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Russia’s Largest Search Engine Yandex Interested in Integrating Bitcoin

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Russia’s largest search engine and Internet-based services provider Yandex is interested in integrating bitcoin to its financial platform Yandex.Money, to allow its merchants to accept payments in bitcoin.

At the Finnopolis FinTech Forum held in Kazan, Yandex.Money CEO Maria Gracheva announced that the company is looking forward in supporting bitcoin payments. In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine , Nora Kirkizh, media relations manager of Yandex.Money further explained that bitcoin fits perfectly with the payment solutions offered by Yandex.Money, ranging from the online payment solution used by more than 76,000 online stores, e-wallets, online banking services, etc.

“We are definitely paying close attention to cryptocurrencies,” the Yandex team told Bitcoin Magazine.

“The technology on which they are based can be used as the foundation for lots of different products,” said Kirkizh. “For example, Yandex.Money offers online stores Yandex Payment Solution. With this service they can accept payments from customers via bank cards, e-wallets, online banking accounts and other possible payment methods. Currently, over 76,000 online stores use Yandex Payment Solution to process their payments. Indeed, bitcoin would fit this range of methods perfectly. If it was one of the options in Yandex Payment Solution, users could easily use it to pay for goods on any website. Nevertheless, until cryptocurrencies are regulated by Russian law, we cannot work with them viably.”

Legality of Bitcoin

Despite the company’s interest in bitcoin and its advantages, the legality of bitcoin in the country is still undecided. While the Russian Central Bank prohibits the use of bitcoin, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that bitcoin can probably be used in “some account.”

Due to this uncertainty, the Yandex team plans to wait until the authorities and the government approve the use of bitcoin for corporations and organizations.

“Different institutions have different attitude to bitcoin. Russian Central Bank prohibited this currency in the country, for instance, although other organizations were interested in bitcoin and suggesting to know it better. We still do not know what bitcoin will be in the near future, and there is not an opportunity to work with it legally,” said Kirkizh.

Yandex.Money currently has more than 22 million users, with more than 12,000 new accounts opened daily. Yandex believes that bitcoin’s efficiency in processing payments and transactions could greatly benefit its financial platform and could be offered as an alternative to credit card and bank payments.

“Cryptocurrencies have their pros and cons. On the one hand, it’s an inexpensive technology and it’s very easy to implement, and so as soon as it becomes legal to work with them, basically any payment service will be able to quickly implement the technology,” continued the Yandex team.

However, the Yandex.Money team is still worried that most of their users will not want to take the initiative to convert fiat-money to cryptocurrencies. Yandex will consider integrating bitcoin across their platforms as soon as bitcoin becomes legal and the bitcoin industry in Russia starts to grow.

“The audience for cryptocurrencies is still quite small and it seems like making simple and easy-to-understand products based on “real” money will still be the logical thing to do for some time to come. In order to convert live money to cryptocurrency, users will need some sort of extra motivation and a good amount of time. That will hold back the growth of blockchains,” said Kirkizh.

The post Russia’s Largest Search Engine Yandex Interested in Integrating Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Rebit.ph Co-Founder: Bitcoin Doesn't Make Remittances Cheaper (Yet)

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Luis Buenaventure, co-founder of one of the best known bitcoin remittance companies in the space, Rebit.ph , has published a blog post on Medium claiming that the cryptographic currency does little to help cheapen remittances.

Bitcoin remittances, better known as “rebittances” (a term Buenaventure claims to have popularized), allow customers to send cash to friends or family abroad. Effectively, this means that only the rebittance service itself uses bitcoin, both the sending and receiving end of the transaction merely touch cash. Since it is cheaper to send bitcoin around the globe compared to fiat currency, companies such as Rebit.ph aim to compete with existing remittance giants like Western Union and MoneyGram.

In his sobering blog post, however, Buenaventure severely nuances the advantages of using bitcoin in this manner. According to the Rebit.ph co-founder, who departed the company last August, bitcoin doesn't really enable cheaper remittance from a customers' point of view. This is because nearly all of the costs made by remittance (or rebittance) companies are in “the first and last miles” of the process anyway. In particular, it's converting digital money into physical cash, and distributing this cash to the different end-points to be picked up locally, that bears most of the cost. Buenaventure says it makes little difference whether the funds made it there as digital dollars or as digital bitcoin.

