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Bitcoin: the future of payments

The implications of bitcoin’s effect on consumer finance, investment and banking are not fully understood, a new report from Innopay suggests.
(CoinDesk) The payments and transaction service consulting firm explored the nature of digital currency and its impact on a broad range of market sectors, tapping everyone from European central bankers to core members of the bitcoin community for insight. At its heart, the Innopay report points to a broad awakening within the global economy to the benefits of bitcoin and its underlying technology, but acknowledges that ignition remains held back by and large.
Apprehension about the security and stability of bitcoin, especially among banks, large companies and a broader subset of consumers keeps the clear benefits of digital currencies from achieving mainstream usage. The experts interviewed by Innopay agree that bitcoin will deeply affect how people transact with one another, but remained split on how digital currency technology will manifest in the years ahead.
Economist and CoinDesk contributor Tuur Demeester told Innopay:
“Just like the Internet has broken open the information market, one can expect the same paradigm shift to occur with cryptocurrencies on the financial market.”
Digital currencies were also seen through the lens of regional financial crises, consumer technology and the future of the internet. The rules of global finance, the Innopay report explores, could be fundamentally rewritten by the likes of bitcoin and other currencies.

Payments networks revisioned with bitcoin

One area explored in the report is the concept that bitcoin can change how businesses and consumers pay one another. At the center of this, Innopay notes, is the change in how financial parties trust one another. The evolving nature of this trust structure carries the potential for significant benefits – and complications.
As Demeester remarked, the number of bitcoin transactions continues to grow steadily but this fact does not preclude traditional payments networks from maintaining a significant role by comparison. However, he said that many of the core services offered by banks may be facilitated more cheaply and efficiently with digital currencies, suggesting that banks are at risk of market loss for their inaction.
He said:
“The traditional financial system is being challenged to step up their game in terms of efficiency because the bitcoin environment is removing middlemen.”
Others who spoke with Innopay were less convinced.
Kim Gunnink, an official with the Dutch Central Bank’s Payments Systems Policy Department, said that the central bank views bitcoin usage today as “a fad”. Gunnink argues that bitcoin’s performance as a type of money is poor overall, citing its fluctuating value as a critical flaw that makes it ineffective as both a unit of account and a store of value. As well, the official said that the future of bitcoin transaction fees could pose a long-term issue.
On the other hand, Gunnink noted the growing influence of digital economies among businesses and consumers, leaving the door open for the technology to grow in usage. Gunnink added that the addition of new services and avenues for digital currency acquisition would ease adoption, saying:
“Cryptocurrencies could be gaining ground in the field of cross-currency payments, as a growing payment method for global online purchases or peer-to-person payments. To what extent this growth will become a reality is still unclear.”

Why bitcoin is held back

Innopay’s report also confirmed what many other observers have said about the barriers to bitcoin’s success. A mixture of uncertain regulation, poor consumer information and complicated means to acquire bitcoin makes it difficult for broader use to take off.
Dave Birch, a director for IT advisory firm Consult Hyperion, remarked that governments remain cautious about passing definitive legislation about bitcoin because they both lack understanding of its underlying technology and fear missing out on future tax revenue. However, he predicted that governments will eventually see bitcoin’s potential to create “a dynamic and efficient economy”.
A lack of bank participation makes the situation even more untenable, but according to the report, bitcoin technology may one day find a strong ally in the global banking sector. Owing to the need to update legacy money networks worldwide – and the possible erosion of their core services – banks may have little choice but to embrace bitcoin.
However, it’s likely that this shift will manifest in the utilization of the protocol itself rather than bitcoin or another digital currency. But this isn’t necessarily a problem for bitcoin, as Innopay itself notes in the report’s conclusion:
“The quest to find better ways to do transactions often leads to innovations that open up opportunities, like we have seen in other industries and with other technologies.”

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Google update now supports Bitcoin price in search results!

