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WannaCry Proves How Traceable Bitcoin Can Be

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 12:11

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/03/wannacry-hackers-withdraw-108000-pounds-bitcoin-ransom

So it appears bitcoin, often touted as the currency of choice for criminals and money launderers, isn’t as anonymous as many people thought. Of course, anybody who took more than 5 minutes to try and understand bitcoin already knew this. Sure, some of the qualities of bitcoin, such as the ability to hold it directly and transfer it directly without intermediaries, make it attractive to criminals. However, that isn’t the fault of bitcoin. Indeed, nobody places the blame on physical cash when criminals are apprehended with suitcases full of the stuff.

So, we say to all those folks who like to cast aspersions and stain the good character of bitcoin, go forth and educate yourself. Here’s a couple of good places to start:

http://www.coindesk.com/eu-report-digital-currency-use-by-organized-criminals-is-rare/

http://www.coindesk.com/uk-treasury-digital-currencies-low-money-laundering-risk/

Looking through the Coindesk articles is a good building block to start constructing your new view of bitcoin. The perception of bitcoin’s anonymity being a negative should be quickly erased as they immediately state that virtual currency is not as prevalent as you may think among organised crime groups. Cyber-criminals may often consider using virtual currencies for their wrong-doings when they hear of the characteristics that the currencies have, but the complex nature of the blockchain means that very few actually have the brains to accomplish anything. Introducing Exhibit A, the WannaCry attack. The attack alerted the world to the apparent ‘dark side’ of bitcoin, news outlets ran stories about how bitcoin was being used for cyber-terrorism and people who were not educated on the topic immediately jumped to conclusions about it. Bitcoin’s anonymity may have enticed them into using it for the attack, but their lack of knowledge of the technology meant that they got a serious case of ‘What next?’ when it became apparent that the authorities could see exactly where the stolen money was.

All those bitcoin that were extorted via the WannaCry virus are being monitored and it appears they are now on the move. Recent reports claim that the money has been transferred from the initial wallets to 9 other wallets as the hackers try and outwit the authorities that can, thanks to the nature of the blockchain, trace the money every step of the way. The hackers may have completed Phase 1 of their plan without any problems, but if they want to escape into the sunset with their ill-gotten gains they are going to have to find a way to evade the authorities, something they may find difficult to do with what is clearly a limited amount of bitcoin and blockchain knowledge.

The Guardian’s story emphasises just how traceable bitcoin can be. Any self-respecting criminal mastermind won’t be in business long if they plan to run their global empire using bitcoin. If I were Doctor Evil, I’d be sticking to good old greenbacks and $500 notes. They are far less traceable and don’t leave an indelible trail to the front door of your mountain hideaway.

The truth is out there. Can you handle it?

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

SegWit: What does it all mean?

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 04:54

A handful of SegWit activation deadlines are rapidly approaching and there is lots of jargon flying around that a lot of people may find difficult to understand. The amount of different outcomes and software updates may also cause some confusion and leave users wondering how the whole process is going to effect them. For Views on the News this week, although not directly offering any views on any news, I am going to try and break down SegWit, explain any jargon, go through all the potential outcomes and how it may effect bitcoin users. Wish me luck.

WHAT IS SEGWIT?

In a nutshell, Segregated Witness (SegWit) is a an upgrade to the bitcoin network initially proposed in December 2015 by the development team at Bitcoin Core. Since then it has been the main talking point of the long-running bitcoin scaling debate, which focuses on the alleged need to increase block size in an attempt to bring transaction fees and processing time down. The complication comes with how SegWit is going to be activated. The team at Bitcoin Core defined their upgrade as Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 141 (BIP141). The second upgrade has been coined Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP148) and is similar in essence to BIP141. A third upgrade has also taken form called The New York Agreement (you have probably seen it called SegWit2x). This upgrade aims to activate SegWit through Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 91 (BIP91) as well as increase the base block size from 1MB to 2MB three months later.

SEGWIT2x

SegWit2x aims to activate SegWit through BIP91. Once SegWit2x is activated, all BIP91 nodes will reject any blocks that don’t signal readiness for SegWit. However, BIP91 nodes would only do this if a majority of 80% of miners support BIP91, a majority that looks to be on the cards. SegWit2x is the approach favoured by the miners as, with a larger block size, it will require less power to mine the blocks, but will reap a higher reward for doing so, hence why SegWit2x has such a backing from bitcoin’s mining community. However this approach is not popular with bitcoin users who would prefer that SegWit was activated without the 1MB increase in block size. Although both SegWit2x and BIP148 are trying to accelerate the activation of SegWit, there could be a potential split in the chain if the block size does end up being increased.

BIP141

BIP141 was the original upgrade suggested by the Bitcoin Core development team. It requires a 95% acceptance rate from the miners to be implemented. The risk of the chain splitting upon activation is low so long as the miners who signalled readiness are actually ready for the upgrade. However, only 40-45% of miners have currently signalled their readiness,  provoking a selection of bitcoin users to attempt activate SegWit through BIP148, a user-activated soft fork, on August 1st.

BIP148

BIP148 came about in relation to the fact that only 40-45% of miners have signalled readiness for BIP141, which is a problem as it can only be implemented with 95% of miners signalling they are ready. Because of this, a segment of bitcoin users are planning to activate SegWit through the implementation of BIP148, a user-activated soft fork. This means that on August 1st, nodes will start to reject blocks that don’t show readiness for BIP141. If BIP148 is then supported by a majority of the miners then SegWit will be activated, and we will avoid a split in the chain. The problem arises if BIP148 is only supported by a minority of miners. This could result in the BIP148 chain splitting off from the current chain, potentially leaving us with 2 separate bitcoin ‘forms’ (one that only works on the original chain and one that only works on the BIP148 chain). The BIP148 UASF is scheduled to activate on August 1st, only a few days after the potential activation of SegWit2x.

SO WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

At the moment, the only thing that is guaranteed is the activation of SegWit through the UASF on August 1st. While there are competing activation methods, BIP141 and SegWit2x are both just expressed intent to signal readiness, no promises or guarantees have been made. The fact that such a large percentage of miners have to signal their intent for one of the solutions means that there is always a chance that one of them suddenly loses the support of a portion of the mining community, failing to meet the majority and ultimately resulting in that solution, whichever it may be, not being implemented. This would keep the chain as one, with SegWit activated through the only definite thus far in the debate, the user-activated soft fork. If a split in the chain does happen and we get two different forms of bitcoin, then anyone who owns bitcoin at the time of the split will automatically have both forms of the new bitcoin, as long as they are holding their own private keys or the exchange/wallet provider they use supports both chains. There may be a requirement to download some new software to gain access to the second fork and you should do your own research into how this is done.

WHAT SHOULD USERS DO?

The consensus is that users should proceed with caution for the next few weeks, as well as wait for concrete signs that things are back to normal before going back to using their bitcoins the way they do currently in this pre-SegWit world. The technical community suggest that you move your bitcoins to a private wallet that only you control the private key for and try not to make any transactions in the days leading up to August 1st, just in case the transaction doesn’t get processed in time. However if you are on the non-technical side it makes sense to hold your coins with an exchange or wallet provider that will be open for both chains should a hard fork occur. It would then be advisable to avoid making transactions post-August 1st until the situation becomes more clear and the near future of bitcoin becomes apparent.

