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While it came close to the milestone yesterday, bitcoin price struck $750 in a continuing rally that has seen the cryptocurrency make increasing gains this week.


The figure is among the highs scaled by the cryptocurrency this year. Today’s trading peak of $750 on the Bitstamp Price Index (BPI) stuck at 9:55 AM, the first occasion since June 18, 2016, when bitcoin price struck a high of $754.83. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts and market participants will remember the month where bitcoin soared in value from $536.91 on June 1st to a high of $761.44 on June 19th in the lead-up to this year’s halving event. Altogether, today’s milestone represents a near five-month-high for bitcoin.
At the time of publishing, bitcoin was trading to the dollar at $748.2.



[img=900x0]https://cdn4.cryptocoinsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Bitstamp-BPI-750-1118-1024x592.jpg[/img]

Bitcoin at a Premium for $906
A number of factors, including the oft-culpable Chinese investor interest, could be attributed for the rise in value.
Interest in bitcoin has never been higher in India, a country that is home to the second largest population in the world and one of the world’s fastest growing economies. A comprehensive cash crunch induced by the government, unprecedented in its scale, saw nearly 90% of the country’s physical cash notes rendered obsolete overnight. Predictably, investors and everyday citizens looking for cash alternatives have boosted demand for bitcoin in the country, at a premium.



[Image: Unocoin-1BTC-61715.jpg]

At the time of publishing, prominent Indian bitcoin exchange Unocoin is selling 1 BTC for ₹ 61715, approx. $906.


The devaluing yuan in China is also turning local investors to bitcoin, disillusioned by weak forecasts and capital controls.


For a live Bitcoin Price chart, click here.


For the most recent bitcoin price analysis piece from CCN analyst Jim Fredrickson, click here. Today’s analysis will be published soon.

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Bitcoin continues to show strength as it is continuing to test the recent $750 high as these words are being typed. Nothing has changed in terms of targets from what was written in this column yesterday.  Namely, resistance lies in wait ~ $810, but that resistance will likely yield.  Stiffer resistance will likely be seen at ~ $855.





Ethereum
Ethereum continues to disappoint expectations. As these words are being written, ethereum’s daily chart continues to be confounded by the 2nd arc of the 3rd pair.





Price was knocked down hard by the 2nd arc pair (1st arrow), and turned down violently at the end of the 2nd square.  It then meandered sideways until it hit the 3rd arc pair.  Ever since price hit that pair back in the beginning of October, the pair has bedevilled the asset.  Finally, after more than 5 weeks of falling prices, price rose again to meet and test the resisting arc.  I had hoped it would break through.  But it turned down and has fallen every time it touched that arc for the past 3 days.




The coin should find support soon ~ $9.10.  But I don’t suggest buying it until we see a convincing close on the sunny side of the arc that has stopped it for over 5 weeks now.  Far better, imho, to buy a bit higher with confirmation, than get a better price of a coin which has not yet stopped falling.  That is, of course, just my opinion.  Your mileage may vary.

Anyways, imho, Bitcoin is a far better long trade right now than ethereum is.

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The California judge hearing the Backpage case will allow both sides more time to gather evidence before tossing out pimping charges against the international website’s operators, which is perhaps best most known for its escort services and once accepted crypto-currency.


Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman’s tentative ruling says California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who called Backpage.com “the world’s top online brothel,” cannot prosecute Backpage.com’s CEO and its former owners.


The judge required more briefings from the parties before completely dismissing the pimping and trafficking charges. The judge once before sided with the 55-year old CEO Carl Ferrer and former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin tare protected by free speech. The final ruling comes December 9.


When major payment processors VISA and MasterCard ceased processing transactions from Backpage.com in, the website began accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin. Vice Motherboard wrote a piece called “Sex Workers Guide to Bitcoin.”


“This is obviously an awful situation,” Liara Roux, one escort wrote on her website. She continued: “many sex workers rely heavily on Backpage for their business. While it would be wonderful to have a magic wand and fix this problem, bitcoin is one of the few payment methods still accepted by Backpage and I want to make sure those who need it can use it.”


“We applaud the tremendous actions taken by Visa and MasterCard this week. Their decision to sever their relationship with Backpage.com is a significant step in our efforts to combat human trafficking,” a Cook County Sheriff spokesperson, Sophia Ansari, said in an email to Motherboard.


The Sheriff’s department, which took credit for pressuring the processing companies to stop serving VISA and MasterCard, said they were aware and watching the Bitcoin acceptance, but did not confirm they were urging Backpage to drop Bitcoin.


Police arrested Mr. Ferrer in early October. Three teenage girls filed a civil suit against the website in 2012 in Washington State after claiming they were raped numerous times after the site ran ads about them. Three sued Backpage for sexual exploitation. Backpage claimed the ads were from third parties.