Following suit of Microsoft’s Bing, Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has now added live bitcoin prices into its search results for the digital currency.
The update, which was confirmed just hours ago by a member of the Google team, also provides functionality to mobile users on their smart phones and tablets as well:
The Google spokesperson told CoinDesk:
“You can also ask Google to do conversions – if you have the Google Search app on your smartphone, for example, ask it, ‘How many bitcoin are in 500 U.S. dollars?’ and you’ll get the answer in a handy conversion tool.”
Google’s decision to add a live bitcoin price to its general search results for the digital currency comes just several weeks after both Yahoo Finance and Bing decided to add the price into their results. Though Bing was the first to do so, adding the result into its query back in mid-February. 
FEATURES
Now, with the simple query of the keyword “bitcoin price,” you can quickly catch up to the minute results on the digital currency’s latest value.
The feature takes it one step further, allowing users to punch in different amounts of the digital currency, working as a bitcoin calculator so to speak. Google’s bitcoin price results also include a price chart, going as far back as to 2011 in displaying the digital currency’s progression throughout the years.
Google’s latest upgrade does; however, come with a disclaimer as does many of its price charts, disclosing that in terms of real-time results, investors should not solely rely on the indicator and should always seek outside advice or guidance before making investment decisions.

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LinkedIn co-founder: Bitcoin is in my five-year Investment plan

LinkedIn co-founder, early Facebook investor and Greylock Partners partner Reid Hoffman has declared his enthusiasm for bitcoin in a new interview with CNBC’s ‘Squawk Alley’.
The interview aimed to assess Hoffman’s current opinion of opportunities in the market given his experience and success in early social media.
Notably, despite the suggestions by show hosts that such industries as wearable technology, healthcare and home automation were areas that investors should be considering for investment over the next three-to-five years, Hoffman suggested he is increasingly focused on bitcoin.
Indicating that the ecosystem has piqued his interest in the last six to 12 months, Hoffman lauded bitcoin, saying:
“I think it’s an incredible system that’s created a ledger that is across – a distributed ledger across the whole world for it can be money but it can also be other things.”
Hoffman recently joined the board of directors at secure bitcoin wallet startup Xapo, an announcement that was made when the company reported $20m in new financing from firms including Greylock Parnters.
Bitcoin ownership.
In the interview, Hoffman discussed his personal experience with bitcoin, confirming that he has purchased “a few bitcoins” to date in addition to his investment in Xapo.
Hoffman also dismissed suggestions that he may be worried about the price of bitcoin given the volatility that this indicator has experienced so far in 2014.
He added:
“I don’t check [the price] every day. It’s more a question of a three- to five-year horizon, not a daily horizon.”
Despite this, Hoffman cautioned investors, echoing the familiar refrain that investors shouldn’t put any money into bitcoin directly unless they are “willing to lose the money”.
Platform for innovation
Hoffman further stressed that bitcoin’s true innovation will be its platform, which he called its “most interesting layer”.
Citing smart contracts as one such example of the innovation bitcoin entrepreneurs have yet to fully unlock, Hoffman said:
“You can have bitcoin stand for something that isn’t just a bitcoin. […] It could mean your car. So then your car could be accounted for on a general ledger that is then – you know, can let you do electronic contracts. you could put liens against it, moving it all into the electronic age.”
For more on bitcoin and its potential applications in the field of smart property, read coindesk report here.

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The great unknown Bitcoin killer app

(BitBlogger) It’s cliched at this point to say that bitcoin now is the internet in 1994 or cell phones in 1998 or the television in 1950. Many people have made the prediction that the exponential growth of bitcoin is about to come and I happen to agree. What’s interesting about the current state of bitcoin isn’t merely that there is huge growth ahead, it’s that we have no idea what the growth is going to look like.

