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Am Montag hat Circle Internet Financial die Beta-Phase verlassen. Damit betritt ein Unternehmen die Bitcoin-Wirtschaft, dass es sich auf die Fahne geschrieben hat, Bitcoins zum Mainstream zu machen. Circle beansprucht, mit sehr viel Investmentkapital Bitcoins einfacher zu machen als PayPal. Für die Oma werden Bitcoins deswegen zwar nicht attraktiv – aber für die Händler noch ein Stückchen mehr. Ein kurzes Review zu einer Plattform mit einem mysteriösen Einnahmemodell.

Warum wird so viel über Circle geredet und geschrieben?

Wie so oft geht es nicht darum, was jemand macht, sondern wer etwas macht. Und Jeremy Allaire, der Boss von Circle, ist beileibe kein Unbekannter. Allaire hat schon mehrere erfolgreiche Internet-Unternehmen gegründet und genießt offensichtlich das Vertrauen schwergewichtiger Investoren. So hat Circle im späten Sommer 2013, noch bevor Allaire überhaupt irgendeinen Plan vorgestellt hat, ein Investment im zweistelligen Millionenbereich bekommen, um, wie Allaire sagte, “den Bitcoin zum Mainstream” zu bringen.

Auch beim Launch eines Projektes ist es so, dass es oft nicht darauf ankommt, was genau gelauncht wird, sondern wie etwas gelauncht wird. Circle befand sich die letzten Monate im Beta-Modus. Auf reddit haben regelmäßig Leute gepostet, dass sie die Einladung zu Circle bekommen hätten und das Produkt supermegaklassegeil sei. Daher war die allgemeine Vorfreude schon irgendwie da, als Circle am Montag die Betaphase abgeschlossen hat. Sogar heise hat die Ankündigung von Circle unter dem Titel “Bitcoin für die Massen” vorgestellt.

Was ist Circle?

Aus dem mysteriösen Projekt wurde … eine Wechselstube mit Onlinewallet! Circle kauft auf Börsen Bitcoins und verkauft diese an die Kunden weiter. Zudem können die Kunden bequem Bitcoins bei Circle lagern und benutzen. Von Coinbase, das im Prinzip dasselbe macht, will sich Circle durch folgende Features abheben: Die Bitcoins sind versichert (bei Marsh, einem großen globalen Versicherer), man kann Bitcoins per Email versenden, und, vor allem, es gibt keine Gebühren. Lediglich für Kreditkarten gibt Circle Gebühren von 2-3 Prozent an die Kunden weiter.

Die Circle Internet Financial Trading Company Limited ist in Irland beheimatet. Auf der Homepage sind die Manager und Investoren genannt.

Keine Gebühren? Wie verdient Circle dann Geld?

Tja, das ist die große Frage. Circle hat nur Einnahmen, wenn User mit Kreditkarte kaufen. Die 2-3 Prozent könnten zwar minimal weniger sein, als Circle selbst dafür bezahlen muss, aber sie dürften kaum die Verluste durch Kreditkartenbetrug aufwiegen, die Circle anscheinend bewusst in Kauf nimmt. Wahrscheinlicher ist, dass Circle an den Preisen verdient. Die liegen laut meinen zwei bis drei Stichproben 2-4 Dollar über Marktpreisen (Vergleichswerte: Bitstamp, Bitcoin-Average).

Eine weitere Möglichkeit für Circle, Geld zu verdienen, kommt in der Redewendung zum Ausdruck, wenn du nicht der Kunde der Konzerne bist, bist du ihr Produkt. Circle behält sich vor, durch Cookies Daten zu sammeln und diese unter anderem für Werbezwecke zu verwenden. Die Firma wird keine Daten verkaufen, aber sie nutzen, um den User etwa über Angebote zu informieren, die für ihn interessant sein könnten.

