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Global Bitcoin ATM Growth Continues – Now More than 4,000

Recent statistics by Coinatmradar reveal that Bitcoin ATMs globally have crossed the much touted 4,000 threshold.

Bitcoin ATMs Surpass the 4,000 Mark

According to Coinatmradar, the current number of Bitcoin ATMs globally is 4,060, a figure surpassing the 4,000 milestone. The number is a testament to the continuous growth of BTC ATMs worldwide, despite the current plunge in cryptocurrency prices. An earlier report stated that Bitcoin ATMs were almost crossing the 4,000 mark, with 3,991 BTC ATMs.

Bitcoin ATM installation continues to spread across continents with North America still maintaining its number one spot. The continent controls a staggering 71.2% of the market, with a total of 2,888 BTC ATM installed. Europe, at the number two spot but far behind, has 23.7% with a total number of 961 Bitcoin ATMs. Africa is still far behind with 0.2%.

The number of BTC ATMs in different countries has also increased. The United States, still on top of the BTC ATM food chain, boasts of 2,240 Bitcoin ATMs across the country. Canada holds on to second place, with a total number of 619, as against its former figure of 600 BTC ATMs. Other countries like Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Armenia, and Iceland have one BTC ATM each.

The competition among Bitcoin ATM manufacturers continues to grow tough, with new entrants trying to carve a niche in the market. Genesis Coin is still the top manufacturer of BTC ATMs, controlling 31.6% of the market share. General Bytes, however, follows very closely with 30.2%, while Lamassu lags, controlling just 10.8% of the market share.

Increase in Bitcoin Investment Despite Price Drop

The continued rise in BTC ATM numbers despite the year-long bear market is indicative of the confidence of big-money players in the sector. One of the hallmarks of a paradigm-shifting technology is its ability to remain relevant post-mania period.

Across the market, there are examples of investors continuing to keep faith with cryptocurrencies despite the bear market. Recently, Nasdaq declared that it would move ahead with its planned BTC futures launch slated for 2019. According to the company, it has come too far to turn back now.

Even investment firms and Trusts like eToro and Grayscale say their clients are increasing their BTC holdings. Even with the price crash that started in mid-November, Grayscale reports that its clients have an even greater appetite for BTC. Presently, the company owns about one percent of the total BTC in circulation.

Image courtesy of Ethereum World News archives.

The post Global Bitcoin ATM Growth Continues – Now More than 4,000 appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Global Bitcoin ATM Growth Continues – Now More than 4,000

Recent statistics by Coinatmradar reveal that Bitcoin ATMs globally have crossed the much touted 4,000 threshold.

Bitcoin ATMs Surpass the 4,000 Mark

According to Coinatmradar, the current number of Bitcoin ATMs globally is 4,060, a figure surpassing the 4,000 milestone. The number is a testament to the continuous growth of BTC ATMs worldwide, despite the current plunge in cryptocurrency prices. An earlier report stated that Bitcoin ATMs were almost crossing the 4,000 mark, with 3,991 BTC ATMs.

Bitcoin ATM installation continues to spread across continents with North America still maintaining its number one spot. The continent controls a staggering 71.2% of the market, with a total of 2,888 BTC ATM installed. Europe, at the number two spot but far behind, has 23.7% with a total number of 961 Bitcoin ATMs. Africa is still far behind with 0.2%.

The number of BTC ATMs in different countries has also increased. The United States, still on top of the BTC ATM food chain, boasts of 2,240 Bitcoin ATMs across the country. Canada holds on to second place, with a total number of 619, as against its former figure of 600 BTC ATMs. Other countries like Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Armenia, and Iceland have one BTC ATM each.

The competition among Bitcoin ATM manufacturers continues to grow tough, with new entrants trying to carve a niche in the market. Genesis Coin is still the top manufacturer of BTC ATMs, controlling 31.6% of the market share. General Bytes, however, follows very closely with 30.2%, while Lamassu lags, controlling just 10.8% of the market share.

Increase in Bitcoin Investment Despite Price Drop

The continued rise in BTC ATM numbers despite the year-long bear market is indicative of the confidence of big-money players in the sector. One of the hallmarks of a paradigm-shifting technology is its ability to remain relevant post-mania period.

Across the market, there are examples of investors continuing to keep faith with cryptocurrencies despite the bear market. Recently, Nasdaq declared that it would move ahead with its planned BTC futures launch slated for 2019. According to the company, it has come too far to turn back now.

Even investment firms and Trusts like eToro and Grayscale say their clients are increasing their BTC holdings. Even with the price crash that started in mid-November, Grayscale reports that its clients have an even greater appetite for BTC. Presently, the company owns about one percent of the total BTC in circulation.

Image courtesy of Ethereum World News archives.

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Half of American Millennials are Open to Using Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin (BTC), Cryptocurrency–While the majority of the crypto industry and the market continues to feed on news out of Wall Street’s institutional money and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s ruling on Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds, a subset of the American population is ready to welcome cryptocurrency with open arms.

A recent published survey has found that nearly half of all American millennials report an interest in cryptocurrency, giving a strong indication for the trend of adoption moving forward. Conducted by the research service YouGov Omnibus, which polled 1200+ respondents through the last days of August, found that there is decidedly more optimism and interest towards cryptocurrency among younger generations and those just now entering early adulthood–a trend that has been confirmed by other surveys in relation to intent to invest in cryptocurrency.

“Of the people who believe that cryptocurrencies will become widely accepted, over one-third (36%) say they would be interested in converting to primarily using a cryptocurrency rather than the U.S. dollar. However, a majority (57%) say they would not be interested in converting away from the U.S. dollar. Millennials are almost equally split between being interested (48%) and not interested (50%).”

As opposed to older investors polled in previous surveys, particularly those with capital and assets equaling greater than $100,000, which rejected Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on a basis of high price volatility and lack of regulation in the market, younger investors and general enthusiasts seem to be drawn to the idea of an alternative form of money. It also shows a subtle preference for avoiding the traditional investment route of stocks and Wall Street, as the millennial generation was one that hit its stride in the U.S. around the time of the global 2008 recession and the widely publicized Occupy Wall Street campaign.

In evidence of further adoption for the industry of cryptocurrency, the vast majority (79 percent)  of respondents were familiar with at least one cryptocurrency, of which Bitcoin was listed as the most popular at 71 percent of those polled, an unsurprising fact given its position in market capitalization and general household name appeal. Ethereum, the second largest currency by market capitalization, made up the next highest currency in terms of familiarity, with 13 percent of those polled saying they knew of the coin.

Unfortunately, 87 percent of respondents who reported being familiar with Bitcoin had never actually interacted with a digital currency, again appealing to the brand-appeal of the coin while wider adoption continues to lag behind. As far as investing, 49 percent of respondents reported being glad they had not purchased Bitcoin prior to the questionairre–an unsurprising feature as the coin hits its ninth month of a bear cycle, down from nearly $20,000 at the end of last year. Some respondents reported having some regret towards the digital asset, with 15 percent stating that they wished they had bought Bitcoin earlier.

Perhaps most telling of all was 44 percent of millenials stating that they believed cryptocurrency would achieve wider adoption in the future, with only 34 percent saying that greater adoption would not occur. As outlined in the finding, the researchers conducting the survey reported believing that most of the skepticism comes from the still entrenched belief that cryptocurrency is primarily for illicit and anonymous activities–an idea carved deeply into society following the Silk Road episode.

The post Half of American Millennials are Open to Using Cryptocurrency appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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CoinGate’s Lightning Network To Boost Bitcoin Adoption, 4,000 Merchants Already Onboard

The Lightning Network is about to breach the 102 BTC capacity, and that could very well be the nicest thing to happen to Bitcoin of late. The Lightning Network brings to Bitcoin what everyone has been waiting for all along: A faster, secure payment processing system right at the top of the Bitcoin blockchain. That’s exactly what CoinGate sought to achieve when it introduced the Lightning Network.

