This week is Coin Congress, a special gathering of bitcoiners in San Francisco slated to discuss digital currency, monetization, integration, and user acquisition. Featured speakers include Bobby Lee of BTCChina, Vinny Linghmam of Gyft and George Gilder, author of Microcosm and Telecosm (plus 15 other books on technology).
The Chamber of Digital Commerce will be holding a press conference this morning to issue an official response to New York’s BitLicense proposed regulations.
Last weekend was The North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) in Chicago where a number of other industry initiatives were announced.
Here is a not-so-boring week in review:
This week I announced the formation of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, the industry’s first trade association. Operating from Washington, DC, we will promote the industry’s goals, and its potential to innovate global finance for the benefit of society, to lawmakers, regulators, policy makers and the larger public.
Last week the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) published the first draft of the BitLicense proposed rules and regulations. Under the proposed BitLicense framework, any Bitcoin company wishing to do business with New York residents would require a BitLicense. The draft is set to be officially published on July 23 and will follow a 45 day comment period, hardly adequate time to for the industry to properly review and respond.
The industry needs guardrails to protect consumers and root out illegal activity, but these proposed regulations are onerous and in many cases simply misplaced, with the potential to seriously injure legitimate applications of this valuable emerging area. Instructions on how to submit comments can be found on the NYDFS website at http://www.dos.ny.gov/info/register.htm.
Chinese Exchanges Battle It Out Over Features and Services
China’s OKCoin announced at TNABC that they will begin trades denominated in USD. OKCoin.com also released information about its new Financial Information Exchange protocol (FIX) and their websocket API. OKCoin is striving to become the top bitcoin trading platform with safer, more accurate and faster features such as “low-latency trading and market data.”
Just one day later BTCChina issued a competing announcement the very next day stating they have already “collected several million USD worth of deposits” in its trial period and will also start accepting Hong Kong Dollars. International account holders will have the option of depositing USD or HKD and will be processed by BTCChina’s HK affiliate.
This weekend’s Chinese exchange battle highlights the fact that we are in the early days of a feature and services war where exchanges are constantly trying to one-up each other.
Blockchain launched a new Android wallet at TNABC this weekend, which is full of eye candy, designed for the next wave of bitcoin adopters, with an easy to use, clean interface. The new Android wallet features a directory of businesses that accept bitcoin. Blockchain’s Keonne Rodriguez played a large part in the development of the app and said they personally called the merchants to make sure they accepted bitcoin.
The next step for Blockchain is the development of an iOS wallet. Since Apple updated their app developers guidelines to allow for bitcoin wallets, developers are shifting resources back to iOS.
Last Tuesday, the largest search engine in the world added the Bitcoin exchange rate to their list of instant search answers. Google uses Coinbase’s historical USD/BTC exchange rate, then calculates other exchange rates with existing fiat data.
Dell and Coinbase announced a partnership this week, ushering a new giant into the Bitcoin ecosystem. With almost $60 billion in annual revenue, Dell is now the largest business accepting Bitcoin. Dell is currently offering a 10 percent discount when paid in Bitcoin on select Alienware products. At the moment, Dell is only accepting Bitcoin payments for US customers. According to Michael Dell, Dell’s founder, the partnership was forged within 2 weeks, highlighting the institutional ease of implementing Bitcoin.
Since November of 2013, Shopify has provided merchants with the ability to accept bitcoin through BitPay payment processing services, and thousands of merchants have signed up to do so. On July 15th Shopify announced their integration with Coinbase, which will allow Shopify merchants ‘more ways to accept Bitcoin payments online’. Shopify who have signed on to Coinbase payments includeincluding Soylent, Leap Motion, and IOgrapher. Shopify has a total of over 75,000 merchants.
In a recent interview with CNBC’s ‘Squawk Alley,’ long time tech entrepreneur, Reid Hoffman, shared his thoughts on Bitcoin. Instead of suggesting viewers jump onto the latest wearable technology or home automation craze, Hoffman admitted that he has “increasingly focused on Bitcoin.” Hoffman has invested in Xapo, a Bitcoin wallet, and currently sits on their board of directors. He emphasized that Bitcoin’s true innovation will be its platform, its “most interesting layer.”
South Africa’s PayFast announced a partnership with South Africa’s biggest Bitcoin exchange, BitX. With PayFast, South African merchants can accept Bitcoin payments and receive South African rands in their account. The service is currently in beta testing mode, but PayFast makes sure to emphasize Bitcoin’s ease of use to its existing merchants.
Twice this year, so far, Bitcoin mining pool, Ghash.io, has approached 50% of the total Bitcoin network hashrate, representing an unnecessary threat against Bitcoin’s network security. Previously Ghash.io has refused to self-regulate to remedy the problem, but after a closed-door meeting with industry heads, they have promised to implement a 39.99% ceiling. Ghash.io has promised to post warnings, but not raise fees, if the situation occurs again.
Bitcoin Charity Feeds Over 100,000 Meals To The Homeless
Sean’s Outpost, the largest charitable Bitcoin organization, led by philanthropist Jason King, announced they have fed over 100,000 meals to the homeless community in Florida. This initiative was mostly funded in bitcoin and other digital currencies. Sean’s Outpost is dedicated to serving the homeless community and also manages Satoshi Forest, which provides a place for homeless people in Pensacola to legally stay. Increasing regulation against “loitering” has created even bigger hardships to the homeless population, putting many of them in jail for the crime of being penniless.
So…Sean’s Outpost just fed our 100,000th meal to the homeless. Thought you would like to know. Thanks #bitcoin
— Sean’s Outpost (@SeansOutpost) July 18, 2014