Telegram to Crush ICO Record in Second Round of Private Funding

Telegram has informed investors of a second private pre-sale of its cryptocurrency ICO despite raising $850 million in round one just a month ago.

Telegram May Raise as Much as $1.6 Billion

This week investors received an email from telegram CEO Pavel Durov informing them of a second pre-sale to the much-anticipated TON ICO. Though no exact amount has been determined sources are speculating that it will be around the same as the first round.

If so that would make it a record-smashing $1.6 billion raised before the coin is even offered to public investors dwarfing the previous high water mark set by Tezos at $232 million.

Durov’s way of funding is a change from the normal concept of an ICO as only accredited investors who are invited may purchase the discounted coins. This more closely resembles the traditional venture capital form of fundraising where most (if not all) of the discounted tokens are sold off to private investors before the public round opens.

This second fundraising round comes as Telegram and its proposed TON network are being scrutinized as short on technical details. The Telegram Open Network is to be an Ethereum like eco-system that supports apps, services and a store for both physical and digital goods.

Will the TON be Worth the Cash?

Much of the criticism of the proposed network is based on the company’s own technical white paper. The document describes a suite of blockchain based services including file storage, DNS service, and an ad exchange network with the ability to process millions of transactions per second but with no explanation of how.

Matthew Green, cryptographer and professor at Johns Hopkins University is impressed by some parts of the blockchain projects but finds many of the claims in the white paper unrealistic;

“I’ll be honest, the white paper reads like someone went out on the internet and harvested the most ambitious ideas from a dozen projects and said ‘let’s do all of those but better!’ It feels unachievable, at least at the scale they’re aiming for now.”

For Durov it makes sense to open a second round of private sales since the first was rumored to be well over subscribed and early investors are already flipping their shares for double what they paid in the opening round. How this second round affects the public round that was to open in March, and whether there will be any coins left for the launch is yet to be seen.

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Action star and martial arts master Steven Seagal’s latest role has him playing the part of cryptocurrency spokesman but, can his combination of Hollywood magic and Akito moves save this lost cause?

Can This Ageing Action Star Kickstart Bitcoiins Success

Steven Seagal has weathered over three decades in one of the toughest business there is by sticking to a formula; save the girl, beat the bad guys, uncover the conspiracy, try and be cool while doing it.

His latest role as the spokesman for an ICO called Bitcoiin2Gen though may be his most difficult to sell. The token that invites speculation right off for its obvious play on Bitcoin’s name seems to have a number shortcomings.

From the basic problem that Bitcoiin’s white paper doesn’t actually address a targeted problem the coin will solve to the fact that none of its initial backer’s names are cited on its homepage.

Data from ICAAN reveals that the company was originally started in 2015, is registered in Panama and has changed ownership around Jan. 8. None of this bodes well and then things getting even dodgier with their referral commission – Partner program.

The scheme which is literally diagrammed as a pyramid on their website shows the four levels of ICO investment. This has caused the ICO to be compared to Onecoin and Bitconnect both of which have been accused of running pyramid schemes.

“To promote Bitcoiin B2G, a depositor who chooses to participate in one of our accredited Mining Programs, will earn commissions off their recruits’ earnings. Bitcoiin B2G is offering a 4-level commission structure, available to whoever joins the program and/or purchases Bitcoiin B2G during the ICO period.”

Though Bitcoiin Gen2 looks pretty bad on all fronts celebrity endorsements are growing in the cryptocurrency world as tokens like Bitcoin and Etheruem prove to be profitable assets.

Cryptocurrencies Look To Celebrities

Perhaps most active in lending his celebrity to crypto-projects is Mr. Money; Floyd Mayweather Jr. In July 2017 he was the spokesman for’s ICO and a month later came out for Hubli Network. Signed in September he was key in Centra raising $30 million for their ICO.

Pop singer Katy Perry boosted the reputation of cryptocurrency when she posted a photo of her fingernails that each had the logo of one of the biggest cryptocurrencies painted on it.

