Daily Archives: July 8, 2018

Dip in South African Economy Sees Rand Down and Rise in Bitcoin Trading

The South African economy is struggling with the Rand at a six-month low, but bitcoin continues to gain popularity with investors, writes bitcoinist.com.

In April of this year, the South African Central Reserve Bank (SARB) announced moves towards overseeing cryptocurrency and fintech developments in the country, suggesting rather than taking prohibitive regulatory measures, it would introduce an investigative unit which would promote growth and innovation. The South African Revenue Service also announced a new framework for cryptocurrency taxes.

As a result, cryptocurrency adoption has started growing in the region. AsiaCrypto puts Bitcoin’s continued popularity in South Africa down to the fact that some of the country’s larger asset holders are moving into crypto. “Bitcoin” is now reported to be the trending term on SA Google search.

Other factors according to AsiaCrypto is that South Africa actually benefited from the recent dip in crypto prices during 2018, as this has enabled the creation of new startup businesses. The struggling economy has also aided Bitcoin’s rise in popularity as massive selloffs in the financial market due to the Rand losing value has pushed some investors towards alternative markets, with cryptocurrency becoming a viable choice.

A recent survey conducted in South Africa maintained that one in four respondents confirmed they plan to invest in cryptocurrency in the future, and another 15% said that they would invest in mining equipment. Although, warnings of electricity hikes of up to 50% in the near future may well dampen the enthusiasm of prospective bitcoin miners.

Apart from a recent ATM being installed in Johannesburg, the cryptocurrency community has access to exchanges such as Luno and Paxful who are reportedly doing a healthy trade in Bitcoin with other pairs available. Also, the platform Coindirect enables users to buy and sell Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple.

A new trading platform is scheduled to be opened later this year by asset management company Sygnia.

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Huobi Launching HBUS Crypto Exchange In United States

Huobi has announced that they are launching a cryptocurrency exchange in the United States named HBUS via a strategic partnership. Registration is already open and deposits of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin Cash, Tether, DASH, Civic, and TrueUSD are already being accepted. Trading will go live on 10 July 2018.

This is part of a continuing effort by Huobi to expand globally. Huobi was originally founded in China but was forced to leave the country in September 2017 following the cryptocurrency trading ban. Huobi moved its headquarters to Singapore, has launched an exchange in Australia, and will be launching an exchange in London before the end of 2018 to target the European market.

Huobi is usually ranked among the top 3 cryptocurrency exchanges in the world with trading volumes between USD 500 million and USD 1 billion per day, alongside Binance and OKEx. Huobi will technically be the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, and will be a competitor to Coinbase, who has long dominated the United States market. This is going to create a beneficial situation for cryptocurrency traders in the United States. Competition is always positive since both Huobi and Coinbase will lower fees and increase the level of their services so that customers choose them.

Indeed, HBUS is offering daily withdrawal limits of USD 200,000 for full verification, which is orders of magnitude higher than Coinbase. If HBUS becomes successful then perhaps Coinbase will consider raising their limits.

HBUS is trying to increase registration numbers by offering up to 0.1 Bitcoin for free and 100 days of free trading. Due to state regulations users in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington cannot register.

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South Korea Set To Adopt G20 Recommendations and Ease Crypto Regulations

The Korea Times has reported that South Korean regulators are about to ease cryptocurrency regulations in line with G20 recommendations.

Back in May, government regulators made an initial agreement to apply the G20’s “unified regulations” and classify digital currencies as assets, having agreed that the situation regarding the trading of cryptocurrencies needed improving.

It appears according to the Korea Times report that the Financial Services Commission (FSC) has now revised its guidelines for cryptocurrency exchange operators. A government official commented about the latest developments:

“The FSC made revisions to its rules to apply strengthened policies in order to prevent or detect money laundering and illegal activities because the regulator isn’t opposed to cryptocurrencies.”

Another official commented that adopting the recommendations are in the “early stages of fine tuning” but that the establishment of unified rules has its complications.

The loosening of South Korea’s current cryptocurrency regulations illustrates the degree to which the government sees the value of blockchain and acknowledges the growth of cryptocurrency in the country’s financial sector. However, security issues still remain a concern to the government. A Trade ministry official commented on this aspect of the current changes to legislation suggesting that changes would be made, “but not at the expense of safety and security.”

The government’s gradual shift towards cryptocurrency adoption will certainly give a lift to the industry in South Korea. Mainstream adoption, if it comes, will have a massive impact providing it moves beyond speculative trading, says Seoul-based technology journalist National Tax Agency:

“Global banks predict that interest in cryptocurrencies will double. We believe an increase in adoption will come when crypto-assets can be used as actual currencies rather than just speculative investments.”

Hong Eu-rak of the ruling Democratic Party has suggested that there are current discussions in the progress to lift the country’s ban on ICOs, and it has also been reported that further discussions with the National Tax Agency to develop a taxation framework for cryptocurrencies is underway.

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Vitalik Buterin Has Harsh Words For Centralized Crypto Exchanges

Ethereum Co-Founder Vitalik Buterin had harsh words for centralized cryptocurrency exchanges at the TechCrunch Sessions: Blockchain 2018 conference in Zug, Switzerland. He said, “I definitely hope centralized exchanges go burn in hell as much as possible”. He thinks decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges are the way of the future.

Vitalik Buterin is particularly critical about how centralized cryptocurrency exchanges have gained the power to decide which cryptocurrencies will become popular. He says “We can really take away this stupid king-making power that these centralized exchanges have where they have this ability to just decide which tokens become big by deciding to list them and then charging these crazy $10 million to $15 million listing fees. The more we can get away from that world and into something which actually satisfies the blockchain values of openness and transparency the better.”

