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The year 2014 has seen a heavy increase in Bitcoin awareness and adoption. With more and more companies accepting Bitcoin as a mode of payment, Bitcoin is slowly creeping up the path of gaining mainstream acceptance. There are many Bitcoin ATMs launching, growth in businesses accepting Bitcoin and even a surge of Bitcoin apps coming to the various mobile platforms. But all of them have one problem for individuals that seek a level of privacy in their financial affairs. Mainstream Bitcoin transactions are verifiable due to the public nature of the blockchain, the block chains a general ledger. All transactions can be verified back to the incept of the coin through the mining process. For some the fully transaparent nature of most common Bitcoin transactions is a bit too much of an invasion of privacy.


As everyone knows by now, Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto(a pseudonym) to add both layers of anonymity and transparency to every financial transaction. Bitcoin is designed to receive and send payments with an acceptable level of autonomy, not centralized checking of identity etc. Cash transactions offer a similar veil of privacy some would say that up until now cash offers more anonymity than Bitcoin. The block chain promotes privacy to the extent that usernames or real names are not associated to specific addresses or transactions. However most of these addresses can be traced back to the exchange through which the original Bitcoins were purchased. Almost all the services and companies that use Bitcoins nowadays, add an extra level of verification, thereby reducing your privacy, security and most of all their compliance with AML regulations.


ENTER: Dark Wallet


What is Dark Wallet?

Dark Wallet is an open-source free browser plug-in that is designed to be easy for all consumers to use. Like other Bitcoin wallets, it lets its users store, send, and receive Bitcoins, but it adds extra protections to make sure those transactions are secure, anonymous, and difficult to trace. This wallet will serve as a platform or a starting codebase to deliver a high quality Bitcoin that serves you, the users their mission to achieve greater privacy in their transactions.


According to The New Yorker, a famous US based magazine, “Dark Wallet is an easy-to-install plug-in that sits discreetly on users’ Chrome or Firefox Browsers”. Forbes describes it as “the vehicle that would make Bitcoin a truly untraceable form of digital cash.”


The Dark Wallet Philosophy

The crypto-anarchist team behind Dark Wallet has a very distinct philosophy. The Dark Wallet website extensively talks about and gives examples of how some Bitcoin developers are actively in collusion with the members of law enforcement and seeking government approval for Bitcoin and how the government and states are corrupted. The website even goes to the extent of saying that nothing good will come to Bitcoin from collaborating with US government and law enforcement.

Most people think any anarchy is total chaos; however this couldn’t be further from the truth. In their philosophy, a lack of central government is replaced by a plethora of distributed, decentralized, self-organizing institutions based on voluntarism and non-aggression.

The website also states that “We don’t need to cooperate with control freaks. Disobedience is the only way,” thereby strongly signaling Dark Wallet’s determination to make Bitcoin the world’s preferred mode of payment and to reduce the government hold on financial instruments. It is undeniable the current infrastructure has created a mesh of systems and controls that allow for every last time you spend to be tracked and logged digitally forever. Much of these systems and controls were generated as part of government legislation under the guise of the often nebulous “national security” or “anti-terrorism” etc

So, the basic philosophy to Dark Wallet is to give Bitcoin community the freedom of financial speech and to make all Bitcoin transactions anonymous. Most people think any anarchy is total chaos; however this couldn’t be further from the truth. In their philosophy, a lack of central government is replaced by a plethora of distributed, decentralized, self-organizing institutions based on voluntarism and non-aggression. This sounds more closely fitting to how the Bitcoin network and community has emerged today, it is certainly not chaos.

Developing Dark Wallet

Dark Wallet was started by Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki to ensure Bitcoin transactions are anonymous. The developers of Dark Wallet wholeheartedly subscribe to a Bitcoin-only mindset. The group, called UnSystem, is self-proclaimed crypto-anarchists led by Cody Wilson—who you may remember as the creator of the controversial 3D-printed gun. After getting himself in hot water with the government for making the digital files to print an unregulated weapon freely available on the internet, Wilson is now endeavoring to bring Bitcoin back to its anarchist roots.