In the case of the Philippines, where Rebit.ph is most active, the end-points consist of local pawnshops that hold a firm grip over the national remittance market, Buenaventure explains:

The pawnshops are the last mile , and no one, not even the banks, are close to touching their aggregate dominance. As such, they can charge whatever they want for their services, and the oligopolistic nature of the industry ensures that there is very little difference in price between one provider and another.

The costs of a bitcoin-powered remittance and that of a transaction powered by MoneyGram or any other traditional provider are markedly similar, because the local currency needs to flow through the same physical channels.

But using bitcoin instead of fiat currency behind the screens is not completely pointless, Buenaventure maintains. Most importantly, the flexibility of the cryptographic currency allows rebittance companies to set up shop with far fewer startup costs. Since SWIFT transfers are slow, competitors such as Western Union and MoneyGram need to hold plenty of fiat currency in reserve locally in order to keep up with demand. The speed of bitcoin transfers, on the other hand, allows rebittance companies to get hold of local fiat currency much faster.

Buenaventure explains:

“This 'prefunding' strategy is the main thing that young bitcoin remittance startups are now able to circumvent. Instead of advancing $100,000 to each country that you want to do business in, you settle each transaction in real-time with bitcoin. From a cost perspective, it’s the difference between building a huge server farm versus pay-as-you-go hosting on Amazon AWS, and is a true game-changer.”

Moreover, Buenaventure wraps up his blog post on an even more positive note. If it were possible to bring the costs of the last mile down, he argues, rebittance services would start to make a lot of sense. Buenaventure believes this cost could be brought down specifically if local currency systems advance from physical cash to digital currency, as this could cut local cash distribution offices out of the loop.

While this is nowhere near reality in the Philippines and most other developing countries, it is not that far-fetched of an idea, as some Third World regions are already progressing in that direction. The best known example is Kenya's M-Pesa, a mobile phone payments system used by almost all Kenyans to transfer mobile minutes.

“The perfect solution appears to be a hybrid between the current bitcoin remittance startups and the ubiquitous mobile-money network that currently exists only in our dreams,” Buenaventure concludes.

“If we can use bitcoin to replace SWIFT during the international part of the journey, and employ the local mobile money network as our domestic transport, then we’ve really got something. Until then, associating bitcoin so directly with cheaper remittances is perhaps missing the point: the cryptocurrency has illuminated an even larger problem that it simply cannot solve on its own.”

The post Rebit.ph Co-Founder: Bitcoin Doesn't Make Remittances Cheaper (Yet) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Ripple Releases Interledger to Connect Banks and Blockchains

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

CoinDesk speaks to Ripple about Interledger, its new protocol aimed at connecting bank and blockchain ledgers.

Bitcoin Hardware Startup 21 Hires The Crypto-Currency’s Top Contributing Developers, Opens Education Portal

TechCrunch, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

21-bitcoin 21 is a mysterious Bitcoin hardware and mining startup backed by Andreessen Horowitz that unwrapped its first product earlier this year. A few weeks ago, they unveiled and began pre-selling a computer that has native hardware and software support for the Bitcoin protocol. Co-founder Balaji Srinivasan, who previously started bioinformatics and gene testing company Counsyl, said the vision is… Read More

Bitcoin Price Retracement Pulls Lower

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin price was traded to a new recovery high on Tuesday and has since retraced just under 50% of the price move. The current chart shows that the downside may be incomplete but with indecision at the current juncture. This analysis is provided by xbt.social with a 3-hour delay. Read the full analysis here. Not a member? Join now and receive a $29 discount using the code CCN29. Bitcoin Price Analysis Time of analysis: 16h16 UTC OKCoin-3Mth 15-Minute Chart From the analysis pages of xbt.social, earlier today: Today's update was delayed for as long as possible, firstly, to see if […]

The post Bitcoin Price Retracement Pulls Lower appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Duped Gemcoin Investors File a $100 Million Lawsuit

