Category Archives: Dash

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Google Works on New Blockchain Dissecting Tool

Google Works on New Blockchain Dissecting Tool

Google has announced that it is currently working on a new tool to enable users to search transaction information through more efficient searches of blockchains for specified data.

However, the tool is seen by some as a double-bladed sword, for example revealing that Bitcoin Cash is not as well distributed as thought nor is it used for its heralded suitability for everyday transactions to the degree that advertising might imply. The tool is already being considered by governments for its ability to reveal private information or data that individuals would like to keep to themselves.

The tool is called Blockchain ETL (extract, transform, load) a technology built on Google’s big-data analytics platform, BigQuery. Its developer Allen Day focuses on the less intrusive elements of ETLs, suggesting that if cryptocurrencies fall into mainstream use, then “it will require having some trust in knowing about who it is you’re actually interacting with”, requiring a search technology capable of harnessing the huge store of blockchain data.

The tech is in current use analyzing data on cryptocurrencies and establishing which of these may be legitimate for making everyday purchases, also which exchanges might be creating fake volume as an advertising ploy. ETL and BigQuery currently analyze Bitcoin and Ethereum but plan to add Dash, Litecoin, Zcash, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic and Dogecoin in the future.

An example of how the tech works is explained by Leon White of Dash Core using the cryptocurrency Dash as an example. He says that while the cryptocurrency encourages the separation of large balances into wallets of 1,000 Dash each, it still has a relatively low Gini coefficient; ETL reveals that:

“Gini coefficient of Dash is excellent compared to other cryptos, even considering masternodes. A low Gini coefficient indicates a more equal distribution of wealth in the data set. So it provides some evidence (but not definitive evidence) that Dash is more fairly distributed than other major cryptocurrencies.”

 

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Formula One Gets First Digital Asset Firm Sponsorship

Formula One Gets First Digital Asset Firm Sponsorship

The Formula One (F1) racing team Aston Martin Red Bull are to partner the cryptocurrency company FuturoCoin, making this the first of such projects in the history of the world’s top tier of motor car racing.

Aston Martin Red Bull has an illustrious history as the sixth-most-winning car constructor in F1 racing. FuturoCoin’s branding will now appear on the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 F1 cars of drivers Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly.

FuturoCoin founder Roman Ziemian has long been a lover of motorsport so the deal comes as no accident. He said, “I’m a huge fan of motorsport and F1 has always intrigued me. The sponsorship is an exciting new chapter for our company and will be a global platform for us to drive awareness of FuturoCoin.”

The coin (FTO) was co-founded along with Stephan Morgenstern in 2017 offering a maximum supply of FTO 100,000,000. The coin is reportedly based on the same code as DASH, claiming to provide users four-second transaction times and low fixed fees. Red Bull Aston Martin Racing Team Principal, Christian Horner was clearly happy with the deal, commenting:

“In recent years, the rise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has been truly remarkable, and we’re delighted to be the first Formula One team to embrace this, through our partnership with FuturoCoin… Secure digital currencies are on the leading edge of technological development and we are very excited to be part of this revolution.”

The deal will cover both the 2019/2020 F1 seasons. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing won the F1 constructor’s and driver’s world championships in four consecutive years between 2010 and 2013 with its total Grand Prix wins currently standing at 59. The 21-round 2019 season takes off with the Australian Grand Prix on 14 to 17 March.

 

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Bitcoin in the Americas: The Changing Face of Money in Latin America

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Cryptocurrencies are on the march in South America despite the continent’s relatively small slice in the global ownership breakdown.

The number of users of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dash continues to swell in many Latin American countries, and historically it is not hard to see why.

The last World Bank study revealed that as few as 49 percent of adults in the region had access to traditional banking, mainly due to the costs inflicted on potential new customers, and the bureaucracy involved in setting up a bank account. However, the deep penetration of smartphones continues to give autonomy to many without banking facilities by enabling them to conduct simple financial transactions using Bitcoin. South Americans love cash, it has always been the mainstay of a market economy, with credit cards still little used by much of the community for similar reasons as those for circumventing the traditional banking system.

