Bitcoin: End of Week News, April 19, 2014

The Wire, Allie Jones – Allie reports Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s running for governor against Wendy Davis, announced this week that his campaign would officially accept bitcoin donations.

MoneyWatch, Erik Sherman – Erik writes on new developments in finding the bitcoin inventor. A professor at Britain’s Aston University claims to have uncovered Nick Szabo’s identity as the creator.

IT World, Tim Hornyak – Tim reports local importer Raimu has brought Japan it’s first bitcoin ATM with two more on order. Users of the Robocoin ATM in Japan will be able to buy and sell bitcoin through the machine, which would also issue Japanese yen and transaction receipts.

CoinDesk, Daniel Cawrey – Daniel reports SecondMarket, a New York broker dealer, will be launching a professional-level bitcoin exchange later this year that will have a 25 BTC minimum for investors.

Coinreport, Ali Najjar – Ali writes former presidential candidate and Texas congressman Ron Paul does not think Bitcoin is a real currency but that it should be tax free and allowed to freely operate.

Minyanville, Alex Brokaw – Alex writes about Counterparty.co, a movement of entrepreneurs and investors attempting to move the Bitcoin industry beyond online payments by taking bitcoins sent to them and placing them in a special online wallet that rendered them provably and permanently unspendable — a process known as proof-of-burn.

NewsBTC, Wall Street Journal, and others – Multiple outlets report Blockchain.info has struck a five-year deal to exclusively manage the bitcoin.com domain as part of the company’s plan to become a comprehensive bitcoin-services company.

CoinDesk, Daniel Cawrey – Daniel reports organizers for Bitcoin 2014 Amsterdam have released their full schedule and notes Wences Casares of Xapo will be participating in a panel about wallets on day one of the conference.

Bloomberg TV – In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Tim Draper, venture capitalist and managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, explained why he is investing in Bitcoin and its potential to disrupt the global financial system.

CNBC, Mary Thompson – CNBC has released a 26-minute documentary titled “The bitcoin uprising.” Thompson interviewed Bitcoin investors and enthusiasts, government officials, legal experts, and entrepreneurs in an effort to explain how Bitcoin works, its potential, and its risks.
Forbes, Kashmir Hill – Kashmir writes a story detailing her use of bitcoins and how she paid taxes on her transactions. Her accountant quipped “The government’s going to kill Bitcoin by taxing it to death.”

New York Times, Wall Street Journal and more – Several outlets report defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox will likely be liquidated.

Reuters, Pete Sweeney – Pete reports BTC China has unveiled China’s first Bitcoin ATM, which sits in a cafe in Shanghai’s Zhangjiang technology park, which skirts around increasingly hostile bank regulations.

Sydney Morning Herald, Paddy Wood – Paddy reports ABA Technologies has unveiled Australia’s first Bitcoin ATM in Sydney.

TheNextWeb, Paul Sawers – Paul interviews Stefan Molyneux, philosopher, host of Freedomain Radio, and Bitcoin enthusiast, about how cryptocurrencies can break the monopoly of state power on currencies and prevent the accumulation of debt that will burden future generations.

USA Today, Donna Leger – Donna reports defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox lost its bid to reorganize and will likely be liquidated. The Japanese court overseeing the case will also investigate Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles’ liability in the collapse of the business.

Let’s Call It the “Bitnet”

People understandably have a problem grasping something as disruptive as Bitcoin. If it were very easy to understand, it probably wouldn’t be very disruptive.

Sometimes it helps to analogize the new “thing” to something with which people are already familiar.

As such, I suggest we leverage the analogy to the Internet and begin speaking in terms of the “Bitnet” — a second Internet — rather than Bitcoin. Bit-”coin” denotes currency and, while bitcoin is very much a currency, Bitcoin the protocol is much more than that.

Simply put, there are two global networks now: the first allows for global, direct transfer of information; the second, the Bitnet, allows for global, direct transfer of value.

The Bitnet is much younger than the Internet — we are in its infancy, equivalent to the Internet in 1993 — but we are following the same pattern of evolution.

The first wave of companies on the Internet were, by necessity, infrastructure companies, mostly ISPs like Prodigy, UUnet and Earthlink. Other ISPs arose and, in addition to providing an onramp to the Internet, many offered a “mailbox” for email.

The first successful wave of companies on Bitnet are also infrastructure companies. Xapo, Coinbase and Blockchain are building onramps to the Bitnet. The “mailbox” of these companies is the bitcoin wallet. Just as Web 1.0 mailboxes enabled the sending and receiving of email, wallets allow the sending and receiving of bitcoin.

Email was the first “killer app” — or perhaps the first “killer use case” — for the Internet. The next killer app was the web browser (Netscape circa 1993-1994) which became the guide for average users to navigate the Internet.

The first killer use case for the Bitnet is the bitcoin currency. Bitcoins are direct, “free”, 1:1 communication but, instead of transferring written information (email), bitcoins transfers value.

Like email, the bitcoin currency is here to stay but new killer apps for on the Bitnet — the Bitnet’s Netscapes, Googles, Facebooks — will evolve over time.

The term “Bitnet” makes room not just the bitcoin currency but other alt coins and all the diverse applications that will be built on top of the Bitcoin protocol, many of which have nothing to do with “coins”.

For civilians, Bitnet connotes the Internet and all the value it has brought to their lives. It is less specific, and less scary, than “bitcoin” and moves us away from all the talk about money laundering, Silk Road and Mt. Gox. The Bitnet is something people will want to try. The bitcoin currency is but one thing they can “do” on the Bitnet but is not the be-all end-all for their choice.

Referring to a Bitnet may also help regulators get comfortable with the new world. For one thing, they will see that we are not building a nefarious tool for money laundering but rather facilitating something as positive and impactful as the Internet. In order to enjoy the fruits of this innovation — to join the Bitnet — people will need to buy bitcoins. When regulators understand this, perhaps they will act less stringently — or more quickly and clearly.

So far the Bitcoin community has struggled to explain Bitcoin and all its current and potential uses. The discussion centers on bitcoins, which focuses the conversation on security, regulation and bad actors. By rebranding as the “Bitnet”, we remove the limitations of the current discussion and make room for the world-changing future that the blockchain enables.

Bitcoin New for April 15, 2014

CoinDesk, Pete Rizzo – Pete reports Gyft no longer offers users the ability to purchase Walmart gift cards on its platform, due to “circumstances beyond [their] control.”

CoinDesk, Jon Southurst – Jon reports BTC China has released a mobile app called “Picasso ATM”, which allows sellers to upload and sell bitcoins nearly anywhere in the world, in a range of major currencies. Users can upload bitcoins to their Picasso Wallet, then use the interface to trade like a human teller machine.

CoinReport, Sid M. Zagaeski – Sid reports Wikimedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is looking into recommending to the Wikimedia board a “light-implementation” of Bitcoin.

Daily Dot, David Seaman – David writes Bitcoin’s offline applications are what will make it a part of mainstream life. He adds that gas stations, strip clubs, bars, real estate, and car dealerships would greatly benefit from Bitcoin adoption, as would their customers.

Economic Times, Pranbihanga Borpuzari – Pranbihanga writes that governments banning Bitcoin would be as ineffectual as banning the Internet, and that Bitcoin is promising for developing countries and will be most likely adopted by young people who, for the most part, are suspicious of established banks and would prefer as little interaction with them as possible.

IEEE Spectrum, Morgen Peck – Morgen reports LibraTax, a new startup that is creating a simple tax calculation service for Bitcoin users, is planning to launch in September just in time for extended tax season.