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[Image: Power-theft.jpg]
Electricity providers in Germany and Japan are accepting bitcoin as payments.



Anew survey has found that the energy sector in Germany may soon be adopting the blockchain technology with many energy companies outlining a road map for the implementation of the technology in the future, according to the German news site, Contra Magazin.


The survey, undertaken by Deutsche Energie-Agentur (German Energy Agency) and ESMT Berlin, looked at the responses from 70 executives serving firms in the energy sector.


The results found that 39 percent indicated that their companies have plans in the future to implement the technology. While another 13 percent stated that they believe that the energy companies they work for already have the technology ready and that they may already be using it.


As blockchain becomes more prevalent today and the things we do with it, it’s not hard to see why more sectors are turning to it. So-much-so, that 60 percent of the survey’s respondents believe that the blockchain will eventually thrive in the industry.
Over the next few years, the energy sector is bound to see the technology play a vital role in the industry as it is already doing so in others.


Solar Power on the Blockchain
In a bid to harness the power of blockchain, solar companies have already turned to the technology.


Earlier this year, Australian startup, PowerLedger, proposed that residents trade excess energy amongst residents using a blockchain to record the transactions instead of selling the energy back to the power company.


While Spanish energy company, Endesa, revealed its plans in October to open a blockchain laboratory to boost development of blockchain-based solutions for the energy sector.


Power Companies Accept Bitcoin
It’s not just blockchain that is being used by major companies; the digital currency bitcoin is being accepted by power companies as a payment option.


Users in Japan can use bitcoin to pay for their utility bills after the Tokyo-based bitcoin exchange and services firm, Coincheck announced that it was providing users with the option to use the digital currency as a form of payment.

Whereas German energy giant, Enercity announced in September that its customers could now use bitcoin as a method of payment for their utility bills.


While many energy companies around the world are turning to bitcoin and its distributed ledger, the blockchain, to improve services to its customers, it remains to be seen whether the German energy sector will fully implement this innovative technology.
However, with the way things are progressing for the technology it seems likely that it will.

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60,000 rupees. That’s $881. You’ll need more than that to buy a Bitcoin in India, a country which just nixed much of its cash. The rupee-based Bitcoin price, thanks to skyrocketing demand, now includes a $140 (20%) premium upon Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetize 500 and 1000 rupee notes.


After last week’s announcements that the notes were no longer valid, bitcoin sales increased across several exchanges, according to The Hindustan Times. Internet searches in India for the term “bitcoin” and “buy bitcoin” have increased in popularity, says Google Trends data.


“Queries for bitcoins have gone up by 20 percent to 30 percent in the past couple of days,” Zebpay’s CEO, Saurabh Agrawal, told the Hindustan Times.


As CNBC reported three days ago, one Bitcoin on India-based exchange Unocoin is worth ₹55,405 ($817.97), while Bitcoins cost $709 in dollar denominated terms.


At the time of publishing, the buying rate for a bitcoin through Unocoin is ₹60,364 or $887.12.

 

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The Bitcoin price in rupee terms has reached near its 2016 highs (made this past summer) since the Prime Minister’s announcement, which has led to long bank lines and ATMs running out of cash, as well as reports of violence on the streets.

The current Bitcoin price is more than 60,000 in Rupee terms, approx $881, India Bitcoin exchange Coinsecure posted November 17.
“In the wake of demonetization in the country, Bitcoin is certainly impacted,” the startup wrote. “Commoners are now exploring alternative cryptocurrencies and the demand for Bitcoin has gone up. Now with the limited supply of Bitcoin across the country, liquidity is definitely a challenging issue and that is now clearly driving the price of Bitcoin upward as compared to the global markets.”


[Image: 2000-INR.jpg]

An unprecedented cash freeze sees new ₹2,000 (approx $30) introduced to the Indian currency ecosystem.

Coinsecure launched Entry Level Trading Account for International Users as well as the Indian market and removed the verification process for a .5% fee.

“Users can submit their KYC when they want to withdraw or deposit INR and avail the discounted fee of 0.3%,” the company wrote.
India’s move to ban the 500 and 1000 rupee notes was designed to undermine black market cash. Many senior cabinet members did not know of the decision. The government’s plan was to ensure illicit savers did not have a chance to exchange cash for gold. The government reportedly shut down some gold shops suspecting of accepting the banned notes after the announcement. Indian authorities are certainly familiar with Bitcoin, having engaged in darknet marketplace operations in the past. Indian authorities sought the seizure of more than 500 bitcoins in one case.

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You know what my fucking bank did to me?” Bill Burr, well-known comedian, says in a recent podcast. “I walked in. I had this account in New York, a little checking account. Had a little bit of money in it. All the sudden I notice they’re taking some fees out. That shouldn’t be. I get to New York, talk to the douchebag who works there.” Mr. Burr learns what’s been going on.