Take, for instance, the internet. Around 1994, the people that did anything on the internet at all were using it mostly for email. Some more savvy users maybe participated in newsgroups. A few very bleeding-edge people made web pages. You could have foreseen that there would be better versions of those things. What you couldn’t foresee was stuff like VOIP, Bittorrent, video on demand or social networks. These are all technologies built on top of the internet and currently take up a large part of the traffic that goes through it.
Email for most people in the 90′s was the first great killer app. It allowed people to communicate with each other without sending letters or making phone calls. Most people that knew about the internet in the early 90′s pointed to the post office as the first industry to get disrupted by the internet and to some degree they were right. What most people didn’t see back then was that the internet would also disrupt the music store, the video rental store and to some degree, even the book store. In the same way, for most people bitcoin is a way to send money easily, so they point to Western Union and other money transmission businesses as the ones that will get disrupted. To a large degree they’re right, but it’s not the only one that’ll get disrupted.
Think about the cell phone. It was fairly obvious that it would disrupt the corner telephone booth. But it’s also disrupted the low end camera/camcorder industry, the watch industry, the mobile gaming industry, the audio book industry, etc. Cell phones are so much more than a phone these days.
In the same way, bitcoin is much more than a convenient method to transfer money. There will be applications that nobody has thought of yet that will make bitcoin incredibly useful. Furthermore, these new applications will cause further adoption.

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A cashless society, in three years ATMs in all majot cities will accepting cryptocurrencies

The consumer financial services company based in North Palm Beach, Florida, Bankrate, predicts that within three years, ATMs in all major cities will accepting digital currencies such as bitcoin.

The report, which assesses the future functionalities likely to be provided by the ATMs of tomorrow, focuses on how mobile payment solutions will play a significant role in terms of the next generation of banking.

With ATMs becoming increasingly flexible when its comes to meeting the needs of customers, Senior Vice President Tom Ormseth of the Chicago-based bank holding company Wintrust Financial says that “banks now need to think like Google, they’ve got to quit being slow adopters.”


INNOVATION ON THE RISE
The ATMs of today now let you talk to a teller on video, make cash withdrawals via your smartphone, and in many cases let you withdrawal as littles a $1. In essence, the need for physically located banks are becoming less necessary with time, which is why many are saying that the ATMs of tomorrow could replace banks all together. A threat that the advent of bitcoin has only made greater.

According to Jay Weber, vice president of debit and ATM product solutions at the Jacksonville, Fla ATMs have long been viewed as nothing more than a tool for withdrawing cash on the fly; however, he says that now, the technology is being driven by a younger, more tech-savvy demographic.

The emergence of cardless ATMs, for instance, which are starting to pop-up in major cities throughout the world thanks to the Chicago-based Wintrust Financial group, allow customers to withdrawal cash through your phone without the need for a physical debit card.

Working much like the emerging bitcoin ATMs, you simply request a withdrawal, then within eight seconds, your money is there waiting for you at your local ATM.
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

According to Frank Natoli, chief innovation officer at Diebold, the banking industry, once seen as a conservative sector is quickly moving ahead. He further predicts, that thanks to the emergence of mobile banking alternatives, using your smartphone to transact will become even more seamless.

Acording to Natoli:
“Within three years, ATMs in major cities also will accept alternative currencies like bitcoin […] a digital currency that exists only in cyberspace, [that] already is starting to get its own ATMs worldwide. And mobile transactions are more appealing to bitcoin users.”


Natoli tells Bankrate that these ATMs are going to play a major role in the next generation of banking, and according to him, will aid in the progression towards “branchless banks.”

While Natoli points out that today’s ATMs can only do 70% percent of what a teller can do, he predicts that this is a void destined to be filled by the new waves of ATMs. 


The incentives are all there, as on the banks behalf, the expense of running a physical network of branches can be virtually eliminated with the adoption of this new technology. According to the report:

“As consumers increasingly bank on mobile devices and online, more branches will be shuttered, leaving ATMs to do more daily heavy lifting.”

