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US Lawmakers Are Realizing They Can’t Ban Bitcoin

Those who have been longtime critics of Bitcoin usually have one key theory in common, which is that governments will eventually ban Bitcoin and cryptocurrency will then cease to exist in any meaningful form. For examples of this point of view, just look at economist Nouriel Roubini and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

That said, implementing such a ban is no easy task. After all, Bitcoin was built by cypherpunks as a form of digital money that would be unaffected by the desires of politicians and regulators around the world.

Lately, it appears that lawmakers in the United States are starting to realize the difficulties associated with a potential Bitcoin ban.

Bitcoin Ban Deemed Unlikely During Congressional Hearings

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a hearing on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology regulation. During that hearing, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) shared his belief that the United States would not be able to succeed in banning Bitcoin.

“If the United States were to decide — and I’m not saying that it should — if the United States were to decide we don’t want cryptocurrency to happen in the United States and tried to ban it, I’m pretty confident we couldn’t succeed in doing that because this is a global innovation,” said Crapo.

This statement came in the form of a question to Jeremy Allaire, who is the co-founder and CEO of global financial services company Circle. In his response, Allaire explained the new reality created by the creation of Bitcoin.

“I think the challenge that we all face with this is some of these cryptocurrencies — they’re literally just a piece of open-source software,” said Allaire. “There’s nothing else. It exists on the internet, it’s open-source software, anyone can implement it, it runs wherever the internet runs, and these have a monetary policy where these assets are algorithmically generated . . . That is a challenge that every government in the world now faces — that money, digital money, will move frictionlessly everywhere in the world at the speed of the internet.”

These remarks made during Tuesday’s hearing follow comments made by U.S. Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) from earlier in the month when he stated “there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin” during an interview with CNBC.

Back in May, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) claimed that Congress should implement a ban on Bitcoin, but Sherman did not share specific details as to how such a ban could be effectively achieved.

                                

The difficulties associated with implementing a ban on Bitcoin are behind one economist’s theory that the best way to kill the cryptocurrency would be for governments to become more competitive in terms of monetary policy and financial freedom.

Abra CEO Bill Barhydt has also pointed out that bringing forth a Bitcoin ban could be legally difficult for the U.S. Government. That said, there is growing support for bans on encryption-based technologies among various law enforcement agencies in the United States, in addition to the Trump White House.

On the other hand, more centralized cryptocurrency systems like Facebook’s Libra project, which is really a cryptocurrency in name only, would be much easier for governments to control.

It should be noted that extreme limitations on technology and financial freedom, such as the new cash-related bill making its way through the Parliament of Australia, may end up unintentionally educating more people as to why Bitcoin has value in the first place.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m a writer who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. I’ve worked all over the Bitcoin media space — from being editor-in-chief at Inside Bitcoins to contributing to Bitcoin Magazine on a regular basis. My work has also been featured in Business Insider, VICE Motherboard, and many other financial and tech media outlets. I’m mostly interested in the use of Bitcoin for transactions that would be censored by the traditional financial system (think darknet markets and ransomware) in addition to the use of bitcoin as an unseizable, digital store of value. Altcoins, appcoins, and ICOs don’t make much sense to me. Find all of my work at kyletorpey.com. Disclosure: I hold some bitcoin.

Source: US Lawmakers Are Realizing They Can’t Ban Bitcoin

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This Awful Bitcoin Stat Guarantees It’s Not Crypto’s Future: Mathematician

With all the hype about blockchains and their many uses, we shouldn’t forget the original purpose for the Bitcoin blockchain and Nakamoto’s great leap forward.

Blockchains and cryptocurrencies were created to be decentralized currencies, replacing or complementing fiat currencies. For the most avid crypto fans, crypto is the future of currency and will eventually handle full-scale economies. We dream of the day that we laugh and tell our kids and grandkids that we had physical wallets, paper currencies, and things called “credit cards” (“Grandpa, seriously, you are so old!”).

Preparing the Crypto Economy for Mass Adoption

So what has to happen in order for us to run economies on the blockchain?

There are several hurdles we still need to clear, like getting the value of these currencies to be stable, handling privacy in a sensible way, and getting confirmation speeds fast enough for point-of-sale transactions.

By far the most glaring hurdle, however, is throughput. We need to be able to handle many, many more transactions per second than any current blockchain is capable of. At 13 transactions per second (a high estimate), Bitcoin can handle just over a million transactions per day. For niche, small economies, this might do the trick. But it certainly won’t do it for, say, the US economy.