“Yeah, they’re taking $27 a month out. Here, let me check to see what’s up. Yeah, we shouldn’t be doing this.” So Mr. Burr asks to see how long this has gone on.


“Sorry, our records only go back for four months, because my bank records at home go back the entire time I’ve had the account and I’ve had some paltry sum in there while you deal with billions, if not trillions.”


“What if I bring my records in?”


“No we can only refund it for four months.”


“Dude, what are you talking about?”


“Well, the bank looks at it like that was on you, sir.”


“It’s on me, to not be paying attention to the people keeping my money safe to make sure they aren’t stealing from me?”
The bank employee laughed.


“Dude, this isn’t funny.  “You guys just stole from me.”


Burr describes the scene: “The guy’s sitting there doing the fucking smiley, twirling thing, math people do with their pens,and people into finance. I think they do it to hypnotize you, the guy is sitting there telling me they’ve been stealing 30 bucks a month from me, I am trying to deal with him, but I just keep looking at silver shiny pen. [It’s] some kind of jedi mind trick. Luckily I was aware of it.” Mr. Burr, who had a role in the hit series Breaking Bad, determines the bank has stolen somewhere between $1,500-$1,800 over six years.


“The guys sitting there fucking laughing. ‘What are you going to do? Sue us? We’ll take some of that bailout money which is your money and we’ll fucking…”


Mr. Burr trails off, then begins again: “What do I do? I go across the street to one of the four banks that are left?” He dismisses those who might suggest $27 is no big amount.


“$27 bucks a month times how many fucking people!?” he protests. “These fucks are taking $27 a month from everybody, I’m convinced of it. It’s the fucking mob. The mob went legit…”


The New York Times wrote that Burr “has been one of the funniest, most distinctive voices in the country for years.” Maybe he’s onto something about the banks.

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[Image: Darknet.jpg]


A former Australian police officer has been charged with selling fake IDs on the darknet, according to ABC news. The man is identified as James Goris, a 44-year-old from Castlemaine. He was a police officer up until 2010, according to reports.

Reportedly, Goris was manufacturing and selling fake federal police ID cards, maritime and aviation security passes, and computer equipment. These would be sent to buyers via Australia Post express and promised those who bought them easy access at police stations, a notion the defense rejected in court.


According to police, the 44-year-old was also advertising the sale of firearms and police radios. Detectives were unable to verify the existence of these items since they were unable to find them. Goris’s defense lawyer claimed these were never purchased, they were just online to attract more buyers.


Sold for Bitcoin on Alphabay
Goris used a darknet market called AlphaBay to sell these items for bitcoin, rather than Monero. Police describe it as “eBay for criminals”, as covert investigators from the E-crime squad and Crime Command bought items worth $5000 during the investigation.


The courted deemed Goris’s use of AlphaBay to sell fake police IDs was “frightening”. Magistrate Murphy claimed these crimes were very serious and well-thought, adding:

Quote:I’m not overreacting to say ‘what if these police badges got into the wrong hands’

Therefore, the former police officer was denied bail, and is scheduled to return to court February next year. There was no available information as to how Goris was caught.
In the past, Australian police have been taking down darknet criminals left and right. Individuals seem to keep on getting exposed for selling drugs, weapons, fake documents, counterfeit money and distributing child pornography.


Australia even participated in Operation Hyperion, which saw Dutch police take down a marketplace and issue a warning to its users.

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It’s that time of the year when our streets are lit and our music turns happy with everyone beginning preparations for the biggest holiday of the year. Billions are expected to be spent this Friday as everyone receives their last paycheck before Christmas day with some, as in the previous four years, spending bitcoins instead.


The best place to do so is through Bitcoin Black Friday which will provide numerous discounts and offers. It opens early morning EST with Ledger in particular “hosting a very generous deal on their hardware wallets” according to Jon Holmquist, the Bitcoin Black Friday founder.


Holmquist continues a tradition first established in 2012 when few used Bitcoin with its price then standing at around $1. 60 merchants still joined, says Holmquist, with the event ballooning next year to 600 merchants, the highest ever, just as Bitcoin reached its all-time high.


The theme this year is a celebration of Bitcoin’s history, focusing on issues affecting bitcoiners and bitcoin merchants. Around 150 merchants are expected to participate offering a wide range of products from video games, diamond jewelry, cryptoart to new computers.


“We launched Bitcoin Black Friday to provide a foil to Bitcoin’s negative brand image due to the Silk Road, we were successful,” said Holmquist. “We will be focusing on a smaller event this year revolving around core Bitcoin merchants who have been processing and accepting Bitcoin for years, merchants well known in the community like Bees Brothers or BitBrew.”




