How big is Bitcoin in Lugano? Decentralize with Cointelegraph goes to BTC school

https://cointelegraph.com/news/how-big-is-bitcoin-in-lugano-decentralize-with-cointelegraph-goes-to-btc-school

This week, Cointelegraph reporter Joe Hall takes podcast listeners back to school — Bitcoin (BTC) school. 

On the latest episode of Decentralize with Cointelegraph, listeners can indulge in interview snippets, soundbites and pearls of wisdom from the likes of Blockstream CEO Adam Back and Tether chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino, as well as professionals in cybersecurity and from Chainalysis.

Paolo Ardoino (left) in an interview with Joe Hall (right).

Plus, hear from students who attended the school about what it’s like to live, breathe, sleep and study crypto for two weeks, 24/7. An Italian Ethereum fan comments on Bitcoin maximalism, Latin Americans observe Europeans’ behavior regarding recycling, and Taiwanese students settle into life around the cryptocurrency. 

This week’s episode of Decentralize also investigates how deep Bitcoin and crypto adoption reaches in Lugano, the distinctly Italian city in the southern section of Switzerland. The city adopted Bitcoin as de facto legal tender one year ago, and there has been noticeable progress since then — with the Bitcoin “B” logo hard to miss in the town center. 

More than 200 vendors accept Bitcoin in Lugano. Big brands like McDonald’s, Rolex and even Lamborghini will take the cryptocurrency, while some pharmacies, convenience stores and tobacco shops also accept it.

However, Bitcoin is still not deeply or broadly understood, and there’s a lot of work to be done if Lugano is to one day fully embrace it, as Ardoino explained:

”I wish I was able to say that our job is done, but I think we are just at the beginning. The most important part is the education of the merchants.”

The point-of-sale devices merchants use across Lugano also accept Tether (USDT) and Luga, a token that locals and residents can use.  

Related: Pro-crypto city of Lugano and El Salvador sign economic agreement based on adoption

To hear a secret from Back concerning MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, learn what Paraguayans made of Switzerland on their first-ever trip to Europe, and discover why the efforts in Lugano could spread to other areas of Europe, plug in and listen in to this week’s episode of Decentralize with Cointelegraph — available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Cointelegraph’s podcast page and more.

The episode also serves as a sneak preview of an upcoming Cointelegraph documentary about life in Lugano. Subscribe to Cointelegraph’s YouTube channel here to catch it when it’s released.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution: Video

https://cointelegraph.com/news/truth-behind-cuba-bitcoin-revolution-video

Cuba, a country known for its unique blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and political isolation, is the focus of the latest Cointelegraph on-the-ground documentary. “The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution” explores Bitcoin’s (BTC) impact in one of the world’s last Communist states. 

The documentary provides a firsthand account of how Cubans are using Bitcoin to navigate challenging economic circumstances, attract new businesses and save money in a censorship-heavy environment.

Journalist and Bitcoin enthusiast Joe Hall embarked on the journey to Cuba determined to witness and capture the “Bitcoin Revolution” that gained prominence in Alex Gladstein’s book, “Check Your Financial Privilege.” Gladstein explains how Cubans have harnessed Bitcoin’s stateless and low-fee nature to escape financial oppression and secure their savings.

The documentary explores how Bitcoin has taken root in the Cuban financial landscape through interviews and interactions with Cubans, as well as the cofounders of the Cuba Bitcoin community: Forte, Catrya and Bitalion (not their real names). Paco de la India, a regular Cointelegraph contributor, traveled with Joe and provides feedback and commentary throughout the documentary.

Bitcoin users in Cuba primarily engage in peer-to-peer transactions, buying and selling Bitcoin through Telegram and Signal groups. They run nodes with limited resources and evade online surveillance and access banned internet sites with VPNs.

Unlike many countries, Cuba is devoid of centralized crypto exchanges such as Coinbase or Binance. Plus, Cubans are banned from creating accounts due to poor diplomatic relations with the United States.

Consequently, the environment for Bitcoin in Cuba is a unique ecosystem that operates almost entirely outside of the reach of the state. Moreover, the resilient Bitcoin community is set against a backdrop of economic hardship. 72% of Cubans live below the poverty line, and while the minimum monthly wage is approximately $30, Catrya, one of the documentary’s main characters explains that it is closer to $13.