Several other key people associated with Dark Wallet are Mihai Alisie (Editor in chief for Bitcoin Magazine, and project developer for Egora), Pablo Martin (Developer of first trustless mixer for laundering Bitcoins and developer of encrypted phone technology) and Kyle Drake (Author of Coinpunk, open source self-deployable web wallet with client-side encryption).

It was first launched on the crowd funding website Indiegogo last year, where a fund raising goal of $50,000 was set for an early 2014 release of Dark Wallet. However, due to large number of Bitcoin users who desire Bitcoin transactions to be completely anonymous, the goal was achieved well before the deadline. According to the Indiegogo web posting of Dark Wallet, it was launched in Austin, Texas, United States.

Dark Wallet has a bigger vision, but its team members have to think extensively on how to integrate and properly combine all these disparate features in a user friendly package. They want to explore distributed identity, distributed reputation systems, encrypted messaging (ala BitMessage), private asset issuance, decentralized trading and semi-persistent storage systems. All these tools can be combined to create decentralized markets.

How does Dark Wallet make a Bitcoin transaction anonymous?

Information about each and every Bitcoin transaction is stored in the Transaction Block Chain which is constantly updated and shared with each Bitcoin wallet user. Each transaction is given a transaction ID which is a 16 alpha-digit combination which is encrypted. This transaction ID usually contains some information from the previous transaction’s ID, thereby making all transactions a chain. So, the entire Bitcoin community that has access to Bitcoin Transaction Block Chain can theoretically track your Bitcoin transaction. So, how do you make your transaction anonymous? This is where Dark Wallet is handy.

Being a web browser plug-in, Dark Wallet runs like a traditional Bitcoin wallet, but with an additional layer of security that makes it practically impossible to trace your transaction. The added layer of security contains several mixers or combinations that prevent you from being able to see any Bitcoin transaction. Dark Wallet safeguards these transactions with a combination of encryption and a 'CoinJoin' protocol that mixes users' Bitcoins together before encoding it into the ledger or Bitcoin Transaction Block Chain. Due to this encryption, the transaction becomes almost impossible to trace even if it has elements of the previous transaction in its transaction ID. This is basically how Dark Wallet adds complex encryption to Bitcoin transaction and makes it almost impossible to track a Bitcoin transaction, thereby increasing the anonymity and privacy.

Limitations of Dark Wallet

Dark Wallet is designed based on the mixing and encryption of the transaction ID. It adds a layer of security by mixing and encoding the transaction details before they are stored in the Transaction Block Chain. However, it is important to note that mixing and concealing coins in such a way while not explicitly forbidden could be crossing the line in some legal grey areas.  Therefore, one should know the legal aspects of using such mixing services before using them. Such services also require you to trust the individuals running them not to lose or steal your funds and not to keep a log of your requests. Even though mixing services can break traceability for small amounts, it becomes increasingly difficult to do the same for larger transactions.

How does Dark Wallet ensure a good future for Bitcoin?

There is so much untapped power in Bitcoin. You know the saying "we only use 10% of our brain's power"? We probably use less than 1% of what is possible with Bitcoin! Dark Wallet brings to us a new and dynamic way to use Bitcoins. Dark Wallet not only introduces a new and innovative concept of making a Bitcoin transaction anonymous, but also lays foundation for a greater research in the expansion of Bitcoin lifespan and its core building structure.

The untraceability of Bitcoin transactions that Dark Wallet introduces, would add another reason(privacy) for users to migrate towards Bitcoin and away from traditional fiat.

Although, the Dark Wallet team’s philosophy may sound a bit extreme, their ideas for the future sound very promising. Some of their ideas include:

  • Auto-anonymizer for your Bitcoins.

  • Broadcasters to avoid triangulation of your financial transactions.

  • Automatic fee discovery. Ability to set a tradeoff between confirmation time and fee size.

  • Decentralised market discovery mechanisms.

  • Distributed identity.

  • Distributed reputation.

  • Encrypted messaging.

  • Private asset issuance.