The Bees Brothers


Bees Brothers is a small family business run by three teenagers in Utah. Initially it was a fun project to learn more about bees, but now they offer Honey Roasted Almonds, Honey Soap, Beeswax Lip Balm and other products, all for bitcoins. In previous years, they gave a 20% discount through Bitcoin Black Friday. We may expect the same deal this year or better.

BitBrew began in 2011 when they offered “some organic Guatemalan coffee, ground, for 2.95 BTC per pound,” now worth more than $2,000 at current prices. We are not certain, but we expect their coffees to be far cheaper on Friday.
 
An interesting relative newcomer is Cryptoart, which offer paintings, but with a twist. They hold bitcoin through a QR code with the private key under a security sticker on the back. “You can change the private key and QR code without damaging it.  It’s really just a vessel to hold them,” said Troy Fearnow, Cryptoart founder.
 

[img=900x0]https://cdn4.cryptocoinsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/patriot-cryptoart.jpg[/img]
 
They come in different sizes, from small A4 art pieces to actual paintings you can hang on the wall. “[W]e’ve sold well over 1000 pieces since launch,” said Fearnow, with Bitcoin Black Friday being the biggest day of the year. Fearnow added:
“We want to use imagery to attract people into the Bitcoin space. Last year, we made over 100 new Bitcoin owners by giving away Bitcoin in art at SXSW. Currently, I’m working on a highly trafficked retail location in Austin.


I would like to encourage people to consider giving Cryptoart as a gift. Physical bitcoin represents a really easy way to scale the technological barrier that can discourage potential users. Not only does it give these new users a vested interest, but it helps them understand that they can control their own money.”


Cryptoart will offer “flash deals”, free mystery prizes and they will even give away free Cryptoart throughout the day this Friday.


The Heyday of Bitcoin Commerce
Bitcoin’s heyday for merchant acceptance was in 2014 when, to the surprise of many, giant household brands announced one after the other they are now willing to accept bitcoins. As I reported back then, Overstock was the first:


“I believe that by being the first major online retailer to accept bitcoin, we will tap into a significant group of loyal consumers, and as a result our share of the overall market will grow.” Patrick M. Byrne, the CEO of Overstock, said in January 2014, adding that “We want a money that some government mandarin can’t just whisk into existence with a pen stroke.”


NewEgg then joined, with their products quickly running out of stock as the bitcoin community began to taste mainstream adoption. Jimmy Whales came to speak to bitcoin’s main public forum, with Wikipedia accepting bitcoin donations. Dell joined too, with someone purchasing $50,000 worth of their products in bitcoin. Then Microsoft announced they too will accept bitcoin, culminating with Paypal shocking everyone and silencing all critics by incorporating bitcoin into its payment processor, Braintree.


[Image: Silver-bitcoin-circuit-board.jpg]

Bitcoin has gained acceptance from major retailers online, particularly in the tech space.

Few expected such sudden explosion in bitcoin acceptance, but is bitcoin ready, a friend asked me back then. I contacted most of the companies mentioned above for some updates or statistics, neither replied in time for publishing.
I also reported in 2014 that more than 4,400 BitPay merchants keep all their bitcoins:

“BitPay, the largest and oldest bitcoin payment processor with a daily volume of $1 million bitcoin transactions supporting more than 44,000 merchants, stated in an email exchange to CCN that more than 4,400 of their merchants keep all of their settlement in bitcoin, almost 18,000 keep some of their settlement in bitcoin while the remaining 22,000 convert it all to fiat.”



[Image: bitpay-transactions.jpg]

Bitpay Transactions Processed Mapped Against Bitcoin’s Price


The next year, merchants more than doubled to 100,000, with volume increasing 110% as BitPay reported on January 20th 2016:

“BitPay has seen transaction volume increase by 50% just in the last two months and by 110% in 12 months. We saw record months for bitcoin transactions in November and December, with more than 100,000 BitPay invoices processed each month. At these rates, every 25 seconds a shopper somewhere in the world was spending bitcoin at a BitPay merchant.”


We asked for an update on those statistics for 2016, but BitPay has not yet responded. We also asked Coinbase, but have received no reply.


Bitcoin’s Growth in Commerce
Alpaca socks used to be a meme in Bitcoin’s community because for some time it was the best or sole example for bitcoin critics who were keen to point out that bitcoin was useless as you could not buy anything with it. Now, of course, there are a wide range of products on offer for bitcoins with many mainstream services that are willing to accept it, much of it to be displayed on Bitcoin Black Friday:


“The wide range of merchants participating every year ensures that visitors can buy all sorts of things with Bitcoin including video games, organic coffee, diamond jewelry, web hosting, tax preparation services, clothing, gift cards to major retailers, or even a new computer.”



