Month: June 2016

Public, Private & Confederated Blockchains

There are different types of blockchains. The only true use case for a blockchain, at the current time, is Bitcoin. Nonetheless, many of these other blockchain models, still experiments, could power finance, and some experts believe relatively quickly.





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Best Gold And Silver Affiliate Programs

Make money today, sell gold. You can set up affiliate links on your gold related website – or any website – and possibly start earning today but probably not. Read More

You Can Bet Bitcoin on Wimbledon

Tennis is a very strong bitcoin betting sport at Nitrogen Sports. “The one-vs-one nature of big matches tends to interest bettors because it’s a great way to dive deep into the psyche of individual players,” he said. “We also foresee fantastic growth in eSports in the coming years, as leagues and teams improve their product for a mass audience.”

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10 Unauthorized Facts About Ethereum, DAO & The Missing $60 Million

The second largest blockchain crowdsale of all time is Ethereum. Ethereum is a blockchain system based on smart contract technology which seeks to remove humans from the nature of contracts. It is run by a virtual machine, which is a distribution of computing power run in a Bitcoin-type network. Miners in this distributed network are rewarded in ether, a Bitcoin-inspired digital currency that Ethereum proponents refer to as the “fuel” of the network.  This is similar to how Bitcoin miners are rewarded with Bitcoin.

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Many More Bitcoiners Are Going To Jail & The Community Won’t Care

Bitcoin has had a scandalous past already, with many high profile court cases. When you go to conferences, the focus is on how Bitcoin is world changing and the opportunity of a lifetime. In most discussion circles, and at most lectures, nobody will dare mention those people who have been arrested and charged with whatever crimes.

Some come to mind, such as LocalBitcoins trader Pascal Reid, Coin.mx trader Anthony Murgio and Trendon Shavers – the much-hated Pirateat40 – who was considered a villain in the Bitcoin community, but one of his lawyers have recently come out and told of a different Trendon.

So, here the Bitcoiners are, ignoring their own fates. Netki COO Dawn Carey Newton spoke at the Inside Bitcoins conference in San Diego in December where she mentioned federal agents told a digital currency conference that there were currently many pending investigations. Dawn guessed dozens were pending.

That means many more Bitcoiners are going to have charges brought up against them. That could be you. Might already be you. And just like what happened with other Bitcoiners before you, nobody will stand up to defend that you were merely helping the Bitcoin ecosystem to grow and never thought you were doing anything wrong. And the prosecutor won’t care either.

As lawyer Jason Seibert said at Inside Bitcoins, Bitcoin is “legal sexy.” What he means by that phrase is that hard-working law enforcement agents and prosecutors might wish to make a name for themselves in the field of crypto-currency legislation and policy.

Because of regulatory vagueness, a number of Bitcoin business models are at stake. Even if you’re once removed from any transacting of money, you could get caught up in a court case of a client as a witness. Even this will put you under great scrutiny.

If you’re one of those Bitcoin entrepreneurs who loves the Bitcoin community, and is doing whatever you can do to add new applications to the cryptocurrency space, then you might be at risk for a state or federal investigation. And when your time comes, you’ll just be another trending name on the top of r/Bitcoin. And, at the Bitcoin conferences, venture capitalists will just talk how innovative they’re being with their lawyers and booty of dollars.

Loyalty Pay Holdings Purchases MintChip





Loyalty Pays Holdings has purchased all assets related to the once defunct Royal Canadian Mint project, MintChip.

MintChip represents a digital currency developed by the Mint meant to be similar to cash. Royal Canadian Mint began developing the technology after the digital currency Bitcoin had gained global attention. The new owner of the technology, nanoPay, has purchased a technology much different than Bitcoin, however; MintChip offers support compliance of regulatory standards, including anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) laws. MintChip can be denominated in multiple national currencies and value can be transferred without intermediary, both offline and online.

