Bitcoin scholars will compete for €15,000 SWIFT Grant

The SWIFT Institute, an offshoot of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), launched a new research program on virtual money. The author of the selected proposal will receive a grant of €15,000. The Institute is looking for research on recent developments in digital currencies and cryptocurrencies, but places an emphasis on bitcoin, which it describes as “arguably the most popular” digital currency, as CoinDesk reports. The SWIFT Institute posted a call for proposals titled ‘Virtual Currencies: What are the “real” risks?‘, saying: “With bitcoin’s increasing usage, virtual currencies are becoming more of a reality. There are bitcoin ATMs in more than 10 countries worldwide, and the currency is increasingly accepted by mainstream retailers.” The institute also noted that an average amount of bitcoin transactions per day total 40,000-80,000. Moreover, given the rising bitcoin acceptance, the volume of transactions is “expected to rise exponentially”. The Institute provided a list of challenges and advantages of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that the research papers have to include: What is the net economic impact of virtual currencies? Do the lower transaction costs outweigh resources expended in mining? What is the relationship between virtual currencies and real money? What are the risks involved in using virtual currencies? What role can or should regulators and central banks play? Would pegging/fixing exchange rates help stabilise virtual currencies? How can criminal activity be avoided when using digital currencies? The institute requires all applicants to submit a CV or biography with all relevant information about the applicant, who is also required to submit a 2,500 word description of the research project. The deadline is August 20th 2014. The winner will receive 50% of the grant, while the remaining half will be paid after the proposal is submitted. After the completion of the research, it will be available for anyone who wants to download it.

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Rapper Kanye West has killed Coinye altcoin

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In a months-long trademark lawsuit, hip hop star Kanye West has finally defeated all the alleged people involved with the parody cryptocurrency Coinye, as CoinDesk told us In January of this year, a group of bitcoin griefers decided that it was time to level their gaze at controversial hip-hop star Kanye West. The group created a scrypt-based alt-coin named Coinye West (later just Coinye), prompting an almost immediate legal response from Kanye West’s legal team. In their lawsuit, West’s lawyers claimed that the alt-coin, taking its logo from a South Park episode where the rapper was referred to as a “gay fish,” constituted trademark infringement, unfair competition, cyber piracy and trademark dilution. Given that Coinye was never much more than dumb joke, it is a little surprising that the case actually reached a real courtroom. Earlier this week, however, it did. The case against Coinye’s creators was heard in a New York federal court, although none of the 10 named defendants, many of whom live outside the U.S., responded to the suit. This meant that West’s team won the case by default. Three of the defendants, David McEnery, Harry Wills and Richard McCord settled with West. Under the terms of the settlement they are permanently banned from operating or using any website that features the “Kanye West” mark or any imitation of it. Robbie E.C.A. Hontele, who has denied any involvement with the coin’s development, but was an admitted user of the coin, has since signed a settlement agreement. Hontele was reportedly misnamed as one of the coin’s developers in a video, thus causing his involvement.

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Sale of Bitcoins.com halted after court order

 Auction of the domain Bitcoins.com, affiliated with Mt.Gox CEO Mark Karpeles, has been halted after a U.S. court order, according to CoinDesk. Bitcoin startup CoinLab – which recently agreed to support Mt. Gox’s bankruptcy plan – moved to prevent the sale. Tibanne KK has been ordered to preserve and account for all held assets, which includes the Bitcoins.com domain name. CoinLab was originally contracted to provide services to Mt.Gox customers in the US and Canada. However, this relationship ended when CoinLab sued the company for failing to provide it with the resources to carry out its mandate. Mt. Gox later countersued, and neither lawsuit has been formally resolved. In court documents, CoinLab argued that the domain name auction would have a significantly negative impact on Mt.Gox’s bankruptcy process – and the ability for creditors to recoup lost funds. The district court agreed with the company. The order went on to state that it is “in the public interest” to prohibit Tibanne KK and any of its employees from taking any action that might affect control or ownership of the company’s assets. The restraining order will expire in 14 days, after which time an extension will be considered by the court.

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Ethereum Launches Own “Ether”

Company Ethereum began selling the first batch of its cryptocurrency, called ether, as CoinDesk tells. After approximately 12 hours investors had already bought over 7 million ether (ETH). Switzerland-based Ethereum and The Ethereum Project have made headlines this past year as potentially exciting examples of ‘Cryptocurrency 2.0′, and the goal of Ethereum is to decentralize everything using blockchain technology. Those purchasing ether now will lock in their supply at a known price, even though the actual coins will not be available until the genesis block is mined, sometime in the winter of 2014-2015. While this makes this sale look like a crowdfunding operation, the company maintains it is a pre-sale event for a product, with funds going towards financing the continued development of the software platform. Ether can currently be purchased at a set rate of 2,000 ETH per 1 bitcoin. The price will stay at this rate for two weeks and then linearly decrease in value down to 1,337 ETH per BTC. The sale will last 42 days in total. Ethereum is the brainchild of Vitalik Buterin, a former college student who, fascinated with bitcoin, spent a year traveling around the world and learning about the possibilities of the technology. Besides Ethereum, Buterin has been involved in several notable projects including Bitcoin Magazine, Dark Wallet and KryptoKit. He was also recently awarded a Thiel Fellowship, with an accompanying $100,000 to put towards his current and future projects.

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Dell: Bitcoin payments, welcome!