[Image: Renowned-Futurologist-Predicts-4000-Bitcoin.jpg]


Holmquist, however, publicly stated, that he had done “multiple interviews stating that consumer Bitcoin spending is trending down and merchant adoption is pretty much stagnant.”  There has been no notable merchant to announce bitcoin acceptance this year, nor can any easily be recalled from 2015.

The scalability debate has certainly contributed for transaction capacity has reached a peak early this year and very much stagnated at a capped 250,000 transactions per day for all of 2016. Price, however, has more than quadrupled since summer 2015. 


As such, you’d expect bitcoin spending to considerably increase as individuals who have bitcoin and may need the funds for whatever reason can and do spend it directly, rather than having to convert it to cash with its many delays and fees.

Back to the Future
As thanksgiving arrives tomorrow with another year soon to end and we begin looking back at bitcoin’s near eight-year history, hopefully we’ll start once more remembering where we came from and where we are going. For bitcoin, the code, is just an idea. 


An idea that payments can be made without an intermediary, that peers can directly exchange value as long as 51% of them are honest, that we can send money to any corner of the globe, and perhaps even to space, in seconds, for almost free. That a giant network of computers or servers spread across the world in all jurisdictions without requiring any permission to join or leave can provide us with direct control over our money, without any third-party interference, without any centralized authority, be that individual or group.

Bitcoin Black Friday is the perfect way to show all of these qualities in action as users across the world purchase real goods or services by using a trustless and permissionless payment network without any gatekeeper to deny them the service, ask them for any papers or other barriers, or hijack their value. Nor can anyone interfere with this golden payment network where anyone can see money was not double spent, nor inflated away, nor deflated, nor made to simply disappear.


“I hope everyone will have a good time this year, we’re really excited to see the turnout this year, and well, I’m personally excited to purchase some gifts with Bitcoin again!” said Holmquist.


Happy Thanksgiving and have fun shopping on Bitcoin Black Friday 2016.

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Bitcoin
Sometimes the best play is to just wait, and that seems to be the case for Bitcoin, as it continues to move sideways through an arc of resistance.  As mentioned a day or two ago, this sideways movement might last close to another week.
The latest daily chart follows:





Those who have been following along will recognize that on the short-term setup, price is working its way through 4th arc resistance.  The longer-term setup shows a similar picture.  Interestingly, price is exactly at the point at which the 2nd of the arc pair will be hit, 90 degrees past the big jump of Sept 3.

While my hunch is that  price will break free of resistance and begin the next leg up at that time, I would not suggest buying it until after we get a close above the arc.  That second arc of the pair could be the kiss of death, even if it seems unlikely today.  We will keep an eye on it in the days ahead.


Ethereum
Ethereum is disappointing my expectations.  While it has not technically broken down yet, it is not behaving as I expected a couple days ago when I issued a buy recommendation.  I have come to the conclusion that it is best to close that long position at a loss tonight.  Like all traders, I don’t like taking a loss, but when the market says you are wrong it doesn’t pay to argue.


I use Tradingview for a number of reasons, They do a good job overall, but they have a few unresolved charting issues they have chosen not resolve.  One of the biggest problems (imho) as a Gann trader, is that they do not offer decent scale-locking.  There is a Lock Scale feature, but it is broken.  They have been advised of this countless times, but have never fixed it.  The result is that even when one locks the scale, the scale still changes.  Often though, the change is not enough to be immediately apparent.  This can be fatal, as a change in scale changes geometry considerably.


I have adjusted my daily chart’s scale, and re-plotted the bear setup I was using.  It looks quite different now:



[Image: 1124b.jpg]


I imagine that regular readers can see why I opted to close my long position earlier in the day.

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Parity and Geth, Ethereum’s two main clients, went out of synch at around 3PM London time today, accidentally creating two chains operating in parallel. As such, Ethereum’s blockchain currently is not in consensus. Users, especially exchanges, are strongly urged to refrain from transacting or to wait for a very high number of confirmations until the matter is resolved.


Developers are currently working as a matter of urgency to resolve the issue with a solution to be expected within hours.
Nick Johnson, one of the main developers of the Geth client, stated to CCN:


“The root cause is an edge case around the state clearing; if an empty account is ‘touched’ so that it would normally be removed, but the call that ‘touched’ it goes out of gas, Geth will still remove that account from the state, while Parity will not.


The EIP doesn’t explicitly state one or the other is correct, but everyone’s agreed that Parity’s implementation makes more sense. Not explicitly spelling this out in the standard, and not writing a consensus test for this edge-case was an unfortunate oversight.
The solution is that the Geth team is currently coding up a patch that fixes Geth’s behaviour to match that of Parity. We expect to push out a release soon.”