Richard Branson has been a vocal supporter of Bitcoin from the beginning when he announced he accept the currency for payment on his upcoming space fights virgin galactic in late 2013. Since then he’s put his money where his mouth his investing $30 billion in Bitpay in 2014.

Even Iron Mike has put his fame to work partnering with Bitcoin in 2015 to put his face on Bitcoin ATMs and then again in 2016 when Bitcoin direct announced that the former champ would have his own wallet that people could trade from using the app.

The list of celebrities who have backed cryptocurrencies goes on but in this case, Bitcoiin may be one lost cause the zen master Seagal can’t save.

As Olympians in Pyeongchang, Korea perform to huge audiences in the popular events of skying, snowboarding and hockey. Less popular US lugers have turned to Bitcoin to fuel their sleds.

Bitcoin funds US luge team

The USA Luge Foundation began campaigning for donations of Bitcoin using Medium since December of 2017. The team is the first Olympic group to set up its own Bitcoin wallet to accept donations.

USA luge marketing director and former double silver medalists Gary Sheer said that matching Bitcoin to the US luge endowment fund is a natural fit;

“You know, we hear a lot of jokes about lugers being crazy, and people don’t know why we do it. But luge is something that gets into your blood and transforms your life and the Bitcoiners we’ve met know exactly what it’s like to be all in on something that the world doesn’t appreciate yet. We’ve looked at Bitcoin hard, and it is definitely a risk-reward we understand and are eager to take.”

Although no Olympic team is allowed to have any type of advertising on their uniforms or equipment during the games the team has promised to promote the cryptocurrency in up and coming competitions.

The team has laid out a rewards schedule depending on how much Bitcoin they raise in the future.

  • 5 BTC – Bitcoin’s logo will appear on team hats and memorabilia hats.
  • 10 BTC – Above, including Bitcoin logo sewn onto all luge team outerwear for the
  • 2018 season (excluding the Winter Olympics).
  • 25 BTC – All of the above, including Bitcoin logo of sleds for the next two seasons.
  • 50 BTC – All of the above, with Bitcoin logo on sleds for next four seasons.
  • 100 BTC – All the above including Bitcoin logo on team skin suits for four years (excluding Olympics).

For 21 million the team promised to find ‘Satoshi and get him on a sled’ – 21 million is the finite number of Bitcoins.

Cash only at Olympic Village

Being that South Korea is a major hub of cryptocurrency trading and the Olympics an international event one would expect vendors and facilities to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies during the events.

That is not the case though. According to Forbes there is only one place to spend your Bitcoin, a single ski rental shop at the Olympic Village. Many were expecting vendors to take up the platform Coinduck which allows payment in Etheruem and then pays the local vendor in Korean Won. The lack of cryptocurrency at the games could be a reflection of the countries current conflicted views on regulating cryptocurrency markets.

Blockchain technology will make a big impact all over the world. A lot more research is needed before this technology can go mainstream. As such, it seems the European Union will increase its annual research budget in in the next few years. More specifically, the funding cap will go from 83 million EUR to 340 million EUR by 2020. This fourfold increase is excellent news for blockchain research in general.

The European Union is quite impressed with the potential of blockchain. More specifically, they see a lot of potential use cases for this technology as we speak. Especially when it comes to administration and businesses, there are plenty of options to explore. Distributed ledgers can provide a high degree of trust, security, and traceability. This applies not just to systems exchanging data, but also financial infrastructure in general. All of this warrants more research into what the future will hold for blockchain technology.

European Union Excited About Blockchain

With the EU Blockchain Observatory being created, interesting things will happen. This new effort will focus on technical expertise and regulatory capacity first and foremost. Creating industry-wide standards will not be easy whatsoever. A lot of efforts are underway in Europe in relation to blockchain technology as we speak. With this new European Union-backed venture, things will move along even faster.

Whether or not public authorities will ever embrace this technology, remains unknown. Before such a decision can be made, more research is needed first and foremost. With information stored across a network in a distributed fashion, big things are bound to happen. At the same time, all companies need to keep the potential risk in mind as well. Without a proper legal framework, this technology will not make a big impact anytime soon.

