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Coinfloor Plans Europe’s First Bitcoin ETF, Adds USD Support

Last updated on Oct 21, 2014 at 22:34 BST. Based on the following values:

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Daniel Palmer | Published on October 21, 2014 at 17:35 BST

Coinfloor

Coinfloor has revealed plans to launch a bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) and accept additional fiat currencies as part of its efforts to expand internationally.

Starting immediately, the UK-based bitcoin exchange is allowing customers to make deposits in US dollars, euros and Polish zloty, in addition to the British pound.

The company framed the move as a way for it to transition from a UK-only exchange to a global player in the wider market for bitcoin exchanges.

Adam Knight, chairman and investor with the exchange, said:

“By expanding to dollars, euros and zloty, we are expanding from a UK-only focus to an international one, delivering more value to our UK customers and growing our user base internationally.”

Global plans

Amadeo Pellicce, CoinFloor’s chief operating officer, explained that the additional currencies were a logical choice for the exchange.

“The XBT/USD pair is the most commonly traded pair, so our existing customers naturally have the demand to access the additional liquidity in that market, and we are expanding to euros to better service our European customers by supporting SEPA transfers,” he said.

While US dollars and euros would seem to support the company’s more global goals, the addition of Polish zlotys is perhaps less expected.

However, it makes sense in light of its banking partnership – Coinfloor banks with Poland’s PKO Bank Polski, due to the ongoing reluctance of British banks to provide services for cryptocurrency-based companies.

But Poland’s burgeoning bitcoin scene is the major factor in making the zloty an option for traders, according to Pellicce, who said:

“We are entering the Polish bitcoin market since it is growing at a rapid pace and the community is very active. Poland also has strong ties to the UK, so we believe that having both markets will naturally bring opportunities down the road.”

CEO Mark Lamb indicated that the reluctance of British banks to back digital currency businesses could damage the UK’s potential to become a leader in the bitcoin space, telling the Financial Times: “The [British] banks are very conservative and are not very interested … in something that could be very innovative and disruptive to what they do.”

Exchange trading fund

Notably, Coinfloor also announced a plan to create a bitcoin exchange traded fund, similar to that announced by the Winkelvoss Capital in July 2013.

An ETF is traditionally linked to a commodity like gold, but in this case would give investors access to bitcoin without the risk of direct ownership. Shares could be bought and sold like stocks on Coinfloor’s exchange.

Coinfloor would store the bitcoins on “physical keys” within a secure subterranean vault, according to the FT. These stored funds would be further protected by multi-signature authentication to reduce the risk of the bitcoins being stolen by hackers.

“We believe there is significant untapped bitcoin demand that is waiting for a regulated and listed investment product before buying bitcoin,” the company said.

Coinfloor further indicated it is currently exploring the “how and where” of launching its physical bitcoin-backed ETF to provide investors with “another route to bitcoin”.

Funding expansion

The FT also reported that Coinfloor is likely to close a funding round of around £1m in the next month or so – a sum which will value the firm at up to £8m.

While the exchange would not comment on any forthcoming investment, Obi Nwosu, chief technology officer, did say:

“Coinfloor has extensive plans for growth and we are raising capital to fuel our expansion. We have seen demand for the investment round from our customers and the bitcoin community and are exploring ways to increase the accessibility of the current funding round.”

Zloty image via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin is a digital currency that is being used increasingly all over the world. Find out more about how it works and how you can use it with our straightforward guides.

  • It’s a decentralized digital currency

  • It’s fast, cheap to use, and secure

  • From an exchange or an individual

The most fertile ground for bitcoin is in places like Cyprus, Argentina, Iceland, China and other countries which have experienced significant financial disruptions.

Garrick Hileman, economic historian at the London School of Economics

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Next Mercedes G-Class won’t think outside of the box

  • Next Mercedes G-Class won’t think outside of the box
2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG

Anyone that was afraid that Mercedes-Benz would follow the example of the Land Rover Range Rover and soften the looks of the iconic Geländewagen when it came time for a redesign need not worry. The iconic off-roader’s brutalist design aesthetic will carry on, as it’s essential to its character.

“It has to continue as it looks today,” Daimler AG boss Dieter Zetsche told Bloomberg. “It’s not a vehicle that pretends. The G-Class is the original.”

That doesn’t mean that the G won’t seem some changes soon. Regulatory changes will force some design modifications for 2016, while Mercedes might also take the opportunity to up usable space, widening the SUV by around four inches and dropping the roof slightly, a person familiar with MB’s plans told Bloomberg.

