person trades and describes the experience. Excerpts:
"Welcome to the quickest, most private way to buy the internet’s most successful digital currency: in-person and face-to-face." - "Buttonwood meetups started in New York a few months ago and fanned out to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Buttonwood is an allusion to the May 17, 1792 agreement, struck under a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street, that set down the rules for what became the New York Stock Exchange." - "After some haggling, Light types Copley’s Bitcoin address into his mobile phone and transfers just over half a Bitcoin ($50) to Copley’s digital wallet [for payment of silver bullion]". - ”He used to buy and sell on a (temporarily shuttered) marketplace called Bitinstant. But a few months ago, ‘it started to ask for too much of my information,’ the student says. Given the nature of his business, he wants to buy Bitcoins without being tracked.” - ”These are the kinds of deals that have regulators worried.” - ”It’s traditionally been tough to quickly buy Bitcoins with U.S. dollars, and recently it’s become tougher. […] That [regulation has] led to a pretty healthy off-the-books market for Bitcoin traders. […] Buyers and sellers can also hook up over Internet Relay Chat at #bitcoin-otc” - "Buyer’s Best Friend will give you Bitcoins back for cash, much like you can get cash back from a credit card, but you are supposed to purchase something first." - "Though trading an obscure crypto currency may sound very modern, the whole transaction has a decidedly old-fashioned and human flavor to it."
In an article on Marketwartch, writer Matthew Lynn (@MattLynnWriter) describes how gold’s role as a store of value alternative to paper money will be seeing competition from digital currencies. Excerpts:
"As the American [dollar] grows in strength — as seems likely given its relative performance compared with the rest of the world — then gold will be less valuable as an alternative." - "Gold is nothing if not a long-term investment [however] the most important threat is the rise of alternative digital currencies such as bitcoin." - "As a rival to paper money, gold has had the market to itself. Now it will have competition, and that always drives down the price of any product." - "Financial sophisticates might dismiss digital currencies as a craze. But plenty of other industries have been taken apart by the Internet — there is no reason why the money market should be any different." - "In many ways, digital currencies may be a better alternative to paper money than gold."
This report from The Genesis Block (@TheGenesisBlock) covers the major events from the first half of 2013 and what to look out for in the months ahead. Excerpts:
"The one outlier in the global bitcoin trading story so far in 2013 has been CNY, with a meteoric rise from near obscurity at 1% in January to more than 6% of global volume at the end of June. This was largely attributable to a brief documentary about bitcoin aired on state-run CCTV." - "Volatility has presented a number of exceptional arbitrage opportunities for traders. As macro events and news from different exchanges create unique trading dynamics, the price differential across exchanges can become quite significant." - "As a smallmarket, bitcoin is still heavily influenced by individual micro events, but traders are clearly paying attention to major macro headlines as well." - "We are also aware of three VC-backed exchanges currently in development." - "The initial ASICMiner IPO was in August 2012 [raised] over $100,000 for initial ASIC production. As of this writing, shares are trading at 4.25 BTC each, providing initial shareholders a 4,250% return in 8 months and netting IPO investors millions of dollars in gains." - "The US has unquestionably been the least accommodating with regards to virtual currency regulations. Throughout the rest of the globe, government responses have ranged from deferment to outright encouragement so far this year." - "We expect more and larger retail players to enter the space, helping the value of the market continue to grow steadily."
Finance author Emily Spaven (@EmilySpaven) describes the launch of Kipochi (@KipochiPay), a Bitcoin wallet that provides interchange to and from M-PESA. Excerpts:
"Kipochi has launched a product that allows people in Africa to send and receive bitcoins, plus convert them to and from the Kenyan currency M-Pesa." - "Kipochi works on all mobile phones as it has SMS, USSD and HTML5 frontends, so there is no requirement for users to have the most up-to-date handsets." - "Pelle Braendgaard, co-founder of Kipochi [said that] M-Pesa has been around in Kenya for years now, so mobile money is a part of everyday life in the country, which means it will be easy for Kenyans to accept digital currency as the choice for international payments." - "Kipochi’s goal is to make it easier for people in these [communities of expatriates from Kenya and foreigners living and working in Kenya] to send and receive funds through the bitcoin network." - "LocalBitcoins.com has also recently turned its attention to M-Pesa, making this option available to traders in Kenya and Tanzania." - “‘The [tens of thousands of] M-Pesa agents are the target market of LocalBitcoins.com as well,’” [explained founder Jeremias Kangas].”
