Category Archives: Crypto currency and Bitcoin news

Latest BTC Price, as reported on Coinbase

Bitcoin Price May Be Getting Ready for Next Fundamentals

The price of Bitcoin to the US dollar and other paper currencies has been taking a breather during the last days, apparently in the wake of a technical short-term move to the upside in major stock markets.

Bitcoin and other Crypto coin prices powered ahead strongly during the first week of trading amidst uncertainties over stock prices and the worst start on record into a trading year for stocks. Particularly with stock investors in China fleeing the conventional markets and open to unconventional ones, Bitcoin and other Crypto coins were up quite significantly. Notably, this includes other Crypto coins than just Bitcoin and Litecoin like Peercoin, Dogecoin, and Earthcoin. The latter appears to grow into some kind of a darling among the Chinese and, as a result, has been moving quite in line with local developments there for the previous months and throughout several Asian stock market setbacks.

Bitcoin climbed back almost to its highs of late December 2015, but failed to jump over the current high around $463. Currently, the Bitcoin price appears to be waiting for fresh inputs from conventional markets and their fundamentals — mainly the likely negative ones that would propel the Crypto sector further into higher territory.

On this background, the remainder of the month may see some exciting developments for both conventional stock and foreign exchange markets and “alternative” investments as well.

Bitcoin Price Picking Up More Solidly

The price of Bitcoin in US dollars has been picking up significantly again. The  market price of the “original Crypto currency” has been hovering for months but was stable around  $200, always clear of support around $180.

During the last weeks, bitcoins have been solidly advancing from $280 to more than $328 over the weekend. Weekends seem to be some kind of “high season” for amateur Crypto traders who appear to spend their free time glued to their screens and giving many Crypto currencies — beyond just Bitcoin itself — significant movements during these times.

Not that it mattered much for the overall idea of Crypto currency — but the price of Bitcoin is picking up very nicely again (and this time also quite solidly, without that infamous “volatility” the mass-media seems to “know” about BTC). With extra weekend-activity gone now, the latest reading for Bitcoin at Coinbase is still above $320.

The Safest Way to Store Bitcoin and Other Crypto Coins

Bitcoin has made headlines a number of times for some quite spectacular heists and thefts.

Out of over a million existing Bitcoin wallets, approximately a thousand or less than 0.1% have lost funds. Apparently, these have all been “digital” or software wallets stored somewhere on personal computers running general-purpose operating systems (not any kind of “hardened”, specialised OS-es) or maybe even web wallets offered by some Bitcoin service websites. Most certainly, they have not been properly designed “cold storage” facilities which are much more secure.

Even most recent press articles themselves suggest that casualties are mostly from the area of “hot” storage:

Since bitcoins are stored as software files in “wallets,” or folders on websites, personal computers or smartphones, that makes them susceptible to loss and theft, failure or cracking. And because the digital money was designed to be difficult to trace, any looting is akin to a cash plunder, and harder to track compared with real money held in bank accounts.

Even with “insured” banks and “traceable” deposits, it is rather hard to get one’s money back when stolen as banks (or their insurers) usually insist on inferring at least some partial fault on the bank customer’s part to prevent full (and for the bank costly) compensation. Also, it isn’t really fun to fight for that measly compensation, if you get it at all, so why bother…

Bitcoin’s value, having increased from $12 to more than $1,000 in 2013, has made the Crypto currency an even more tempting target and worth extra protection efforts on the part of reasonably educated users.

 

Real Cash

It is difficult to measure the percentage of wallet casualties more accurately, since bitcoins were designed to be similar to cash. They are not anonymous in any way, but the fact that transactions are irreversible makes it hard to get coins back once they actually happen to be apprehended by dishonest parties.

Bitcoin’s potential to be “cash for the internet” or rather for all kinds of transactions online and off is growing with a fast increasing user base. Created in 2008 by an unknown programmer or group of programmers, the supply of Bitcoin is regulated by the software underlying the currency, which can only be created by solving complex puzzles embedded in Bitcoin’s code. The digital money is being used to buy everything from chocolates to digital cameras on the Web.

