How to buy Bitcoins in Malaysia

I have been meaning to write a blog post about this for a while now. Few weeks back, Bitcoin’s price was at all time high (ATH) of $4,979, hitting $5,000 on some exchanges. Today, on September 15, 2017 is a different scenario altogether, price is hovering at $3,000. That’s down by whopping ~$2,000!

Disclaimer: This is not an investment advice. And it’s not a paid review.

Luno.com

Today we will be covering a site called Luno, formerly known as BitX Malaysia. I think Luno’s user experience and services are quite user friendly, their support of local banks such as Maybank, CIMB and other local banks is a huge benefit too.

luno0 Continue reading

Potentially Promising Crypto-Startups to Watch (part-2)

You can read the part-1 here.

So much development has been happening in the crypto-technology lately. Below are some of the startups which I recommend to keep an eye on:

Waves Platform

Waves Platform is one of the most funded projects of all time, it raised ~30,000 bitcoins during its ICO (Initial Coin Offering), which was equal to ~$16mil US dollars at the time (now ~$19mil). It’s founded by a Russian entrepreneur Sasha Ivanov, who has previously founded Coinomat and was also an NXT developer.

waves

Waves promises to offer multiple services on its platform, one of the significant ones are being the following:

1) Token Issuance – any business or individual can create their own tokens on Waves Platform. And it can be traded against other tokens in the Waves DEx (Decentralized Exchange). This has a huge potential to digitize and make the traditional rewards points systems blockchain-enabled. Incent is the first startup in this area which will be using Waves Platform.

2) Decentralized Exchange (DEx) – Waves will also have DEx for users to trade crypto-currencies such as bitcoin, ethereum, and other major altcoins. The tokens that are issued on Waves Platform can also be bought and sold against any other cryptocurrencies on the DEx.

3) Decentralized Crowd-Funding – This is similar to Kickstarter platform, but it has one significant difference. Normally on Kickstarter, you will get a product for supporting the startup. Whereas on Waves Platform, when you support a Startup, you invest your money in a startup and in return you will get their tokens. These tokens will act as a company share and naturally based on the performance of the startup can increase or decrease in value. Number of tokens will depend on how much money you invest in a startup. After the crowdfunding is over, tokens can be acquired or sold on the DEx.

4) Payment Gateways – Payment Gateways are the bridge between internet and banks (eg; PayPal). Unlike other blockchain based platforms, Sasha promises Waves to be a real-world friendly platform for both businesses and individuals. Anyone with an internet browser and a bank account will be able to have access to a blockchain technology and start using it for the above mentioned purposes (eg; trading digital currencies and tokens, starting a crowdfunding..etc). Various Payment gateways are being promised to be integrated to Waves Platform. Continue reading

Potentially Promising Crypto-Startups to Watch (part-1)

I have written about some of the innovative startups around the bitcoin blockchain technology in my previous post. In this post, I will be covering some of the startups related to Bitcoin and I will also be covering some alternative blockchains (alt-coins or alt-chains) to Bitcoin that are potentially promising.

Syscoin

syscoinSyscoin is one of the lesser known alternative blockchains out there. Coinmarketcap, website that tracks crypto-currencies now lists more than 700 different crypto-currencies.

Syscoin is similar to bitcoin in the sense that it has its own blockchain and crypto-currency, however in addition to these two main components, it also has built-in; decentralized marketplace, aliases, digital certificates, and data-alias (datastore).

Most of the other alt-coins (alternative coins to Bitcoin) are quite similar to each other and similar to Bitcoin in itself, with just a few tweaks in the algorithm. But Syscoin has fundamental differences to Bitcoin as mentioned above, which makes it one of the unique alt-coins that stand out from the rest.

Additionally it appears that it has a strong founding team with clear (medium-term) product roadmap that has been outlined on their website.

Here is a good diagram that shows the differences between Bitcoin and Syscoin. And here is an interesting interview with Dan, who is in charge of the Dev team.

Website: http://syscoin.org

Ethereum

Ethereum is probably the most promising alternative blockchain application platform that is getting most of the spotlight at the moment besides Bitcoin and it’s rightly so. Keyword here is “blockchain app platform”, think of it as – if Bitcoin is a settlement and payment protocol, then Ethereum is a blockchain app platform. One provides bare bone functionality for financial settlement and value transfer, another provides ability to build any decentralized blockchain based apps.

ethereum

Ethereum comes with its own programming language called Solidity for programming decentralized apps or smart contracts on Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum has become popular thanks to its outgoing founder Vitalik Buterin, who goes around the world organizing DevCons for Ethereum project. I would say Ethereum’s vision mainly relies on Vitalik’s own vision. And as long as Vitalik is leading the Ethereum project, it should be heading to steady success.

