Fugitive Bitcoin Entrepreneur to Return Home for Court Appearance

The Nevada State Attorney Office is currently waiting for the return of Bryan Micon, a fugitive Bitcoin entrepreneur who fled the country immediately after facing an arrest warrant for operating an illegal gambling website, named Seals with Clubs.

Micon, who spent his last few months in Antigua, will be appearing before the local court this Thursday, his lawyer David Chesnoff told media. If found guilty, he would be liable to face at least 10 years jail time, alongside $50,000 in fines, for ignoring to obtain the license from the concerned authority which, in this case, is Nevada Gaming Control Board.

According to the current licensing rules, the operator of interactive gaming license is liable to deposit an initial fee of $500,000 for the first two years. After the completion of the said period, the operator is obliged to pay $250,000 annually for running the online businesses. And as the court records suggest, Micon clearly violated these norms during the operation of his gaming website.

“Operating or otherwise conducting gaming in the state without a license is illegal, and this office will aggressively pursue individuals and companies who seek to circumvent gaming regulations” the prosecutor had quoted in a press statement published this April.

An Unintentional Felony?

But unlike an act-with-intention, the committed felony looks more like an ignorance-of-law. According to the information procured by the Las Vegas Review Journal, Seals with Clubs was operational between March 1 2014 and Feb 9 2015, in which it accepted only Bitcoin as the mode of payment. However, an official guidance issued by Nevada’s Financial Institutions Division in April 2014 called Bitcoin an illegal tender — meaning there was no proper regulatory insights at that time, a dilemma that continues to exist even today.

Due to such regulatory uncertainties, many Bitcoin businesses flourished and demised in the past. It could be possible that Micon simply failed to research the requirements that were needed to launch a gaming website, as he was simply thinking of himself as some digital currency innovator — like many others.

“As a husband, father of a 2 year old girl, & outspoken Bitcoin advocate, I desire nothing more than to continue to be with my wife, raise my daughter, and continue to build layers on top of the Bitcoin protocol,” he wrote on his crowdfunding campaign website. “The state of Nevada desires to take that away from me. Please help me fight.”

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The Senate banking committee has been preparing a Report on digital currency, and in service of which Andreas Antonopoulos, along with many others, have testified before a committee. The conclusion reached by the committee seems to be a largely positive one, saying explicitly that the benefits of this technology outweigh the challenges it introduces and recommending a “light touch” in the regulatory side.

A little while ago Decentral, was approached by a Senate staffer for assistance in placing a short message and a “proof of existence” into the Blockchain on the release of their report about digital currencies. Today that report and the Blockchain message plus the proof of existence have been publicly released and included in the block #361625 of the Bitcoin Blockchain.

In order to minimize the Blockchain bloat, both the message and the document hash were embedded using OP_RETURN so that full nodes do not have to store the UTXO’s in their mempool, as they are forced to with, for example, the aptly-named cryptograffiti approach.

The document hash was embedded using the format from ProofOfExistence.com, though not through the site itself due to a need for the clear association between the message and the document hash. To verify the proof of existence, download the file directly from the Senate link and hash it with the sha256 algorithm.

Mostly for fun, and partly as a nod to the community, the Canadian Senate has embedded the message “Senate Banking Committee calls for light-touch approach to regulation of Satoshi’s invention” as well as a short cryptographic “timestamp” that will prove to later viewers the document existed at this particular point in time and has not been changed since.

For the Canadia Senate, the Blockchain technology offers a secure alternative to consumers who do not wish to see their personal information fall prey to the Internet. It offers the ability to transact on the Internet without sharing their personal information with third parties whose databases make juicy targets for hackers. Instead, Blockchain technology gives consumers the power to provide their own hack-proof online security.

Finally, they consider this technology requires a light regulatory touch. As they left the notion that Bitcoin will need, not necessarily regulation, but regulation as necessary.

Source

Cameroon Government has reportedly experimented with Bitcoin technology in a pilot project, a move that could transform its ominous payment ecosystem.

According to the available details, the highly unbanked West African nation enrolled around 500 people to use an alternative digital currency “Trest” as their default payment method for about a month. The decision was taken to address the growing undercapitalization of Cameroon’s local banks and their inability to address a 90% of the unbanked population.

Therefore with the said experiment, the government wanted to illustrate the feasibility of a peer-to-peer, decentralized alternative in order to assign entitlements and benefits directly to its people — something that could have been inefficient in case of traditional banks.

And as it turned out, the results were highly optimistic.