It’s Like An Off-Shoot Of The Chain

Basically, this network acts as an off-chain layer to the Bitcoin blockchain where a batch of transactions can be processed before the underlying general chain or ledger is updated. This has the good effect of boosting the transaction processing speed since the system doesn’t have to update every transaction instance separately.

Granted, such a positive development would obviously attract players and support from various bases, especially the key stake-holders like merchants. At the moment, CoinGate has decided to add its 4,000-strong merchant base to the Lightning Network, a move that could result in an overall improvement in terms of use of the cryptocurrency. In return, this increased adoption would boost Bitcoin’s trading volumes and impact the coin’s market value positively.

Speed, Low Fees, Sharp Growth, And Zero Errors

Besides processing transactions in milliseconds, the Lightning Network also significantly reduces transaction fees. The Lightning Network facilitates instant transactions and boosts the scalability of the underlying Bitcoin blockchain network. Currently, various versions of Lightning Wallets are used by a number of transaction processing entities that act on behalf of the merchants.  The merchants include Lois Chevrolet, Livejasmine, and Chronoswiss. The network was first introduced by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja back in 2015 when the Lithuanian-based company, CoinGate, entered the market.

A look at the network’s recent growth rate confirms that its impact on the Bitcoin market will be significant. Over the past month alone, the network’s capacity has shot up by 5%, node count has increased by 10%, and channel count has gone up by 6%. At the moment, the network boasts 3,369 nodes running over 12,000 channels. Within the past 6 months, the network capacity has shot up from 3 BTC to the current 102.64 BTC.

During its initial beta test, the network was involved with 100 stores selected from all across the world, and not a single error was recorded. That’s a huge plus for a payment processing system that’s handling billions of transactions per second. In terms of partnerships, CoinGate is yet to associate with any US entity, but that’s expected to happen in the coming year. All said and done, the Lightning Network seems pretty poised to take Bitcoin adoption to a whole new level.

The post CoinGate’s Lightning Network To Boost Bitcoin Adoption, 4,000 Merchants Already Onboard appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Reports: A Bitcoin ETF Could Be Approved In 2019

The talk in town is no longer about if a Bitcoin ETF will be approved, but rather when. That means that the approval is currently deemed imminent. However, the crypto market may have to wait a while longer for this to happen as it is unlikely to come into play in 2018. Predictions from various sources indicate that the approval may come sometime in 2019, terming the year as the more realist period for the expected development.

SEC To Review Verdict

Perhaps one of the more important factors that could affect this perception is the issue surrounding the US SEC’s decision to review its earlier verdict to reject ETF approval proposals by the Winklevoss twins. At the moment, the approval seems imminent, but it’s the timing that has some people concerned.

An ETF includes any kind of fund, be it mutual or hedge fund, that is traded within a listed exchange platform. With an ETF, most assets traded are regulated by CFTC or SEC. Currently, very few crypto assets are recognized by these two regulatory bodies. As such, any trading fund would need to list its shareholders as securities. Because of these regulatory challenges, SEC is still wary of approving their ETF proposals.

There Have Been Attempts

There have been noted attempts to get SEC to approve ETF applications, with the most noticeable being the recent proposals presented by the Winklevoss twins in March 2017 and July 2018. However, the two applications were turned down. More applications have followed, from various other parties, with varied revisions and details.

In August 5 2018, a report from the US Equity Research and written by Scott Suh andMichael Graham opined that the imminent approval of a Bitcoin ETF was at the top of the agenda for the majority of institutions seeking to breaking into the new digital asset class. They mentioned the application by SolidX /VanEck as one of the various applications awaiting verdict. Although some major industry players don’t really take a Bitcoin ETF as very necessary, there’s a general consensus that its approval would likely trigger a short-term event and it could well fuel a bullish run.

As for the proposal presented by VanEck/SolidX, the SEC review date has been set for September, and there’s a possibility that this date may be change. This makes 2019 the more realistic timeline for the review and possible approval of a Bitcoin ETF. However, the ball is now in SEC’s court, and the market can only anticipate.

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The Federal Court Of California Is Now Accepting Bitcoin For Bail Payments

A Federal Court in the United States has received Bitcoin as payment for a defendant’s bail. According to media sources, this is the first time something like is happening. The defendant, Martin Marsich, was facing charges of hacking into a gaming company. The California court allowed him to settle his bail amounting to $750,000 using Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency.

Court’s Main Objective

Explaining the incident, Abraham Simmons, who is the Assistant District Attorney, said that technically, defendants can settle their bail payments in any credible format or in whatever way ordered by the judge, and this includes a third party’s real estate. He added that the main objective was to ensure that the defendant complies with court orders to appear for proceedings at a later date.

Simmons argued that the use of cryptos to pay bail is not likely to face challenges associated with fluctuating prices and exchange rates. He said that the court doesn’t really care about issues of price appreciation or depreciation since its main goal is to ensure that the defendant is compelled to appear in court and not to maintain the value of the cryptocurrency.

Lawmakers Don’t Want It, Agents Want It

The acceptance of crypto bails by the California court is bound to surprise some people, although it wasn’t entirely unexpected. However, lawmakers continue to view cryptocurrencies suspiciously as they’re linked to illegal activities mainly because of the anonymous nature of most crypto transactions. This is despite the fact that California is one of the US states with the most accommodative laws governing the use of cryptocurrencies.

However, opinions within the US DEA indicate that as law enforcement agencies understand the use of cryptos better, the general acceptance of the digital assets increases. According to agent Lilia Infante, the blockchain technology gives law enforcement agencies many ways to track people’s identities and that actually serves to make the agencies’ jobs easier. In fact, agent Lilia would like people to keep using cryptocurrencies. The agent was speaking to Bloomberg.

This kind of development hasn’t started today. It is likely as a result of continued build up of positive efforts to improve both general public and legal perception of cryptocurrencies. Just last year, a project was started in New York to gather crypto funds aimed at helping pay bail for defendants who can’t manage to meet their bail terms.

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Hyper Inflation in Venezuela Makes for Interesting Times in Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency–While the ongoing inflation and forced impoverization of the Venezuelan population is bordering on a crisis, the scenario surrounding government fiscal policy, imposed fiat usage and the role of cryptocurrency is creating an interesting incubation for the industry.

It started with the growth of adoption for Bitcoin in the beleaguered country, with citizens looking for an alternative to escape the six hundred thousand percentage increase for inflation (on pace to hit one million by the end of the year). Bitcoin, which has long been pointed to as an excellent digital store of value analogous to physical gold, allowed Venezuelans the opportunity to use a global currency with far less price volatility than the now-worthless Bolivar. While most of the Western world, particularly older generations polled in investment surveys, complain about the erratic fluctuating price of BTC–a feature that has been heaped upon by Nobel Prize winning economists–Venezuelans flock to the currency in an effort to avoid the crippling inflation of their fiat currency, providing strong support for the validity of the digital asset.

However, that same adoptive population is also realizing the limitations of Bitcoin, a set of difficulties that were exposed in January during the peak of BTC pricing. While mining fees have come down substantially from their average of $55 per transaction earlier in the year, Venezuelans are turning to a currency that offers more utility. DASH has seen an explosion in both price appreciation and adoption throughout this past week, as cryptocurrency moves towards being the go-to choice for the crypto-using portion of Venezuela that desperately needs a transaction-focused tender separate from government fiat.

As previously reported by EWN, DASH is seeing upwards of two hundred new merchant adoptions per month in the country, with the commerce-minded population benefiting from the greatly reduced transaction times of the coin over competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum. While Bitcoin continues to hold the lion’s share of the market and nearly all of the brand-recognition of cryptocurrency, DASH, NANO and other transaction-focused currencies are quietly making a name for themselves in their ability to offer a fast, cheap (or fee-less) alternative to traditional money.

