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Lithuanian Law Enforcement Official Warns Terrorists Could Fund Activities With Bitcoin

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

The director of Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) warned that terrorists could use bitcoin to fund their activities in the future, according to delfi.lt, a Lithuanian news site. The director, Kestutis Jucevicius, said at a press conference in Vilnius that bitcoin can potentially benefit groups involved in trafficking arms, human beings and drugs. This […]

The post Lithuanian Law Enforcement Official Warns Terrorists Could Fund Activities With Bitcoin appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Is Digital Asset's $50 Million Funding a Blow to Bitcoin? VCs Weigh In

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

What impact will Digital Asset's $50m funding have on the blockchain industry? CoinDesk profiles the sector's VCs to learn more.

Follow My Vote And Webroots Democracy Release Secure Voting Report in Combination with Verizon

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

Bitcoin Press Release: WebRoots Democracy, in partnership with Follow My Vote and other industry leading experts, has released a report entitled “Secure Voting: A guide to secure #onlinevoting in elections.” The purpose of the report, which was written by global experts and authoritative academics, is to explore and document the possible security models for online […]

The post Follow My Vote And Webroots Democracy Release Secure Voting Report in Combination with Verizon appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Crowdfunded Bitcoin Casino Bet King Paid Out Over 15 Million USD During 2015

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

Bitcoin Press Release: Popular Bitcoin casino platform Bet King paid out over 35 000 Bitcoin of winnings during 2015, and has many plans for 2016. 2015 was a big year for gambling giant Bet King. The team rebranded from Pocket Rockets Casino, added new games to their portfolio and had the biggest bet placed in […]

The post Crowdfunded Bitcoin Casino Bet King Paid Out Over 15 Million USD During 2015 appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Digital Asset Secures $52 Million from 13 Global Financial Firms

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

  New York-based Digital Asset Holdings (DAH), the Blythe Masters-led firm that provides distributed ledger technology solutions for the financial services industry has completed a round of funding that exceeded $50 million from varied leading firms in the financial industry. The announcement was made last week when the blockchain startup revealed 13 global firms in […]

The post Digital Asset Secures $52 Million from 13 Global Financial Firms appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

A Newly Announced Partnership Could Mean Increased Bitcoin Adoption in Vietnam

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

A partnership between Bitcoin merchant services provider Coinify and Bitcoin Vietnam Co. Ltd., Vietnam’s first bitcoin exchange will see advanced merchant processing tools for the Vietnamese market. The new platform will be applicable both online and in point-of-sale outlets in shops around the country. Danish bitcoin- and blockchain-based currency merchant processor, Coinify has announced a […]

The post A Newly Announced Partnership Could Mean Increased Bitcoin Adoption in Vietnam appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Coin Center Releases Bitcoin Report for Securities Regulators

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

Coin Center has released a guide framework for how it believes bitcoin and blockchain tech should be regulated under securities law.

Lawrence Nahum: Bitcoin Wallet GreenAddress Already Integrating Segregated Witness

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

The ongoing block size dispute has catapulted to the center of attention again. One of the most talked about developments right now is Segregated Witness, of which a public testnet iteration was launched last week. The innovation as recently proposed by Blockstream co-founder and Bitcoin Core developer Dr. Pieter Wuille is a centerpiece of a scalability “roadmap” set out by Bitcoin Core.

But relying on Segregated Witness as the next step of Bitcoin’s scalability process is opposed by the recently launched Bitcoin Core fork Bitcoin Classic. Rather than a Segregated Witness soft fork, Bitcoin Classic prefers to deploy a “cleaner” hard fork in order to increase the block size limit to 2 megabytes.

To find out where the development community stands on this issue, Bitcoin Magazine reached out to library and wallet developers, those who will need to do the heavy lifting in order to utilize Segregated Witness once rolled out.

GreenAddress Implementing Segregated Witness

Segregated Witness offers several improvements to the Bitcoin network. Among these improvements is an effective block size limit increase to a range between 1.75 and 2 megabytes, depending on the types of transactions. While this has received a lot of attention in context of the block size dispute, many developers are actually more excited about the other improvements to the Bitcoin protocol offered by the innovative solution.