Writer Philippa Young (@_philippayoung_)’s article Thin Wire in the quarterly magazine Makeshift (@MkShftMag) describes Hawala. Excerpts:
"Hawala, hundi, chiti, chop, and dozens of other names describe a system that moves billions of dollars across grey and black markets, faster and cheaper than your local bank." - "Before insurance and high-speed travel, moving large amounts of bullion by sea or camel-led caravan was not only slow but also incredibly risky. The answer? Never move the money." - "In its infancy, hawala created a safe and smooth journey for long-distance merchants, facilitating the first movements of globalized trade. Fast-forward a few hundred years, and hawala has a less celebrated reputation." - "For families in developing countries supported by diaspora relatives, hawala is a lifeline." - "Hawala is recordless. With just a name and telephone number, you can transfer thousands of dollars across continents." - "Just one month from now, First Somali Bank will launch a system to allow diaspora communities of Minnesota and London to send remittances from their mobile phones directly to a recipient’s debit card in Somalia— signs of attempts to formalize hawala’s informal success." - "The system differs from neighboring Kenya’s M-PESA system in that the money goes directly into the recipient’s bank account. Each person becomes his or her own hawaladar." - "If money makes the world go round, then hawala is the undervalued engine coughing out a cloak of grey-black smoke."
Bitcoin Foundation (@BTCFoundation)’s attorneys respond to the May 2013 warning letter sent by California’s Department of Financial Institutions. Excerpts:
"The Bitcoin Foundation does not engage in any of these regulated activities. Furthermore, even if it did engage in these activities, it does not have any business operations in California that would subject it to the Department of Financial Institution’s ("DFI") jurisdiction." - "The Bitcoin Foundation does not have business operations in California that would subject it to the DFI’s jurisdiction. […] The Bitcoin Foundation provides no direct money services to any California consumers." - "The Bitcoin Foundation is not in the business of selling bitcoin to consumers and does not otherwise operate a bitcoin exchange." - "Bitcoins are not written or signed notes or drafts, and therefore, are not payment instruments regulated by the California Money Transmitter Act." - "There is no issuer of bitcoin that would be subject to licensure as a money transmitter under California law." - "The fact that bitcoin does not fit within the definition of payment instruments or stored value does not mean it is automatically regulated by the money transmission prong." - "The same rationale that applied to the sale of a peso should prevail under the California statute with regard to the sale of a bitcoin." - "The Bitcoin Foundation requests that your office issue an opinion that […] the sale of a bitcoin is not regulated under the California Money Transmitter Act."
NY Times financial reporters Nathaniel Popper (@NathanielPopper) and Peter Lattman (@PeterLattman) broke the news that the Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss have filed with the SEC a proposal to create a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. Excerpts:
"The plan involves an exchange-traded fund, which usually tracks a basket of stocks or a commodity, but in this case would hold only bitcoins." - "The Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust could send digital money from the realm of computer programmers, Internet entrepreneurs and a small circle of professional investors like themselves into the hands of retail investors — virtually anyone with a brokerage account." - “‘The trust brings bitcoin to Main Street and mainstream investors to bitcoin,’ said Tyler Winklevoss, co-founder of Math-Based Asset Services, which would operate the proposed fund.” - "Their proposal has the advantage of coming from the desk of Kathleen Moriarty [who had] a leading role in the creation of the first exchange-traded fund and popular gold- and silver-backed E.T.F.’s." - "The Winklevosses [previously] went public with their own bitcoin hoard, amounting to about 1 percent of all outstanding coins, or about $10 million." - "An exchange-traded fund would make it significantly easier to gain exposure to bitcoins, just as commodities-based funds have made investing in gold, silver and other precious metals more accessible." - "The Winklevoss fund would buy one bitcoin for every five shares, making the value of a single share worth about a fifth of a single bitcoin." - “‘Digital currencies are not going away,’ said Carol Van Cleef, the head of law firm Patton Boggs’s emerging-payments practice.”
TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas (@riptari) shares the result of possibly the most comprehensive survey of the Bitcoin landscape to-date. Excerpts:
"The firm surveyed more than 22,000 U.S. consumers in May 2013 to test Bitcoin awareness and levels of trust." - "Just over a quarter (25.3%) [of U.S. consumers] have heard of the crypto currency — which means the U.S. is lagging the other two countries also surveyed for the poll, Argentina and the U.K. In those nations," - "62% of U.S. consumers who are Bitcoin-aware said they trust the currency, vs 73% of Bitcoin-aware Argentinians and 69% of Bitcoin-aware Brits." - "The largest group of Argentinian respondents (44%) said the best thing about Bitcoin is ‘not having to deal with financial institutions’. So banks bad, Bitcoin good." - "In the U.S. and the U.K. the most popular response when asked about the best thing about Bitcoin is that “it’s quick and convenient” — cited by 36% and 43% respectively."
The Telegraph (UK) published an essay by Alec Ross (@AlecJRoss) and Jonathan Luff (@JILuff) on the geopolitics of Bitcoin. Excerpts:
"An interesting advert appeared in a handbook accompanying [last week’s G8 meeting], placed by a company that was until recently known only to a small number of technology entrepreneurs and early adopters. The advertiser was Mt Gox." - "Alternative currencies are, of course, nothing new. Many Londoners carry an Oyster Card, which they load with traditional currency and then exchange for travel." - "In the developing world, value transfer via SMS is already replacing cash. With virtual currencies like BitCoin now operable without the need for a bank account, why would you open one?" - "The rise of digital currencies like BitCoin threatens to render obsolete even the modest progress made by the G8. BitCoin’s distributed network structure makes it hard for any one country or group of countries to regulate its activities." - "Unless the issues that BitCoin raises are addressed in a thoughtful and proactive manner by existing authorities, the disintermediating power of technology is likely to have a disruptive impact on currency systems and those that regulate and rely on them."
A new version of the Bitcoin-Qt and Bitcoind clients, v0.8.3, includes a fix for a bug that can be exploited as part of a denial-of-service attack against the Bitcoin network. Without this fix, Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind nodes that receive a specific over-size message can crash.
Reporter Danny Bradbury (@DannyBradbury) of CoinDesk.com (@CoinDesk) describes the cease and desist (C&D) order given by the State of California’s financial regulator, Department of Financial Institutions (@CaliforniaDFI), to the Bitcoin Foundation (@BTCFoundation). Excerpts:
"The letter said that the Bitcoin Foundation may be a money transmission business (MTB), and threatened it with fines and jail time." - "The letter, signed by Paul Clayton, senior counsel at the Department of Financial Institutions (California’s financial regulator), gave the Foundation 20 days to respond, although it was only received last week. The Foundation is drafting its response with legal firm Perkins Coie this week." - "The language in the letter (which didn’t directly accuse the Foundation, but suggested it ‘might be’ an MTB), indicated that the letter might be a fishing expedition said [Bitcoin Foundation General Counsel Patrick Murck]. The use of cease and desist letters is an easy way to cast the net, he argued." - "This ‘spray and pray’ approach to regulating businesses could dampen the prospects for bitcoin-based businesses in the long run, warned Murck."
Bitcoin Foundation board member Jon Matonis (@JonMatonis) describes the growing trade of bitcoins in face-to-face, in-person transactions. Excerpts:
"In-person bitcoin transactions allow you to meet interesting new people in your area – and discuss bitcoin." - "For the casual traders seeking more privacy, I recommend in-person trading through LocalBitcoins.com." - "LocalBitcoins has steadily added new cities and market depth. ‘We currently have 142 countries and 1700 cities,’ [founder Jeremias Kangas] recently told Bitcoin Magazine, ‘but that most definitely isn’t enough. We want to expand to at least 170,000 cities’". - "LocalBitcoins offers an escrow facility and a rating system both of which can be extremely valuable for the first-time trader." - ”The bitcoin provider sets the price markup and types of payment that will be accepted. […] Given the robustness of trade in some large urban areas, it is entirely possible to earn a living from buying and selling bitcoin using the LocalBitcoins matching platform.” - "In the general classification of commodity, bitcoin’s trade is similar to any other collectible item, such as antique diamonds, celebrity autographs, moon rocks, Buddha figurines, and baseball cards." - "Ultimately, until physical paper cash is outlawed, bitcoin will still be bought and sold in person just like any other commodity."