Venezuela

Countries suffering inflation are currently the key drivers of Bitcoin and alternative currencies in South America and the mother of all these currently in Venezuela. For this reason, the movers and shakers of the crypto space in South America are rarely out of the press. Venezuela and Columbia are now almost joined at the hip, with President Maduro’s economic crisis causing refugees to flee across Venezuela’s nearest border.

With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicting that Venezuelans may face consumer prices that will “increase by 10 million percent over the course of 2019,” many nationals have been forced to flee, or remain but shun the traditional economy by using bitcoin as a tool.

In terms of tracking the rise of Bitcoin in the Americas, the numbers speak for themselves. The latest statistics show Venezuela’s weekly Bitcoin Volume increasing from 11 BTC in the first week of January 2017 to a staggering 190 BTC in the first week of January 2019. Volume-wise, the figures are equally impressive with trade volume in Venezuela up to 252 BTC in the last week of 2018. President Maduro’s saving grace, the Petro, backed by huge oil reserves has been a failure, and the country has turned to more traditional cryptocurrencies in order to bypass the worthless national currency, the Bolivar.

Bitcoin is now recognized as the only way of getting around the country’s currency controls, and bitcoin mining offers Venezuelans a chance to pay for good imported from overseas. Although the process is not sanctioned for individuals other than going through ‘official’ methods, residents are able to sidestep the government’s control to buy foodstuffs from Florida and Miami by trading Bitcoin for bolivars.

Brazil

Brazil is the economic giant of South America, and a recent change in government has analysts waiting to observe how this might change the direction of the current legislation regarding cryptocurrency. Bitcoin use is certainly not undercover in the country, it is out there and being used as Satoshi intended. Supermarkets, construction, e-commerce, hospitality, and transportation have all become highly visible evidence that cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly mainstream.

BTC, BCH or LTC are commonly used and now, a supermarket chain ‘Oasis Supermercados’ allows customers to use any of these to pay for groceries. Transportation companies, such as ‘Viação Garcia’ are also open to payment in any of these three currencies. Some businesses and retailers have been taking Bitcoin since 2013. Other businesses including Nobile Plaza Hotel, e-commerce website Fasttech.com, robotic and electronic parts retailer Webtronico, and Imperius Food are also accepting crypto.

Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, has cryptocurrency advocates worried, however. His views are hard right and his opinions regarding women, race, immigration, and homosexuality, among other topics, have caused concerns amongst many. Both the use of cryptocurrency and questions around the treatment of Brazil’s minorities have come in to play, and these areas have already felt the effect of a change of government following his election.

The new administration has already canceled a contract which would have benefited indigenous communities living in the Amazon basin. The project with an elongated title Study and diagnosis of socioeconomic viability of the creation of an indigenous cryptocurrency; development of the cryptocurrency platform; and implementation of that platform,” included the launch of a cryptocurrency affectionally referred to as the “Bitcoin of the Indian.”

As part of the project, the new cryptocurrency would have been distributed amongst Brazil’s indigenous communities, with organizers establishing a database of indigenous territories through working with local universities. Bolsonaro has not minced his words in the past regarding Brazil’s indigenous population arguing:

“There is no indigenous territory where there aren’t minerals. Gold, tin, and magnesium are in these lands, especially in the Amazon, the richest area in the world. I’m not getting into this nonsense of defending land for Indians.”

Columbia

The number of Bitcoin ATMs in the country, the most in South America, speaks volumes when analyzing the degree to which the Bitcoin imprint is becoming more visible. There are now 17 ATMs around cities across the country. The city of Medellín, the second largest in Colombia, has recently installed the third Bitcoin ATM in one month.

