Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official Confirms

Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official Confirms

Travel booking platform Expedia has stopped accepting bitcoin (BTC). A company representative confirmed the policy change, while stating that various payment options are being continuously evaluated without elaborating on the details. Expedia has been supporting bitcoin payments since 2014.

 Also read: Russian Railways Eyes Crypto for Tickets, Blockchain for Cargo

Expedia Confirms Suspension of BTC Payment Option

Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official ConfirmsExpedia.com, one of the world’s largest travel sites offering booking services for flights, hotels, and car rentals, is currently not accepting bitcoin (BTC). This week, the news was shared on Reddit by traveling bitcoiners who expressed their disappointment with the absence of the cryptocurrency among the payment options. Bitcoin payments have been available on Expedia for years.

Responding to a request for more details from Nathalie Stucky of news.Bitcoin.com, a company representative confirmed the reports via email. Acknowledging the grievances of cryptocurrency users, Christie Hudson, Sr. Communications Manager at Expedia – North America, explained:

I can confirm that as of May 10, 2018, Expedia no longer supports Bitcoin as a payment method. Currently, we do not feel that we are able to offer the best experience for those using Bitcoin, but will continue to evaluate various options in order to offer travelers flexible payment solutions.

According to the information provided by Reddit user bowiestar, the bitcoin payments have been suspended since June 10. Bowiestar is quoting the travel agency’s customer support service.

Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official ConfirmsNo official announcement has been published on Expedia’s website, at least not in the Newsroom section. At the same time, the Terms & Conditions page for the bitcoin payment option is still accessible.

Attempts to book a flight from the EU return credit card thumbnails beneath the “How would you like to pay?” question at checkout.

Buying a Ticket, Booking a Hotel with Bitcoin

Expedia started accepting bitcoin exactly four years ago. “Offering travelers another way to book online, customers can now shop from the world-class inventory of a vast array of hotels available on Expedia.com, and for the first time ever beginning today, easily pay for their hotel accommodations using bitcoin,” stated the official announcement published on June 11, 2014.

Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official ConfirmsThe crypto payment option was offered through a partnership with the US-based crypto exchange and wallet provider Coinbase. In order to complete the booking process, customers were redirected to Coinbase’s website where they were able to see the total at an exchange rate set by the trading platform. Some comments in the forums suggest that Expedia might have stopped the bitcoin payments due to Coinbase’s decision to discontinue custodial services for merchants.

There are a number of alternatives that crypto enthusiasts can turn to for their bitcoin-paid travel and accommodation. Cheapair.com has been considering working with Bitpay to process bitcoin payments, as news.Bitcoin.com recently reported. It has been accepting bitcoin since 2013, again previously using Coinbase as a payment processor.

The checkout on Cheapair’s website now offers bitcoin (BTC), bitcoin cash (BCH), litecoin (LTC), and dash (DASH) as active payment methods. Payments with three of these cryptocurrencies, BCH, LTC and DASH, were introduced in May and are currently processed by Gocoin.

“In different ways, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dash all promise improved transactability than their predecessor, with faster transaction times and/or lower fees,” Cheapair noted in a press release. “Over the last six months, we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of customers requesting alternative currencies, so we’ve worked hard to integrate the three that were most requested,” said CEO Jeff Klee.

Expedia Drops Bitcoin Payments, Official Confirms

Another travel agency that accepts bitcoin for plane and train tickets, cars and hotel rooms, is Destinia. It currently supports both bitcoin core (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) payments. Two more platforms accepting bitcoin for their services are abitsky.com and BTCtrip.

Do you think Expedia will reintroduce bitcoin payments in the future? Share your expectations in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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‘Pirate’ Cyberlocker Sites Vulnerable to Takedown, Study Finds

While BitTorrent indexing sites dominated the landscape until just a few years ago, streaming is now the most visible form of online video piracy. Through networks of hosting platforms and indexing sites, pirate streaming is now available to any Internet user, as long as he or she can operate a web browser. It’s a far […]
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Is Bitcoin Feasible as an Institutional Investment?