  • Decentralised trading.

  • Semi-persistent storage mechanisms. Such things could lead to an uncensored fast encrypted web. The holy grail of cipherspace.

  • Time Stamped proof of ownership.

  • Encrypted shop-fronts.

  • Contracts, escrow, cooperatives, alternative ownership models

  • Decentralised market places (like Silk Road).

  • Uncensorable crowdfunding platforms, stock platforms and information black markets.

  • Highly scalable block chain infrastructure.

The Dark Wallet team wants to not only make prototypes for the above mentioned software and services, but also plans to turn the prototypes into scalable working models for Bitcoin community to use. Their ideology of turning Bitcoin into a more usable product in our day-to-day lives is very promising.

Until now, we have been using Bitcoin as a mode of payment only, but can there be other uses of Bitcoins? Could we someday use Bitcoins for gaming or for ratings?

The fact that Dark Wallet and all other services of its team are essentially free to use (Open-Source), makes their work something to look forward to. The future of internet is Open Source and the Dark Wallet team thrives on this. Combining Bitcoin with open source innovations can lead to a whole new world of possibilities and Team Dark Wallet is the latest team tapping into them. Let’s wait and see what more Bitcoin can do!

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The recent Chinese regulations have made it difficult for Bitcoin services to flourish in China. In December 2013, the price of a Bitcoin fell close to 28% in one single day due to the announcement of a ban from People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on banking services that fund Bitcoin Exchanges in mainland China. This also triggered a month long price volatility in the Bitcoin market and created a sense of danger for long term investors.

Bihang is the new Chinese Bitcoin startup that has been started in the times of such heavy regulation from the Chinese government. The timing of the launch has made people question who would launch a Bitcoin website in such a climate?

Bihang is a Chinese application development company that focuses on developing Android apps for Bitcoin services. One of its famous project is Bibao, an Android mobile application for Bitcoin or Litecoin Exchanges. The application works similar to a stock market application, where in you can constantly see updated exchange rates of Bitcoins, Litecoins and major Chinese currencies. Through the Bibao application, you can check your BTC balance, read news about Bitcoins across the Chinese web, set up and receive alerts about Bitcoin price and track exchange rates of major Chinese currencies against Bitcoin. As an introductory offer, the website doesn’t charge any transaction fees and is a free download application on the Google Play store.

Bihang website was launched by its co-founders Jiang Changhao and Wang Hao. Jiang is a former research scientist at Facebook, while Wang used to work at Goldman Sachs. Before launching the business, Jiang first studied the articles by Satoshi Nakamoto, the man behind the concept of bitcoins, and the visions shared by those who were key to the development of the digital currency.

"If one can carry out peer-to-peer transactions without relying on the support of centralized organizations and third-party payment firms, it would be very cool," Jiang said, citing the property market, and intellectual property rights transfer, as two areas that would benefit from the lack of regulation. "This will be a whole new set of rules for the game, which will turn a lot of traditional trading practices on their head," Jiang added.

If one can carry out peer-to-peer transactions without relying on the support of centralized organizations and third-party payment firms, it would be very cool,

The Bihang team consists of only 10 people who handle most of the technical and administrative work. Due to security threats that new startups and Bitcoin companies in China face, Jiang has chosen to work with a small team.

With his immense technological experience gained at Facebook and his influence in the Chinese technological market, can Jiang turn some heads in the Bitcoin tech community? With China being heavily anti-Bitcoin, it is worth seeing if such startups actually bring in more investors and users to the Bitcoin community and compel the Chinese government to ease the strict regulations on Bitcoin funding by Chinese banks.

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AuthorTeam Bitcoin
CategoriesBitcoin News

China, the world’s most populous country and the second largest global economy has strict regulations against Bitcoin. China National Bank - The People’s Bank of China, banned third-party payment companies from processing Bitcoin transactions on Dec 16, 2013. This move was harshly revolted by many in the Bitcoin community. But, as a consequence to the ban, the very next day, Bitcoin price drops almost 29%. This created a panic in the Bitcoin community that added to the price drop.