Gavin Wood, founder of Parity Technologies, told CCN that there was a bug in Geth which meant that “around half the network was mining using this broken Geth, half on the correct Parity.” Wood says that “Parity will continue running unchanged with no reversions,” but those operating on Geth may expect a rollback. On that point, Johnson states:


“The geth side of the fork will become non-canonical and be discarded. Most transactions should be included on both sides of the fork, so most users won’t experience a rollback. The main risk is assuming transaction finality when interacting with other systems, such as exchanges accepting deposits and paying out in fiat.”


Wood stated that Geth will be fixed and the “mainchain will continue unperturbed,” but until then everyone needs to exercise caution as ethereum’s blockchain is not currently operating under normal circumstances.


The situation is in many ways comparable to Bitcoin’s split in 2013 and 2015. In both cases, a network upgrade led to accidentally two chains because of a bug. For a period of six hours, miners were mining on different chains, with the eventual end result a roll back to one chain and the other discarded.


Eth’s current accidental split is also a result of a network upgrade. The digital currency just finished a number of optimizations to address certain vulnerabilities two days ago, but a bug in the slightly different approaches of the two clients as explained by Johnson above has now led to a network split.


As stated, the issue should be resolved within hours, but in the meantime, especially if you are using a Geth client, it is probably best to not transact at all or wait for a number of confirmations that amounts to hours or longer, until a final resolution.

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The United Nations African Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (UNAFRI) which focuses on criminal justice issues, recently released a report [PDF] providing direction on bitcoin regulation in Uganda.


After the first ever Round Table discussions in Naguru, Kampala held on 7 July 2016, the UNAFRI highlighted the policy, legal, ethical and social-cultural issues around the regulation of digital currencies.


The event was convened by Dr. Maureen Mapp of the University of Birmingham Law School with the support of the Central Bank of Uganda, UNAFRI, and the African Centre for Cyberlaw and Cybercrime Prevention (ACCP).


The aim of the discussion was to create awareness about the use of digital currencies such as bitcoin in Uganda and to develop instructive guidance on effective ways with which to regulate this new form of digital currency in the country.


Given the amount of decentralized digital currencies available such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, and Dash, to name a few, the focus was on bitcoin simply because of its choice for conducting a range of transactions in Africa including those in Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana.


Earlier this year, a technology lawyer at global financial law firm Norton Rose Fulbright discussed the legality of bitcoin in South Africa.


However, should the effort to regulate bitcoin in Uganda come into effect, it would be one of the first African countries to do so. And yet, while the continent is illustrating a growing interest in the digital currency it does so at a much slower pace compared to other countries.


Efforts to regulate bitcoin in Uganda come after a survey that Dr. Mapp conducted in 2015 for the Commonwealth Secretariat [PDF]. Drawing on online sources and social media, the survey established that bitcoins were being mostly used in Uganda by individuals, charities, and businesses, albeit in a regulatory vacuum.


However, while other countries were taking active steps regarding bitcoin and its regulatory status, the African continent was adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach. As such, this method has given no guidance or strategy on the ways of harnessing the benefits of digital currencies while mitigating associated risks.


Not too long ago, the South African Reserve Bank warned people against the use of bitcoin after conducting a bitcoin trial. Despite this, though, many realize the benefits that the currency can bring to societies.


Among the outcomes from the discussion is a think tank on ‘technological, policy, pluralist, ethical and legal issues that inform and influence the regulation of cryptocurrencies.’


Next Steps?
This discussion, however, was only the first step in helping to pave the way for bitcoin regulation in Uganda.
The next steps include setting up another date, which is set to take place on the same date in 2017. For the time being, though, Uganda is experiencing heightened activity for future regulation of bitcoin, and that can only be a good thing.

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[Image: shutterstock_175801328.jpg]


Libertarian think tank Cato Institute opined in its blog recently that the Internal Revenue Service believes that all Bitcoin users are tax cheats.


It cites the recent IRS “John Doe” summons sent to Bitcoin exchange Coinbase for records from all its users over a two year period.  The demand, which CATO calls “shocking”, includes: “complete user profile, history of changes to user profile from account inception, complete user preferences, complete user security settings and history (including confirmed devices and account activity), complete user payment methods, and any other information related to the funding sources for the account/wallet/vault, regardless of date.”


The summons goes on:

Quote:All records of account/wallet/vault activity including transaction logs or other records identifying the date, amount, and type of transaction (purchase/sale/exchange), the post transaction balance, the names or other identifiers of counterparties to the transaction; requests or instructions to send or receive bitcoin; and, where counterparties transact through their own Coinbase accounts/wallets/vaults, all available information identifying the users of such accounts and their contact information.

As CATO sums it up: “Everything about everyone.”
The declaration submitted to court includes an IRS agent who learned about tax evasion by one Bitcoin user and two companies. The IRS claim “a reasonable basis for believing” that U.S. Coinbase users “may fail or may have failed to comply” with the internal revenue laws.