WHAT IS COINCORNER’S STANCE?

We are planning on announcing our stance on SegWit in the coming days.

Image source: https://bitcoinmagazine.com/

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Ross – Marketing

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 12:03

The CoinCorner team is growing rapidly, and 3 new employees have joined the team since we last did ‘Meet the Staff’. That means we have some catching up to do as we have Rachael, Joel and myself to get to know a little better, as well as Molly who managed to work here for months without doing hers.

Who is Rachael’s dream dinner date? What would Joel bring to a deserted island? Why did Molly choose to go into bitcoin? This feature will help you learn a little more about the CoinCorner staff, next up is yours truly…

If you could have dinner with one person (living or dead) who would it be?

As a massive basketball fan I’ll go with Michael Jordan. Not only is he (in my opinion) the best sportsperson of all time, he is also a successful businessman. I’m sure I could talk to him for hours.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you have and why?

1.  A basketball hoop + basketball

2. A LOT of Brazilian guava flavour Lucozade

3. A parasol or something that I could sit under to be in the shade. I’m not great in extreme sunlight/high temperatures for extended periods of time.

What is your favourite food?

I have never been able to give a definite answer to this question. I’ll go with sweet potato fries I think.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been?

I love South America, in particular Peru and Bolivia. My sister’s travelling pictures sparked the desire for me to go travelling one day, and the pictures she has of places like Machu Picchu and Salar de Uyuni look amazing.

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up?

I guess I’d go for smell, but I’m not sure why.

Why did you choose your profession?

Marketing has been the most interesting area of business for me since I started doing Business Studies back in school. The marketing modules of my degree just further solidified my choice to go into it. I just think it’s really interesting, fun and gives you a chance to be creative.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I think the power of healing narrowly edges out time travel.

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin?

Before I applied to CoinCorner I didn’t know much about it, and looking into it I thought it was a really interesting concept. I’m enjoying learning more about it every day.

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)?

I think so, after doing my research I kind of expected it to grow, I just wasn’t expecting it to grow so quickly!

Where do you see Bitcoin 5 years from now?

Technology is always changing and is impossible to predict, I do think bitcoin will have continued it’s growth and will be accepted as a form of payment in more places though.

Morgan Stanley Says Bitcoin Needs Regulation to Keep Rising

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 12:28

Graph source: http://www.barrons.com/articles/blockchains-got-no-killer-app-yet-says-morgan-stanley-even-as-bitcoin-soars-1497377427

Overview

On analysis of a privately released whitepaper, Bloomberg reported that investment banking giants, Morgan Stanley, made a divisive claim that Bitcoin needs regulation to continue rising.

Source: Bloomberg

After surging to an all-time high of $3,000, speculation over the potential value of Bitcoin has grown, with some analysts projecting a potential value of $100,000 in the next decade. On the opposite end of the spectrum, analysts at Morgan Stanley have dampened speculation, proposing that regulation is the necessary catalyst required for a Bitcoin Boom.

Bitcoin should be regulated. Bitcoin can never be truly regulated. For the people, by the people.

The discussion over the application of regulation to cryptocurrencies has historically been a deeply contentious, polarising debate and the recent surge in the value of virtual currencies to over $100bn has only fuelled the fire.

Given the decentralised and stateless nature of many cryptocurrencies, is the application of effective regulation possible and is it necessary for the future growth of cryptocurrencies?

The need to be regulated

In the absence of a central enforcement authority, cryptocurrencies represent an unorthodox, ambiguous financial system that exists in an online ecosystem. It is in this decentralised utopia that unscrupulous individuals can manipulate cryptocurrencies to facilitate their dishonest and corrupt enterprises.

Be it through financial crimes, cyber security, the sale of counterfeit goods and countless other more insidious crimes, there is criminal opportunity.

However, in isolation, cryptocurrencies themselves don’t harbour an escalated risk, just like conventional fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies are predisposed to being usurped for immoral activity. However, unlike fiat currencies, the unregulated ecosystem that cryptocurrencies thrive in, is void of a body vested with powers of prosecution.

Considering this gross lack of deterrent and risk, why wouldn’t organised and opportunistic criminals commandeer cryptocurrencies, who’s going to prosecute them? I am of the opinion that It is through the lack of regulation that cryptocurrencies acquire their element of risk.

So, to a certain extent, I agree with Morgan Stanley. Governments, markets, business’ and most importantly, ordinary people are risk averse. Until that risk is at least deterred, cryptocurrencies don’t stand a chance of going mainstream.

Can cryptocurrencies be regulated

Yes. No. Well, the spending of a consumer can rarely be regulated. So, what or whom are going to be regulated?

Regulating exchanges and providers

Until cryptocurrencies are mainstream and universally used for personal or commercial purchases, their immediate value is truly in their ability to be converted into fiat currency.

Thus, regulating exchanges and services providers is the most efficient way to regulate their use. Through the use of Consumer Due Diligence (CDD) Know Your Customer (KYC) and the reporting of suspicious activity, exchanges such as CoinCorner are at the forefront of normalising cryptocurrencies by fettering the ability of criminals to convert cryptocurrency.

Does such regulations stifle the growth of cryptocurrency?

Without a doubt, yes. Regulation operates as a barrier to entry into the market of cryptocurrency exchanges, reducing consumer choice, strengthening monopolies and arguably stagnating research and development.

However, as with any industry, regulation is a necessary evil and ultimately protects consumers whilst further legitimising cryptocurrencies.

The need for helpful regulation

Regulation need not be regarded as an onerous, restrictive burden upon cryptocurrencies. If correctly applied regulation could be the key to nurturing the development of cryptocurrencies. Similarly, to cryptocurrencies, early internet developers were in a position of legal limbo. If existing legislation was strictly applied, coders and developers could be held liable for the content users uploaded and added to their websites. In the 1990s, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The laws significantly protected developers and detached liability from the actions of their users. Without such legislation, the power of the internet would have been significantly limited and unrecognisable to the tool that has shaped the world be live in today.

To continue its meteoric rise, regulators need to look at cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in a similar vein. Accepting its flaws and nurturing its potentially revolutionary power.

Today, Governments and legislators are overwhelmingly against or agnostic towards the development of cryptocurrency. The combative attitude of pivotal governments such as the USA has unquestionably stifled the growth and availability of cryptocurrency around the country. Bitcoin exchanges are defined as money transmitters and are thus required to obtain state specific transmission licenses that differ in fee and compliance requirements. Creating a logistical barrier that restricts the access of global exchanges.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICO’S) Begging for regulation?

Naturally, todays cryptocurrency market is dramatically different from that of 2009. ICO’S are one of the most dynamic platforms to invest in blockchain projects and start-ups. The Financial Times calls ICOs “unregulated issuances of cryptocoins where investors can raise money in bitcoin or other [cryptocurrencies],”.

ICO’s are essentially identical to the Initial Public Offering (IPO’s) of conventional start-ups, with the exception that IPO’s in the USA are required to register with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Under which they must submit;

  • a description of the company’s properties and business;
  • a description of the security to be offered for sale;
  • information about the management of the company; and
  • financial statements certified by independent accountants.