Here is a list of Ethereum dapps (decentralized apps) http://dapps.ethercasts.com

Websitehttps://www.ethereum.org Continue reading

Private Blockchains vs The Bitcoin Blockchain

Lately, there has been a huge spike in interest in private blockchains, particularly from banks and financial institutions. Some of them are already working on their own private blockchains to improve the efficiency of their services. Improving the efficiency of their services is one thing, but to equate the private blockchain to the Bitcoin’s Blockchain is something totally different.

Private blockchains are no different than relational databases, which are centralized. They are like an Intranets to Corporations. While Bitcoin’s Blockchain is like the Internet i.e the World Wide Web.

Private blockchains are centralized. An organization that owns it, can, if they want, alter any transaction at their will. There is absolutely nothing stopping them from doing it. So, private blockchains shouldn’t be seen as transparent, tamper-proof systems.

On the other hand, Bitcoin’s blockchain – The Blockchain – is unique and different precisely because it’s not centralized. It’s not owned by a particular organization. Decentralized nature of The Blockchain is the main value proposition and its competitive advantage over its counterparts – private blockchains. The Blockchain is analogous to a public ledger that is transparent and tamper-proof, and it contains all the transactions that ever happened on its network. Continue reading

Bitcoin Use Case: Reward System for Content Promotion

One of the advantages of Bitcoin is in micropayments. It’s very convenient to send small amount of funds to others at nearly zero cost. So much so that the funds that you are sending itself could be near to zero. The same couldn’t be done with other electronic payment systems, say; Paypal. Because the transaction fees for PayPal would be too high to run a profitable micropayment system.

Case Study: The Cointelegraph

The Cointelegraph has done an interesting reward system for its website. They have taken advantage of Bitcoin’s superiority in micropayments, combined it with Twitter’s capability to reach wider audience and came up with a reward system for its users to share their content on Twitter and get paid *tiny* amounts for each retweets.

btcretweet

With today’s price of Bitcoin, TC is basically paying you $0.000002 for every retweet your friends retweet your tweet. That means you tweet TC’s content on your twitter account, and if someone retweets that tweet of yours, you will get paid $0.000002. Continue reading

Disruption in International Money Remittance is Imminent

Problem

As I tweeeted earlier, International Money Remitance has many pain points, main of them being the cost of sending money of course..

 


Solution

Below is one of the many solutions that will be coming up soon that will be built on top of free, transparent, public ledger technology called Blockchain. And money will be sent on the Blockchain platform via one of its main apps/features called Bitcoin.

Transaction fees are nearly $0 on the Blockchain, but service providers and apps might charge their own service fees. But these service fees won’t be like the ones above in my tweet for sure.

URLhttps://www.goabra.com

What moves the price of Bitcoin up?

Last week Microsoft announced that it is now accepting bitcoin for app purchases on Windows phones and Xbox. Many bitcoin enthusiasts were hopeful that this would positively affect the price of bitcoin and also facilitate the wider usage of bitcoin among gamers and general public at large. However, the news of Microsoft accepting Bitcoin went unaffected just like the previous news of Dell accepting bitcoin or DISH accepting bitcoin or Expedia accepting bitcoins for booking hotels and etc etc In fact, the price of bitcoin is hovering at $330-$350 which is one of the lowest in 2014.

What affects the price of Bitcoin?

What is mentioned above are some of the good examples of what does not affect the price of Bitcoin. That means, retailers simply accepting bitcoin alongside cash and credit card payments do not make people suddenly want to use bitcoin in their daily lives. Things that would make people want to use Bitcoin would be, for example:

  • Cheaper and more convenient international remittance services  (..than Western Union or traditional Bank Wire Transfers) – e.g; Imagine construction workers in Dubai sending money back to India without even visiting a bank branch and at a fraction of a cost.
  • Making it easier for freelancers to get paid, particularly from people or companies who reside in different countries
  • Making mobile banking and micro-payments available to feature phone users via the traditional SMS technology (61% of world’s population is still not connected to internet). Telcos could play a big role in this area.
  • Being able to auto-reload your smart cards when the credit on it approaches certain minimum threshold (this could easily be done by smart contracts on blockchain)
  • Decentralization of platforms via blockchain technology;
    • decentralized cloud storage services – this would mean emergence of truly cloud services that would make “100% uptime” a possibility
    • decentralized publishing services – this would mean certain countries not being able to ban as easily as they ban Twitter at the moment
    • decentralized finance and banking services – this would mean possibility of  banking systems working 24/7, instead of 9-to-5, thus improving efficiency
    • decentralized voting services – making elections transparent and every single vote accountable and traceable (without disclosing the personal details of the voters of course)
    • etc etc

As you can see from the examples listed above, there is a stark difference between the news that we have been hearing for the past 12 months. So far, what we have been seeing in the news is that retailers are accepting Bitcoins. They are treating Bitcoin purely as an additional payment option to Credit Cards. For the average Joe, this doesn’t give any compelling reason for him to start paying with Bitcoin instead of his Credit Card.  Continue reading

Startups Around the (Bitcoin) Blockchain Technology

Updated: 29 March 2016

When you mention Bitcoin, first thing that comes to people’s minds are that it’s an anonymous digital currency (it’s actually far from anonymous but that’s a discussion for another post). So it’s primarily associated with a “digital money” for majority of the people.