More recently, on April 28, 2014, the Bitcoin price dropped almost 15% on the news of a Chinese Bank deposits being suspended. BTC China - in the top five of the most commonly used Bitcoin exchanges, according to Bitcoinity.org - said over the weekend that it had suspended Yuan deposits from the China Merchant Bank, following guidance the bank had posted on its website.

Why is China so anti Bitcoin?

Well, there are many reasons for this for example Bitcoin can pose a threat to the Chinese economy through a loss of control on the flight of capital out of the country.  China’s economy is second to only the United States’ economy by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Furthermore, the economy of China is the fastest growing economy in the world with an average growth rate of 10% in the past 25 years. Now you wonder why Walmart is full of Chinese products. With China on a mission to be the world’s largest economy by the next 20 years, the Chinese government is taking all measures to ensure a steady growth rate. This is allowing China to slowly become a stabilized market economy and the Chinese wouldn’t want to endanger it. Furthermore, the objective of the Chinese monetary policy is to keep the value of the Renminbi, RMB (The official currency of China) stable to contribute to a steady economic growth.

Bitcoin, on the other side is an unregulated financial instrument. It has been recently known for its various price fluctuations. Although the Bitcoin is widely accepted in some countries, it poses a great threat to the Chinese economy as it challenges the capital controls in place that guard the value of RMB. With the ease of purchasing and transferring money internationally, Bitcoin might be a big hit in the technologically savvy Chinese population. However, it poses a risk to the Chinese currency, as the Bitcoin could be more readily accepted as means to circumvent controls over Chinese sending their cash overseas. If this were to happen, then it would hinder the steady growth of the Chinese economy and also reduce the control of China on the global economic environment.

Another main reason that China has banned Bitcoin transactions is that Bitcoin could act as a second currency. What would happen if Bitcoin would act as a second currency that couldn’t be pegged in China? China is known to be an export nation, as it exports its products, mainly electronic parts, all over the world. Even the iPhone is made in China and assembled in California. This is due to the cheap labor found in China. Imagine if there is second currency in China that can be traded globally online, wouldn’t the workers want to work for the Bitcoin? If they do so, wouldn’t the average rate for an hour’s work fluctuate according to the global Bitcoin price? This would mean that sometimes, the workers would get more value in Bitcoin than they would get in the RMB. This would hurt the export sales adversely and would hinder the steady economic growth of China, which is linked directly to the RMB. This way, the individual wealth of an average Chinese person would increase, which could potentially lead to an increased demand and an increase in prices, all over China. An increase in prices would increase the property prices astronomically, and this could potentially lead to a property bubble which could throw China into recession, just as it did to the United States in 2008.

Realizing all this, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) imposed a ban on all Bitcoin transaction in China. After all, the PBOC could not let the usage of Bitcoin affect China’s competitiveness in the global economic framework.

Why does a Chinese ban adversely affect the Bitcoin price?

China is technologically sound. Realizing this many American tech companies like Google have tried to enter the Chinese market, but could not succeed due to the strict economic and government regulations. China is also the world’s fastest growing economy. Therefore, the Chinese economic environment is best suited for Bitcoin to flourish. However, the strict Chinese regulations have made it difficult for Bitcoin companies to flourish in China. The Bitcoin community eagerly waits for Chinese government to ease the regulations. So, any news in an opposite direction would severely affect the Bitcoin price. What’s adding to the price volatility of Bitcoin is the inability of the PBOC to take a definitive stand on the Bitcoin existence in China. Although there are regulations that stop Bitcoin from prospering, there are some Bitcoin companies functioning in China.

But, if the PBOC could take a definitive stand on the Bitcoin existence in China, the Bitcoin community could adopt accordingly and the Bitcoin price volatility could end. Only time would tell if China would modify its monetary policy and accommodate Bitcoin to collectively let the Bitcoin and RMB stabilize the Chinese economy or if it would completely ban everything that has something to do with Bitcoins.

