Digital Currency Group Adds New Advisors And Shifts Away From Bitcoin

A lot of people active in the Bitcoin world will have heard about the recent investment in Digital Currency Group by Western Union. This news has caused a lot more questions than answers, although it seems DCG has added some new advisors to their board who will help shape the future for Bitcoin and blockchain.

The New Digital Currency Group Advisors

Although there has been a lot of focus on the investment made by Western Union and other players, the bigger news is how Digital Currency Group has added several new advisors to their team as well. Expanding the board of this six-month-old business will help strengthen their business model, as they want to pivot the focus from Bitcoin to the blockchain.

The two new board members who are officially named are Glenn Hutchins and Lawrence Lenihan. Some people may have heard of those names, even though they will hardly ring a bell among the majority of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. Hutchins is a co-founder of Silver Lake Partners, a private-equity firm. This seems a fascinating fit for DCG, as they are looking to invest in new companies and acquire some equity from these firms.

Lawrence Lenihan, on the other hand, is best known for founding Firstmark Capital and running Resonance. But there are more additions to the Digital Currency Group advisory board, as both former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen were added as senior advisors. Especially this latter one is of particular interest, as it will be interesting to see whether or not his Bitcoin development “job” will be a conflict of interest with advising DCG on strategic investments.

Moreover, it is rather intriguing to see Western Union investing in a company looking to invest in blockchain startups, considering they have partnered with Ripple in the past. Although it is too early to tell if Western Union was not satisfied with the Ripple solution, or only wants to keep all of the options on the table,  this is quite the intriguing development, to say the least.

One thing some Bitcoin community members ought to point out is how Digital Currency Group seems to be following the same path as the mainstream media by turning away from Bitcoin and focusing on the blockchain. This seems to be a trend as of late, although it is impossible to disregard the success Bitcoin has had. Additionally, there would be no blockchain without the Bitcoin ecosystem.

With the involvement of new investors who want nothing to do with Bitcoin, it seems like DCG will be moving away from the Bitcoin ecosystem altogether very soon. Not that there’s anything wrong with focusing on the blockchain, but some people would have expected them to stick to their roots and focus on Bitcoin. Then again, if they want to attract more investors from the financial world, they will have to make a tough decision. The appeal of big money will make even this business turn away from Bitcoin, which is a shame.

Source: WSJ

Image Courtesy of NewsBTC All Rights Reserved

Subscribe to our newsletter

For all of the opposition Bitcoin is facing these days; there is no reason for anyone to think cryptocurrency will go away anytime soon. It is not the first time a disruptive idea gets a lot of backlash before it is eventually embraced by the masses, indicating plausible survival chances for Bitcoin and its growth. Nikola Tesla and his alternating current concept share a lot of similarities with Bitcoin in this regard.

The Battle For Bitcoin Supremacy Is Long And Hard

Looking at things from a historical perspective, there has been a lot of opposition when it comes to innovation and disruption. One of the most prominent examples is Nikola Tesla and his idea of providing alternating current to the world. Despite a lot of industry experts dismissing Tesla’s idea of AC, he decided to pursue this avenue of providing an alternative system to the world.

However, that process was not an easy one either, as people who have made a name for themselves in one particular industry will not give up that power so easily. Nor should they, to be fair, but that does not mean new ideas and concepts should be dismissed right away. Collaboration is far more beneficial than sticking to a particular way of doing things, especially when the inevitable disruption is staring one in the face.

Even though Tesla had a valid idea that worked perfectly fine, Edison did not take too kindly to the idea of relinquishing power. In fact, Tesla’s alternative currency development provided the world with a voltage that could be scaled upwards or downwards on demand. However, a negative media campaign was created to discredit these ideas, which eventually did not pan out well for Edison. Once people saw the magic of how AC worked, they were sold on the idea, and demand started to increase exponentially.

The same principle applies to Bitcoin, which is also proposing a working and viable alternative to traditional finance. However, the powers that be in the financial world will not give up their stranglehold on the world’s economy anytime soon. Plus, the media likes to discredit Bitcoin at every turn possible, even though far fewer people are giving these outlets credit for their laughable attempts.

Once people see the magic of Bitcoin as a currency and money transfer protocol, they will be hooked. Established financial players are doing what they can to distinguish between Bitcoin and the blockchain these days. However, there is no denying Bitcoin has a bright future ahead, although it will take some time until people get around to embracing this concept. Financial freedom is a very strange – and perhaps unattainable – idea for most consumers and enterprises, but they would be surprised what Bitcoin is capable of.

