Today’s warning by the European Banking Authority for banks not to sell, hold or trade Bitcoin was reported as negative for Bitcoin in mainstream media. I think these media are wrong, the fact that even the EU is now asking for regulation of Bitcoin means that cryptocurrencies are actually getting much closer to a breakthrough than I had assumed just a few months ago.
I believe Bitcoin regulation will be needed in order for it to succeed, so I applaud the fact that more regulation will come soon. Only then the average Joe will start using Bitcoin, so they might as well start regulating it sooner than later.
Mainstream media are very biased in their Bitcoin reporting, it reminds me a bit of how they report about China: mainly negative, stereotypical stories make it into the media. Over the past weeks so many positive, important things have happened to Bitcoin that I feel that it’s coming close to a tipping point. But of course you don’t read these stories in your daily newspaper or on the national news. Therefore here an overview of some of the most important Bitcoin news stories from the past weeks, that show how far Bitcoin has come already.
California makes Bitcoin legal currency
Last week California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that makes “various forms of altnernative currency such as digital currency” legal in purchasing goods and transmitting payments. A major step for Bitcoin!
Russian may legalize Bitcoin
After basically banning Bitcoin a couple of months ago, Russia is seeing the light. Bank of Russia deputy chairman Luntovsky said this week that the Bank of Russia is ready to legalize Bitcoin. At a conference he said: “One can’t ignore this instrument, maybe this is the future”. However, “We advocate a careful approach to bitcoin and are monitoring the situation along with the Bank for International Settlements,”
Newegg accepts Bitcoin payments
Newegg, the multi-billion dollar online retailer of computer hardware and software started to accept Bitcoin this week. According to Newegg: “Our customers have been asking for Bitcoin as a payment option for months. We believe there is a pent-up demand just waiting to be served and we are happy to open this payment option to them.” Newegg is using Bitpay to convert its Bitcoin into traditional currency.
Winkelvoss Bitcoin Trust getting closer to launch
Wall Street can still not buy Bitcoin because there are no Bitcoin instruments available to them. Therefore it’s imperative that ETFs (electronically traded funds) come onto the market. The first one will most likely be the Winkelvoss ETF, because they (again) handed in an amended S-1 to the SEC. They also announced that the ETF will trade on the NASDAQ under the symbol COIN. Once this ETF will start trading I expect an immediate big increase in the Bitcoin price.
Successful US Bitcoin auction
The big news in Bitcoin land this week was the succesful auction of 30,000 BTC that the US government seized from Silk Road. Venture Capitalist Tim Draper turned out to be the winner of the auction, but he did not want to say how much he paid for them. The Bitcoin price had gone down after the auction was announced, but right after the auction was over it increased again to pre-auction levels. For me the auction is signficant not only because it was successful, but also because it signals that the US does not see Bitcoin as an illegal asset. If they would have seized drugs they certainly would not have auctioned it off!
South Korean payment processor Galaxia integrates Bitcoin
I have to admit that until a few days ago I never heard of Korean payment processor Galaxia, but after they announced that they will integrate Bitcoin most people in Bitcoin land will remember them. They are in the top 3 of largest payment processors in Korea and because of their Bitcoin integration Koreans can now pay in cryptocurrency on more than 10,000 domestic and international websites.
Bloomberg, Yahoo Finance and Google Finance add Bitcoin
A few weeks ago Bloomberg suddenly added Bitcoin to its terminals for financial professionals. An important prerequisite for traders to start paying attention to the cryptocurrency. And for people like me who don’t want to spend $3000 per month on real time financial news and data, both Yahoo Finance and Google Finance also added Bitcoin price data.
Apple allows Bitcoin wallets
When Apple started to ban Bitcoin wallets last year I was seriously thinking to switch back to Android, despite all the drawbacks for an Apple junkie like me. But it looks like that won’t be necessary anymore, because Apple changed its mind and started to allow Bitcoin wallets again. Great news for me and many other people who are married to the iOS infrastructure. Bitcoin now even appears in the official iPhone stock quotes app, but that’s likely because of the Yahoo Finance integration (Yahoo delivers the data for this app).
Bitpay and ESPN signed a 4-year deal to rename the college football bowl in St. Petersburg, FL to the Bitcoin Bowl. Heads off to Bitpay for not naming it Bitpay Bowl, because now a 100 million Americans will hear about the Bitcoin Bowl on ESPN. According to CryptoCoinNews the Bitcoin Bowl agreement has the potential to: “To win over a public still skeptical of digital currencies and to get some good headlines in a year marked by bad press for its falling price and bankruptcy scandals, Bitcoin promoters are turning to America’s favorite pastime – football.”
If you mined some Bitcoin a few years ago or spent a thousand dollars in 2010 or 2011 on Bitcoin, you would now be a (multi)millionaire. The problem is that if you keep your money in Bitcoin (as most would stilll do of course) you may suddenly have sleepless nights because you wonder how safe your Bitcoin really are in your online wallet. Several of my friends who intend to buy serious amounts of Bitcoin did not do so yet because of the same problem, they worry about the people stealing their coins. Of course you can keep them in paper wallets, but they can get lost and most non-techies don’t even understand what a paper wallet is yet.
Coinbase has now solved this problem with a new product called Vault. They will store your coins offline and withdrawals are time delayed, meaning that if someone threatens you and forces you to give them your pass codes they can’t access your money until after 48 hours. Also you can add multiple signatures to your account, so that you need more than one person’s password to access your money. An important product that will lead to a higher Bitcoin adoption.
MIT students all get $100 in Bitcoin
What happens if the smartest technical students would all get $100 worth of Bitcoin? We’ll find out, because all undergraduate MIT students will get $100 this fall when they arrive back on campus. The money for this was privately raised through MIT alumni and the Bitcoin community and will likely not only lead to more Bitcoin awareness but also to a lot of Bitcoin projects by MIT students.
Expedia allows Bitcoin payments
One of the largest online travel agencies, Expedia.com, now accepts Bitcoin as payment. To start with for hotel bookings only and only on its US site, but it’s a good start. Expedia uses Coinbase for its Bitcoin transactions. Expedia announced this week that the bookings in Bitcoin have exceeded their expectations.