Cryptocurrency analysts, community members, and personalities all portray institutional investment as the ‘holy grail’ of the industry, but is it really feasible?

Slow Institutional Adoption

The release of the Bitcoin codebase and whitepaper were far from publicized. Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first Bitcoin block in 2009, under the watchful eyes of nearly no one. At the time, only a handful of individuals held an interest in this project, with others calling it “a failure” or “useless.”

But since the 2016-2017 bull run, sentiment has changed, bringing cryptocurrencies out from under the shadows and into the limelight. Now not a niche asset, meant only for internet ‘geeks,’ Bitcoin’s price has erupted, inspiring the creation of hundreds of other cryptocurrency projects.

However, Bitcoin’s price movement from $1,000 to $6,000 in 18 months, has been largely attributed to retail investors making speculative investments. Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain, stated that a large majority of the cryptocurrency market is still driven by retail investors, investors like you or me.

Although there is nothing wrong with retail interest, the institutions hold all or at least a majority of the cards. Whether it be through the immense capital they utilize or the array of connections they hold, institutional investors are a force to be reckoned with.  As the New York Times puts it, “(it’s) basic math.”

When put on the scale of the global economy, the cryptocurrency market is nothing but a tiny blip, a grain of sand in a towering pile of rocks. Although the cryptocurrency industry has a collective market capitalization of $250 billion, the cryptocurrency market’s growth only required the investment of a fraction of that figure.

But institutions, like hedge funds, banks or retirement trusts, hold the keys to trillions of dollars of assets, becoming a great target for the cryptocurrency industry.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, institutional investment has become a key topic of discussion for members of the cryptocurrency community. Many analysts see it as the next step in becoming a truly global, and influential asset class.

However, the widespread and dominating presence of retail investors has mostly blocked out institutional investors. With only a few firms getting their hands dirty  putting time, interest, and capital into the cryptocurrency industry.  

Barriers to Entry for Institutions

In its current state, the market is highly speculative, with a majority of investors looking to make a quick buck. Institutional investors have seen that, and have mostly shied away from opening their wallets for the industry. These investors are looking for long-term returns, securing the trust of consumers over time rather than making a quick buck.

Institutional investors cringe when they apply traditional economic sense to the cryptocurrency industry, due to the variance and unpredictability that has become cryptocurrency’s common nature.

Additionally, even if institutions want to trade or invest in the industry, they are often stopped by the lack of infrastructure supporting investors who hold zero crypto knowledge.

Peter Smith, the aforementioned CEO of Blockchain, has recently said that the institutional investment space around cryptocurrencies is “immature.”

Further noting that the institutional services currently offered are far from sufficient, usually only offering high-liquidity over-the-counter (OTC) trading options. Although OTC trading is welcome, many services like Circle Trade, lack research tools or expert analysis which institutions need. Blockchain, a popular crypto-infrastructure company, has just announced Blockchain Principal Strategies, aimed at hedge funds, high-net-worth individuals, and other institutions.

BPS offers what the others do not. Some speculate that it could become a large catalyst for institutional investment, drawing in more firms than ever before.

Even if BPS doesn’t succeed, cryptocurrency firms will try their hands, again and again, attempting to draw the eyes of institutional investors.

Analysts continually call 2018 the “year of institutional investment,” with many echoing that sentiment. But time will only tell if 2018 will shape up to what analysts expect.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Is Bitcoin Feasible as an Institutional Investment?

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Bitcoin’s private keys are handled by an advanced security provided by Trezor Hardware Wallet. A hardware wallet is a special type of crypto wallet which stores the user’s private keys in a secure device and is physically maintained by the user. Earlier this year, Trezor announced the upgrade of all their crypto devices. Today, the Trezor […]
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Abnormal Tether Price Moves on Kraken Leave Analysts Puzzled


Massive trade orders on Kraken fail to sway the price of Tether any further than modest ones, leaving researchers and analysts puzzled.