In Phil Archer’s latest article on TheGenesisBlock.com (@TheGenesisBlock) he compares Bitcoin against fiat money and gold. Excerpts:
"There are nine distinct characteristics of money: scarce, durable, portable, divisible, easy to recognize, easy to store, fungibile, hard to counterfeit, and widespread use. At first glance, bitcoin has a significant advantage over fiat currencies and gold in many of these."
Bitcoin Foundation board member Jon Matonis (@JonMatonis) writes a post on how the financial surveillance also occurring is no secret. Excerpts:
"The Fincen bureau conducts all of its surveillance activity out in the open and in plain sight, probably for its effect as a deterrent. Fincen even recruits banks and other agent financial institutions to participate in the direct surveillance that make serious and consequential judgment calls along the way.” - "Two generations of educated Americans, including some smart attorneys, have been conditioned to think of money laundering as a real and legitimate category of crime. Eradication of privacy is the goal and manipulation of the semantic crime debate is the tool." - "Since the available cryptography and technical tools of today permit near absolutes on each side of the privacy-surveillance spectrum, each advancement from one side elicits an equally strong reaction from the other side." - "As shameful as the existence of PRISM is, and it is monumentally shameful for a free society, it doesn’t even compare to the unprecedented level of financial surveillance the world is on the verge of witnessing." - "Digital currencies with proper mixing services such as bitcoin become a viable option for preserving some transactional privacy, even if identification is required for its initial acquisition from licensed money transmitters." - "A world where privacy isn’t sacrificed and all human transactions aren’t tracked is not only possible, but imperative. The alternative will be far worse than you can imagine."
Jerry Brito (@JerryBrito)’s post on The Technology Liberation Front blog describes today’s “Virtual Economy” conference in which he was a panel moderator. Excerpts:
"On my panel were representatives from the Bitcoin Foundation, the Tor Project, and the DOJ, and we had a lively discussion about how these technologies can potentially be used by criminals and what these open source communities might be able to do to mitigate that risk." - "I was therefore interested in the keynote remarks delivered by Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the Director of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. [In particular, she addressed the fact that since there have been several enforcement actions against virtual currency exchangers and providers, the traditional banking sector has been wary of doing business with companies in the virtual currency space." - "It would be a shame if [banks] felt they couldn’t do business with an innovative new kind of start-up simply because that start-up has not been (and may never be) adequately defined by a regulator." - "Hopefully FinCEN will revisit its guidance now that the conversation has begun, and as other regulators consider new rules, they will hopefully engage the Bitcoin community early in order to avoid ambiguity and uncertainty."
Quartz reporter Tim Fernholz (@TimFernholz) writes on how digital currencies extend the international financial system to the rest of us. Excerpts:
"The two tools Liberty Reserve used to evade financial scrutiny—anonymity and layering transactions through multiple companies—are already embedded in the international financial system. The difference now is merely access and scale." - "When offshore financial centers first became trendy many, many years ago, you used to have to go to the offshore location, take the money with you, and deposit it in the bank. Now [open up an offshore bank account] you don’t have to go to Guernsey or Cayman or BVI." - "The internet has shrunk the world, and Liberty Reserve and other digital currencies similarly help bring offshore banking to the masses."