Given the abuse of government fiscal policy, rampant inflation and bureaucratic control over money that has devastated countries throughout history, it seems unlikely that Venezuela will be the last situation to gain international attention over a crippled monetary system. The average investor in cryptocurrency might be in for the potential of profit, but most developers and industry enthusiasts recognize the underlying power is not just in the technology of blockchain, anonymity and security, but the decentralized framework that is put into practice when large populations shift from government fiat. Venezuela is a real-time incubator playing out for how cryptocurrency can respond to a situation of ineffective fiat or traditional tender as the primary source of money. While the market has responded in a predictable manner, i.e. favoring currencies that offer the fastest and cheapest transactions, it also gives credence to the intrinsic value of the currencies that has regularly been lambasted by economists and other academic circles. Bitcoin may not be backed by a physical property, but it still holds value to the Venezuelan family harboring their earnings in BTC and paying for their groceries as opposed to using the worthless Bolivar.

It remains to be seen how cryptocurrency can use situations like the one currently playing out in Venezuela to ultimately benefit the population and the growing industry. At the very least, it has provided an alternative discussion from the endless conversation surrounding Exchange-Traded Funds and price predictions.

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Hodler’s Digest, August 26–September 2: Both Eminem and Yahoo Finance Embrace Bitcoin in Wins for Crypto Adoption

Top Stories This Week

Top Stories This Week

Yahoo Finance Integrates Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin on iOS App

Yahoo Finance has integrated BTC, ETH, and LTC on its iOS app this week, with a version briefly appearing and disappearing on its desktop version despite Yahoo noting that the desktop, mobile web, and Android version won’t be available for several weeks. A Yahoo Finance press release notes that users that wish to trade crypto on Yahoo Finance will have to link a broker account via integrated third party service TradeIt.

“Operation Cryptosweep” Produces More Than 200 Crypto-Related Investigations

The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) announced this week that their “Operation Cryptosweep,” which is a probe into potentially fraudulent crypto investment programs that was introduced in may, has resulted in over 200 investigations of ICOs and crypto-related investment products. The NASAA noted that investors should perform their own due diligence before investing in crypto-related projects, and stated that any project qualified as a security should be registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies or apply for an exemption from registration.

Report: North Korea Attempted to Mine BTC, While Local Firm Develops BTC Exchange

According to a report from South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), North Korea (DPRK) has attempted to mine Bitcoin (BTC). According to a local news outlet, the mining attempt – which was reportedly conducted on a “on a small scale” between May and July 2017 – seems to have been unsuccessful. KDB’s research team also reported that North Korean tech firm Chosun Expo is allegedly now in the process of developing a BTC crypto exchange, without any further details provided.

JPMorgan CIO Thinks Blockchain Will “Replace Existing Technology” in Short Time

Lori Beer, the chief information officer at JPMorgan, believes that blockchain tech will eventually replace the current technology in the span of a few years. According to an Argentinian media source, Beer noted that JPMorgan uses blockchain technology to “simplify the payment process and to store customers’ information related to KYC (Know Your Customer) policy.” Beer also added that the bank currently only supports what is regulated in terms of cryptocurrencies, and has specialists who are “evaluating what is happening.”

Bitcoin Mentioned on Eminem’s New Album “Kamikaze”

U.S. rapper Ryan Daniel Montgomery, better known as Royce Da 5’9’, mentioned major cryptocurrency Bitcoin on rapper Eminem’s new album, “Kamikaze.” In “Not Alike,” the ninth track on the new album, co-star Royce Da 5’9” sings:

“Remember everybody used to bite Nickel, now everybody doing Bitcoin.” Forbes describes the line as an important sign of Bitcoin’s presence in mass culture and the realization that the cryptocurrency has a range of use cases beyond criminal.

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Most Memorable Quotations

Most Memorable Quotations

Joseph Lubin

“I’m not sure that market manipulations are related to Tether directly, if they do exist. It has been an unregulated market set of exchanges that enable big players to do what they want to do […] Ideally we’ll get a little better regulation of those centralized exchanges at least,” — Joseph Lubin, founder of Ethereum

Charlie Lee

“I’d like to see more [talk around] Lightning Network and sidechains, ways of helping Bitcoin and Litecoin to scale. I think with the price depressed, it’s actually a good time for people to […] get stuff done. That’s what I’ve seen in the past few bear markets actually,” — Charlie Lee, founder of Litecoin

Lori Beer

“We will see a greater and wider use of blockchain […] In a few years blockchain will replace the existing technology, today it only coexists with the current one,” — Lori Beer, chief information officer at JPMorgan

Ryan Daniel Montgomery

“Remember everybody used to bite Nickel, now everybody doing Bitcoin,” — U.S. rapper Ryan Daniel Montgomery, widely known as Royce Da 5’9”

Laws and Taxes

Laws and Taxes

Poland Introduces New Crypto Legislation for Consideration

Polish legislators have introduced a long-awaited new bill to clarify the current crypto taxation policy, which the local crypto community had resisted earlier this year. The bill, which defines cryptocurrencies in terms of the Act on Counteracting Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing as a “digital representation of money,” notes that crypto-to-crypto transactions performed on the stock exchange or individually will be tax free, while income from selling services, property, and goods will be treated like revenue for taxation purposes.

California Passes Bill to Create Blockchain Tech Working Group

California’s AB 2658, a bill that calls for the establishment of a working group on blockchain technology, has passed in both houses of the state legislature and will now head to the governor for approval. The bill requires the Secretary of the Government Operations Agency to form a blockchain working group on or before July 1, 2019 that should consist of participants from both technology and non-technology industries, as well as appointees with a background in law, and representatives of privacy and consumer organizations.

Adoption

Adoption

OpenFinance Launches Regulated Alternative Trading System For Security Tokens

OpenFinance, a security token trading platform, has launched a regulated alternative trading system (ATS) for security tokens, according to information shared with Cointelegraph this week. An ATS, defined in the U.S. and Canada, is a non-exchange trading venue that matches buyers and sellers to find counterparties for transactions.

Report: CBOE Considers Launching Ethereum Futures

According to a report by Business Insider, CBOE Global Markets, the owner of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and one of the world’s largest exchange holding companies, is looking to launch futures for Ethereum (ETH) by the end of 2018. According to sources, CBOE will reportedly base its ETH futures on Gemini’s underlying market. Business Insider wrote that the exchange is waiting on approval from the CFTC before officially launching.

Lloyd’s of London to Insure Cryptocurrency Custody Firm

Lloyd’s of London, a U.K. insurance market leader founded in 1686, announced this week that it will insure a crypto custody platform by U.S.-based custodial firm Kingdom Trust. Kingdom Trust, which serves over 100,000 customers and has $12 billion in assets under custody, is the reportedly the “first” regulated financial institution to offer qualified custody for digital asset investments. The company is now launching insurance coverage for digital currency to protect investors against theft and destruction of assets.

Japan’s LINE Messaging App Launches a Cryptocurrency, In-House Blockchain

Japanese social media giant LINE reported this week on the launch of its own cryptocurrency and in-house blockchain. The mainnet, LINK chain, is a “service-oriented” blockchain network that will allow dApps to be directly applied to LINE’s messaging platform. According to LINE, a total of 1 billion LINK tokens will be issued to users of its platform, with 20 percent kept as a company reserve.

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

Alipay, Ant Financial Partner With Chinese Authorities for Blockchain Use

Alipay and its parent company Ant Financial have partnered with local Chinese authorities to use blockchain for confirming the authenticity of rice from the Wuchang region. According to local media, the deal with the municipal government in Wuchang in Heilongjiang Province aims to stop counterfeit versions of the well-known Wuchang rice making it into the market. Local media also noted that warehousing, delivery, and distribution links will be available to customers in real time, and delivery time will be brought down from three to seven days to less than two days.