Source: Venturebeat

Image Courtesy of NewsBTC All Rights Reserved

Mainstream media is having a field day as of late by referring to blockchain every time they want to make a mention of companies involved in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. This trend has been noticeable for quite some time now, and it has come to a point where it seems the media is trying to kill off the term Bitcoin altogether. Futile efforts, though, as people with more than two peas for a brain will know what is really going on.

Time For Media Shenanigans To Come To An End

Everywhere people look these days; it appears as if media headlines only talk about blockchain this and blockchain that. Sooner or later, this will lead to a syndrome known as blockchain fatigue, as everyone seems to be talking about this technology while very few people appear to have a clue what it is they are talking about.

Trends and hype are nothing new in the media landscape, though, as they will gladly jump on any bandwagon humanly possible to attract eyeballs. Blockchain is a hot term right now, and every company and their dog seem to be working on some project involving this technology. However, most of them do not and just send out a press release to be part of the cool club. Media outlets gobble up this information like it is their last meal, and ensure the hype train can roll along.

But at the same time, everyone in the world is well aware there would be no blockchain to speak of were it not for Bitcoin. While there is no immediate effort by the media to give credit where credit is due in this regard, Bitcoin is the only reason why this technology has gained such an appeal throughout the years. This is where the main issue arises, as mainstream media wants to destroy Bitcoin and any interest in this concept as part of their hidden agendas.

Unfortunately for the media, it is time for the shenanigans to come to an end, and the cold hard facts have to be faced. Developing a blockchain for a bank or any other financial firm is not the same as a distributed blockchain found in the Bitcoin ecosystem. In fact, one could argue that distributed ledgers for the financial ecosystem are nothing like the blockchain every company claims to be working on.

People who value economic freedom and the blockchain should take a keen interest in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Any other institution claiming to work with this technology is not creating a blockchain, but only a ledger they can use to exert financial control. There is a significant difference between the two, and despite best efforts by the media to blur the lines, the truth cannot be hidden forever.

Source: News Tip Via Email

Image Courtesy of NewsBTC All Rights Reserved

Various countries around the world are contemplating whether or not they have to undertake additional action to regulate Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Until very recently, Ukraine had a Bitcoin License proposal, but that has been killed off very recently.

The Ukraine Bitcoin License Bill Falls Through

People who have been following the status of Bitcoin in the Ukraine will remember the efforts made by the Ukrainian Bitcoin Foundation to create a regulatory framework Bitcoin companies could comply with relatively quickly. The first type of this Bitcoin License was not to the liking of cryptocurrency enthusiasts in the country, and through collaboration, a better version had to be created.

Michael Chobanian, the founder of the KUNA Bitcoin Agency, sat together with Ukrainian government officials to revamp the Bitcoin License proposal. In May of last year, it looked like all parties involved could come to some agreement and established a set of guidelines that would not hinder innovation in the country. In fact, a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs in the country seemed to take a liking to this initiative.

It became quite clear to the government that Bitcoin and its underlying technology hold a lot of value for any country in the world. Financial innovation is direly needed across all of Europe and beyond, and Ukraine does not want to be left out of the race. Controlling Bitcoin is impossible, and the sooner government officials realize that, the better.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality set in not too long ago, as Chobanian did not manage to strike common ground with the Ukrainian government and central bank. By the look of things, he will not be pursuing a more favorable Bitcoin License for companies and entrepreneurs in the country, as there is very little to gain for the Bitcoin community in the country. Or to be more precise, they have everything to lose by continuing these efforts.

Some people may argue Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are subject to harsh regulation already. No one can deem Bitcoin legal or illegal, and legal entities are not level-headed enough in the Ukraine to listen to a voice of reason by the look of things. Michael Chobanian even went as far as stating:

“Even if we pass the most liberal laws on virtual currencies, I seriously doubt anyone would open companies in Ukraine. Other 147 taxes and currency regulation are still here, let alone the mayhem caused by law enforcement agencies. I’d rather leave it as it is. It’s a perfect format for a time like this.”

This begs the question as to whether or not there is any point in further regulating Bitcoin and blockchain technology, as the current AML and taxation laws seem to cover all bases quite well. Moreover, the technology present in the Bitcoin ecosystem has far outpaced any form of regulation most people can wrap their head around right now. Last but not least, the decentralized nature of Bitcoin does not make any existing laws applicable.