For examination.

Unscrupulous companies have employed the use of ICO’s to circumvent inspections and securities regulations. Resulting in inevitable scams in which fraudulent companies have raised astronomical sums of capital with no intention of ever trading or ensuring its investors profit from their investment.

Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at crypto-currency advocacy group Coin Centre, expressed his displeasure of ICO’s arguing,

“… What does an organization like the SEC regulate? They regulate IPOs, that’s what they regulate. So, let’s just change one letter and make it a ‘C’ and then it’s OK, right? No.”

As the value of cryptocurrencies increase, the nature of the product itself diversifies. The continued growth of cryptocurrencies into the arenas of fiat currency comes with an unavoidable necessity for regulation.

Regulation, For the people, By the people

Bitcoin is widely revered as a symbol of financial liberation from central banks and governments. Naturally, there are those within the cryptocurrency community that fundamentally oppose the introduction of external regulation.

As such, we can see an emergence of modern start-ups such as Elliptic that act as a tool to identify potentially criminal activity on the bitcoin blockchain and provide the service to leading bitcoin companies and global law enforcement agencies.

Elliptic are a successful example of the bitcoin community effectively regulating itself and outsourcing the prosecution of those committing recognisable existing crimes to the relevant law enforcement agencies.

So, What’s next- The Future

Regulation of decentralised cryptocurrencies are by nature difficult but not impossible. Government officials often fail to sufficiently understand cryptocurrency, view it as a threat and subsequently over regulate it to death. Regulation need be specifically drafted and carefully designed by a range of professionals, internal and external of the cryptocurrency community to protect the core ethos of the technology whilst ensuring cryptocurrency related enterprises are sufficient regulated by existing law.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Rachael – Operations

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:02

The CoinCorner team is growing rapidly, and 3 new employees have joined the team since we last did ‘Meet the Staff’. That means we have some catching up to do as we have Rachael, Joel and myself to get to know a little better, as well as Molly who managed to work here for months without doing hers.

Who is Rachael’s dream dinner date? What would Joel bring to a deserted island? Why did Molly choose to go into bitcoin? This feature will help you learn a little more about the CoinCorner staff, first up is Rachael…

If you could have dinner with one person (living or dead), who would it be?

If I had to go for someone famous I think I’d totally want to meet James Hetfield from Metallica. They’re my favourite band and I’d love to ask him about his life, his influences, and what motivates him to write his music (exciting I know).

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you have and why?

1. A bookcase filled with books

2. My bed

3. iPod Classic + headphones (definitely nice to stay away from my phone and I love how much music the Classic can hold, why can’t phones have that much memory now!?)

What is your favourite food?

This changes so often, I’ll be completely obsessed with a food and then I won’t want to eat it again. At the moment it is definitely sweet and sour chicken with rice.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been?

Russia! I’d love to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg.

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up?

Smell.

Why did you choose your profession?

In my last job I was given a few tasks that were to do with operations and it definitely caught my interest. Of course when I saw my job advertised – it was under the title of ‘Trainee Astronaut’, I knew I had to apply.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation so I could travel the world cheap!

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin?

It’s such an interesting concept that is becoming so much more mainstream. Definitely an exciting industry to be in right now.

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)?

Yes, especially due to the increasing popularity it has.

Where do you see Bitcoin 5 years from now?

I think it will be accepted more mainstream but who knows, technology changes so fast!

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Rachael Duke – Operations

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 10:39

The CoinCorner team is growing rapidly, and 3 new employees have joined the team since we last did ‘Meet the Staff’. That means we have some catching up to do as we have Rachael, Joel and myself to get to know a little better, as well as Molly who managed to work here for months without doing hers.

Who is Rachael’s dream dinner date? What would Joel bring to a deserted island? Why did Molly choose to go into bitcoin? This feature will help you learn a little more about the CoinCorner staff, first up is Rachael…

If you could have dinner with one person (living or dead), who would it be?

If I had to go for someone famous I think I’d totally want to meet James Hetfield from Metallica. They’re my favourite band and I’d love to ask him about his life, his influences, and what motivates him to write his music (exciting I know).

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you have and why?

1. A bookcase filled with books

2. My bed

3. iPod Classic + headphones (definitely nice to stay away from my phone and I love how much music the Classic can hold, why can’t phones have that much memory now!?)

What is your favourite food?

This changes so often, I’ll be completely obsessed with a food and then I won’t want to eat it again. At the moment it is definitely sweet and sour chicken with rice.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been?

Russia! I’d love to go to Moscow or St. Petersburg.

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up?

Smell.

Why did you choose your profession?

In my last job I was given a few tasks that were to do with operations and it definitely caught my interest. Of course when I saw my job advertised – it was under the title of ‘Trainee Astronaut’, I knew I had to apply.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation so I could travel the world cheap!

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin?

It’s such an interesting concept that is becoming so much more mainstream. Definitely an exciting industry to be in right now.

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)?

Yes, especially due to the increasing popularity it has.

Where do you see Bitcoin 5 years from now?

I think it will be accepted more mainstream but who knows, technology changes so fast!

 

A Judge Just Cleared the Way for the IRS to Seek Coinbase Customer Data

Fri, 12/16/2016 - 10:00

Source: CoinDesk

Looking at the demographics of our client base, there probably aren’t too many of you that remember the Sergio Leone 1966 epic film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Unless, that is, you were raised on a healthy diet of Westerns (aka Cowboy films) as a child like I was. I can hear you asking what on earth does Clint Eastwood (who was ‘The Good’ by the way) have to do with Coinbase and the IRS? Well, I thought it may be good to look at this story and extract what I believe is good, bad and just plain ugly. So, saddle up for the ride cowboys (and girls)…

The Good
Like a Shetland pony, this is going to be quiet short. I suppose you could argue that the very fact the IRS is now interested in bitcoin to this extent just proves how far bitcoin has come over recent years. From a wacky idea for techies, to a stubborn gunslinger that just won’t die, to a global virtual currency that is now firmly on the radar of the IRS, bitcoin is here to stay. Also, given that there is no such thing as bad PR (although Coinbase may have a different opinion in this particular instance, I guess), this news story is certain to make more people aware of bitcoin. Not a bad thing.

The Bad
I’d be happy to bet a fist full of dollars (you cowboys will get that pun) that there is a large section of the bitcoin community that see this as a further erosion of precious anonymity. So, on the face of it, this is a very bad thing. However, if I’m wearing my sheriff’s badge, if you are evading tax then the simple fact you are using bitcoin to do it shouldn’t make you immune from capture or prosecution. Pay your duties cowboys. Oh, and if you thought this would never happen, then forgive me, but you have probably been a little short sighted. The more bitcoin becomes mainstream, the more we can all expect great Government scrutiny and regulatory interventions like this one from the IRS.