Reporter Joe Hall, Paco de la India and only $200 of Cuban peso bills

Cuba’s economic hardships are exacerbated by hyperinflation, with the Cuban peso losing more than 940% of its value in the last two years. Through testimonials and interviews with Cubans across Havana, it’s clear that Bitcoin emerges as a lifeline for those looking to protect their savings from currency devaluation.

Related: Cuba Bitcoin community hosts BTC-only meetup

The documentary captures the grassroots adoption of Bitcoin in Cuba. It also highlights the efforts of the humble “Cuba Bitcoin” community who spend their time educating and propagating the principles of Bitcoin to Cubans in an environment where the consequences of their actions are uncertain.

Ultimately, As Bitcoin continues to gain traction in Cuba, it remains to be seen how the government will react to the emergence of a parallel financial system. The Truth Behind Cuba’s Bitcoin Revolution, provides a rare glimpse into a nation on the cusp of transformative change. Bitcoin could offer Cubans a glimmer of hope and freedom on an island where such aspirations have been long suppressed.

Magazine: ‘Elegant and ass-backward’: Jameson Lopp’s first impression of Bitcoin

Privacy prevails and cypherpunks write code at Baltic Honeybadger

https://cointelegraph.com/news/privacy-cypherpunks-bitcoin-honeybadger

Bitcoin’s spirit animal is the honey badger. Bitcoin evangelist turned Bitcoin Cash promoter Roger Ver first popularized the meme in 2013 when he paid $1,500 a month for a billboard in California to display “Bitcoin is the Honey Badger of Money.” 

Since then, the honey badger has been an elusive beast, occasionally appearing in memes and tweets as well as at its annual hunt on the Baltic Coast of Europe.

A Baltic Honeybadger sighting excites even the most hardcore Bitcoiners. Living on a diet of red meat and Latvian beer, lurking near cypherpunk stages and often spotted skulking over a computer screen checking and rewriting lines of code, the Baltic Honeybadger allures cypherpunks and Bitcoin (BTC) advocates alike.

Content creators Rikki and Laura pose with the honey badger. Source: Bitcoin Explorers

The Baltic Honeybadger conference began in 2017 when speakers Andreas Antonopoulos and Elizabeth Stark graced the stage. As “the most OG Bitcoin conference,” the Riga-based event elevates privacy, anti-surveillance and cypherpunk principles. 

Privacy is a human right

These ethics materialized on the Cypherpunk Stage. Frequently packed or with standing room only, the Cypherpunk Stage was strictly off-limits for cameras, recording devices and live streams.

A team of “Bitcoin Bears” (aka, security personnel) watched over the Honeybadger audience. No media, tweets or photos would venture onto the internet — all the action remained in the room.

Entrance to the Cypherpunk Stage. Source: Bitcoin Lyon, Aurore

During the conference opening, Max Keidun, founder of Honeybadger and CEO of Hodl Hodl and Debifi, announced that any guests found recording or photographing the Cypherpunk Stage would be thrown out of the conference and banned from Honeybadger for life. He added: 

“We don’t joke in Eastern Europe.”

These principles permeated throughout the conference. Many attendees wore badges stating their desire to avoid photos, the conference goodie bag included a privacy-centric bandana, and it was common to hear people ask one another, “Are you doxed?” — essentially meaning, “Is your identity shared or concealed online?”

Freedom of speech was also important. One of the Cypherpunk Stage talks by Bitcoin activist Rikki compared some aspects of Bitcoin in El Salvador to central bank digital currencies.

Giacomo Zucco, a Bitcoin educator, described how “midwits” can get in the way of Bitcoin. With comedic intentions, he highlighted that lower-intelligence Bitcoin advocates, or “80 IQ plebs,” are a force for good, while “midwits” trip up over nuance and fail to see the bigger picture.

Nonetheless, despite its OG allure, the Honeybadger could be under threat of extinction. Many Bitcoin conferences around the world have been converted into social media moments and selfie opportunities thanks to the growing mainstream glamor of Bitcoin and the propulsion of telegenic Bitcoin advocates such as Michael Saylor, Natalie Brunell and Jack Mallers onto television screens across the United States.

