May 222014

Ripple Price DropBig news out of the Ripple community – the founder Jed has signed a PGP message stating he would sell his entire XRP stake (several billions of XRP) in the coming weeks. This was his exact message:

Hi Everyone,
I started working on ripple in the summer of 2011. I soon hired Arthur and David to help me. In 2012, I met Chris Larsen. He joined us about 5 months before ripple was launched. Chris, Arthur and I kept 20 billion XRP, of which 9 billion were mine. We gave the remaining 80 billion to OpenCoin.
I have given away and donated some of my 9 billion XRP to charities such as MIRI, Literacy Bridge, Give Directly, Mission Bit and others. I plan to start selling all of my remaining XRP beginning in two weeks. Because I have immense respect for the community members and want to be transparent, I’m publicly announcing this before I start. So just fyi…. xrp sales incoming.

This is a big development, obviously, and the information has been verified by the forum admin and by Jed sending 1 XRP from an address that holds 1.8 billion XRP.

Also interesting to note is that the announcement was made on XRPtalk and not on the official forum for XRP. This suggests a possible rift between Jed and the other members of the foundation/team.

Obviously, the market hasn’t been too kind to the price of XRP, and according to Coinmarketcap, XRP is now 7th, just below Dogecoin.

Ripple coinmarketcap

As with everything in the cryptocurrency space, speculation is rife about how or why this is being done and what the implications are. For instance, people have suggested that this was done to crash the price deliberately to buy up cheap XRP (my opinion: unlikely). However way you slice it, it has caused a big price crash in ripple, and it will probably remain volatile in the coming weeks.

This is a problem with pre-mined coins where a small percentage of people hold a disproportionately huge amount of coin. If the holders decide to dump, there is no recourse. Although I like the idea of Ripple, the distribution part could definitely have been done better. On the positive side, the Ripple community seems supportive of Jed and his decision. Like I said, watch out for that volatility in the markets. The incident is also sure to bring out more Ripple vs. Bitcoin debates.

Are you a Ripple investor/user? Share your thoughts.

May 162014

Coinbase College Students

Coinbase, the largest Bitcoin “exchange” (it isn’t an exchange per se, just a way to buy Bitcoin online through your bank account) in the United States and one of the few ways to buy Bitcoins through an American company has announced that it is giving away $10 for every college student who registers new on their website. The requirements say that you must be a new user and you must use your college email address ending in .edu, so I don’t know how they can distinguish current students from alumni, faculty, etc. who all would have a .edu account. My guess is they don’t – so it should be relatively easy for anyone with a .edu email account to sign up for Coinbase now and get $10 free.

This comes just before Circle showcased it’s product, which is going be great news for people looking to buy Bitcoin in the US in a simple manner, especially because Circle said they won’t charge any fees right now, as opposed to Coinbase that charges a significant 1% fees while buying and selling in addition to a 15 cent fee for every single transaction. If Circle has similar prices as Coinbase, I see no good reason to keep buying on Coinbase, although it would help to have a Coinbase wallet anyway because they pay the Bitcoin transaction fees for you. So if you have a bunch of micro-payments to make, Coinbase might still be a good option even after Circle opens its gates to everyone. This kind of competition is very needed in this space right now.

Making students familiar with Bitcoin is a nice strategy because the current college-going generation is probably much more comfortable with technology and less likely to trust banks than the older generations, so they would be more amenable to a currency like Bitcoin. Given the many advantages of using Bitcoin for merchants, if they offer a good amount of discounts for using Bitcoin to buy from them, it could really give a nice push to Bitcoin adoption. Only time will tell.

If you have a .edu email address, sign up for Coinbase and get your free $10 worth of Bitcoins.

Photo Credit: manos_simonides

Apr 182014

Ron Paul Bitcoin

Ron Paul today said

Though I don’t personally believe that Bitcoin is true money, it should be perfectly legal and there should be no restrictions on it, there should be no taxes on it

which isn’t that big of a ‘news’ per se, because Ron Paul has said this before about Bitcoin too. In fact, Ron Paul has said Bitcoin could destroy the dollar. Today, however, Ron Paul has written a big answer to the Quora question “Why does Ron Paul think Bitcoin does not fit the definition of money?” by saying the following:

Bitcoin is a very interesting subject because for many years in Congress I was a champion of legalizing competition in currencies.

We have a terrible monetary system today. We have a government that purposely counterfeits and debases the currencies and I believe that the alternative would be a competition. That means that anything that wants to substitute for the American dollar should be permitted. There should be no prohibitions; there should not be a monopoly and a cartel running our monetary system because it so often benefits the privileged few. We certainly saw this in the bailing out of the financial system where the wealthy bankers got bailed out it in this recent and severe recession. I am a strong believer in competition. Bitcoin is an introduction to that.