As the senior analyst at Aite Group, David Albertazzi explains, “it’s about rethinking and redefining the branch network.” 

A CASHLESS SOCIETY
As Wintrust’s Ormseth explains:
“These futuristic ATMs are destined to become bank must-haves. Better security measures such as voice recognition or even biometrics, where you can use your fingerprint to prove your identity, will become commonplace at ATMs too.”

As for whats at stake, echoing Ormseth’s predictions, Maclyn Clouse, professor of finance at the University of Denver also believes that given the separation between new technology and old, banks, especially smaller local banks, could soon be left behind. “A lot of transactions will be done on the ATM, which big banks can roll out more profitably than smaller banks,” he told Bankrate.

What will the ATMs of tomorrow look like? According to Clouse — cashless.

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bitcoin etf

How the Bitcoin landscape is evolving in 2014

The bitcoin landscape is evolving so rapidly that it’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the year.
bitcoin trends 2014

(CoinDesk) Like any new industry, there are so many areas to explore in the bitcoin space that sometimes make a week’s worth of developmentsit feel like a month or two have gone by.

Bitcoin has certainly seen a lot of action in 2014. The collapse of Mt. Gox, hefty venture capital investments in bitcoin startups and the US government auction of 30,000 bitcoins seized from the Silk Road all generated buzz in the mainstream media.
CoinDesk’s recent State of Bitcoin Q2 2014 report highlights some of the key developments that have influenced bitcoin’s journey over the past few months, providing context for the digital currency’s ever-changing position in society.
While only time will tell what’s in store for bitcoin’s future, a number of trends have emerged in the industry this year that could shape the direction and velocity of bitcoin’s growth.
Here are five bitcoin trends that have emerged in the first half of 2014:

1. Big-name retailers jumping on board

The year started with a bang when Overstock became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin. News of Overstock’s success with the digital currency served as a signal for other large companies to follow suit.
Electronics retailer TigerDirect integrated bitcoin as a payment option by the end of January, and other household names like the Sacremento Kings, Lord & Taylor and REEDS Jewelers got on board soon after.
By the end of June, three companies with at least $2b in annual revenue had begun accepting bitcoin: DISHExpedia and Newegg.
With smaller businesses also continuing to accept bitcoin at a fervent pace, we estimate that around 100,000 merchants will accept bitcoin by the end of 2014:
Figure 6: Bitcoin Accepting Merchants - Total Current and Forecasted 2014 Year End

State of Bitcoin Q2 2014

2. A warming regulatory climate

While it certainly hasn’t been all smooth sailing between governments and bitcointhis year, it seems like tides are changing and regulators around the world are starting to take a more open-minded approach to the digital currency.
In the beginning of 2014, China’s stance on bitcoin was ambiguous at best. By April, China’s Central Bank Governor said that banning bitcoin was “out of the question,” referring to it as more of an asset than a currency.
Russia, after releasing stern warnings about bitcoin early this year, recently reconsidered its stance on the digital currency.
Gerogy Luntovsky, the deputy chairman of Bank of Russia, explained that his agency is going to take time to examine bitcoin as the industry continues to evolve:
“At this stage, we need to watch how the situation develops with these kinds of currencies. These instruments should not be rejected.”
Progress has also been made in places like California, where Governor Jerry Brown has granted bitcoin ‘legal money’ status, and Switzerland, where similar ‘legal money’ regulations are being considered.
Regulators seem increasingly willing to hold off on impulsive legislation in favor of working with the bitcoin community to find the best resolutions to prevent money laundering and fraud without stifling innovation.