Unlikely Coincidences

“USD-backed” Tether (USDT) is making headlines yet again for the dubious activity surrounding the token. A report from Bloomberg today details evidence that Tether markets on the US-based Kraken exchange are possibly being manipulated by the practice of wash trading—in which market-makers fill their own orders to control the price of an asset.

The study cited data between May 1 and June 22 of 56,000 different USDT trades on Kraken and found repetitive orders of unlikely similarity. Curiously specific trades, such as one for 13,076.389 Tethers, were among the most frequently ordered amounts on Kraken during the evaluated time period, leading researchers to conclude that the orders were produced by “automated trading programs.”

While there is nothing illegal or even abnormal about the use of trading bots, Tether’s resistance to price fluctuations under massive buying pressure begs the question as to whether the bots are being employed for purposes of price manipulation.

Tether’s abnormal price action is illustrated in the graphics below, which compare the price movements of Bitcoin and Tether during a specific timeframe.

Bitcoin’s price shifts in normal response to its trading volume, while Tether’s price shows almost no reaction:

Stubborn Prices

On May 9, eight consecutive sell orders, each in the amount of 13,076.389 USDT were filled over the course of 16 seconds without changing the price of Tether in the slightest. Against logic, the following trade of just 75 USDT nudged the price up by $0.0001.

University of Texas Professor and Wall Street sleuth John Griffin said that

During periods of heightened demand, one would expect [Tether’s] price to reach perhaps $1.10, leading to the issuance of more Tether that moves the price back to $1… But we’re not seeing that.

Instead of organic price equalization through a process of supply dilution, we are seeing prices immediately controlled back to $1 by the trading bots following any slight fluctuation. More information is needed to substantiate the allegations of manipulation, but the circumstances are certainly raising alarms.

Tether and associated exchange Bitfinex are already under investigation by the United States Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for another case of cryptocurrency market manipulation.

Meanwhile, a recent audit by independent law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP (FSS) has found no inconsistencies with the backing of Tethers by US dollar reserves.

“FSS is confident that Tether’s unencumbered assets exceed the balance of fully-backed USD Tethers in circulation as of June 1st, 2018,” the FSS report states.

What do you think of USDT’s unusual price action? Let us know in the comments section below!

Images courtesy of Bloomberg and Shutterstock. 

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Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation

Over the past few weeks, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash (BCH) has seen a lot of new infrastructure support, applications, and protocol innovation. While everyone has been watching the bearish markets across the digital currency economy, in general, there’s a lot of action happening within the BCH ecosystem that supersedes its current price speculation.

Also read: Crypto Business Is Now Legal in Belarus

The BCH Train Continues to Truck Along

BCH proponents have been able to continue the focus towards spreading adoption and lately there’s been a lot of infrastructure support to back up the passion. At the moment the Bitcoin Cash blockchain is over 7,000 blocks ahead of the Bitcoin Core (BTC) chain operating at 11.5 percent of BTC’s current network difficulty. During the last days of June, it is 9.98X more expensive to transact on the BTC chain than using BCH according to Coin Dance statistics. BTC is the most traded cryptocurrency swapped for BCH while ETH, HT, Waves, and LTC follow behind.

Unwriter Unleashes Bitdb: Build Decentralized Apps With a NoSQL database powered by Bitcoin

On June 29 the developer Unwriter released the Bitdb.network which is a global database of Bitcoin OP_Returns and anyone can build decentralized apps using the protocol with zero servers and zero infrastructure. The creator of the project hosted an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) on Friday, and discussed the project in more detail. News.Bitcoin.com also recently featured the developer Unwriter’s three other projects that are powered by the BCH chain.

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation
“Because Bitdb is backed by Bitcoin as canonical storage, it comes with all the benefits of Bitcoin’s decentralization. It’s powered by MongoDB as an index, it comes with all the benefits of NoSQL databases, including unlimited insertion of unstructured data, as well as highly flexible and portable query interface.”  Unwriter.