Mercedes is at something of a crossroads with the G-Class, facing increased competition from the hot-selling Range Rover and staring down the barrel of new ultra-lux competitors from the likes of Bentley and others. Meanwhile, Bloomberg describes the company as trying to shed a “stodgy reputation.” These challenges, though, shouldn’t impact the future G-Wagen’s abilities, though.

“When it comes to the combination of off-road capabilities and luxury, there’s no alternative,” the SUV’s chief, Gunnar Guethenke told Bloomberg. “The G-Class provides the genes for all Mercedes-Benz SUVs.”

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Coinbase Co-Founder Tours Europe in International Expansion Bid

Last updated on Oct 21, 2014 at 22:34 BST. Based on the following values:

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Joon Ian Wong (@joonian) | Published on October 21, 2014 at 18:35 BST

Brian Armstrong at Techcrunch Disrupt London

Coinbase, one of the most visible companies in the bitcoin space, is making a strong bid to expand in Europe as it attempts to grow in new markets outside the US for the first time.

In recent weeks, Coinbase has opened its service to residents of 18 European countries, including bitcoin hotspots like the Netherlands, France and Sweden. The company also sent its founders, Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, on a four-country tour of Europe to meet customers and promote its API to developers.

As part of this public relations initiative, Armstrong participated in a coveted onstage interview at TechCrunch’s first conference in the UK, a much-hyped confab that assembled the continent’s major investors and technology entrepreneurs.

“Bitcoin is inherently global and I’ve always wanted Coinbase to be less US-centric,” Armstrong told CoinDesk.

Coinbase’s European push will ultimately put it in a contest with BitPay, which it competes with in the US market for merchant accounts. Though BitPay has enrolled billion-dollar merchants like NewEgg and TigerDirect, Coinbase has arguably had more visible success partnering with major merchants, with its most recent customer being Dell, the bitcoin ecosystem’s largest merchant by annual revenue.

European merchants increasingly important

Things could play out differently in Europe, however, which Armstrong identifies as an important source of growth. BitPay has been building its European operations for the past year, and the market has emerged as a central part of the company’s business.

Moe Levin, BitPay’s director of European business development, said European merchants account for 40% of their customer base. “It’s our fastest growing market,” he added.

Levin’s Amsterdam team, more than 10 executives, must brace themselves for the heightened competition that Coinbase will bring once it begins to woo European merchants to its platform. Its top performing European merchants are Takeaway.com, Destinia and Air Baltic, according to executives at the company.

Competition for European merchants will come, as Coinbase intends to target European merchants after it has assembled a base of individual users for its wallet and bitcoin-buying service. Armstrong says this user-first strategy is what worked for Coinbase in the US, and it’s something that he will replicate in Europe.

Armstrong hinted that the next big-name merchant to sign on with Coinbase would be on-demand service Uber. He told a packed room at the Coinscrum meetup in London, which his company sponsored, that he began talking to Uber after signing up the payment processor Braintree, which the on-demand company uses.

“I can’t promise that will happen. It hasn’t gone live yet,” he said, in response to an audience question.

Notably, the UK is not on the list of Coinbase’s new markets. It sent an email to users on 15th October announcing that it is “now available” in the UK, which Armstrong says was a mistake. Users in the UK cannot buy and sell bitcoins on Coinbase.

A ‘merchant engine’ in Europe

Onstage at the TechCrunch conference, Armstrong said Coinbase intends to sign 10 European merchants with more than $ 1bn dollars in revenue next year. This time, however, Armstrong believes his 65-strong team has “perfected” its merchant acquisition process.

“We have this ‘merchant engine’ that we’ve perfected, and hopefully we can do the same thing in Europe,” he told CoinDesk.

BitPay’s Levin says his team is ready for the heightened competition that Coinbase will bring to the continent. When asked if his team’s lead-time of more than a year was sufficient to give it the advantage, Levin said:

“100%, yes. I think you will hear some very exciting news come out in the next few weeks.”

Still, Levin was at pains to stress that although his company and Coinbase are in the business of acquiring merchants, the bitcoin industry is young enough for both firms to grow without coming into conflict with one another.

Growth from API

Beyond the battle for merchant transactions, Armstrong repeatedly mentioned Coinbase’s new API, Toshi, in an interview with CoinDesk and in public presentations in London, signalling his company’s ambition to become a platform for developers.

Armstrong told a packed room at Coinscrum that his firm had spent $ 2m to build up its developer platform.

At the Techcrunch event, he said:

“We have a team internally working on nothing but the platform [...] We have invested time and money into solving the hard problems in a bitcoin API.”

Coinbase’s website lists 44 apps that use its API currently. Companies like BlockCypher, Chain and Gem are also trying to make developing bitcoin applications easier with their own APIs.