With the European Union increasing its funding, the future looks rather bright. A fourfold increase in funding is rather spectacular, though. With a total cap of 340 million EUR to be spent, the European Union has some high expectations, by the look of things. Further details regarding the exact research into blockchain technology remain unknown for now. All things considered, this can only be considered to be a positive trend for distributed elders in general. Especially with an open-minded regulatory approach, this technology can start making a bigger impact very soon.

Austin Peterson, U.S. Senate candidate for Missouri, has announced that he will be giving his supporters the option to donate to his campaign using Bitcoin. Branding himself as the “opt out” candidate, he believes that voluntary participation should underpin any government service. This extends to Social Security, Obamacare, and also to fiat currency apparently.

Being a former Libertarian presidential candidate, Peterson aims to highlight his stance on big government and oppressive regulation by accepting the world’s most popular cryptocurrency. “You get a choice,” he was reported as saying. “Opt out of the U.S. dollar.”

“Bitcoin is one of those issues that has actually got a huge community. I mean there are bitcoin millionaires out there. And we might be able to tap into that market because there will probably be no other candidates who will be better on that issue. I really would like to see a degregulation on monetary policy.”

As one of his ultimate ideological goals, the Missouri candidate seeks for the “complete and total abolition” of the Federal Reserve – a sentiment which echoes many of the earliest adopters of cryptocurrency’s political principles. Peterson firmly believes that money should not be a creation of the government but rather one of the marketplace. He argues that if decentralization is good for markets, why can this principle not extend to money too?

At a minimum I would like to introduce legalisation that would decentralise the monetary unit, the dollar, in such a way as to legalise competition: Gold, silver and cryptocurrencies, so that they can compete. That would cause a spike in the prices.”

The controversial politician has made a name for himself by taking his political message to the extreme. A recent publicity stunt saw him facing a thirty-day ban from Facebook for live streaming a competition in which the prize was an AR-15 rifle. He claimed that it was a political action that sought to draw attention to Democratic Senator Clair McCaskill’s support for a ban on all assault weapons.

The self-proclaimed “Bitcoin candidate” isn’t the first high-profile politician to accept cryptocurrency donations. Famously, Republican Senator Rand Paul in his 2016 presidential campaign also allowed funding using the payment method. It was of course much less widely known and enjoyed significantly lower circulation than it does today.

This is reflected by the different limits imposed on cryptocurrency donations from each of the two politicians. Peterson has enabled his campaign to receive up to $10,000 per day from multiple donors, whilst the Federal Election Commission limits individual contributors to $2,700 and multi-candidate PACs to $5,000. This contrasts with the campaign of Paul who capped contributions to just $100.

Another interesting difference between the two campaigns relates to anonymity and transparency. Back in 2015/16, it was largely considered by the media that anarcho-types would seek to hide their support of various anti-system candidates using cryptocurrency. However, many today tout the payment method as being the ultimate in transparent funding. Every Bitcoin can, of course, be traced back to the original genesis block, highlighted by the federal agents who were able to build evidence against Ross Ulbricht, the mastermind behind the original darkweb marketplace — SilkRoad. FBI agent Ilhwan Yum said, “I didn’t do any complicated analysis” when following DreadPirateRoberts’s crypto-paper trail which eventually led to his arrest.

Bitcoin acceptance in political rallies and election campaigns show that the politicians are increasingly becoming open to the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which could bear a positive effect over the government policies and regulations once they get into power.

Quite a few interesting things are happening in the Bitcoin world as of late. With the price on the rise, a lot of people anticipate some bad news to spoil the party. However, it appears local governments are showing a new form of appreciation for cryptocurrency. In Montana, the local government is providing public funds to a Bitcoin mining operation. It is an interesting take on job creation, to say the least.

Everyone knows the Bitcoin ecosystem can create a lot of new jobs. Even in the mining business, assuming the operation is somewhat professional. The state of Montana’s government acknowledges this fact and decides to embrace it. As a result, they will provide public funds to a local Bitcoin mining firm. This is all part of a US$1.1m local job aid package.

