Archive for the ‘bitcoin’ Category

I tried to pay with bitcoin at a Mexico City bar—it didn’t go well

August 7th, 2019
Me at Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City.

Enlarge / Me at Bitcoin Embassy Bar in Mexico City. (credit: Amanda Rohn)

I traveled to Mexico City last week to have a relaxing vacation with my wife—not to find stories for Ars Technica. But our Airbnb apartment happened to be around the corner from a bar called Bitcoin Embassy. How could I not check it out?

The bar included a bitcoin ATM that lets users trade physical cash for bitcoins, and vice versa (there are more than 5,000 bitcoin ATMs like this around the world). Bitcoin Embassy offered a 10% discount if I paid for my tab in bitcoin.

So I inserted a 500 peso note—about $25—into the machine. I downloaded a bitcoin wallet app from Google's Play Store. It generated an address for receiving the funds and displayed it as a QR code the ATM could scan. A few second later, the ATM spit out a receipt stating "Bitcoin purchased: 0.00245589."

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Posted in bar, bitcoin, blockchains, Policy | Comments (0)

Facebook is backpedaling from its ambitious vision for Libra

July 18th, 2019
David Marcus, head of blockchain at Facebook, speaks at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Enlarge / David Marcus, head of blockchain at Facebook, speaks at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

David Marcus, the head of Facebook's new Calibra payments division, appeared before two hostile congressional committees this week with a simple message: Facebook knows policymakers are concerned about Libra, and Facebook won't move forward with the project until their concerns are addressed.

While he didn't say so explicitly, Marcus' comments at hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday represented a dramatic shift in Facebook's conception of Libra. In Facebook's original vision, Libra would be an open and largely decentralized network, akin to Bitcoin. The core network would be beyond the reach of regulators. Regulatory compliance would be the responsibility of exchanges, wallets, and other services that are the "on ramps and off ramps" to the Libra ecosystem.

Facebook now seems to recognize its original vision was a non-starter with regulators. So this week Marcus sketched out a new vision for Libra—one in which the Libra Association will shoulder significant responsibility for ensuring compliance with laws relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

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Posted in bitcoin, Facebook, Libra, Money Laundering, Policy | Comments (0)

There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

July 11th, 2019
There’s a big problem with Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Mark Zuckerberg is known for his boundless ambition. He's had a longstanding fascination with Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who (in Zuckerberg's words) "established 200 years of world peace." So having conquered social networking, Zuckerberg has his eyes on something bigger: reshaping the global financial system.

Payment services from rivals like Apple and Google essentially offer an improved user interface for conventional credit card networks. Facebook, in contrast, is aiming to use blockchain-like technology to build a new payment network from scratch, complete with its own currency.

Facebook has assembled an impressive roster of launch partners for its Libra project. Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal are backing the effort. So are Uber and Lyft, as well as several venture capital firms and non-profit organizations.

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Posted in bitcoin, Blockchain, cryptocurrency, Facebook, Features, Libra, Policy | Comments (0)

Computer from NASA’s Apollo program reprogrammed to mine bitcoin

July 9th, 2019
DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector.

Enlarge / DSKY unit of the Apollo Guidance Computer in the National Air and Space Museum. Shirriff used a different unit that belongs to a private collector. (credit: Tamorlan)

Among the many technological breakthroughs of NASA's Apollo project to land a man on the Moon was the Apollo Guidance Computer that flew onboard Apollo spacecraft. In an era when most computers were refrigerator-sized—if not room-sized—the AGC weighed only about 70 pounds. It was one of the first computers to use integrated circuits.

A team of computer historians got its hands on one of the original AGCs and got it working. A member of the team, Ken Shirriff, then decided to see if the computer could be used for bitcoin mining.

Mining is a key part of the process for maintaining bitcoin's shared transaction ledger, or blockchain. To win the right to add a block to the blockchain, you have to solve a difficult problem: finding a block whose SHA-256 hash starts with a minimum number of zeros. The only known way to accomplish this is by brute force: miners create a block with a random nonce and compute its hash value. If the hash value doesn't have enough leading zeros, the miner changes the nonce and tries again.

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Posted in Apollo program, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, Policy, science, space | Comments (0)

Bitcoin soars past $12,500 five days after hitting $10,000

June 26th, 2019
Bitcoin soars past $12,500 five days after hitting $10,000

Enlarge (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Bitcoin has risen above $12,500, its highest level in 2019. The new milestone comes just five days after bitcoin rose above $10,000.