“This transaction, which was conducted through an open, transparent divestiture process, allows MintChip to move to its natural next step of commercialization in the private sector,” said Bob Zintel, Senior Director, Finance at the Royal Canadian Mint. “Canadians can now look forward to the evolution of MintChip as nanoPay explores the full potential of this digital payment technology in the global marketplace.” NanoPay is excited about the new technology they’ve acquired.

“Digital currency is inevitable and our newly-acquired MintChip  platform delivers a digital cash future to consumers, businesses and governments today,” said nanoPay Founder & CEO, Laurence Cooke. “Digital cash will transform payments globally, from the unbanked to the largest financial institutions, and MintChip will help easily transition to the reality of cashless payments.”

MintChip was used by RCM in a six-month internal trial. The technology has been granted five patents, with five additional patents going through the patent process. The platform is fully functional today and will be commercially deployed in the coming weeks.

NanoPay’s next pursuits are expanding partnerships with central banks, commercial banks, telcos, acquirers, and retailers so as to further the use of the technology.

RCM made headlines in 2013 when it introduced its MintChip project. That year, software engineers at the 105-year-old Crown corporation will commence testing its very own digital currency.

At the time, they stated that MintChip “has the potential to revolutionize how we do business.”

“Where we’re going is not a road that has been travelled,” said Marc Brûlé, who heads up RCM’s virtual money project.

“The challenge for most companies trying to do this is they are not a federal mint,” said Catherine Johnston, chief executive of ACT Canada, a payments industry advocate. “What they’re really doing is giving a digital representation of money, and it really requires a federally regulated body to be able to do true digital currency. So I see the Mint as having everything they need to make it a reality.”

MintChip can be held on a smartphone or other electronic device. “We’re at the very beginning of this, you know. But I believe that smartphones are very powerful devices and very popular. You miss your wallet in a couple of hours but you miss your smartphone in minutes,” Mr. Brûlé said when the project was first announced.

Little is know about the security protecting these wallets, but the MintChip project was originally going after micro-transactions and is expected by officials to be adopted by the underbanked. The MintChip is designed to be a digital form of cash and change. The Mint maintains that MintChip maintains “the capability for anonymous, efficient and almost instantaneous transactions.”

Compared to physical cash and change, the Mint argues, the cost of managing MintChip is much lower.

“It will be fun to watch it but i don’t think we will see anything substantive from it.,” Trace Mayer said about MintChip when it was first announced. “Anything MintChip can do, Bitcoin can do, and we can do it securer because we have the processing power to do so.”




Steve Albini Appreciates Bitcoin Technology, Skeptical Of The Blockchain


The producer of Nirvana’s landmark record, In Utero, levied some interesting critiques of blockchain technology in an interview long before the technology had captured the attention of some of the world’s largest corporations in 2015.

In a discussion with the podcast Decentralize.FM, Mr Albini seemed suspicious of blockchain technology. The Shellac guitarist did not understand why, if an open source community like Bitcoin and blockchain were trying to change, if not get rid of, modern institutions, why they would try and mimic the institutions themselves?

“What most of the underground culture has been based on is not finding an alternative version of something in the mainstream culture, like in [the Bitcoin] example, finance, but making those things we find repellent about the mainstream culture irrelevant,” Albini told Tony Sakich of Decentralize.fm. “It’s not let’s have our own lawyers and contracts and our own automated version of bill collecting; let’s not have lawyers, let’s not have contracts, let’s not have bill collecting, and not let’s have our own version of exclusive relationships that we police, but let’s not have exclusive relationships and not have any police.”

He points out that Bitcoin is merely mimicking the ways things have always been: “Bitcoin is creating equivalents to items that exist in the material world but in the digital ether, and my point, and probably the fulcrum of my existence, has been to eliminate those things from my life, not create an alternative version I could cherish as my own invention.”Albini highlights how his personal philosophy differs from this. He leveled some interesting criticisms at smart contracts, and contracts in general, at the time.

