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Government Scoop on Bitcoin
Homeland Security Seizes 25K in Virtual Currency
The federal government seized over $7 million and $25,000 worth of digital currencies including bitcoin as part of an ongoing software piracy investigation. Agents with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Investigations unit took the digital assets from the home of Seattle businessman Rex Yang. According to HSI, Young was part of a large-scale counterfeit software ring selling fraudulent access keys to popular computer programs. So far there have been no criminal charges filed.
Utah Introduces Bitcoin for State Services Bill
A Utah lawmaker wants bitcoin to eventually become a payment option for state business. State Representative Mark Roberts (R-Santaquin) introduced a bill to promote bitcoin-related businesses by creating a Council on Payment Options for State Services. The group would study how Utah could accept bitcoin payments, and the potential effects if implemented.
NYC Considers Allowing Fees & Fine Payments with Bitcoin
New York City councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill that would allow citizens to pay city fines and fees in bitcoin. Councilman Levine told The Hill he hopes this will put New York on the “cutting edge,” by saving millions of dollars in credit card fees. If the bill is adopted, Manhattan would be the first major city to accept Bitcoin for fees.
New Partnership Means Airlines Could Take Bitcoin Payments
Bitcoin payment processor Bitnet has announced a collaboration to allow many major airlines to start accepting bitcoin for payment. Bitnet has partnered with Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP), a payment network owned by major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, Lufthansa and JetBlue. As of the official launch date, none of the merchants were accepting bitcoin, but Bitnet is in talks with several of them. “It’s very much in the airlines’ interest for the consumer to pay with bitcoin, given that the airline will have cheaper fees and they know that money can’t be taken away in a fraudulent transaction” Akif Khan, VP of Solution Strategies at Bitnet, told CoinBase. He also said the move is aimed at “general consumers.”
Coinbase Shuts Down Tipping Feature and Backs ChangeTip
Coinbase, the bitcoin exchange and payment processor, announced they are shutting down their tipping button amid the success of ChangeTip, another tipping service. Coinbase stated in a blog post, they would rather support businesses that use their developer tools rather than compete with them. The company recognized ChangeTip’s platform has been more successful, boasting over 60,000 users compared to their 10,000. The Coinbase tip button terminates April 1st.
New All Time High In Bitcoin Mining Difficulty
The difficulty level of mining bitcoins, the computer process that verifies transactions, has reached an all-time high, despite a drop in late January. This uptick comes after many cloud mining operations announced that they would suspend their services because of bitcoin’s recent price decline. The difficulty level has only dropped three times within the last two years, all of which happened in the last 2 months. The new difficulty has risen to just over 1% of its previous high to 318,224,263 gigahashes per second (GH/s).
Bitpay Enhances Experience with New Tools
Hong Kong Bitcoin Company Vanishes with Millions in Investor Money
Hong Kong-based bitcoin company MyCoin has vanished, taking millions of dollars worth of investor money with it. According to the South China Morning Post, a handful of claimants have come forward to police showing losses totaling over 8 million dollars. The Post said it’s unknown who was behind the business, which is now being called a ponzi scheme, promising large returns on small investments. A bonus in bitcoin was also promised to investors. The scandal has prompted several Hong Kong lawmakers to push for a ban on bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
Larry Summers Speaks About Bitcoin
Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is warming up to the idea of bitcoin. Speaking at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street last week, Summers said virtual currencies have become a phenomenon that could drastically reduce the cost of global payments. Summers, who is a special adviser to Andreesen Horowitz, a Bitcoin venture capital firm, stated he thinks “payment technologies” like Bitcoin will be as universal as Wi-Fi on airplanes. He also argued that the virtual currency would have “shed its hyperlibertarian aura” and said regulation is needed to safeguard against fraud. Summers may have created a credibility gap with his audience, who gasped audibly, when he mistakenly referred to Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s creator, as “Mr.Nakatomi.”
Boring Bitcoin Calendar
Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Bootcamp for Digital Currency
Feb 26-28, 2015, San Francisco, CA
Getting compliance right is critically important to establish banking relationships, avoid fines assessed by FinCEN, and prevent jail time. Hosted by the Chamber of Digital Commerce and sponsored by IdentityMind Global, this two-day intense workshop is led by CAMS certified faculty from the AML Training Institute. Gain attendance certification for continuing education credits for the Digital Currency Council, ACAMS, and the CSBS.
Texas Bitcoin Conference
March 28-29, 2015, Austin, TX
The Texas Bitcoin Conference is a bitcoin technology summit with speakers, presentations and a hackathon. Key speakers include Steve Stockman, Congressional representative and bitcoin advocate, IBM Business Analytics and Strategy Architect Sumabala Nair and Founder and Partner of the Gilder Technology Fund, George Gilder.
Inside Bitcoins – New York
April 27-29, 2015, New York, NY
Inside Bitcoins will be returning to New York on April 27-29 at the Javits Convention Center. The program will cover topics including bitcoin 2.0, blockchain-based startups, institutional investing, multi-sig wallets, risk mitigation, compliance, banking and fundraising, and more. Keynotes have been confirmed from Dan Morehead, CEO, Pantera Capital and Chairman, Bitstamp; Brian Kelly, Contributor, CNBC’s Fast Money and Founder & Managing Member of Brian Kelly Capital LLC; and Perianne Boring, Founder and President, Chamber of Digital Commerce. Get 10% OFF with the discount code CHAMBER. Register at insidebitcoins.com/new-york.
Pic of the week
Tweet of the week
This is big. Thank you for the vote of confidence @coinbase: http://t.co/teo0mYxXMY
— ChangeTip (@ChangeTip) February 12, 2015
Quote of the week
Larry Summers at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street
“If the day ever comes where Bitcoin counts for an appreciable fraction of commerce that takes place in the world economy, on that day it will be because that commerce is regulated and subject to safeguards and people believe that something other than a mathematical algorithm is ensuring that their money will not be stolen.”