ZipZap grinds to a halt in the UK

ZipZap inc – one of the most promising startups within the digital currency sector has allegedly terminated operations in the UK.

Until recently the “Cash 4 Bitcoin” service allowed customers to purchase Bitcoins in exchange for cold hard cash at thousands of locations around the country but apparently due to ongoing problems with PayPoint (the company that manages the payment processing infrastructure behind ZipZap) cash deposits have been terminated until legal clarity around digital currencies is released by the UK government and Financial Conduct Authority.

ZipZap enabled customers to simply pop into one of 28,000 PayPoint participating shops across the United Kingdom and exchange cash for Bitcoins with minimal effort.

The launch of ZipZap was exciting news for the Bitcoin community for a number of reasons. It removed the risk of transferring funds to unlicensed exchanges in Europe, opened up the cryptocurrency up to a wider UK audience for easier adoption and made the process of buying Bitcoins as easy as topping up your phone with a voucher!

At the time of writing no public announcement has been issued by ZipZap, leaving the possibility of this exciting service uncertain.

An undisclosed source with close ties to the Bitcoin community recently stated:

Due to the ease of purchasing Bitcoins with cash, money laundering issues have arisen and are the culprit behind the services abrupt closure.

With no legislation in place, it is a shame that genuine UK businesses are being deprived of the opportunity to innovate and create better services for the British people.

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Mt. Gox Bitcoin price surges 200% amidst withdrawal rumors

Withdrawal speculation has sparked a price surge on the troubled Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, with the BTC/USD exchange rate reaching an all time high since forgoing transaction meltability problems.

The rumour was sparked on the popular Bitcoin reddit community board which retains over 100,000 loyal subscribers resulting in a surge in the BTC/USD price. It reached an all time high of $348.

Headquartered in Tokyo, Mt. Gox was once the most popular virtual currency exchange in the world, reporting an impressive 10,000 new user registrations per month last April.
If you’ve not been keeping up with the recent news, this success was quickly reversed with prices diving to $91.50 when user accounts were suspended. Mt. Gox blamed a transaction bug in the Bitcoin source code.

Investors and account holders have yet to receive concrete evidence that their investments are safe or even timely progress of how the company is working to fix the alleged bugs.

Is the sudden price surge a sign that the troubled exchange is once again operating as normal?

All the same, we think it’s safe to say that even if withdrawals resume, customers will no longer trust such a company with their hard-earned Bitcoins.

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Interview with Tomas Alvarez CEO of Coincove

Say hello to Coincove, an exciting new startup that is ready to bring Bitcoin to the masses in Latin American (and convince them to swap their local money for better digital currencies).

The company is based in San Mateo and founded by dynamic-trio; Tomás Alvarez, Rodrigo González del Cueto and Hannah Kim. Names ring a bell? Thats because they are the founders of Wiitu, a bitcoin transferring service for families.

Coincove is currently operating in and concentrating on four Latin American countries. These are: Argentina, Mexico, Spain and Chile.

Bitcoin is currently taking the region by storm as could be seen through our previous interview with Fernando Paradiso of BitPagos who revealed that a massive number of local merchants were using the payment gateway.

We caught up with Tomás Alvarez, CEO of Coincove to find out more.

What funding has Coincove received so far?

Coincove is currently finishing up in a Silicon Valley accelerator (Boost VC) and are in the process of raising our seed round. This is all the information we can disclose at the moment.

With security vital in crypto currencies, what methods do you have in place to secure customers coin?

We can’t disclose the details of the security measures that we take (half the art lies in how you are doing it!), but we use the best security practices in the Bitcoin space to ensure that our customers’ wallets are safe. For instance, we keep the majority of our funds in offline wallets, we whitelist access to our server by filtering IPs, and all the passwords are encrypted in the database (you’d be surprised how many sites don’t do this). Additionally, to further protect our customers, we encourage them to use 2-factor authentication every time they log in.

What do you think will be your largest market in Latin America? Argentina due to inflation ?

That’s a very good question. At the moment, we are starting with Mexico as it is our home turf (two of our three founders are from Mexico) and it is a surprisingly big economy ranking at 11th biggest in the world–just after the UK. We’ve witnessed the Bitcoin demand in local Mexican markets skyrocket since a few months ago, so we believe that this is the perfect time to introduce our service to Mexico. We would be the first Mexican company to allow buying and selling Bitcoins within Mexico, so it is very exciting. We believe that other Latin American markets that show a lot of promise are Brazil and Argentina, as you mentioned, as well as Chile and Colombia. These are all markets that we hope to be exploring in the near future.

What makes you different than other exchanges in Latin America?

You’d be surprised at the small amount of exchanges that currently exist in this vast region, which is what makes Latin America an interesting region to explore. Additionally, we believe that our key differentiator is the simplicity and ease of experience that we provide on our site. We have designed our site to be a friendlier face of the typical Bitcoin-exchange model so that people do not have to be Bitcoin-savvy to interact with it. In essence, we have created a site that makes Bitcoin more accessible to the mass.

Are you fully legalised to operate an exchange in Latin America in terms of do you fear being raided by the Government?

We focused on Mexico for the moment precisely because of our familiarity with the legal landscape there, and we’ve been consulting with lawyers to ensure that we are in a solid legal position. However, as you may know, conditions in Latin America (and especially the Bitcoin world) can change a lot in very little time, so we are aware that we always have to remain alert to these changes and respond flexibly.

What funding methods can customers use to purchase Bitcoins?

At the moment, customers can either make deposits at bank locations or at over 10,000 point-of-sale locations across Mexico. We will soon allow online bank transfers as well as more locations for cash deposits.

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Bitcoin price just breached the £620 mark

The price for a single Bitcoin has breached the £620 mark for a second time on the popular exchange platform, Mt. Gox.

Bitcoin reached the £620 price at approximately 8:30am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and 3:30 Eastern Standard Time(EST) if you’re across the pond.

We first witnessed a similar rise last November when the Chinese were investing heavily in the digital currency. However shortly after the rise it crashed as quickly as it rose due to China’s central bank imposing several legal restrictions on the digital currency. They ultimately denied third-party payment processors and financial institutions from handling Bitcoin.

Despite repeated crackdowns by the Chinese authorities which crashed the market by more than 50%, the most popular Chinese exchanges are still pushing high trading volumes suggesting a legal loophole in deposits for the time being.

At the time of writing nearly 70% of the Bitcoin market share is taking place on exchanges such as BTC China and Huobi, with the remaining spread across USD and several other currencies.

Due to the unknown situation in China regarding deposits via bank transfers the price may have fluctuated due to a workaround imposed by the Huobi exchange.

A rumour started in the popular Bitcoin Reddit section which pointed towards the CEO of Huobi accepting deposits through his personal bank account to avoid the imposed restricts.

The main concern in this scenario is how long the loophole will remain active and will it ultimately result in the authorities shutting down trade causing further cataclysmic price crashes.

When the price crashed to around £250 between December 17th to 19th, it not only affected Chinese trade which is now recovering but also mainstream development and currency adoption. Below are some of the milestones which could of caused increased the volatility of the recent crashes:

  • Wall Street Investors said they would move into Bitcoin in 2014 Q1
  • Max Keiser said Netflix would adopt Bitcoin payments
  • Porn.com started to accept Bitcoin
  • Zynga is testing the Bitcoin currency
  • Overstock.com planning to accept Bitcoin
  • Victoria’s Secret Stores partnered with Gyft
  • eToro accepting Bitcoin
  • Latin America ?
  • “Hello San Francisco, Hello Bitcoin” advertising campaign by arisebitcoin.com
  • Pastebin accepting Bitcoin
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