GreenAddress and GreenBits developer Lawrence Nahum is in the advanced stage of implementing Segregated Witness into GreenAddress.

“GreenAddress already implemented some basic support for it on the Segregated Witness testnet,” Nahum said. “We started experimenting because we think Segregated Witnesses is a great enabler. It fixes the unintentional malleability issues, and thus allows for trustless smart contracts as well as lower fees for multi-signature transactions which we use extensively. It’s really exciting.”

One of the criticisms against Wuille’s Segregated Witness proposal is that it would take a lot of work and time to roll out. Library developers, in particular, need to implement a decent amount of new code, which other wallet developers will be able to use.

Nahum, however, believes the added effort is manageable, and will have Segregated Witness enabled in his wallets once it is rolled out on the Bitcoin network.

“The Segregated Witness testnet support was relatively easy to set up,” Nahum said. “It only took a few hours of reading the technical details, and a day to implement. This includes both the wallet side running on the user device, as well as the service side. The former was aided by the fact that one of the wallet libraries we use, bitcoinjs, already had a Pull Request with the necessary patches enabling it. For the latter we wrote a patch for another library, PyCoin, to support our use cases. Not that big of a deal.”

Soft Forks vs. Hard Forks

The most notable difference between Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Classic is that the former prefers a soft fork block size limit increase through Segregated Witness. This can be employed through miner-support only, and is therefore considered a safer solution by Bitcoin Core developers. The Bitcoin Classic team, however, believes these risks are overblown, and considers a hard fork more desirable.

For Nahum, a soft-fork solution is the obvious choice.

“Segregated Witness is worth the small effort as the changes are not much work, and it’s a no-brainer compared to a contentious hard fork,” he said. ”It’s really a win-win situation. A hard fork is not justified by the tremendous risks, especially in a compressed time frame as proposed. Bitcoin Classic’s ‘mob rule’ approach is very different from the more meritocratic and technical peer review that we are accustomed to in Bitcoin Core. Bitcoin Classic doesn’t seem to be competing on technical merits, but rather political. It feels like an attempt at a different, more central governance model. In my opinion this goes against the guiding principles that brought us to the present, and makes me uncomfortable.”

He added: “As a business owner, an investor, a developer and a supporter of this technology, I want long-term stability and consensus, not short-term or knee-jerk reactions. The future of this space lies in innovation, and only calm minds and long-term vision will see us through it successfully.”

For more information on Segregated Witness, see Bitcoin Magazine’s three-part series on the subject, or part 1 of this development series.

The post Lawrence Nahum: Bitcoin Wallet GreenAddress Already Integrating Segregated Witness appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Groundhog Day

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

Bitcoin price is failing to make new highs, and the price slam-downs are similarly failing to generate sellers’ participation to new lows. Much like every day during the past week. 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 […]

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Groundhog Day appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Zcash, a Privacy-Focused Alternative to Bitcoin, Launches Technology Preview

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

In September 2015 Bitcoin Magazine reviewed a conversation with legendary cryptographer Adam Back on the Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast, hosted by Trace Mayer. Back is known as the inventor of Hashcash, the proof-of-work system used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as part of the mining algorithm, one of the authors of the Bitcoin Sidechains white paper “Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains” and one of the founders of Blockstream. In the September podcast, he mentioned Zerocash, a recent development in cryptography that could be applied to new privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies.

The Zerocash protocol has been considered one of the most promising technologies for putting privacy back into the Bitcoin equation. Now, the Zerocash project has announced that the protocol is being developed into a full-fledged digital currency, Zcash.

According to the recently launched website, Zcash is “a decentralized and open-source cryptocurrency that aims to set a new standard for privacy and anonymity through the use of groundbreaking cryptography.”

A public alpha technology preview has been released on Github.