The largest users of these ATMs are Venezuelans fleeing in greater numbers across the border into neighboring Columbia. Mostly uncovered by mainstream news in the past year, a staggering 1.9 million have fled poverty, hunger, crime and hyperinflation in Venezuela since 2015.

Dash has achieved great popularity in Columbia in some areas, often more so than the flagship cryptocurrency, with adoption on the increase, illustrated by an increase in merchant use of the Dash wallet in 2018. Bitcoin use is huge though, and in a comparison of the weekly volume of January 2017 to that of January 2019, it can be seen that the weekly Bitcoin volume in Columbia has increased from a 135 BTC to 364 BTC. The BTC weekly trade volume reached a maximum of 759 BTC in the last week of 2018.

Peru

Peru is not a big South American player but cryptocurrency use is on the rise. Bitcoin’s biggest hurdle is overcoming bad press caused by misuse. Peru’s Enrique Cardoza, Project Manager at Bitinka Exchange explains the situation and some of the complexities surrounding cryptocurrency business in the country:

We can say that this is being divided into two camps: There are people who are very much in favor of promoting information and spreading the word so that people can learn. [And also] There are many people who know about this and take advantage of people’s ignorance.”

Cardoza claims that much of the problem has been caused by those who have deliberately cheated, damaging the fledgling ecosystem. It has affected the businesses as potential new clients now lack confidence in companies offering cryptocurrency services as they consider them to be risky. He claims that Ripple (XRP), and Ethereum (ETH) are the greatest cryptocurrencies in demand.

Elsewhere

In other South American countries such as Bolivia and Chile, governments have restricted access to online payment systems like PayPal, who do not accept local documentation as a means of verifying the identity of the account holder. Bitcoin is being used more regularly in these countries because of limited financial services operating in these jurisdictions.

Chile, Bolivia, and Equador

Cryptocurrencies have never been legal in Bolivia and the government has been known to enforce its anti-Bitcoin stance with a firm hand. Mining and use of Bitcoin are still under strict regulation in the country. Chile is somewhat more forward thinking, and just recently, attempts to close cryptocurrency exchanges’ bank accounts has been thwarted by the Chilean anti-monopoly court granting these exchanges protection. In Equador, there are several ways to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and although still illegal, Bitcoin is often used by a small number of the population.

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ATMs Still Gaining Popularity Globally with 5 Daily Installations

ATMs Still Gaining Popularity Globally with 5 Daily Installations

The installation of cryptocurrency ATMs continues around the world as it has done throughout 2017, despite the crypto market downturn.

Newly-published figures indicate that new installations have taken the number of extant machines around the globe past the 4,000 total. This illustrates the degree to which users are increasingly needing a convenient way to access their crypto assets.

According to industry statistics aggregator Coin ATM Radar the current installment rate is now 4.9 a day. The new data breaks down the spread of crypto ATMs, suggesting that actual locations have changed little with the majority of the machines still being located in North America, followed by Europe with roughly a third of the North American total which currently has 72% of the global total actively in use.

Hong Kong represents Asia’s biggest market for crypto ATMs, accounting for 0.8% of the world’s active ATMs. In Europe, Austrians and the UK public are the most prominent users of machines on that continent. Lagging behind is Oceania, which includes major crypto user Australia, South America. The African continent has only 0.2% of the global usage, despite an increased interest in cryptocurrencies in 2018.

In the US, the country showing the biggest increase in installations in 2018 with 1,259 new active ATMs, California (473) and Illinois (250) have the largest number of machines in the country. The figures show that Bitcoin is supported by 99.9% of the world’s 4,167 machines.

The token break down shows a  59.5% support for Litecoin (LTC), 49.3% support for Ethereum (ETH) and 33.9% support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Dash (DASH) is supported by 17.9% of ATMs, while Monero (XMR), Dogecoin (DOGE) and ZCash (ZEC) are each supported by 3% or less.