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A law firm representing the victims of an alleged Ponzi scheme that promised high rewards of ‘Gemcoin,' a fake cryptocurrency, has filed a $100 million class-action lawsuit against 10 defendants involved in the scam. Merely days after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took down and charged Steven Chen, founder of USFIA - the company at the center of the pyramid scheme; a law firm has  a $100 million class been filed on behalf of the victims. Gemcoin Gemcoin was touted as a new cryptocurrency to get investors to put their own money into USFIA. The investors were also encouraged […]

The post Duped Gemcoin Investors File a $100 Million Lawsuit appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

This is a guest post by Michael Haley, Operations Manager at AlphaPoint.AlphaPoint is a financial technology company that powers digital currency exchanges and provides institutions aggregate access and order routing to digital currency markets.

Right now, there are active digital currency markets running 24/7 in at least 45 national currencies.1 That is, there are digital currency markets in one quarter of the 180 national currencies recognized as legal tender by the United Nations. 2 Seven years into the onrush of Nakamoto’s protocol, we think it makes sense to ask: Why does this matter? Why is closing the gap on the remaining three quarters important? What opportunities reside there?

Why It Matters

It matters in the first case because the geographic distribution of these markets is misaligned with the distribution of bitcoin market potential. At any given point in time, it is difficult to establish a bead on the aggregate global exchange count. Small exchanges crop up with little media presence and volunteer-run indexes have difficulty staying current.

The pattern, nevertheless, is clear enough: Europe and North America are each serviced by more than 30 exchanges, and East Asia by roughly 20, concentrated in China. Conversely, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America have nothing approaching this density. Further, exchange volumes today correlate with exchange count, with the staggering majority of digital-fiat conversion hosted in the Chinese yuan, U.S. dollar, and euro. The overwhelming majority of bitcoin-fiat trades is against the yuan, virtually all of it at zero-fee exchanges, creating masses of volume whose validity is difficult to pinpoint.3 Beyond this, American dollars and euros come second and third, respectively. Other currencies in aggregate scarcely register.

1 This number is per publicly available data from bitcoin charts , Bitcoin Average , bitcoinity , Coin Market Cap , and elsewhere. An asterisk: Of course there are national markets for Litecoin, Ripple, and the like, and of course there are reasons to believe DAAP coins will become a bigger part of volumes in the near future. But the fact remains that Bitcoin’s market capitalization dwarfs that of its competitors. Currently BTC capitalization is fifteen times that of XRP. And of course there are informal and P2P markets for digital tokens of all kinds. But here I am defining ‘active markets’ as those serviced by at least one order matching service (one exchange), because informal markets tend to be erratic, illiquid, and difficult to quantify. 2 Source: United Nations Treasury 3 See, e.g.80% of bitcoin is exchanged for Chinese yuan ” (Mar. 10, 2015 -Quartz)

And yet, digital currency’s greatest mainstream potential and most compelling use cases tend to reside outside of North America, Western Europe, and East Asia.

Instead, the greatest potential beneficiaries tend to be concentrated in national markets whose fiscal, political, and infrastructural histories have rendered basic financial services out of reach for many businesses and individuals: Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Belarus, etc.

Economist Garrick Hileman provides a useful snapshot of this distribution in his Bitcoin Market Potential Index (2014). Of the highest-ranking markets in the index, more than half are based in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Likewise, there are indicators that regulatory clarity is improving in these regions -- in Chile and Nigeria particularly -- at the same time beneficial frameworks continue to elaborate themselves in more established hubs -- places such as Singapore, the United Kingdom, or Luxembourg.4


“We’re working in markets where it’s impossible for companies to sell online without giving away more than 5 percent of their business to payment processors,” said Gabe Abed, co-founder and CEO of Bitt, a non-bank financial institution (NBFI) and universal Bitcoin services firm based in the Caribbean. “Individuals sending money from one island to another routinely lose 12 percent on fees. Credit card acceptance is low, and yet there’s a very high penetration rate for mobile Internet -- so there’s this gap, which is precisely what we’re aiming to fill.”

Opportunities Across Global Markets

This gap between solutions offered by legacy systems and those made possible by the blockchain is falling into sharper relief for consumers and enterprises alike, and the opportunity is massive.5

4 Thanks to Adam Vaziri, Director at London-based DIACLE, for his input. 5 Particularly given how closely exchange distribution correlates with the distribution of the network itself and of merchant adoption.

