Steam drops Bitcoin support

Washington-base game developer and distribution company Valve will cease to accept Bitcoin as a valid payment method on Steam due to high transaction fees but. The outfit may re-evaluate in the future.

In a blog post today, Valve said “Steam will no longer support Bitcoin as a payment method on our platform due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin.”

When the firm started accepting Bitcoin sometime ago the network transaction fees was roughly $0.20, in recent days this has reached around $20 making the purchase of games extremely expensive.

Back in April 2016 Valve partnered with BitPay to utilise their payment gateway enabling customers to pay in Bitcoin. They hoped it would provide a fast, cheap and alternative solution for emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil with no risk of chargeback fraud that comes with card payments. Fast forward today it has become the complete opposite in terms of the currency becoming an overly expensive method of payment.

Valve are stating they have no control over transaction fees due to BitPay automatically presetting them when generating invoices, which are automatically adjusted depending on network congestion.

“When checking out on Steam, a customer will transfer x amount of Bitcoin for the cost of the game, plus y amount of Bitcoin to cover the transaction fee charged by the Bitcoin network,” the company said. “The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can fluctuate considerably. This value has been increasing significantly.”

“At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option,” Valve said. “We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community at a later date.”

Valve added support for Steam purchases with bitcoin in 2016 as part of a partnership with company Bitpay.

In the last few months alone Blockchain technology has rapidly advanced with newer technologies, Valve may look into Ethereum which would offer a faster checkout process.

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Old money meets new: Revolut merges mobile banking with crypto trading

London-based mobile banking outfit Revolut is merging traditional day-to-day fiat spending with digital currencies, enabling customers to buy, sell, trade and hold cryptocurrencies including Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin in 130 currencies in what the firm claims to be a world first.

Aiming to fill the void between digital currencies and old money, customers who have an debit card attached to their Revolut account can purchase goods in real time and have the funds deducted from their accounts in fiat or crypto. More importantly small transactions such as paying for groceries at the supermarket, parking etc are encouraged and work seamlessly at very reasonable rates.

Now, spending Bitcoin with a debit card is nothing new, firms such as Xapo, CEX and CryptoPay have been providing this for some time. The key difference with Revolut is that customers are now be able to tap into extremely low exchange rates resulting in ‘fee-free’ transactions with real exchange rates in over 130 currencies.

Revolut also removes the inconsistencies associated with Bitcoin/ fiat conversions which can be time consuming and expensive, particularly when the exchange is operating in other jurisdictions. These exchanges charge anywhere from 5 percent to 10 percent per transaction whilst Revolut offers a fixed fee of just 1.5 percent.

Revolut’s platform launch comes as Bitcoin continues to blow past ATH’s like $10,000, fight for its legitimacy in the eyes of mainstream users and governments and prepares for futures trading this month. With the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approving Bitcoin futures, cryptocurrencies has grown up considerably since their less stellar dark web days and with services like Revolut now available are ready for mass adoption.

“Despite being one of the hottest trends in the world right now, getting exposure to cryptocurrency has notoriously been time-consuming and expensive,” Storonsky writes.

Nikolay Storonsky, the CEO of Revolut said at this years Techcrunch Disrupt conference in Berlin that users will be able to access the new cryptocurrency trading features on the app from this Thursday.

The company has an excellent track record when it comes to saving customers millions on foreign exchange fees, citing more than $160 million in customer savings since launch. The app is currently servicing over 1,000,000 users in Europe and is growing exponentially and now the company ready to roll out its mobile banking to the masses.

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Introducing ‘petro’ – A new oil-backed cryptocurrency being launched by Venezuela

In a daring attempt to boost Venezuela’s economy, the country’s president Nicolas Maduro has announced the introduction of a new cryptocurrency which will be backed-up by Venezuela’s oil reserves.

The currency, which is imaginatively called ‘petro’, was announced by the left-leaning leader on Sunday with an emphatic statement of “the 21st century has arrived.”

Critics may point to the lack of specifics in regard to how this cryptocurrency will function, but nonetheless, President Maduro was adamant that it will be a success during this televised statement.

During the broadcast, he added that “Venezuela will create a cryptocurrency” which will be backed by their natural reserves of oil, gas, gold and diamonds.