The Ugly
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. The fact the IRS is seemingly wanting data on every Coinbase customer, regardless of any suspicious of tax evasion, strikes me as a gross invasion of privacy. Why should everybody be rounded up and treated with suspicious due to the actions of a few? It has been reported that the IRS is requesting years’ worth of data on every US customer of Coinbase. I wonder whether they would do this for all the clients of CitiBank if they had a client that was suspected of tax evasion? Perhaps the heavy handed action is in response to veiled criticism from the agency’s own Inspector General who recently said in a report:

The IRS needs to ensure that it develops a strategic plan that includes management oversight as well as adequate internal controls for its virtual currency programs. Until a comprehensive virtual currency strategy is developed, the IRS is open to the risk that undetected noncompliance of virtual currency taxable transactions will result in an increase to the Tax Gap.

Their treatment of Coinbase strikes me as kneejerk and reactive rather than strategic. It remains to be seen how this particular gunfight plays out. One thing is for sure, the IRS has more pistols than the frontier folks at Coinbase.

What effect does it have on CoinCorner?
Short answer, very little, as we don’t currently accept US customers so we don’t expect any IRS sheriffs knocking on our door any time soon.

Conclusion
It’s yet another sign that Bitcoin is finally leaving the Wild West behind it.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Happy Bitcoin Black Friday!

Fri, 11/25/2016 - 04:12

Bitcoin Black Friday is upon us! The annual event returns for its fifth year and as always, it is bigger and better than ever!

In 2012, Jon Holmquist launched the website bitcoinblackfriday.com as a one-stop shop for merchants to list their exclusive Black Friday bitcoin discounts and for consumers to find them. A handful of merchants took part in the first year, however, as the awareness of bitcoin has grown, the event has seen an ever increasing number of participants. Last year saw over 150 merchants take part and this year, the number is expected to be close to 200.

It is a one day website event where merchants can list the deals they’re offering their customers on Black Friday and anyone who is interested in spending bitcoins on Black Friday can go to the website and see all the merchandise offered – Jon Holmquist

There are over 100 deals and discounts already listed on the site, including:

MixedTees.com –  Funny themed t-shirts, accessories and posters with 25% off everything this weekend!

Beard Friendly – Got a buddy with a beard to buy for this Christmas? Beard Friendly are offering 35% off gift cards – perfect for keeping that beard in tip top condition.

Bees Brothers – Products made from honey and beeswax with a sweet (ha!) saving of 20% on everything this Friday and Saturday.

Ledger – A popular hardware wallet among bitcoin enthusiasts – it’ll be even more popular after today with 21% off all Ledger products.

The full list of sellers, deals and discounts are available here.

Black Friday traditionally kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Not started your Christmas shopping yet? Check out our latest blog post: The Best Christmas Gifts You Can Buy For Bitcoin

Ps. Don’t forget to tweet us @CoinCorner and share your Bitcoin Black Friday bargains!

US Election 2016: What Does It Mean For Bitcoin?

Fri, 11/11/2016 - 10:00

Overview

Earlier this week, history was made when Donald Trump won the 2016 US Presidential Election. And while the people of America come to terms with the fact a former WWE Superstar has been chosen to run their country, here’s how it could affect bitcoin.

What does it mean for the bitcoin industry?

Price

In the event of a Trump victory, many people expected the bitcoin market to reflect that of Brexit earlier this year where the price of bitcoin surged over $100 (from $560 to $655), however, despite a small jump from $709 to $739 (+3.9%) as the results were announced, the price has since returned to $712.

Albeit a small increase, it comes as validation to those who argue that bitcoin is a safe haven at times of market volatility: bitcoin remained strong at the time Trump’s victory became clear, whilst the futures markets plunged.

Charlie Bilello, Director of Research at Pension Partners

In fact, if we take a look at the bitcoin market over the last 3 months (in the run up to the Election), the price has continued to climb somewhat steadily… is there a correlation or is this purely a coincidence?

I personally think people are becoming increasingly unsure about the future of their country, hence why they are buying the likes of bitcoin and gold and driving up the price. With such controversy over the Presidential Election, assets like these are seen as investments that would retain value in a Doomsday scenario where traditional fiat currencies would crash.

Mexico

Trump launched his campaign back in June 2015 by announcing that he would deport 11 million undocumented migrants and build a wall along the US-Mexican border.

I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me. Believe me. And I’ll build it very inexpensively. I’ll build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.

How could the Great Wall of Mexico affect bitcoin? Well, buy building the proposed 1000-mile wall, it threatens the billion dollar flow of payments that Mexican-American immigrants send home to their country each year.

According to an article on The Washington Post, “Nearly $25 billion was sent home by Mexicans living abroad in 2015, mostly in the form of money transfers, according to the Mexican central bank(…)but that figure includes cash from around the world, not just the United States.”

So, could bitcoin step in to save the day? Bitcoin as a remittance service has long been a hot topic of conversation for the following reasons:

Freedom in Payment
– With bitcoin, it is possible to be able to send and receive money anywhere, anytime.
– You don’t have to worry about crossing borders, rescheduling for bank holidays, or any other limitations one might think will occur when transferring money.
– There is no central authority figure in the bitcoin network. You are in control of your money with bitcoin. 

Control and Security
– Allowing users to be in control of their transactions helps keep bitcoin safe for the network.
– Merchants cannot charge extra fees on anything without being noticed. They must talk with the consumer before adding any charges.
– Payments in bitcoin can be made and finalized without one’s personal information being tied to the transactions.
– Due to the fact that personal information is kept hidden from prying eyes, bitcoin protects against identity theft.
– Bitcoin can be backed up and encrypted to ensure the safety of your money.

Information is Transparent
– With the blockchain, all finalised transactions are available for everyone to see, however personal information is hidden.
– Your public address is what is visible; however, your personal information is not tied to this.
– Anyone at anytime can verify transactions in the bitcoin blockchain.
– Bitcoin protocol cannot be manipulated by any person, organisation, or government. This is due to bitcoin being cryptographically secure.

Low Fees
– Currently, there are very low fees within bitcoin payments.
– Bitcoin exchanges help merchant process transactions by converting bitcoins into fiat currency. These services generally have lower fees than money transfer businesses.

However, despite the advantages of bitcoin as a remittance service, the biggest hurdle it faces at the moment is (as we all know) lack of mass adoption… but the potential is there and just imagine what bitcoin could become with $25 billion flowing through the system annually.

What does it mean for CoinCorner?

Short term: not a lot.

Long term: who knows?

With such uncertainty and instability, nobody knows for sure what will happen – my guess is as good as anyone else’s. However, one of the advantages of being a small business, considered still in it’s “early stages” means that we are in a pretty good position to react quickly and accordingly to whatever the world throws at us.

Americans Are Already Voting on Blockchain

Fri, 11/04/2016 - 11:00

Overview

We are just days away from seeing the results of one of the most polarizing presidential election campaigns in memory, but one of the (many) claims made by Donald Trump revolves around the voting being rigged.

Could it be true that the admittedly archaic and outdated US voting system is being taken advantage of by the powers that be for their own interests?

Source: CoinTelegraph

How does it affect the (bitcoin) industry?

Mock US Blockchain Election

First of all this is a click bait title at it’s finest! The proof of concept in question is exactly that, a proof of concept and nothing more.