“I’ve made contracts irrelevant and unnecessary in my life,” he said. “I don’t use contracts in business, I literally do not use them. I’ve had a successful and extended career based on the idea that I’m only dealing with people I can trust and who can trust me. I’ve never signed a piece of paper; never even had a verbal understanding of the details of our relationship…”

While Bitcoiners champion how blockchain technology means we can do away with trust in the modern world, Albini thinks some trust is a good thing.

“In the terrified straight world people say, ‘Well aren’t you afraid of someone taking advantage of you?’ Like someone books a bunch of studio time and then cancels it…Well that happens very rarely and it happens very rarely because we do a good job at vetting the people that we’re working with. We spend a little bit of energy making sure the people we’re dealing with are trustworthy, and building a personal relationship with them, then we don’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of time structuring agreements, and contracts and collecting on payments that people are reluctant to make.”

One year later, smart contracts have been adopted by Microsoft, IBM, and the world’s major banks. At conferences for blockchain technology, representatives of some of the world’s most influential corporations discuss how the blockchain can be applied to modern systems. They debate whether or not blockchain technology can streamline the criminal justice system, banking systems and even the Internal Revenue Service.

At a Blockchain Conference in 2015, some members spoke openly about their visions for blockchain technology.

Former Mechanics Bank CEO Christa Steele, Boardroom Consulting LLC, Founder & Managing Member, pondered how the Blockchain could be used for criminal justice.

“Why don’t we just overhaul the whole criminal justice system?” she said.

“[My husband is a police officer] and when he pulls someone over right now and they have a felony, there’s no way to figure out what type of felony,” she lamented. “I’d want to know that if I pull someone over. He pulls someone over there’s no way, so they have to check into five or six different systems to access the information. What if we were to tie all that information together? What would the worth in the scheme of things? Because then you [must] incorporate the whole criminal justice system as far as prosecution, going to jail and a whole slew of steps along the way.”

John Wolpert, product lead on IBM’s blockchain efforts, said at the same conference: “Compliance is a big issue we talk about on our team. A lot of people talk about regulation of blockchain. Most of the time they’re really thinking about [the regulation of something in banking we’re building on the blockchain].”

Wolpert continued: “You can instrument Dodd Frank on the blockchain. [And] you could instrument the tax code. I would love to never have to file taxes, any transaction is just ‘hashtag taxes,’ and it just [automates the process], and all the rules get written to the chain.”

Despite his caution, Albini still likes the Bitcoin technology: “I appreciate bitcoin as a technological innovation.”

Bitcoin Turns Investors Away From Gold



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Despite a strong year so far, gold was down for its first month in 2016 in May. While the fundamentals most goldbugs champion – uncertain economic conditions and central bank policy – remain, demand could fall as younger generations turn to a new type of gold – digital gold.

In particular, millennials have less interest in physical gold. This isn’t necessarily a value statement. They simple have less experience of it. They don’t recall the days when the US dollar were on a semi-gold standard.

Today, they are more interested in digital gold, and Bitcoin has long been marketed as digital gold. Many young people claim that, although it is relatively new, Bitcoin offers similar savings aspects as does gold. Many, however, claim that Bitcoin is merely speculative, and thus very risky.

There are many parallels between Bitcoin and gold. For instance, when he designed the digital currency, Satoshi Nakamoto incorporated a mining aspect, similar to how gold is mined, but for computers.

Many millennials working in the Bitcoin industry, furthermore, are hoping to put gold on a blockchain. Projects like BitGold, Digix and others highlight this.

Older generations have bought gold because of the absolute privacy it offers. One can buy physical bars, and store them in a closet where nobody knows. It’s more similar to cash under a mattress than a gold stock. It seems, millennials interested in versions of digital gold are okay with sacrificing a bit of privacy, although many proponents claim blockchain technologies like Bitcoin and others are private. Still, it’s hard too argue they can be more private than bullion.

According to a survey by Global Metal News, millennials (age 19-35) showed better knowledge about lithium than gold, underscoring young people’s fading interest in gold – they are more interested in lithium.