To put matters in perspective: More than 50 countries host over $1 billion in daily foreign exchange volume. 6 In sum, there is more than $5 trillion in global FX trading per day. Even 1 percent of this total is $50 billion -- more than 1,500 times the current daily total for digital currency trading.

“In the Bitcoin community, we’re used to talking about underbanked people,” said Gabriel Miron, CEO of Mexico City-based meXBT. “But more and more, we’re finding that underbanked businesses are key.” In moving funds between Mexico and, say, China or Brazil, banks perform FX conversion at a loss through the U.S. dollar. “And if you’re not one of a bank’s largest customers, this process can take weeks. Using bitcoin as the rails, we can settle in under 24 hours. Existing bank infrastructure can’t get close to that.”

“We’re seeing that larger firms are particularly interested in more efficient settlement,” said Jesse Chenard, founder and CEO of MonetaGo, adding that smaller enterprise clients are more interested in availing arbitrage opportunities in bitcoin markets to drive down fees. “On a recent $13,000 intracompany transfer, we saved the client $600 in fees they would have otherwise had to pay to Bank of America.” In so many words, the needs and corresponding solutions are diverse, a point recently echoed by Andreas Antonopoulos.7

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

The opportunities we see can be spaced across two fronts: (1) making digital currencies more widely available, and (2) leveraging them to streamline international transfers. Yet we see these as part of the same movement, as two sides of the same coin -- both predicated on active, stable markets across effectively all national currencies.

More often than not, the speed and cost benefits offered by digital currency will be most dramatic in south-south transfers (between countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc.), where bitcoin (or other digital currencies) can facilitate FX conversion without needing to move through the U.S. dollar, radically reducing both costs and settlement times.

BitNodes and CoinMap , respectively. We would argue the connection is not simply correlative but causal, that mining and exchanges are preconditions for broader use. 6 Source: Bank for International Settlements Triennial Survey (April 2013) 7 IDEO Futures podcast Episode 21.5 (August 2015)

As markets expand and access improves, and as regulatory frameworks fall into sharper relief, we believe more and more businesses and individuals will recognize these benefits, that south-south trade will help drive adoption forward in the months and years ahead, and that this demand will help make digital currencies more available to the populations that stand to benefit from them most.

The post Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

This is a guest post by Michael Haley, Operations Manager at AlphaPoint.AlphaPoint is a financial technology company that powers digital currency exchanges and provides institutions aggregate access and order routing to digital currency markets.

Right now, there are active digital currency markets running 24/7 in at least 45 national currencies.1 That is, there are digital currency markets in one quarter of the 180 national currencies recognized as legal tender by the United Nations. 2 Seven years into the onrush of Nakamoto’s protocol, we think it makes sense to ask: Why does this matter? Why is closing the gap on the remaining three quarters important? What opportunities reside there?

Why It Matters

It matters in the first case because the geographic distribution of these markets is misaligned with the distribution of bitcoin market potential. At any given point in time, it is difficult to establish a bead on the aggregate global exchange count. Small exchanges crop up with little media presence and volunteer-run indexes have difficulty staying current.

The pattern, nevertheless, is clear enough: Europe and North America are each serviced by more than 30 exchanges, and East Asia by roughly 20, concentrated in China. Conversely, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America have nothing approaching this density. Further, exchange volumes today correlate with exchange count, with the staggering majority of digital-fiat conversion hosted in the Chinese yuan, U.S. dollar, and euro. The overwhelming majority of bitcoin-fiat trades is against the yuan, virtually all of it at zero-fee exchanges, creating masses of volume whose validity is difficult to pinpoint.3 Beyond this, American dollars and euros come second and third, respectively. Other currencies in aggregate scarcely register.