“In short, we artificially created a Trest-based micro-economy,” recalled Antoine De Padoue, a politician in Cameroon. “People were able to comprehend and understand this very new method of payment. They were excited and started improvising their own uses within the first five days of the pilot. We achieved quantifiable efficiency gains and the benefits far outweighed the negatives.”

De Padoue, who also happens to be the founder of Socapssi, an organization dedicated to assist Cameroon’s insurance sector (CNPS), further accoladed their project for triggering the nation’s first retail partner location and said:

“Over the next 12 months, we will enroll 500 Trestor retail partners across Cameroon (10 regions, 54 divisions and more than 360 sub-divisions). This will create 1,200 to 1,800 direct jobs.”

What is Trest?

Trest is a Bitcoin like cryptocurrency, created by an Indian IT firm, Trestor, which also happens to be assisting the Cameroon government and Socapssi to address the nation’s need to efficient economical routes.

The government previously had thought about incorporating Bitcoin, but later dropped their plans due to the digital currency’s highly volatile and cost-consuming features.

“Bitcoin’s transaction fee to the user was low but the real cost to the network was unimaginable. That was a deal breaker for us. We couldn’t believe the Bitcoin network consumed about $18.95 of electricity to process a single transaction,” De Padoue explained while saying they would rather feed 40 people with that money.

“The Trestor team was transparent and let us study their real cost per transaction,” he added.

Blockchain is the ledger in Bitcoin network which records all transaction details. These transactions are registered in 10 minute blocks of 1 megabyte each. The Blockchain grows as the number of blocks increase. New blocks are created each time after the previous block exceeds the block size.

The block size was limited to 1 MB during the initial days of Bitcoin when the number of transactions were less and the Blockchain didn’t have much use apart from recording the transactions. But now, as the number of bitcoins and bitcoin users increase, the number of transactions also rise. Apart from that, Blockchain is used for storing non-transactional data as well. Due to smaller block size, every time there is a transition from one block to another, the transactions will experience delays.

It has now become necessary to increase the block size, in order to optimize the Bitcoin network and also to facilitate Blockchain dependent Bitcoin 2.0 applications. The proposal to increase the block size was put forward by the bitcoin core developer Gavin Andresen. According to the proposal, the block size should be increased from 1 MB to at least 20 MB.

Even though he had a valid argument, it was met with stiff opposition from the bitcoin community especially from those who have mining pools. The decision to increase the block size was put on hold until now.

Recently, a consortium of Chinese bitcoin mining pools — F2pool, BW, BTCChina, Huobi and Antpool have come to a consensus and agreed to increase the block size from 1 MB to 8 MB. These mining groups have issued an agreement with this regard as well. According to the agreement, the block size will double every two years.

Even though the 8 MB block size is nowhere close to the 20 MB block as proposed by Andresen, but apparently he is happy about this move. Now that there seems to be a consensus about the block size, we can probably expect an upgraded Bitcoin network by the end of this year.

Bitcoin is considered as a truly global currency, and we have been discussing its potential uses and how it can help the world’s economy for a while now. Until now, the use cases involved developing nations at peacetime where it is used for remittance and offering banking services to the unbanked. With disturbances in Europe and the Middle East, the world is not a peaceful place any more. There are conflicts in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria and Iraq fighting against ISIS etc.

These conflict torn countries have non-existing economies where many times people survive on aid received from various national and international organizations. The banking institutions in these regions are either closed down or they were never opened. In cases like these, alternative financial services fill in the gap.

Kenya stands as a great example for alternative financial services filling in the shoes of big banks. M-Pesa allows people to send and receive money on their mobile phones. With a mobile phone penetration of over 80 percent, the population can use the service to pay for anything. Bitcoin players like BitPesa have already designed their services to work together with the existing M-Pesa.

Somalia, the East African nation is caught up in a civil war for more than 20 years. The war has created a security and regulatory vacuum in the region, giving rise to terrorism and piracy. This has resulted in increased scrutiny by other countries, imposing stricter Anti Money Laundering regulations, thereby making it tough for the banks in the region to operate.

The country has a large migrant working community, who send money back home on a regular basis. Almost 50 percent of the country’s gross national income is derived from these international remittances amounting to about 1.2 billion dollars. Due to the lack of financial institutions, people in Somalia are forced to receive or exchange remittance through the grey market network of Hawala brokers.

While these challenges can be easily solved by Bitcoin, implementing bitcoin service in the region itself appears to be a huge challenge. The country has the lowest mobile and internet penetration standing at 16.3 and 1.5 percent respectively. Unless the government decide to reform the conditions of the nation in terms of access to communication and financial services, even bitcoin may not be able to solve the issues.

Imagine sending emails on a service that is as secure as a Blockchain?