Lithium is having its own Gold Rush of sorts, with hedge fund managers, pension funds and young retail investors entering investing in the commodity. Lithium is important for ion batteries, needed in the devices becoming more common. Lithium is also important electric vehicles. One need not look further than Tesla’s $5 billion lithium-ion battery subsidiary. The idea is that Tesla is going to be consuming lots of Lithium.

Millennials and younger in the coming years will likely be more enticed by digital gold than they are by gold bullion. There has already been a major motion picture about Bitcoin, Dope, on which the popular musician Pharrell Williams was an executive producer. There is no such equivalent Hollywood film portraying the gold industry. What’s more, it’s currently cheaper to buy one bitcoin than it is to buy one ounce of gold.

On the popular social media website, Reddit, a Bitcoiner expressed his relationship to gold and Bitcoin: “I had both for a while, but the practical aspects of Bitcoin ended up disillusioning me on gold, I no longer believe in it strongly enough to hold it.” Others recounted similar experiences.

Goldbugs who were adamantly against Bitcoin have turned towards it. Peter Schiff, a leading gold advocate who appears regularly on mainstream media, being one. Andrew Hoffman of Miles Franklin, Andy Hoffman and Chris Duane have also warmed up to digital gold as gold prices cooled off following their enticing 2011 price increases.

“My first few investments were in gold bullions back in 2007/2008. My portfolio was ~90% metals at that time,” another Reditor related. :They now make up ~3% of my portfolio while crypto makes up about 75%.”



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6 Largest Blockchain Crowd Sales

Amid an edit war in which Bitcoiners argue Ethereum’s DAO’s are crowdsales and another group argues they are in fact IPOs, the recent Ethereum product known as Decentralized Autonomous Organizations has raced to the top of the largest “crowd sales” of all time. Below is a list of all the blockchain related crowd sales ranked in order.

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Coinbase Shift Payments Card Provides Boon To US Bitcoin Adoption

Shift card is one of best use cases for blockchain technology. When your friends say they don’t understand Bitcoin, just show them your Bitcoin debit card and that will go a long way towards their understanding of the revolutionary technology based on the blockchain.

Coinbase launched the first US Bitcoin debit card first in 24 states, allowing individuals to spend bitcoins online and offline at more than 38 million merchants globally. There are no fees on domestic transactions. Coinbase’s fee schedule is here.

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Bitcoin Companies Have No Problem Complying




Many people have opined that Bitcoin is not illegal, such as Chris Kitze. Their argument centers on how the digital currency does not comply with know your customer and anti-money laundering regulations.

But, it’s likely Bitcoin is easily regulatable. In general, it’s business, not the financial instruments themselves, that do the regulating. Incorporated businesses virtually sign documents stating that, if they come across individuals breaking laws, they will report them. This is particularly the case when it comes to the financial industry. Bitcoin companies are generally considered financial companies.

Reports flood the internet about Bitcoin related companies instituting stringent know your customer and anti-money laundering policies – the policies which ensure that people are not profiting from illegal fund moving or terrorist financing.

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Best Bitcoin Affiliate Programs

Digital currency makes a new type of affiliate program available online. As you know, Bitcoin reduces transaction costs, and makes it easier to send money over the Internet than ever before. This is a recipe for a great affiliate program, and one that can make you money now. Bitcoin has indeed made this possible.

Coinbase – As one of the most reputable companies in the space, it’s no wonder why Coinbase is listed on our collection of best affiliate programs for Bitcoin businesses. This affiliate program enables users to earn a bonus for successful referrals registered to your account.

 

On the referrals page, a user can send an invite email to a friend by copying a referral link or sending an invite to email a friend. If your friend visits coinbase.com/buys and purchases 100 USD or more, the user and the invitee each receive 10 USD. Coinbase has crafted a nifty suite of tools to manage referrals.

