Jun 162015
 

Coinbase, founded by Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam in June 2012, has reached 3 million hosted wallets on its service. Coinbase is one of the most popular Bitcoin hosted wallet services, and recently became a popular Bitcoin exchange as well. The company also allows users to purchase Bitcoins directly with their local currencies and also helps merchants accept Bitcoin payments by giving them an option to convert the Bitcoins immediately into local fiat.

Coinbase 3M Wallets

 

Coinbase also reported 2.3 million users, along with 3 million wallets. Each user is allows an unlimited number of Bitcoin wallets on the service. Transactions among Coinbase users are off-chain and not broadcast to the Bitcoin blockchain, thus making transactions from this user-set hard to predict.

Coinbase has also raised more money than any other startup in the Bitcoin space, with a cumulative funding of $106 million. Coinbase reached its 1 million user mark last year.

Coinbase has expanded to several countries throughout the world, after starting out exclusively for US based customers. Still, its growth hasn’t been as impressive as some might have predicted, with a steady increase in users and wallets instead of the ‘exponential growth’ that many were expecting. Part of the reason for a slower than expected growth has to do with the recent Bitcoin price stagnation, which has slowed the number of new users entering the ecosystem.

Jun 142015
 

Bitcoin Mining Difficulty

The Bitcoin network’s hash rate has topped 350 PH/s, as the latest difficulty increase brings the Bitcoin difficulty to just shy of 50,000,000,000. The latest difficulty increase comes after a drop in difficulty the last time it was adjusted on May 31, 2015, when the network difficulty dropped by 2.5%

The latest increase also marks the 8th time Bitcoin difficulty change has flipped signs this year, in a sign of maturing mining market. Even though the overall difficulty today is higher than what it was at the beginning of the year, the increase is much lower than previous years, and the difficulty is no longer on a steep exponential curve like it was since the introduction of ASICs in the mining space.

As the price of Bitcoin stagnates, hovering around $230 for the last few months, the profits in the Bitcoin mining space are becoming harder to come by. One expected side-effect of this is the consolidation of the mining market with the strong players surviving and the weak ones folding. With the current price trend, the hobbyist miner is all but shut out of the race to finding Bitcoin blocks.

The long-term health of the Bitcoin mining space is essential to monitor to ensure the health of the Bitcoin network. This year has been unusual in terms of difficulty adjustments, as there have been constant fluctuations in difficulty, with several adjustments to the downside and several to the upside. This contrasts with a period of steady increase in Bitcoin difficulty, first terminated by a difficulty decrease on December 2nd 2014.

The major event on the Bitcoin miners’ mind is the block reward halving, expected to take place in another 12 months or so, based on the current block generation times. The current block rewards of 25 Bitcoin every (approximately) 10 minutes is scheduled to halve to 12.5 Bitcoins per block. The event will have significant impact on mining companies and related businesses, and the effect this will have on the Bitcoin network and price remain to be seen. The difficulty halving will mean halving of current inflation, which will mean a lower downward pressure on the Bitcoin prices.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Sep 102014
 

Coinbase leaves out UK Germany

In a major announcement, Coinbase is expanding to 14 countries in all. Up until now, it was only available the US consumers. This is a big development, as Coinbase was always known for being one of the simplest ways to buy Bitcoin (until now that is. Circle is way better!) for the lay man. Coinbase made the right move, as it struggles to be ahead of the competition especially from Jeremy Allaire’s Circle. People in the Bitcoin community put up with a lot of issues with Coinbase, but as the industry evolves, that might be changing. To their credit though, Coinbase has never been hacked or lost user funds.

Here are the list of countries Coinbase is expanding into:
Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, and Slovakia.

What’s interesting is what’s missing: UK and Germany. It is a curious omission, and I am not sure why the UK is missing from the list, considering it is one of the largest Bitcoin markets out there, and London is a major financial and technological hub. Perhaps, if Scotland becomes independent, it would be more amenable to Bitcoin regulation!