Laut heise setzt Circle jedoch darauf, dass die zunehmende Nutzung Einnahmequellen eröffnen wird. Die Firma ist mittlerweile mit Venture Kapital von 26 Millionen Dollar ausgestattet und kann es sich leisten, die ersten paar Jahre Verlust zu machen. Man muss nur so groß werden wie Amazon oder PayPal, dann sprudeln die Einnahmen schon. Dass man dazu am Anfang überhaupt kein Einnahmemodell braucht, macht derzeit Alibaba vor.  Willkommen im Kapitalismus des 21. Jahrhunderts!

Wird Circle den Bitcoin zum Mainstream bringen?

Erwarten Sie ernsthaft eine Antwort? Circles Homepage sieht schick aus, mit Bildern von Menschen, die herauszommen, wenn man scrollt, während sie gleichzeitig schnell lädt. Circle tut zunächst so, als ginge es gar nicht um Bitcoins: “Hallo, Geld. Mit uns ist die Verwendung von Geld einfach – sofort, sicher und kostenlos. So sollte Geld sein.” Circle sieht sich nicht als Konkurrent von Bitcoin-Handelsplätzen, sondern von PayPal. Die Oma, so das Argument für den Mainstream, würde bestimmt nicht auf eine Bitcoin-Börse oder -wechselstube gehen. Viel zu kompliziert. Aber sie würde sich bei Circle anmelden.

Andererseits: Falls die Oma das Bedürfnis danach gehabt hätte, kostenlos und sicher und sofort im Internet zu überweisen, dann hätte sie sich auch bei PayPal anmelden können. Damit könnte sie übrigens in mehr als einer Handvoll Shops bezahlen und würde wissen, wieviel ihr Geld morgen wert sein wird. Circle versichert zwar die Bitcoins, aber nicht deren Kurs. Für Kunden ist der Bitcoin derzeit schlicht kein attraktives Zahlungsmittel. Hat auch keiner gesagt.

Für Händler dagegen ist er das mittlerweile. Eigentlich ein Nobrainer. Wenn ein Kunde über Circle bezahlt, ist das sicher und kostenlos, auch aus dem Ausland ist, egal welches. Man kann Circle problemlos im Einzelhandel empfangen, in einem Café oder auf Facebook. Circle hat eben den Bitcoin-Vorteil. Das Unternehmen setzt vielleicht darauf, dass die Händler ihre Kunden einmal überzeugen werden, per Bitcoin zu bezahlen. Solange macht es es den Kunden etwas einfacher.

Ist Circle in Deutschland verfügbar?

Nicht wirklich. Klickt man auf Add/Withdraw Money, wird man darüber informiert, dass ein US-Bankaccount oder eine US-Kreditkarte notwendig seien. Man arbeite daran. Bis dahin könne man “Bitcoins senden, empfangen und speichern.” Angeblich kann man auch als Europäer Kreditkarten von amerikanischen Unternehmen benutzen, ich konnte es nicht.

 

 

