Andreas Antonopoulos Assumes Advisory Role at Blockchain.info

Andreas M. Antonopoulos, the incredibly well-known bitcoin evangelist who can often be found discussing bitcoin before crowds has changed his role at Blockchain.info — an informational/wallet hub for bitcoin users.

The news comes from a post made on the Blockchain.info blog on Sunday, which notes that Mr. Antonopoulos will step down from his ‘Chief Security Officer’ position to an Advisor of the Board.

As Advisor, Antonopoulos will be supplying guidance to Blockchain.info on a number of different fronts, of which include security (his forte), infrastructure, communication with the public, company operations, and even hiring.

They write:

[blockquote style=”2″]Andreas was hired as the CSO of Blockchain to improve security practices and risk management within the company as Blockchain matured and moved from its startup phase and into its growth phase. We are now firmly positioned in the growth phase. Andreas’ contributions at Blockchain have left the company stronger, more secure and ready to serve millions of consumers around the world.[/blockquote]

The key issue is that there really isn’t quite enough time for Antonopoulos to carry out his security-related duties at the company full-time. As previously mentioned, he speaks publicly, is an author of his own book, and also advises other start-ups.

The security task Antonopoulos was once responsible for will fall in the hands of Ben Reeves, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Blockchain.info.



If you haven’t been living under a rock this summer, you may have seen people close to you dumping ice water on their heads in support of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research.

Sadly, this week, the topic of ALS hit close to home with the loss of Hal Finney, a bitcoin pioneer, and the very first person to receive a bitcoin from Satoshi Nakamoto.

Finney was diagnosed with ALS, and in the final years of his life, was confined to a wheelchair, unable to move.

And while the ice bucket challenges has done great things for ALS research, members of the bitcoin community have longed to help in their own way — by donating bitcoin.

It truly is a fantastic way to not only help fight ALS, but to remember Hal Finney.

In a joint effort, Erik Voorhees, Jason King (of Sean’s Outpost), Roger Ver, BitPay, and the Bitcoin Foundation have come together to establish the Hal Finney Bitcoin Fund.

The fund will allow users in our community to chip in, with 100 percent of funds donated going to the cause intended.

Users can donate to: 1JsnZLEGgLJY7rbDdaKTzC2JyvfaKUpF5p

Hal Finney Bitcoin Fund

The Bitcoin Foundation was the first to donate to the fund, chipping in 0.2 bitcoins (or about $100 at the time of the donation).

Since then, the donation address has received nine donations amounting to over 2 bitcoins. As awareness of the fund spreads throughout the community, you can bet that number will go up.

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Gavin Andresen, chief scientist at the Bitcoin Foundation, appeared on video doing the ice bucket challenge, commemorating Hal Finney’s contributions to the development in bitcoin.

Rest in peace, Hal.

A new report is surfacing suggesting that former BitInstant CEO and member of the Bitcoin Foundation Board of Directors, Charlie Shrem, is expected to plead guilty to unlicensed money transmission next Thursday in New York Federal Court.

The report comes from Reuters Friday evening, citing Shrem’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, as the source of the news.

Previously, Mr. Shrem has pleased not guilty against the counts against him, of which include running an unlicensed money transmitting business, money laundering (in connection with the now-defunct original Silk Road illicit marketplace), and neglecting to report suspicious activity reports to the United States Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Shrem was arrested in January of this year at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, upon his arrival from a bitcoin-related conference in Europe.

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Another man, Mr. Robert Faiella, was also arrested at about the same time, facing similar charges. It’s unclear whether Mr. Faiella will proceed with a trial scheduled in late September, but like Shrem, he has plead not guilty previously.

Shrem is well known in the bitcoin community, and remains an active evangelist of the digital currency. He often participates in bitcoin-related events and activities.

A plea deal will bring Shrem less risk as opposed being convicted at a trial — which was originally scheduled for later this year.

More information on the matter will be available next week, when Shrem appears with his legal counsel in court. Updates are forthcoming.

There’s a good reason for the banning of bitcoin and digital currency usage in Ecuador back in July.

According to an Associated Press report, Ecuador has plans to create the first government-issued digital currency, in a move that may eventually see the phasing out of the U.S. dollar in use by the country today.

Officials at the country’s Central Bank have said they expect to begin circulating the digital currency some time in December of this year, though details on what said digital currency will be named is under wraps.