Zcash offers total payment confidentiality, while maintaining a decentralized network using a public blockchain. Unlike Bitcoin, Zcash transactions automatically hide the sender, recipient and value of all transactions on the blockchain. Only those with the correct view key can see the contents. Users have complete control and can opt-in to provide others with their view key at their discretion.

To achieve the (previously) impossible dream, Zcash uses a zero-knowledge proof construction called a zero-knowledge Succinct Non-interactive ARguments of Knowledge (zk-SNARK), described in the Zerocash technicalpaper, first presented at the 2014 IEEE Security & Privacy Symposium. zk-SNARKs allow the Zcash network to maintain a secure ledger of balances without disclosing the parties or amounts involved. Instead of publicly demonstrating spend-authority and transaction values, the transaction metadata is encrypted and zk-SNARKs are used to prove that nobody is cheating or stealing.

The Zcash alpha code, a fork of Bitcoin Core with protocol changes to support the Zerocash protocol, provides a first preview implementation of the new Zcash cryptocurrency. The currency maintains a separate ledger from the Bitcoin network for several reasons, the most immediate of which is that the consensus protocol is different.

Currently, Zcash works only on Linux.

“What we’re releasing today is a working ‘Technology Preview,’” says Zooko Wilcox in the first Zcash blog post. “Developers can download the source code, compile it and connect to our live testnet. You can mine play-money “testnet-bux” and spend them with a fully private, cryptographically protected transaction.”

It’s only testnet play-money at this time: Wilcox notes that Zcash probably won’t be ready for real transactions for another six months.

Upcoming blog posts will explain different parts of the system, including how Zcash works and its funding model, but in the first blog post Wilcox wants to address the most important question: Why?

According to Wilcox, a 41-year-old cryptographer who’s also known in the crypto community for creating Tahoe LAFS, a decentralized, encrypted file-storage system, privacy is a human right, a social value, and it is necessary for businesses and commerce.

Wilcox’ answer to the expected question – But won’t bad guys use it? – is crystal clear: “Yes, but bad guys will use anything,” he says. “Bad guys use cars, bad guys use the Internet, bad guys use cash, and bad guys use the current banking system. Rather than trying to invent something that bad guys won’t use, our purpose is to invent something that can empower and uplift the billions of good people on this planet.”

More information on Zcash is being released in bits and snippets, and the public Zcash Forum is a good place to start. The Next Web notes that Zcash is a for-profit company that aims to “tax” mined Zcash coins at a rate of 11 percent. Ten percent will go to fund the company and pay back its early investors, while one percent will go to a not-for-profit created to oversee the code and the community. Wired reveals that Zcash investors including Naval Ravikant, an investor in Twitter and Uber, Barry Silbert and Roger Ver, have put more than $715,000 into Zcash.

If all goes according to plan, in six months or one year Zcash could be a fully operational, privacy-preserving alternative to Bitcoin. It’s worth noting that Bitcoin itself is on its way to becoming mainstream fintech, controlled by governments and banks, with all privacy aspects sanitized away. Therefore, it’s to be expected that Zcash, as soon as it’s operational and stable, could be instantly adopted by the libertarian crowd of early Bitcoin users, and it will be interesting to see how governments and banks react.

The post Zcash, a Privacy-Focused Alternative to Bitcoin, Launches Technology Preview appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Zimbabwe Remittance Service Bitmari Enters Beta Phase

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

Bitmari, a bitcoin-based money remittance service for the African market based in Zimbabwe, has entered its beta phase, according to techzim.co.zw, a Zimbabwe technology news site. A meeting is planned for Thursday in Harare to answer questions. The service has been signing up users for the past few months and is working to meet Zimbabwe […]

The post Zimbabwe Remittance Service Bitmari Enters Beta Phase appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

You Don't Need to Understand Bitcoin to Use it, Study Finds

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

A new study has revealed misconceptions by both bitcoin users and non-users over the digital currency's usability, functionality and anonymity.

How Will Bitcoin Technology Go Mainstream? An Analysis Of 5 Strategies

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

Many say the technology behind Bitcoin is superior to existing systems. But since most financial services work fairly well, what will get the majority of people to adopt it?