Also, Germany is well known to be one of the most Bitcoin friendly nations, which took a stance initially not to regulate the hell out of Bitcoin at least at this stage. Germany also has the second largest Bitcoin nodes in the network, second only to the United States. Certainly, Coinbase would have at least considered Germany seriously.

The list of countries is definitely intriguing to say the least. For instance, they have Finland but not Denmark, Norway or Sweden. They have Latvia and Slovakia but not Estonia or Lithuania. They do have both Cyprus and Greece though.

Any theories out there why UK and Germany, the largest Bitcoin markets outside of the US were left out? Regulation?

Photo Credit: Flickr

Jul 012014
 

Expresscoin

Buying and selling Bitcoin and altcoins has become easier for Canadians, as Expresscoin is set to expand into Canada. Expresscoin will offer crypto currency payments through DebitWay a trusted third party that offers merchants INTERAC Online Payment services, which allow consumers to pay for goods and services online, directly from their own bank account in real time.

Expresscoin was founded in California in 2012 with the goal to make it easy for everyone to buy Bitcoin, especially the unbanked. This is why they have several options currently available in the US to transfer fiat, such as money order or cash deposit – methods that are geared towards people who might not have a bank account (to link to their Coinbase account, for instance).

“With DebitWay, expresscoin is dedicated to providing fast and secure transactions for our customers,” said expresscoin CEO and co-founder Will Wheeler. “We felt it only made sense to offer our safe digital currency retail service through Canada’s most trusted fiat exchange service so Canadian customers can participate in the digital currency economy and experience the same trust and security they have in their fiat exchange service with expresscoin.”

This is a major step for Expresscoin, especially because Canada has recently passed laws specifically targeting Bitcoin companies for regulation. Expanding to Canada gives Expresscoin another layer of legitimacy, since there are more well-defined rules regarding how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are going to be regulated in Canada than the US. Expresscoin and Canadian subsidiaries have registered with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Currently, Expresscoin will support Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin but promises to add more cryptocurrencies in the future. It’s one of the easiest ways to buy coins like Doge with fiat without going through an intermediate step of converting fiat to Bitcoin.

Canada is a fast growing market for both consumers and businesses and is taking the lead in several areas in Bitcoin (e.g. Bitcoin ATMs). It’s always good to see businesses trying to expand into Canada and gain a foothold of the market there which is fairly active. Expresscoin seems to be on the right track with this Canadian expansion.

 

Jun 222014
 

Bitcoin Job Fair

There’s a Bitcoin job fair for all job-seekers and companies in the Bitcoin/cryptocurrency space on Saturday, June 28th 2014. This event is being organized by the New York Bitcoin Center, which has been hyper-active of late in conducting Bitcoin related events throughout New York City. It was only a matter of time before Bitcoin needed a job fair – the funding for Bitcoin companies has exploded this year, and there’s always going to be a shortage of skilled workers who truly understand this space. Both companies and job-seekers should greatly benefit from this Bitcoin job fair.

Sponsoring the event are Coinality and Plug and Play Bitcoin, two Bitcoin startups (I guess every Bitcoin company is a startup!) that are active in the job-search area related to Bitcoin and crytpocurrencies. Coinality runs a jobs board that is geared towards the Bitcoin community and brings employers and job-seekers together. They allow several types of employment relationships, from one-time assignments to full-time jobs. Plug and Play Bitcoin is a California based tech accelerator that’s active in the Bitcoin space.

New York Bitcoin Center is doing a lot for the community, in terms of hosting events and spreading the word about Bitcoin throughout New York City and beyond. It is great to see them host this Bitcoin job fair. New York is, after all, fast emerging as a tech startup hub. Several Bitcoin companies have a presence in the city, even if they are headquartered elsewhere. In addition, many New York businesses are opening up their doors to Bitcoin. Recently, every single vendor at the famous Lower East Side’s Hester Street Fair started accepting Bitcoin. Considering that New York is the home to several sectors of our economy, from finance to marketing, it is only natural for companies to search for talent in New York and for New Yorkers to want to work with these companies.