 

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Time Cites Bitcoin as Financial Liberator

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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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Zen Finds a Place in the Lives of Venezuelan Refugees

Refugees fleeing financially crippled Venezuela are finding some solace after being introduced to cryptocurrency with support from two blockchain companies.

Non-profit blockchain firm Cripto Conserje and US company Horizen (formerly ZenCash) have combined to create an education program for Venezuelan refugees fleeing the country to neighboring Columbia.

Hyperinflation is rampant in Venezuela and as a result, Bitcoin trading volume keeps hitting new records each week. Meanwhile, authorities are scratching their heads on how to rein in the burgeoning, albeit underground industry, including attempts to crackdown on the import of cryptocurrency mining equipment.

Yet again, cryptocurrency has become the go-to method of circumnavigating the all but worthless local currency, the Bolivar, with Zen becoming the latest to appear on the Venezuelan market. 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.

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. A company statement has said:

“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.”

The solution to the country’s economic plight was thought to be President Maduro’s launching of the Petro, a national cryptocurrency backed by Venezuela’s oil wealth, but the Petro has been rarely encountered, is untradeable, and consequently rendered completely ineffective to deal with the ongoing crisis.

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Church’s Chicken in Venezuela Accepts Dash Amid Hyperinflation Crisis

Church's Chicken in Venezuela Accepts Dash Amid Hyperinflation Crisis

Fast food outlet Church’s Chicken in Venezuela is taking the leap and has begun accepting Dash, the #1 X11 cryptocurrency, and the #16 cryptocurrency on CoinMarketCap overall.

In Venezuela, the native fiat currency, the Sovereign Bolivar (VES), is becoming more difficult to use with each passing week. The inflation rate is at 444,000% per year, based on six months of data from the Café Con Leche Index, where someone buys the same cup of coffee at the same shop in Caracas to gauge Venezuelan inflation. Since this data averages in lower inflation rates from months ago, the true inflation rate is already near 1,000,000% per year. This makes it unsurprising that people are ditching the native VES for other more stable currencies.

Dash has not been particularly stable this year relative to the US dollar, nor has any other cryptocurrency been stable in that relation for that matter. However, it compares far more favorably compared to the VES. Accepting bolivar almost guarantees merchants lose value every hour they hold, with a single day’s inflation capable of wiping out profit margins. Citizens have been exchanging VES for goods or other currencies and assets as fast as possible. Merchants like Church’s have been pricing their menu items in US dollars to mitigate inflation risks.

By accepting Dash, Church’s Chicken can now operate with less stress and actually store their money instead of immediately running out the door and exchanging it for other currencies, goods, or assets.

The choice of Dash is interesting, considering that the Petro, the official national cryptocurrency of Venezuela, is supposed to be a Dash clone. The reason the Venezuelan government chose Dash is that it uses masternode technology which makes transactions highly anonymous and therefore useful for circumventing international sanctions. However, all evidence indicates the Petro is not a cryptocurrency, rather it seems to be a non-fungible paper certificate.

The current situation in Venezuela could lead to widespread and permanent cryptocurrency adoption across the South American nation. Some economists believe it offers a glimpse into what would happen in the future if fiat currencies collapsed worldwide.

 

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Crypto Lessons and Roast Goat in This Kenyan Restaurant, All Paid in Bitcoin

“Eat at Betty’s” is the word in Nyeri, Kenya, as not only can you pay in crypto, but you can hang around for a tutorial afterwards.

At the foot of Mount Kenya about 150km (90 miles) outside the capital, Nairobi, Betty’s place cooks a fantastic barbeque, known to locals as “nyama choma” and if your Swahili is lacking, it is usually roast goat served with kachumbari salad and ugali, washed down with local beer.

The goat may be standard local Kenyan fare, but the mode of payment certainly isn’t. Owner Beatrice Wambugu has gone crypto, something not common in these parts, happy to take Bitcoin and Dash rather than the usual cash or card. It’s the way to go she says, arguing “since the world is becoming more global, my place is also becoming a global restaurant.”