How Will Bitcoin And Blockchain 'Cross The Chasm'? An Analysis Of 5 Strategies

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

Many say the technology behind Bitcoin is superior to existing systems. But since most financial services work fairly well, what will get the majority of people to adopt it?

Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities

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

Coin Center Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh has prepared a report regarding the regulation of various cryptocurrencies within a traditional securities framework. Although the report found cryptocurrencies attached to public blockchains, such as bitcoin and ether, should not be regulated as securities, the team behind the document did find that the definition of a security may apply to some of the more centralized crypto-assets currently on the market.

Most of Coin Center’s report provided a general overview of Bitcoin and related technologies for regulators, but the end of the report mainly focused on the Howey test. The Howey test is a way to figure out whether something should be defined as a security and is defined by the following parameters in the report:

“An investment contract for purposes of the Securities Act means a contract, transaction or scheme whereby a person [1] invests his money in [2] a common enterprise and is led to [3] expect profits [4] solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party, [excluded factors] it being immaterial whether the shares in the enterprise are evidenced by formal certificates or by nominal interests in the physical assets employed in the enterprise.”

Bitcoin and many altcoins are not well-suited for the Howey test, which is why the report recommends regulators do not treat these cryptocurrencies as securities. The Howey test becomes a bit more viable when talking about blockchain initiatives that have low transparency, involve a pre-sale of tokens, or a more centralized approach to transaction validation (such as a permissioned ledger).

The Coin Center report on treating cryptocurrencies as securities went through all four prongs of the Howey test to determine which types of crypto-assets should be regulated.

Investment of Money

According to Coin Center’s report, the way a cryptocurrency is distributed to its users should be the first variable to consider when analyzing that token in the eyes of the Howey test. The report claims altcoins that offer any sort of pre-sale of their tokens are more likely to qualify as an investment of money, which is the first prong of the Howey test. Pre-mined coins are also included in this group, especially when combined with a minimum price floor guarantee (as was the case with Paycoin).

Coin Center’s report says tokens issued via a mining process, such as Bitcoin, do not constitute as an investment of money. Tokens issued via proof-of-burn, a sidechain or as a reward for contributing resources in some other manner (Storj for example) are also lumped into this category of cryptocurrencies that do not involve an investment of money by users.

Creating a Common Enterprise

The next aspect of the Howey test covered by the report is whether an investment counts as a common enterprise. This prong of the test is defined in the report:

“Briefly, horizontal commonality can be defined as the pooling of investor funds such that the fates of all investors rise or fall together, often — though not always — through a pro-rata sharing of profits. Vertical commonality requires that the ‘fortunes of the investor are interwoven with and dependent upon the efforts and success of those seeking the investment or of third parties.’”

While horizontal commonality in Bitcoin is easy to prove — everyone’s bitcoin will rise and fail in value together — vertical commonality is another story. The report notes there are many companies that promote bitcoin as a currency or commodity, but the profits for these companies are tied to internal factors rather than a simple increase in the U.S. dollar value of bitcoin.

Paycoin is pointed out as one possible situation where the requirements of vertical commonality are met. The altcoin’s parent company, Geniuses at Work, held the majority of all paycoin, which means their profits and losses were closely tied to the success or failure of the cryptocurrency. Although not mentioned in the report, Ripple holds a large amount of XRP and falls under similar consideration.

Coin Center’s report also mentions token scarcity, decentralization and developers holding a large percentage of all tokens as troubling signs for investors. In general, altcoins that involve vertical commonality are noted as high-risk investments.

Expectation of Profits

Nearly every altcoin that has been launched up to this point has come with an expectation of profits, and speculation is still one of the main use cases of bitcoin today. Coin Center’s report only pointed out two possible cases where an altcoin does not meet this prong of the Howey test: sidechains and appcoins.

The reasoning behind Coin Center’s exclusion of sidechain-based altcoins is clear — the value of a sidechain token is pegged to bitcoin — but some may say the decision to include appcoins as tokens that don’t come with any expectation of profit is questionable. For example, the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute ’s Daniel Krawisz has referred to appcoins as snake oil.