A key point officials have made is that the digital currency will not be like bitcoin, and the amount created by the Central Bank simply (or perhaps not so simply) depends on demand.

The currency — at least for now — will exist alongside the dollar, but will be backed by liquid assets, the AP reports.

In a nation where a massive amount of the population cannot afford traditional banking, digital currency could very well help them make and receive payments from their mobile devices.

The official who’s watching over the project, Fausto Valencia, has said the software is already in use by cellular phone companies in Paraguay. So it’s rather clear this will not resemble the digital currencies we are familiar with today.

President Rafael Correa said the only issue he sees with the project is that it’s taken this long to launch.

Digital currency use will be voluntary, and more information will be available in the months ahead. It’s will definitely be interesting to see where this one goes.

Read the Associated Press report on the matter here.

Not terribly long ago, Dell CEO Michael Dell announced via social media that a customer had purchased $50,000 worth of equipment using nothing but bitcoin.

The cost of the transaction was 85 bitcoins, and we assumed (along with others) that the customer must have purchased quite a few servers.

Wrong. As it turns out, the $50,000 order was for just one server, thecaa has learned.

Shortly after our post on the news in early August, I received an email from an individual claiming to have made the purchase — wanting to clarify that it was just one PowerEdge server that had been purchased, and not multiple.

“We plan to buy many more,” I was told by the client, who does not wish to be named publicly at this time. “It is for a bitcoin related project that will launch soon. It is not mining related.”

85 bitcoins for one server isn’t chump change, and they’ve beefed up the PowerEdge R920 server (which starts at close to $10,000 at its base configuration) quite a bit.

“We want to power our service with the best hardware available,” I was told. “This server supports 60 Intel E7 cores, 6TB of RAM, 24 drives, and quite a bit more. At least one, possibly two, will be at each of our data centers, which are strategically placed around the world.”

He adds, “the original server price was much higher. Dell happens to have good discounts [and] promos.”

Poweredge Server Order

Even in speaking to me, the details were scarce, but I’m told that that reason for the purchase is because “cloud solutions for 95% of what [they] are doing is not feasible.”

In configuring the PowerEdge R920 server on the Dell website, I was able to easily bring the cost past $50,000. As one would come to expect with such a price tag, the server is designed for a high workload environment.

It will certainly be interesting to see what project this is going into in the months ahead.

Of all the wonderful things bitcoin can help people do, here’s yet another to add to the list.

Beginning on Monday, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (also known as the Meso Foundation) will be accepting bitcoin donations to help fund cancer research at curemeso.org/bitcoin.

“As more and more businesses are accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, we decided it was important for us to do the same,” said Ms. Melinda Kotzian, chief executive officer of the Meso Foundation.

The not-for-profit focuses their attention on mesothelioma, a malignant tumor found on the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart, and is known to be caused by exposure to asbestos.

Many who are diagnosed with the awful disease are given a year or less to live, and not surprisingly, it gives the disease the title of one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers.

According to the Meso Foundation, an estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma here in the United States were exposed while serving in the United States Navy or working in shipyards.

And with very few treatments and no cure available, research is ongoing to try and defeat this diseased that has taken the lives of so many.

“We do not want anything to stand in our way of raising funds to fund mesothelioma research, education, support, and advocacy,” added Ms. Kotzian. “Our goal is to save lives, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get there.”

The Meso Foundation is working hand-in-hand with Atlanta, Georgia-based BitPay to process the donations. If you are interested in contributing, you can find the dedicated donation page here.

While most governments today will scoff at the idea of considering bitcoin to be legal tending, Australia is closely monitoring developments in the growth of this digital currency.

And while they share the sentiments of other world governments in that bitcoin is not legal tender, they aren’t nailing shut the door on the possibility that it could happen in the future.

Speaking at an inquiry on Wednesday, Australian tax commissioner, Chris Jordan, said that bitcoin does not meet the current definition of legal tender, according to The Guardian.

That could change in the future, though, depending on whether or not this digital currency continues to fall into more and more hands around the world.

Jordan was quoted as saying:

[blockquote style=”2″]There’s a definition in the Tax Act of money. It’s got to be the legal tender of a country. We can’t say it’s money. If this grows more and more maybe the definition needs to change.[/blockquote]

Of course, we’re a long way off from this happening. Many people still have no idea what bitcoin is or does (despite hearing the world on television or seeing it in news headlines), and for it to be considered legal tender, it really must be ubiquitous.