3. VC firms keep betting big

Not everybody is as slow as governments to embrace bitcoin.
Serious venture capital investments in bitcoin companies were already taking place in 2013, but VCs have certainly kicked it up this year, with a total of $150m having already been invested in 2014.
With 2014′s Q2 VC investments reaching $73m (up from $57m in Q1), CoinDesk estimates that by the year’s end, 2014 VC investments in bitcoin companies will have surpassed 1995 VC investments in Internet companies:
Bitcoin VC Investment Compared to the Early Internet

State of Bitcoin Q2 2014

The venture capital flowing into the bitcoin space supports the industry’s infrastructure both explicitly and implicitly: startups gain access to resources that allow them to build much-needed products and services around the Bitcoin protocol, and the investors’ confidence in the digital currency brings legitimacy to bitcoin’s reputation.

4. Building on the block chain

Most people who take the time to really learn about bitcoin realize that the true genius in Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention is not the coins themselves, but rather the block chain.
The term ‘Bitcoin 2.0′ is often used to describe applications that use the technology of the block chain to address issues like smart contracts and identity verification that were once impossible to solve in a decentralized way on the Internet.
Jeff Garzik, one of the bitcoin protocol’s core developers, described the significance of the block chain beyond the scope of digital currencies:
“As a computer scientist, and in computer science in general, when you talked about building distributed systems, there tended to be a purely theoretical view about how computers would talk to each other, how to keep them coordinated. Satoshi and the blockchain really solved that problem in an elegant and unexpected way.”
Block chain-focused startups like BlockScore and BlockCypher have already secured funding this year from investors. As 2014 rolls on, expect to see new uses of the block chain technology solving problems in a uniquely decentralized manner.

5. New emphasis on transparency

The collapse of Mt. Gox, once the biggest bitcoin exchange in the market, was a wake-up call to many in the community.
The former exchange’s CEO Mark Karpeles was notoriously opaque in the months leading to its bankruptcy, causing confusion among users who held bitcoins on Gox.
Ultimately many people lost BTC through the course of Mt. Gox’s downfall. Outcries from the community started pouring in, demanding other big exchanges prove their solvency with professional audits.
Exchanges like BitstampKraken and Coinbase all agreed to be audited in the aftermath of Mt. Gox’s liquidation.
The demand for more transparency in the industry doesn’t stop at exchange audits, though. Revered bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos recently took to Twitter to announce his departure from the Bitcoin Foundation, citing a lack of transparency as a primary concern:
If the first half of 2014 proves anything, it’s that the technology underlying bitcoin is resilient even under catastrophic circumstances (Mt. Gox), and that the community is willing to rally together in bringing bitcoin to mass adoption.
There’s a reason people call it the “honey badger of money.”

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Someone is giving away Bitcoin in San Francisco

The Hidden Cash treasure hunt phenomenon has gone digital.
Image: CoinDesk
(BusinessInsiderIn May, someone started hiding envelopes of cash all over San Francisco, and now someone is leaving bitcoin wallets around the city, sending people on a digital scavenger hunt.
The hunt is appropriately called @SFHiddenBitcoin
The wallets are aluminum cards, with a bitcoin address and corresponding private key that can be imported to the wallet of the person who finds the card. Each card is worth around $20, according to Coinbrief. But there’s no telling whether the prizes will remain consistent. 
The hunt will continue around the city at least for the entire month of July
Just like the original, Hidden Bitcoin leaves clues through its Twitter account. Once a wallet is found, it’s announced on Twitter and people have to wait till another clue is given.
And the bitcoin wallets are hidden all over the city — including, it appears, at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s house:
This isn’t the only scavenger hunt going on in the Bay Area right now, either. This weekend people with a valid medical marijuana card can participate in Quest Hunt, a cannabis scavenger hunt where the prize is, you guessed it, marijuana. 

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Does Dogecoin have the most active community?

