Executives of Korean Exchange Sentenced to Jail for Faking Volumes

Executives of Korean Exchange Sentenced to Jail for Faking VolumesTwo executives of a South Korean cryptocurrency exchange have reportedly been sentenced to jail for inflating trading volumes on their exchange. The pair allegedly used a bot to fake large orders in both cryptocurrencies and Korean won. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations Prison Sentences Two executives of South […]

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Chile to Start Taxing Cryptocurrency Earnings in Second Quarter of 2019

Chile to Start Taxing Cryptocurrency Earnings in Second Quarter of 2019Chile is to start taxing cryptocurrencies in April, when taxpayers pay their yearly income taxes, but it’s unclear at what rate. According to local media reports, the country’s revenue authority has included crypto assets in the Annual Income Tax Returns form, which will be declared as “other own income and/or third-party income from companies that […]

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Report: Bitcoin Use on Darknet Markets Doubled in 2018

Report: Bitcoin Use on Darknet Marketplaces Doubled Throughout 2018Bitcoin use on darknet markets (DNMs) doubled in 2018, a study has shown, rising to an average of $2 million per day. Bitcoin has long been used to buy goods on the darknet due to its relative anonymity, and looks set to remain a favorite on DNMs, despite the existence of more privacy-focused cryptocurrencies. Also […]

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Haven, a New App From OB1, Lets Users Chat, Shop and Send Crypto Privately

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Blockchain startup OB1, the developers of decentralized shopping platform OpenBazaar, have announced Haven, a privacy-focused app for socializing with friends and making purchases with cryptocurrencies.

The project was announced by Brian Hoffman, founder and CEO of OB1, at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami. The developers claim that Haven will “enable users to shop, chat, and send cryptocurrencies privately from their mobile device.”

The ability to chat with friends and family on social networks has been tainted with data breaches and reports of the networks tracking user activity and selling collected data to third parties.

According to a company announcement, Haven will have a little bit of everything. It will “combine a multiple-cryptocurrency wallet, a social network and a truly peer-to-peer marketplace” for an inclusive economy and global participation with a focus on privacy.

Users can set up an e-commerce store using just their smartphones. They can also purchase items through the marketplace using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. To speed up the shopping process, Haven features a multi-wallet where you can keep, receive and send the four cryptocurrencies supported on the platform: bitcoin, bitcoin cash, zcoin and litecoin.

Haven comes with a social feed, complete with features that allow users to share, like, comment and repost, prominent on the app.

To ensure a secure shopping experience, Haven leverages the OpenBazaar software and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized and distributed file storage system.

OpenBazaar is an open source project for building decentralized e-commerce stores that doesn’t require go-betweens to function. Think of it as an eBay without fees.

“We believe users should be in control of their own data and are inspired by how cryptocurrencies allow them to trade with one another around the world. Users can connect this way now without needing access to traditional payment processors or using giant e-commerce platforms that collect all their personal data,” Hoffman explained in the company announcement.

“Haven is OB1’s most advanced project representing our mission to bring a convenient but private social marketplace experience to users.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Binance Expands Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange Into Europe Via Jersey

Binance Expands Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange Into Europe Via Jersey

Binance’s cryptocurrency exchange platform has expanded into the European market with its entry into the Island of Jersey, a self-governing dependency of Great Britain. Binance Jersey will allow trading of popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) against the euro (EUR) and the British pound (GBP).

The exchange will launch with four trading pairs, including BTC/GBP, ETH/GBP, BTC/EUR and ETH/EUR.

In a statement, Wei Zhou, Binance’s chief financial officer, called the island “an undisputed pioneer in blockchain development leveraged by this strong framework and talent pool.”

He added: “Binance Jersey hopes to increase Jersey’s competitive advantage in banking from other jurisdictions competing for cryptocurrency-related business as the island’s cryptocurrency regulation allows.”

Binance and Digital Jersey first partnered in June 2018, with both companies signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) such that Binance could “develop a compliance base and cryptocurrency exchange in Jersey.” The partnership was also meant to help Binance develop a better understanding of the regulatory and economic environment of Jersey Island, particularly with compliance with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) laws.

