By Alex Vasquez, AFP October 21, 2017
Caracas (AFP) – Inside a locked room in an office building in Caracas, 20 humming computers use their data-crunching power to mine bitcoins, an increasingly popular tool in the fight against Venezuela’s hyperinflation.
In warehouses, offices and homes, miners are using modified computers to perform complex computations, essentially book-keeping for digital transactions worldwide, for which they earn a commission in bitcoins.
While practiced worldwide, Bitcoin mining is part of a growing, underground effort in Venezuela to escape the worst effects of a crippling economic and political crisis and runaway inflation that the IMF says could reach 720 percent this year.
Having no confidence in the bolivar and struggling to find dollars, many Venezuelans, who are neither computer geeks nor financial wizards, are relying on the bitcoin — currently valued around $6,050, or other virtual currencies.
Caracas office worker Veronica says her boss installed the 20 machines in early 2015.
“These are machines that bring in $800 a month (more than 26 million bolivars),” says Veronica, who refused to give her full name because of fears of arrest.
Source: Venezuelans use bitcoin ‘mining’ to escape inflation
By C. Edward Kelso October 20, 2017
President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The committee is given rather broad powers concerning federal criminal law and internet privacy. During a quick exchange, hours into the hearing, Mr. Sessions was asked about the “dark web.” His answers might foreshadow what’s ahead for digital privacy and bitcoin users.
More at: Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions: ”Bitcoin is a big problem” – Bitcoin News
By Stan Higgins October 16, 2017
A potential move by global brokerages to offer products around cryptocurrencies could have a big impact on the wider market, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote.
In an Oct. 16 research note entitled “Introducing cryptocurrencies – what are they good for?”, the analysts tackle bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies such as ethereum and XRP. The note both covers the basics of the market and dives more specifically into the growing galaxy of open blockchain networks in operation today.
Notably, the report touches on the possible factors that could shape the cryptocurrency market’s future progression – including financial products based on the tech.
On this point, the bank’s analysts suggest that a move by brokerages to begin offering such services to their clients could affect both the overall liquidity of the market as well as the market capitalization for the relevant cryptocurrencies.
“The coin universe is dynamic and innovative and volatile; while a true value for cryptocurrencies may be impossible to assess, one factor which we believe could affect their liquidity and market capitalisation would be if one or more global broker/dealers decided to offer institutional-like products,” they wrote.
More at: Bank of America Report: Bitcoin’s True Value ‘Impossible to Assess’ – CoinDesk
By India Ashok October 16, 2017
Russia may soon get its very own state-controlled cryptocurrency – the CryptoRuble. Unlike other digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, CryptoRuble will reportedly have a far limited decentralised nature and may even be tracked by the Kremlin.
According to local reports that cited Russian communications minister Nikolay Nikiforov, Russia’s cryptocurrency will be designed so it cannot be mined and will not be blockchain-based. However, users will reportedly be able to freely exchange Rubles and CryptoRubles.
Reports of CryptoRuble’s alleged launch follows the Russian government taking serious steps to ban other cryptocurrency websites after president Vladimir Putin reportedly warned of risks associated with digital currencies. It is still unclear as to how soon Russia’s state-controlled cryptocurrency may be launched. According to Nikiforov, if Russia doesn’t launch its own digital currency soon then European and Asian markets may beat it to the punch.
More at: CryptoRuble: Russia may soon launch its own cryptocurrency that could be tracked by the Kremlin – International Business Times
By Emily Glazer October 16, 2017
James Dimon, center, the chief executive of J.P. Morgan. PHOTO: ANDREW HARRER/BLOOMBERG NEWS
J.P. Morgan Chase JPM -0.14% & Co. CEO James Dimon recently trashed the digital currency bitcoin as a fraud that will blow up. But he’s still enamored with the technology that underpins it and other virtual currencies.
The latest sign is expected Monday, when the nation’s largest bank rolls out its next pilot program to use the record-keeping technology, known as blockchain. The initiative will enable the faster, more secure transfer of cross-border payments between J.P. Morgan, Royal Bank of Canada RY 0.27% and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.ANZBY 0.96%
The new program doesn’t use and won’t trade bitcoin, which has generated skepticism from a wide variety of financiers, including Mr. Dimon and BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink. But it will use technology that underpins the second-largest virtual currency behind bitcoin, Ethereum.
More at: J.P. Morgan’s James Dimon May Hate Bitcoin, but He Loves Blockchain – WSJ (paywall)
By Rachel Rose O’Leary October 16, 2017
Although it’s still very early days for ethereum’s Byzantium upgrade, developers indicate that the hard fork is running smoothly so far.
Speaking to CoinDesk, unofficial release manager for Byzantium, Hudson Johnston, said that the success of the fork can be attributed to “the hard work (of) developers, users and miners across the Ethereum ecosystem.”
Changes enacted by the upgrade mean that blocks will be created faster, but miners will receive lower fees for the effort.
While the impact on ethereum’s infrastructure will be substantial, it looks like the network is undergoing an adjustment period. Currently, some blocks are being mined in as little as 1 second, but others are dragging out to nearly a minute – substantially longer than the pre-Byzantium average of 25 seconds per block.
More at: Ethereum’s Byzantium Hard Fork Is Running Smoothly, Developers Say – CoinDesk
By Pascal Thellmann October 15, 2017
As far as adoption goes, Bitcoin follows a familiar pattern. Populous, first world countries in North America, Europe and Asia were first to catch Bitcoin fever, the first to establish exchanges and the first to begin restricting them as well. While early Bitcoin trading in these countries was largely boundless, allowing for things like margin trading and high leverage, as more of each country’s fiat money moved into Bitcoin, governments and central banks began to draw lines.
The market witnessed a pointed example of such “no more nonsense” regulation as recently as a few days ago in South Korea. Following China’s example, the country decided to limit ICOs and no-fee exchanges, which had until that point been an enormously speculative influence in the altcoin markets. However, no matter the increasing rate of adoption and regulation around the world, Bitcoin always manages to find its “Wild West” somewhere new.
More at: Bitcoin Booms in Evolving Markets- The Cointelegraph