Category Archives: digital currency

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“Bitcoin Girl Thailand” on the Run From Thai Navy after Seastead Debacle

“Bitcoin Girl Thailand” on the Run From Thai Navy after Seastead Debacle

American Bitcoin investor Chad Elwartowski and Thai girlfriend Supranee Thepdet, nicknamed Bitcoin Girl Thailand, have gone into hiding having been accused of violating Thailand’s sovereignty; a charge that could carry a death sentence under Thai law.

The couple constructed a platform home known as a “seastead” in international waters 12 nautical miles from the shoreline at Phuket, Thailand’s tourist island playground. Seasteads are permanent dwellings at sea outside the territory claimed by any government and comes from the term homesteading, which clearly links to early US settlement where homesteaders were free from government intervention.

Elwartowski claims the “living platform” in the Andaman Se4a was built in pursuit of freedom, a view not shared by the Thai navy who claim that the couple “did not seek permission from Thailand” and have now have asked the Marine Department to remove the seastead from the water due to its danger to shipping. Early Bitcoin adopter Elwartowski, who allegedly paid USD 150,000 for the seastead, says that he now fears for his life, speaking to ABC 7 News :

“The Thai military wants us dead. The way things work here in Thailand is that they set the narrative in their media then execute it. …The narrative is that we are a threat to national security and we face life in prison or death. They did not want us to survive to get our side out.”

Phuket police colonel Nikorn Somsuk said, “The navy and its team found a concrete tank floating on the sea but there was no one on it. So they filed a charge citing criminal code article 119,”. That law carries stiff penalties, including a maximum death sentence if found guilty.

The couple belongs to a community of Bitcoin entrepreneurs planning to build sea-based homes outside of territorial waters and had planned to lure other 20 Bitcoin investors to build homes around their seastead.

Elwartowski’s Thai girlfriend Thepdet was clearly not concerned about keeping their sea-based home a secret before they went into hiding, recently posting pictures on Instagram of them lounging on their platform drinking champagne.

More traditional properties are still being sold for cryptocurrency in 2019, a trend which has continued since late 2017 when the price of cryptocurrencies went sky high as Bitcoin almost reached the 20k mark.


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Could IMF’s “Learning Coin” Mean a Shift from Fear and Loathing to Acceptance?

Could IMF’s “Learning Coin” Mean A Shift From Fear and Loathing to Acceptance

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank’s recent announcement suggest that they are not quite going crypto, but are nonetheless launching a private blockchain complete with a coin. And this could have major implications for world finance.

Although the “Learning Coin” may be a new concept that the two financial giants have carefully designed to carry no monetary value, but with plenty of stored intellectual content, this could be seen as an indication that change is in the air when it comes to the financial establishment’s tolerance-come-actual-interest in cryptocurrency as 2020 approaches.

When these two agencies make a murmur, the financial establishment pricks up their ears. The intention seems clear when the IMF states that “the development of crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology is evolving rapidly, as is the amount of information (both neutral and vested) surrounding it”, without accompanying it with the usual criticism of abuse and misuse. That said, IMF chief Lagarde’s concerns are still clear. Her views indicate that it is very much about treading carefully and testing the water at this stage:

“…we don’t want innovation that would shake the system so much that we would lose the stability that is needed.”

Of course, the IMF is always ready to cast one keen protective eye across the global financial landscape, such as in the agency’s recent warnings to Malta regarding its rate of blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption, saying that unchecked proliferation carries “significant risks” for money laundering and terrorism. during a recent financial assessment carried out on the island.

Another hint that the financial establishment may be leading from the top in its softening attitudes towards cryptocurrency can be seen in its recent online poll, on its own website, asking the question asking “How do you think you will be paying for lunch in 5 years?”  — a clear attempt to measure public feelings on cryptocurrency.

This needs to be balanced with the IMF’s stance regarding state cryptocurrencies. To date, it has come down hard on countries considering the move. There is a critical view held by economists in some countries whose governments may be considering moves to adopt a national cryptocurrency, that a mass decentralization of financial power may result in the diminishing of IMF’s authority.

A warning by IMF deputy director Dong last year clearly suggests that the organization may be secretly worried at the movement towards global digital currency adoption. While admitting that cryptocurrency had an advantage over banks when it comes to speed, anonymity, and divisibility, Dong claimed then that Bitcoin’s fixed supply was a disadvantage since that would lead to deflation, which is theorized to reduce economic activity due to money hoarding. According to him, a stable monetary system must protect against deflation.