At the time, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao explained why they chose Jersey as their latest destination. “We have chosen Jersey to be the next big step in our global expansion strategy for its clear and pro-crypto investment and regulatory environment. With its local economy based on a major currency (GBP), and its proximity to the UK and Western Europe, we are confident the cooperation with Jersey will not only benefit the local economy, but also form a strong operational foundation for our expansion into the rest of Europe.”

Jersey is not part of the EU; however, it maintains a special relationship with the EU through the U.K. It is only regarded as being a part of the European Union for trade in goods; otherwise the Island is not a part of the EU. (Its formal relationship is set out in Protocol 3 of the U.K.’s 1972 Accession Treaty.) The island has made its intention known to Great Britain that, post-Brexit, it intends to preserve its relationship with the European Union, as well as with the United Kingdom.

Jersey could serve as a contingency plan post-Brexit for Binance, following in the footsteps of Coinbase, which opened a Dublin office last year. Binance officials were unavailable to elaborate on these potential plans.

Registration on Binance Jersey started immediately, as Zhao noted in a tweet:

“Binance.je is overwhelmed with registrations. There is a backlog of KYC verifications already. More resources are allocated to reduce it. In the mean time, we appreciate your understanding and patience. The registration prize is FIFO based, no worries. Just crazy!”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Living on Bitcoin Day 4: The Uphill Climb

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I woke up in a state of amazement: In my three days of living on bitcoin, I had managed to survive on a handful of services and the generosity of friends.

Hungry for any place that would let me spend it, I was more determined than ever to call up every single store in the Bay Area that might accept bitcoin. A few, like Bamboo Asia and Ramen Underground, were closed yesterday, so I still had a small, if shrinking, beacon of light at the end of a tunnel of rejection.

Most places weren’t open yet, so I had a call with my editor, who was keen to hear about how it had been both too simple and hopelessly difficult.

“Well hey, there’s the angle,” she suggested.

It was an angle, but it was also a dead end of sorts. I needed to find someplace to finally spend my bitcoin to make my day-to-day purchases different for a change (though going shop-to-shop in unsuccessful attempts to spend it and acting like a hungry lunatic on Haight street could also be considered “something different”).

A bit of work, a bit of coffee, a bit of social media trumpeting and it’s 11:00 a.m. Excited by the prospect of hopefully going out for lunch for once this week, I called up Bamboo Asia first.

“Hello, is this Bamboo Asia?”

“Yes it is,” a woman responded over the phone.

“Do y’all still accept bitcoin?”

“What?”

“Do you still take bitcoin?”

“Bit … coin?” she stuttered, a bit confused.

“I take that as a no, then?”

“No.”

“Okay, thank you,” I hung up.

Strike one.

Next up: Ramen Underground:

“Yes, hello, do you take bitcoin?”

“Bit what?”

“Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency.”

“Oh. No.”

Strike 2.

Then, I dialed Numa, a sushi joint that had slipped through yesterday’s round of solicitations:

“Do you accept bitcoin?”

“Do we have corn?”

Uh, no.

“No, no, do you take bitcoin — as a method for payment?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what that is,” she said hesitantly.

“It’s internet money. It —”

“Oh, no, no, no — no, not that, sorry.” She quickly cut me off.

Strike 3.

Well, in reality, there were many more strikes than that. I even called Siegel’s Clothing Superstore and Tuxedo, just for hell of it.

Over the phone, the question like an incessant recording (at this point, everytime I ask, I close my eyes and squinch my face up in embarrassed anticipation for the answer).

“I — I don’t think so, but let me check — can you hold on a minute?”

“Absolutely,” I answer, excited at the prospect of potentially something to go on.

“For the current sale, I’m sorry, no, they don’t accept bitcoin. No Apple Pay. Just Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and, of course, U.S. cash.”

Yep, I expected as much.

There was one last hope, but I was beginning to doubt that even Stookey’s, a bar I’d been told takes bitcoin by someone other than Google, would take it. If all else fails, maybe I’ll get to spend it there — eventually.


As night rolled around, I got ready to transition to the Crypto Castle. Queen Liz had granted me two night’s stay: On Tuesday, I’d be on the couches upstairs, but for Monday, I’d be sleeping in Jeremy’s room.

Oh. Ok.

The gesture took me aback for a second but it made sense for the bohemian-tech aesthetic that the house has going for it. That I would sleep in a millionaire’s bed one night and then a couch the next was humorous and exotic in a very benign way to me.