However, recent reports show that the PBOC would soon issue a statement banning all banks from doing business with Bitcoin exchanges in Mainland China. But, not prominent can be said now about the future of Bitcoin in China as the Bitcoin community is organizing a Global Bitcoin Summit in Beijing, China later this month. This is being seen as a move to educate China about Bitcoin and to increase the Bitcoin users in China.

However, we would have to wait a little longer to know who wins this virtual battle between the Bitcoin community and the People’s Bank of China. Stay tuned to Team Bitcoin to know more about this!

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AuthorTeam Bitcoin
CategoriesBitcoin News

SSX Startup Stock Exchange takes Bitcoin!

For entrepreneurs all over the world, finding a source of funding is one of the most problematic aspects of their entrepreneurial experience. Finding investors could be as painstaking as coming up with an innovative idea to start a new venture. Before the 90s, entrepreneurs used to get in touch with middlemen and brokers to find individual and institutional investors to invest in their ventures. This led to the birth of angel investing and royalty based financing. Apple Inc is one company born out of such investing. But now, with the advent of the internet, a lot of online funding options have come into existence. With the ease of accessibility, startups are able to reach a wider range of investors all over the world. One such option is Crowdfunding.


What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a method of raising significant funds from the internet, by aggregating a number amount of money from small contributions from individual online investors. With crowdfunding, entrepreneurs can get investment in small terms from a large number of investors. This ultimately sums up into a large amount. Typically, the entrepreneurs gives either a percentage of the company or royalty on sales and services to the online investor. There are two types of crowdfunding - Project crowdfunding (where small amounts for specific projects are accepted as donations) and Enterprise Crowdfunding (where to raise capital or operating costs, a percentage of the company is sold as investment security). Crowdfunding uses the easy accessibility of individuals like friends, family, venture capitalists and others on social networking sites like Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


A lot of websites are available online for crowdfunding purposes. You can easily find a project that you like and fund it by paying with a credit or debit card. The problem here is the lack of authentication and a proper system to see a sale through.


What is Startup Stock Exchange?

Startup Stock Exchange (SSX) is a government regulated, global public marketplace for startup investing and funding, with investors from over 100 countries. On SSX, investors of any level buy ownership shares of vetted startup companies. Shares trade freely on the exchange, providing a liquid market. Investors can buy or sell anytime and control their own account.  Startups raise capital on SSX from an international pool of investors. They raise money at a significantly lower cost of capital than current money raising methods.


SSX takes the concept of crowdfunding and adds the security, liquidity and control of a securities exchange. SSX provides an online market where investors of any level buy public shares of vetted startup companies, while Startups raise their working capital or operational costs they need from these global investors. Each company’s shares are sold through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on Startup Stock Exchange and there is no minimum investment for an investor.


Startup Stock Exchange for Startup Companies

Startup Stock Exchange helps startup companies raise the needed capital through safe crowdfunding means. Each company is needed to submit its business documentation such as business plan, financial details, executive summary and other corporate documentation. Once this is done, the application process begins and it includes a six step vetting process to approve a company. Once approved, the company is listed on SSX through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Investors can buy the company’s stocks which would be held by the Custodian of the Exchange in the name of the investor, to allow electronic trading. Regular reporting by the listed company is required to keep the investors informed. SSX is very selective about the companies that it lists. Only 3% of the companies that apply are approved to list. Each company is analyzed carefully and an in-depth analysis is provided to the investor. To know more about how SSX is beneficial for a Startup Company, please visit Startup Stock Exchange.


Startup Stock Exchange for Investors

Startup Stock Exchange helps both individual and institutional investors invest in different startup companies via crowdfunding. Each investor should open an account on SSX by a short registration process to verify a client’s identity. Any Investor that successfully completes registration may invest after deposits funds into their account. However, U.S. and Canadian residents are currently restricted from trading prior to SSX finalizing compliance with the regulations of those countries. Once approved, they can start investing in Startup companies. There are no minimum or maximum investment levels.  The minimum investment is one share, and the maximum is subject to the number of shares available for purchase. An investor may invest using the SSX online marketplace through either subscription prior to IPO, and/or by the trading of shares after IPO.