Third-Party Control

The final prong of the Howey test covered in Coin Center’s report involves the level of trust required in the transaction validators. Although these systems are oftentimes referred to as “trustless,” the reality is that all blockchains, even Bitcoin, have some trusted entity (or entities) processing transactions on the network. According to Coin Center, the risks for users are higher when these entities are more centralized.

While Bitcoin’s proof-of-work system was praised for its level of decentralization, Coin Center’s report was not as kind to proof-of-stake and permissioned ledger systems. The report cites often-discussed flaws of proof-of-stake systems that could lead to more centralization than originally intended, but it also notes research in this area is still ongoing. When it comes to permissioned ledgers, the report claims:

“A Permissioned distributed ledger system will always lead to the reliance of users upon the class of enumerated transaction validations. This group effectively controls the ledger and can issue new tokens at will. All access to the network is mediated by this group, and the total value of the network would therefore be predicated on the faith or trust that users choose to place in that group.”

Conclusions

The final portion of the report covers specific advice for regulators. These innovations are presented as having a lower risk profile for investors and users:

  • Highly decentralized cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin )
  • Sidechained cryptocurrencies (Rootstock, Bitcoin Hivemind)
  • Cryptocurrencies with a distribution model based on open, competitive mining or proof-of-burn (Bitcoin)
  • Appcoins (Ethereum, Storj)

Alternatively, Coin Center’s report states investors (or users) may need more protection from the following types of cryptocurrencies:

  • Closed-source or low-transparency cryptocurrencies
  • Cryptocurrencies with a pre-sale that involve a small and non-diverse mining and developer community
  • Cryptocurrencies with permissioned ledgers or some other form of highly centralized transaction validators

These are simply recommendations made by Coin Center, so no government agency has any responsibility to follow them. Having said that, this report has been able to make a clear distinction between open, decentralized cryptocurrencies and their more centralized, and perhaps riskier, counterparts.

Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.

The post Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities

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

Coin Center Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh has prepared a report regarding the regulation of various cryptocurrencies within a traditional securities framework. Although the report found cryptocurrencies attached to public blockchains, such as bitcoin and ether, should not be regulated as securities, the team behind the document did find that the definition of a security may apply to some of the more centralized crypto-assets currently on the market.

Most of Coin Center’s report provided a general overview of Bitcoin and related technologies for regulators, but the end of the report mainly focused on the Howey test. The Howey test is a way to figure out whether something should be defined as a security and is defined by the following parameters in the report:

“An investment contract for purposes of the Securities Act means a contract, transaction or scheme whereby a person [1] invests his money in [2] a common enterprise and is led to [3] expect profits [4] solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party, [excluded factors] it being immaterial whether the shares in the enterprise are evidenced by formal certificates or by nominal interests in the physical assets employed in the enterprise.”

Bitcoin and many altcoins are not well-suited for the Howey test, which is why the report recommends regulators do not treat these cryptocurrencies as securities. The Howey test becomes a bit more viable when talking about blockchain initiatives that have low transparency, involve a pre-sale of tokens, or a more centralized approach to transaction validation (such as a permissioned ledger).

The Coin Center report on treating cryptocurrencies as securities went through all four prongs of the Howey test to determine which types of crypto-assets should be regulated.

Investment of Money

According to Coin Center’s report, the way a cryptocurrency is distributed to its users should be the first variable to consider when analyzing that token in the eyes of the Howey test. The report claims altcoins that offer any sort of pre-sale of their tokens are more likely to qualify as an investment of money, which is the first prong of the Howey test. Pre-mined coins are also included in this group, especially when combined with a minimum price floor guarantee (as was the case with Paycoin).

Coin Center’s report says tokens issued via a mining process, such as Bitcoin, do not constitute as an investment of money. Tokens issued via proof-of-burn, a sidechain or as a reward for contributing resources in some other manner (Storj for example) are also lumped into this category of cryptocurrencies that do not involve an investment of money by users.