But it’s much more than that. The underlying technology that Bitcoin is built upon is called The Blockchain. The Blockchain, in simple terms is a decentralized platform that keeps track of all the transactions ever executed on the platform. It’s transparent and it’s decentralized, in other words no central government or banking institution controls it. There are major “nodes” (or servers) that keep copy of all the transactions, and there are many other computers that sync to those nodes.

Types of Apps being built around Blockchain Technology

Lots of interesting startups are being developed around the Blockchain. Below are some of them. I’m not going to cover the ordinary ones like Bitcoin Exchange Platforms, Bitcoin Wallets, Bitcoin Payment Processing Gateways, Bitcoin Debit Cards etc. Rather, I will be writing about the more interesting ones that are leveraging on the Blockchain Technology in general and not necessarily focusing on Bitcoin itself;

FinTech

  • Bitwage – bitcoin based payroll system for companies. Especially useful in paying international employees or freelancer workers.
  • SkuChain – provides blockchain solutions for B2B Trade and Supply Chain Finance

Cloud Storage

  • Filecoin.io – Data storage network and electronic currency based on Bitcoin.

Crowd Funding

  • Counterparty – raise funding for your startup. Think of it as a Stock Exchange based on blockchain technology that allows you to IPO on your own.

Continue reading

Future of Bitcoin or How to buy Bitcoins locally

Future of Bitcoin

The future of Bitcoin or crypto-currencies in general are now largely left to Governments and Central Banks to decide and steer. Otherwise technologically it has proven to be an effective medium of exchange that has certain advantages over the current fiat money and services built around them.

Bitcoin’s Advantage

Bitcoin has particularly major advantage over the current international money remittance services, such as Western Union, MoneyGram or traditional Bank Wire Transfers, which normally charge up to 15% service fee. As for Bitcoin, sending and receiving bitcoins is free and almost instant.

Another area where Bitcoin has clear advantage is, over online payment gateways. Usually eCommerce sites use 3rd party payment processing systems like PayPal, WorldPay, 2Checkout and other Credit Card processing systems. These services normally take a cut from each transaction that happen on eCommerce sites. With the implementation of Bitcoin as the payment option, eCommerce sites could reduce their reliance on 3rd party payment processing systems and increase their revenue margin. Since, using Bitcoin would mean “no more incurring transaction fees” for each transaction.

Bitcoin Regulation

On the other hand, since Bitcoin is not governed by any Government or Central Bank, Governments have been quite worried on the possible misuse of Bitcoins; particularly in the areas of money laundering, buying and selling of illegal things etc.

So far, governments are struggling to set a direction for Bitcoin. Singapore government has stated that it’s not going to interfere with Bitcoin usage for the time being. On the other hand, China has taken a stricter approach by restricting the definition of Bitcoin as “commodity” rather than “currency”, and banning the usage of Bitcoins as payment options online. As for Swiss parliament, they are going to vote on treating Bitcoin as a foreign currency sometime next year. Other governments have taken the “wait and see” approach for the time being.

So, yes, a lot of uncertainty out there for Bitcoin. And each of these news from Governments and Central Banks have been adding more volatility to the already volatile Bitcoin prices.

How to buy Bitcoins in your Country

Startups in some countries have been more active than others when it comes to building Bitcoin related businesses, particularly exchange platforms for buying and selling Bitcoins. Following is a list of such platforms that allow you to buy and sell Bitcoins with your local bank accounts. Continue reading

Rise of the Crypto-Coins

Bitcoin’s popularity has resulted in dozens of other similar crypto-coins (currencies). CoinMarketCap, a website that tracks these crypto-currencies lists some 43 of them at the moment, new ones are regularly added.

Bitcoin’s price has surged from just $17 earlier this year to over $1100 at the moment, all just within the span of 12 months. This confidence in bitcoin as the possible boundary-less currency for the future, has also affected the prices of other crypto-currencies. Most of them has seen a double digit growth in their prices for the past few months (if you don’t take into account the daily high volatility that they experience).

While it’s relatively easy to buy bitcoins now from sites like mtgox, btc-e and VirWox etc (here is a full list), it’s not very straightforward to buy the less established coins like litecoin, which has the 2nd largest market capitalization at the moment. Litecoin is being likened to “silver” by its supporters, while they consider bitcoin as “gold”. Continue reading