Original author: Christoph Bergmann
©Bitcoin.de
A carefully selected group of US Congress members will soon receive bitcoin donations in the mail. For some, it will likely be the first time they come into direct contact with digital currency. Led by a Washington, DC-based political action committee (PAC) focused on bitcoin policy called BitPAC, the initiative will distribute $250 worth of bitcoin in paper wallets to eight members of Congress, including Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Paul Ryan (R-WI). Additional politicians who will receive the donations include Ron Wyden (D-OR); Ted Cruz (R-TX); Jeb Hensarling (R-TX); Maxine Waters (D-CA); and Jared Polis (D-CO). Speaking to CoinDesk, BitPAC founder Dan Backer said that he expects the initiative to have an impact on Capitol Hill, which he believes must become familiar with decentralized money. In May, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) offered more direction, issuing a report advising that political campaigns and action committees could accept bitcoin donations. Yet, Backer said that the FEC needs to do more: “The FEC’s guidance [only] created a safe harbor of permissible activity.” Backer told CoinDesk that the donations are in the mail, and will be delivered sometime this week. In-kind donations BitPAC’s funding comes from an assortment of donors, many whom want to put pressure on US policymakers to make concrete decisions regarding bitcoin and broader campaign finance law. An attorney, Backer represented the Conservative Action Fund as it sought clarity as to whether political campaigns could accept bitcoin for fundraising. The formal request led to a November 2013 FEC hearing that concluded with guidance that bitcoin should be treated as an in-kind donation. Backer believes his BitPAC donations represent a pivotal step toward US politicians realizing the value of bitcoin as a tool for political fundraising, though the process by which this occurs may be unorthodox. Backer told CoinDesk: “I think whomever on their staff gets [the paper wallet] will scratch their head. It’ll go up the ladder, someone will call the FEC which will be of no help, and someone will decide that money is money and they will accept and liquidate the transaction.” As such, Backer and his group chose to issue paper bitcoin wallets to the politicians. Paper wallets hold the public and private keys to bitcoin represented on the technology’s block chain, or general ledger. Backer told CoinDesk: “For these first ‘baby steps’, we think paper is the easier way to go.” Reportable donations Backer said that the $250 amount was chosen because it’s above the $200.01 threshold reportable by a recipient as an itemized donation. Federal Campaign Finance Laws read: “Candidates must identify, for example, all PACs and party committees that give them contributions, and they must identify individuals who give them more than $200 in an election cycle.” Given the history of price volatility in bitcoin, $250 measured in today’s BTC value provides enough of a cushion to meet that requirement once these donations are reported as in-kind. Past 30 days of bitcoin prices. Source: CoinDesk Bitcoin Price IndexBitcoin price movement over the last 30 days. Source: CoinDesk Bitcoin Price IndexPressuring the FEC BitPAC’s aim right now is to focus on clarifying election laws that may relate to bitcoin. This is why the group has targeted both Republicans and Democrats, and members of the government’s two legislative bodies, the House of Republicans and US Senate. The donations are meant to entice members of Congress to pressure the FEC, as BitPAC wants the FEC to provide more guidance to solidify the digital currency’s use in political fundraising. “Certainly it keeps the issue at the forefront as the FEC considers this,” said Backer. He told CoinDesk that while some of the selected members of Congress have never had to deal with bitcoin, they’re unlikely to turn down a campaign donation. Capitol image via Shutterstock BitPACCongressFEC
Original author: Daniel Cawrey
©Coindesk
Bob Dykes, BitFuryDespite the cautious stamp of approval bitcoin has received from emerging payments giants like PayPal, Square and Stripe, many in the traditional payments industry are struggling to understand bitcoin and the strength of its technology. However, perhaps more crucially, former VeriFone CFO, current Tanjarine president and new BitFury board member Bob Dykes believes that the payments industry is struggling to separate bitcoin from the scores of new payments technologies that have emerged in the last decade. Dykes chooses to view bitcoin and its road to mainstream adoption through this lens, noting that the payments industry has seen the rise and fall of a number of technologies – including QR codes and near-field communication (NFC) – that have promised to bring disruption and change overnight, only to be met with a long road to adoption or a cold shoulder by the industry. As a result, Dykes told CoinDesk, the traditional payments industry is struggling to see how bitcoin will be able to gain wider adoption: “If you go back three-to-four years, there were lots of companies cropping up with what people in the payments industry were thinking were a bunch of crazy ideas and they got big for a while, but I think you’re going to see them fade, because they weren’t a very good idea in the first place. When it comes