CNN Money tech editor Stacy Cowley (@StacyCowley) describes how Bitcoin plays a special role in one doctor’s practice. Excerpts:
[Doctor C. Terence Lee] is an early pioneer in the Bitcoin retail economy, and a sign on his clinic door advertises his accepted forms of electronic payment: Visa, MasterCard or Bitcoin.” - "Determined to find a patient willing to pay him in bitcoins, Lee put an ad up on Reddit last year offering a "male fertility evaluation" — basically, a sperm test — in return for 15 bitcoins, which at the time were worth around $5 each." - "An ob/gyn with a geeky streak, [Dr. Lee] came across Bitcoin around a year ago while poking around on the Internet. The community’s passion drew him in." - "A couple whom he helped conceive three previous babies came back to try for number four. […] ‘I offered them a 50% discount [if they paid using Bitcoin]’." - "Lee claims he wouldn’t care if his bitcoins lost their value entirely — he and his staff are having fun figuring out the technology, meeting new people, and enjoying the economic novelty of a whole new kind of currency. He’s even managed to convert a few more of his clients."
Martin Bryant (@MartinSFP), managing editor at The Next Web, interviews a panel on Bitcoin at LeWeb London 2013. Panelsts are BitPay (@BitPay)’s Anthony Gallippi, Shakil Khan (@Shak), founder of CoinDesk (@CoinDesk), and BitcoinStore’s Roger Ver (@RogerKVer).
Forbes contributor and Bitcoin Foundation board member Jon Matonis (@JonMatonis) describes the growing role Bitcoin mixing services will play. Excerpts:
"If bitcoin exchange regulation becomes so effective that exchange operators are required to link specific bitcoin addresses to individual customers, then users may have few remaining choices should they want to maintain transactional privacy. […] Mixing services for bitcoin may emerge as the next frontier in the battle for financial privacy." - "Also called bitcoin laundries, these web-based services charge bitcoin holders a nominal fee to receive different bitcoins than the ones initially transferred. The sites never handle national currencies like the dollar or euro so technically they are not exchanges." - "Vitalik Buterin of Bitcoin Magazine argues that […] the core principles of the bitcoin protocol, such as user-defined anonymity and user-defined transactional privacy, remain intact due to optional mixing services." - "When it comes to bitcoin oversight, regulators and law enforcement must comprehend that which is able to be constrained versus that which is not able to be constrained."
E-currency expert and Bitcoin Foundation board member Jon Matonis (@JonMatonis) authored an article for Payments Source describing the attributes of Liberty Reserve and why a digital payments system with those attributes is so valuable. Excerpts:
"In a free society with a market-driven economy, payment privacy and payment finality are legitimate and useful features of a currency – physical or digital." - "By default, Federal Reserve-issued physical cash comes with payment privacy and payment finality." - "Once troublesome physical cash is finally eradicated, any digital currency with privacy and irreversibility attributes will be next for scheduled termination. In the case of Liberty Reserve, It’s not the individual infractions committed by clients of Liberty Reserve that are worrisome to the regulators, it’s the fact that a semi-reliable platform for private payments existed in the first place." - "If banks and traditional financial institutions still respected basic client privacy and facilitated some form of digital payments that did not always involve harmful reversibility to the merchants, then companies like Liberty Reserve wouldn’t even be necessary." - "To protect themselves, merchants require payment finality or irreversible payment methods. That means using only international wires or services like Liberty Reserve." - "Business sectors that benefit from payment finality include [gold bullion sales,] online casino gaming, sports betting, lotteries, adult services, pawn shops, credit repair services, debt settlement services, and virtual currency exchanges that involve the trade of other negotiable instruments or the loading of prepaid cards." - "The Liberty Reserve payment system acted as an international wire service for regions of the world that were totally ignored or blockaded by SWIFT and the international banking system." - "Choice in currency is a freedom of speech issue. Failing to recognize that fact only serves to strengthen the entrenched payment oligarchies and to undermine personal liberties in the transactions environment." - "Expect to see a lot more [money exiting the digital banking system] especially since the free market has been mostly stripped of digital payment finality and ‘Cyprus-ed’ has become a verb."