Montana Acknowledges Bitcoin Can Create New Jobs

Of that US$1.1m, US$416,000 is granted to Missoula County. In this part of Montana, there is a mining firm called Project Spokane. This company will create additional jobs with the funds, which is quite an interesting turn of events. Having the government recognize the potential of bitcoin mining operations is quite significant. Up until a few weeks ago, something like this would have been considered to be impossible.

The state of Montana launched an initiative called the Big Sky Economic Development Trust Fund Program. This venture is dedicated to long-term job creation in the region. However, the people running this organization are taking a novel approach by embracing this Bitcoin mining firm. It also sets an interesting precedent for similar job creation efforts across the US moving forward. There are multiple large-scale Bitcoin mining firms active across the country.

The goal is for Project Spokane to create an additional 65 jobs. That is quite a large number for a Bitcoin mining operation. Additionally, the money will be used to purchase equipment, machinery, and wage reimbursement. It is unclear how these 65 jobs will be created exactly, though. A bitcoin mining operation requires maintenance, but not necessarily dozens of staffers to keep things going. It is possible things hints at a potential expansion of the operation, though.

The Coinbase exchange has quite the reputation in the world of Bitcoin. Over the past years, the company raises a fair amount of money from investors. It now appears they are seeking additional funds. What stands out, though, is how the company would see itself valued at over US$1bn. That is quite a lot of money, especially for a company receiving a ton of complaints as of late.

On the one hand, it is good to see Coinbase look for more funding. After all, the company needs money to improve their existing services. Right now, that is easier said than done. There are a growing number of customer complaints regarding issues. Getting an answer to those tickets can take days, if not weeks. That is not good PR for such a prominent Bitcoin company by any means.

Coinbase Looks For More Funding

To solve this problem, Coinbase is looking for additional funding from investors. In fact, the company hopes to raise around US$100m or more in the coming weeks. Such an amount would valuate Coinbase at over US$1bn. That seems rather high for a cryptocurrency exchange. This news comes as quite a surprise to a lot of people, and rightfully so. Very few people feel Coinbase should be valued at that amount right now.

Moreover, this funding round would set a new record for Bitcoin companies altogether. While it is true the ecosystem needs to grow, putting so much money into a company dealing with issues. Then again, more money means issues can be solved. It remains unclear who would partake in the funding round, though. It is possible previous investors will contribute more money to this platform moving forward.

One thing working in the company’s favor is how interest in crypto-assets is on the rise. This could help attract new investors. Then again, the company raised US$75m in January of this year. It is unclear why they need even more money so quickly after that round, though. Only time will tell if the company will be successful in its efforts to get the money together. A valuation of over US$1bn would be quite spectacular, though.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

The popular crypto-to-crypto exchange platform, ShapeShift has announced the successful completion of its latest Series A funding round for a sum of $10.4 million. The investment in Switzerland-based platform founded by Erik Voorhees was led by Earlybird Venture Capital and saw participation from the likes of Lakestar, FundersClub, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital and Access Venture Partners.

With the latest investment round, the total amount of funds raised by the company currently stands at $12.8 million. With the new influx of funds, the company intends to use it to expand the workforce and focus on the platform’s growth. ShapeShift already supports about 36 major cryptocurrencies including the likes of Bitcoin, Ether, and Dash. The instant conversion facility offered by the platform is popular among the cryptocurrency community, and the services are integrated by many crypto-platforms as well.

According to reports, ShapeShift will soon be launching two new exchange products later this year. The founder, Erik Voorhees explained ShapeShift’s journey through time to a startup and tech news portal. The publication quoted him saying

““When we started ShapeShift, a future world of natively digital assets was very theoretical. Yet this world is quickly arriving; one in which millions of forms of digital value, from access keys to tokenized derivative contracts to video game items, will trade between people and machines all over the world, every second of every day. Just as information has gone natively digital, so too now goes value. Bitcoin taught a skeptical world how to do it, and the gold rush is on.”