1Broker – 1Broker ofers Bitcoin users a “Contract For Differences” platform, where traders can bet on the price of some of the most popular indices and commodities in the global market. 1Broker offers 15% on commissions and spreads for referred traders, which is instantly credited to accounts. Users also earn lifelong.

Simple FX -Similar to 1Broker, but focused on forex markets, SimpleFX offers trading in more than 50 forex pairs, as well as forex CFDs on bitcoins, litecoins, indices, precious metals and energy. SimpleFX prides itself on anonymity, but as has been learned before by digital currency enthusiasts, anonymity is not often guaranteed. Some experts call it a myth. Anonymity on SimpleFX stops with standard currency deposits.

 

Users can earn 5% of the trading spread by referring friends, as well as 5% of a friend’s revenue, creating a multi-level affiliate system. The referral program, furthermore, is lifelong and unlimited. There is no requirement to verify one’s identity to use SimpleFX’s affiliate program.

Private Internet Access -This well-respected virtual private network offers a robust affiliate program that, as TDV sources tell us, makes some people money. As PIA states on their website: “Our services have been designed from the ground up to be able to operate using built-in technology pre-existing in a computer or smartphone device.”

 

PIA’s affiliate program is free upon sign up and allows user to earn as much as 33% commision on new and recurring sales over one’s lifetime. PIA boasts a world leading VPN service and an easy-to-use affiliate panel for tracking and statistics. PIA also highlights its marketing materials and recurring commissions.

Purse – Purse, one of the largest Bitcoin businesses, has helped grow the Bitcoin network by offering people discounts on Amazon via the digital currency. Purse brings people who want bitcoins together with people who have bitcoins and want items from Amazon. The person who wants bitcoin fulfills the requests on another user’s Amazon wishlist, and via the Purse escrow, everyone gets what they want.

As the team states, “We started Purse with the intention of making bitcoin easy to spend while at the same time providing discounts to drive bitcoin adoption. We believe Bitcoin will revolutionize how we transact.”

Purse believes there’s blockchain escrows could account for 40% of online transactions. The company encourages individuals to use its affiliate program to earn 25% of Purse’s fees for users who sign up with the affiliate link. Further, affiliate payments are automatically added to your Purse wallet in BTC, and you can manage and track affiliate statistics within Purse.

ShapeShift – ShapeShift, one of the most innovative websites in the space, is the “Google Translate” of digital currencies. Want Litecoin for your Bitcoin? It’s so easy, you don’t even need to login and you need to trust ShapeShift for seconds.

The firm recently started offering an affiliate program. In order to sign up for ShapeShift affiliate program, you will need to fill out some information about you, such as your company, where its located and the website.

Bitcoin.de – Bitcoin.de is surely one of the largest company’s in the Bitcoin space. It’s partnership with Fidor Bank, a bank that has been supportive of Bitcoin since the early days of the digital currency, cements that. The exchange handles much of Europe’s Bitcoin transaction volume.

The website claims more than 260,000 customers. More than 98% of customer portfolios are stored online. Affiliates earn 10% of the marketplace fee from referred users; that is, about .05% of each trade. Disbursement is made monthly in the form of bitcoins.

Localbitcoins – LocalBitcoins is an early Bitcoin company that allows users to meet and exchange bitcoins in person. The premiums are higher on this medium than traditional exchanges, but it works well and the website has endured over the years. It also offers an affiliate program.

Users earn bitcoin from users who arrive to LocalBitcoins through a link, then register and make trades.  Users earn 20% commission on the LocalBitcoins.com trading fees from each participant , and 40% of the LocalBitcoins.com fee. Your earned sum is 0.4 BTC.

Satoshi Dice – Affiliates earn 10% revenue into their play account. Interestingly, you win when the player you referred loses. Also, you get penalized 10% on wins. You earn in real time, and can withdraw earnings. Upon signing up for SatoshiDice, you are assigned an affiliate URL. They offer clean links assigned to your domain so people don’t know you are using an affiliate program.