The president also referred to the US-led sanctions currently in place and how petro will help his country “make financial transactions and overcome the financial blockade.”

The announcement wasn’t met with universal acclaim however, with political opposition stating that such an act will have to overcome copious amounts of red tape before it becomes official.

oil gas
The “petro,” a cryptocurrency backed by oil, gas, gold, and diamond reserves.

This move further indicates that the sanctions towards Maduro’s government that were put in place by Pres. Trump’s administration earlier this year are hurting Venezuela’s economy. Those moves from the USA include sanctions on officials from the country, PDVSA executives and Venezuela’s debt issuance.

The bolivar, which is the current currency in the country, is at a weak point and the country is struggling to move money through international banks.

Optimism regarding President Maduro’s move has been muted, for many reasons, including his poor economic record.

The bolivar has been on a constant slide as of late, with government controls and the over printing of currency leading to a depreciation rate against the dollar of almost 60 per cent during the last month.

Poverty stricken natives aren’t overly positive about this announcement either, as many think that Maduro’s decisions are creating a complete economic bust.

Economist and opposition lawmaker Angel Alvarado told Reuters that his opinion of the president does not amount to much, adding: “It’s Maduro being a clown. This has no credibility.”

Fellow opposition lawmaker Jose Guerra added to the dissenting voices, telling Reuters that he can’t envisage any future for the cryptocurrency.

However, President Maduro has stated that he is trying his utmost to fight for his country in a monetary “war”.

The recent surge in other digital currency’s value (especially Bitcoin) have without a doubt influenced Maduro’s decision to make this move. Relations between Venezuela and the USA will most likely to continue to be tense, as Maduro looks for alternatives to boost his country’s economy.

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Block Asset Management launches world’s first crypto fund of funds

Block Asset Management has launched what is recognised as the world’s first cryptocurrency and blockchain ‘fund of funds’.

Led by Manuel E De Luque Muntaner and Kevin Ballard, the firm was founded earlier this year. The team of financial experts contribute over 100 years of experience in a variety of banking, asset, fund and compliance industries.

The fund offers investors hassle free investment across a highly sought after portfolio of cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects which are strategically chosen and have a combined AUM exceeding $500m.

“After a year of global market research, we realised that interest in the blockchain/crypto space is extremely high”, said founder and COO, Kevin Ballard.

“We knew that many funds exist in the crypto space, but most would clearly not pass any comprehensive, serious due diligence. However, relying on Block Asset Management’s team, we successfully completed months of extensive analysis of dozens of funds and eventually approved the best funds for inclusion in our fund”, said De Luque Muntaner, Block Asset Management’s CEO.

Investor demand in combination with early stage adoption of blockchain technology is what Block Asset Managment believe will dramatically increase its portfolios value.

The Fund’s management company, Block Asset Management S.à.r.l., is domiciled in Luxembourg and registered with the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF).

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Bitcoin surges to record high after developers halt SegWit2x proposal

  • Bitcoin was scheduled to upgrade mid November following SegWit2x proposal
  • Major bitcoin developers dropped their support for the upgrade
  • Developers behind SegWit2x announced today they are calling off plans

The Bitcoin block size increase has been suspended after the organisers behind the scaling proposal called off the attempt earlier today.

The news surged Bitcoin to a record high of $7737 with altcoins also seeing a rise in price.

segwit2x bitcoin

Mike Belshe, the CEO of BitGo who was one of the leaders of the SegWit2x proposal announced today that the proceeding could divide the Bitcoin community and set back its growth.

“Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x.”

You can read the full email here.

Segwit2x gained early support from startups and mining pools who seeked to increase the block size this month.

The email was also signed by other notable figures pushing for Swgwit2x – Mike Belshe, Wences Casares, Jihan Wu, Jeff Garzik, Peter Smith and Erik
Voorhees.

Although the increase has been halted for now, the group aims to increase the block size at a later date with more support.

Did you miss the news as it broke? Monitor the Bitcoin news as it happens using our real-time app.

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Interview with HelloGold CEO Robin Lee: Bringing Blockchain and Gold to millions of people across Asia.

Robin Lee CEO Hello Gold

Hello Gold is a Shariah compliant gold investment app that allows anyone to buy and sell Gold hassle free. Its built on the Ethereum Blockchain with an aim to help the millions of low to medium income people from emerging countries save in Gold as apposed to their unstable local currency.