Bitcoin's value has risen by almost a factor of four since last December, when the price bottomed out around $3,200. Bitcoin's price is still well below the all-time high of around $19,500 reached in December 2017.

Bitcoin's rise is part of a broader rally in cryptocurrency markets. The price of ether, the currency of the Ethereum network, is up 11 percent over the last 24 hours to nearly $350. Bitcoin Cash, a bitcoin spinoff optimized for higher transaction volumes, is now worth more than $500 for the first time since the start of 2019.

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Posted in bitcoin, Policy | Comments (0)

Bitcoin rises above $10,000 for the first time in a year

June 22nd, 2019
Stack of bitcoins and dollar bills

Enlarge (credit: Peter KovalevTASS via Getty Images)

Bitcoin's price has soared above $10,000 for the first time since early 2018, a new milestone in the virtual currency's latest comeback.

The price has more than tripled since hitting rock-bottom last December around $3,200. That was after crashing from an all-time high around $19,500 in December 2017.

As always, it's difficult to be sure what drives changes in Bitcoin's price. But one obvious candidate is Facebook's announcement of its own cryptocurrency, called Libra, earlier this week. Libra is a potential Bitcoin competitor, but the announcement also brings added legitimacy to the overall cryptocurrency market.

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Posted in bitcoin, cryptocurrency, ethereum, Policy | Comments (0)

Cryptocurrency Firm Itself Hacked Its Customers to Protect Their Funds From Hackers

June 6th, 2019
Are you using Komodo's Agama Wallet to store your KMD and BTC cryptocurrencies? Were your funds also unauthorisedly transferred overnight to a new address? If yes, don't worry, it's probably safe, and if you are lucky, you will get your funds back. Here's what exactly happened… Komodo, a cryptocurrency project and developer of Agama wallet, adopted a surprisingly unique way to protect its

Posted in Agama Wallet, bitcoin, Bitcoin wallet, cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency hacking, cryptocurrency wallets, hacking news, JavaScript, Komodo cryptocurrency | Comments (0)

Fake cryptocurrency apps on Google Play try to profit on bitcoin price surge

May 24th, 2019
Fake cryptocurrency apps on Google Play try to profit on bitcoin price surge

Enlarge (credit: Google)

Google's official Play Store has been caught hosting malicious apps that targeted Android users with an interest in cryptocurrencies, researchers reported on Thursday.

In all, researchers with security provider ESET recently discovered two fraudulent digital wallets. The first, called Coin Wallet, let users create wallets for a host of different cryptocurrencies. While Coin Wallet purported to generate a unique wallet address for users to deposit coins, the app in fact used a developer-owned wallet for each supported currency, with a total of 13 wallets. Each Coin Wallet user was assigned the same wallet address for a specific currency.

"The app claims it lets users create wallets for various cryptocurrencies," ESET Malware Researcher Lukas Stefanko wrote in a blog post. "However, its actual purpose is to trick users into transferring cryptocurrency into the attackers' wallets—a classic case of what we named wallet address scams in our previous research of cryptocurrency-targeting malware."

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Posted in Android, bitcoin, Biz & IT, cryptocurrencies, google, play | Comments (0)

Cryptocurrency Hacks Still Growing — What Does That Mean for the Industry?

May 14th, 2019
Though once synonymous with underground networks and black hat hackers, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have gone mainstream over the past two years. In 2017, we saw the skyrocket of bitcoin to an all-time high of close to $20,000 followed by a significant decline the following year. But beyond the ups and downs in the market for the world's largest cryptocurrency is a much more sinister

Posted in bitcoin, bitcoin hacking, cryptocurrency, cryptocurrency exchange, ethereum, hacking news | Comments (0)

Bitcoin hits $8,000 five days after cracking $6,000

May 14th, 2019
Bitcoin hits $8,000 five days after cracking $6,000

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel / Getty Images News)

Last Wednesday we reported that bitcoin had risen to $6,000 for the first time this year. On Monday, just five days later, bitcoin reached a new 2019 high of $8,000. As I write this one bitcoin is worth about $7,900.

Of course, bitcoin reached much higher levels in late 2017 and early 2018. Bitcoin's current price just under $8,000 is less than half the all-time high of $19,500 set in December 2017. Bitcoin was last worth at least $8,000 in July 2018.

As often happens, bitcoin's rise is part of a broader cryptocurrency boom. On Saturday, the price of ether—the currency of the Ethereum network—rose above $200 for the first time in 2019. Other cryptocurrencies, including Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, and Dash are at or near 2019 highs.

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Posted in bitcoin, bubble, cryptocurrency, ethereum, Policy, speculation | Comments (0)