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New Yorkers Can Now Buy Bitcoin at ATMs With Debit Cards

New Yorkers Can Now Buy Bitcoin at ATMs With Debit Cards

With cryptocurrency ATMs on the rise around the world with machines globally passing the 4,000 total at a rate of five installations a day, both New York and Chicago are showing continued US dominance in the sector.

New York now offers customers the opportunity to purchase Bitcoin using a regular credit card at machines supplied by ATM provider LibertyX. The company now has selected ATMs across the city able to provide the new service. It has been installing crypto ATMs across the US since its first opened in Boston in 2014, later providing campus machines at Harvard and MIT.

The debit card ATMs having been finding homes across the US since last year, but have only just come to New York City having just gained approval from New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS).

A customer can use one of the new ATM debit card facilities by simply downloading a LibertyX mobile app and then registering their account. Once done, users have access to Bitcoin withdrawals to the tune of USD 3,000 a day by using their debit card. The move is hoped to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency ATMs by illustrating the ease of access to crypto funds.

The windy city has no plans to be left behind, and Chicago is currently undergoing its own battle of the ATMs with many providers vying for trade. The latest provider to hit town is Atlanta-based Lux Vending which has now added 30 of its own machines already across the Chicago area this year, taking its total in the city to 200.

Other companies in the race for planting their machines across the nation include home-based Red Leaf Chicago, who, apart from having 60 machines across the city, has another 120 machines across 21 states, including Iowa, New Jersey, Florida, and California. Another Chicago-based company has gone worldwide choosing to place its ATMs internationally, with only three in Chicago. With 65 machines across the US, it has found many of its 100 remaining machines doing huge business in Colombia and Argentina, a trade which could increase dramatically given the current economic and political unrest in the region.

 

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The Road Ahead for Venezuela: Is There a Place for Cryptocurrency in Rebuilding a Failed Economy?

BitcoinNews began following the situation in Venezuela early last year and had since then tagged it as a potential humanitarian disaster. Where does Venezuela turn as it sits on the cusp of a complete breakdown of its political system and its economy while facing the challenge of a new era of effective government?

Bitcoin, albeit driven underground by the Maduro regime, has been supporting many of those nationals choosing to remain in the country rather than fleeing to neighboring Columbia in order to escape poverty. Many have found solace in Bitcoin and Dash which may have at least to this point delivered what they promised.

However, Petro — the national crypto brainwave of Nicholas Maduro which was introduced in December 2017 as a solution to the country’s ever-deepening national crisis has failed. The Venezuelan crisis was started by the much-adored Hugo Chavez and his extreme social programmes which eventually bankrupted the country before his death from cancer. Backed by tangible assets like gold, oil, and diamonds Maduro tried to convince a nation of a solution which was ill planned. It is no accident that the introduction of the Petro came at a time when Bitcoin prices were soaring.

Many Venezuelans, turned on by the hype of Bitcoin through the media, and then its actual applications – its “real-life” workability when they could lay their hands on it, were equally turned off by the near-invisible and highly impractical Petro. This was made even more ludicrous by the arrival of “Petro Gold”, each one backed by a barrel of oil, which took the application of using cryptocurrency as a fix to an economic disaster into the realms of the theatre of the absurd.

Now, Venezuela’s economy has shrunk in half within five years, and it’s hyperinflated, unsupported by oil output which has fallen by almost two thirds since 1999. To worsen the situation, it has to deal with US sanctions, which very quickly ensured that no Americans could own the Petro or Petro gold. Chavez inherited an oil boom and squandered it. Maduro, faced with the challenge of addressing an economic meltdown, introduced a national cryptocurrency and mismanaged it. This begs the question, can a proven cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin find a place in Venezuela’s economy should Maduro go, given that Venezuelan’s may have a little stomach left for cryptocurrency after the Petro fiasco.

Many Venezuelans may have observed that Bitcoin has at least proven itself as an alternative to the worthless Bolivar and the almost unobtainable US dollar during the turmoil of Maduro’s term as President. Juan Guaidó, the country’s President of the National Assembly-come interim unofficial replacement for the still incumbent Maduro, will give some encouragement to nationals. In August 2014, he announced the launch of Bitcoin exchange Plataforma Sur Bitcoin, the first exchange allowing Venezuelans to buy Bitcoin using Bolivars at a time when they still had value. Guaidó would almost certainly write off the Petro as the failure that it is and look for other options for the much-devalued Bolivar as he has long been the national cryptocurrency’s greatest critic.

If Guaidó is to promote the use of Bitcoin on the streets of Venezuela he has a real challenge ahead in terms of logistics, infrastructure and changing the thinking of a whole nation. Data released by the country’s national telecom providers shows that there are only 11.9 million mobile devices in Venezuela, a country with a population of 30 million people.

Currency controls mean that this number is dropping even further because no one is importing smartphones into the country to sell so that the devices in circulation are often unbranded or not up to date. Some cities are completely disconnected from any communication system, some going without access to calls, SMS, text, 3G or even cable internet with no connection beyond city limits.