Well, one company has just launched a mock US election using blockchain technology hoping to mitigate the risks posed by tampered votes, multiple votes and other weaknesses inherent of the current system. Although only at a tech demonstration level, ‘Expanse’ has built a simple application using its own blockchain to prove the viability of the technology. They are currently hosting a mock US election, which anyone can go and try out! (just under 400 votes at time of writing) However trying to dig down into the technology Expanse have built their platform on over some lunch yielded meagre results, so I thought I’d explore a few options which could be viable…

Blockchain Voting Models

The first model I came across was touted by Follow My Vote:

Their model revolves around taking the current voting process and bringing it entirely online. The voter downloads an app, verifies their identity, registers to vote and when the time comes casting their vote, the system allows third party results verification (anyone using the app would be able to audit the ballot), all whilst retaining privacy and top level security.

The second model was discussed in the CoinCorner office, with an idea long held by Danny for blockchain voting using the existing bitcoin blockchain.

The idea would revolve around the Government/organisation giving each registered voter a bitcoin wallet containing an identical amount of BTC. They can only gain control of this wallet on Election Day, where they are presented with the private key to their wallet at the polling booth. They can then send the small amount of BTC to the candidate of their choice’s wallet (again issued by the Government/organisation) and the candidate with the most amount of bitcoin wins!
It’s surprising that there hasn’t been more progress on this within the community pushing a bitcoin based solution… after all, with the recent stories casting doubt over the integrity of privately run blockchains, bitcoin seems to be the perfect solution sat there and waiting!

How does it affect CoinCorner?

Well, directly… it doesn’t.

However indirectly being safe in the knowledge that our countries representatives have been elected through a transparent, traceable, secure and convenient democratic process CoinCorner would be able to sleep easily at night… no matter what regulatory hurdles are thrown it’s way!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Is blockchain voting the answer to election rigging? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

John Kerry Hints Bitcoin Training is Underway at US Embassies

Fri, 10/14/2016 - 10:00

Overview

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that the Government plans to train officers in embassies around the world about bitcoin.

Source: CoinDesk

It’s not just the US Government that needs training: it’s all Governments. I’m sure you’ll agree that there is a global lack of understanding surrounding digital currencies that has resulted in nothing but headaches for everyone involved. Governments are aware of bitcoin but they don’t understand it, so they do what they know best and try to control it only to discover that they can’t, which results in confusion, frustration and fear. Why fear you ask? Because, as we all know, unlike traditional “fiat” currencies that are issued and controlled by Governments (therefore enabling them to track currency movement, dictate who profits from that movement, collect taxes on it and trace criminal activity), digital currencies like bitcoin are decentralised (no central authority) and powered by a peer-to-peer payment network that the Government cannot control.

So is the real reason that Governments so desperately seek control of bitcoin simply because they don’t understand it? If they were to receive training to help them better understand, would bitcoin still be such a bad thing?

Take the Isle of Man Government, for example. From the very beginning, they have welcomed bitcoin businesses with open arms. They have been keen to learn about and support the growing bitcoin industry. In April last year, the Isle of Man Government amended the Proceeds of Crime Act 2008 to include cryptocurrency businesses operating from the island. While regulation within the industry has always been a controversial topic, these measures were taken not to hamper bitcoin businesses, but instead as a way to help them gain credibility and legitimacy with banks and consumers.

And the Isle of Man is only one example of a Government backing bitcoin – many Governments around the world have been “dipping their toe” in bitcoin for a while now, but would better education and understanding encourage them to take the plunge? I certainly think so.

Education is vital to the success of bitcoin: the more people understand it, the more they will use it. And I’m not just talking about Government bodies that need better educating – everyone needs better educating. How can we expect bitcoin to achieve mass adoption when Joe Public is simply baffled by it?

Educating people on bitcoin is something we at CoinCorner are passionate about. We are often asked by local organisations to give talks in order to help them better understand digital currency as we believe that helping people to understand how it works is important to the future and success of the industry.

There’s a lot of resources available (some good, some, er… not so good) that can teach you about bitcoin. We too, have been working on something exciting – an interactive, educational site that provides people with a “hands on” learning approach to bitcoin… I can’t give much more away but I can say that we hope to launch it within the next few months!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

If every Government were to receive bitcoin training, how would the bitcoin industry change? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

Bill Gross Says Bitcoin, Blockchain May Counter Central Banks

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 10:00

Bitcoin and privately agreed upon blockchain technologies amongst a small set of global banks are just a few examples of attempts to stabilize the value of their current assets in future purchasing power terms,” he wrote. “Gold would be another example — historic relic that it is. In any case, the current system is beginning to be challenged – Bill Gross

Source: Bloomberg

So, is this a classic case of sour grapes or does Mr. Gross actually like the blockchain’s forbidden fruit? Let’s look at the facts.

He’s been running a successful bond fund since before bitcoin was even a mere twinkle in Satoshi’s eye. The guy is a billionaire. All is well… or is it? Along come the central banks with their low interest rates and all of a sudden the business of making a living from running a bond fund has suddenly got a little bit harder. Yields are compressing, investors are complaining and Billionaire Bill’s life has just got a little less rosy. Sure, he’s not quite at the food bank but these fund managers are all about their annual returns. Especially ‘annualised’ returns. You mess with a fund manager’s annualised return figure and you may as well sleep with their spouse.

Which brings us to the question: does Bill really love bitcoin or is he encouraging us all to stockpile bitcoin as veiled threat to those meddlesome central bankers that are messing with his annualised return? Is he, in effect, saying to those central bankers, “Hike interested rates or the world will all start buying bitcoin and then you’ll be sorry”?

Honest answer, I have no idea. It would be fascinating to know if Bill actually owned any bitcoin. Why the hell didn’t Bloomberg ask him that? Alas, I doubt we’ll ever find out unless anybody out there has sold him some bitcoin and cares to tell us… anybody?

So, short of Bill telling the world he owns a huge pile of bitcoin, I doubt we’ll ever find out. However, that’s not really the point. The mere fact that this titan of the investment world knows the benefits of bitcoin and isn’t afraid to publicly shout them from the rooftops is good for the brand that is bitcoin. Simply put, it adds credibility.

Indeed, as often happens to me, if the people at your next dinner party* think you are a crackpot for owning bitcoin, you can now tell them that so does your buddy Billionaire Bill (or so we suspect).

Leaving all of that to one side, the most interesting (and largely overlooked) aspect of this article is the mention of ‘negative interest rates’. Yes folks, that means you could deposit £100 in your bank account and when you got to withdraw it a year later there may only be £99 there. Ouch!

One of the biggest criticisms of bitcoin has been that you don’t get paid interest for holding it. Well, in a world of negative interest rates, all of a sudden that doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

* The author’s diary is free most weekends up until December and has no dietary requirements by the way. He’ll literally eat anything.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

 

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Liam Wiltshire – Front End Developer

Fri, 09/02/2016 - 07:00

At CoinCorner, we’ve always been transparent about who we are and what we do.

In this feature, we want you to get to know each team member a little better… If Danny could have dinner with any one person, who would it be? If Liam could have one superpower, what would he choose? What is Phil’s favourite food?

Enjoy!

Liam Wiltshire – CoinCorner Front End Developer

If you could have dinner with any one person (living or dead) who would it be? Elon Musk. He seems to share my belief on what the future holds (and needs) so I’d love to chat about that… and also beg him for a Tesla.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why? Definitely not a phone, I’d enjoy the peace and quiet. First thing: A surfboard (I’m a keen surfer). Second thing: A book. Third thing: A tent.