Associated Press Partners With Blockchain-Based Journalism Startup Civil

The Associated Press (AP) news agency has signed a content licensing partnership with blockchain-based startup Civil, which develops technology to track ownership rights and content usage in the journalism industry. As part of the project, the AP will deliver its content, including national and international news to Civil, so that news agencies can access it on the platform. The AP notes that they are interested in exploring ways to secure intellectual property rights, support ethical journalism, and track content usage with blockchain technology.

IBM Partners With Australian Consortium to Build Blockchain Platform

IBM, CSIRO’s Data61, and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills have partnered for a new Australian consortium to build a cross-industry blockchain-based smart contracts platform for enterprises. Data61, a digital innovation center that forms part of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), will collaborate with the other entities to create the Australian National Blockchain (ANB). The ANB aims to pool the tech, scientific and legal expertise of the three partners to create a nationwide, legally-compliant blockchain infrastructure for the digital economy.

Funding Rounds

Funding Rounds

Stablecoin Terra Closes $32 Million Funding Round With Binance Labs, Huobi Capital

South Korean e-commerce marketplace Ticket Monster announced this week it had closed a $32 million funding round for its stablecoin Terra, with the aim to create an in-house cryptocurrency to complement its existing token, Luna. Binance Labs, OKEx and Huobi Capital, as well as funds including Polychain Capital, contributed to the funding round.

Blockchain Cloud Startup DFINITY Closes More Than $100 Million Funding Round

Swiss and US-based blockchain cloud computing startup DFINITY has closed a new funding round worth around $105 million. Both Polychain Capital and Andreessen Horowitz via its investment fund a16z participated in DFINITY’s funding round, having also contributed to a $61 million round in February. The startup, which aims to build what it describes as an “Internet Computer,” ultimately wants to create a platform which will “host the world’s next generation of software and services on a public network.”

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers

Winners and Losers

The crypto markets are seeing some returns this week, with Bitcoin trading for around $7,245 and Ethereum at around $292. Total market cap is now around $235 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are IGToken, ZoZoCoin, and Rublix. The top three altcoin losers of the week are PlexCoin, Bastonet, ZenGold.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

FUD of the Week

FUD of the Week

Baidu Imposes New Anti-Crypto Measures Following Tencent and Alibaba

Chinese tech giant Baidu has joined Tencent and Alibaba in carrying out anti-crypto measures in line with Beijing’s toughened stance. China’s version of Google has reportedly closed at least two popular crypto-related chat forums, informing users that the move comes “in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.” Earlier, WeChat-operator Tencent also released its own statement about its ban on crypto trading, and Alibaba also announced it will restrict or permanently ban any accounts it finds to be engaged in crypto trading.

Brazilian Crypto Platforms Suffers Data Breach Affecting 260,000 Customers

Atlas Quantum, a Brazilian crypto trading platform, revealed a data breach this week that led to the exposure of its 260,000 clients’ data, but did not affect their funds. According to the company, measures were enacted following the leak to prevent further attacks. Some of the platform’s functions were temporarily paused after the incident, but the company assured users that passwords and encryption keys remained safe.

Colorado Orders Three Crypto Firms Promoting ICOs to Show Cause

Gerald Rome, the Colorado Securities Commissioner, has ordered three crypto firms alleged of promoting unregistered ICOs, meaning that a party or individual in a case must justify, prove, or explain something in court. Bionic Coin, Sybrelabs Ltd., and Global Pay Net (also known as GLPN Coin and GPN Token) received orders this week, after the firms reportedly made hyperbolic and misleading statements to investors regarding their products.

China’s Crypto Ban Expanded to Guangzhou Development District

The Guangzhou Development District, a special economic zone in southern China close to Hong Kong, is now prevented from allowing commercial venues to host crypto-related events. The ban comes after an almost identical ban first imposed upon venues in Beijing’s Chaoyang district in mid-August. According to this new order, Guangzhou’s Financial Development Bureau reportedly issued a notice warning of the need to “maintain the security and stability of the financial system.”

Prediction of the Week

Prediction of the Week

Study: Bitcoin Could Hit $98,000 in the Next Five Years

A new study by ICO advisory firm Satis Group has found that Bitcoin could potentially reach $98,000 in the next five years. According to the report, the overall value of cryptoassets needed to support the economy will grow to $3.6 trillion by 2028, while 90 percent of cryptoasset value will be extracted from penetration of offshore deposits in the next ten years.

Best Features

Best Features

Could Tesla Tokenize?

Fortune’s The Ledger explains how tokenizing could help Elon Musk achieve his stated, and then retracted, idea of taking Tesla private. According to Musk’s statement, he decided to leave the company public after all because “there is also no proven path for most retail investors to own shares if we were private.” However, Fortune suggests a hypothetical “Tesla Coin” that could allow Musk to have his cake and eat it too by allowing more than just accredited investors to own shares in a private company.

Why You Need a Physical Vault to Secure A Virtual Currency

Wired dives into the behind-the-scenes specifics of how Coinbase generates encryption keys for its custody clients (a tent, a Faraday cage that blocks electromagnetic radiation, three laptops, a coin toss, and a printer). Although this process may seem complicated and almost archaic (the idea of storing virtual money on paper in a bank vault could be considered a step backwards technologically), after all, the author references, horses and carts were more efficient than cars when the tech was still new.

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Hyperbitcoinization: How Currency Crises Are Driving Nations to Crypto

Venezuela, Turkey, Iran and Zimbabwe: these countries are all facing ongoing economic crises. They’re suffering from high levels of inflation, and as a result the people living within them are increasingly turning to crypto as a store of value and a means of exchange. Their recent troubles have heightened the distant possibility that, at some point in the future, hyperbitcoiniztion will take place, with Bitcoin (or some other coin) replacing the bolívar, the lira, the rial and other struggling national currencies, and perhaps even becoming the world’s dominant form of money, as predicted by the likes of Steve Wozniak and Jack Dorsey.

However, as encouraging as such developments are for Bitcoin’s reputation as a store of value, it’s unlikely that the moves of Turkish, Venezuelan and Zimbabwean citizens toward it and other cryptocurrencies are an immediate precursor to the kinds of blanket adoption processes outlined in the noted 2014 “Hyperbitcoinization” article by Daniel Krawisz.  Even though they’re conspicuously increasing, the BTC volumes traded in the affected countries above are not significant enough relative to global volumes, while the isolated nature of most of these nations means that adoption has little chance of spreading outward.

Added to this, for as long as such global reserve currencies as the U.S. dollar, the euro and the Japanese yen remain stable, crypto adoption won’t be boosted by high inflation in nations where the population has access to such currencies — and not to mention gold.

Venezuela

The textbook case of crisis-driven crypto adoption is Venezuela, with the first report on Venezuelans turning to Bitcoin arriving in October 2014. According to Reuters, Venezuelans were being driven to the cryptocurrency by the capital controls imposed by President Hugo Chavez in 2003, which made it excruciatingly hard for them to obtain U.S. dollars. Given that, even then, hyperinflation was in motion in Venezuela (at 68.5 percent), locals began purchasing — and mining — Bitcoin, which stood at $388.30 by the beginning of that October, despite having fallen by around 49 percent since the beginning of the year.

While data on the actual number of people using Bitcoin at this point isn’t available, the Reuters article states that Venezuela “already [had] at least several hundred Bitcoin enthusiasts.” Somewhat less vaguely, Coin Dance records that 625,573 Venezuelan bolívar (VEF) was traded for Bitcoin on the LocalBitcoins peer-to-peer (p2p) crypto-exchange in the week of Dec. 12, 2014, equivalent to about $99,403.55 at the conversion rate of the time. Similarly, CryptoCompare lists a high for 2014 (on Dec. 24) at VEF 553,633.30, which, at around $87,972.33, underlines how the volumes being traded weren’t massive — particularly for a nation with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $482 billion — even if they were growing as a result of economic pressures.