“If that evidence is enough to create a reasonable basis to believe that all Bitcoin users evade taxes, the IRS is entitled to access the records of everyone who uses paper money,” writes the CATO institute. The think tank outlines what the IRS needs in order to lay claim to a U.S. citizens personal information.


“There must be some specific information about particular users, or else the IRS is seeking a general warrant, which the Fourth Amendment denies it the power to do,” the think tank, originally called the Charles Koch foundation, writes.  It maintains the IRS summons for Coinbase user information sets a dangerous precedent.


“The IRS’s effort to strip away the privacy of all Coinbase users is more broad than the government’s effort in recent cases dealing with cell site location information,” the institute writes.


The CATO institute concludes: “Coinbase’s privacy policy only permits it to share user information with law enforcement when it is “compelled to do so.” That implies putting up a reasonable fight for the interests of its users. Given the low standard and the vastly overbroad demand, Coinbase seems obligated to put up that fight.”


Coinbase doesn’t seem to disagree with CATO, pledging to fight for its users’ privacy. In a succinct note on the summons, Coinbase pledged to fight in court.


“Our customers may be aware that the U.S. government filed a civil petition yesterday in federal court seeking disclosure of all Coinbase U.S. customers’ records over a three-year period,” the San Francisco Bitcoin exchange wrote. “The government has not alleged any wrongdoing on the part of Coinbase and its petition is predicated on sweeping statements that taxpayers may use virtual currency to evade taxes.” This isn’t Coinbase showcasing cyber-punk proclivities. This is prudent business.


“Although Coinbase’s general practice is to cooperate with properly targeted law enforcement inquiries, we are extremely concerned with the indiscriminate breadth of the government’s request,” the company explained. “Our customers’ privacy rights are important to us and our legal team is in the process of examining the government’s petition. In its current form, we will oppose the government’s petition in court. We will continue to keep our customers informed on developments in this matter.”
This will be a court case worth watching for Bitcoin users.

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India’s widespread crackdown on black market cash could lead to a ban on gold imports, if a text sent by the Indian Bullion & Jewellers Association (IBJA) is to be believed.

The trade body sent its 2500 members a text message informing them the government was hearing proposals on a possible gold ban.
“We hear from certain circles of this possibility (gold import ban and advancement of deposit date) though nothing official is out yet,” according to Surendra Mehta, national secretary, IBJA. “The association is supportive of the government’s fight against black money and has informed its members of the possibility of such action. We have asked our members to support the government wholeheartedly.”

[Image: Gold-bangles.jpg]

India’s gold held by jewellers is now under the scanner.

The government is going after not only imports, but also information held by the nation’s jewellers. “Already, 600 jewellers have received notices from the tax department to disclose their sales till November 8. We are aware that certain members of the trade are importing gold only to sell the same against old notes at a hefty premium. So, if the government wants to stop this malpractice it might consider a ban on imports. Alternately, if it directs all jewellers to deposit or declare old notes by November 15, it would not necessarily consider banning imports.”

If gold becomes less available to the Indian public, this can mean only one thing for India Bitcoin demand. The price for bitcoins in rupees is already exploding. Like the move to ban gold imports, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise move to ban the old 500 and 1000 rupees was meant to undermine black market stores of wealth.

[Image: unocoin_unrelenting.jpg]

Sandeep Goenka, the co-founder of Zebpay, an app-enabled bitcoin wallet provider held an AMA  November 21. He shed some insight into the Bitcoin market amid a changing money landscape in India. Users asked the CEO about a large discrepancy between buying bitcoins in India compared to western countries.

“Since we do not import bitcoins, our supply is limited to Indians,” Mr. Goenka explained. “When price increases, in India there are a lot more buyers than sellers. To match the demand and supply on Zebpay, we have to keep increasing prices. This is common worldwide. Many times in China also, the prices are higher than global prices due to an increase in local demand.” Many of the users were unclear the company’s relationship to Bitcoin, and Mr. Goenka spent a large portion of the AMA explaining what bitcoin is. He explained that there is currently no trend for nation-states banning Bitcoin.

[Image: BTC-India.jpg]

Indians are turning to bitcoin, even at a premium.

“Governments in most western countries have regulated and legalized bitcoins in the last 1 year,” he said. “So the trend is towards legalizing and not banning bitcoins. I believe RBI will follow the same trend.”

He says his Zebpay has contacted all government bodies to get clarity on import / export of bitcoins.
Or India could just do to Zebpay what the IRS did to Coinbase. Or India did to jewellers.

Meanwhile, it’s clear to see search queries for “buy bitcoin” in India are on the rise year-to-date:

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[Image: Edinburgh-main-street.jpg]
Scotland’s capital Edinburgh sees a bitcoin ATM.