What is your favourite food? Cauliflower cheese.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been? New Zealand – it definitely appeals to me more than the standard ‘backpacking through Australia’ thing. I love how wild and uninhabited New Zealand is… a real wilderness.

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up? Smell, although I would miss the smell of cut grass and petrol.

Why did you choose your profession? It was a gradual journey from graphics to basic code, to more systems and operations based disciplines. I believe what I do (especially in a startup company) is an exciting and fulfilling way to make a living.

What animal best represents you and why? I quite like the way otters go about their business.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Warp speed (what’s out there!)

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin? One day Danny said, “Liam, we’re going into Bitcoin”

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)? Without blowing my own trumpet, yes it has. I believed from early on that mass adoption would be a tough nut to crack, so the slow growth we are seeing and bitcoin being adopted for use within banking systems is in line with my expectations.

Where do you see Bitcoin in 5 years from now? The same but better. I believe there will be a similar amount of crypto companies to there is now, but they will be more professional, more secure, more developed and offering a more compelling service for the users, in line with my prediction for a 8-12 year mass adoption timeline. In what form this will come, I am unsure about yet, whether it being back office efficiencies, the unbanked using wallets on their smartphones or a fully decentralised payments network!)

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Phil Collins – Co-Founder

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 10:00

At CoinCorner, we’ve always been transparent about who we are and what we do.

In this feature, we want you to get to know each team member a little better… If Danny could have dinner with any one person, who would it be? If Liam could have one superpower, what would he choose? What is Phil’s favourite food?

Enjoy!

Phil Collins – CoinCorner Co-Founder

If you could have dinner with any one person (living or dead) who would it be? This changes daily. Today I’ll go with ‘Khufu’ – he can tell me how they really built the Great Pyramid.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why? Sounds like bliss! Can I take my girlfriend and dog and have an endless source of fresh drinking water please? I’m sure nature will provide the rest. If my girlfriend and dog aren’t allowed, then I’ll take a satellite phone (with GPS tracking), a source of fresh drinking water and fruit that would last until my rescue party arrives.

What is your favourite food? Full English Breakfast.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been? Giza, Egypt.

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up? Taste.

Why did you choose your profession? Not sure chief dogsbody is a profession and I didn’t exactly choose it. Jobs need to be done and somebody has to do them.

What animal best represents you and why? A dog because I’m loyal.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Healing.

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin? To make a big pile of cash, quickly… it never happened. What continues to motivate me on a daily basis working in a start up on a shoe string budget, is the awesome team around me that are more like family than colleagues and the knowledge that I am making a real contribution to the evolution of a technology that can benefit many. I’m a lucky guy.

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)? No, it’s been very long and winding, but as a bonus, bitcoin has turned out to be so much more than just a currency. There’s never a dull day in bitcoin.

Where do you see Bitcoin in 5 years from now? I think it will be everywhere, though you just may not see it.

Get To Know The CoinCorner Team: Danny Scott – Co-Founder

Fri, 08/12/2016 - 10:00

At CoinCorner, we’ve always been transparent about who we are and what we do.

In this feature, we want you to get to know each team member a little better… If Danny could have dinner with any one person, who would it be? If Liam could have one superpower, what would he choose? What is Phil’s favourite food?

Enjoy!

Danny Scott – CoinCorner Co-Founder

If you could have dinner with any one person (living or dead) who would it be? Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why? Can I take a boat and a captain to drive me home?

What is your favourite food? Enchiladas and Nachos.

Where would you like to travel to that you have never been? Cayman Islands is top of my list, hopefully I’ll get the chance to visit there soon!

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up? It would have to be taste. As much as I love food, I think that losing one of the other senses would be a struggle for every day life.

Why did you choose your profession? I’ve always played around with computers since I was a kid, more on the PC side of things than the console, but it wasn’t until I was about 19 when I started programming, purely out of my interest for computers and getting lucky in a job role.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Flying. We live on the Isle of Man, so it would be nice to be able to fly off easily when I needed/wanted to.

What was your motivating factor to begin working with Bitcoin? I was interested because it was a new technology, but honestly really got hands on when the price began to move.

Has the path of bitcoin turned out the way you thought it would (so far)? Initially, I expected what the media said would happen: that Bitcoin would take a ‘rocket to the moon’, but very quickly, I learned more about the industry and saw as with any new technology or concept, that things take time to be adopted. I still expect for Bitcoin to take some years before wide spread adoption, but I believe it will come in time.

Where do you see Bitcoin in 5 years from now? If someone had asked me back in 2000 where the Internet would be in 5 years time, I would not have predicted the beginning of social media as it just wasn’t on the radar. If I predict something now and it comes true, I’ll look like a genius, however if I get it wrong I’ll just get lost in the crowds of people guessing right now. So my answer is I’ll wait and see.

Bitfinex Offline as Customer Bitcoin Reported Stolen

Fri, 08/05/2016 - 10:00

Overview

On Wednesday (2nd August) Bitfinex, one of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in the world, announced that 119,756 BTC (roughly $66 million) had been stolen from their exchange – the largest loss of bitcoins by an exchange since the 2014 Mt. Gox theft that saw 744,408 bitcoins stolen.

Source: CoinDesk

How does it affect the (bitcoin) industry?

Where do I begin? As one of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in the world, it’s likely that everyone will have felt the effects of the Bitfinex theft, whether that be directly and indirectly.

Bitfinex Customers

Obviously, those who have been hit the hardest are the direct customers of Bitfinex. Although the full extent of customer losses on an individual basis is unclear, initial reports indicate that a significant number of customers were affected as Bitfinex had a lot of customers, many with a lot of bitcoins. One unlucky customer reportedly lost his entire life savings in the hack.

My entire life savings for last 12 years are/were in btc balance on bitfinex…. Looks like I could be financially ruined.

With the future of Bitfinex unclear, many customers are desperately seeking answers.

Were BitGo or any BitGo staff hacked in this incident?

Why did BitGo’s fraud filters allow these transactions?

Why did Bitfinex’s limits not apply?

Was authy also hacked or did BitGo’s 2FA not work?

Was BitGo aware that Bitfinex was insecure?

Did BitGo advise any changes?

Why did BitGo not complain when Bitfinex claimed losses due to hacking were impossible?

The Bitcoin Price

The whole industry was also indirectly affected when the price of bitcoin plummeted after the news broke.

The price fell sharply around the time of the announcement from just over $600 to under $520, but has since recovered slightly.

Mt Gox 2.0?

This theft is the largest loss of bitcoins by an exchange since Mt. Gox lost 744,408 BTC in early 2014 (worth $350m at the time), a breach that caused it to cease operations and and file for bankruptcy. The Mt. Gox scandal had both a long-lasting and damaging effect on the bitcoin industry following heavy media coverage, much of which painted bitcoin in a negative light. While it’s taken time to repair the damage, the bitcoin industry has rebounded and is now bigger and stronger than ever. We can only hope that the industry can recover quickly, if not instantly, following this attack.

How does it affect CoinCorner?