Volume of VEF & BTC Market

Since 2014, things have picked up gradually. In the week ending on Dec. 17, 2016, there were Bitcoin trades worth a total of VEF 527,945,763, which, due to inflation of around 275 percent in 2015, translated to $105,589.15 at then-current conversion rates. That year, individuals involved in the Venezuelan crypto-economy had begun speaking in favor of Bitcoin and other cryptos as genuine alternatives to the bolívar and even the U.S. dollar, with the founder of Bitcoin Venezuela, Randy Brito, telling Cointelegraph in January 2016 that BTC could be “a genuine savior of the Venezuelan economy.”

“The Bitcoin market in Venezuela is indeed big and growing at a fast rate. The absence of exchanges have seemingly gone unnoticed as most Bitcoin miners within the country trade informally with people they can trust — basically for reasons of privacy, as they seek to conceal their source of wealth from the public.”

Coupled with the ability Bitcoin grants Venezuelans for resisting a government that has effectively robbed people of wealth by presiding over an inflationary regime, its growing value over the course of 2015 and 2016 gained it increasing popularity. Indeed, the local Surbitcoin exchange told the Washington Post in March 2017 that the number of Bitcoin users expanded from around 450 in 2014 to 85,000 in 2016.

Once again, such numbers aren’t massive for a country with a population of approximately 31.5 million, but the deteriorating situation in Venezuela has meant that they only increased further in 2017 and 2018. For the week ending on June 24, 2017, the VEF/BTC market on LocalBitcoins alone had reached a volume of VEF 9,210,450,540, according to Coin Dance. This equated to around $1,151,306.32 at the time, while the week of Dec. 30, 2017 saw a trade volume of VEF 281,525,042,307 on LocalBitcoins — or $2,815,250.42, according to then-current black market exchange rates.

This year, even with the advent of the state-controlled and oil-backed Petro cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more generally have continued to enjoy a strong increase in usage. In fact, Reuters has recently reported that no crypto-exchanges are trading the Petro and that no Venezuelan shops currently accept it, while the likes of Bitcoin have continued to see growth. Assuming the same crude volume-to-users ration that was evident at the end of 2016 (i.e., Bitcoins worth $105,589.15 traded by around 85,000 users), there were around 926,500 Bitcoin users in the week of Aug. 18, 2018, when 673 Bitcoin was traded against 27.28 trillion Venezuelan bolívars on LocalBitcoins. At the black market exchange rate (i.e., 1 VEF = $5,921,486.23) that applied prior to the Venezuelan government officially devaluing the bolívar by 95 percent, this equalled around $4.6 million.

It’s not clear to what extent traded volumes will continue to grow now that the government has devalued the bolívar, yet the economic pressures faced by Venezuela have caused its population to adopt Bitcoin more speedily than other nations with comparable GDP. For instance, in New Zealand and Romania — two countries the International Monetary Fund (IMFputs next to Venezuela in terms of GDP — the LocalBitcoins BTC market has grown by 875 percent and 2400 percent respective since 2013. By contrast, the LocalBitcoins BTC/VEF market has grown by a staggering 67,300 percent since 2013, with 536 Bitcoin being traded in the week ending on Aug. 25. If nothing else, this underlines the kind of boost hyperinflation can give to cryptocurrency adoption. And seeing as how the IMF has predicted that inflation could reach 1,000,000 percent by the end of 2018, the boost is likely to be even bigger in the coming months.

It’s not only Bitcoin that has enjoyed the fruits of Venezuela’s economic disaster, as other cryptocurrencies have also made inroads into the South American nation. Since at least September 2016, Venezuelans have also been avid users of Dash, whose faster confirmation times and lower transaction fees generally make it more convenient as a means of payment. Buoyed by active moves on Dash’s part to promote their coin among Venezuelans as an alternative to the bolívar — and to Bitcoin — it’s reportedly the most popular cryptocurrency among local merchants — at least, according to Dash themselves — with upward of 540 merchants in the country now accepting it as a means of payment.

Iran

Iran is another country that has been on the wrong end of U.S.-led sanctions in recent years, and like Venezuela, its national currency — the rial (IRR) — is suffering from high inflation, although its current rate of 18 percent doesn’t quite match the 82,766 percent currently seen in Venezuela.

As recently as this April, the rial’s rate of inflation was only 7.9 percent, yet this jumped to 9.7 percent, 13.7 percent and then 18 percent in May, June and July. Much like Venezuela, the Iranian government responded to this precipitous increase by announcing plans in late July for a state-run cryptocurrency, while the Iranian population had by that point already traded crypto worth $2.5 billion, according to a May report from Forbes. This was despite the government having introduced an April ban on banks dealing in cryptocurrencies.

And since April and May, there has been a noticeable uptick in the IRR/BTC market on LocalBitcoins. For instance, between July 7 and July 28, the volume of this market increased by 109.1 percent, from IRR 9.467 billion to IRR 19.796 billion (i.e., to roughly $176,758.31, according to black market conversion rates).

Volume of IRR & BTC Market

By contrast, a country with a similarly sized GDP — Thailand — witnessed only a 27.6 percent increase over the same two-week period, from 12.2 million Thai baht (THB) to THB 15.6 million. That said, this latter figure equals $476.410, meaning that the BTC market is bigger in Thailand in absolute terms. More importantly, it also means that an inflation crisis alone isn’t enough to bring about widespread crypto adoption overnight, since it’s clear that the Iranian market for crypto is not only small, but is hampered by legislation that makes it illegal. It has also been undermined by the enduring popularity of gold, which rose by 300 percent against IRR in the three months leading up to June and which has reportedly replaced the U.S. dollar in local Iranian markets, according to the Iran Gold & Jewelry Association.

Zimbabwe

Another nation that has its own economic woes is Zimbabwe. In 2009, it abandoned its own national currency (the Zimbabwean dollar), doing so after a trillion-dollar note was introduced and after the currency had braved 10 years of hyperinflation — the rate of which reaching as high as 231,000,000 percent in July 2008.

Since then, the government has permitted the use of a variety of currencies — including the U.S. dollar, South African rand, and the euro — yet, this drastic measure introduces problems of its own, such as acute shortages of foreign cash. To combat this, the Zimbabwean government has been imposing capital controls, setting the latest this May, when the central bank limited the amount of USD people can withdraw from ATMs and send out of the country to $1,000.

In the face of such restrictions, Bitcoin witnessed price increases above the global average on the Zimbabwean Golix exchange at the end of 2017, with the price even doubling in November as locals sought to obtain currency that wasn’t controlled or restricted by the government. It was also in November that Golix celebrated a quadrupling of its monthly transactions, around the time when the country had been destabilized by fresh dollar shortages, 50 percent inflation — affecting the new bond notes the government introduced in November 2016 — and a military coup. Consequently, Golix saw its monthly trade volume increase to $1 million, which was an impressive feat considering that, over the entire course of 2016, it handled a grand total of $100,000.

Turkey

A similar picture has emerged from more recent Turkish history, with inflation issues provoking a comparable — if not quite as dramatic — swing toward crypto. These issues first became acute when the inflation rate of the Turkish lira (TRY) climbed to 11.9 percent in October 2017, as the nation’s banks took on risky levels of private debt, as foreign investors moved out of the country, and as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to increase interest rates in response.