Creating a Common Enterprise

The next aspect of the Howey test covered by the report is whether an investment counts as a common enterprise. This prong of the test is defined in the report:

“Briefly, horizontal commonality can be defined as the pooling of investor funds such that the fates of all investors rise or fall together, often — though not always — through a pro-rata sharing of profits. Vertical commonality requires that the ‘fortunes of the investor are interwoven with and dependent upon the efforts and success of those seeking the investment or of third parties.’”

While horizontal commonality in Bitcoin is easy to prove — everyone’s bitcoin will rise and fail in value together — vertical commonality is another story. The report notes there are many companies that promote bitcoin as a currency or commodity, but the profits for these companies are tied to internal factors rather than a simple increase in the U.S. dollar value of bitcoin.

Paycoin is pointed out as one possible situation where the requirements of vertical commonality are met. The altcoin’s parent company, Geniuses at Work, held the majority of all paycoin, which means their profits and losses were closely tied to the success or failure of the cryptocurrency. Although not mentioned in the report, Ripple holds a large amount of XRP and falls under similar consideration.

Coin Center’s report also mentions token scarcity, decentralization and developers holding a large percentage of all tokens as troubling signs for investors. In general, altcoins that involve vertical commonality are noted as high-risk investments.

Expectation of Profits

Nearly every altcoin that has been launched up to this point has come with an expectation of profits, and speculation is still one of the main use cases of bitcoin today. Coin Center’s report only pointed out two possible cases where an altcoin does not meet this prong of the Howey test: sidechains and appcoins.

The reasoning behind Coin Center’s exclusion of sidechain-based altcoins is clear — the value of a sidechain token is pegged to bitcoin — but some may say the decision to include appcoins as tokens that don’t come with any expectation of profit is questionable. For example, the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute ’s Daniel Krawisz has referred to appcoins as snake oil.

Third-Party Control

The final prong of the Howey test covered in Coin Center’s report involves the level of trust required in the transaction validators. Although these systems are oftentimes referred to as “trustless,” the reality is that all blockchains, even Bitcoin, have some trusted entity (or entities) processing transactions on the network. According to Coin Center, the risks for users are higher when these entities are more centralized.

While Bitcoin’s proof-of-work system was praised for its level of decentralization, Coin Center’s report was not as kind to proof-of-stake and permissioned ledger systems. The report cites often-discussed flaws of proof-of-stake systems that could lead to more centralization than originally intended, but it also notes research in this area is still ongoing. When it comes to permissioned ledgers, the report claims:

“A Permissioned distributed ledger system will always lead to the reliance of users upon the class of enumerated transaction validations. This group effectively controls the ledger and can issue new tokens at will. All access to the network is mediated by this group, and the total value of the network would therefore be predicated on the faith or trust that users choose to place in that group.”

Conclusions

The final portion of the report covers specific advice for regulators. These innovations are presented as having a lower risk profile for investors and users:

  • Highly decentralized cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin )
  • Sidechained cryptocurrencies (Rootstock, Bitcoin Hivemind)
  • Cryptocurrencies with a distribution model based on open, competitive mining or proof-of-burn (Bitcoin)
  • Appcoins (Ethereum, Storj)

Alternatively, Coin Center’s report states investors (or users) may need more protection from the following types of cryptocurrencies:

  • Closed-source or low-transparency cryptocurrencies
  • Cryptocurrencies with a pre-sale that involve a small and non-diverse mining and developer community
  • Cryptocurrencies with permissioned ledgers or some other form of highly centralized transaction validators

These are simply recommendations made by Coin Center, so no government agency has any responsibility to follow them. Having said that, this report has been able to make a clear distinction between open, decentralized cryptocurrencies and their more centralized, and perhaps riskier, counterparts.

Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.

The post Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities

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

Coin Center Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh has prepared a report regarding the regulation of various cryptocurrencies within a traditional securities framework. Although the report found cryptocurrencies attached to public blockchains, such as bitcoin and ether, should not be regulated as securities, the team behind the document did find that the definition of a security may apply to some of the more centralized crypto-assets currently on the market.