“Bitdb is a NoSQL database powered by Bitcoin — It’s an autonomous public MongoDB instance which self-updates by crawling and indexing Bitcoin OP_RETURN transactions, a special type of transaction that can include up to 220 bytes of arbitrary data,” explains the website. “Using this 220 bytes as a database insertion command, we can construct an entire database system from Bitcoin.”

Because it’s backed by Bitcoin as canonical storage, it comes with all the benefits of Bitcoin’s decentralization, and because it’s powered by MongoDB as index, it comes with all the benefits of NoSQL databases, including unlimited insertion of unstructured data, as well as highly flexible and portable query interface.

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation
“Bitdb takes a different approach. Instead of trying to implement decentralization on top of a legacy database, Bitdb utilizes Bitcoin as the single source of truth. In this approach, the ‘database’ is merely an index built from the canonical Bitcoin blockchain. Because Bitcoin has already solved the decentralized consensus problem through Proof of Work, Bitdb works right out of the box.”  Unwriter. 

Cointext Raises $600K in Bitcoin Cash

In other news, the firm Cointext.io has raised $600,000 in BCH from a seed funding round led by Yeoman’s Capital. Cointext allows users to transact with bitcoin cash with any type of mobile phone using SMS technology (text). David Johnston, Managing Director of Yeoman’s Capital, explained that his firm wants a project that will change the lives billions worldwide. “We have a high bar for projects that we invest in — the technology must have the potential to impact over a billion people,” explains Johnston.

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation
Cointext allows any mobile phone to accept bitcoin cash payments.

Cointext President and CTO, Vin Armani, details that Yeoman’s team will bring valuable experience to the table. “We are dedicated to making cryptocurrency easy to use for the maximum number of people,” Armani emphasizes.

Keys4coins Announces 0-Confirm Transaction Says Its “Faster Than Lightning!”

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol InnovationThis week Bitcoin Cash fans were also pleased to hear about the game store Keys4coins announcing the acceptance of zero-confirmation transactions. Keys4coins is an online store that sells keys to games and Steam gift cards, and the company does not accept fiat. This means as soon as the network broadcasts the transaction users are allowed to claim their items (game keys and gift card codes) right away rather than waiting for one confirmation.  

“We are happy to announce Bitcoin Cash 0 confirm payments is now enabled,” explains Keys4coins.  

That means your transactions will now be faster than lightning — Make your order today and see the wonder of Bitcoin Cash. Experience order completion and delivery within seconds of making payment.

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation
Keys4coins products.

Further Support and Innovation With Purse.io, and Trustless Bets

Overall there’s been a lot more support and infrastructure additions to the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem during the last few weeks. Just yesterday Purse.io officially announced BCH integration, and now users can save 20 percent or more at Amazon using BCH with the Purse system.

Bitcoin Cash Sees More Infrastructure, Applications, and Protocol Innovation
Trustless betting is coming to the BCH network as the Chainbet developers have built a fully working prototype.

Another great achievement this week was when the Electron Cash developer, Jonald Fyookball, revealed a working prototype for — Chainbet — A protocol that brings trustless betting to the BCH network. So far even though crypto-markets have been in a slump you couldn’t tell with all the building and innovation taking place these days.

What do you think about all the apps, support, and new innovations coming to the Bitcoin Cash network lately? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comment section below.

Images via Shutterstock, Nokia, Cointext, Keys4coins, and Bitdb.network.

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Bubbletone Collects $8.6 Million via ICO and Successfully Tests Proprietary Roaming-Free SIM Card

Bubbletone Collects $8.6 Million via ICO and Successfully Tests Proprietary Roaming-Free SIM Card

The blockchain-based global telecom platform Bubbletone has successfully completed its ICO, collecting $8.6 million. All Universal Mobile Tokens (UMT) will be issued to crowdsale participants by 10 July.

Soon the company plans the market launch of an original roaming-free Bubbletone SIM card that developers are already actively testing in the US and Europe. In addition, a Bubbletone affiliate – Baltic Clementvale LTD – has applied for admission to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and received an MVNO license. As a result, Bubbletone will be able to create its own offers for clients in the European market of telecommunication services. UMT token holders will be able to enjoy these and many other innovative benefits.