Data editor at the Guardian, James Ball (@jamesrbuk), describes in a post why Bitcoin’s prospects significantly differ from centralized digital currencies like Liberty Reserve. Excerpts:
"The real transformative power of Bitcoin, or something like it, lies not in a speculative bubble, but in its potential to put currency outside of the control of governments, or law enforcement agencies." - "Bitcoin makes Liberty Reserve look quaint – as unlike the alleged money launderer, Bitcoin is decentralised. There’s no single company or entity controlling the currency, and so it’s nearly impossible to shut down." - "Where real money is exchanged into Bitcoins is still a potential weak spot for authorities – and some Bitcoin exchanges are looking to sign up with regulators." - "If Bitcoin, or a currency working in a similar way to it, got a stable value and a large user base, it could take cash flows forever out of the hands of government. Whether that’s a great thing or a terrible thing depends on what you’re trying to do, what you think of government and what country you’re talking about." - "The prosecutors of the southern district of New York are very publicly celebrating their shutting down of the Liberty Reserve operation. They should enjoy it – it may be one of their last such victories."
Bitcoin Foundation (@BTCFoundation) Assistant DIrector Lindsay Holland created a playlist for videos from Bitcoin 2013. Additional videos will be added to the list but as of thhttp://bit.ly/198fCZae time of this post, the list of videos includes:
TechCrunch’s Rip Empson (@RipEmp) shares the developments of the ten-day old Bitcoin-specific funding network BitAngels in his latest post. Excerpts:
"BitAngels is launching (what it believes to be) the first multi-city angel network and incubator created to invest exclusively in cryptocurrency startups. Fittingly, in the spirit of Bitcoin, it’s a distributed network of angels and entrepreneurs and one that was hacked together in a few days after the Bitcoin 2013 Conference." - "BitAngels brings together a posse of angel investors who are looking to help entrepreneurs turn their Bitcoin side projects into full-time jobs. To do that, the angel network pooled together about $6.7 million in Bitcoin, which it will invest in approximately $20K chunks." - "The network is also today officially expanding to three on-site locations: Austin, San Francisco and New York […]. "Angels will hold office hours in each of the network’s three locations and will provide as much as support and mentoring from its angels as it can, though much of that will likely be remote." - "[BitAngels co-founder David A. Johnston] would like to see BitAngels become a ‘distributed version of Y Combinator.’” - "Both entrepreneurs and investors have begun to get serious about Bitcoin, and networks like BitAngels will ideally make it a lot easier to access the capital needed to finish [ideas and projects started by Bitcoin entrepreneurs]"
Adrianne Jeffries (@ADRJeffries)’s reports from the trenches of Bitcoin 2013 conference in her latest article on Bitcoin in The Verge. Excerpts:
"CNN, Russia Today, Vice, and Thomson Reuters were among the media in attendance." - "As of Tuesday morning, the price of a Bitcoin was steady around $120. That’s still astonishingly high for a currency that relies on a stack of arcane code and a network of anonymous helpers in lieu of a central government. Actually, it’s astonishing that Bitcoin is still around at all. The currency has had several near-death experiences in its short life […]” - "One attendee at Bitcoin 2013 offered to read the currency’s astrological chart for me. Bitcoin’s sun sign is Capricorn, which means it is an innovator. […] If Bitcoin were a person, she said, it would be ‘really solid, really powerful. Just like, a natural-born leader.’" "During the conference, the entrepreneur Dmitry Murashchik built a website, "Why isn’t Bitcoin worthless?" which serves up answers […]" - "Given Mt. Gox’s outsize role in the Bitcoin economy, I was surprised that no one at the conference was talking about the absent Goliath." - "There’s also a disturbing cultishness to the Bitcoin community, where everyone is as bullish as can be." - “‘Bitcoin had always been three steps forward, two steps back since I’ve been involved,’” [Project lead Gavin Andresen] said in his ‘State of the Union’ talk at Bitcoin 2013.”
In a post on BetaBeat by editor Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) includes confirmation from Dwolla that funds held by Mt. Gox in the U.S. had been seized by the U.S. authorities. Excerpts:
“‘The Department of Homeland Security and U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland issued a ‘’Seizure Warrant’’ for the funds associated with Mutum Sigillium’s Dwolla account (a.k.a. Mt. Gox),’ [a representative from Dwolla] said. ‘Dwolla has ceased all account activities associated with Dwolla services for Mutum Sigillum.’”
[Note - Camp BX, based in the U.S., is the only other market exchange that allows accounts to be funded with Dwolla and performs withdrawal of USD balances to Dwolla. FastCash4Bitcoins performs cash-out service to Dwolla.]