We spoke with Robin Lee, the CEO of HelloGold(former CFO of the World Gold Council) to find out more since the successful token sale which raised 17,149 ETH.


Can you briefly explain what HelloGold is?

“The amount of money in a person’s wallet should not be a barrier to his ability to access financial products that the rich enjoy. HelloGold wants to remove affordability and accessibility from the equation through the democratisation and digitisation of financial saving and loan products using real assets starting with gold” Robin Lee CEO HelloGold.

HelloGold has created an easy way for mass market customers to preserve their wealth by buying gold through a secure mobile app

How do customers purchase Gold, do they have to buy HelloGold tokens? Or only in RM1?

HelloGold is currently only available in the Malaysian market – we have plans to expand in 2018. For our customers, there are 2 ways to buy gold:

HelloGold app customers can log in and buy gold 24/7 once they have cleared the KYC process and topped up the app with cash using online banking. Prices track global market spot price and are updated every 5 minutes throughout the day. App customers can buy from as little as RM1. Customers buy, store and sell the gold which is physically vaulted down in Singapore. They can also gift the gold to another account holder, have the gold physically delivered or take a collateralised loan against the gold.

For people that are comfortable using crypto currency, HelloGold has recently launched our gold-backed token (GBT). Each GBT is fully backed by 1g of PAMP 99.99% investment grade gold vaulted in Singapore. GBTs will be available for purchase directly from HelloGold over the next few months to enable us to gauge demand

Why is Blockchain technology needed for buying Gold? What benefits does it provide to the consumer?

HelloGold uses blockchain technology to provide 3 benefits:

Transparency

By publishing the smart contracts and incorporating a blockchain explorer (transaction navigator), it will be possible to review the full list of anonymised transactions and calculate the amount of gold that HelloGold is holding on behalf of customers. This, in turn, can be compared not only to the amount of gold published in the customer gold list (anonymised) but also against the records managed by our custodian.

Security

HelloGold has incorporated several security mechanisms to protect customer accounts. All connections are encrypted using HTTPS. Internal API calls between the core components are secured with additional secret keys and firewall rules that limit interactions between trusted systems. For external facing APIs, for example APIs used by our mobile application, the API calls are further secured with a combination of industry standard OAUTH and secure tokens for each mobile device. The addition of a distributed record adds a further level of security from internal and external attempts to alter account data without leaving an audit trail. The smart contracts are being developed with best practices in mind following constant review of public audit documents. This should ensure that customer accounts are true and accurate.

Access

In addition, the Ethereum smart contracts enable HelloGold to create GBT, tradeable on any exchange which accepts them.With HGF’s gold-backed token everyone will only need the equivalent of a fraction of a dollar to save through gold (GBT works to 18dp). This will make the HelloGold platform available to everyone anywhere in the world

Do you think HelloGold will change how we buy gold in the future?

We are only at the start of our journey to impact the lives of the underserved and unbanked in emerging economies. Since our public launch in April, HelloGold has changed the way for over 4,000 customers when it comes to wealth preservation by providing a modern, convenient and cost efficient access to gold.

We have ambitious plans to expand the use of the product with both new partners and into new markets, to change how more people are able to access affordable financial products that were previously only accessible to the wealthy

Can you share any future plans or partnerships ?

We outlined our expansion plans in the whitepaper that we wrote for the recent token sale, full details can be found there.

In short, HelloGold plans to expand into new geographic markets, specifically Thailand, China, Indonesia and Philippines plus expand the product with new features/technology, asset classes (eg silver/platinum), partners which will enable us to serve new customer segments.

We are also increasingly approached by potential partners in other regions like the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia as well as Africa to consider expansion into those markets.

Who’s your target market for the app?

The ultimate customers of HelloGold’s platform, are those are not well served by their existing financial institutions and the unbanked. Financial institutions already provide a variety of easy ways for the high net worth and mass affluent market segments to invest in assets like gold so that they can diversify risks at the portfolio level but they do not enable the less affluent customer the same access. HelloGold targets two key market segments: the consuming middle class and the emerging middle class. In ASEAN and China alone, these two groups comprise 55% of the total labour force of 814m people. They saved approx. $505b in 2016, of which we estimate that $212b was in cash deposits.