In fact, Betty’s is really flexible when tourists arrive at her place, “I attract different customers from different parts of the world, whichever coin they have. As long as it’s a viable coin we accept it,” she says.

Ok, so she hasn’t done a roaring trade in crypto till receipts, with, so far, only about 30,000 Kenyan shillings (£230, $300) in sales from about 20 people. But, she has another plan to make up the numbers; crypto lessons. Every Sunday Beatrice runs cryptocurrency tutorials at Betty’s to spread the word on how to empower locals towards a new way of doing things. She says:

“I’ve set aside one day where I can teach my customers. Whoever asks about cryptocurrencies: ‘How does it work? What is Bitcoin?’ I train them.” At my place, it’s ‘nyama choma’ and ‘nyama Bitcoin.’ The restaurant is expanding, having taken over a nearby two-story hotel in just over a year since opening.

Kenya is a difficult proposition when it comes to opening a business due to a high level of local corruption. Recently, Kenyan Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence task force chairman Bitange Ndemo said that the government should consider tokenizing the economy to deal with “increasing” rates of corruption and uncertainties. James Preston of SA Crypto sees Bitcoin as a way of “banking the unbanked” a term now familiar with many on the African continent, referring to Africa’s 350 million with no access to traditional banking.

“There’s been such a history of poverty in Africa that so many rural communities are yet to be developed with normal banking infrastructure,” he told the BBC.

The new task force chairman Bitange Ndemo, speaking at an Information and Communication Technology Ministry (ICT) stakeholders meeting agrees with that perception and argues:

We must begin to tokenize the economy by giving incentives to young people to do things which they are paid through tokens that can be converted to fiat currency.”

Betty’s goat dish is on the right track.

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The Music Industry Flirts With Crypto and Reaps the Benefits

Recently, blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies have used their burgeoning popularity to pull in stars from the world of sport, not wanting to miss out on the next big thing on the block. However, musicians are some of the newbies on the front line of the new tech. Some have made more impact than others though.

Better known from his time with band Genesis, Peter Gabriel is an example of one who has no intention of dabbling. Gabriel is an ardent fundraiser for humanitarian causes and a supporter of the British Labour Party to which he has made significant donations.

His investment in the startup, Provenance, was undisclosed but clearly, it’s now contributing towards the company’s expansion of its product. Through Provenance, Gabriel’s money helps provide transparency to food transportation, basically giving the public a better idea of exactly where their food comes from and how it gets there. The Provenance blockchain-based application is predicted to be used in over 1,000 food businesses by 2025.

The ex-Genesis singer and drummer can now add his name to the list with other prominent personalities promoting ICOs over social media in the past year, such as Paris Hilton, Floyd Mayweather, and Katy Perry.

Islandic enigmatic singer Bjork wants her music out there and be purchased with crypto, to which end she hooked up last year with London based Blockpool, allowing her fans to exchange Litecoin, Dashcoin, and AudioCoin for her 2017 album Utopia.

Singer Imogen Heap commented that cryptocurrency has helped her in her recent projects too, particularly with her release of the song Tiny Human on the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, allowing people to download the song in exchange for Ether:

“People paid USD 1, or 1 ETH, which was equal to USD 1 at the time,” she said. “That was USD 200. I didn’t think anything of it and then, of course, it went massively up and I took a bit out and put it into the project, and then it went massively down. It went up to GBP 200,000.”

Senegalese singer AKON with his cryptocurrency Akoin also made the headlines amid plans to build a crypto city, but others from the music industry are getting involved in the blockchain, such as Kanye West.

Never to be outdone, rapper Kanye West tweeted happily earlier this year about blockchain and his version of a digital music service Spotify called Yeezy Sound, aimed to be a decentralized application that would incorporate cryptocurrency. That plan clearly is still in the pipeline, although the trademark applications are in.

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