1 This number is per publicly available data from bitcoin charts , Bitcoin Average , bitcoinity , Coin Market Cap , and elsewhere. An asterisk: Of course there are national markets for Litecoin, Ripple, and the like, and of course there are reasons to believe DAAP coins will become a bigger part of volumes in the near future. But the fact remains that Bitcoin’s market capitalization dwarfs that of its competitors. Currently BTC capitalization is fifteen times that of XRP. And of course there are informal and P2P markets for digital tokens of all kinds. But here I am defining ‘active markets’ as those serviced by at least one order matching service (one exchange), because informal markets tend to be erratic, illiquid, and difficult to quantify. 2 Source: United Nations Treasury 3 See, e.g.80% of bitcoin is exchanged for Chinese yuan ” (Mar. 10, 2015 -Quartz)

And yet, digital currency’s greatest mainstream potential and most compelling use cases tend to reside outside of North America, Western Europe, and East Asia.

Instead, the greatest potential beneficiaries tend to be concentrated in national markets whose fiscal, political, and infrastructural histories have rendered basic financial services out of reach for many businesses and individuals: Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Belarus, etc.

Economist Garrick Hileman provides a useful snapshot of this distribution in his Bitcoin Market Potential Index (2014). Of the highest-ranking markets in the index, more than half are based in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Likewise, there are indicators that regulatory clarity is improving in these regions -- in Chile and Nigeria particularly -- at the same time beneficial frameworks continue to elaborate themselves in more established hubs -- places such as Singapore, the United Kingdom, or Luxembourg.4


“We’re working in markets where it’s impossible for companies to sell online without giving away more than 5 percent of their business to payment processors,” said Gabe Abed, co-founder and CEO of Bitt, a non-bank financial institution (NBFI) and universal Bitcoin services firm based in the Caribbean. “Individuals sending money from one island to another routinely lose 12 percent on fees. Credit card acceptance is low, and yet there’s a very high penetration rate for mobile Internet -- so there’s this gap, which is precisely what we’re aiming to fill.”

Opportunities Across Global Markets

This gap between solutions offered by legacy systems and those made possible by the blockchain is falling into sharper relief for consumers and enterprises alike, and the opportunity is massive.5

4 Thanks to Adam Vaziri, Director at London-based DIACLE, for his input. 5 Particularly given how closely exchange distribution correlates with the distribution of the network itself and of merchant adoption.

To put matters in perspective: More than 50 countries host over $1 billion in daily foreign exchange volume. 6 In sum, there is more than $5 trillion in global FX trading per day. Even 1 percent of this total is $50 billion -- more than 1,500 times the current daily total for digital currency trading.

“In the Bitcoin community, we’re used to talking about underbanked people,” said Gabriel Miron, CEO of Mexico City-based meXBT. “But more and more, we’re finding that underbanked businesses are key.” In moving funds between Mexico and, say, China or Brazil, banks perform FX conversion at a loss through the U.S. dollar. “And if you’re not one of a bank’s largest customers, this process can take weeks. Using bitcoin as the rails, we can settle in under 24 hours. Existing bank infrastructure can’t get close to that.”

“We’re seeing that larger firms are particularly interested in more efficient settlement,” said Jesse Chenard, founder and CEO of MonetaGo, adding that smaller enterprise clients are more interested in availing arbitrage opportunities in bitcoin markets to drive down fees. “On a recent $13,000 intracompany transfer, we saved the client $600 in fees they would have otherwise had to pay to Bank of America.” In so many words, the needs and corresponding solutions are diverse, a point recently echoed by Andreas Antonopoulos.7

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

The opportunities we see can be spaced across two fronts: (1) making digital currencies more widely available, and (2) leveraging them to streamline international transfers. Yet we see these as part of the same movement, as two sides of the same coin -- both predicated on active, stable markets across effectively all national currencies.

More often than not, the speed and cost benefits offered by digital currency will be most dramatic in south-south transfers (between countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc.), where bitcoin (or other digital currencies) can facilitate FX conversion without needing to move through the U.S. dollar, radically reducing both costs and settlement times.

BitNodes and CoinMap , respectively. We would argue the connection is not simply correlative but causal, that mining and exchanges are preconditions for broader use. 6 Source: Bank for International Settlements Triennial Survey (April 2013) 7 IDEO Futures podcast Episode 21.5 (August 2015)

As markets expand and access improves, and as regulatory frameworks fall into sharper relief, we believe more and more businesses and individuals will recognize these benefits, that south-south trade will help drive adoption forward in the months and years ahead, and that this demand will help make digital currencies more available to the populations that stand to benefit from them most.