Source: Private Internet Access

Header image courtesy of NewsBTC All Rights Reserved

IBM is venturing into the world of blockchain and distributed ledgers, as they target Government, financial services, and healthcare through IBM Cloud. A significant vote of confidence for blockchain technology in general and another exciting development to see where this industry will head in the next few years.

IBM Cloud Secure Blockchain Services

There is no denying blockchain technology is a booming market right now, as players from all kinds of industries want to get involved in this ecosystem sooner rather than later. IBM  (NYSE: IBM) is one of those players, as they have started offering blockchain services on IBM cloud as of today, which will be beneficial to a lot of industries all over the world.

What is even more interesting is how the IBM Cloud blockchain service meets all of the existing regulatory and security requirement. There is no point in using a decentralized system if the cloud environment is it hosted on has security vulnerabilities left, right, and center. The company has worked together with various teams of hardware experts, cryptographers, researchers, and security experts to make sure their cloud-based offering can keep all of the information safe.

Addressing these security needs is done through a variety of means, as they aim to offer the blockchain to government, healthcare, and financial players over the coming months and years. Moreover, IBM has taken significant steps to make it easier for developers to use their code, which based on the Hyperledger Project. Building applications has become a lot easier as well, thanks to the offering of services on Bluemix.

Scalability is one of the top priorities when dealing with blockchain solutions, and IBM’s offerings can scale to thousands of users in a matter of mere minutes. There is also an auditable operating environment supporting compliance and forensics if need be. Moreover, all of the IBM Cloud users can run their blockchain solutions in protected environments, removing data leaks from the equation.

NTT DATA Director and Executive VP Eiji Ueki stated:

“Blockchain is a highly innovative and promising technology. However there are a lot of issues to be solved for enterprise systems. IBM’s new blockchain cloud service is directly trying to address those issues. We believe this will help accelerate the maturation of blockchain technology.”

Last but not least, the IBM blockchain on Bluemix gives developers access to the most recent Linux Hyperledger code, which can be applied to various use cases across industries. The company is working hard to not only promote the usability of the blockchain but also making it as accessible as they can to developers all over the world in a convenient manner.

Source: Press Release Via Email

Header image courtesy of TechRepublic

Bitcoin has often been referred to as the disruption of the remittance sector, due to its global availability and low fees when sending money around the world. It comes as quite a surprise to find out Western Union has invested in Digital Currency Group, a company focusing on Bitcoin and blockchain.

New Digital Currency Group Investors

It is always positive for any business in the world of Bitcoin and blockchain to secure additional investment. Things may seem a bit strange when an investment group gets other investors on board, but that is the nature of the game. Moreover, this will bring more positive attention to Bitcoin and the blockchain as well.

Digital Currency Group announced several new investors in recent times, including various investment managers, VC funding, and surprisingly enough, Western Union. This gives the Bitcoin firm a vast array of strategic partnerships all across the financial sector, which may help bring blockchain technology to all of these investors in the long run.

The future of cryptocurrency seems to be solidified more and more every month, with the growing interest in Bitcoin technology all over the world. The digitization of our society can not be stopped, and with so many financial players having to catch up with innovation and technology, interesting things are bound to happen.

The Digital Currency Group press release stated:

“Our team believes that neither a standalone venture capital or standalone private equity model is perfectly suited to support – and help drive forward – new industries like ours. This is why we set out to create a company, not a fund, that could have the flexibility and permanent capital base needed to invest in technology and build service businesses to enable institutions, corporations, and investors to access digital currency and distributed ledger technologies in new ways.”

What is worth noting is how Digital Currency Group is also gaining a foothold in the manufacturing industry these days. This may not seem like a significant achievement right now, but rest assured those companies are taking a keen interest in Bitcoin technology as well. Not just the blockchain itself, but perhaps even Bitcoin, as they deal with customers all over the world. International payments are expensive and take several days, whereas Bitcoin is cheap and almost instant.

It will be interesting to see how the involvement of Western Union will affect the course of direction for Digital Currency Group. Considering how both of these business models are clashing, it seems unlikely Western Union will embrace Bitcoin any time soon. The blockchain, on the other hand, would be quite appealing to them for sure.