Lamassu Introduces Ethereum Support For Its Operators

Lamassu, one of the first Bitcoin ATM, introduced today support of the popular blockchain platform Ethereum on their Bitcoin Transaction machines.

Co-founded by brothers Josh and Zach Harvey in Manchester, New Hampshire, the company created an iconic Bitcoin machine with its orange wooden box concept. It announced Ethereum support on its Medium blog.

“Our goal is to harness the technological supremacy of cryptocurrencies and provide this same experience to those who’ve never had access to basic financial services in the past,” according to Lamassu’s website.

Ethereum, known for its furthering of blockchain technology and smart contracts, support by Lamassu has been in beta with certain Lamassu operators for several months, and consumers could soon be able to purchase the $1billion market cap currency ether on 160 independently-owned Lamassu Bitcoin ATM’s worldwide.

The company touts some of Ethereum’s advantages over Bitcoin, such as shorter confirmation times. The largest Lamassu operator in the US, Coinucopia, will implement Ethereum on their Bitcoin ATMs.

“We are very excited to announce that Coinucopia will be integrating Ethereum into our network,” said Michael Portabello, a spokesperson for Coinucopia’s. “Our customers have been requesting the ability to buy Ether, and we’re proud to announce that we have been working closely with the talented people at Lamassu to provide this functionality to the communities that we serve.” Ethereum is the first non-Bitcoin cryptocurrency that Lamassu has been excited about enough to support, and the first its independent operators have asked for due to demand.

“And beyond the ether tokens themselves, Ethereum is a platform for other tokens that we think will be helpful for the future of crypto ATMs,”  CEO Zach Harvey told Bitcoin Magazine. Lamassu has focused on digital currencies, not just Bitcoin, since its inception.

“It makes sense to us that as the cryptocurrency technologies evolve, we evolve with it.”

The company has been working on Ethereum support for several months.

“Our machines are ideal for those who don’t feel comfortable with online exchanges or those who want to get their feet wet but not jump all the way in,” Harvey said. “Those people now have a very quick and friendly option for buying or selling ether.”

Lamassu believes that Bitcoin ATMs become more important when they provide more functionality.

“This is an important first step in that direction,” said Harvey. “Another reason Ethereum is important for the Bitcoin ATM industry is the confirmation times. Selling bitcoins requires waiting for a confirmation that could take minutes to an hour, selling ether could take seconds to a minute or so for a confirmation.”

It’s entirely up to Lamassu operators if they wish to incorporate ether support.

 

10 Best Use Cases Of Blockchain

1 Coinbase – The San Francisco Based Coinbase is one of the top Bitcoin companies. It’s created a PayPal like Bitcoin exchange that is incredibly easy-to-use. You mom could figure it out. What’s more, in a partnership with Shift Payments, Coinbase created the Shift Card, which interfaces with your Coinbase account.

Bitwage – BitWage allows employers and employees to handle payroll in Bitcoin, local currency and even some commodities. BitWage released its Bitcoin payroll system in July 2014. CEO Jonathon Chester outlines to Forbes the business:

Argentine freelancers were waiting five days, giving up 40% of their income during that process, and some times their payments were simply lost in an opaque, slow moving system. Their only other alternative to losing 30% of their wage was getting on a boat to Uruguay to pick up their funds. Through us, Argentine freelancers were receiving wage payments from the U.S. or western Europe to Argentina in a day, at a cost of 1% of the amount, from the comfort of their home. After receiving their wages, the freelancers would figure out how to get their local currency on their own

In August 2015, BitWage processed more than $1 million in payroll transactions.

Purse – Purso.io markets its service to people looking to shop on Amazon. People can save as much as 25% on Amazon. Users looking for something on Amazon deposit Bitcoin onto Purse then share their Amazon wish list. Individuals looking to buy bitcoins then shop for you on Amazon. As soon as you receive the Amazon products, the bitcoins are released from escrow and the individual who purchased your goods receives his or her bitcoins.