Crackdown rumours

Beyond Europe, Armstrong says Coinbase is looking to the ‘unbanked’ as source of future growth.

He told the Coinscrum crowd that he had begun to analyse the ‘unbanked’ markets with the greatest potential for growth, hoping to position a Coinbase wallet as “the first bank account” for consumers:

“We made a list of countries showing cellphone adoption by country and number of bank accounts per country. Then we looked at what countries had the highest cellphone penetration with the lowest bank accounts. The Philippines and Indonesia are on top.”

But expansion plans could be hampered by ongoing government attempts to construct a regulatory framework for bitcoin businesses. Armstrong says he’s undisturbed by the US government’s efforts to devise regulation for bitcoin companies like his.

He told CoinDesk:

“The regulatory environment in the US has been very positive. The only thing might be the BitLicense draft when it came out, and even then it’s not the end of the world.”

Featured image: Techcrunch / Flickr

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Toca (Figuratively) Burns Down 2015 Hyundai Genesis for SEMA, Builds It Back Up Into a “Steel Phoenix”

Toca Hyundai Genesis Steel Phoenix

“How now, turbo Tau?” That, presumably, is the question Hyundai hopes show goers will ask when it pulls the wraps off of the Steel Phoenix at the upcoming 2014 SEMA Show. Conceived by Toca Marketing Group, the hopped-up Genesis with a bad-ass name features a twin-turbocharged version of Hyundai’s 5.0-liter Tau V-8 pumping out 600 horsepower. A 180-hp bump over the stock 2015 Genesis 5.0′s output isn’t something to sniff at, folks. 

To get to that huge horsepower figure—big, but not Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat big—Toca strapped a pair of Garrett turbos to the Genesis’ already powerful V-8 and added an ARK cat-back exhaust. Power is routed to the pavement via Toyo tires wrapped around custom 21-inch COR wheels, while an AirRex digitally controlled air suspension drops the body down low for looking cool or some such idea. Neo Motorsport supplies the stopping power, with eight-piston brake calipers up front and six-piston units in the rear. That’s a lot of pots! They should hella turbo the brakes. Maybe add nitrous, too—a 1200-hp shot to the calipers! Epic stop!


  • This Hyundai Genesis Coupe Makes 800 hp AT THE WHEELS
  • 2015 Hyundai Genesis 5.0 Sedan Tested: Genesis, Chapter Two—Or is that Five-Oh?
  • Hyundai Genesis Research: Full Pricing, Specs, Reviews, Photos, and More

Inside, the Steel Phoenix features the requisite custom-car many-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, leather-wrapped everything, and Ultrasuede-covered pillars. The body’s been punted outward with the addition of an all-steel bodykit, a carbon-fiber ARK diffuser rounds out the tail’s upgrades, and the whole thing is finished off in R-M Grigio Silverstone paint that resembles a raw metal finish. What other shade would you paint a Steel Phoenix? Maroon? Pontiac already did that back in the ’80s, and this is no retro Poncho show, bro.

The Toca-touched Genesis leaves one lingering question, though. Would a “steel phoenix” be made of sintered metal? Yeah. Probably.

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Why 20 Bitcoin Companies Are Backing a New Deal for Digital Identity

Last updated on Oct 21, 2014 at 22:33 BST. Based on the following values:

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Pete Rizzo (@pete_rizzo_) | Published on October 21, 2014 at 20:25 BST

Open Mustard Seed, ID3

To members of more than 20 digital currency companies, the broad increase in financial access the industry hopes to achieve is currently being impeded by issues that go beyond finance and technology to defining transparency and identity in the digital age.

Expanding access to financial services through not just digital currency, but new systems that allow businesses to establish trust and lower the cost of financial services, lies at the heart of the Windhover Principles. The new framework was introduced by the Institute for Data Driven Design (ID3), a non-profit founded out of MIT Media Lab this Monday, and was written collaboratively by digital currency industry stakeholders.

The Windhover Principles aim to reframe the debate around privacy, security and transparency. All entities that have pledged to the principles have vowed to support measures that will empower companies and consumers with the ability to better guard their financial information, while respecting the law enforcement need for anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) protections.

Though lofty, ID3 plans to work toward this goal more concretely through its Open Mustard Seed (OMS) software platform. The infrastructure will seek to allow Internet users to create a form of cloud profile that can be verified and securely accessed by any financial company or regulator that should require it, but where the ultimate ownership belongs to the individual.

Ripple Labs chief compliance officer Karen Gifford, who helped author the framework, told CoinDesk that the wide support for the principles shows that the bitcoin community is beginning to galvanize around the subject of identity.