Source: Finextra

Header image courtesy of Digital Currency Group

Monetizing content on the Internet is not an easy task these days, but there are solutions under development as we speak. Stem, a startup using the blockchain to help content creators collect and share revenue, recently announced a US$4.5m funding round.

What Stem is Doing Differently for Content Creators

One of the hardest things to do as a content creator is earning money and keeping track of where all funds are coming from. Thanks to a wide variety of platforms in existence to try and make a living, there are more odds to reach a bigger audience. But at the same time, it also becomes much harder to track earnings and seeing which platform is more profitable.

This is where Stem comes into the picture, as this startup is designed to help content creators keep track of the earnings. It is important to note this company goes well beyond music artists, as they are also a viable solution for vloggers, comedians, or anyone else who is a self-distributing creator.

The software used by Stem, which is based on blockchain technology, lets creators aggregate data from a lot of different distribution platforms. Thanks to the partnerships with these platforms, Stem can create contracts and honor splits, disburse payments and create statements for stakeholders in a particular project. Moreover, the blockchain-based solution provided a visualized performance report for every individual platform as well.

Stem CEO and Co-founder Milana Rabkin told the media:

“We want to ensure a sustainable future for creators and are focused on building the tools they need to be smarter about their business.”

Although Stem is still in beta right now, the blockchain startup is working with a few up-and-coming content creators already. Digital content is becoming the new favorite form of media consumption these days, but the creators still need to make a decent living from it. Insights into how much can be made from each platform will go a long way to making this a success in the coming years.

It comes as no surprise to find out Stem has attracted a lot of attention from investors recently, which has led to a successful US$4.5m funding round. Among the investors are Upfront Ventures and various music management experts. Combining the latest technology with a multi-billion dollar industry is of great value to everyone in the industry and additional funding will help the team grow and expand their features.

Source: Tubefilter

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

Donald Trump has been facing a lot of backlash over his idea to build a wall around Mexico to halt the remittances flowing from the US to this country. While it is evident Bitcoin can easily sneak around any artificial wall, Mexican Bitcoin startup Bitso raised US$1.85m to provide better remittance solutions.

Bitso Makes Trump Bite the Dust

Attacking the remittance payment industry is never a smart idea, and Donald Trump will come to that realization at some point in his life. Arguing how the remittance corridor between the US and Mexico needs to be shut down is not the smartest thing he has ever said, but there are plenty of solutions to solve this problem.

Bitsoa Bitcoin to Mexican Peso exchange, which uses the popular cryptocurrency to let Mexicans freely trade dollars and pesos in and out of Bitcoin. This is made possible due to the startup’s partnership with the Mexican Central Bank, which makes this conversion process a breeze. Ever since Donald Trump made his infamous statement,  Bitso has seen an increasing demand for their services.

That is only normal, considering a lot of migrant Mexican workers in the US send money back to friends and family at home. However, they are forced to do using some of the most expensive remittance solutions in the world, as the average money transfer fee is 9.11%. It is important to keep in mind this number does not even include conversion costs, making traditional financial solutions a less-than-favorable solution to send money abroad.

Bitso CEO Pablo Gonzalez told the media:

“Mexico is home to the endpoint of the largest remittance corridor in the world, with a flow of over  $25.4 billion in 2015. We believe that Mexicans should be able to send their money back home, and Bitcoin is fast becoming a cheaper and faster way to do that as our platform volume increases. We feel making money flow freely is a great innovation that should not be hindered by traditional currency wars”

As a result of this growing demand for Bitso services, the startup decided to raise additional funding on the BnkToTheFuture platform. So far, they have been quite successful, as slightly over US$1.85m has been raised for this campaign. BnkToTheFuture is a platform where everyone in the world can invest in Bitcoin and Ethereum projects and startups, in exchange for company equity [and future dividends].

There is a growing demand for Bitcoin remittance services around the world, and companies like Bitso can show the others how business should be conducted. After all, they are one of the very few Bitcoin companies with a direct integration to the bank clearing system, allowing the conversion and clearing of funds in mere seconds.

Source: Press Release Via Email

Header image courtesy of Bitso

UPDATE: Following the confirmation by BitPay, it has become clear that Steam is accepting Bitcoin payments. 

Rumors have started surfacing regarding a possible introduction of Bitcoin to the Steam platform. Gamers from all over the world will be familiar with what Steam has to offer; as it is the largest PC gaming platform in the world today. Code snippets of their new beta client were leaked, and there are various references to Bitcoin to be found. Gaming and digital currency come together once again, as this trend has been going on for quite some time now.