The post Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

This is a guest post by Michael Haley, Operations Manager at AlphaPoint.AlphaPoint is a financial technology company that powers digital currency exchanges and provides institutions aggregate access and order routing to digital currency markets.

Right now, there are active digital currency markets running 24/7 in at least 45 national currencies.1 That is, there are digital currency markets in one quarter of the 180 national currencies recognized as legal tender by the United Nations. 2 Seven years into the onrush of Nakamoto’s protocol, we think it makes sense to ask: Why does this matter? Why is closing the gap on the remaining three quarters important? What opportunities reside there?

Why It Matters

It matters in the first case because the geographic distribution of these markets is misaligned with the distribution of bitcoin market potential. At any given point in time, it is difficult to establish a bead on the aggregate global exchange count. Small exchanges crop up with little media presence and volunteer-run indexes have difficulty staying current.

The pattern, nevertheless, is clear enough: Europe and North America are each serviced by more than 30 exchanges, and East Asia by roughly 20, concentrated in China. Conversely, South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America have nothing approaching this density. Further, exchange volumes today correlate with exchange count, with the staggering majority of digital-fiat conversion hosted in the Chinese yuan, U.S. dollar, and euro. The overwhelming majority of bitcoin-fiat trades is against the yuan, virtually all of it at zero-fee exchanges, creating masses of volume whose validity is difficult to pinpoint.3 Beyond this, American dollars and euros come second and third, respectively. Other currencies in aggregate scarcely register.

1 This number is per publicly available data from bitcoin charts , Bitcoin Average , bitcoinity , Coin Market Cap , and elsewhere. An asterisk: Of course there are national markets for Litecoin, Ripple, and the like, and of course there are reasons to believe DAAP coins will become a bigger part of volumes in the near future. But the fact remains that Bitcoin’s market capitalization dwarfs that of its competitors. Currently BTC capitalization is fifteen times that of XRP. And of course there are informal and P2P markets for digital tokens of all kinds. But here I am defining ‘active markets’ as those serviced by at least one order matching service (one exchange), because informal markets tend to be erratic, illiquid, and difficult to quantify. 2 Source: United Nations Treasury 3 See, e.g.80% of bitcoin is exchanged for Chinese yuan ” (Mar. 10, 2015 -Quartz)

And yet, digital currency’s greatest mainstream potential and most compelling use cases tend to reside outside of North America, Western Europe, and East Asia.

Instead, the greatest potential beneficiaries tend to be concentrated in national markets whose fiscal, political, and infrastructural histories have rendered basic financial services out of reach for many businesses and individuals: Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Belarus, etc.

Economist Garrick Hileman provides a useful snapshot of this distribution in his Bitcoin Market Potential Index (2014). Of the highest-ranking markets in the index, more than half are based in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Likewise, there are indicators that regulatory clarity is improving in these regions -- in Chile and Nigeria particularly -- at the same time beneficial frameworks continue to elaborate themselves in more established hubs -- places such as Singapore, the United Kingdom, or Luxembourg.4


“We’re working in markets where it’s impossible for companies to sell online without giving away more than 5 percent of their business to payment processors,” said Gabe Abed, co-founder and CEO of Bitt, a non-bank financial institution (NBFI) and universal Bitcoin services firm based in the Caribbean. “Individuals sending money from one island to another routinely lose 12 percent on fees. Credit card acceptance is low, and yet there’s a very high penetration rate for mobile Internet -- so there’s this gap, which is precisely what we’re aiming to fill.”

Opportunities Across Global Markets

This gap between solutions offered by legacy systems and those made possible by the blockchain is falling into sharper relief for consumers and enterprises alike, and the opportunity is massive.5

4 Thanks to Adam Vaziri, Director at London-based DIACLE, for his input. 5 Particularly given how closely exchange distribution correlates with the distribution of the network itself and of merchant adoption.

To put matters in perspective: More than 50 countries host over $1 billion in daily foreign exchange volume. 6 In sum, there is more than $5 trillion in global FX trading per day. Even 1 percent of this total is $50 billion -- more than 1,500 times the current daily total for digital currency trading.