Multinational computer technology specialist Dell has announced it is now accepting Bitcoin, we’ve learned from Coin Fire. The official announcement was released on Twitter by Dell’s CEO and board of directors chairman Michael Dell. And he has announced via Twitter that Dell is now the largest e-commerce company in the world to accept Bitcoin. To spur interest, Dell will sell its gaming-focused Alienware products for a period of time at a 10 percent discount, provided that users make their purchases in Bitcoin. Dell has selected Coinbase to power checkout on the Dell.com website. “We’ve fostered a close partnership with the Dell team and that’s been instrumental in getting the Coinbase integration up and running in such a short timeframe. We look forward to continuing to support the team as they explore other ways to offer even more functionality when it comes to bitcoin payments,” said Fred Ehrsam, Co-Founder of Coinbase. With annual revenue approaching $57bn, Dell is roughly four times the size of Dish Network – the previous biggest bitcoin-accepting business.

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Latvia’s airBaltic is the first airline accepting Bitcoin

AirBaltic, the national airline for Latvia, has become the world’s first airline to accept BitcoinCoinDesk tells us. Although no formal press release was made, airBaltic’s website quietly began displaying the offering on 17th July. A company representative in Riga said that the bitcoin payment option is offered for basic class fares, excluding China, Indonesia, India, Iceland, Jordan, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan and Vietnam. According to the image above, airBaltic is charging a €5.99 service charge to each Bitcoin transaction, which several users took to mean they were charging specifically for Bitcoin. “That’s not how this works”, responded one user. However, the company explained that the fee is “to cover the costs associated with processing and handling the booking, not the Bitcoin itself.”

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Visa Launches “Visa Checkout”

Visa Inc. announced a new simplified digital payment service called Visa Checkout, which is designed to allow customers to pay quickly for goods online on any connected device, as CNBC reported.  Visa CEO Charles Scharf described the service as “your Visa card for the digital world.” The event was attended by officials from several companies planning to use the new service, including Neiman Marcus, Pizza Hut, Staples, and United Airlines. This is not the first time Visa has made this pitch. Checkout replaces an earlier effort, V.me, that launched with similar promises (and its own set of partners) back in 2011. Visa is looking to both protect its existing payments business and expand into new areas, where it faces a host of competitors including MasterPass from familiar rival MasterCard, as well as digital-born companies such as Amazon and PayPal. This time around, Visa said it isn’t trying to be a destination site, but rather just to speed up online transactions. With Checkout, Visa says that transactions can take as little as five seconds. Visa pitched Checkout as part of a broader company effort to remake itself for a new era. The company opened up a new San Francisco office designed to work with a broader array of partners including technology companies large and small. “We are a very different Visa than we have been in the past,” Scharf said.

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New York Proposes First Regulations for Bitcoin

The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has released its long-anticipated list of proposed rules and regulations that will be required for New York-based Bitcoin businesses. Benjamin M. Lawsky, the superintendent of financial services, announced proposed regulations for virtual currency companies operating in New York, as DealB%k told. The BitLicense plan, which includes rules on consumer protection, the prevention of money laundering and cybersecurity, is the first proposal by a state to create guidelines specifically for virtual currency.  Bitcoin businesses that receive, transmit, store or convert virtual currency for customers; buy and sell virtual currency as a customer business; control, administer or issue a virtual currency; or perform conversions between bitcoin and fiat or any value exchange will need to be licensed to operate in New York. Merchants that accept Bitcoin for payment, like Overstock.com, would not need to apply for a license. The rules for Bitcoin companies are aligned with existing regulations for banks and other financial institutions, he said, but are also tailored for virtual currencies. For example, Bitcoin companies would be required to have more robust cybersecurity programs because they are more susceptible to attacks from hackers. The public will have 45 days from July 23 to comment on the proposal, after which Mr. Lawsky’s office intends to make changes to the rules and send them back out for review. While some in the Bitcoin community see Mr. Lawsky’s proposed rules as restrictive, others consider them an important step to bring Bitcoin and other computer-based currencies into the mainstream. Still, until other states and government agencies establish their own guidelines, being licensed in New York can only go so far in regulating virtual currency because many of these companies operate across state lines and international boundaries.

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Google integrates a Bitcoin currency converter in the search

There are many Bitcoin currency converters available on the internet and after a few clicks everyone who wants to know can see, which value a Bitcoin have in the preferred currency, we’ve learned from The Bitcoin News. Now it’s still easier to get the value of Bitcoin in a lot of currencies… with Google! The search giant integrate a Bitcoin currency converter in the search like the converters of many other currencies.

To use the converter it is only necessary to type someting like “15 bitcoin to usd” in the search field and Google display the result. For the Bitcoin converter Google is working with Coinbase. Moreover the currency tracker on Google Finance shows a graph of past and current  Bitcoin values. The conversion although works on Google mobile search.

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MoneyPayment will collaborate with TXT Coins Now

Online payment solutions company MoneyPayment is announcing a collaboration with mobile crypto currency business TXT Coins Now that will allow web merchants to accept NXT in return for goods and services, as MAX KEISER told us. MoneyPayment, which launched in 2013, has already attracted over 100,000 users from countries around the world and processes over 300,000 transactions a day – an impressive record for a company only a year old. TXT Coins Now allows customers to send cryptocurrencies using only an SMS or voice call, with NXT as its default option. The collaboration came about after a meeting between MoneyPayment representatives and TXT Coins Now founder Lee Gibson Grant at PayExpo 2014, a well-established conference for payment processing companies held in London earlier this year. “We believe that NXT is the true innovator among all of the second-generation digital currencies and a multi-financial tool,” said a spokesperson from MoneyPayment. “After carrying out a large amount of research and due diligence, we are finally ready to launch our joint venture in the next three to five months.” The project will see support for several digital currencies added, primarily NXT but also Bitcoin, Litecoin, Max Keiser’s charity initiatives StartCoin and MaxCoin, and Romanian cryptocurrency Bitleu.

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