Also read: Bitcoin Lending Platform Loanbase Loses Customers’ Funds after Security Breach

Steam Integrates Bitcoin Payments Through BitPay

Based on the information provided in a screenshot of the Steam beta client code, Bitcoin integration is almost upon us. With various new functions added to the client regarding Bitcoin transactions, it only seems to be a matter of time until one of the world’s largest gaming platform embraces digital currency as a viable payment alternative.

Furthermore, it appears as if all of the Bitcoin transactions will be handled by BitPay, the world’s leading digital currency payment processor. This will help Steam receive their money faster and protect them from any Bitcoin volatility in the process. Plus, this move is also a major feather in the cap for BitPay, as the payment processor has undergone several changes over the past six months.

It only makes sense to integrate Bitcoin payments into the Steam platform. With no risk of fraud, there is far less worry about these payments compared to credit cards.  Also, Bitcoin transaction fees are paid by the sender, and not the recipient, which makes for a far cheaper payment alternative for Valve – the parent company of Steam – itself.

The proper integration of Bitcoin and BitPay into the Steam platform remains shrouded in a bit of mystery, though. One of the code snippets makes mention of opening a new browser window to initiative Bitcoin transactions, indicating how users will have to temporarily leave the Steam ecosystem. Assuming this functionality will be integrated into the mobile Steam client as well, it will be interesting to see if a URI will be included to initiate payments from an installed wallet.

One of the main advantages of using BitPay as a Bitcoin payment processor is how the transaction will be completed even if there are no network confirmations yet. BitPay offers this service to their customers as a way to speed up Bitcoin transfers, which would otherwise take 10 minutes or more. Valve will send an email to Bitcoin users once their payment is completed, though.

Popular Online Game Shops Already Accept Bitcoin

It is not the first – nor the last – time the worlds of Bitcoin and gaming will come together to create a new experience. Throughout 2015, various online stores selling game keys and game cards have started accepting the digital currency as an alternative payment method already. On that list are names such as Kinguin, Greenmangaming, and Gamesplanet.

Keeping in mind how all of these platforms sell a ton of games that need to be activated on Steam, it only makes sense for Valve to accept Bitcoin payments directly. With no financial risk to Valve in doing so, and a chance to attract even more customers from all over the world thanks to Bitcoin acting as a global payment instrument, this seems to be a very smart decision at an opportune time.

Source: Reddit

Bringing distributed ledger technology to the traditional financial sector will be quite a challenge throughout the next few years. Infosys subsidiary EdgeVerve has launched a new blockchain-based software platform to make this transition a lot smoother.

Infosys Ventures Into Banking Industry

In this day and age, most banks around the world are struggling to come up with innovative ideas to meet consumer demand. Moreover, there is a lot of competition in the financial sector right now, thanks to the emergence of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and FinTech, to name a few initiatives.

Additionally, a lot of banks are keeping a close eye on distributed ledger technology for the time being, as this innovative solution allows for cheaper and faster operations. Infosys feels they can play an integral role in this process as their new blockchain-based solution will bring more efficiency, security, and accuracy to the banking sector.

It is interesting to note this new initiative is coming to fruition through Infosys subsidiary EdgeVerve, a company not too many people are acquainted with just yet. That being said, the launch of the EdgeVerve Blockchain Framework will help put this company on the map in the coming months and years.

EdgeVerve President of Customer Operations Andy Dey stated:

“Blockchain can offer significant opportunities to modernize legacy processes, reduce costs as well as improve operational efficiency and authenticity of transaction data. At EdgeVerve, we are making significant investments in this space that includes our research facility in Ireland and important financial industry partnerships. Several of the world’s leading financial institutions are already collaborating with us to build blockchain powered banking applications and networks.”

There is a lot of competition in the distributed ledger sector right now, as various companies are trying to strike partnerships with financial players. R3 CEV is the best-known player in this regard, but companies such as Mijin, Chain, Tierion, and others are all trying to get a foothold in this market in the coming months.

Keeping in mind how Infosys is an Indian IT firm, it is kind of interesting to see companies in this emerging region come to foreground in the world of distributed ledgers  Very few people are aware of how India’s IT industry is being targeted by some of the largest financial players in the world. In a way, this creates a breeding ground for bridging the gap between finance and distributed ledger technology in the coming years.

Source: India Times

Header image courtesy of Infosys