Aside from Vitalik Buterin’s criticisms, in general, there has been animosity towards centralized cryptocurrency exchanges from the crypto community due to numerous exchange hacking incidents, and even more incidents of exchanges acting like a centralized bank and freezing user funds. For example, over 100 pages of complaints have been filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission describing how Coinbase has frozen user accounts and funds and their customer service doesn’t offer any help. This highlights how centralized cryptocurrency exchanges control money, defeating one of the main purposes of cryptocurrency which is to give power over money back to the people.

Additionally, centralized cryptocurrency exchanges usually require identification information from users, removing the anonymity that cryptocurrency was built to provide.

Vitalik Buterin recognizes that the fiat side of cryptocurrency trading is what has caused centralization, saying “In practice, particularly on the fiat to crypto side, it is very difficult to decentralize because you ultimately are interfacing with the fiat world, and the fiat world is one that only has basically centralized gateway. There are valuable services being provided there that are very hard to decentralize”.

Vitalik Buterin is strongly in favor of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges. Binance and Huobi, which are among the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, are planning on switching to decentralized blockchain-based platforms, so they won’t have to deal with government regulations anymore.

A truly decentralized cryptocurrency exchange will be able to offer cryptocurrency trading anywhere in the world without collecting identification information from users, and due to its decentralized blockchain-based nature governments can’t really do anything to stop it. Binance and Huobi were forced out of their native country of China following the September 2017 cryptocurrency trading ban, which is probably why these exchanges are leading the way towards decentralization, to ensure their survival no matter the regulatory environment.

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Philippines CB Gives Two New Exchanges the Go-Ahead as Crypto on the Rise

The Philippines Central bank is reported to have authorized two of the country’s banks to process conversions between cryptocurrencies and the Philippine peso.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) deputy governor Chuchi G. Fonacier has said that the bank has approved applications from the two exchanges, Virtual Currency Philippines, Inc. and ETranss as platforms according to Business World.

The Philippines now has five authorized crypto exchanges with the addition of the two new platforms with 29 other exchanges still awaiting regulators’ approval to commence trading.

The Bank’s deputy governor has revealed that there may be changes to future crypto exchange regulations which means that the financial regulator waives electronic money issuer (EMI) licenses, suggesting that “There are some refinements. This may entail additional requirement but not automatically an EMI license.”

Cryptocurrency trading in the Philippines is on the rise this year with the trading volume between crypto and the Phillippines peso averaging US$36.74 million per month in the first quarter of 2018.

Not only cryptocurrency but blockchain itself is becoming a fast-growing industry in the South-East Asian country with a regulator-friendly background and the Philippines has long been a magnet to foreign investment, as illustrated by its Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

The Philippines started developing these zones in the mid-1990s in order to promote investment, including foreign direct investment (FDI). Over the past 22 years, Philippine SEZs have become an innovative home for FDI, especially attracting investments in the manufacturing sector. The Netherlands, Japan, Singapore, the US, and, more recently, South Korea, have been the top sources of investment in the Philippine SEZs.

SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong recently made comments which will offer those in the industry much hope for the future regarding cryptocurrency trading; views which are slowly become more frequently expressed by government departments and regulators globally:

“The government wants to be proactive in creating rules about cryptocurrency. We want to engage all the stakeholders by asking for your feedback. We don’t want to ban anything just because we don’t understand something…”

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Five Spanish Speaking Universities Offering Crypto-Courses Join Education Surge

Five universities across three Spanish-speaking countries, Spain, Argentina and Venezuela, are now offering crypto courses, reports one of the crypto-news outlets.

Asia is normally regarded as the world’s cryptocurrency hub with centers, courses, and crypto educational establishments on the rise, where Japan, Thailand and South Korea are leading the way.

However, Asia isn’t the only continent taking steps to educate its crypto communities. There are numerous courses now being run by private schools, companies, and universities across the globe. The new courses for Spanish speakers offer studies in Bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrencies, blockchains, initial coin offerings (ICOs), smart contracts, DAOs, and crypto-economics.

In Europe, Spain’s capital Madrid offers a new venue for crypto studies. The Universidad de Alcalá is not only a world heritage site it is also one of Europe’s oldest universities dating back to 1293. The University of Alcalá is especially renowned in the Spanish-speaking world for its annual presentation of the highly prestigious Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious and remunerative award given for Spanish-language literature.

The university now offers a course entitled “Master in Ethereum, Blockchain Technology and Crypto-Economics,” and promotes the study as being for “professionals, students or those interested in learning about blockchain-based technologies from an integrative perspective of technical, economic, social and legal aspects.”

Not to be outdone, another Madrid university has opened its doors to cryptocurrency enthusiasts and professionals. Universidad Europea Madrid, the European University of Madrid, is a private university with more than 16,000 students. The school offers a 6-month postgraduate diploma in Bitcoin and blockchain which starts in October.

Across the world in South America, struggling Venezuela, along with Argentina have both recently started offering courses. In hyperinflation struck Venezuela, Bitcoin for some is the only way of putting food on the table due to the state of the country’s national currency — bolivar, which is now worth practically nothing.

The Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) a private non-profit business school with 3 campuses, which offers a 60hr summer course called “Cryptocurrency, blockchain and business in the new economy, opportunities and challenges for management and business.”

In Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, is a private university focusing on information technology, business and engineering studies offering a course of 3 months for newcomers to cryptocurrencies:

“It is designed especially for people who start from scratch or with very basic knowledge and who want to learn the reasons, mechanics and disruptive opportunities at a monetary, technological level and as a form of investment that is in the present and future in the world of crypto-economies.”

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Assets on Bitcoin (RBG Protocol) - Giacomo Zucco [Building on Bitcoin 2018]

Daily Discussion, July 08, 2018

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