by Eliot Harkin
We’ve compiled some of our top stories from the week. For full articles and up-to-date news and bitcoin prices, visit our website or click on the links below. It’s been a busy week for bitcoin as its price went shooting up amid global financial turmoil. Here is how the news looked on the BTCMANAGER site.
Compiled from articles by Jamie Homes and Joseph Young
The big story in world trading this week came out of China, as we saw panic selling in the stock market, where China’s stock trading was halted after slightly less than 30 minutes. Trading volumes across all exchanges spiked from 00:00 to 08:00 GMT on Thursday, suggesting a large influx of new buyers, but volumes traded have since calmed down.
Global stock markets are moving deeper into the red; is it a panic reaction or the start of a crisis? Either way, it represents a positive fundamental theme for Bitcoin.
New rules across the European Union came into effect on January 1st, which could have interesting implications for Bitcoin; no bank can be bailed out with public money until creditors have accounted for at least 8% of the lenders liabilities. The new measure could discourage investors from investing in banks as they will be at the mercy of regulatory decisions in the event of a restructuring. Italy and Portugal acted quickly to save several banks before this rule came into effect; four small banks in Italy have been propped up using the National Resolution Fund. As these new rules go into effect in the EU, they represent a dormant fundamental force that has the potential to widen the adoption of bitcoin and push the price higher.
Balaji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO of 21 Inc. and Dan Boneh, a well-known researcher in the areas of applied cryptography and computer security, have co-launched a Bitcoin Engineering (CS251P) course at Stanford University. Students will learn how to rewire internet services on the basis of Bitcoin, and will focus on building Bitcoin-enabled applications, including retooling a few of the most popular social media platforms and cloud storage applications, to monetize simple tasks with the currency. University students, especially for those in the verge of deciding career paths, could benefit from Bitcoin-related openings and education.
The value of publicly traded shares of bitcoin or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) has continued to surge since early 2015, substantially outperforming bitcoin. Bitcoin experts state that an increasing number of investors are prioritizing these premium public bitcoin ETFs due to compliance and security concerns. Because one share of the GBTC guarantees the ownership of 10% of bitcoin, the shareowners don’t have to be concerned for inevitable hacking attacks and theft of private keys which occurs, albeit rarely, in bitcoin exchanges and wallet platforms. However, bitcoin enthusiasts are sceptical towards the premium value of bitcoin ETFs like GBTC, as key players in the industry like the Winklevoss twins announced their intentions to launch their own bitcoin ETFs in the near future.
Bitcoin Core developer, Jeff Garzik, recently stated on Twitter that he expects a second wave of altcoins in 2016, which will have the potential to improve the Bitcoin protocol and also provide niche offerings. The adaptability of the underlying technology behind Bitcoin continues to provide innovation; Decred is a potentially exciting currency that is attempting to improve on Bitcoin by addressing the concerns surrounding mining. Their hybrid system could go a long way to solving the governance issues plaguing Bitcoin. Decred, along with a host of other altcoins like Ripple, Ether and Spreadcoin, will be well worth watching in 2016.
In an open-letter style post on r/bitcoin entitled “Bitcoin Foundation: Where did all the Money Go?” Bitcoin Foundation chairman Bruce Fenton has responded to recent criticism and requests from the Bitcoin community for a complete audit. The Foundation had successfully raised around 5,800 bitcoins in 2014 which were equivalent to around US$3.9 million at the time. Those funds, however, have since all but dried up with what many members of the community feel is a lack of transparency and accountability. Fenton said that the organization has lost most of its bitcoins due to “ridiculously wasteful and reckless” spending, developer salaries, and a drop in the bitcoin price.
With a more responsible layout of its budget and financial control, Fenton and the new board hope to reestablish the Foundation as the leading non-profit organization in the Bitcoin industry.
Established financial institutions and banks in the United States are refusing to offer services to legal marijuana businesses and merchants due to their fear of federal repercussion. The restricted financial support for cannabis businesses is forcing marijuana trades to be settled on a cash-only basis, making it incredibly difficult for businesses to deal with institutional clients and high profile dealers. As a result, marijuana businesses could potentially rely on independent currencies like bitcoin, which ensures its users complete control over their funds.
Japan will aim to provide greater protection for investors interested in Bitcoin as it prepares a legal framework to regulate digital currencies. A draft bill from within Japan’s Financial System Council will be submitted, and the group plans to hold further discussions as well as to provide a full report. The draft bill contains several proposals; registration with the Financial Services Agency (FSA) for all crypto-currency exchanges, as well as auditing, minimum capital requirements and identity verification of customers. With Japan overtaking Europe in terms of trading volumes, it suggests that the Japanese have shrugged off negative sentiment associated with the Mt. Gox collapse. Also, considering a legal framework and endorsement from big Japanese companies, positive sentiment is growing strong.
Hackers are increasingly targeting not just people’s credit card details but also other personal details and critical infrastructure more often than you would think. The worst fear is that terrorists could take out a nuclear plant, causing a disaster like Fukishima. Corporations also target people’s data in order to improve sales and expand their customer base. Mass surveillance means that someone might always be listening. Companies like Guardtime, BitMessage and Enigma are making multiple advances using blockchain technology to provide cybersecurity services that address these concerns.
Kshitij, the annual techno-management fest of IIT Kharagpur, one of India’s premier technical institutions, has partnered with the country’s leading Bitcoin exchange BTCXIndia and India-based blockchain data platform Blockonomics to host a nationwide Blockchain Hackathon. Participating students are considered to be the most elite undergraduates in the country, having achieved an All-India rank of 300-400 out of 1.5 million students. In other words, the top 0.0002% of the most talented students will be joining the competition.
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