It remains to be seen how long the IMF can tread this middle path of warnings and dabblings, caught between fear and acceptance of what many in the crypto space see as the inevitable global adoption of cryptocurrency. What of its latest toe in the water; its so-called “hub for knowledge”? It could be just a possible novelty or distraction for the agencies’ Washington-based employees at first glance, but although the two giants watching over the world’s monetary control are not predicting a permanent place for blockchain anytime soon amongst the worlds banking system and even less for cryptocurrency, they are nonetheless peeking under the carpet; not quite fear and loathing, but apprehension with interest.


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The Top Performing Altcoins This Year so Far

The Top Performing Altcoins This Year So Fa

With the first quarter of 2019 gone, here is a look at the top performing altcoins so far this year, taking into consideration Bitcoin’s bullish strides in the last week or so:

Highest adoption rates: 1)EOS, 2)Tron, 3)BitShares, 4)WAX

Research from Weiss Crypto Rating shows these four altcoins have experienced the highest adoption rates in the last year, proving most sustainable throughout the predominantly bear market time period.

EOS transactions ranked top of the list, the volume increasing from 7,000 per day to about 4.6 million. Tron boasted an increase from around 3,000 to 1.9 million in this time, while BitShares boasted a gain totaling nearly 1.5 million. WAX, with the fourth largest transaction increase, claimed a total of 4.4 million.

Overall, the top 10 cryptocurrencies by transaction volume had an average daily volume increase of 245% within the last year. Weiss’s calculations were based on a seven-day moving average of daily figures.

Highest value increase since the Bitcoin pump

The cryptocurrency market has finally made a rebound thanks to Bitcoin’s bull run, hitting highs not experienced in over a year. Taking with it many of the altcoins, here are the top performers from the top 100 by market cap:

1) VestChain – 95.02%

If you have not heard of VestChain before, that is not surprising; it holds the 98th position on CoinMarketCap. However, since the most recent Bitcoin boom the project has been showing real potential, gaining a huge 95.02% in just the last few weeks

2) Bitcoin Cash – 89.66%

Unsurprisingly, Bitcoin’s recent performance has given investors renewed faith in Bitcoin Cash also, with the altcoin gaining 60% in the 24-hour market rally alone.

3) IOST – 66.19%

On top of the benefits brought from Bitcoin’s performance, IOST has been enjoying a pump triggered by the launch of its mainnet several weeks ago.

4) Dogecoin – 63.77%

After a non-eventful start to the year, Dogecoin has turned it around, climbing over 60% thanks to the bullish market. Tesla founder Elon Musk has also thrown his support behind the token, describing it as ”pretty cool” and probably his favorite cryptocurrency.

Altcoins separate from Bitcoin’s movements

Despite Bitcoin pulling up altcoin performance in the last few weeks, new research has shown that the prices are no longer as correlated as they once were. In 2018, 75 percent of the top 200 coins had a strong correlation with Bitcoin, something comparatively lower this year. This is a good thing for those with or looking to gain diversified portfolios as uncorrelated investments frequently cancel each other out.

This could affect the performance of altcoins throughout the year, with stronger projects likely to be able to make significant gains even if Bitcoin loses momentum.

The research notes, however, that correlations change with time so it is important to keep an eye on the ongoing market trends.


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Chinese Miners Struggle for Easy Ride in Iran

Things aren’t turning out to be smooth for Chinese Bitcoin miners heading into Iran to profit from cheaper electricity rates.

Long before China hinted it may consider halting Bitcoin mining projects, the exodus began and Iran recently became a hotspot for miners along with parts of South East Asia such as Vietnam and Cambodia. China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is now looking to siphon off a number of industries which include cryptocurrency mining as part of a state cleanup.

The Iranian venture for many of those Chinese miners deciding to make the move has gone sour, and reports coming back from Iran highlight some of the issues which have made the Middle East less attractive than was at first perceived.

One issue has been getting the equipment across the Iranian border. One miner Liu Feng reported that the chance of losing equipment at the border has become common, with Iranian customs confiscating at least 40,000 crypto mining rigs to date. Some rigs can be sneaked through if presented as non-mining processors for those lucky enough to be able to strike up a deal with customs officials. Feng explains the reason for the confiscations:

“Because of [Iran’s] huge electricity subsidy, the government has added this energy-hungry device (bitcoin miner) to the list of 2,000 banned shipments to come in.”

The same mining enthusiast, Lui Feng also had problems pricing his electricity supply with a local supplier after his supply tariff was doubled just two months into operation. A subsequent set up resulted in angry locals complaining about the noise emitted from his rigs, resulting in miners being confiscated.

