Overstock Sells $5 Million Cryptobond to New York Trading Firm

US retail giant Overstock has sold $5m of a recently issued “cryptobond” to FNY Managed Accounts, a New York-based trading firm.

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HackCoin: Bitcoin Hackathon in India Sponsored by Microsoft, IBM and Citruspay

hackcoin

Zone Startups India, BitStreet and Block Chain University are hosting India’s first bitcoin hackathon at the Bombay Stock Exchange in India named “HackCoin Mumbai.” The hackathon will be joined by over a hundred developers looking to build blockchain-based applications for payments, big data and digital experience.

“There are three problem statements – one for each theme,” explained Ajay Ramasubramanian, project head of Zone Startups India. “There are possibilities for the winning outputs to be rolled out into full-scale projects.”

The hackathon is sponsored by Microsoft, IBM and Citruspay, and the executives of these companies will participate in the event as mentors and panelists.

“What we are really excited about is not only that we are the first fintech hackathon in terms of blockchain usage, but also that we are getting a lot of bitcoin experts,” said Raunaq Vaisoha, partner of HackCoin, the facilitator of the event.

Vaisoha added that such an event is important to developers, especially now that large global banks are showing strong interest in blockchain technology and blockchain/bitcoin-based startups.

“This event is very important for the blockchain ecosystem,” Vaisoha said. “If you look at 2014, there was $400 million VC funding in the blockchain. Citibank, Barclays and IBM are looking at it.”

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Bitcoin to Ripple Gateway to Shut Down for US Users

ripple-dollars

Ripple Inc., payment gateway for hundreds of assets and digital currencies has announced the closure of btc2ripple gateway for all US residents starting September 1, 2015.

Btc2ripple gateway is one of the hundreds of gateways on the Ripple Trade platform which is used to purchase or trade BTC to XRP (Ripple’s IOU). On September 1, Ripple will shut down the btc2ripple gateway for all U.S. residents, which will disallow any Americans from purchasing or depositing BTC using Ripple Trade accounts.

In a statement, the btc2ripple team announced, “We are discontinuing the btc2ripple service for U.S. residents. All non-U.S. customers will have full access to our service as usual. Starting Sept 1, 2015, you will not be able to make BTC deposits to your Ripple Trade account or make BTC withdrawals from your Ripple Trade account.”

If any U.S.-based accounts hold BTC on or after September 1, all bitcoin will be forfeited.

The majority of Ripple Trade users are based in the United States, and so the closure of btc2ripple may lead to a large decline in bitcoin/xrp trading volume on its platform.

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Accenture Executives Propose Replacing Bitcoin with a Closed Blockchain

accenture

Writing on CIO Journal, a Wall Street Journal blog for corporate technology executives, Owen Jelf and Sigrid Seibold , respectively global managing director of Accenture’s capital markets practice and managing director of Accenture’s digital capital markets efforts, weigh in on the fashionable debate about the blockchain as a system vs. bitcoin as a currency.

Not surprisingly, the two Accenture writers propose to do without bitcoin as a currency, but they are bullish about the potential of the blockchain in financial markets.

“Blockchains present an enormous opportunity for the world’s banks and financial institutions, which have moved quickly to make investments in it,” they say.

Accenture, a Fortune Global 500 company, is the world’s largest consulting firm as measured by revenues and has scores of high profile clients in the banking, financial and regulatory sectors.

“The bitcoin protocol supports a highly decentralized currency validated through anonymous consensus on a public ledger held by entities around the world,” note the Accenture representatives. “But that objective introduced trade-offs, including a costly proof-of-work algorithm, public transaction data and a validation scheme that adds latency to the transaction process, by design.”

Bitcoin enthusiasts would disagree, and argue that the distributed anonymous consensus model used in the Bitcoin blockchain is not a bug, but a feature – and a  breakthrough innovation. In fact, the Bitcoin blockchain represents the first solid, working implementation of distributed consensus – for the first time, everyone can agree on what transactions took place, and who owns what, because everything is recorded on a tamper-proof public ledger that doesn’t need a central server and can’t be controlled by any central authority.