Voorhees started the platform in 2014, after selling SatoshiDice — a cryptocurrency gambling website in 2013 for 126,315 bitcoins worth $11.47 million at that time. Shapeshift has grown over the past three years and now the platform manages about 50,000 bitcoins a month. The platform stands apart from rest of the cryptocurrency trading platforms and exchanges as it follows a peer-to-peer approach enabling buyers and sellers to fulfill each other’s orders than having an entirely centralized setup.

The success of ShapeShift has caught up with the latest crypto-platforms as well. Many of them continue to implement ShapeShift’s services into their crowdsale and ICO campaigns.

Ref: Venture Beat | Image: NewsBTC

Investments in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency companies continue to peak as of late. BitFinance, a startup located in Zimbabwe, secured a new round of investment earlier this week. With the new funds, the company aims to boost cryptocurrency awareness and grow its customer base. It appears Bitcoin is getting more popular in Zimbabwe and other African countries.

The name BitFinance may not ring a bell for most Bitcoin enthusiasts, but the company is quite successful in Zimbabwe. Their service is entirely focusing on using Bitcoin for investment opportunities. More specifically, the company focuses on building the continent’s Bitcoin infrastructure.

Big News For BitFinance

Moreover, the company operates their very own Bitcoin exchange, called BitcoinFundi. The new funds raised by BitFinance will be used to enhance the user experience for his exchange platform.Additionally, the plan is to increase the reach of the overall BitFinance services and products to other African countries.

The company has been around since 2014 and started gaining traction a year later. BitFinance took part in the Savannah Fund’s 4th accelerator class in Kenya that year. Plus, the team secured their first round of funding by participating in his accelerator. It is evident the company has not been twiddling their thumbs since that time.

Regarding the popularity of the platform, BitFinance has noted constant growth every single month. Just last month, they welcomed 208 new customers, and US$31,000 was traded on BitcoinFundi. Overall month-to-month revenue increased by 7,652% compared to January 2016 as well. All of these signs point towards a healthy growth for the Zimbabwean company so far.

It remains to be seen if Bitcoin can become a competitive payment solution in Zimbabwe, though. Public figures are suggesting Bitcoins should become the national currency. Doing so is a lot trickier than most assumed, thought. It is doubtful Bitcoin will replace any national currencies any time soon. Then again, it is the global international payment solution some people have been looking for.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

The leading Bitcoin block explorer and wallet service provider, Blockchain has announced a partnership with the cryptocurrency payments service provider — Coinify. The partnership will allow Blockchain wallet users to utilize Coinify’s payment service to directly fund their Bitcoin wallets almost instantaneously by making fiat payments.

With Coinify’s services, users will be able to buy the digital currency with credit and debit cards using a single user interface. The new implementation will be initially made available to a limited, closed user group. The Chief Executive Officer of Blockchain, Peter Smith was quoted on a financial news website saying,

“Digital currencies and peer-to-peer transaction networks have the potential to modernize a financial system that is currently failing over a third of the global population. This announcement represents a giant step forward in making bitcoin, still a nascent currency, a more compelling and efficient financial solution for new users.”

He was referring to the limited options provided by most of the Bitcoin wallet services when it comes to funding the users’ wallets. In a market with almost 100 different bitcoin wallet services, both big and small, a majority of them only allows users to deposit their “already-owned” bitcoin into their accounts. This makes procuring digital currency a hassle as the users will have to use a trading platform or an exchange with limited payment options to buy the digital currency.

With many exchanges and wallets not accepting card payments, which happens to be the easiest among all payment options, many people are still hesitant to make their first bitcoin purchase to become part of the cryptocurrency community. Blockchain already has over 50 percent of the Bitcoin wallet market share, and Coinify’s integration may see it further strengthen its market share by becoming the point of entry into the cryptocurrency community for billions of those who are currently untouched by Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

According to reports, the wallet platform will start testing its services in Europe with a handful of invite-only participants. The platform will then make further improvements to the features based on the feedback received from test participants to create and launch the final product on a global scale.

Coinify has already gained significant traction in the European market, especially after the company received significant investments from SEB, a Swedish banking major which now owns a portion of the crypto-payments processor. The new partnership will further strengthen Coinify’s position in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Ref: Finance Magnates | Image: Coinify