Sure, bitcoin is a store of value and a hedge against global debt and inflation. But what is it actually like for a merchant to transact with it day to day ‘” to pay taxes, to cover exchange rates and properly manage multiple wallets?
Today’s guest is Denet Lewis, owner of Beans N Barbels, who accepted bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at his coffee kiosk at the Bitcoin 2019 conference. Lewis helps paint a picture of the pros and cons of accepting bitcoin as a small business owner and offers a glimpse into the hurdles that lie ahead for broader merchant adoption.
In a week where bitcoin had mixed price signals, one persistent topic that continued to rear its head was that of security. Money laundering and security breaches have plagued the crypto industry and this week saw new proposals pushed out to better monitor the sector.
North Korea is getting better at its game. A leaked United Nations report provided insight into Pyongyang’s sophisticated machinery which targets cryptocurrency exchanges as opportunities to steal funds for the state which are then funneled into its nuclear weapons program. Known for its exploits in breaching traditional financial institutions, Pyongyang’s cyber hacking capabilities now include exchanges and mining pools. The North Korean government is also reportedly using digital assets to launder cash. So far, North Korea has netted at least $2 billion from its illicit activities within the crypto sector.
The fear of the unknown has forced some countries to take drastic steps to promote oversight of the crypto industry.
For instance, the Czech Republic has revealed that it will regulate its crypto sector beyond the standard recommendations. The European Union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) seeks to regulate the way exchanges and other asset custodians operate within member countries but the Czech Republic has broadened that umbrella by extending its oversight to cover every crypto firm in its jurisdiction.
Once these regulations are formalized, crypto firms like Braiins, the Prague-based company behind Slush Pool, would be required to register with the National Trade Licensing Office. Companies that fail to comply can expect a fine of $20,000 or more.
South Korea also revealed a new proposal that will see the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) hold the crypto industry on a tight leash. While the FIU has indirectly controlled crypto firms through banking institutions in the past, the agency now wants to take a direct approach to things.
Bitcoin Core contributor Brian Bishop has floated a technical measure that could end crypto heists in the future. Bishop unveiled the idea of Bitcoin Vaults; essentially, wallets which have two private keys attributed to them. The “Vault Key” will be used to send coins, while the “Recovery Key” can be used to reverse unauthorized transactions after some time.
According to Bishop, this could be a lasting solution to hacks and security breaches. Bishop’s idea is a revised plan from college researchers, who proposed a plan to lock up Bitcoin in a way that makes it difficult to steal the funds.
After spending two years on development, Slush Pool operator Braiins announced the launch of Stratum V2; a new iteration of the original Stratum mining protocol. In its announcement, Braiins asserted its belief that this new version is markedly better than the original, adding, amongst other things, that Stratum V2 will bring a solution to some of the security and technical issues that Stratum V1 had.
To bring all these functionalities to life, Braiins had to solve most of the problems hashers endured with the BetterHash Protocol. The new protocol gives hashers more flexibility, allowing them to pick transactions, choose a block version and even opt to send a block template to the mining pool operator.
Given the effects of economic sanctions imposed against Venezuela, it is no surprise that the country’s citizens are looking for some semblance of stability. Statistics have revealed that the exchange rate between bitcoin and the bolívar reached an all-time high in August 2019, as both the country’s citizens and its government began guzzling up crypto assets en masse. Bitcoin adoption in the country is skyrocketing, and with the sanctions continuing, the sky’s the limit.
Opendime has developed to be an innovative way to merge piggy banks and Bitcoin.
Created by a New Jersey businessman known as Jim, OpenDime’s BitPiggys are digital piggy banks for children who would like to learn the saving culture. With them, children will be able to save up their bitcoin without having to go through other interfaces.
We’ve all seen it: Our social media feeds suddenly inundated with ads related to products or services we had just been browsing for.
In an increasingly cashless society, our everyday payments are being tracked and monitored by third parties in an attempt to learn our habits so they can advertise to us more effectively. Tracking our shopping habits to market to us might not be that nefarious, but in some parts of the world this same technology is used to suppress free speech or even effect one’s “social credit score,” as in China. While more free societies haven’t gotten there yet, it could become a very slippery slope, and Lightning Network payments may just be the way to curtail such activity.
This episode features Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation discussing his recent essay “The Moral Case for Lightning.” We also discuss surveillance capitalism, the Hong Kong protests and how the world might evolve if Lightning payments are adopted by the masses.
In this episode, Lolli CEO and co-founder Alex Adelman joins the Bitcoin Magazine podcast to discuss Lolli’s rapid growth, democratizing commerce, driving bitcoin adoption and the future of video games.
Lolli, the rewards application that lets users earn bitcoin when they shop online, has garnered more than 900 merchant partnerships since its inception with more joining every day. Its most recent partnership, announced today, is with‚Udemy.com, an online learning platform aimed at professional adults seeking tech skills. Users can earn up to 18 percent back in bitcoin on all courses, which range from bitcoin and blockchain to design and IT lessons.