Gifford said:

“This type of technology has the potential to lower the cost of customer onboarding so that if you could create a digital identity tool that a person could use once to build up their identity and trustworthiness, we wouldn’t have to keep doing that over and over again at great expense to everyone. It could lower the cost of customer onboarding and enable financial access to people who currently can’t access financial services easily.”

More than 20 industry participants have so far pledged the support to The Windhover Principles, including market leaders like BitPay, Bitstamp, Coinsetter and Ripple Labs.

From farm to theory

While newly announced, the underlying ideas behind the project have been in development for some time, according to ID3 co-founder Dan Harple.

Harple explained that ID3 co-founders Dr John Clippinger and Dr Alex “Sandy” Pentland have been working in the areas of big data, privacy and smart contracts for years, but that the Windhover Principles took shape at a post-conference retreat held by MIT Media Lab and ID3 this August at Windhover Farm in New Hampshire.

There, Harple indicated that startup CEOs and regulators came together to develop a big tent strategy to identity and trust, discussing ways that similar problems have been approached in the past through open-source frameworks. Drawing on his own background working on early projects that resulted in voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) standards, Harple proposed the Windhover Principles.

Now, ID3 is taking its proposals a step further, by uniting companies to put its ideas into action.

Harple said:

“What we have agreed to is for the companies to come together to provide an open-source solution that’s totally in the spirit of bitcoin, and companies are signed onto this. What we’ve decided to do from ID3 is to contribute the foundational software.”

Further, his type of open-source work, he said, provides a powerful value proposition to bitcoin companies, that may have to dedicate more substantial development resources to the problem independently.

Common ground between regulation and business

Bitcoin businesses, in turn, see the framework as an extension of the industry’s ultimate goal of using the technology to extend financial access.

Jaron Lukasiewicz, CEO of New York-based, B2B-focused bitcoin exchange Coinsetter, suggested that the high costs of establishing and verifying identity is one of the core reasons existing financial products struggle to gain a foothold in emerging markets. For bitcoin to overcome this, he argued, new approaches to identity are necessary.

“You can look at compliance costs for opening a bank account,” Lukasiewicz said. “The bank has to do all this work, and if you don’t have a lot of money, spending that money as the bank doesn’t make sense. What we’re trying to achieve is a new paradigm in how regulation can be achieved for payment technologies that are going to be more fair and ethical.”

Joseph Lee, CEO of bitcoin derivatives platform BTC.sx, suggested that by backing solutions that help users better control their data, the industry can also better meet its fiduciary duties to regulators while respecting individual rights.

“What the framework essentially [will do], is give the users the control of their own data while allowing other companies the ability to verify the data in a very clever way, in that they never have to own the data, but they can use it for regulatory purposes,” Lee said.

Rejection of centralized alternatives

More broadly, the companies also seek to use their commitment to the framework to move away from centralized identity solutions in use today or that could be developed in the future.

Lukasiewicz likened the Windhover Principles as aspiring to create a decentralized version of services like Facebook Login, the social media service that allows apps and websites to easily access user data.

He said:

“People will get very sensitive about having to report their Social Security number to an exchange or give their passport, but you can imagine a future where you can enable the greater verification of an identity without ever having to give any sort of documentation to accompany it.”

Still, Lee used a different analogy, suggesting that the industry would eventually develop a decentralized version of online payments identity validation services such as Jumio.

Action needed now

Overall, the companies associated with the project all suggested that there will be no immediate changes to their services as a result of their commitment to the Windhover Principles. Yet, they expressed that a commitment to the principles is needed today, while the technology that underlies the bitcoin ecosystem is still being developed.

Lukasiewicz suggested that the framework has implications within the context of New York’s proposed bitcoin regulation, the BitLicense.

“I think you’re looking at a point in the industry where regulation is being formed, where regulators are making decisions on how the industry will progress and this is a way for the industry to form that ourselves,” he said.

Gifford struck a similar tone, noting that the Windhover Principles are a way for the bitcoin industry to show that they are responding to concerns from the government with action.

“[This is] an opportunity for the digital currency community be able to clarify that they understand a lot of the [...] important concerns underlying regulations,” she said.

Gifford added that the project, if successful, could demonstrate how regulators and innovators can collaboratively address issues for the greater global good.

Images via ID3

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Bitcoin is a digital currency that is being used increasingly all over the world. Find out more about how it works and how you can use it with our straightforward guides.

  • It’s a decentralized digital currency

  • It’s fast, cheap to use, and secure

  • From an exchange or an individual

The more I learn about bitcoin, the less I remain sceptical about it!

Jean-Christophe Schwaab, member of the Swiss National Council

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