(DailyDoge) Dogecoin, one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency has come a long way since it was first launched as a joke in December 2013. Its growth trajectory has been magnificently fast and the question that many Dogecoin fans have in mind is as follow: Is Dogecoin now the cryptocurrency with the most active community base?
Let’s try to answer these questions by looking at some community statistics with the help of CoinGecko. For this exercise, I will just compare Bitcoin against Dogecoin since from CoinGecko, it is fairly obvious that all the other altcoins are class below Dogecoin.
REDDIT
Based on subscriber count, at time of writing, /r/dogecoin has 87878 subscribers while /r/bitcoinhas 122885 subscribers. It seems like Dogecoin is 72% of Bitcoin’s subscriber count.
To look deeper into the involvement of Redditors just in case either of the coin bought some fake subscribers, we will count the average number of new posts and comments per hour that made it to the front page of the coin’s subreddit. The logic behind this is as follow: if there is a high subscriber count but no “real people” following the coin’s subreddit, there will be very little new posts and comments on the front page of the subreddit. So the post and comment count will be a good measure of community activity.
We can see that Dogecoin is pretty much on par with Bitcoin with 2.41 new hot posts versus 2.45 for Bitcoin.
As for comments, Dogecoin has 161 compared to Bitcoin’s 266 per hour. These values change quite drastically of course and I have seen Dogecoin average comments per hour reaching well over 1000 on a good day. Some may argue that this is probably because of Dogetipbot but I would say any coin is free to create their own tip bot and use tipping as a community tool.
Lastly, CoinGecko also measures number of Active Online Subscribers on the coin’s subreddit. For this, Bitcoin is a clear winner with 960 users over 390 users for Dogecoin.
Verdict: I would call this a slight win for Bitcoin
FACEBOOK
It is hard to get activity numbers for Facebook other than the Page Likes. Bitcoin has 22450 Likes versus 63380 Likes for Dogecoin.
To analyse further, it may be plausible to count the number of Pages and Groups that have the word “Bitcoin” and “Dogecoin” but this exercise would be much harder to measure.
Verdict: A clear win for Dogecoin
TWITTER
Measuring the follower count of the Twitter accounts of Dogecoin and Bitcoin, we will see that @dogecoin has 165084 followers compared to @bitcoin with 54747. Using this as the only measure we can say that this will point to a clear win for Dogecoin
Using Topsy to compare the number of tweets for Dogecoin and Bitcoin, we will see that Bitcoin has almost 8.5 times more tweets compared to Dogecoin
Verdict: I would give this to Bitcoin because Bitcoin’s Twitter activity is far superior compared to Dogecoin’s.
GOOGLE
Searching “bitcoin” on Google gave me 31.8 million results while searching “dogecoin” gave me 4.63 million results.
Using Google Trends, I can also see the trend on the number of Google searches for “bitcoin” and “dogecoin”. Again Bitcoin is a clear winner – people worldwide are more interested to find out about Bitcoin.
Verdict: A clear win for Bitcoin
FORUMS
This would be tricky to evaluate. Bitcoin has Bitcointalk as the official forum while Dogecoin has a few forums such as Discuss Dogecoin and Doges.org.
Bitcointalk now has 7260963 Posts in 310688 Topics by 327403 Members. Doges.org has 51499 Posts in 9245 Topics by 11028 Members.
Verdict: A clear win for Bitcoin
SO DOES THIS MEAN BITCOIN IS STILL THE CRYPTOCURRENCY WITH THE LARGEST COMMUNITY BASE?
I’m afraid to say that this is indeed true, fellow shibes. We are not the #1 cryptocurrency yet but we are catching up very fast with Bitcoin. On CoinGecko, we have beaten all the other altcoins in terms of community but we must not be complacent and work harder to be reach out to more people and help Dogecoin be the cryptocurrency with the best community!
ABOUT BOBBY CE ONG:
Bobby is the co-founder of CoinGecko, a cryptocurrency ranking website that looks at various metrics beyond market capitalization such as community involvement, developer activity and trading liquidity.

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New Zealand central banker: cryptocurrencies could supplant cash

Geoff Bascand, deputy governor and head of operations at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has said that digital currencies could one day evolve to supplant cash as we know it.
(CoinDesk) In a recent speech delivered to the Royal Numismatic Society in Wellington over the weekend, Bascand described digital currencies as a “challenge to the form and provenance” of money.
He outlined a number of advantages associated with digital currencies, along with the more or less usual list of concerns and risks.