Though I don’t personally believe that Bitcoin is true money, it should be perfectly legal and there should be no restrictions on it, there should be no taxes on it. The people who operate Bitcoin would, of course, be prohibited from committing fraud but the people should be able to have competition whether it is a basket of commodities or crypto-currencies – it should be perfectly legal. For this to operate, we need to have freedom from government intervention when it comes to the Internet. I am concerned that the government ultimately wants to curtail the Internet and there have been attempts to do so.

The internet is the salvation for those of us who believe in liberty because it is an alternative way of getting around the system not only in the spreading of our ideas in this instance but in in terms of getting around the monetary system on the whole if they do permit crypto-currencies and other forms of transactions. So, this is something that we should all be concerned about whether we endorse it or not.

What we should all argue for is the use of freedom rather than having a monetary system with regulation domination that is run by a cartel and the special interests – that is the kind of system we have today. We want a system that truly challenges the government in their ability to take care of the very wealthy at the expense of the middle class and the poor.

However, as some Quora commentators have noted, Ron Paul didn’t actually answer the question at all.

Quora Ron Paul Bitcoin

He never answered the ‘Why’ part, just that he personally doesn’t believe Bitcoin is true money. Of course, it is well documented that Ron Paul loves precious metals and believes we should return to the gold standard. In fact, early 2012, he had over 64% of his portfolio in gold and silver mining stocks (which, in hindsight was probably a terrible investment). He has been a very strong advocator of returning to the gold standard and believes in commodity money, so it might be a while before he sees Bitcoin for what he is. In addition, he has admitted in the past that he doesn’t really understand Bitcoin.

Of course, it is still very early in the day to grant Bitcoin the status of a currency. Bitcoin can be a lot of things in addition to currency and is evolving at a rapid pace, morphing into a technological force like the world wide web of the early 90s. We’ll see where that road leads to.

In other news, it seems most of the main stream media, including CoinDesk, want to focus on the ‘not true money’ part of what Ron Paul said, I guess because it is more ‘clickworthy’. CoinDesk covered this article with the headline “Ron Paul: Bitcoin is not ‘True Money’“. I thought I’d focus on the other side of what Ron Paul actually posted on Quora!

Feb 142014

Bitcoin Center NYC

The Bitcoin Center NYC (Twitter – BitcoinCenterNY) is a fairly recent phenomenon but has quickly caught up to the Bitcoin community of New York. New York was one of the earliest cities to take on Bitcoin in a big way, and the whole idea and concept of Satoshi Square Meetup originated in the city. Now, the Bitcoin Center is trying to take it to the next level.

The center opened on the 1st of January 2014, so it’s just into its third month and already doing some pretty incredible things.

One great appeal of the Bitcoin Center is its location – it is located right next to the New York stock exchange on 40 Broad Street. It is a really nice space with a lot of history associated with the whole area, in terms of the financial and securities industry. No matter the current state of the financial industry today, it was a highly innovative industry back in the day at least, and the heart of it all was in Downtown Manhattan right around where the Bitcoin Center now stands today.

Finally, they have a great event planned for the next week, on Monday, February 17th and Tuesday, February 18th in the evening. If you’re a Bitcoin enthusiast (or not!) and in New York, you should definitely consider attending.

On Monday, the event is pitched to be “World’s Largest, and most popular Bitcoin live outcry trading pit”. This is supposed to have trading in Bitcoin and Dogecoin for US Dollars. With all the recent problems with Bitcoin exchanges, there is a lot of opportunity for face-to-face trading of Bitcoin. Don’t forget your computers/smartphones or at least the QR codes of your wallet addresses, so you can buy (or sell) some crypto-currencies!

In addition, Jeffrey Tucker is supposed to attend the event (he was also the organizer of the Crypto Currency Conference in Atlanta last year). Besides, it is always nice to network and mingle with fellow Bitcoin enthusiasts.

If you’re in New York, shoot us a message. We definitely plan to attend this event, and hopefully provide some coverage.

Jan 212014

Is Amazon really going to accept Bitcoin? This speculation came about from this thread from Bitcointalk about an hour ago –;all

The person starting the thread has confirmed the email is fake.

People are rightly skeptical as there’s nothing official from Amazon. Yet.

I tried to contact Amazon helpdesk and this was our conversation:

Amazon accepting Bitcoin proof

If Amazon accepts Bitcoin as a payment processor in the future sometime, it would be big. It remains to see whether it will be big for Bitcoin or for Amazon! After all, if Bitcoin is here to stay, might as well adopt it sooner than later and at least ride the publicity wave. Retail can be cut-throat competition.