to bitcoin, I think it’s a bit different. It has legs because it’s a fundamentally more efficient way of having a transaction.” Dykes indicated that his ability to recognize this potential lead him to join the team at bitcoin mining services giant BitFury, which raised $20m in May from VC firms like Crypto Currency Partners and angel investor Bill Tai. BitFury manufacturers mining hardware and computer chips, and recently completed a 20MW data center in the European country of Georgia. Citing the company’s impressive data centre presence and ability to provide low-cost transaction processing through its mining infrastructure, Dykes added: “If you’re going to ride a horse in the bitcoin space, BitFury is the best horse to ride.” Profit potential for payments space Notably, Dykes suggested that one reason the traditional payments industry has been slow to react to bitcoin, is that its businesses see bitcoin as a threat to their cost and profit structures. His former employer VeriFone, for example, earned $436.1m in net revenue during Q1 2014 through products such as multimedia point-of-sale devices, mobile wallets and payment processing, all offerings bitcoin aims to improve or replace. However, Dykes said that over time, the opinion of his former industry will change because bitcoin will offer new ways for these companies to cut costs and generate revenue through their existing services. Core to this belief is Dykes’ assertion that the bitcoin industry is already generating significant revenue, a factor that provides a crucial advantage over past payments technologies: “It’s not like an industry that’s going to require massive funding, this is a place where you can make a lot of money already.” Dykes said that this could prove to be an advantage to bitcoin that helps propel adoption faster than other types of payment technologies. Behind-the-scenes revolution Despite his bullish beliefs about bitcoin’s long-term prospects, Dykes suggested that the payment industry isn’t likely to embrace bitcoin anytime soon, simply due to its historical resistance to technology. Dykes told CoinDesk: “The payment industry is an enormous industry and it moves slowly – look at EMV and chip cards in the US for example. Nothing is going to move very fast even though we have a lot of new entrants, but it’s got to move at a steady rate and in places where bitcoin has a fundamental advantage.” Dykes mentioned cross-border and e-commerce payments as two areas where bitcoin could gain a strong foothold. Elsewhere, he sees the technology becoming more widely used in the background, with established payments giants using bitcoin behind existing services. “You’re going to have bitcoin sitting behind a card with a logo on that card, and then [that brand] making a bitcoin wallet and bringing attention to it, so it will create some efficiency in the industry but it’s not going to be a major change,” he explained. Bitcoin is at critical mass Unlike many of his peers, Dykes said that he believes bitcoin has already reached a “critical mass” in the market, though he suggested that his definition may be different from other observers. For example, he mentioned bitcoin processors and bitcoin debit card providers that are building on bitcoin’s core infrastructure as evidence of this assertion, saying: “It has reached a point where regular people can use bitcoin at every merchant that takes a major credit card. Infrastructure pieces are in place, and now it’s just a matter of growing these activities.” Still, he cautioned that bitcoin enthusiasts should temper their expectations even in light of his high praise for the industry. Taking a long-term outlook, Dykes concluded: “The payments space is truly enormous and even with really high growth, it’s still going to be a very small portion of the payments space. There’s no expectation that the whole industry is going to be overturned in the next few years.” Images via LinkedIn; Shutterstock BitfuryPayments
Original author: Pete Rizzo
©Coindesk
butterflylabs Attorneys for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Butterfly Labs are allegedly holding talks that could lead to a possible reopening of the troubled bitcoin mining business. The conversation, while still in its early stages, may allow Butterfly Labs to exit its previously announced court-ordered shutdown, The Kansas City Star reported. Butterfly Labs was placed in temporary receivership by a US judge last week, a condition that was extended during a hearing on Monday when prosecutors made the case that both the company and its employees effectively profited at the expense of customers. US District Judge Brian Wimes asked at the time if both sides could potentially agree to what he called a “business plan”. The media outlet suggested that both parties were reportedly enthusiastic about the idea, and discussions have been ongoing since the end of that hearing. Jim Humphrey, an attorney defending Butterfly Labs, said that he was unable to comment at the time but voiced positivity about the future viability of the company. Humphrey told the Star: “I’m unable to comment on ongoing negotiations, but the parties continue to work together. We remain optimistic that we will be able to serve our customers again soon.” Case continues to evolve The discussions follow allegations levied by the federal regulator that Butterfly Labs defrauded customers and failed to