Bitcoin ATMs – The Bitcoin ATM industry – led by players like Genesis, General Bytes and Lamassu – has quietly grown into one of the stalwarts of the digital currency space. Hundreds of locations throughout the world offer you the possibility to buy and sell bitcoins at a physical location. These machines can be found in liquor stores, high end retail locations and in the most popular centers in the US and Europe. With the vast majority of these machines in the US and Europe, they’re not quite the remittance-mediums people once hoped for, but the unbanked are being served by this market based on TDV research.

Local Bitcoins – LocalBitcoins bring buyers and sellers of bitcoin together. Looking to make some part-time money? Perhaps trading bitcoins on LocalBitcoins – within the purview of the law – could help pay the rent. The best use for LocalBitcoins is meeting up for a bitcoin/cash deal at a local coffee shop.

Ethereum – Ethereum has received a lot of press for its smart contract platform. Ethereum has become a key component of blockchain experimentation led by R3 CEV and the Linux Foundation/IBM. Many businesses, experts believe, could be built on top of the Ethereum model. The firm raised approximately $18 million in crowdsale giving it a distinct advantage over other “Bitcoin 2.0” projects.

Satoshi Dice – This popular betting game represents one of the first “blockchain-based betting” games. It’s been operating since 2012, offering off chain based bets since 2014. The service itself determines if wagers win or lose. The first operator of Satoshi Dice, Eric Vorhees, went on to found the popular ShapeShift.io.

ShapeShift – ShapeShift is one of the newest pieces of the digital currency ecosystem. It markets itself as the “Google Translate” of digital currencies. As the website boasts, “from start to finish you can change currencies in under ten seconds, no account required.” The website describes the process of transferring digital currency:

Select Bitcoin as the input and Litecoin as the output
Provide your Litecoin address in the box, then click the Start button
ShapeShift will generate a BTC deposit address for you. Please send your BTCs to this generated address. (Don’t send more than the Deposit Limit).
There are no emails nor passwords needed to use the site. That means no accounts. ShapeShift wants to become “the fastest, most private, and most convenient way to swap digital currencies, and the exchange rate will always remain competitive.”

ChangeTip – The San Francisco-based ChangeTip specializes in online micropayments which function as tips, most often for quality content. In 2015, the average micropayment was just over $1. The firm received financing after going viral. 10,000 tips in one day were executed. November 2014 saw a new community called “Millionaire Makers” whereby each ChangeTip user would donate $1 each.

Gyft – Gyft found an exciting and untouched niche in the Bitcoin space by offering popular gift cards for the digital currency. Gyft’s business turned into a Bitcoin-forward business seemingly overnight with the addition of Bitcoin payments. Over the course of the past two years, Gyft has experimented further with blockchain technology, and is close to implementing a decentralzed gift card exchange.

OpenBazaar – OpenBazaar has been a much anticipated addition to the blockchain space. The distributed e-commerce solution strives to replace websites like Amazon and eBay. What differentiates OB from eBay/Etsy and others is the concept of a moderator, which is a third party that oversees the transaction process. Moderators do not sell goods nor services. They also are not buying goods nor services. But, rather, they are providing value to the users of the network.

While eBay charges 10% for such services, OB’s moderators are option, and they choose their own rate. Many are currently offering for such services for just one percent.

1Broker – 1Broker enables its users to trade gold, silver, the DAX, Down Jones 30 Industrial (Dow 30), S&P 500 indices, Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG), and Microsoft Corp (MSFT). Through a vehicle known as the Contract For Differences or CFD. CFDs are contracts between two parties in which the seller pays to the buyer the difference between the current value of an asset and its value at contract time.

1Broker’s CFD’s essentially function as derivatives for well-known financial markets. As the website founder once told me, “Our primary goal was to make trading as simple and transparent as possible.

The CFD instruments on 1Broker basically conncet Bitcoin with other global markets, enabling individuals to invest or speculate on 1Broker’s markets.