It’s always difficult to witness something like this happen to another businesses in the industry, in particular those who have played a big part in helping it grow and become what it is today. If the theft is the work of an external hacking group, then we offer our sincerest condolences to Bitfinex and hope that they can recover from this.

With any news like this, there is always somewhat of a ripple effect that follows and we have certainly felt the secondary effects. Public perception changes overnight and suddenly every bitcoin exchange becomes unsafe and untrustworthy: “Do not trust (centralised) exchanges!” “Do not keep any of your coins on an exchange!” (We agree with this – we always recommend that our customers keep their coins in a decentralised wallet).

We understand that these high profile attacks do cause panic, uncertainty and raise questions regarding the legitimacy of certain bitcoin businesses, and for other exchanges operating within the industry, these thefts can be just as damaging indirectly (through reputation) as they are directly to the company that got hacked.

Whoever is responsible and whatever the reason behind the Bitfinex hack, it is important to remember that these events do not reflect the entire industry. It really is unfortunate for Bitfinex and their customers to have to experience this, however there are many other genuine, trustworthy people and companies involved in bitcoin who will continue to work towards building the future of bitcoin.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Have you been affected by the Bitfinex theft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

Ethereum Creator Vitalik Buterin Addresses ‘Classic’ Blockchain

Fri, 07/29/2016 - 10:00

Source: CoinDesk

Mr and Mrs Ethereum have announced that they are getting a divorce.

Much was made about Bitcoin’s inability to get its house in order over the blockchain sizing debate, however, with Ethereum’s DAO now looking like a Dysfunctional Autonomous Organisation, Bitcoin is suddenly looking like a well run FTSE 100 company by comparison. Okay, that may be stretching things a little. Bitcoin still doesn’t have its house in order over the block size debate but Ethereum by comparison is a teenage house party that has been advertised on Facebook and now has hundreds of uninvited guests spilling beer on the sofa and vomiting on the carpet. The Bitcoin brigade are eating cucumber sandwiches while Ethereum revelers stub out cigarettes in plant pots and stealing the family jewellery. But hey, once the party is over and the hangover has subsided, perhaps we can pretend that it was all just a bad dream. We can rewind the clock and pretend it didn’t happen. Alas, we can create a hard fork, but no amount of scrubbing and cleaning will remove those vomit stains and the fact Mrs Ethereum’s pearl necklace was returned after it got stolen still doesn’t erase the fact it happened. The pearls are slightly tarnished now. And just as we are waiting for the parents to come back from holiday to restore some order and clean up the mess, Mr and Mrs Ethereum announce they are getting a divorce. Or at least splitting up to live their own lives.

So, what does all of this mean for Bitcoin and for ‘rival’ altcoins in general?

It’s long been CoinCorner’s view that altcoins are just that – an alternative. Certain people will always like an alternative to the mainstream, but we always ask ourselves the same question: what are these coins actually offering that Bitcoin is not, or could not? The answer is typically nothing much. This is why, as a business, we have chosen to hang our hat on Bitcoin. When some of our competitors decided to strategically distance, or dare we say disguise, their involvement with Bitcoin (Uphold, Circle and others) in order to chase mainstream investment, little old CoinCorner stayed right in Bitcoin’s corner (apologies for that small pun).

After an initial period of self denial, Coinbase eventually came out all guns blazing and proudly announced that their new strategy was 100% focused on Bitcoin. So why then, a few weeks later, do we receive an email from them (yes, we have accounts there too so that we can keep an eye on the noisy neighbours for the benefit of our own more discerning customers!) stating: “Coinbase adds support for Ethereum”.

It struck us as slight odd as well, especially given the timing – right in the middle of Mr & Mrs Ethereum’s messy divorce. Now, we all love a good conspiracy theory so we set to work looking for possible answers. If you believe anything that is written on the web, the three reoccurring reasons you’ll find for Coinbase adding Ethereum are:

1. They are in bed with the Ethereum Core team
2. They are desperately looking of additional revenue streams
3. They admire the Etherum’s technology and want to do the blockchain community a nice favour by promoting Ethereum.

None of these three points are ‘news’ as such, so we don’t have a view on them. Feel free to make your own views of course.

So what does this mean for Bitcoin? Well, as the bell rings for the start of round 3, Etherum has a bloody nose and Bitcoin is leading on points.

And what does this mean for CoinCorner? Just think of Rocky II, CoinCorner is Apollo Creed, Bitcoin’s (or Rocky’s) expert in the corner.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

What does the future hold for Ethereum? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

What If Pokémon Go Integrated Bitcoin?

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 08:33

Overview

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this last week, you’ll know that the release of Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm. A favourite amongst 90’s kids, geeks and gamers, Pokémon was (and still is) a cultural phenomenon. Using the latest augmented reality technology (as well as a little imagination), Pokémon GO has everyone out and about catching Pokémon in the real world.

Ever since the game hit the App Store, it has people in the bitcoin industry asking, “What if Pokémon GO integrated bitcoin?

Source: Bitcoin.com

If Nintendo did decide to integrate bitcoin with Pokémon GO, it would be huge. According to USA Today, the app has already topped 15 million downloads on the App Store and Google Play… and it was only released last week! Just imagine if every person that downloaded it was required to use bitcoin.

With anonymous transactions, low fees and a secure network, it’s long been believed that bitcoin was made for gaming. The world is moving away from traditional payments like cash and towards digital payments, which are easier to process. In fact, many people are predicting that the world will be cashless by around 2050.

Bitcoin + Gaming = <3

Gaming sites that support bitcoin (either bitcoin only or alongside these traditional payment methods) are popping up all over the Internet. Bitcoin compliments the likes of gaming and gambling services because it can be seamlessly integrated with such services and also allows users to remain in control of their privacy.

Bitcoin is also seen by many as a secure way to store money. Kept in a digital wallet that can be managed by a third party (e.g. a bitcoin exchange) or on a private computer, there are no limits to how many wallets/bitcoin addresses you can have. Having realised the benefits that digital currencies have to bring to online gaming, the sector has lead the way in embracing bitcoin.

Beneficial to both the customer and the merchant, using bitcoin removes the need for processing fees and currency conversion fees, making the process easier and more cost effective. When handling payments, merchants are subject to processing fees which are often passed on to the customer, but with bitcoin, these costs are avoided. Added bonuses for merchants: using bitcoin removes the risk of chargebacks.

As much as I would love for Nintendo to integrate bitcoin to Pokémon GO, I think that honestly, bitcoin would not work as an in-app currency. It may work for the merchants behind the scenes, but at the moment, there is no major advantage to the customer for using bitcoin – besides, there’s nothing wrong with the current Pokécoins.

It’s fair to say that Pokémon fever has captured the CoinCorner team, especially myself and Danny, who grew up in the 90’s. As it turns out, our office is a hot spot for catching Pokémon and there’s even a Pokégym right next door!