“In the Bitcoin community, we’re used to talking about underbanked people,” said Gabriel Miron, CEO of Mexico City-based meXBT. “But more and more, we’re finding that underbanked businesses are key.” In moving funds between Mexico and, say, China or Brazil, banks perform FX conversion at a loss through the U.S. dollar. “And if you’re not one of a bank’s largest customers, this process can take weeks. Using bitcoin as the rails, we can settle in under 24 hours. Existing bank infrastructure can’t get close to that.”

“We’re seeing that larger firms are particularly interested in more efficient settlement,” said Jesse Chenard, founder and CEO of MonetaGo, adding that smaller enterprise clients are more interested in availing arbitrage opportunities in bitcoin markets to drive down fees. “On a recent $13,000 intracompany transfer, we saved the client $600 in fees they would have otherwise had to pay to Bank of America.” In so many words, the needs and corresponding solutions are diverse, a point recently echoed by Andreas Antonopoulos.7

Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities

The opportunities we see can be spaced across two fronts: (1) making digital currencies more widely available, and (2) leveraging them to streamline international transfers. Yet we see these as part of the same movement, as two sides of the same coin -- both predicated on active, stable markets across effectively all national currencies.

More often than not, the speed and cost benefits offered by digital currency will be most dramatic in south-south transfers (between countries in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, etc.), where bitcoin (or other digital currencies) can facilitate FX conversion without needing to move through the U.S. dollar, radically reducing both costs and settlement times.

BitNodes and CoinMap , respectively. We would argue the connection is not simply correlative but causal, that mining and exchanges are preconditions for broader use. 6 Source: Bank for International Settlements Triennial Survey (April 2013) 7 IDEO Futures podcast Episode 21.5 (August 2015)

As markets expand and access improves, and as regulatory frameworks fall into sharper relief, we believe more and more businesses and individuals will recognize these benefits, that south-south trade will help drive adoption forward in the months and years ahead, and that this demand will help make digital currencies more available to the populations that stand to benefit from them most.

The post Globalizing Digital Currency — Trends, Gaps, Opportunities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Japanese Cryptocurrency Management Platform Raises $2.3 Million

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Japanese cryptocurrency management service provider and SmartCoin operator Orb has raised US $2.3 million in seed funding from leading Japanese venture capital firms and angel investors including SBI investment.


With the new financing, the Orb team plans to allocate its funds to the development of Orb’s cryptocurrency management platform, which is currently in private beta.


The Orb team will also use the funds to continue the development of their newly launched decentralized cloud computing system, which allows users and developers to authenticate assets and transactions on the blockchain. Orb co-founder and CEO Masa Nakatsu firmly believes that Orb is a great contribution to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and will become one of the main competitors of Chain, Ethereum and 21 Inc.


Prior to the development of Orb, Nakatsu has cofounded several multi-million dollar ventures in Japan and Silicon Valley. Nakatsu founded Japan’s largest social lending platform Maneo, with which he raised more than $140 million in funding.


Over the past few decades, Nakatsu has focused on the search of solutions toward the problems of traditional currency systems. Nakatsu founded Musavy, a content curation venture in Silicon Valley and worked with the Business Development department of Groupon.


With his expertise in finance, eCommerce and online payments, Nakatsu plans to grow Orb into a prominent cryptocurrency platform in the near future.

The post Japanese Cryptocurrency Management Platform Raises $2.3 Million appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Two Years After Silk Road’s Fall, Darknet Drug Markets Thrive

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Two years after the FBI shut down Silk Road, online drug markets are alive and growing, thanks to the Tor browser and virtual currency, reports US News & World Report. Darknet markets offer greater product reliability and less risk of violence than physical encounters with drug dealers. Darknets average $300,000 to $500,000 in sales per day according to one study.   Johns Hopkins University computer science professor Matthew Green says Silk Road provided a proof of concept for darknet markets. He says it’s an idea that someone doesn’t think about until it happens.  Some Silk Road successors host non-drug items […]

The post Two Years After Silk Road’s Fall, Darknet Drug Markets Thrive appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Lightning, Duplex and the Search for Scalable Bitcoin Micropayments

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

CoinDesk speaks to developers seeking to update the functionality of bitcoin's technology to allow for cost-effective micropayments.

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