Lavabit, the well-known email encryption service which was forced to shut down is looking for a comeback as Dark Mail. Dark Mail is an ongoing project undertaken by The Dark Mail Alliance, which is a collaboration between Lavabit and Silent Circle.

Founded in the year 2004 by Texas based Ladar Levison, Lavabit provided secure email services to over 410,000 people for almost a decade before the United States federal authorities forced him to take the decision of shutting down the service instead of sharing user information and emails of all its account holders with the government. According to Ladar Levison, Lavabit was created to address the security and privacy concern’s associated with email service providers like Google’s Gmail where the company indexes words in email content to display relevant advertisements and use the data for their marketing purposes.

Lavabit which was relatively unknown until 2013, shot into fame after it was revealed that the NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden was using the service to communicate with lawyers and contracts. Following the incident, Lavabit was served with a search warrant demanding SSL keys of the platform and a long list of subpoenas and court attendance.

Lavabit and Secure Circle, a secure communication service provider known for its Blackphone (a secure smart phone) are working on Dark internet Mail Environment (DIME) which works on a mail protocol derived from the conventional SMTP.

Dark Mail Alliance has been raising funds to further develop Dark Mail. In an earlier Kickstarter campaign they had successfully raised over 212,000 USD from close to 3000 backers. Dark Mail initiative also has a Bitcoin wallet for those who would wish to donate Bitcoin.

Even though Dark Mail is not based on Blockchain technology, it does share a few qualities. However, there are people who are already working on it and we can expect Blockchain based secure email services coming soon in the coming months.

Blockchain is the new address for internet related innovation these days. Given the versatile nature of Bitcoin Blockchain and its applications, it has become the foundation for a lot of new innovation. In order to encourage innovation by cutting short the development easier, BlockStrap provides Blockchain toolkit for those who are interested in working on Blockchain based applications.

As a part of Neuroware.io, BlockStrap offers Blockchain technology API and open source frameworks for developers. The company has recently announced the first leg of its workshop series. The workshop series is part of the company’s educational outreach tour.

Starting early this week, the company will begin conducting workshops in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Prague, Berlin and London. Anyone interested in the Bitcoin technology can just walk in and attend the workshop.

Even though there are many people who are interested in Blockchain technology, they are holding back due to lack of expertise in the domain. The workshop series is named #StartingBlock2015 and it is organized in association with Blockchain Space. Developers and enthusiasts can attended the event free of charge, except for the Istanbul event, scheduled to happen at the “Fit Start-up Factory” on 24 June, 2015. These events are deliberately kept free of charge to encourage more developers to try this new technology.

The complete schedule of the workshop is available in detail on the BlockStrap webpage. According to the website, attendees will be eligible for a few perks, which includes a free professional membership to the Bitcoin Embassy in their country of residence along with the attendance to the event being uploaded on to the Blockchain.

Neuroware.io is one of the Bitcoin technology based companies that graduated from the ninth batch of 500 Start-ups accelerator. By encouraging more developers to build on Blockchain related technology, the company is building a strong Bitcoin ecosystem around it, so that everyone including themselves can benefit.

How many times have you noticed advertisements relevant to your recent search on your favourite search engine show up on your browser? I guess the answer will be “every time”. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. track user’s location and browsing data to show relevant advertisements. Now that they have your data, what stops them from using that data for purposes other than advertising? Nothing (except for few privacy laws)!

It is no doubt that the search engine giant has enough data available to profile everyone depending upon their interests and search patterns combined with other publicly available information to guess who the person really is. But what about others, the people without access to Google’s big data regarding its users? They can do some exciting things too, even when it comes to profiling the kind of people who are interested in the pseudonymous digital currencies like Bitcoin and that’s exactly what a couple of researchers did recently.

Bitcoin is known for the anonymous nature of transactions. Even though Bitcoin transactions can be tracked easily, the identity of the person or people who are parties to the transactions usually remains undisclosed. Then how did these two researchers identify a Bitcoin user’s profile? Well, they used Google, or Google Trends data to be more specific.

These University of Kentucky duo – Dr. Aaron Yelowitz and Matthew Wilson conducted statistical analysis of Google Trends data to find the pattern. Upon analysing the data they have found that people who do computer programming, criminal activity and Silk Road related searches are more likely to be Bitcoin users.  They have published this study in a report titled “Characteristics of Bitcoin Users: An Analysis of Google Search Data”. The researchers make it clear that the results of this study is not a conclusive and they are not looking at the actual Bitcoin usage but just the search interests on Google.