Following this, Turkish people began looking toward crypto, although the volumes at the time weren’t significantly larger than those for nations with similar GDP levels. For instance, in the week ending on Nov. 4, 2017, 41 Bitcoin was traded for Turkish lira via the LocalBitcoins exchange, while in Mexico — which has a similar GDP, but an inflation rate of around 4.5 percent — 38 Bitcoin was traded for Mexican pesos. In other words, relatively high inflation can give a slight boost to crypto adoption, but without hyperinflation, it doesn’t result in a dramatic increase (e.g., 303 Bitcoin was traded for Venezuelan bolívars on the week that ended on Nov. 4).

However, this year there has at least been the threat of hyperinflation, as Turkey entered a nascent crisis, which saw inflation rise to 15.39 percent, at the beginning of July. As a result, there was a 131.9 percent increase in volume on the LocalBitcoins exchange between the beginning of July and the beginning of August, with the BTC trade volume in Turkish lira rising from 327,295 to 759,026 between the week ending on July 7 and that ending Aug. 11.

Volume of TRY & BTC Market

Between these two dates, the price of BTC actually sank from $6,670 to $6,145 (-7.87 percent), meaning that this rise can’t be accounted for by a strong bull market in Turkey. Similarly, figures from CryptoCompare, culled from the BTCTurk and LocalBitcoins exchanges, reveal that there were trades in Bitcoin worth TRY 31,592,628 on Aug. 10, representing a 424.3 percent increase when compared to the 24-hour volume for July 10, which was TRY 6,026,033.

Speaking of the Turkish inflationary crisis and its positive effects on demand for crypto, ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees noted on Twitter that Bitcoin’s recent resilience in the face of crypto-market turbulence had raised its stock as a store of value and made it a viable alternative to the Turkish lira.

It would seem that an increasing number of Turkish people agree with him, given that a June survey from ING Bank revealed that Turkey has the highest rate of cryptocurrency ownership in the world — or rather, out of 15 countries, including the U.S., Australia, the U.K., France, Germany, and the Netherlands. 18 percent of Turkish people own some cryptocurrency, compared to 12 percent for the next highest — Romania, which also happens to have the highest rate of inflation among the 14 other nations — and eight percent for the United States.

Cryptocurrency Ownership

However, an inflation rate of around 15 percent isn’t enough on its own to drive widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies, nor is it sufficient to trigger the process of hyperbitcoinization. For one, even if the TRY/BTC market has enjoyed increases in volume in recent weeks and months, absolute numbers are still comparatively low, with the market currently being the 16th largest for Bitcoin at the time of writing, according to CryptoCompare. This equals a 24-hour volume of BTC 226.09, which is only 0.08 percent of the total amount traded in a day, and only 0.48 percent and 0.68 percent of the volume traded against the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen respectively.

Also, if you look at the TRY/BTC charts for LocalBitcoins, the recent inflation-driven increase over July-August isn’t that large and is actually dwarfed by the trading volumes in Turkish lira as witnessed in April and early June and particularly during the end-of-2017 rush. And in fact, if you compared the TRY/BTC figures for the week ending on Aug. 11 against those for the week ending on Aug. 18 — during which the crisis reached its peak, with lira falling by as much as 10 percent — there is a drop rather than an increase. TRY 759,026 was traded for the week ending on Aug. 11, while only TRY 573,626 was traded for the seven days leading up to Aug. 18.

In contrast to the growth of crypto visible in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, what this lack of a pronounced upswing points to is access to the U.S. dollar, among other fiat currencies and stores of value. In contrast to Venezuela and Zimbabwe, the Turkish government has opted not to set any capital controls, thereby enabling people to buy and sell as much foreign currency as they like. As a result, Turkish investors and the Turkish people have begun buying U.S. dollars and gold, as indicated by how both have risen markedly against the lira. And in turn, neither Bitcoin nor any other cryptocurrency has seen a big jump in trading volumes recently, even though the longer-term weakness of the lira has played a role in giving Turkey one of the highest rates of crypto ownership in the developed world.

Argentina and reserve currencies

Much the same story can be gleaned from Argentina. At 31.2 percent, Argentina currently has the highest inflation rate of any moderately sized economy — which the IMF ranks as 21st in terms of GDP — and as could be inferred from such a statistic, cryptocurrencies should be enjoying a strong following in the South American nation.

However, despite the early expectation that Argentina was ripe for Bitcoin adoption, it would seem that the population doesn’t currently trade cryptocurrency in impressive numbers. On the LocalBitcoins exchange, the highest number of Bitcoin bought in 2018 using Argentine pesos in a single week was 31, during the week ending on July 7. And for the sake of comparison, Sweden has the 23rd largest GDP according to the IMF, yet during the week ending on July 7 many more Bitcoin — 112, to be precise — were traded for Swedish krona.

Volume of ARS & BTC Market

According to CryptoCompare, Argentina is only the 45th biggest market in the world for Bitcoin (Sweden is the 31st), despite having the sixth highest rate of inflation in the world. And as with Turkey, a big part of the explanation for this is that Argentina hasn’t had strict capital controls since 2015, when incoming president Mauricio Macri lifted the controls imposed by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in 2011.

Because of this, Argentines have access to U.S. dollars and other currencies, something which circumvents the need for cryptocurrencies as a store of value.

Still, even without any recent jump in crypto trading or ownership, Bitcoin still has a noticeable presence in Argentina. Not only has an Argentine bank recently begun using Bitcoin for cross-border payments instead of the SWIFT network, but the country was also one of the earliest adopters of Bitcoin during the period between 2011 and 2015 — even though capital controls were in place. As reported by Tom Jeffreys in early 2016, Bitcoin was already accepted by 145 merchants in Buenos Aires alone (it’s now accepted by 194), implying that the cryptocurrency wasn’t simply a store of value but also a method of payment:

“For many, the practical, everyday uses of Bitcoin in a country like Argentina are the early lab tests of radical financial overhaul that could have wider implications for the global economy.”

Grim scenarios

The lesson provided by all of the above examples is the following: Cryptocurrencies have a huge potential as alternative methods of payment and stores of value during financial crises. However, as long as world reserve currencies — such as the U.S. dollar and euro — remain stable, and for as long as people of an unstable nation have access to such reserves, no cryptocurrency is likely to gain widespread adoption and use in that country — at least not as a result of inflation. More simply, there will be no hyperbitcoinization as long as the U.S. dollar remains strong.

As illustrated by Coin Dance’s numbers for markets on LocalBitcoins, trading volumes are highest — and rise the fastest — in nations where there’s very poor access to a reliable fiat currency. Consequently, what’s needed to drive the mass adoption of crypto in any one nation isn’t simply inflation, but also a shortage of US dollars and other stale foreign currencies.

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Bitcoin vs. Altcoins: Which is the Most Usable for Merchants?

Volatile or not, there’s growing public demand for retailers and businesses to accept payment in cryptocurrency. According to a survey published in June by the United Kingdom-based crypto-exchange CreditCoin, 75 percent of American consumers want the option to use cryptocurrencies to pay for items they purchase in stores. Sadly, the proportion of stores providing this option doesn’t seem to have reached three-quarters yet.

However, the number of merchants accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and other coins is nonetheless steadily increasing, with the number of Bitcoin-accepting stores reported to Coinmap — worldwide — had risen by 3,716 in a single year. There is, therefore, continuing interest among businesses in accepting cryptocurrency as a means of payment, even if the noticeable ups and downs of the crypto-market has strengthened the popular impression that such use might not be 100 percent optimal right now.

Customers & Venues

Yet, a question remains for those merchants still undecided on whether to jump into the world of crypto payments: Which coin is the most usable and practical as a means of payment? Well, Bitcoin has an advantage insofar as the fact that vastly more people hold the original cryptocurrency than they do any other. However, numerous altcoins — particularly Bitcoin Cash, Dash and Litecoin — are already faster and cheaper than Bitcoin as a method of payment, and while they may lack the value of their older rival, they currently provide a more seamless retail experience.