It was a short walk from Christian’s apartment, only half a mile, but distance can be deceiving when San Francisco’s hills tack on a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. Lugging my belongings in a 50-gallon hiking backpack, my daypack slung over my right shoulder, I schlepped myself up the hills that were sloping at a crazy 45 degrees.

I was partially heaving when I topped the hill, turned right on Kansas Street and stopped in front of the castle’s telltale blue door with a “Bitcoin Prefered Here” sticker in the window. I pressed the buzzer.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Colin — the Bitcoin journalist,” I responded, and soon heard the door’s unlatching click.

Hans, an Italian expat developer with a machine-learning background who’s relatively new to the space, let me in. He has rich olive skin and curly black hair, and an apprehensive but affable personality.

We walked over to Jeremy’s room as Hans recapped some of what Liz had told me.

“I’m finishing up some work right now, do you mind?” he asked as we entered the room. Apparently, Jeremy’s room is a free-for-all space; he would likely have it no other way.

“Of course not — work away,” I told him. I mean, it’s not really my place to dictate what he can and can’t do in a room that isn’t mine to begin with.

The in-and-out style of the house’s residents made for some brisk but pleasant introductions. I would meet Teddy, a tall, lanky and balding Ethereum-to-EOS developer who works with Hans. He’s a bit jumpy and is into Soylent (and keeps offering me some to drink). Diego, another developer who used to play soccer at Boston College, would also come through with Kingsley, an Australian venture capitalist.


I posted up upstairs and did some work, shot the bull with Crypto Castle denizens and made plans for the rest of the week. I also reviewed Kashmir Hill’s 2014 living on bitcoin series. She had held on to some of her coins (she had a few left) and they had appreciated in value from 2013 to 2014.

Her second series is even more entertaining than the first. With her bitcoins’ increased purchasing power, she could access more exotic experiences: She spends it on winery tours, a nice (boy, I mean nice) dinner and even a riotous strip club experience.

Reading her accounts, I feel a wave of envy and the sense of a missed opportunity. She had so many more ways to spend her bitcoin; in reality, five years later, my bitcoin doesn’t have the same reach and San Francisco has basically zero merchant presence. Even if I had 2–3 bitcoin like her at the time of this experiment, I wouldn’t have a way to spend it (unless I wanted to drop it on bottles at Monarch, but that’s not really my scene).

Toward the end of the day, the reality that I hadn’t had one, in-person exchange with a merchant of any kind deeply depressed me.

Why the hell am I even doing this, and why I am spending so much money here?

I could be doing this anywhere. I could be doing this back home. Even there — in little ol’ Nashville with its tinkertoy tech scene — I could have at least bought dinner at Flyte, the only restaurant in town to accept BTC. But it’s a pricey dine, so by the time the week was up I would have been out a month’s rent (or a week’s rent in San Francisco).

Dinnertime approaching, I decided to use a Whole Foods gift card to stock up on provisions. It was a five-minute walk from the castle, and Kashmir had used gift cards she purchased from Gyft on her second go-around, so I thought it was permissible to buy one off of Bitrefill myself.

At least I could tear into the San Francisco Whole Foods’ hot and cold takeaway bars, an unmatched cornucopia of grocery store self-serves. Turkey pot pie, steak fries, tabouli, butternut squash, kale salad, chicken salad, couscous, shrimp, croquettes, yams, all crammed into the brown to-go box. I also got some Peet’s coffee and almond croissants for the house (should have gone for whole bean because of course this house would also have a grinder).

While the young woman at the counter dealt with the somewhat clunky process of redeeming my gift card — after I’d had to go through the even clunkier process of buying bitcoin before buying said gift card before being able to buy the groceries in store — something Hill observes in her article resonated with me.

The process was more time consuming and labor intensive than paying in fiat, but it was also liberating in its own way.

Bitcoin had provided me the opportunity to purchase those groceries, just as it had allowed me to buy all my Uber Eats food up till now. The merchant/drivers didn’t know where the credit came from, nor where or how it was bought.