Still, it’s interesting to see the tax commissioner acknowledge the potential for change here. Whether or not bitcoin ever becomes legal tender down under will just have to be something we wait for.

If you’re a Xapo user, you may have received an email last night from the company with a nice little announcement.

The bitcoin debit card and vault provider announced a little something they’re calling Xapo Deposit (perhaps aptly enough), a service that will allow users to acquire bitcoin on the Xapo platform via wire transfer.

The addition of the feature will allow Xapo’s users the ability to more easily get their hands on the digital currency, and thus requiring a place to store them (which is good for Xapo).

As one might come to expect, the process is really quite simple.

To make it happen, one logs into their Xapo account and then clicks on the Deposit button. They will then be required to fill out a deposit profile and will receive a reference code.

The user will then be able to initiate a wire transfer denominated in both U.S. dollars or Euros to Xapo.

From that point, Xapo will convert the funds to bitcoin and deposit them into the user’s wallet. The process is then complete and both parties are happy (hopefully).

Xapo describes the move as coming “full-circle” — which makes sense. With a fully-insured vault service and debit card out there, they’re certainly doing what they can to attract the scores of enthusiasts out there.

And so far, their work seems to be impressing its users.

Are you a Xapo user? If so, how do you feel about their service and the direction in which it’s headed?

The Apache Software Foundation is the latest not-for-profit organization to accept bitcoin donations, as pointed out by a user on Reddit.com.

The organization is well known for their catalog of open-source software, of which includes the ubiquitous Apache web server and OpenOffice suite, and users in the community have been eager to support their efforts using digital currency for quite a while.

The Foundation accepts donations in many different forms: Amazon, PayPal, and they’ll even accept donated cars.

On their contribution page, the Apache Software Foundation has published a bitcoin address and QR code. As of this morning, the address has collected on the order of 3 BTC, though by the looks of it, that number is climbing somewhat rapidly (50 donations thus far).

And also of interest: the Foundation isn’t going through a bitcoin payment processor like BitPay or Coinbase. They’re simply collecting the donations the good old fashioned way.

Apache Software Foundation Executive VP Rich Bowen told thecaa:

[blockquote style=”2″]We have some suppliers who accept BTC, and we are still exploring the accounting issues around paying directly with BTC for purchases with them. We want to make sure that as a charity we can deal with the issues around transparency and accounting in a sound manner. Obviously keeping money indefinitely in BitCoin (or fiat) and not using it doesn’t achieve any benefit, and isn’t the intention of the donor, so depending on what the levels of donation are, we will likely move some to fiat, if we don’t spend that all with vendors.[/blockquote]

He added:

[blockquote style=”2″]We were blown away, and very gratified, by the initial rush of donations, and we’re very grateful to our first 50 donors, especially to Brian Taylor (Reddit user steeldog803) who encouraged us to accept Bitcoin, and made the first donation.[/blockquote]

Non-profit organizations are finding that bitcoin donations are an easy way to collect revenue to support their projects. With no risk of charge backs and little to no fees, it’s an overall great solution.

And it’s catching on.

Another airline is joining the bitcoin boat (or should we say plane?). This time around it is Air Lituanica, a small airline based in Lithuania that operated scheduled flights throughout Europe.

The announcement was made this week via the airline’s official Twitter account, noted that the digital currency (referred to as “bit-coin” in the tweet) can be used for ticket purchases on all flights.

The airline, which operates a fleet of 86-seat Embraer 175 aircraft, carries out regional flights from a number of cities, of which include Paris, Amsterdam, Vilnius, and Prague.

Despite the availability of travel booking services like BTCTrip.com that allow users to book flights with bitcoin (or perhaps buying American Airlines tickets via Gyft), some users may opt to book their flights from the carrier’s website directly.

Air Lituanica Bitcoin Tickets

And while Air Lituanica is considered to be a small airline (in the month of July, they flew nearly 18,000 passengers), it’s interesting to see that they’ve adopted bitcoin payments, which will likely help them save on processing fees.

Just recently, Latvia’s national airline, airBaltic, also announced they would be accepting bitcoin payments for tickets. The company has not disclosed how many travelers have paid for their tickets in the digital currency.