The Most Innovative Paper Wallet In The World

A Bitcoin paper wallet is like a piggy bank, the low-tech device that allows you to deposit coins as many times as you like into a fairly tamper-proof sealed container.

“When you’re ready to spend those funds,” Becker colorfully explains, “you smash the piggy bank and transfer all the coins somewhere else. That’s essentially how a paper wallet works. You can add funds to a paper wallet as many times as you like. You keep it safe just as you would jewels or cash. When you want to use or transfer the funds on the paper wallet, you sweep the entire balance to a hot wallet; such as to your phone, computer, or hardware wallet. And then, you destroy the paper wallet — like smashing a piggy bank.”

Depending on whom you ask, paper wallets have different uses and even ways of being done. Some people say that paper wallets are the most secure. Others contend they can are the for privacy. Still others, like Becker, believe they’re the simplest for a non-bitcoiner to wrap their heads around.

“They are” Becker argues, “the best way to introduce people to Bitcoin for the first time.”

Sans technology, a person could give another person a paper wallet and tell them it has value just like cash. The paper wallet expert advises: “Ideally, the paper wallet itself should have printed instructions that describe what it is and how to use it.”

Becker cites gifting Bitcoin and storing Bitcoin for the long-term as other uses for Bitcoin. In the case of the latter, one can avoid “digital storage mediums or devices that can suffer a ‘bit rot’ or become obsolete.” An argument against paper wallets is similar: ink can fade, thus rendering a paper wallet useless.

Becker, unsatisfied with the amateurish paper wallet designs available on the market, set out to make paper wallets more attractive. He also wanted to make the paper wallet more secure.

 

“When you give a paper wallet to a Bitcoin newbie, they may not understand how important it is to keep the private key a secret,” he explains his rationale behind the focus on security.

He references one very public example of a newcomer to Bitcoin flashing his paper wallet at a TV camera. Within minutes of broadcast, the balance was swiped by a careful observer.

He continues: “Similarly, there’s a very real risk that if you keep a paper wallet in an insecure location like your office or a dorm room, that someone may sneak a picture of your paper wallet and steal the balance days or even years later.” He thinks this is important due to his belief that paper wallets represent some of the most recognizable representations of value.

“They allow us to apply some of our intuitive knowledge about ordinary money to something as virtual and difficult to understand as Bitcoin,” Becker said. “Paper wallets allow us to share bitcoins with people who do not have the technological background to understand what bitcoins are or how they should be kept safe.”

Becker’s central innovation is a ‘tri-fold’ two-sided design that hides the private key from casual exposure. Becker also sells tamper-evident stickers with serial numbers that guard the paper wallet from being opened and closed back up without detection.

But that’s not everything: “A number of well-tested safeguards are in place that prevent the paper wallet from being ‘candled’ — a process of using a bright light or laser to reveal the private key hidden behind the folds,” he elaborates.

Becker updates his website, Bitcoinpaperwallet.com. For instance, an update to the ‘guilloche pattern’ – the decorative pattern of fine lines on the face of each paper wallet – is now generated by the public key itself.

“So this means that each individual paper wallet has its own distinct look,” Becker tells. “If you have a stack of paper wallets, you can recognize which is which just by looking at the pattern. Or, if you are particular about your patterns, you can keep randomly generating new wallets until you find a guilloche pattern that appeals to you.” This could also make it more difficult for a criminal to switch out undetected your paper wallet with one of their own.”

Being careful is important when generating paper wallets. Becker said: “By using a virus-free computer, etc. – it’s even more important to have a good plan for keeping your paper wallets safe. You don’t want them to get lost, you don’t want them to get wet, etc. Physical loss or destruction of your paper wallet is much more likely to cause you grief than any sort of technological hijinks. Consider making copies of your paper wallets. Keep one copy at home and another in a safety deposit box. If you’re storing large quantities of bitcoin, be sure your living will contains instructions so that your family knows how to recover the value of your bitcoins upon your death.”