Indeed, Rigel Walshe of Swan Bitcoin said the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami felt like a Christian rock festival. Why else would thousands of young people come together to watch crusty old guys talk about esoteric principles such as sound money or salvation, he joked.

Rigel Walshe compared and contrasted Bitcoin and religion.

If Miami’s Bitcoin conference was a rock festival, Honeybadger was a dive bar, where anything was up for discussion, from nuclear war to Miniscript, from human rights to hamster wheels. (Yes, all of these topics were discussed during talks.)

Furthermore, unlike the large crypto conferences, Bitcoin’s price was seldom spoken of—sparing one panel on the first day. The discussion, “When 100K?,” saw Blockstream CEO Adam Back double down on his claim that Bitcoin would hit all-time highs before the Bitcoin halving in April 2024. The panel eventually evolved into a conversation about macroeconomics.

Lightning strikes Riga

As with all Bitcoin conferences, the side events and offstage shenanigans stole the show. The team from Nostr, a decentralized protocol whose first iteration proposes an alternative to X (formerly Twitter), hosted events and dominated discussion.

A party organized and fundraised via Nostr Zaps — Bitcoin tips over Nostr — closed out the weekend. All funds to support the open bar, buy pizzas and sponsor a live show with rented instruments were crowdfunded and zapped over the Lightning Network in the days leading up to the conference.

Derek Ross, a Nostr developer, explained that “purple-pilling” goes hand in hand with “orange-pilling” during another talk. Being orange-pilled means understanding Bitcoin, while being purple-pilled means understanding Nostr.

Francis introduces Chain Duel.

Elsewhere, Portuguese programmer Francis set up a Chain Duel tournament. Chain Duel is a social Bitcoin game that combines elements of the 90s classic Snake with satoshis, the smallest denomination of Bitcoin. While the game appears easy, it is addictive and competitive. 

Players registered on Chain Duel by sending satoshis to the in-game Lightning Network address with a payment note as their name. The winner of the tournament took home the pot of 1,520,000 satoshis, valued at more than $300.

Lightning-enabled interactions were a prominent feature throughout Honeybadger. All the conference food trucks accepted Bitcoin and Bitcoin Lightning payments, and every merchant who spoke with Cointelegraph commented that it’s easier and faster to pay with Lighting than card payments. Plus, Lightning avoids the fees charged by Mastercard and Visa.

In total, more than 1.1 BTC ($27,600) was paid over Lightning over the course of the conference. BTCPay Server, the team behind the payment terminals, shared the statistics on social media.

Honeybadger’s Lightning-enabled card racing against someone else’s NFC card at a coffee truck.

Basement Bar, a Latvian bar in the city center, was swarmed with Bitcoin enthusiasts keen to pay in satoshis. As a Bitcoin-friendly location, it became the de facto hang-out spot over the weekend as customers tapped, zapped and scanned Bitcoin as their chosen means of payment.

Indeed, the Bitcoin-critic meme “No one uses Lightning” was undermined by events, discussion and action at Baltic Honeybadger. The word “Lightning” featured in eight of the talks, and discussions ranged from Breez CEO Roy Sheinfeld explaining offline payments to explanations of smart contracts on Lightning and Synota CEO Austin Mitchell explaining that “Lightning is transactive energy.”

Sam Wouters, a Bitcoin research analyst at River, summed up Lightning’s situation with regard to the Bitcoin network:

“Lightning is likely part of the scaling puzzle. Lightning bought us time.”

In all, the Baltic Honeybadger conference replaced headline-grabbing announcements familiar to large Bitcoin conferences with backroom discussions and debates. Privacy took precedence over photo opportunities, while fiat payments were outstripped by Lightning.

Baltic Honeybadger was a call to action for cypherpunk principles. It’s sometimes forgotten that Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, was also a cypherpunk. They did not reveal their identity and disappeared the moment Bitcoin made a move into the mainstream.

Bitcoin gains traction in West Africa with educational drive

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-gains-traction-in-west-africa-with-educational-drive

Bitcoin (BTC) adoption in West Africa is dominated by Nigeria, the crypto powerhouse and the region’s economic engine. But against a backdrop of anti-French sentiment, Bitcoin educational efforts are also bubbling away in French-speaking West Africa.