List of Employers at New York Bitcoin Job Fair

Here are the important event details:

Date and Time: 28th June, 2014 (Saturday), 12 noon to 5pm
Venue: New York Bitcoin Center at 40 Broad Street, New York (map)
Sponsorship Information/Exhibition Space: Contact Austin ( austin@nycbitcoincenter.com) or Alex(gallagher@nycbitcoincenter.com)
Media: Contact James (james@nycbitcoincenter.com)

Jun 192014
 

Bitgo Series A Multi Sig Bitcoin Wallet

Bitgo, another Bitcoin wallet provider, raised $12 million in Series A venture capital funding. This is good news for startups looking to build the next generation of Bitcoin plumbing for the internet that will truly see the potential of what Bitcoin can do. Bitgo advertises itself as “world’s first multi-signature secure wallet” on its website. That’s an important feature for the future of Bitcoin and its security.

Up to now, secure wallets like Blockchain have relied on single signature ‘traditional’ Bitcoin wallets. Also, wallet sites like Coinbase rely on users trusting their central Bitcoin holdings (i.e., when you hold Bitcoin at Coinbase, you don’t hold the private keys to it but when you hold Bitcoin at Blockchain, you are the sole controller of your private keys). Bitgo offers a middle ground from the user’s perspective.

Bitgo requires 2 of 3 signatures to spend Bitcoin in its wallets. One is held on the user’s computer, one is held with Bitgo and one is held offline by the user. The utility of this setup is clear – for day to day spending, you just use your online key and Bitgo’s key (Bitgo will sign a transaction based on its own fraud-detecting algorithms. If someone has 100 Bitcoin and wants to spend them all, it might flag it for review, as it could be an attempt to steal the Bitcoin). However, if Bitgo goes offline or is hacked, then the user’s funds are still safe, because the attackers don’t have a second key to empty the wallets. In that case, the users rush to sign transactions with their online key and then fetch the offline key to provide the second key and transfer the money to a more secure wallet.

Bitgo’s wallet still provides the control that Blockchain provides. However, it does this through its multi-sig wallets. Multi-signature Bitcoin wallets will become more and more popular and increase in importance as Bitcoin enters mainstream commerce and people who aren’t too familiar with computer security start storing Bitcoin private keys on their computers. The goal is to make spending Bitcoin as seamless as possible, while also keeping the user in complete control of their money. This is a hard goal, but multi-signature wallets are the way to go forward.

The funding round for Bitgo consists of well-known figures in the Bitcoin world, from Barry Silbert’s Bitcoin Opportunity Corporation to Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments. I think it’s an important milestone for Bitcoin companies.

However, it is a little concerning that a majority of Bitcoin venture capital funding is going into wallet services or services that allow you to buy Bitcoin. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Bitcoin can do. Where’s the million dollar funding for mining? Where’s the million dollar funding for creating the next generation protocols that can create and usher in the autonomous corporations that are only possible in a Bitcoin economy? I think we need more VC funding in bold ideas that push the envelope when it comes to what Bitcoin can do.

Photo Credit: TW Collins

Jun 152014
 

Hester Street Fair Photo - NYC Bitcoin Fair

Hester Street Fair has attracted some of the best small local businesses, artisans and artists in New York every Sunday to New York’s lower east side. It has everything from delicious food to vintage jewelry to modern fashion. For this season, Hester Street Fair has transformed into NYC Bitcoin Fair. All the vendors there now accept Bitcoin, and today, June 15th 2014 was the opening of this fair.

Hester Street Fair Photo

I went around the fair, talking to people and asking them about their Bitcoin experience. There are a lot of interesting things to learn about the future potential of Bitcoin from small and independent businesses.

Hester Street Fair NYC Bitcoin Fair

Also, being at this fair with all these small businesses that are relatively new to Bitcoin but have adopted this technology quickly as they see the potential Bitcoin has to grow their business, gives me hope that the future of Bitcoin as a payment means is pretty bright. There were lots of small businesses that ship online and internationally, and it just makes sense to them to use Bitcoin. Also, the vendors were using BitPay as their choice of payment processor, which made the whole process incredibly easy for them.