Sep 202013

Bitcoin Wired Lies

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”, said Mark Twain. Or Hemingway. Or someone else. Apparently, it doesn’t matter, because I shouldn’t let facts get in the way of a good story anyway. Or at least, it seems, Wired runs by that motto. It all made a very good story and had all the ingredients of making it popular on the internet – Bitcoin, homelessness, money, government. There was one element missing though: honestly. And it seems like Wired doesn’t really care anyway.

Let me elaborate. If you didn’t read already, Wired ran a story Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving on Bitcoins. The premise was tantalizing: Bitcoin is providing a way out for these poor homeless guys, even if they don’t make as much as a minimum wage job. The entire argument in the first half of the post was based on this: Guy gets food stamps, but that’s not enough. He makes about 60 cents watching 12 videos on BitcoinGet (and a couple of pennies on Bitcoin Tapper) that helps him get by. Notice how I said was and not is in the last statement? That’s because the actual worth of those videos is 6 cents and not 60 cents. Wired knew of this but preferred not to correct until after getting the sweet-spot-clicks-and-comments (more on this later). Because, you know, screw the facts. Now the whole premise looks silly. 6 cents a day isn’t really going to help you supplement your income.

There are other fishy things in the article. Consider this for example:

Since setting up a bitcoin wallet about three or four months ago, he has earned somewhere between four or five bitcoins — about $500 to $630 today — through YouTube videos, Bitcoin Tapper, and the occasional donation

(bold is mine)
Really? Lets do a reality check (I know how much you love Math)
I’ll use another direct quote from this article as it stands now (corrected version, live right now):

For every video he watches, Angle gets 0.00004 bitcoins, or about half a cent, thanks to a service, called BitcoinGet, that shamelessly drives artificial traffic to certain online clips. He can watch up to 12 videos a day, which gets him to about six cents. And he can beef up this daily take with Bitcoin Tapper, a mobile app that doles out about 0.000133 bitcoins a day — a couple of pennies — if he just taps on a digital icon over and over again.

Ok, so lets give them the benefit of the doubt (really, BitcoinGet doesn’t have 12 videos for you daily). Lets say they do this every single day without fail for 90 days straight. Lets check their earnings for 3 months:

From BitcoinGet: 0.00004BTC * 12 * 90 = 0.0432 Bitcoin
From Bitcoin Tapper: 0.000133 * 90 = 0.01197 Bitcoin
Total: 0.05517 Bitcoin
(Worth ~0.05517*125 = $6.9)

Where did the other, I don’t know, 4-5 Bitcoin come from? Donations in Bitcoin? There, that’s a reality check for you. If you did the above for 3 months straight, you’ll probably have enough money to buy a pizza.

Do you see how the truth is harmful to the narrative? An additional 60 cents a day for about 10 minutes of work is worth it especially if you’re homeless. An additional 6 cents for the same? Not so much. Why is this harmful? Because others might be tempted to do the same without going through the Math above and trusting a trusted “news” source. If it wasn’t obvious from the above, let me reiterate: You cannot make 4-5 Bitcoin from BitcoinGet and Bitcoin Tapper even if you used these every single day for the next 2 years.

Writing a story saying “Homeless guy earns $6.9 after working for 3 months online” doesn’t make a good story now, does it? The article has close to 300 comments. That’s what matters, apparently.

Also, don’t get me wrong. There are quite a few ways you can Earn Bitcoin online, but don’t expect that to replace your day job (if you’re homeless and reading this and really want to earn some Bitcoin online, consider the CrowdFlower section of BitcoinGet, for example, instead of the stupid videos).

I am all for homeless people using Bitcoin and getting paid in Bitcoin. Bitcoin is awesome. Bitcoin is beyond awesome. But I will never support sensationalist stories that distort facts. Deliberately. Now for the deliberate part.

See these two screenshots below. Notice the difference?

Wired Bitcoin Misleading

later changed to

Wired Bitcoin Misleading

The article changes the payment from BitcoinGet from 60 cents to 6 cents. The article was published at 6:30am. I emailed the writer at 7:04am about this glaring error. She wrote back to me at 7:15am claiming I wrote the same thing that she wrote. I emailed her back, with clarification, at 7:21am, telling her that this was wrong. Yes, she knew, for certain, that the facts in her story were wrong, within an hour of it being published. The article was finally corrected around 4pm after the article had ran its course in the crazy internet world where facts matter so little. Mission accomplished. Now, for the sake of “Journalistic Integrity”, we can revert back to facts.

So here it is. I am calling out Wired on their terrible job in correcting factual errors and providing a narrative that isn’t supported by facts as shown above. I know my post will not get a fraction of the views the original Wired article got, but the Bitcoin community needs to be aware of such sensationalism without merit. It’s a shame that Wired had to do resort to this – I know some of the articles in Wired are wonderfully researched. Unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them.

Photo Credit: al shep