Let’s put this into perspective. In 2017, the US gross domestic product (GDP) was almost $20 trillion. GDP isn’t a great measure of how much money changes hands during the year, but for our purposes, it’s close enough. If about $20 trillion changed hands in the US in 2017, then about $54 billion changed hands every day (20 trillion divided by 365). Ignoring how slowly Bitcoin processes transactions, if it were to handle $54 billion in transactions in one day, transactions would have to be on average about $54,000 (54 billion divided by 1 million).

What? Your everyday transactions aren’t $54,000 on average? Of course not. Between 2012 and 2017, US consumers spent roughly $80 per transaction online.

bitcoin is bad for payments

Bitcoin doesn’t look like a candidate to replace credit cards in the online payments realm. | Source: Statista

In 2016, transactions on Amex credit cards averaged about $141, and those on Visa averaged about $80. While it is true that corporations tend to transact in higher dollar amounts, it’s still likely that the crypto community is still a few orders of magnitude away from being able to handle all the transactions in an economy on a single blockchain.

If, based on the statistics I just gave, we assume that transactions are about $100 on average, then $54 billion would change hands every day in roughly 540 million transactions (54 billion divided by 100). That boils down to about 6,000 transactions per second on average. If we take into account the fact that most people transact during the day, a quick recalculation yields about 10,000 transactions in an average daytime second (instead of dividing by 24 hours of the day, divide by 16 to account for about 8 hours of sleep).

This estimate is probably about right. There are roughly 324 million people in the United States, and about 5 million businesses. If we assume that people and businesses, on average, transact 1.5 times per day, then we have about 500 million transactions per day (329 million entities multiplied by 1.5). This is close to our estimate of 540 million daily transactions from before, which gives about 10,000 transactions per daytime second in the United States.

Bitcoin Would Need to Increase Transaction Capacity By Four Orders of Magnitude to Replace Visa

Mastercard, Visa, Bitcoin

With Bitcoin’s staggeringly-limited transaction capacity, it’s unrealistic to believe it can rival Visa or Mastercard – much less both. | Source: Shutterstock

Getting back to the original question, how many transactions per second does a blockchain have to be able to handle in order to support the United States economy? Our rough calculation of 10,000 transactions per second is almost certainly not enough, but it does give a base from which we can work. To give perspective, Visa processes about 1,700 transactions per second on average but at peak times it can handle up to about 24,000 transactions per second. Their max limit is just over an order of magnitude higher than the average, in order to handle high-volume days like Black Friday or the post-Christmas wave of returns.

Taking Visa’s data as an example, since 10,000 transactions per second is our rough estimate for the average, we’d probably need to be able to handle around 100,000 transactions per second to really kill it (one order of magnitude higher than the average, similar to Visa). That’s a lot. More precisely, that’s about 10,000 times faster than Bitcoin—a whopping difference of four orders of magnitude.

To me, this says that our methods of finding consensus on a blockchain are simply not fast or powerful enough to actually use crypto as a viable currency. We need innovations in infrastructure, hardware, and consensus algorithms in order to even hope to reach this threshold.

Bitcoin Is Not the Future of Crypto

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Derek Sorensen believes Bitcoin is definitely not the future of crypto. | Source: Shutterstock

That is to say that, barring some major changes and improvements, Bitcoin is almost certainly not the future of crypto.

Technologies like the Lightning Network attempt to solve the scalability problem, but do so awkwardly and ineffectively. Opening channels to transact off-chain ties up money in extremely inconvenient ways. In practice it incentivizes users to open a single channel with a centralized liquidity provider on the blockchain, rather than opening many channels. This effectively creates unregulated, centralized banks, and in my view goes against the core principles of blockchain technology. Even worse, because transactions are done off-chain and channel data can’t be deterministically rebuilt, if a Lightning node crashes, both parties can easily lose funds. It may genuinely be one of the worst ideas in cryptocurrency.

Notwithstanding, the blockchains of the future may not be so far off. New research in math shows promising results in the mathematical foundations of consensus that could produce blockchains with 50,000 transactions per second or more without compromising safety or decentralization. Every day, a new paper comes out or a crypto startup launches a new product.

There are plenty of bright minds working on securing the crypto dream. I guess in twenty years if you’re paying for your groceries with crypto you’ll know that we succeeded.

About the Author: Derek Sorensen, Pyrofex Research Mathematician, has an MSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford and is set to start his PhD this fall at the University of Cambridge, where he will study logic and topology. His work at Pyrofex is in formal verification, which includes research on the theory of consensus and setting up mathematical frameworks to prove theorems about code.

Source: This Awful Bitcoin Stat Guarantees It’s Not Crypto’s Future: Mathematician

Sleeping with the Enemy: Why Institutional Adoption is Bad for Bitcoin

bitcoin, wall street, crypto, nyse

If recent noises coming out of Wall Street are anything to go by, it looks like 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the institutions for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

However, the arrival of the institutions as they stampede over that hill represents a double-edged sword. On the one hand, prices will almost certainly pump in the short to medium term, even if just by association alone.