For Uber, KYC is a given. But with gift cards, you can use bitcoin to transact in near complete anonymity. You can bank like a ghost if you want, and you can buy most everything you need without leaving a trail of credit or debit. Like cash, bitcoin can be used as an anonymous transfer of value — you just need to transmute it into a different payment method for real-world use first. If you want to increase your anonymity, you can take steps to mask your network activity. (e.g., I started using the privacy-focused Samourai wallet on the fourth day after my BRD wallet became too unreliable).

With these thoughts, I returned home (unfortunately, uphill again). After hanging with the castle’s crew and eating my meal, I took my rest in the bed of a guy who probably didn’t even know I was sleeping there but would doubtless not care.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

This Bitcoin Startup Is Working on Free Speech Alternatives to Patreon

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Patreon has been making the case for censorship-resistant money increasingly apparent.

The platform allows members to contribute to artists or creators that they support. These contributions are made via standard payment methods like credit cards.

Over the past few months, there has been an increase in public outcry over multiple separate instances where Patreon has removed creators from its platform. BitPatron, a Bitcoin-friendly version of the website, has recently come to the surface as a possible alternative.

A Series of Bans

One of the first well-known bans dates back to August 2018 when James Allsup, a far-right political commentator, was banned from the funding platform.

In December, a wave of media attention ensued when another alt-right activist and spokesperson, Milo Yiannopoulos, was shut down almost 24 hours after he had set up an account to fund his “magnificent 2019 comeback tour.” Patreon’s reasoning for removing Yiannopoulos’s account was due to his past association with the Proud Boys, a violent, far-right political group (whose founders were kicked off of Facebook and Twitter recently as well).

Only a day after Yiannopoulos’s ban, British YouTuber Sargon of Akkad had his account removed for violating Patreon’s hate speech guidelines by making racist and hateful remarks toward minority groups.

Another notable example occurred when Patreon had to close an account against their will when Mastercard required them to remove the account of Robert Spencer, a political activist and author of several “counter-Jihad” books.

In response to Spencer’s removal and other account bans, Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and David Rubin, creator and host of The Rubin Report, announced they were leaving Patreon because of the way that the platform has handled these situations.

Bitcoin and BitPatron

Bitcoin is a censorship-resistant currency. One of its many valuable attributes is that nobody can tell anyone what they can or cannot do with their bitcoin. As long as someone is able to receive bitcoin (which, by design, is very easy to do), no transaction from anywhere can be stopped.

BitPatron is a direct response to Patreon’s proclivity to censor content on the platform. It will offer a similar crowdfunding platform as its predecessor, but will allow users to support creators with bitcoin.

By using Bitcoin and Lightning as payment methods, BitPatron expects to offer lower fees than its competitor. BitPatron’s payment processing system is built on top of BTCPayServer, an open-source payment processor for Bitcoin and Lightning. According to the website, there is no minimum pledge amount, compared to Patreon’s $1 minimum. Total fees for the platform are 4 percent, much lower than Patreon’s 10 percent.

The platform’s co-founder believes that, more than just offering users a lower fee competitor to Patreon, BitPatron’s focus on bitcoin is about free speech.

“Patreon publicly admitted that Mastercard required them to remove accounts. This is where Bitcoin and BitPatron come in. Bitcoin is censorship-resistant, free-speech money, and BitPatron is taking a leading role at building a Bitcoin-based, censorship-resistant platform that gives the power back to the community where it belongs,” Vin, co-founder of BitPatron, told Bitcoin Magazine.

But BitPatron is still not a completely, “anything goes” platform yet. A spokesperson for the company told Bitcoin Magazine: “For now, we are planning to monitor and block only in extreme cases, such as illegal pornography, threats or calls for violence, or terrorism-related content.

He added that ideally, in its purest form there would be no centralized control, but there’d be some sort of decentralized algorithm to perform the necessary checks. “That’s why we are considering blockchain platforms that would allow users to self-host their content and be responsible for it.

“We want to remain a platform for every voice, which is, in our opinion, a far greater task than monitoring ‘hate speech.’ We therefore need to make sure that the platform remains interesting for voices of the entire spectrum.”

Who Is It For?

BitPatron will first allow podcasters and video creators to offer exclusive content to their supporters, and it also has plans integrate with Discord groups to support chat rooms.

In the bigger picture, a platform like BitPatron could support content creators from all walks of media. It is a platform where people receive financial support from others all across the world in a seamless and instant way with a censorship-resistant currency.

According to the platform, the public beta will go live next month.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.