Bubbletone is resolving the issue of high-cost roaming for travelers by eliminating the services of intermediaries and enabling them to connect to local networks without having to change their SIM cards. The project brings together mobile service providers, specialized service companies and users of mobile devices, who will be able to enjoy top-quality communications at a reasonable price, without having to waste time on a trip to a mobile operator’s office on arrival in another country: thanks to the blockchain, the client identification process will happen automatically.

Since late September 2017, the creators of the project have showcased it at over 30 of the largest industry events globally, such as: the Digital Transformation Forum in Nice, the Coindesk Consensus Conference in New York, the MVNO World Congress in Madrid, London Blockchain Week, 121 Tech Investment in Hong Kong and many others.

Joakim Holmer, Advisor to Bubbletone, allcoinWiki co-founder and former senior executive at Ericsson, noted:

As I advise many great ICOs, I have seen the market become more competitive month by month. Unlike at the beginning of the year, now only the truly great projects make it. I see something very positive for an industry moving to ICO Generation 2.0. I am also happy to see that crowdsale participants valued Bubbletone’s existing business performance and leadership by contributing $8.6 million to the project.

During the ICO, the company concluded a number of important partnership agreements. In particular, it signed a cooperation agreement with ShoCard – a startup that is establishing a digital identification system, encodes and integrates the personal data of the user in the blockchain, eliminating the risk of data loss by a third party. Another agreement was signed with the DeHedge project, a blockchain platform for hedging the risks of investments in decentralized technologies and ICO projects.

Bubbletone has successfully passed all the necessary compliance assessments, and now its clients have an opportunity to acquire an unlimited number of protected UMT tokens. The company also concluded a swap agreement with Kasko2Go – a blockchain-based car insurance ecosystem – which will offer careful drivers cheaper insurance, and insurance companies the ability to identify high-risk clients.

Under the terms and conditions of the agreement, Kasko2Go acquired UMT tokens worth $1 million, while Kasko2Go clients will be able to use the international mobile communication services provided by Bubbletone.

Anders Larsson, Advisor to Bubbletone, ex-Ericsson VP, and co-founder of allcoinWiki, observed:

In Q2 2018 we reached 7.9 billion mobile subscriptions vs. 7.6 billion people on the planet. 85% of all phones sold today in the world are smartphones. 4G is already bigger than fixed Internet. Even with 5G and IoT entering the scene, what I am most excited about right now is adding blockchain. Bubbletone is merging these technologies, and as a project advisor I was not surprised to see the token sale completed successfully despite the tough ICO market. I’m truly excited about the next steps!

The company is preparing to list its UMT tokens on several exchanges. It is anticipated that the tokens will be available on the HitBTC and Exrates exchanges in July. The token will also be available in the Bancor decentralized network, which guarantees continuous liquidity for tokens.

The blockchain component of the Bubbletone messenger is being developed. Its gradual rollout will start soon. Bubbletone also plans to sign agreements with mobile operators all over the world and to conclude a partnership with the NDA platform.

Bubbletone founder Yury Morozov commented:

Our blockchain technology is already fully operable and is currently undergoing load testing. We are seeing growing interest in our project from the biggest global players in telecommunications. […] The ICO was only the first step. We will continue actively developing our product, holding negotiations with possible partners and cooperating with mobile operators all over the world.

The platform creators continue participating in key blockchain and telecommunications events. On July 12 representatives of Bubbletone’s team will talk about the capability of blockchain technology and its proprietary Blockchain app to transform telecommunications at a meeting with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, which will be attended by the heads of the biggest global mobile operators and state regulatory authorities.

You can find out more about the project at Bubbletone’s website – https://bubbletone.io/.

Did you participate in the Bubbletone ICO? What are your thoughts on the upcoming launch of their roaming-free SIM card? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Bubbletone

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