Advantages and drawbacks

Bascand said digital currencies like bitcoin were created as an alternative means of payment and store of value, adding:

“[Bitcoin] is a very low cost payment method with strong security features and usable for cross-border transactions, making it advantageous in some regards relative to more traditional payment mechanisms.”

However, he also noted that cryptocurrencies still have a number of drawbacks, with few businesses accepting them as a form of payment and price volatility remaining a concern.
Bascand went to on explain how, if certain conditions are met, digital currencies could replace normal money:

“Key attributes of trust (that the ‘money’ gives rise to settlement of the obligation) and anonymity (it is often efficient for the sale/purchase parties not to have to identify one another) must be met, but if these can be accomplished reliably and sustainably, new technologies could supplant cash as we know it in years to come.”

Banks need to keep up

Bascand argued that central banks do not need to be overwhelmed by such innovations. Instead, they need to keep track of developments in the field and develop their regulatory and currency operations roles accordingly.
In this way, he said, they will manage to keep up with developments in technology and the evolving needs of the public.
Both the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Reserve Bank of Australia issued digital currency warnings late last year.
Apart from the carefully worded statement, regulators have taken any measures to curb or control the development of the bitcoin economy in the region.
Australia’s bitcoin business scene in particular seems to be thriving, and one company even launched on its stock exchange in June.

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Why Bitcoin may re-write banking practice

(BusinessTech) Bitcoin has grown from an experiment in digital cash to a vibrant,
global economy supporting multi-million dollar companies with a market
cap of $10 billion.

“While the road has been bumpy, and quite a rollercoaster ride, it is
still nascent and holds immense promise to change the world in
unprecedented ways,” said Simon de la Rouviere, speaking at the recent
Nedgroup Investments Cash Solutions Treasurers Conference.

“In 2013, the hockey-stick growth often found in the technology space
kicked off for Bitcoin, seeing adoption increase worldwide.”

De la Rouviere, a technology entrepreneur who develops cryptocurrency
applications, believes that Bitcoin’s global, public, distributed asset
ledger is a fundamental innovation that could upset various industries –
from banking to public records.

“Any business in the field of recording information fit into a ledger
that charges fees to be a middleman is at risk of becoming obsolete,”
he said.

As copy of Bitcoin’s ledger exists on every network participant’s
computer, and is continually updated, reconciled and synchronized in
real-time. Each member can make entries into the ledger, which records
transactions of a certain amount of currency from one participant to
another.

Each entry is propagated to the network, so that every copy on every
computer is updated near simultaneously and all copies of the ledger
remain synchronized.

“This blockchain technology could easily be adopted to work with
title deeds, physical keys, private equity, derivatives, escrow, dispute
mediation, passports, wills, domain names, and sim cards – to name but a
few,” De la Rouviere said.

The future

Looking farther ahead, the technology could potentially bring about a
new apolitical reserve currency that allows programs and machines to
own forms of value without the requirement of human intervention.

This could herald an almost sci-fi era, where machines earn their
keep by providing services to humanity at an even more cost-efficient,
break-even level than currently possible, De la Rouviere said.

“By thinking of Bitcoin not as a currency, but as a single solution
to a previously unsolved algorithmic problem in distributed systems,
colloquially known as the Byzantine Fault Tolerance, humanity can create
global systems of consensus powered by mathematics.”

Bitcoin is a grand experiment, currently at the forefront of showing
the equalizing force that the internet brought about. “It might still
one day fail,” he added, “but rest assured, it is spurring innovative
thinking across the board.”

Sean Segar, head of cash solutions at Nedgroup Investments, said that
while the bank  believes in staying abreast of trends or fads that may
affect the industry, “we have no plans to launch a Bitcoin fund”.

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