Despite these hurdles, Chinese Bitcoin miners are still optimistic that it can get better for them in Iran. With the Iranian government now accepting crypto mining as a legal activity, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani is behind a new cloud computing industrial park. Also, there are rumors that Tehran may get behind the import of Bitcoin mining hardware.

Currently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are still detaining or confiscating machines at border points with tough import rules still in place.

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Brock Pierce Buys Converted Amsterdam Chapel for $1.2 Million in Bitcoin

Brock Pierce, former child actor, and cryptocurrency kingpin; one of the wealthiest people in the crypto space, has purchased a Dutch property worth USD 1.2 million in Bitcoin.

The American Bitcoin entrepreneur known for his work in the cryptocurrency industry has acquired his Amsterdam home, which was formerly a chapel, through Swiss startup Nexo which offers instant crypto credit.

Reportedly Pierce used roughly USD 3 million in collateral to secure a loan to fund the acquisition according to Antoni Trenchev, co-founder and managing partner at Nexo, who commented “He backed the entire loan for the house with Bitcoin. This was our first-ever crypto-backed mortgage.”

Trenchev pointed out that like many other crypto enthusiasts, Pierce wants to hold on to his Bitcoin, choosing a loan rather than paying with cash. However, the collateral cannot be accessed by Pierce or Nexo:

“So we take Bitcoin and other digital currencies as collateral using a third-party qualified custodian to store it and give them fiat cash for it. But neither the client nor us have access to the coins,” explained Trenchev.

The reason Pierce was asked to front a collateral deposit of USD 3 million for a much cheaper property was due to Nexo’s lending policy which requires clients to double the required funds as a guarantee, due to volatile nature of the current crypto market.

Pierce has been keeping a low profile recently. His most recent observations about cryptocurrency last month suggested that decentralized applications (Dapps) could be the major industry movers and shakers of 2019 along with the advance of security token offerings (STOs).

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IMF Online Pollsters Call Crypto Most Popular Payment by 2024

IMF Online Pollsters Call Crypto Most Popular Payment by 2024

A poll running on the IMF website asking the question asking “How do you think you will be paying for lunch in 5 years?” now has almost 26,000 responses.

The response is clear, hedging towards crypto with 56% of respondents going for the flagship crypto with only 9% and 7% respectively suggesting payments in 2024 will be made with cash and bankcard.

Of course, IMF’s poll is limited to lunch, but clearly could well be extended to online and in-store purchases. However, eating out on crypto is not as difficult as one might think, which is probably reflected by the respondents’ views.

Asia is ahead of the game with Bithumb, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency-to-fiat exchange and the world’s 6th largest digital currency, who installed cryptocurrency-accepting kiosks across the country, at restaurants, cafes, stores, and malls in 2018.

Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz has warned that cryptocurrencies need to be adopted by retailers in order to join reserve currencies around the world. The Bakkt project has for the latter part of 2018 been touted as the platform to finally make way for mainstream institutional investors to get into the cryptocurrency game and could see the beginning of Starbucks crypto coffee and bagels.

Currently, CoinMap identifies over 14,600 establishments that accept Bitcoin across the world, but these are not simply eateries such as restaurants and cafés. Scandinavia may be the place to dine on Bitcoin though. Denmark is keen and now registers 1500 restaurants which will happily take clients BTC for a tasty meal. Further south in Holland, Arnhem, once called the “world’s most Bitcoin-friendly city”, is now seeing BTC less used for such payments.


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Popular Crypto Exchange Bittrex Denied Operating License in New York

Popular Crypto Exchange Bittrex Denied Operating License in New York

The popular cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex was today denied its application to operate in the state of New York.

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) rejected the BitLicense application from the exchange on the grounds of failure to adequately comply with a number of policies. In a letter written by NYDFS and addressed to the CEO of Bittrex, Bill Shihara, it is explained that the exchange failed to comply with the state’s anti-money laundering, know your customer and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) standards.

Bittrex first applied for the license back in August 2015 and has been operating in the state under a “safe harbor” since then, granted by NYDFS. Now, Bittrex has been given until tomorrow to cease all operations within the state of New York, as well as two weeks to formally confirm this closure via a written statement.

NYDFS claim they have issued the exchange multiple warnings regarding its ”continued deficiencies” in compliance, also telling the exchange it needed to develop ”appropriate controls and compliance programs” in line with the ”evolving nature of the sector”.


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EU Report: Blockchain Key to ”Digital Twin” Transformation, Brings Trust

EU Report: Blockchain Key to ''Digital Twin'' Transormation, Brings Trust

A report published by the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum cites blockchain technology as fundamental in the next generation digital transformation, facilitating trustful transactions between parties.