Hester Street Fair Bitcoin Accepted Here

It was very interesting to see lots of these Bitcoin Accepted Here signs throughout the place.

The Hester Street Fair Vendors Accepting Bitcoin

Here are some of the vendors that I talked to. They all accept Bitcoin and you can go to their store (some online, some offline in New York City) and buy their products through Bitcoin. If you want to promote the use of Bitcoin, there’s no better way to do so than to shop with your Bitcoin at the vendors that you like. Be sure to check them out, and be sure to pay with Bitcoin!

Also, if I missed anyone, I apologize and it was totally unintentional, so just drop me a line and I’ll include you!

Calmer Sutra Tea

Calmer Sutra Tea at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

Calmer Sutra Tea (yes, I know the name’s clever!) makes some incredible teas and you can order them online. They are originally from Australia and recently expanded into New York City, so give them some love. Check out their website and order your teas.

Debra from Calmer Sutra Tea at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

Here’s Debra, passionate in equal parts about tea and Bitcoin. According to her, Bitcoin comes naturally to Calmer Tea Sutra as they have been dealing with international customers anyway. She believes Bitcoin would become more popular as people begin to realize how simple it is to use. Less than 5% of their sales were in Bitcoin, but lets hope that number increases in the future. Also, connect with them on Twitter or Facebook.

The Sugar Coup

Sugar Coup at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

How do you fancy some delicious Alfajores, all paid for in Bitcoin? Sugar Coup sells some amazing confectionery products (from a Peruvian confectionery tradition no less) and you should definitely check them out if you’re ever in New York.

Javinia from Sugar Coup at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

As a bonus, Javinia proudly displays her Bitcoin Accepted Here sign on her apron at the fair. Can’t miss it!

The Nomad Truck

Nomad at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

The Nomad Truck is NYC’s wandering fashion boutique with some great ladies’ fashion clothes and accessories all wound up neatly inside the back of a delivery truck that can be anywhere – even in your neighborhood, someday!

Jessie from Nomad at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

I think the idea is very neat, and Jessie accepts Bitcoin, so do go pay her a visit when you’re in New York. You can track where this awesome truck is going to be through their website, or through their social media channels. Check out the Nomad Truck on Twitter or Facebook to stay current on its location.

Heisel

Heisel at Hester Street Fair

Heisel specializes in new materials, tailored for what people wear. It’s a very forward looking process, and uses fairly advanced technology and materials to make these products – a perfect addition to any Bitcoin enthusiast’s portfolio of things bought with Bitcoin. They already work on several cutting-edge products, 3-D printing, etc. Here’s a full list of their collections.

Sylvia and Scott from Heisel at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

They were also probably the only ones in the fair selling Bitcoin t-shirts, but don’t mistake them for ordinary t-shirts. Check out their beautiful ideas and creations at Heisel’s website or check them out at Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Here are Sylvia and Scott who make this possible.

Delicate Raymond

Delicate Raymond at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

Delicate Raymond, located on 73A orchard in lower east side in New York sells some interesting jewelry, and today, it was all up for grabs for $5 flat, paid in Bitcoin of course!

Melt Bakery

Melt at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

Melt Bakery sells delicious ice cream sandwiches and they started accepting Bitcoin just today! By around 1pm, they had made 3 sales with Bitcoin already – not too shabby. They don’t have Bitcoin at their store yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did very soon. Check them out on Twitter or Facebook.

Rosette

Rosette at Hester Street Fair Bitcoin

Rosette is a lower east side New York restaurant that was present at the fair to showcase some of their cooking. It’s located on east broadway, in lower east side.

BitPay

Bitpay at Hester Street Fair

BitPay is a Bitcoin payment processing company from Atlanta, which … oh who am I kidding? If you’re reading this, you probably know BitPay!

Overall, a wonderful Bitcoin fair. I would urge my readers to support these vendors by purchasing from them and paying in Bitcoin – it’s the only way to grow the community and reach.