That said, businesses are increasingly becoming less likely to face an either/or choice when deciding on whether to accept crypto as payment. That’s because a number of companies are providing crypto-payment portals that enable merchants to accept a variety of different currencies, while most major currencies are regularly taking steps to improve their transactions speeds and cost-effectiveness. As a result, retailers of the future will find that they can take greater advantage of the fact that people hold (and want to pay for things with) different currencies for different purposes, making the situation a win-win for more than one single coin.

Bitcoin: Popularity and (relatively) stable value

One of the simplest and most important requirements that has to be met by a cryptocurrency before any business begins accepting it is that it be held by a large number of people. If this condition isn’t met, then a merchant would be limiting their market by accepting it rather than a more popular rival. This is why — forgetting how cryptocurrencies and their blockchains actually work for a moment — Bitcoin is still the most viable currency for retailers to accept.

There are now some 27.6 million Bitcoin wallet addresses in existence, while there are in fact 40.7 million Ethereum addresses. However, before it’s concluded that there are more Ethereum holders than Bitcoin holders, it needs to be pointed out that a significant proportion of these addresses are smart contracts rather than wallets — and there’s also the fact that the Ethereum blockchain houses 599 ERC-20 tokens, which are included in its address count. And while there’s no specific data that breaks down this figure into contract and wallet addresses respectively, there is data on the number of addresses that have been active within the last 24 hours, and it shows that Bitcoin has more active wallets than any other coin:

Active Adresses

Putting aside estimations and calculations, there’s other evidence to suggest that Bitcoin is the decisive winner in crypto popularity stakes. In March, consumer website Finder.com published a survey which discovered that 5.15 percent of Americans owned Bitcoin, compared to Ethereum’s 1.8 percent and Bitcoin Cash’s 0.9 percent. Similarly, a poll of gamers conducted by the Swiss-based gaming company also found that Bitcoin was the most popular cryptocurrency, with 83 percent having purchased Bitcoin compared to 75 percent buying Ethereum. And lastly, 60 percent of Americans have heard of Bitcoin, with only 46 percent and 41 percent having heard of Ethereum and Litecoin respectively.

This all suggests that, for any merchant wanting to ensure that they open their doors to as many potential customers as possible, Bitcoin would be the way to go — that is, if they could accept payment in only one cryptocurrency. And according to those who track merchant acceptance of cryptocurrency, it appears to be the way most customers and merchants are still going, despite the recent growth in the usage of altcoins.

Devan Calabrez, the co-founder of crypto-merchant search engine Spendabit, which is currently inviting retailers to participate in a new survey on the coins they accept, said to Cointelegraph:

“BTC is by far the dominant cryptocurrency for transaction. This is likely due to the maturity of BTC, its ‘brand recognition’ and the momentum of Bitcoin.”

Calabrez explained that much of the draw of Bitcoin is its ability to attract new markets:

“Merchants are always looking for ways to bring in more sales. Some merchants are interested in riding the ‘cryptocurrency wave’ from a marketing point of view, and they accept cryptocurrency to get more business. To them, it’s a marketing experiment with minimal overhead to add acceptance alongside mitigated risk of chargeback.”

And aside from “brand recognition” and momentum, Bitcoin has emerged through the recent crypto-market turbulence as one of the more resilient coins, and it’s this that also adds to its usability from the perspective of merchants. It may still be volatile compared to, say, the U.S. dollar, but it’s held much more of its value during the recent bear market than its rivals. For example, over the month leading up to Aug. 14, it fell by 2.7 percent, from $6,230.32 to $6,061.74. However, by contrast, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash and EOS fell by 38.5 percent, 39.5 percent, 29 percent, and 36.5 percent respectively. This is a big difference, and while plenty of traditional economists would argue against accepting any kind of cryptocurrency as a means of payment, it’s clear that Bitcoin is the best in terms of preserving its value.

Admittedly, the fact that Bitcoin has been preserving its value and may very well continue appreciating steadily in the future is also a knock against its usability, although not so much from the perspective of merchants. Because Bitcoin could potentially rise — perhaps even bullishly — owners of BTC are discouraged from using it to buy a pizza, for example, since most are now acutely aware that today’s BTC equivalent of a pizza could be worth so much more in a year’s time.

“Not spending Bitcoin until it becomes the unit of account,” said MATH_BOT founder Nate Agapi on Twitter in early August, while another Twitter user encapsulated this anti-spending ethos by writing:

Nonetheless, even with the reluctance of some holders to part with their Bitcoin, BTC is still being spent more liberally than any other cryptocurrency. Last December, BitPay reported that it had processed BTC payments worth over $1 billion, while it currently processes a Bitcoin transaction every 10 seconds. Meanwhile, it processed $591 million in transactions in the first half of 2018 alone — up 40 percent compared to the same period last year — according to BitPay’s PR representative Jan Jahosky. And to put this in perspective, Jahosky told Cointelegraph that, even though the company began processing Bitcoin Cash payments at the beginning of this year, Bitcoin remains dominant:

“Bitcoin Cash, which BitPay started to accept earlier this year, is less than 10 percent of BitPay’s volume. Bitcoin remains the most popular and over 90 percent.”

Altcoins have lower transaction fees and confirmation times

Aside from the disadvantage of discouraging a portion of its owners from actually spending it, Bitcoin also doesn’t compare favorably with certain altcoins in terms of how it can actually be used in practice to buy goods and services. Devan Calabrez acknowledges:

“Bitcoin is definitely useful as a means of payment, especially for higher price items and across borders. On the other hand, few people are using Bitcoin to buy cheap items like paper plates, for good reason. The weaknesses include high volatility, transaction times and fees that are paid by the buyers which create barriers to conversion. The weaknesses tend to put a damper on sales by Bitcoin for low-cost items.”

BTC generally has the highest transaction fees of the major cryptocurrencies. BitInfoCharts puts its current average transaction fee at $0.72. This might seem relatively low when compared to the $55 peak in fees it witnessed in December, but as the list below illustrates, it still falls distinctly short of its major rivals:

Avg Transaction Fees

These are current averages, but when you look at the six-month and annual charts, it becomes apparent that, during times of heavy congestion, Bitcoin also tends to spike upward more dramatically than its nearest competitors. On June 20, its daily average fee shot up to $6.852, an increase of 132.6 percent compared to the day before. On the other hand, Bitcoin Cash and Dash’s six-month peaks were only $0.217 and $1.25 respectively, with these highs both falling on Feb. 20, when Bitcoin’s average fee was $3.042 (it rose to $6.209 four days later). Meanwhile, Litecoin’s six-month peak was $0.416 (on Feb. 26), although Ethereum’s was $5.528 (on July 2, when it was most likely subjected to a spam attack).

Bitcoin may be popular, but …

Bitcoin may be popular, and it may be a good store of value, but it’s clearly not the cheapest way of buying goods. Even though its transaction fees have gradually declined since the SegWit upgrade was rolled out in February, the occasional surge of congestion can increase fees by as much as a few dollars — something which can make a considerable amount of difference when what you’re purchasing is less expensive than the fee. Indeed, Devan Calabrez told Cointelegraph that BTC’s “non-trivial transaction fees” have created a certain amount of friction with businesses, with some receiving complaints as a result of their customers having to pay the same amount of money for transaction fees as they do for the items they want to purchase.

“As someone who has accepted Bitcoin since 2011,” said one unnamed merchant registered with Spendabit, “it is very sad for me to see that use case dry up. There may be some hope in the future with the Lightning Network […] For now, I recommend they use BCH.”

The issue of BTC’s fees is compounded by its longer confirmation times, with the average confirmation time notoriously hitting a peak of 11,453 minutes — i.e., seven days, 22 hours and 53 minutes — on Jan. 23. As with fees, it’s now doing much better thanks to its SegWit upgrade, seeing as how its average confirmation time for the week between Aug. 1 and Aug. 8 was only 14.7 minutes. Yet, it still has some work to do — not least because the average is meant to be only 10 minutes. For instance, the average block time for Ethereum was a mere 14.5 seconds during this same week (according to Etherscan), while the current averages for Dash, Litecoin and Dogecoin are 2.37, 2.43 and 1.02 minutes respectively.