Of course, that is precisely the reason why the authorities and the banks don’t like Bitcoin. Today, governments and financial institutions recognize that the blockchain technology behind Bitcoin can offer huge cost savings, efficiency, and operational benefits to financial systems – distributed ledger technology could save banks $15 billion-$20 billion per annum by 2022 according to a recent Santander Innoventures report – but it’s in the nature of power to oppose what it can’t control.

The two Accenture representatives offer their solution: “To be used by financial institutions, including capital markets firms and insurers, blockchains must supplant the costly methods introduced by bitcoin with a mechanism that guarantees security, privacy and speed without paying for anonymous consensus.”

In other words, Bitcoin should disappear and be replaced by a closed blockchain. The new blockchain proposed by the Accenture writers is not “permissionless” like the Bitcoin blockchain, where everyone can download the software and participate without asking anyone’s permission, but a “permissioned” blockchain restricted to vetted participants.

New York Times technology and finance reporter Nathaniel Popper, author of  Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money,” noted that a permissioned blockchain could be jointly run by the computers of the largest banks and serve as the backbone for a new, instant payment system without a single point of failure. The new blockchain, decentralized but closed, would offer the benefits of the current Bitcoin network without relying on end-users for its operations.

Of course, the governments and the banks tend to enthusiastically support the idea of a permissioned blockchain without the troublesome bitcoin. But the Bitcoin system works, and the features that the Accenture writers propose to eliminate could be the very features that make it work. Other solutions to the issues mentioned by the Accenture writers, for example Lightning Networks, could be more effective.

Photo Michael Gray / Flickr 

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New Ethereum Foundation Executive Director and Board Members Signal a Reboot for Ethereum

zug

One of the strengths of Ethereum is its decentralized nature, giving it a wider, more stable base. There are Ethereum project teams in different parts of the world, including Amsterdam, Berlin, Switzerland and Brazil. (For example, Geth was deployed by the Amsterdam team while Eth was produced by the Berlin team.)

If there is a center to Ethereum, it would be in the beautiful town of Zug, Switzerland, home of the Ethereum Foundation that overseas the project’s finances, manages the funds raised in the Ether sale and determines the long-term vision and direction of Ethereum.

Stephan Tual, chief communications officer for the Ethereum project, told Bitcoin Magazine that the new executive director and board members represent a fresh start, a way to reboot the organization.

“[W]e had a very clear goal to recruit from verticals that were varied, ranging from the world of manufacturing, IoT, education, politics, health, finance and more,” he said. “Basically, anywhere where Ethereum could be embedded and make a difference.”

The new foundation executive director is Ming Chan, a Swiss-born Chinese American MIT computer science and media arts graduate, who has extensive experience working with educators, scientists and inventors to found and grow innovative new business ventures.

The new board members are Vitalik Buterin (president of the board), Lars Klawitter, Vadim Levitin, and Wayne Hennessy-Barrett.

For day-to-day decisions an “executive” consisting of Stephan Tual, Gavin Wood and Jeffrey Wilcke is in charge, with assistance from Aeron Buchanan, Jutta Steiner, Kelley Becker and Frithjof Weinert.

How’s the Launch Going So Far?

The launch so far is going far better than expected. The main Ethereum blockchain is in play and already users can access their pre-sale wallets, mine ether at the full reward rate, and use or deploy decentralized applications on the main network.

“We’re delighted with the stability of the network so far, as results have exceeded expectations and more and more developers are generating the Genesis block and joining the network,” Tual said. “Real time statistics on the network health can be viewed at http://ift.tt/1G8ygzy

“So far the Frontier launch has been exceptionally smooth, due in large part to our intense Olympic test phase, as well as our robust user-guides and the tutorials written by dedicated members of our community,” Ethan Wilding, resident Ethereum philosopher and co-founder of Ledger Labs told Bitcoin Magazine. “This is, however, a development release, and so a willingness to use the command line is required.”

“Most of the questions we’ve had since this launch are from general users eager to learn how to mine ether and get wallet access on the Ethereum platform using command line; we’re always happy to help,” he said. “As our platform is tested further and made even more robust, we will continue to improve upon the user-experience by introducing our graphical user-interfaces for such operations in a future release.”

Bitcoin Magazine will continue to follow this story and keep you informed on new developments.

 

Photo Roland Zumbuehl / Wikimedia Commons

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