Most of Coin Center’s report provided a general overview of Bitcoin and related technologies for regulators, but the end of the report mainly focused on the Howey test. The Howey test is a way to figure out whether something should be defined as a security and is defined by the following parameters in the report:

“An investment contract for purposes of the Securities Act means a contract, transaction or scheme whereby a person [1] invests his money in [2] a common enterprise and is led to [3] expect profits [4] solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party, [excluded factors] it being immaterial whether the shares in the enterprise are evidenced by formal certificates or by nominal interests in the physical assets employed in the enterprise.”

Bitcoin and many altcoins are not well-suited for the Howey test, which is why the report recommends regulators do not treat these cryptocurrencies as securities. The Howey test becomes a bit more viable when talking about blockchain initiatives that have low transparency, involve a pre-sale of tokens, or a more centralized approach to transaction validation (such as a permissioned ledger).

The Coin Center report on treating cryptocurrencies as securities went through all four prongs of the Howey test to determine which types of crypto-assets should be regulated.

Investment of Money

According to Coin Center’s report, the way a cryptocurrency is distributed to its users should be the first variable to consider when analyzing that token in the eyes of the Howey test. The report claims altcoins that offer any sort of pre-sale of their tokens are more likely to qualify as an investment of money, which is the first prong of the Howey test. Pre-mined coins are also included in this group, especially when combined with a minimum price floor guarantee (as was the case with Paycoin).

Coin Center’s report says tokens issued via a mining process, such as Bitcoin, do not constitute as an investment of money. Tokens issued via proof-of-burn, a sidechain or as a reward for contributing resources in some other manner (Storj for example) are also lumped into this category of cryptocurrencies that do not involve an investment of money by users.

Creating a Common Enterprise

The next aspect of the Howey test covered by the report is whether an investment counts as a common enterprise. This prong of the test is defined in the report:

“Briefly, horizontal commonality can be defined as the pooling of investor funds such that the fates of all investors rise or fall together, often — though not always — through a pro-rata sharing of profits. Vertical commonality requires that the ‘fortunes of the investor are interwoven with and dependent upon the efforts and success of those seeking the investment or of third parties.’”

While horizontal commonality in Bitcoin is easy to prove — everyone’s bitcoin will rise and fail in value together — vertical commonality is another story. The report notes there are many companies that promote bitcoin as a currency or commodity, but the profits for these companies are tied to internal factors rather than a simple increase in the U.S. dollar value of bitcoin.

Paycoin is pointed out as one possible situation where the requirements of vertical commonality are met. The altcoin’s parent company, Geniuses at Work, held the majority of all paycoin, which means their profits and losses were closely tied to the success or failure of the cryptocurrency. Although not mentioned in the report, Ripple holds a large amount of XRP and falls under similar consideration.

Coin Center’s report also mentions token scarcity, decentralization and developers holding a large percentage of all tokens as troubling signs for investors. In general, altcoins that involve vertical commonality are noted as high-risk investments.

Expectation of Profits

Nearly every altcoin that has been launched up to this point has come with an expectation of profits, and speculation is still one of the main use cases of bitcoin today. Coin Center’s report only pointed out two possible cases where an altcoin does not meet this prong of the Howey test: sidechains and appcoins.

The reasoning behind Coin Center’s exclusion of sidechain-based altcoins is clear — the value of a sidechain token is pegged to bitcoin — but some may say the decision to include appcoins as tokens that don’t come with any expectation of profit is questionable. For example, the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute ’s Daniel Krawisz has referred to appcoins as snake oil.

Third-Party Control

The final prong of the Howey test covered in Coin Center’s report involves the level of trust required in the transaction validators. Although these systems are oftentimes referred to as “trustless,” the reality is that all blockchains, even Bitcoin, have some trusted entity (or entities) processing transactions on the network. According to Coin Center, the risks for users are higher when these entities are more centralized.