 

Paper Wallet

The best and most effective method to prevent theft is “cold storage,” or offline Bitcoins. Andreas Antonopoulos, a Bitcoin evangelist and security specialist, has created the Safe Paper Wallet project making kits available that let users print their log-in credentials on a piece of paper, which can then be kept in a safe-deposit box.

“I keep 99.9 percent of my bitcoins in my paper wallet,” Antonopoulos said. “You don’t walk around with your net worth in your purse.”

The exact way of creating safe paper wallets involves a few more ingredients but can be done by anyone with a printer, preferably a “dumb” printer, and some common sense. A selection of simple tools, some of them free, as well as ready-made solutions are available. The important part is to not buy pre-printed plastic cards or fancy engravings where the Private Key is pre-produced by a third party which runs totally contrary to the “trustless” system of a Crypto currency.

There is even “deep cold storage” of Bitcoin paper wallets in geographically spread locations available where wallets (or even a mere copy of paper wallets) can be de-centrally stored to both secure them offline as well as mitigate all other conceivable systemic, sovereign default, or even natural disaster risks.

Whether for Bitcoin or any other Crypto coin, the availability of offline paper wallet generators and a way to easily create a paper wallet or similar true “cold storage” solution are essential for even considering use of that coin.

Exchange-like services, on- and off-chain investments, as well as safe-keeping services — possibly integrating several kinds of Crypto coin services into one flexible and easy-to-use security as well as investment or Asset Protection solution — could be developed to solve these fundamental challenges and further develop mass adoption of Bitcoin.

Fiat Currency World: Awkward Cash Withdrawal Limits at HSBC

HSBC have changed their cash withdrawals policy, severely limiting customer ability to access their money. What’s more, HSBC didn’t even afford their customers a proper notice about it, BBC reported earlier. In many cases, withdrawals between £5,000 and £10,000 have been rejected by the bank, quoting “unusually large amounts” as an alleged reason. The bank simply tries asking their customers to “withdraw smaller amounts only” and also asks for “further information” about the planned use. In some cases, documental evidence has been required. Basically, it would be in HSBC’s sole discretion if and when the costumers may or may not withdraw their money.

Unusual about this are not the amounts to be withdrawn but the fact that HSBC came up with such an exceptional and bold measure to secure what apparently and stretched capitalisation ratio.

Unilaterally changing essential terms of contract without the consent of their costumers is outside the scope of any Terms allowing for amendments and, therefore, constitutes both a breach of contract and also of trust. The latter may turn out worse for the bank.

Even more ridiculous are HSBC’s justification attempts for their new “policy” for occasional “large” cash withdrawals: the bank wanted to make sure it is the right way to make payment and to protect the costumer against guess who? The costumer himself.

Bitcoin Is Safe, Bitcoin Is Low-Cost, Bitcoin Is Superior to Conventional Payments

Bitcoin is usually portrayed as “high risk” by the mass media and industrial-age bureaucrat structures alike. Reports of spectacular thefts abound, the EBA (European Banking Authority), while also officially saying Bitcoin is legal to use Europe and here to stay, warned against alleged safety risks, and hyped stories about people “finding” abandoned hard drives on garbage dumps or “losing” bitcoins through an incredible variety of (usually stupid) ways are littering magazines and newspapers everywhere.

The truth is, Bitcoin is safe. The code works, and it is highly resistant against all sorts of operational concerns, including Block delays or non-syncronisation, and still works flawlessly in preventing double-spending or any kind of deliberate or involuntary subversion of the system. Also, Bitcoin is extremely low cost: there are no middlemen pocketing chunks of amounts you send, as is usual with conventional banking (SWIFT, credit cards, bankers’ drafts, Letters of Credit and other not-so-fancy ways of payment transmission from the telegraph-age).

Just note that SWIFT costs participating banks roughly $30,000 per year in “membership” dues in order to just be admitted to the club and able participate (plus a sizeable minimum amount per transfer, usually north of $6 per “wire” when you actually do). Also note that all credit card businesses pay around 41% of their total revenue for “fraud prevention” alone (this is where the total of billions from your 3% to 3.5% of “credit card usage” or “foreign card usage” and similar fees are going).