Dr Tim Weingärtner, a professor at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences & Arts, authored the report, featuring it on the concept of a ”digital twin” world. This concept essentially looks to build a replica of the physical world within the digital realm, utilizing artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and tokens to represent physical objects, all underlined with blockchain as the ledger.

While blockchain would be used to identify and tokenize physical objects, smart contracts would also be vital in providing a tamper-proof digital environment, the report claims. Smart contracts would enable a secure, automated financial environment.

The Ethereum blockchain is touted as the best for creating and managing tokens, praised for its programming language and existing code examples.

The report claims this embedded connection between the digital and physical worlds will be particularly crucial in the near future because of exponential growth, explaining: ”…The physical world will be exceeded by the digital world in the coming years. This means that speed, growth, and complexity will increase by a multiple.”


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Japan’s Largest Bank to Implement Stablecoin in 2019

Japan’s Largest Bank to Implement Stablecoin in 2019

The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) has announced that it will put its native digital currency and stablecoin MUFG Coin into practical usage by the end of 2019, according to Cointelegraph Japan.

The rollout was first disclosed to national newspaper Asahi Shimbun by new president Kanetsugu Mike. The largest bank in Japan is also the fifth largest in the world, and is now going to be the first in Japan to issue a digital asset and currency. MUFG Coin will be a blockchain-based stablecoin pegged at parity to the Japanese yen (JPY).

Its obvious focus will be as a functional currency, with bank account holders able to download an app that will automatically convert deposits into MUFG Coin. Some 1,500 company employees have joined in on trialing MUFG Coin since its inception two years ago.

Last year, US tech company Akamai was taken on to design a blockchain capable of handling 1 million transactions per second, boosting speed and reducing transaction feeds through distributed ledger technology. The partnership was a watershed moment that underlined growing corporate interest in blockchain tech, as they talked up blockchain’s ability to “strengthen protection against falsification of transactions and drastically lower costs.”

In 2018, former MUFG president Nobuyuku Hirano suggested that the bank was hoping to “overcome issues of virtual currencies and create a highly useful currency” with MUFG Coin. The banking giant has a recorded total assets of JPY 306 trillion (USD 2.76 trillion), and maintains operations in 40 other countries.


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How Google May Prove the Bitcoin Bull Is Here to Stay

economist Joost van de Burgt.

Google searches for the term ‘Bitcoin’ have reached the highest levels since the last November. Researchers have found significant evidence that when there is a spike like this in searches, it reflects a positive market sentiment and buzz around the cryptocurrency which spurs on the bull.

There are several theories behind this:

Google searches show FOMO

Dutch economist Joost van de Burgt found a direct correlation between Google searches and fluctuations in Bitcoin price-the more Google searches of the cryptocurrency spiked, the higher it took the value.

“If the buzz is everywhere, it doesn’t matter exactly what the news is about… nobody wants to miss out and everybody’s trying to get a piece of it,” said van der Burgt, explaining the colloquial theory of fear of missing out, or FOMO, which is often used by the community to explain a bull market.

The economist also noted that regardless of whether mainstream media coverage was positive or negative, whenever Bitcoin was widely reported on, the price increased.

Investor attention can indicate price changes

Researchers from Yale University in Connecticut attribute investor attention as one of the top ways to predict the price movement of cryptocurrency assets. Investor attention can either be a good thing and show hype around a certain asset, or it can relate fear, uncertainty, and despair (FUD).

The research found that a spike in the number of times Bitcoin is Googled can consistently predict a price increase several weeks before it materializes. An increase in negative search terms such as ‘hack’ or ‘crime’ alongside Bitcoin was found to be indicators for a drop in the price quickly after.

Both Ripple and Ethereum were found to display similar trends in line with Google searches, albeit alongside a different timeline.

What is going on this time around

The most recent surge in Bitcoin Google searches occurred on 2 April, alongside the 20% price increase that saw Bitcoin reach the highly anticipated USD 5,000 ceiling.

Google does not share precise numbers of how many times a term is searched for, but data is available on which countries the searches are coming from. And the top nations are somewhat surprising: Nigeria, South Africa, St. Helena, Ghana, followed by the Netherlands. The US, UK, and Canada failed to reach the top 10. This may well show growing support for Bitcoin in markets it has yet to reach.

However, the Google spike has fallen by around 20% in the last few days meaning it is possible that either 1) the reason for the surge falls out of the parameters of both theories, or 2) the bullish trend will be shortlived.

Google searches are still well above any level seen this year and Bitcoin is performing well in the market, sitting around USD 5,150, so there would seem to be a good chance the price will remain at least steady for the time being.

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