While Bitcoin’s proof-of-work system was praised for its level of decentralization, Coin Center’s report was not as kind to proof-of-stake and permissioned ledger systems. The report cites often-discussed flaws of proof-of-stake systems that could lead to more centralization than originally intended, but it also notes research in this area is still ongoing. When it comes to permissioned ledgers, the report claims:

“A Permissioned distributed ledger system will always lead to the reliance of users upon the class of enumerated transaction validations. This group effectively controls the ledger and can issue new tokens at will. All access to the network is mediated by this group, and the total value of the network would therefore be predicated on the faith or trust that users choose to place in that group.”

Conclusions

The final portion of the report covers specific advice for regulators. These innovations are presented as having a lower risk profile for investors and users:

  • Highly decentralized cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin )
  • Sidechained cryptocurrencies (Rootstock, Bitcoin Hivemind)
  • Cryptocurrencies with a distribution model based on open, competitive mining or proof-of-burn (Bitcoin)
  • Appcoins (Ethereum, Storj)

Alternatively, Coin Center’s report states investors (or users) may need more protection from the following types of cryptocurrencies:

  • Closed-source or low-transparency cryptocurrencies
  • Cryptocurrencies with a pre-sale that involve a small and non-diverse mining and developer community
  • Cryptocurrencies with permissioned ledgers or some other form of highly centralized transaction validators

These are simply recommendations made by Coin Center, so no government agency has any responsibility to follow them. Having said that, this report has been able to make a clear distinction between open, decentralized cryptocurrencies and their more centralized, and perhaps riskier, counterparts.

Kyle Torpey is a freelance journalist who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. His work has been featured on VICE Motherboard, Business Insider, RT’s Keiser Report and many other media outlets. You can follow @kyletorpey on Twitter.

The post Coin Center Report: Which Digital Currencies Should Be Regulated as Securities appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Is No Longer Digital Gold, It’s A Distributed SWIFT

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

The notion of Bitcoin as digital gold is as old as the decentralized crypto-currency itself. Even in original writings, Bitcoin creator(s) Satoshi Nakamoto wrote about how he intended to design a digital gold. For instance, the mining of Bitcoin – which entails computer processes – was intended to mimic the mining of gold. That there […]

The post Bitcoin Is No Longer Digital Gold, It’s A Distributed SWIFT appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Emercoin: Leading the way Towards a Decentralized World; An Interview with CCO Jason Cassidy

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

Emercoin was founded in 2013 as a hybrid of PPCoin and Namecoin and was established with the vision of creating a fully functioning merchant platform. This was achieved and now Emercoin is at the forefront of crypto development. Over the past 2 years, the project has developed many interesting features. My favorite feature developed so far is the advertising […]

The post Emercoin: Leading the way Towards a Decentralized World; An Interview with CCO Jason Cassidy appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Emercoin: Leading the way Towards a Decentralized World; An Interview with CCO Jason Cassidy

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

Emercoin was founded in 2013 as a hybrid of PPCoin and Namecoin and was established with the vision of creating a fully functioning merchant platform. This was achieved and now Emercoin is at the forefront of crypto development. Over the past 2 years, the project has developed many interesting features. My favorite feature developed so far is the advertising […]

The post Emercoin: Leading the way Towards a Decentralized World; An Interview with CCO Jason Cassidy appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin-Powered Social Network DATT Moves Past Proof of Concept

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

A decentralized social network founded by Reddit’s former cryptocurrency engineer has moved forward to the proof-of-concept stage.

Rutgers Study: Misconceptions Common About Bitcoin’s Privacy And Ease Of Use

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

Bitcoin has a ways to go when it comes to being understood by the general public and even by today’s bitcoin users. A recent study by Janne Lindqvist, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and a member of the Rutgers Wireless Information Network Laboratory, revealed that people who have not used bitcoin don’t think […]

The post Rutgers Study: Misconceptions Common About Bitcoin’s Privacy And Ease Of Use appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Offline Commerce App Wins $10k at Bitcoin Miami Hackathon

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

A bitcoin rewards concept took home $10,000 in bitcoin at the second annual Miami Bitcoin Hackathon held this weekend at The Lab Miami.

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