However, it’s not just slow confirmation times that restricts Bitcoin’s usability, but also its 1MB block size and the average number of transactions it can process per second. This number remains technologically limited, with the current upper ceiling being seven transactions per second — although the SegWit upgrade technically multiplied this by four. Conversely, Ethereum can reportedly handle a theoretical maximum of 30 transactions per second, while Bitcoin Cash’s block-size limit of 32MB should mean that it can handle 32-times as many transactions as Bitcoin — i.e., around 224 per second. While not quite as fast as this, Litecoin is still four times faster than Bitcoin (forgetting SegWit), given that its block confirmation time is a quarter of Bitcoin’s. Similarly, Dash’s theoretical limit at launch was four times that of Bitcoin’s (i.e., 28 per second), although in December, it changed its block size from 1MB to 2MB, thereby doubling the number of transactions it could handle per second.

Bitcoin Cash

Simply put, Bitcoin can’t — in its current state — handle a high throughput of transactions as well as its main rivals. In particular, it presently comes nowhere near topping the speeds offered by Bitcoin Cash, which at maximum beats its closest rival — Dash — by approximately 168 transactions per second. On top of this, Bitcoin Cash also has the lowest transaction fees, meaning that it’s the most usable cryptocurrency from a standpoint that focuses mostly on cost and speed. It’s largely for this reason that the coin has won many converts in the crypto community since forking from Bitcoin on Aug. 1, 2017.

“Bitcoin Cash is what I started working on in 2010,” said one-time lead Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen in a November tweet, “a store of value AND means of exchange.”

Devan Calabrez agrees that Bitcoin Cash has reason to be recommend as an alternative to Bitcoin and other currencies, particularly with respect to the purchase of cheaper products. “BCH seems to be evolving as a compliment to Bitcoin,” he explains. “Merchants appreciate the faster transaction times and low fees, which are also appealing to shoppers. This is particularly true for merchants that sell lower ticket items, where even small fees can increase the bottom line by a significant fraction. So, for all intents and purposes, two of the three weaknesses can be considered overcome under the current conditions. However, volatility is still a big concern, which is why most merchants immediately convert to another currency rather than hold BCH.”

Dash

And while Bitcoin Cash may seem like the best practical option to some, one of its closest rivals in terms of cost-effectiveness — Dash — informed Cointelegraph that it’s gaining considerable traction among retailers.

“The Dash network is specifically designed for the payments use case,” said Dash Core CEO Ryan Taylor. “It offers instant payments, which makes it viable at the point of sale. In addition, fees are very low, with a median transaction fee of about one-tenth of a cent. This combination makes Dash feasible for everyday consumer purchases. We also focus a lot of effort on making the network useful by funding business integrations, and today Dash is among the most accepted digital currencies. Merchant adoption is growing quickly. The number of listings on discoverdash.com — a website for merchants to register — has experienced 250 percent growth over the last six months, and Dash is now accepted at over 2,200 merchants globally.”

Taylor is realistic about Dash’s — and crypto’s — prospects of becoming a ubiquitous payment method, believing that this process will take “many years.” Nonetheless, circumstances in certain economically pressured nations reveal that the speed and ease offered by such currencies as Dash make them ideal as new payment vectors.

“I think we can become ubiquitous within specific countries or regions, or within certain industries as a first step. That could happen very quickly, and we’re already seeing that happen in certain locations. Venezuela, which is currently experiencing hyperinflation, has over 800 merchants [reportedly more than all other cryptos combined], making it the highest density of Dash acceptance in the world. I would expect pockets like that to develop as a base from which we can continue to expand.”

Decentralization and choice

Speed and cost are important factors when considering which cryptocurrencies to accept as a merchant, yet they can count for very little in cases where price fluctuations threaten to reduce the value of a payment you’ve received. This is why there’s no hard-and-fast answer to the question of which cryptocurrency is the undisputed champion of usability for retailers, since Bitcoin has fared much better in preserving its value recently than most altcoins. Added to this, Bitcoin may not be as fast or as scalable as some of its rivals, but it is more decentralized than many of them on a number of levels, and with greater decentralization comes greater security of its network.

For instance, there are reports that Bitcoin Cash is significantly more centralized than Bitcoin. For one, the 32MB block size may tend toward greater centralization of mining nodes in the future, since the ability to process 32MB blocks requires the kind of computational power that only the biggest mining companies are likely to possess. And secondly, there are reports that Bitcoin Cash is already quite centralized as it is — even as most nodes do not yet use the full 32MB bandwidth — with Jameson Lopp revealing data in December which indicated that as many as 54 percent of Bitcoin Cash nodes are running on Hangzhou Alibaba virtual servers in China, compared to 2 percent of Bitcoin nodes.

Such (relative) centralization arguably puts a blockchain at greater risk of failure, since it could theoretically be disabled by a government agency shutting down a small handful of servers or nodes. Clearly, this isn’t what any business or retailer would want from a cryptocurrency they’ve just begun accepting as payment — although, even if Bitcoin is more decentralized than Bitcoin Cash when it comes to servers, the dominance of Bitmain gives it problems of its own when it comes to mining. And in terms of block share, it’s not as decentralized as Bitcoin Cash or Dash, since the top four Bitcoin Cash and Dash miners produce 55.1 percent and 41 percent of blocks, compared with 57.5 percent for Bitcoin — it’s currently 69.75 percent for Ethereum, 68 percent for Litecoin.

However, before we descend into an endless — and often subjective — debate about which cryptocurrency is the most decentralized, it’s worth noting that merchants and businesses don’t have to choose only a single coin when deciding to accept crypto as payment. Increasingly, platforms are becoming available that enable merchants to accept any one of the multiple cryptocurrencies, thereby providing their customers with a choice of different coins to pay with — which effectively enables them to lean on the strengths of each currency at different times.

For example, Coinbase Commerce was launched in February of this year, and as the company explained in a blog post, it makes accepting numerous coins easy for businesses and online retailers. “Coinbase Commerce can be directly integrated into a merchant’s checkout flow or added as a payment option on an e-commerce platform,” read the launch announcement. “With just an email address and a phone, merchants can sign up and begin accepting payments in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin.” And since its launch, it has been integrated with a number of e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and WooCommerce, bringing the possibility of accepting crypto payments to millions of retailers, as WooCommerce powers around 22 percent of online stores on the web.

And there are other platforms that make accepting multiple cryptocurrencies possible, including BitPay and CoinGate. CoinGate, for example, is a Lithuania-based platform that enables businesses to accept payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dash and over 50 other altcoins. This March, it announced a new partnership with the France-based PrestaShop e-commerce platform, enabling it to reach over 80,000 merchants within the EU. As it said in its press release, the cryptocurrencies it offers “are in a single payment environment, that caters [to] the widest range of cryptocurrency owners,” and that, therefore, eliminates the need for merchants to make a false choice between numerous coins, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

As such platforms expand and proliferate, there will obviously be less need for merchants to choose between the usability of competing cryptocurrencies. And funnily enough, the beauty of such platforms will be that, by making cryptocurrencies more accessible as a means of payment, their expansion will also make crypto more usable. Not only will their increasing use stabilize their values — thereby rendering them less volatile — but the increasing pressure and testing provided by real-world usage will force and enable development communities to come through with innovations, bug fixes and scalability improvements more quickly. The situation will be a win-win for merchants and customers alike, and given that crypto-payment platforms will increasingly offer a wide range of coins, it will be a situation that mutually benefits all cryptocurrencies, not just the ‘most usable’ one.