Why are you running HelloGold on the Ethereum Blockchain over other similar technologies ?

HelloGold is using Ethereum as it is currently the most widely accepted platform that offers all the benefits of a blockchain (full traceability, non-repudiability etc.) and multiple source language implementations that encourage integration. Ethereum will handle only the parts needing consensus, transparency and accountability. Other services will continue to be provided using existing technology.

HelloGold needs a transactional blockchain with a powerful system of smart contracts which have the ability to ensure that a transaction can combine with the results of previous transactions to provide auditable consistent results. To date, Ethereum is the only stable system that has achieved widespread adoption. The decades of experience of our senior development team tell us to avoid anything experimental to run a live system.

Will you be expanding into other metals such as Silver?

Yes. We intend to create other real asset-backed tokens over the next 12 months.

What are you looking forward to in the blockchain space in 2018?

In HelloGold we are looking forward to moving our app backend onto the Ethereum network to provide our customers with greater security and transparency over their gold holding.

HelloGold intends to add different real asset backed tokens and providing more support to entities which support the twin objectives of 1) increasing mass market use of blockchain technology and 2) democratising access for the underserved and unbanked to financial products through the digitisation of these products.

Overall, we think that the blockchain space will continue to develop and mature through 2018. If the pace of change is as rapid as 2017, the industry will be significantly different at this time next year

HelloGold App Google Play:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hellogold.app&hl=en

HelloGold App Store:

https://itunes.apple.com/my/app/hellogold/id1193095204

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How many Bitcoins for a Pizza? Papa John’s now accepting Bitcoin

Pizza delivery restaurant chain Papa John’s now offers customers the option to pay using Bitcoin at their Manchester City Centre store.

The American based company operates as a franchise so it’s not yet clear if other franchisees are rolling out the new payment method but this is definitely a promising start.

This isn’t the first time Papa John’s and pizza made the headlines, back in 2010 a developer named Laszlo Hanyecz purchased two Pizzas in exchange for 10,000 Bitcoins which was worth just $25 at the time but at todays exchange rate $70 million dollars!

The price of one Bitcoin is now around $7,000 or £5411.

If you fancy paying for your next Margarita in Bitcoin then head down to Papa John’s on Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5AN.

papa johns bitcoin manchester
Credit Source: Twocanpocket
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Energy giants BP and Dutch Shell join forces to develop blockchain energy trading platform

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have today formed a consortium with various other energy companies to develop a blockchain-backed trading platform for commodities.

Expected to launch by the end of 2018 the platform will significantly help cut costs in oil trading and streamline various aspects of the industry including the replacement of paper contracts. Swiss based commodity trading firm Mercuria also joined today has long been an advocate of paperless contracts.

Other members of the consortium include ABN Amro, Norwegian oil firm Statoil, Koch Supply & Trading, trading house Gunvor, ING and Societe Generale.

“I am very excited about this initiative,” said Anthony van Vliet, ING’s Global Head of Trade and Commodity Finance, “Marquee brands and competitors in the energy, trade and banking industry sharing one vision gives us a great opportunity to transform processing in the energy trade commodity sector”

In a statement, the consortium expressed a desire to see this form of trading replace traditional methods: “Over time, the new venture intends to lead the migration of all forms of energy transaction data to the blockchain, improving data quality, further strengthening security and increasing the speed of settlements industry-wide, while reducing the cost for industry participants.”

The new venture is seeking regulatory approvals and would be run as an independent entity, the consortium said in a statement.

Other companies trying to revolutionise the energy sector with Blockchain technology are Grid+ which has so far raised 38,000 Ether and PowderLedger whose ICO has not ended raising $13 million dollars.

With increased transparency and independence from central government blockchain technologies are slated to revolutionise the energy industry for both consumers and producers.

In January, IBM and Samsung unveiled an early platform for controlling connected devices based on a blockchain concept called ADEPT. This platform uses software developed on the Ethereum blockchain that authenticates “smart contracts” that represent micro-transactions between appliances within a home to enable them to react autonomously and instantaneously to varying conditions.

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Renowned Blockchain experts join Lendoit advisory board.

Israeli Blockchain firm Lendoit welcomes two new experts on to its advisory board.