On the other hand, we appear to be in the process of welcoming into our beds the very enemy that cryptocurrency was set up to defeat – the old, deep-rooted bloodlines of the financial elite.


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So yes, the institutions are absolutely coming to crypto, and if you think that’s a good thing, then this may be a good time to ask where your loyalties actually lie.

Cryptocurrency’s Overton Window Threatens to Get Smaller

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Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, is touting its status as a “regulated” platform to lure institutions. | Source: Shutterstock

The Overton window refers to the range of ideas that are permitted to be discussed in the public sphere. The topics outside the window aren’t necessarily banned or censored – they’re just buried so deep that most people don’t know they exist. Not until years later when you stumble across them in some shady corner of the internet, usually presented in the form of a rouge-colored pill.

As has already been witnessed in the r/bitcoin subreddit, when people have a vested interest to protect, they will quite happily make adjustments to the length and breadth of the Overton window to keep its range of view to their liking.

Deleting unfavourable comments from a crypto subreddit isn’t all that surprising, especially given how much rabid coin holders want to protect their investments. But there’s ample evidence to suggest that the rampant censorship on r/bitcoin began only when the institutions arrived.

Those institutions are the financial backers behind Bitcoin’s leading development group – Blockstream. They include AXA Venture Partners, an investment wing of AXA Group – the second largest financial services firm in the world. Blockstream has helped guide the development of Bitcoin since 2016, and if you didn’t already know that, then it may be because the Overton window has been set up specifically so that you don’t.

Without veering into the Bilderberg conspiracy, the censorship of r/bitcoin offers a taste of how the ‘old money’ institutions react to cryptocurrency’s open-source, decentralized ideals. They laugh, then proceed to take your money.

Recuperation: Absorbing Bitcoin Without Killing It

facebook privacy scandal

It’s hard to believe that Facebook was once hailed as a technological messiah. Will crypto suffer a similar fate? | Source: JOEL SAGET / AFP

“Whoops! The web is not the web we wanted in every respect.”

Those words were uttered by Sir Tim Berners-Lee earlier this year, as the man who invented the World Wide Web bemoaned the fact that the original dream of the internet had not come to fruition.

Berners-Lee was comparing the early 1990s notions of what the internet promised to be – free, open, anonymous, decentralized – with the internet we’ve come to know today – censored, controlled, tracked, and spied upon, thanks to the collusion of governments and big tech corporations.

Note: the internet didn’t need to be destroyed to have its disruptive potential neutralized; it only had to be brought round to the accepted way of doing things. This is a process which has happened often enough to gain its own name – recuperation, defined as:

the process by which politically radical ideas and images are twisted, co-opted, absorbed, defused, incorporated, annexed and commodified within media culture and bourgeois society, and thus become interpreted through a neutralized, innocuous or more socially conventional perspective.”

Some Bitcoin enthusiasts were predicting a fate of recuperation for the crypto space back in 2014, such as this early Bitcoin miner by the name of Stefan Molyneux.

Zooming in on the internet analogy, in 2011 Facebook was being hailed as a technological messiah for the inadvertent role it played in helping to organize the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt. Fast forward a few years, and Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has become one of the biggest threats to privacy in internet history.

Crypto is the Cure: But Will We Take Our Medicine in Time?

bitcoin crypto

Bitcoin’s future success or failure as a tool of freedom will not come down to the efficiency of its technology, but whether or not people can step up to the responsibility of being their own caretaker. | Source: Shutterstock

The only way to avoid the snare of the banksters, the globalists, the mainstream, the man – whoever it may be – is to become independent and self-sufficient enough that we no longer need to buy what they’re selling. Under those conditions, no amount of propaganda or salesmanship would have an effect, since there would be no gaping hole left in our lives for them to fill.

The ears of libertarians should be picking up about now, and rightly so. The plight of libertarianism as a political ideology is very analogous to the plight of Bitcoin in its quest to liberate the masses from financial bondage.

The fate of libertarianism depends not on its efficacy as a system of governance, but rather on the ability of the average citizen to live up to its ideals. Likewise, Bitcoin’s future success or failure as a tool of freedom will not come down to the efficiency of its technology, but whether or not people can step up to the responsibility of being their own caretaker.

In today’s culture of dependence, the prospect of either of these eventualities coming to fruition seems slim. The education required to foster this new mentality of independence isn’t found in the public school system. If the sudden increase in Bitcoin’s use in Venezuela is anything to go by, then as is often the case as we look through history, we may first need to suffer catastrophe before we can see where we’ve gone wrong.