Bitcoin ATM provider Alphavend has installed a one-way bitcoin ATM (BTM) in Edinburgh, enabling users to buy bitcoin with fiat sterling pound for the first time via a physical teller machine in the city.


Installed yesterday, the machine will be located at the foreign exchange outlet of the No 1 Currency Exchange, a fiat exchange establishment located at 34-35 Queensferry St, in Edinburgh.


As revealed by bitcoin ATM mapper CoinATMradar, bitcoin buying via the machine comes with a fee of 0.05 and a fee of 4.2%. Additionally, there is buy limit of £3,000 per transaction and a daily limit of £10,0000, according to the provider, although these figures are yet to be verified.


With its installation at a traditional currency exchange, customers will also be enabled to swap other fiat currencies, including the sterling pound, for buying the world’s most well-known and widely-implemented digital currency.


While Scotland’s capital sees its first bitcoin dispenser at a physical location, the country is now home to two bitcoin ATMs. CeX, a prominent second-hand goods chain based in the United Kingdom with over 320 stores in the region and more globally hosts Scotland’s first BTM in its Glasgow store at Sauchiehall Street. Installed in mid-2014, the machine continues to operate 7 days a week during store hours.

A Scottish Cryptocurrency
The pro-independence movement has made significant strides in Scotland in recent years bringing the spotlight on talk of a breakaway digital currency. While the sterling pound continues to operate as Scotland’s national currency in the aftermath of the national referendum where a majority voted to stay with the United Kingdom, there have been calls from members of Scottish Parliament advocating for the use of ScotPound, a digital currency centric to Scotland.


The call comes following a report released by the New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, underlining and proposing the viability of a new digital currency that would benefit Scotland both socially and economically.
 
George Kerevan, a member of parliament for the Scottish National Party stated:

Quote:What we need to do now is have a debate a discussion, on what the alternative [to the pound] is. Whether that’s a separate currency, sterlingisation, keeping the pound but doing our own thing – it has to begin with a discussion. That debate is beginning to happen.

 
A year on from those comments, pro-independence currency Scotcoin continues to exist, whilst not making any significant gains.
Still, Scotland is expected to vote ‘Yes’ during the second independence referendum in 2019, where it could elect to leave the European Union, as anticipated by American banking giant JPMorgan. In such a scenario, Scotland could be the first country in the world to veer toward a digital currency alongside a significant political and economic upheaval. This bitcoin-accepting Glasgow pub has a headstart, if digital currencies become the norm in Scotland.

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[Image: Solar-panel-windmill.jpg]
Blockchain technology is already seeing applications in the renewable energy sector.

Siemens and New York-based startup LO3 Energy have announced that they are partnering up to collaborate in the field of innovative microgrids through the blockchain, according to a joint press release.


The microgrid, which is being planned for Brookyln and was initially started as a pilot project of LO3 Energy, is now being developed further with the aid of Siemens Digital Grid in the U.S. For the first time, a microgrid control solution from Siemens is being combined with the peer-to-peer trading platform from LO3 Energy called the TransActive Grid.


The combination of a microgrid control solution and blockchain technology will enable a provider of photovoltaic systems on building roofs in Brooklyn to feed excess electricity back into the local grid and receive payments from those who buy it.


Thomas Zimmermann, CEO of Siemens’ Digital Grid Business Unit, said that Siemens and LO3 Energy are envisioning incredible opportunities for blockchain technology particularly regarding microgrids and energy systems.


He said:

Quote:Its big benefit is, that it permits transparent, efficient trading between multiple participating systems and various stakeholders while taking grid-specific requirements into account.

LO3 Energy is developing a blockchain-based local energy trading platform between producers and consumers in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill, Park Slope, and Gowanus neighborhoods. Preliminary tests of peer-to-peer transactions between neighbors were successfully completed in April 2016.


Blockchain in the Energy Industry
The use of blockchain technology in the energy industry is growing as its benefits become widely known.
In the summer, Australian-based energy company Power Ledger announced that it was aiming to change the way energy trading is done in the country. It planned on achieving this by undertaking trials to determine how individuals buy, sell or exchange excess solar electricity through the blockchain.


Through an eight-week trial, the energy company undertook the process of finding out how producers and consumers could trade their energy directly thus helping to save on money while maximizing the use of solar panels.

Not only that, but a recent survey conducted by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (German Energy Agency) and ESMT Berlin, found that 39 percent of executives serving firms in the energy sector indicated that their companies have plans in the future to implement blockchain.


While these are just a few instances of how blockchain is being utilized in the energy sector, it is demonstrating – like in so many other areas – how significant its use will be by helping people to trade their energy to others that proves profitable to both parties involved.

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