Here are some of the benefits for investors using SSX:

  • No Investment Limits
  • Transparency and Oversight
  • Security (Investor Verification, Company Vetting, Due Diligence and Information Security
  • Diverse Companies
  • Regulated Marketplace (Government Regulation and Anti-Money Laundering)
  • Low Investment Fees (No Fees on IPO trades and 1.5% commission on all other trades)
  • Control Your Own Account (Personal Trading Account, Extended Company Advisory)
  • Strict Vetting of Offerings
  • Company Reporting and Communication
  • Investment Liquidity (Active 24x7 Global Marketplace)
  • Easy to Use Interface
  • Electronic Trading as the the company’s stocks are held by the Custodian of the Exchange in the name of the investor


About the SSX Team

Ian Haet is the CEO and the founder of SSX and Brian Niessen is the CIO and the co-founder of SSX. Both of them have a vast experience in creating and managing technological companies. SSX has received funding from a lot of individual and institutional investors from all over Europe and the United States, including Greg Kidd, the famous angel investor who owns a major stake in Twitter.


SSX Now Accepts Bitcoin

On April 23, 2014, Startup Stock Exchange is now accepting Bitcoin as a mode of payment to buy stocks of companies listed in SSX. SSX becomes the first investment platform to allow investors to buy publicly traded shares of a company. Investors can now fund their SSX Investment Account by Bitcoins, using the GoCoin payment processor. The GoCoin payment processor bypasses the cumbersome and less private / secure  options of virtual exchanges and other third parties and offers Bitcoin owners the ability to pay merchants actual dollars in exchange for a Bitcoin. Therefore, the Bitcoins would be converted into USD before being used for investing in companies listed on SSX.


SSX provides investors of all levels access to investment opportunities in global Startups. The addition of Bitcoin as a funding method makes it easier for these investors to participate on our global market and invest in our public Startups,said Ian Haet, CEO and Co-Founder of the Startup Stock Exchange.


Why did SSX start accepting Bitcoins?

SSX is a global marketplace which lists companies from all over the world and has clients in over 100 countries. To reach a wider population, SSX had to find a financial instrument which has a low money transfer fee. What better than Bitcoin? Due to the online nature of Bitcoins, it is the most cost effective financial instrument for international transfers, covering countries such as Argentina, Singapore, Venezuela, South Africa and Morocco. Moreover, due to the rising popularity of Bitcoin and due to the tremendous similarities in the SSX mission and the purpose of Bitcoins, SSX started accepting Bitcoins. Moreover, SSX believes in providing a more secure source for crowdfunding and what better way than accepting Bitcoin, knowing the cryptographic security features that it comes with.


Bitcoin is unregulated and SSX is government regulated. How does it work?

Although Bitcoins are unregulated financial instruments, all Bitcoin transactions on SSX are reviewed according to strict Anti-Money Laundering (AML/CFT) procedures. As a regulated global marketplace for Startup investing and funding, this review process is an important factor in adhering to global best practices regarding the prevention of Money Laundering and maintaining the security of investing via SSX.


The Future

This innovative idea of funding startup companies with Bitcoins, through Startup Stock Exchange is not only beneficial to SSX but also the Bitcoin community. With major companies like SSX accepting the Bitcoin, its popularity increases which creates a demand, thereby increasing the price as the supply of Bitcoin is capped. Furthermore, this idea also invented a new purpose for the use of Bitcoins in the financial world. However, one should be cautious about the investment as the Bitcoin price is highly fluctuating now. This could create an imbalance in investment for investor using Bitcoin as a mode of funding for startups on SSX.


On the brighter side, the total reach of SSX is bound to increase. The use of Bitcoin as a mode of funding would attract a lot of investors from the technologically sound countries towards SSX. Moreover, with the increase of the total reach, SSX might also beat the more conventional Stock Exchanges. Scouting for places to spend their Bitcoins, many individuals might actually want to save their Bitcoins by investing in startup companies and you never know you might be funding the next Facebook! 

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AuthorTeam Bitcoin