Perhaps a catastrophe similar to, or worse than, the one which caused a cipher named Satoshi Nakamoto to commence work on Bitcoin in 2008.

“03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

Bitcoin’s Future is Not Set – its Fate is what it makes for Itself

bitcoin, institutional investor

It’s unlikely that the established financial order will just saddle up and play along with the quasi-anarchist rules set up by a freakish band of coders and cypherpunks.| Source: Shutterstock

Look, if the institutions arrive and all they do is use cryptocurrency to diversify and boost their pension funds, then all is well. Prices will increase through increased demand and exposure, and all of us early adopters will reap the benefits of this adoption in the long run.

It’s unlikely, however, that the established financial order will just saddle up and play along with the quasi-anarchist rules set up by a freakish band of coders and cypherpunks. Yes, they’ll use the technology, but that doesn’t mean they’ll play by its rules.

This has been seen already as firms like JP Morgan and Facebook turn to creating their own cryptocurrencies – based on their own private protocols, with their own self-tailored rules. Strangely enough, this could turn out to be the most amicable solution between the cryptosphere and the institutions – they have their ‘cryptos,’ and we keep the real thing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.

Source: Sleeping with the Enemy: Why Institutional Adoption is Bad for Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) Darknet Transactions Doubled In 2018: Why This Is Bullish

 

Since Bitcoin (BTC) burst onto the global stage in 2009, the cryptocurrency, known for its decentralized, immutable, censorship-resistant, pseudonymous, and borderless nature, has become a medium for transactions of all shapes and size. And just like U.S. dollars and other government-issued currencies, BTC has found use cases in illicit transactions. Whether it be purchasing questionable goods or otherwise, the flagship cryptocurrency has found a place……..

Source: Bitcoin (BTC) Darknet Transactions Doubled In 2018: Why This Is Bullish

Fake News: Analyst Falsely Claims Bitcoin Price Decline Will Spark Gold Rally – Joseph Young

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Stephen Innes, the head of trading for the Asia Pacific region at foreign exchange (FX) trading giant Oanda, has said that the plunge in the value of bitcoin and crypto will lead to a surge in the price of gold.

In an interview, Innes said:

“There’s still a lot of people in this game. If Bitcoin collapses, if we start to see a run down toward $3,000, this thing is going to be a monster. People will be running for the exits. I don’t think coins are going to be anywhere near as attractive as some of the other cross-asset plays. Gold prices are going to jump considerably higher and there’s an inverse relationship we’re starting to see with gold and coins.”

Is Gold a Better Investment Than Bitcoin?

Since 2011, gold has consistently declined in value, from $1,800 to $1,200, by more than 33 percent. In contrast, since 2011, Bitcoin has increased from $30 to $4,200, up 13,900 percent in the past seven years.

gold price bitcoin

According to Innes, an inverse correlation has been spotted between cryptocurrencies and gold. He stated that as major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin drop in value, the price of gold rises.

However, as shown in the yearly chart of gold, the price of gold has not increased in the past year while the cryptocurrency market suffered its fifth biggest correction to date. In fact, since January, the price of gold has dropped from $1,360 to $1,220.

gold price bitcoin

The narrative that the drop in the price of cryptocurrencies leads to an increase in the price of gold is wildly inaccurate, as the data demonstrates that there exists no correlation between the two assets.

While cryptocurrencies have fallen by a significantly larger margin that gold, the precious metal has also fallen substantially by its standard.

Even if the long-term trends of gold and Bitcoin are considered, Bitcoin has consistently outperformed gold since it was created in 2009. Hence, the argument that gold will benefit from Bitcoin approaching $3,000 is false, given that gold has clearly not been affected by the price trend of BTC.

Gold Versus Bitcoin

bitcoin price vs gold price
Bitcoin Price (Blue) vs. Gold Price (Red) over the past 5 years. | Source: TradingView

A recent survey conducted by Ron Paul, a retired politician who served as the US Representative for Texas’s 14th congressional district, demonstrated that the majority of millennials prefer Bitcoin as a long-term investment over the U.S. dollar and gold.

For millennials, the motive behind the preference of Bitcoin over gold is strikingly obvious. The trend of the financial market is moving towards digitalization. To trade, purchase, or sell gold bullion, large financial institutions and banks are involved, which millennials generally do not favor, as many studies have shown.

For instance, the London bullion market (LBMA), has a clearing system in place to settle orders that is operated by a corporation called LPMCL which is owned and managed by the five banks including HSBC, ICBC Standard Bank, JPMorgan, Scotiabank, and UBS.

Amongst experienced investors, gold could continue to be a viable store of value especially in periods of uncertainty and volatility. But, amongst millennials, the trend of financial technologies (fintech), blockchain, and crypto is expected to be sustained in the long run.

 

 

 

 

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