High profile advisors Eddy Travia & Richard Titus have joined the advisory board of Lendoit, an Israeli-based financial firm that is using blockchain technology to revolutionise the peer-to-peer lending industry.

Travia, a key figure in the blockchain space since 2013, co-founder of SeedCoin and blockchain Space, and current CEO of investment firm Coinsilium brings a wealth of experience to the project.

With an impressive portfolio that already includes RSK, Factom, CoinDash and SatoshiPay. Travia was also nominated among the top 3 ‘Most Influential Investors of the Year’ at Blockchain Awards 2014 and has been a major influence in the space ever since.

Titus is currently the managing partner at ARK ICO Advisors, a Singapore based firm advising ICO projects all over the world including AdEx, Pillar & Hive. he brings over 20 years of technology, scaling and development experience to the project.

Having nurtured over 15 successful initial coin offerings the two new additions to the Lendoit advisory board will help pave the the firm’s success in the lucrative P2P industry.

Utilizing the Ethereum blockchain, Lendoit is a decentralised peer-to-peer lending platform that brings lenders and borrowers together globally using Smart Contracts on the blockchain to ensure transparency, trust, reduced risk and circumvent intermediaries.

Borrowers are able to download the Lendoit app and request a loan which is then auctioned to verified lenders on the platform, this provides borrowers with the ability to browse bids and accept the best loan rates to suit their circumstances.

Despite it not launching until next year Lendoit has already created strong ties with governments and corporations one of Israel’s biggest investment firms Migdal Investment Banking. Established in 1965 and part of Migdal Capital Markets Group, it currently manages assets valued at $9 billion for thousands of clients in the Israeli private, business and public sectors.

Compared to other P2P lending platforms on the market such as ETHlend and Salt, Lendoit offers a competitive advantage in various areas such as decentralised intermediate, interest auctions, and compensation funds.

Lendoit so far have also partnered with YETAX, Smartech, WHISP R&D, The Hive Project and Wings.

Whitepaper: https://lendoit.com/Lendoit-whitepaper.pdf

Telegram: https://t.me/Lendoit

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LinkedIn executive spearheads new blockchain startup to create world’s first global WI-FI platform

Dylan Sharkey, former head of sales at Linkedin has left the networking platform to join Blockchain startup IUNGO Network as a senior advisor. With his support the startup aims to not only disrupt the global ISP market but also unify it with the latest technology.

IUNGO is working on an open source blockchain solution that enables anyone to consume and contribute to a network of global wifi networks. For end users this means simple, reliable and fast internet access anywhere and for locals it opens up new avenues to monetize their excess internet bandwidth.

Impressed by the startups growing portfolio of successfully executed ventures and strong management Team Dylan felt he could bring a lot to the project’s scaling and execution goals. Through his experience in managing a team of over 100 employees at LinkedIn, before the company’s IPO back in 2011 he is hailed as one of the key players in taking the firm’s startup growth and turning it into the powerhouse it is today.

On the one hand IUNGO hopes to tap into the growing number of nomads, travelers, vloggers, freelance workers who have significant problems accessing WIFI outside of their home while on the go whilst on the other opening on the ability for local residents to rent any excess bandwidth they have to earn some extra money.

“Dylan joins with invaluable experience of contributing to the stellar growth of LinkedIn when it was still a fast growing startup before the successful IPO in 2011”, said IUNGO Network CEO Ričardas Bernotavičius.

In doing so IUNGO is aiming to become a global ISP provider that is quite literally powered by its community of users.

IUNGO is a community based distributed wireless internet service provider. Through their blockchain technology software and hardware they would like to bootstrap communities where people take on responsibilities and benefit from various rewards. Members can also contribute to the network by installing public wi-fi access points in their premises.

The company aims to use existing local internet infrastructure to provide the bandwidth and overlay its own access layer to enable unified end-user identification, authentication and billing systems making it possible for users to rent bandwidth and hire it seamlessly on the Ethereum network.

IUNGO is a globally distributed wireless internet service provider built with the help of a worldwide community. They are Bootstrapping a community where everyone can assume responsibilities and benefit from the associated rewards for running parts of the service delivery infrastructure. Members can contribute by installing Public Wi-Fi access points on their premises and/or running parts of the service infrastructure.

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