Educating Venezuelans about the actual applications of cryptocurrencies in the wake of Petro is another challenge if Bitcoin is to find a place. There have been some inroads into this of late with non-profit blockchain firm Cripto Conserje and US company Horizen (formerly ZenCash) collaborating to create an education program for refugees fleeing the country to neighboring Columbia. Cripto Conserje’s Alpha Project has been set up to increase cryptocurrency adoption in Latin America, especially in the border town of Cucuta, and is hoping to encourage more Venezuelans to turn to crypto, as spokesman for the project commented:

“Together we are providing ZEN paper wallets and education to those in need, ensuring they have secure ways to access and control their money no matter where they are and what situation they are in…We are also onboarding 100 local merchants to begin accepting ZEN as payments.”

With over 2 million refugees crossing into Columbia since the economic crisis began, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dash have been Venezuelans only viable and usable method of purchasing daily necessities. The US dollar is hard to come by; although, in November of 2018 a hyperinflation expert Steve Hanke teamed up with a Mexico City-based blockchain powered currency platform in order to get financial aid into the country via an airdrop. Hanke, also a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University, and AirTM, launched “AirdropVenezuela” in order to raise cryptocurrency donations up to USD 1 million.

US-based cryptocurrency exchanges have been offering limited support to beleaguered nationals, but every effort of this kind has significant PR value as it proves to Venezuelans that well-managed cryptocurrencies have the capability of changing the well-being of recipients. Although many might argue that this on its own is not enough, Coinbase donated USD 10,000 in ZCash (ZEC) during Christmas period in 2018 through GiveCrypto.org, a non-profit organization that distributes cryptocurrency to people living in poverty. The funds were donated to the wallets of over 100 families living in the Venezuelan border town of Santa Elana de Uairen, located in Bolívar state near the border with Brazil and Guyana.

All such experiences illustrate clearly that cryptocurrencies, used in an innovative way, can help address Venezuela’s current decimated economy and can in fact change lives for the better, but as yet, Bitcoin and other major digital currencies have only just scratched the surface.

Many now wait to see if a new regime is possible and if it is, and Maduro bends to international pressure and gives way to a self-elected new President. If Guaidó does inherit the great challenge of tackling Venezuela’s massive economic problems it remains to be seen if he also selects the challenge of choosing Bitcoin as one of many available tools to begin rebuilding an economy destroyed by two successive leaders.

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Bitcoin’s Mr. Big, Michael Novogratz Donates to Princeton Students

Bitcoin's Mr Big, Michael Novogratz, Donates to Princeton Students

Mike Novogratz, ex-hedge fund manager and Bitcoin Billionaire has made a donation to students at the prestigious US university Princeton.

Novogratz is a well-known Bitcoin pundit and CEO of Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, a merchant banking institution dedicated to the digital assets and blockchain technology sector. Better known for his bullish predictions, last year he suggested that the crypto market cap was en-route towards a 20 trillion-dollar evaluation.

The donation – an undisclosed amount – is aimed at supporting Princeton’s “Novogratz Bridge Year Program” which gives students a gap year opportunity to work in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia, or Senegal. Princeton University’s web page outlines the program’s aims:

“In addition to supporting community-based initiatives at each program site, Bridge Year aims to provide participants with a greater international perspective and intercultural skills, an opportunity for personal growth and reflection, and a deeper appreciation of service in both a local and international context.”

Both Michael Novogratz and his wife, Sukey Cáceres are both alumni of Princeton University and were happy to donate to their old alma mater. Novogratz sees the programme as essential leadership training, commenting that it offers “abundant opportunities for introspection and personal growth. Students return from it with a real sense of purpose, and an interest in being of service to their communities, and to the world.”

Novogratz suggested that he was proud to donate what he referred to as the couple’s 2017 “crypto winnings,” commenting that the opportunity for students to experience another culture was a way of building bridges, not walls; comments made in clear reference to US President Trump’s measures to protect the US border with Mexico.

Princeton’s President, Christopher L Eisgruber responded to the donation by commenting that  “extraordinary gift will enable generations of Princetonians to embark on a path of global citizenship as Bridge Year scholars.”

US Ivy League Universities have been in the crypto news over the past year with both Columbia and Stanford opening blockchain research centers in 2018, hot on the trails of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Add to these, Miami University in Ohio, Montclair State University, and the University of Pennsylvania, amongst others and the direction of blockchain education in the US is very clear; there is no way but up.

 

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Time Cites Bitcoin as Financial Liberator

time, bitcoin, magazine

An article in US Magazine Time has cited Bitcoin’s real value as being a liberating financial tool for the future.

Time claims that such quality has been overridden by “speculation, fraud, and greed in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, overshadowing the real, liberating potential of Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention.”