In this episode, Dave and Grahm get back to the news: Paying Taxes in Bitcoin, Trump Deriding Bitcoin, and Iran’s ‘œpotential’ mining industry. After that, they sit down with Max Webster, co-founder of Entiende Bitcoin, to hear about Bitcoin adoption in Latin America.
While crypto fanatics have been buzzing with news about bitcoin price surges and Facebook’s introduction of its digital currency libra, the Bitcoin 2019 conference brought together some of the most significant people in the BTC community for a two-day event to discuss the current and future state of Bitcoin.
These two crypto scientists are particularly notable because they were directly cited by Satoshi Nakamoto in the Bitcoin white paper. At Bitcoin 2019, they came together for a discussion with Bitcoin YouTuber Naomi Brockwell about their contributions to the creation of Bitcoin and where they foresee the original cryptocurrency going in the years to come.
Stornetta’s Contributions to the Development of Blockchain
Stornetta co-authored three papers cited in Bitcoin’s white paper and was one of the first people working on creating a system that did not require people to trust a central authority. In the early days of Bitcoin, Stornetta realized there was a problem with recording transactions, so he suggested the creation of immutable records in order to track all bitcoin transactions.
“We’re going to not be able to know the difference between an old bit and a new bit, and all of the world’s records are going to be in bits, and that’s going to create a crisis of credibility,” as Stornetta described the problem during his conference panel.
According to Stornetta, he and Stuart Haber, who is also credited with the creation of blockchain technology, were struggling to solve the problem, so they decided to create a publication that would prove it is impossible to build an immutable record without a central authority. In writing it, Stornetta said they were able to figure out how they could build an immutable record with the use of a blockchain.
Back’s “Proof-of-Work” Concept
In 1997, Adam Back introduced Hashcash, a “proof-of-work” system that would help users of the internet detect and avoid spam email. Hashcash worked to ensure users were only accepting emails from others who provided proof that an effort was made to send the email.
The “proof-of-work” concept was carried over into the world of Bitcoin to enable competitive mining of blocks. By using a trial-and-error method to mine bitcoin, miners that are able to verify proof of their work and successfully mine a block are rewarded with bitcoin as payment.
“Satoshi made use of the hashcash idea to create the mining,” Stornetta said. “It’s easy to see in hindsight huge incentives were needed to kickstart (bitcoin).”
The Future of Bitcoin
For Stornetta, the future of Bitcoin is broad and diverse. Stornetta told the audience at the conference that he is a “fundamental believer” in crypto technologies and their ability to level the playing field.
“I am not a crypto anarchist, but I certainly am a crypto libertarian, and I think we are going to get the world that we want and that we deserve, we just need to find a path that leads from A to B,” Stornetta said.
Stornetta said he believes distributed ledger technologies will continue to advance and diversify in the future, and that he sees a potential for other currencies besides bitcoin to flourish.
“It doesn’t all just have to be about money, of course,” Stornetta said to the crowd. “I’m a big fan of the distributed ledger and how that can create quantization and tokenization of assets … I just think we’re gonna see such a broadening and diversification of this.”
“A New Paradigm”
Back also touched on the quick development of cryptocurrency technologies and the challenges of keeping up with the pace of new ideas and implementations of them, even for technical people. Back discussed how there are still areas of innovation that have yet to be realized. He further noted that blockchain and bearer electronic cash are new building blocks that have implications with smart contracts.
“Basically, it’s like picking up a new programming language with a new paradigm, and it takes a lot of people to natively understand it and reach the conclusion of what kind of conclusions you can build with it,” Back said.
Back mentioned the development of the Lightning Network and state chains to further his point about how advancements within crypto technology are being made at a rapid rate. He also discussed his reasoning for why multiple cryptocurrencies may not be a necessity in the long run.
“In terms of coins, I tend to view it as sort of like TCP/IP — that there’s one interoperable standard,” Back said. “Any kind of innovation can be adopted in layers or, ultimately, people can import Bitcoin’s UTXO set to another data structure if a new data structure is found.”
Disclaimer: Bitcoin 2019 was produced by BTC Inc, the parent company of Bitcoin Magazine.
When the U.S. imposes economic sanctions, the effects can be crippling for the affected countries.
One such country to come under the United States’ fire is Cuba, whose economy is crippled in large part due to the economic war that’s intensified under President Donald Trump. And Cuba is now reportedly studying cryptocurrency as an alternative to its devalued fiat currency as a method of evading these sanctions and boosting its dying economy, according to SBS News.
Besides the sanctions from Washington, D.C., Cuba’s economy has also suffered from a reduction in the aid it used to receive from Venezuela, which is dealing with its own hobbled economy, as well as dwindling exports. However, instead of letting his country spiral into economic turmoil, it seems that Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel is taking proactive steps to ensure his country’s economic viability.
In his announcement, Canel reportedly said that the government’s crypto plan will boost national production, which in turn will catalyze economic growth for as long as the sanctions persist.