Forbes writer, Kashmir Hill (@KashHill), invited Bitcoiners to join her for a dinner at Sake Zone in San Francisco to celebrate the conclusion of her Week Of Bitcoin series of posts. In her video she interviews some of those who joined her.
A post on Bitcoin Money (@BitcoinMoney) blog describes the upcoming May 15th 2013 hard fork:
"Released following the Bitcoin blockchain fork on March 11th 2013 was an updated v0.8 client (v0.8.1) that temporarily respects an undocumented limit found in all prior versions of the Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind clients." - "That temporary grace period ends and on May 15th 2013 (12:00 am UTC) any node that still hasn’t been fixed to remove this limitation will eventually find itself rejecting valid blocks from the Bitcoin blockchain. It is possible that these unfixed nodes will see block confirmations but those blocks will not be part of the longest chain so it is critical that no commerce continue on or after May 15th using a node that hasn’t been upgraded." - "Release v0.8.1 of Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind has been available since March 18th, 2013 and accommodates the May 15th 2013 hard fork properly. The fix has been backported to v0.7.3, v0.6.5, v0.5.8, and v0.4.9 clients as well."
Phil Archer’s post on TheGenesisBlock.com describes how regulators are having a difficult time figuring out what where Bitcoin fits. Excerpts:
"[CFTC’s Bart Chilton] stated on bloomberg.tv: ‘In essence, we’re talking about a type of shadow currency, and there is more than a colorable argument to be made that derivative products relating to Bitcoin falls squarely in our jurisdiction.’" - "Bitcoin clearly does not derive its value from the future purchase of an underlying asset. Therefore, if the CFTC plans to regulate bitcoin, they must consider bitcoin either a commodity or forex, with the intent to regulate bitcoin forex or bitcoin derivatives." - "Since bitcoin is not the currency of a foreign government, but rather the first global currency, it would seem their power to regulate bitcoin as forex does not apply." - "Bitcoin being declared a commodity would create an interesting contrast with fincen’s March guidance requiring bitcoin exchanges to be registered as Money Service Businesses (MSB)." - "So it seems the US Government has no idea how to classify bitcoin: is it a currency or a commodity? Any CFTC ruling would likely declare bitcoin a commodity and put it in a Schrodinger’s Cat state – it would coexist as both a currency and a commodity." - "FinCEN was forced to create a new definition for virtual currencies, and we expect the CFTC to do the same. However, those living in fear of what the CFTC’s decision may hold should have solace in the fact that any regulations will be largely unenforceable anyway."
Through daily posts by Forbes writer Kashmir Hill (@KashHill) we learn how far Bitcoin as a payment system has come along. Her assignment ais to live on bitcoin for a week — without spending any dollars. Excerpts from Day 4:
"[Bakery owner] Jennifer Longson is there, wearing a cupcake apron, filling cupcake tins with fresh batter along with two employees. She says I’m the second customer of the day asking to pay in Bitcoin." - "Cups and Cakes [receives publicity] as one of the first stores to accept the currency. Her little shop has been featured in international news: on the BBC, in the Financial Times, on NPR Marketplace, and beyond." - "Longson is surprised that I’m able to use my Blockchain iPhone app to scan her QR code and make the payment. “When you update your iOS, you’re going to lose that,” she says. ‘Apple has blocked it.’" - "[Market owner Adam Sah] didn’t want to take the currency risk with the Bitcoin I paid him so he paid it out the same day to Name Cheap, the company which provides their domain name services (and accepts Bitcoin). ‘I paid our fee for the year with it,’ he says. ‘More and more IT services accept Bitcoin. […] With all these new things, you have a bunch of early adopters who experiment,’ he continues. ‘Then there’s a crossing of a chasm and then it becomes mainstream.’" - “‘As a retailer, I am salivating over the idea of having this silently competing with credit cards and their fees and the hidden cost of dealing with cash: counting it, the fee I pay to Wells Fargo for a business account, transferring it,’ [said Sah]”. - "When I go to bed, Bitcoin is valued at $96; by Saturday, it is shooting back up in value."