Thanks for stopping by for our weekly recap of major headlines in bitcoin and fintech news. As we move into December, the conversation surrounding SegWit is at the forefront as signalling continues. We’re also seeing plenty of news showcasing the unique value bitcoin offers individuals and families all over the world. Read about these headlines and more, in our weekly news recap!
Big decisions ahead re: SegWit
It’s just over two weeks into signalling for SegWit, and at the time of writing, support for the long-awaited implementation rests around 23%. A consensus must be reached from at least 95% of blocks mined within a 2,016 span of blocks (or approximately 2 weeks), in order for activation to move forward. Signalling will continue until support reaches 95%, or until SegWit expires on November 15, 2017 and is no longer eligible for activation.
In a recent CoinDesk article on the topic, our CEO, Peter Smith, expressed our support for SegWit and scaling efforts that encourage bitcoin to evolve efficiently. In the same piece, he stressed the need for dialogue about what happens if SegWit doesn’t activate. Indeed, the possibility exists that SegWit will not see the percentage of support it needs, but Bitcoin Core currently lists 77 startups that are SegWit-ready, or have a plan in the works if it does go live. On the list are most major wallet providers, including our wallet, Samourai Wallet, Airbitz, Electrum, Mycelium, and hardware wallets Ledger and Trezor.
And while many of us are well-versed in the proposed scaling solutions, it’s possible some may be swayed one way or another by misinformation. In an attempt to quell these misconceptions, bitcoin trader and consultant who goes by the alias WhalePanda does a great job explaining some of the common misunderstandings about SegWit in a simple and well-articulated ELI5 fashion.
The lessons bitcoin can teach us
While there are plenty of potential unknowns for the role bitcoin may or may not play in our future, it offers certain undeniable benefits like being easily accessibile and serving as a financial alternative for the unbanked. And another interesting use case is a lesson in money management and security. Las Vegas bitcoin consultant Tuxavant has been giving his daughter, Kryptina, her allowance in bitcoin since she was 9. Now 15, Kryptina’s learned some invaluable lessons about spending, saving, and something extra that a dollar allowance can’t teach: how encryption works.
Also in contrast to dollars, bitcoin surprisingly shares some unique qualities of ancient currencies. This Nasdaq article takes a trip back to the past and draws an interesting comparison between bitcoin and ancient currencies like the Micronesian rai. Rai weren’t divisible like bitcoin is, but they were highly resistant to counterfeiting, and they offered a peer-to-peer mode of transferring ownership, which was determined by consensus.
Around the World: China, India, and Latin America
Unlike Micronesian rai stones, bitcoin is portable and it’s global. And bitcoin has been reported to be peaking in interest and price in areas where local currencies are losing value. In China, growing interest in bitcoin has been largely considered a response to the declining yuan. Similar patterns are being noticed in India, which saw large bills demonetized by its government, and headlines point to this as a reason for bitcoin’s skyrocketing demand in the region.
Local startup, Unocoin, is helping to further extend bitcoin’s reach and accessibility in India by making buying, selling, and storing it easier than ever before. Co-Founder and President, Sunny Ray, says the similarities bitcoin shares with gold will likely entice even more activity from the region, as Indians have a “massive soft spot” for the precious metal. Recent rumors brewing of a pending ban on gold (which has since been denied by the Indian government) are also possible reasons for increased interest, and NewsBTC reports that LocalBitcoins’ exchange volume for India has actually doubled over the past week.
Apart from the stories unfolding out of China and India, the people of Latin America are also using bitcoin as a way to exercise their financial freedoms and avoid unfair monetary control. Venezuela, in particular, has suffered drastically under the effects of socialism, and many locals are discovering bitcoin as a cost-effective way to purchase and import food and other essentials on sites like Amazon.com. While Amazon doesn’t directly accept bitcoin, startups like Purse, eGifter, and Gyft are platforms that bridge the gap.
Bitcoin mining has also grown locally, as “electricity is virtually free,” in Venezuela and it provides significantly more income than the government-issued monthly stipend, commonly valued around $9 USD. Speculation aside, it’s evident that bitcoin shines brightly as a new hope for populations who have experienced significant economic, political, and social decline.
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