The current situation in Venezuela, is according to the magazine, a case in point.  Cryptocurrency has become the go-to method for circumnavigating the all but worthless currency of the Latin American country following the collapse of the local economy. With over 2 million refugees crossing into Columbia since the economic crisis began, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dash have been Venezuelans only viable and usable method of purchasing daily necessities.

The Time article points out that not only has Bitcoin become a tool to protect certain countries against fiat inflation, such as its potential in both Venezuela and Iran and parts of the African continent but that it also has huge potential in avoiding mass surveillance. This was disputed recently by US whistle-blower Edward Snowden however, who suggested Bitcoin was far from being an optional tool for such needs.

The paper also sees an advantage in Bitcoin’s extra level of security from being frozen out by government regulations, although earlier this year WikiLeaks’ Coinbase account was suspended due to a terms of service violation. Despite this, Wikileaks still continues to receive Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency donations due to the control of its own private keys, recently adding support for Zcash in August 2018.

 

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IBM, Columbia University Support Startups with New Blockchain Courses

IBM’s almost frenetic blockchain charge continues with the multinational giant’s announcement of plans to combine with Columbia University to provide two accelerator programs for blockchain-based firms.

The Ivy League research university’s Columbia Blockchain Launch Accelerator is an eight-week program designed for pre-seed formulating companies with affiliations with either Columbia or any other New York universities. IBM’s press release explained the usefulness of the new program for other participating universities should they choose to sign up:

The goal of these programs is to help network founders develop their ideas into sustainable and scalable companies offering blockchain solutions. For those already further along in their journey, the programs are designed to help them achieve scale and build successful business networks.”

IBM added that the accelerators would “will offer entrepreneurs and blockchain network founders around the world access to the expertise and resources they need to establish blockchain networks”.

The two programs are each to target ten startups and will involve mentorship using technical, academic and business mentors from IBM and Columbia, plus enrolling student will have access to IBM’s agile design workshops as well as use IBM’s Cloud technology. Students will be offered extra support through connection to researchers from Columbia as well as other students.

The second of the two programs, the IBM Blockchain Accelerator, another eight-week course, is designed for companies at a more advanced stage of growth, taking place in New York and San Francisco. Of the two accelerators, Columbia Blockchain Launch Accelerator Executive Director Satish Rao said:

“Early- and late-stage teams will undoubtedly benefit from IBM’s technology resources, expertise and established network coupled with Columbia’s ground-breaking research and talent in blockchain and data transparency, all while benefiting from rapidly growing NYC blockchain communities.”

As IBM continues to demonstrate its determination to use blockchain research and development in a number of sectors and play an active role in pushing the technology into mainstream use, Columbia itself has been no slouch in expressing its opinions on DLT. In a recent edition of the university’s Columbia Journalism Review, a report on the events of its most recent panel discussion entitled ‘Blockchain in Journalism: Promise and Practice’ outlined its findings in how blockchain could impact journalism.

The panel found that key resistance to blockchain adoption was a general lack of knowledge. The panel felt that the stigma of cryptocurrency was still there to be overcome, including public fears of volatility and its past connections with criminal activity. They also felt that the dearth of available information to the public regarding blockchain’s workings and its numerous potential applications across all sectors was still a barrier to adoption.

 

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James Rodriguez Launches JR10 Coin in Wave of Superstar Crypto Endorsements

James Rodriguez, an icon of Colombian football commonly known as James, has announced that he is partnering with SelfSell to launch his own crypto token called the JR10, reports USA Today.

The launch of the JR token, so named after his number 10 position in the Columbian squad, will elevate him to being the first active international player to move into crypto space through the launching of his own asset.

In next month’s World Cup in Russia, James, who also plays for German club Bayern München, will lead a Columbian squad competing against group members Japan, Senegal, and Poland.

Rodriguez is not the first footballer to embrace the blockchain space following Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi’s recent affiliation with Sirin Labs who have marketed a blockchain smartphone with the superstar’s endorsement. Michael Owen, ex Liverpool and England International, also recently unveiled his merchandising, Owen Coin, supported by the Singapore-based Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX).

The exchange scored another coup in March, this time signing a boxer to promote the exchange. Philippines Senator, Manny Pacquiao, better known for being the only eight-division world boxing champion, invested in the company which specializes in allowing celebrities to create their own digital currencies.

Sportsmen joining other crypto-crazy celebrities dipping their toes into fintech water include Jamie Foxx, Paris Hilton, football superstar Luis Suarez, rapper The Game, and stand-up comedian Kevin Hart and Canadian two-time speed skating world record holder Ted-Jan Bloemen who became the first cryptocurrency-sponsored athlete, according to Cryptovest.

The most notable event this year was American Boxer Floyd Mayweather’s endorsement of blockchain firm Stox to 16 million Instagram followers raising USD 33 million in 34 hours. This resulted in charges being made against the company by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over allegations that the (ICO) was a fraudulent activity.

Rodriguez claimed that he will be involved in a range of activities following the launch including interacting with his fans, suggesting that the coin can be used to “become a new engine to grow the global football market”.

 

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