Neither credit cards nor “telegraphic” transfers have any meaningful error correction algorithms built into them. So even if no one attempt anything fishy there, money in transfer can still be lost — or delayed.

As Bitcoin is designed to be used in electronic communications and, thus, perfectly suited for worldwide transmissions, e-mail use, and immediate communications, it is clearly superior to those legacy systems that major banks desperately cling to and apparently try to “defend” using whatever means they can think of (government regulation, limiting access even further, introducing all sorts of hurdles).

Bitcoin’s other major advantage is the irreversibility of payments once sent. Chargebacks are not an issue, merchants accepting Bitcoin (or any other Crypto currency) payments need not worry about a thing. That way, there is no need for ridiculous “fraud prevention” teams, mechanisms against fraudulent chargebacks, or similar risk when using Crypto coin payments, eliminating these 41% of “security costs” (totalling billions of dollars every year) and making all transactions cheaper for everyone involved. Crypto currency payments such as Bitcoin transactions can be sent with zero or very low overall fees, therefore enabling improved integration and utilisation of all e-commerce aspects in the payments arena alone.

The arrival of Bitcoin, often praised as the biggest invention since TCP/IP (the protocol underlying the World-wide web) will likely bring about an entire new “Web 3.0” era.

South Korean Government Actively Supporting Bitcoin Ventures

South Korea actively supporting Bitcoin Crypto currencies digital money virtual currency, venture capital provided for Korbit

South Korea’s Ministry of Science, Information and Communications Technology and Future Planning has actively supported Korbit, one of the country’s leading Bitcoin companies, to participate in a conference to invite private equity investment in order to expand its business.

The bid resulted in Korbit successfully securing $400,000 seed funding by a group of private investors.

Also, established banks in South Korea have repeatedly made headlines in recent months for being generally supportive and open to Bitcoin and Crypto currency technology in general. The Korean Banks Foundation for Young Entrepreneurs, a group established by Korea’s largest banking alliance, has also participated in funding Korbit’s success.

Venture capitalists are quoted as saying, “Bitcoin’s growth in Korea is remarkable for the sophistication of the public dialog around its potential for innovation and wealth creation”, and that the country can “play a leading role in the future of global finance” by realising the importance of Bitcoin, and moving to embrace it faster than other nations.”

Apple Boycotting Bitcoin

Apple has removed a number of Bitcoin-related iOS applications from its proprietary online App Store. While in some cases, Apple failed to even give a proper reason for this measure, other app developers have received notifications from Apple that Bitcoin payment functionality, in a stricter sense, needed to be removed for their apps to stay “acceptable” for Apple’s platform.

The move has resulted in the disappearance of usable Bitcoin payment applications for Apple iOS devices such as iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Only apps showing Bitcoin wallet balances or general prices on Bitcoin exchanges continue to be “permissible” for Apple. In effect, all truly useful Bitcoin applications for the widely used Apple devices have thus been censored out of existence by the company.

Apple’s policy has infuriated a large number of mobile device users. As a short-term result, a number of fixes for the problems caused by unavailable official App Store programs supporting Bitcoin have already appeared. These are only functional on jail-broken iOS devices though. (“Jail breaking” means removing existing and re-installing modified versions of the operating system onto original devices in order to circumvent DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) technologies present in standard Apple items.)

The reason for Apple’s fight against Bitcoin is that the company is struggling to introduce their its own payment system to Apple mobile device users. Apple’s planned system is said to be designed for PoS payments (point-of-sale payments) and to also be suitable for very small payments useful for e g music or movie downloads from Apple’s proprietary iTunes platform.

Forcing users to not use Bitcoin seems to be “okay” then for a large corporation trying to, obviously increasingly desperately, introduce something they see as the next big thing into the market predominantly for their own good, not the users’ who would certainly benefit much more from using low-cost and reliable Crypto currency payments such as Bitcoin.