deliver mining devices as promised. Further, the action by the agency, which policies anticompetitive or deceptive business practices, follows months of complaints against the company. Documents released prior to Monday’s hearing alleged that the company used equipment built for customers to mine bitcoins for extended periods prior to shipment. Details about an inaccurate online mining profitability calculator and evidence that Butterfly Labs employees created paraphernalia that mocked customer complaints were also divulged in the documents. Customer recourse At this time, it remains unclear whether Butterfly Labs will reopen either completely or partially under court control. Yet, the idea does represent a potential avenue for providing recourse to customers that lost millions in both investment costs and future profitability as a result of not receiving equipment. There are also questions about if and when customer refunds will be processed. As previously explained by FTC attorney Leah Frazier in an interview with CoinDesk, any refunds that were being issued were frozen as a result of last week’s court decision. She remarked at the time: “The accounts are frozen right now and the receiver is in control of the business. So, we can’t make any predictions on an ongoing basis as to the status of the refunds. A lot of that will hinge on the court’s decision.” The order extended on Monday continues the asset freeze placed on Butterfly Labs. However, should the company resume operations, there could be provisions put in place mandating that some or all revenue be directed toward customer refunds. Image via Shutterstock Butterfly LabsFTC
Original author: Stan Higgins
©Coindesk
The Georgia Institute of Technology has become the first university to integrate bitcoin into its students’ dining and shopping experience. Campus payment cards, known as BuzzCards, can now be topped up with the digital currency at the university’s BuzzCard Centre, located inside its bookstore. BuzzCards can be used at more than 200 locations on campus, allowing students to pay for meals, parking, recreational facilities and tickets for various sporting events using bitcoin. Georgia Tech also features 10 BuzzCard ATMs where students can withdraw hard cash. Former students and current bitcoin executives Tony Gallippi and Stephen Pair will handle payment processing for the institute via their company BitPay. Home turf The university’s Bobby Dodd Stadium is another key venue in the rollout. The stadium already sports a bitcoin logo, courtesy of a BitPay partnership with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association announced last July. Now, using any bitcoin wallet, Georgia Tech sports fans can pay for drinks and snacks at two point-of-sale devices in its student area. Students are likely to use Georgia Tech’s new ‘Jacket Wallet’ at the checkout. Unveiled last week, the custom implementation of Pheeva’s bitcoin wallet is only available to users with a campus email address. As a ‘gamified’ concept, the wallet rewards users based on how they promote its in-built social network, the COG Cooperative. Georgia Tech stadium Innovation and expansion BitPay executive chairman Tony Gallippi said BitPay was proud to offer an innovative bitcoin payment system to the university and its students. Georgia Tech’s athletic director Mike Bobinski said: “At Georgia Tech, we are always looking to lead in innovative ways, and this partnership with BitPay gives us an opportunity to do so by integrating this new technology at a sports venue and in the daily lives of our students.” Bobinski said Georgia Tech is looking forward to working with BitPay to make bitcoin a viable payment option for students and sports fans. Georgia Tech is currently ranked as one of the top 10 public universities in the US, with more than 100 centres focused on interdisciplinary research. More than 21,000 tech-savvy students attend the university and soon they will all have access to bitcoin. In addition, Stephanie Wargo, vice president of marketing at BitPay, revealed the company has ambitions to take the programme further afield: “We see the student market as a huge potential as these millennials are the executives of the future. They have grown up with technology and are quick to embrace new ideas, like bitcoin.” Around the world Although Georgia Tech may be the first university to fully integrate bitcoin in its student payment system, a number of campuses are currently experimenting with the currency. The University of Nicosia in Cyprus started accepting bitcoin payments for tuitions and fees last December. It now offers courses on the digital currency alongside a number of US universities, including New York University and Duke University. On campuses where the formal university leadership has yet to embrace bitcoin, students groups are looking to start these conversations. For example, earlier this year the MIT Bitcoin Club announced plans to distribute $100 in BTC to each student on campus. Several bitcoin-related apps developed by students were also awarded £15,000 in cash prizes at a MIT Bitcoin Project competition last month. Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in BitPay. Georgia Tech Tower and Bobby Dodd Stadium images by Eugene Buchko via Shutterstock. BitPayGeorgia Tech
Original author: Nermin Hajdarbegovic
©Coindesk
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