As a part of this study, they considered four different interest groups (user profiles) commonly associated with Bitcoin – Computer programming enthusiasts, speculative investors, libertarians and criminals to find which of these groups have a positive correlation to Bitcoin usage. After eliminating potential false positives due to real world events that garnered lot of public interest from the timeline, they concluded that computer programming enthusiasts and criminals exhibit a positive correlation to Bitcoin usage. Speculative investors and libertarians figured pretty low in the list of Bitcoin user profiles.

Even though this research succeeds in profiling likely Bitcoin users, the data doesn’t differentiate between those who are just curious to know about Bitcoin and those who were exploring the possibility of using Bitcoin or already using Bitcoin.

Bitcoin prices experienced a sudden surge earlier last week. The price which was hovering at around 225 USD to 227 USD suddenly shot up to cross 250 USD. So what caused the sudden surge and what does it imply?

First, let us get to the bottom of the price gain and to do that, we need to have some knowledge of current world affairs, especially in Europe (which most of us might already know). One of the nations in the European Union (EU), Greece has been in troubled waters for a while now. The country started experiencing an economic slowdown in 2008 and the condition has been deteriorating since then. In order to revive the economy, Greek politicians decided to seek help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurozone countries forming the Troika. The Troika decided to revive the country’s economy by lending a huge sum of money amounting to 110 billion EUR.

The bailout package did come with riders that required Greece to implement austerity measures, make structural reforms and privatize government assets. The Greek government failed to implement all the reforms as per the bailout agreement and the economy still continued on a downward spiral. The austerity measures ended up causing more trouble among the citizens than improving the economy leading to discontentment among Greeks. The country received two more bailout packages until the recent elections where the Syriza Party won the election upon the promise of delivering Greece from debt and removing austerity measures.

READ MORE: Solving Greece’s Debt Troubles with Bitcoin Technology

The worsening economy had led to the speculation that Greece would have to exit the EU in 2012 and it was further strengthened after the recent elections. Greece is currently in a deadlock with Troika regarding repayment of debt as the country wants a large part of it to be written off in addition to receipt of remaining funds from the previous bailout package which is currently frozen due to the country’s non-compliance to the terms of agreement requiring implementation of reforms. As the bailout package hasn’t materialized yet, the country is at the brink of sovereign default with eroding liquidity.

Given the situation continuing, Greece will soon be out of Euros to pay the employees of the state or any other social benefits. This means Greece will have to ditch Euros and have its own currency. In case Greece introduces its own currency, the value of the currency will be very much lower than Euros. Also, further deterioration of the nation’s liquidity will mean collapse of banks.

Greeks panicked and stated withdrawing funds from their bank accounts to avoid being cut off from their savings in case of any further deterioration of the economy. In order to preserve their wealth, people started investing in assets. The only two valuable assets out there at the moment are gold and Bitcoin. People who have faith in Bitcoin chose the latter, resulting in increased demand for Bitcoin and a surge in circulation leading to increase in Bitcoin price.

People buying Bitcoin as personal assets shows increasing acceptance of Bitcoin as a legitimate currency and valuable asset across the world.

READ MORE: Could Bitcoin Become Greece’s Official Currency?

Key Highlights

  • Dogecoin price surged higher and created a new high above 90.0
  • Buyers are in control, as the market sentiment is still favoring them.

This past week in an analysis, we stated that there is a double top pattern forming on the hourly chart of Dogecoin, but the price remains at risk of a break higher as there was no real reason for sellers to take the price lower. As mentioned, the 100 hourly simple moving average is still a major factor for the coming days, as a break below the same might call for a trend change. We highlighted on a number of occasions the importance of the 100 MA, and it proved worth. The price support around it numerous times, and traded back higher.

The price traded above the last high of 89.7 Satoshis, and created a new high. The price stalled around the 1.236 extension of the last leg from the 89.7 Satoshis to 76.0 Satoshis. There was a downside reaction after trading as high as 92.6 Satoshis. There were again bids around the 100 MA, which is around an important support area of 80.0 Satoshis. If sellers manage to breach the 100 MA, then there might be a move towards 74.0 Satoshis. There is a bullish trend line, which is also likely to act as barrier for sellers moving ahead.

Dogecoin

Negative Signals

The RSI is below the 50 level, which is a worrying sign for buyers in the short term. The MACD is also under divergence, which can ignite a downside reaction.

Intraday Support Level – 76.0 Satoshis

Intraday Resistance Level – 86.0 Satoshis

Let us see which way the price heads, but there is no denial that there is a lot of bullish pressure. Overall, sellers need to be careful, as all the bearish signs can change to bullish in no time.

 

Charts courtesy of Trading View