The addition of bitcoin to Pokémon GO would, of course, be the best news in the world for bitcoin businesses like ourselves. With 15 million potential new customers overnight (and even more once the app is rolled out across the world), the bitcoin industry would finally experience the mass adoption we’ve all been waiting for… but before we get too carried away, I think Nintendo have more important things on their mind (like how to spend their $1.6m daily revenue). For now, there’s a wild Pidgey outside the office that I have to catch.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Have you been swept up in the Pokémon GO craze? Would the integration of bitcoin make this game better? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

Brexit Fallout Could Result in Systemic Collapse Bigger Than 2008

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 11:57

Overview

This week, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU). I, like many other people, was watching when that first ballot result come through from Newcastle and knew it was going to be an interesting night. Sure enough, it was. David Cameron’s internal fighting within the Tory Party and his bid to secure the 2015 general election by offering a referendum has finally lead to the end of his political career.

There is now a major fallout occurring around the world, with the British Pound dropping by as much as 11% and Asian stocks taking the biggest hit in five years. Mark Carney has promised to pump £250 million into the system from the central bank to keep it afloat.

Keiser told RT this ‘uncollateralized’ money comes from Carney’s “magic bag of pixie dust” and is part of a financially-engineered class war, coordinated by the Central Banks where in the UK Carney is “class warrior in chief.

As FIAT currencies around the world face more pressure, gold and bitcoin have gained their places in a bull market.

Source: RT

How does Brexit affect the bitcoin industry?

Figure 1: Worldwide search interest in ‘Bitcoin’ over the last 90 days

Figure 2: United Kingdom search interest in ‘Bitcoin’ over the last 90 days

Coinbase reported a 55% increase in new account sign-ups from Great Britain and a 350% increase in bitcoin purchases from UK customers. Whilst these figures may be true, looking at the Google Trends search data these claims seem very hard to quantify. There was a clear search interest peak following the referendum result, but nowhere near the spike following the sudden price rise in early May. Interestingly, there was far more search interest in bitcoin globally than there was in the UK following the news of Brexit, implying the world’s markets are more insecure about Brexit than Britain itself.

Before Brexit, there were many models touted that the UK could follow after leaving the EU. One of the leading models was a deregulating model, stripping away a lot of the EU bureaucracy and opening up to the world, resulting in a new and highly competitive marketplace with banks and other financial institutions having to react to pressures from newcomers and startups. One of these reactions in the drive to protect their profits could be to look at cryptocurrencies more seriously, and with bitcoin emerging alongside gold in recent days, it is certainly looking like this is a hotbed for future marketplace competition.

Let’s not jump ahead just yet though. Bitcoin is still highly speculative and will take a while before it becomes a solid asset. But what would large scale interest in bitcoin from banks look like? Many banks already have small teams working on blockchain concepts, but as we all know ‘blockchain’ was the keyword of 2015, whereas 2016 seems to be bringing the realisation that bitcoin (despite it’s ‘tarnished’ name from previous events) offers the strongest potential, in terms of mining power, infrastructure and user base. Whilst some people may see the attention from banks as ‘negative’, many bitcoin businesses have found that the lack of access to banking facilities in order to perform everyday business operations has hindered their growth. If the market does open up and become more competitive, it is likely that someone will be willing to offer bitcoin businesses stronger UK based banking relations, which will in turn fuel further investment and innovation in the crypto space.

It’s hard to know where bitcoin will be in ten years. The dream of the unbanked majority having the power to access a global financial system is still many years off, but perhaps Brexit is the shake up that system needs in order for new players to be noticed and new ideas to be considered.

How does it affect CoinCorner?

Here at CoinCorner, we have always had the mentality to grow alongside bitcoin and not to rush anything. I feel like this could be one of the events (if Article 50 is ever triggered) that could call into focus the role of central banking and open up the wider population’s idea to a different way of doing things. CoinCorner wants to be there providing services to an ever-increasing customer base so that when the time is right – and bitcoin ‘explodes’ – we are there to grow with it, providing innovative, easy to use and reliable services to new adopters.

To our customers who may be nervous (or excited) about the prospect of Brexit, I would advise you to avoid reading/absorbing the main stream media’s current reportage and perform your own research on subjects such as the European and Worldwide economy. Have the belief that democracy and freedom is still alive and well and that this is a big opportunity for everyone.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

Do you think Brexit is good for bitcoin? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

Prenup Built in Ethereum Smart Contract Rethinks Marriage Obligations

Fri, 06/03/2016 - 11:39

Overview

PrenupWithLove is an open-source smart contract can be uploaded to and stored on the Ethereum Blockchain. Designed by a soon-to-be-newlyweds, Gaurang Torvekar and Sayalee Kaluskar, they hope that by putting their prenup on the Blockchain, they can solve their nightly Netflix conflict (and no, I am not joking, but I wish they were).

Source: CoinDesk

Firstly, for this to make news on CoinDesk I can only assume that this particular day was a slow news day.

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a legal agreement/contract undertaken by a couple before marriage, which establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce… okay, gotcha.

Out of curiosity (and if I’m honest, nosiness), I took a look at their prenup – I mean, this is history, right? The first ever prenup to be stored on the Etheruem Blockchain is kind of a big deal – and what I found was a half page document stipulating how long date nights should be and who will do the chores… not exactly a prenup and not exactly what I was expecting when I saw this “news”.

“While talking about blockchains and its endless possibilities, we thought of using it to solve our day to day problems. As we are getting married this December, we immediately thought of a putting our prenup on the blockchain as a “smart” solution.”

I’m no relationship expert, but personally I think a “smarter” solution would be couples counselling.

I honestly thought it was a joke. It’s definitely not a prenup – it’s what I would call a relationship agreement (think Sheldon and Amy from The Big Bang Theory) and whilst most couples will have something similar, they don’t go round storing it on the Blockchain. Apart from short-term publicity, it achieves nothing. Whilst an accessible-to-all prenup template on the Blockchain may seem like the solution to a (pretty small) problem, it actually creates a new, bigger problem: it won’t be a legal document until the Blockchain is acknowledged by the Government.

To establish the arrangement, the couple uploaded a prenuptial template with the couple’s “covenants” onto the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). The contents of that document were then encoded into a smart contract on the Ethereum Blockchain.

Before the contract is initiated, both parties must accept the terms and conditions by calling the method “accept” from their own personal IP addresses. Their acceptance is also stored within the contract.

The template agreement encoded in the contract lists a number of requirements to which the two must adhere.

Having read through the process of how it works, I can’t help but think that this is just another “great use case” for blockchain technology that is, in fact, making something that is already quite simple so much harder.

“The next time when we have to decide which show to watch on Netflix, this is where we can find the tamper proof, single source of truth – that no coder or a Photoshop master can manipulate.”

Why just not flip a coin or draw straws? They are merely trying to solve a problem with Blockchain that doesn’t exist.

2015 was the “Year of the Blockchain” with VC interest and investment shifting from Bitcoin (Bitcoin was so 2014) to Blockchain. I feel that along the way, people have gotten lost in the hype, confusing the Blockchain (public/open e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) and blockchain technology (private/closed).

The term “blockchain” is thrown around a lot and yet it seems that nobody really knows what to do with it. Not only are prenups now stored on the Blockchain, but people are getting married on the Blockchain and registering the birth of their children on the Blockchain. Every week, a new blockchain concept appears in the news, but very few of these concepts actually progress any further. This technology really does has massive potential, but for now, cryptocurrency seems to remain the only real-world use case.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here represent those of the contributor, not necessarily those of CoinCorner.

What do you think blockchain technology will be used for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

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