Senegal recently opened its first physical Bitcoin exchange and education center called Bitique, and the country of 17 million people will host another Bitcoin Forum in the capital, Dakar, in December, where pseudonymous local Bitcoin advocate, known as Nourou, runs an independent Bitcoin node beamed from space.

In Benin, a country of 13 million people to the west of Nigeria, the Bitcoin-only Bitcoin Mastermind conference takes place next month. The first of its kind in the country, Bitcoin Mastermind unites Bitcoin entrepreneurs and crypto enthusiasts from homegrown groups and businesses such as Izichange, GoesPay and Flash, and it offers locals a space to learn about Bitcoin.

Cointelegraph spoke with Nourou, the founder of Dakar Bitcoin Days and Bitcoin Senegal, and Loïc Kassamoto, the founder of Bitcoin Mastermind, to better understand the Bitcoin and West African crypto evolution — or revolution.

A rising tide lifts all boats

Countries in French-speaking West Africa are subjected to the West African CFA franc currency, described by the Economist as a “colonial hangover.” The Senegalese are vocal in their criticism of the currency, with some Bitcoin advocates, such as local crypto enthusiast and entrepreneur Mama Bitcoin, explaining that it’s pretty normal to complain about the currency — an implicit criticism of post-colonial French policy in the region.

Anti-French sentiment has historically existed in the region but has recently manifested in public demonstrations. Neighboring Mali recently dropped French as the nation’s official language — a law in place since the country won its independence in 1960.

In Niger, to the east of Mali and north of Nigeria, a recent military coup represented a significant setback for French President Emmanuel Macron and France’s military strategy in the region. Well-known French newspaper Le Monde commented that the coup was a “new heavy blow” for France’s military strategy in Niger’s Sahel region.

A groundswell of alternative currency initiatives is occurring across French-speaking West Africa. Growing numbers of Senegalese are turning to Bitcoin as a savings tool and a means of exchange, while in Benin, Bitcoin Mastermind’s Kassamoto told Cointelegraph the number of Beninois turning to Bitcoin is also on the up. 

Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

In the West, much financial discussion and education tends to take place online. However, the emphasis in West African countries is on physical meetups and real-life interaction. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nourou said that discussions about Bitcoin and money were transferred and confined to online platforms such as ClubHouse and X (formerly Twitter), but more and more physical spaces have opened up post-pandemic.

Nourou opens Bitique in the Dakar business district. Source: Nourou

Indeed, as Kassamoto explains, one of the keys to unlocking deeper levels of financial education and demonstrating how West Africans could use a decentralized currency such as Bitcoin is through interactions in the real world:

“Bitcoin conferences, meetups and shops provide opportunities for education, outreach and direct interaction. Conferences and meetups bring the community together, share knowledge and exchange experiences.”

Norou opened Bitique, which is Dakar’s first physical Bitcoin store for buying and selling cryptocurrency. He explained that in addition to trading services, there will also be educational programs for people to learn about Bitcoin in person: “Training courses will be around 10,000 francs [$16] for two or even three hours of training.”

The in-person training goes hand in hand with a series of classroom sessions that Bitcoin Senegal conducts nationwide called the “Baol Digital Kids” program, which teaches kids how to use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network.

The kids in the video who received and sent their first satoshis via the layer-2 Lightning Network can spend the money at a growing number of merchants listed on the open-source Bitcoin tool BTCmap.org. In just 18 months, Dakar has developed from one small Bitcoin office to tens of artisans, restaurants and cafés accepting the cryptocurrency.

Nourou recently received a Blockstream Satellite kit, which, once set up, will allow him to run a Bitcoin node that will be protected against network interruptions. The internet service can sometimes be patchy and unreliable in West Africa. According to Blockstream, the satellite kit ensures that any connected Bitcoin full node “will not be isolated or partitioned,” with blocks streaming continuously for the node to verify.

Across a few borders in Benin, Kassamoto, along with his peers, runs what he believes to be one of Benin’s first Bitcoin nodes. 

He explains that Bitcoin adoption has increased, but it comes with risks due to its association with crypto:

“Bitcoin adoption in West Africa is greatly helped and hindered by cryptocurrencies.”

Kassamoto said that the money-making side of crypto attracts more and more people into the “crypto universe,” but crypto scams, loss and rug pulls taint Bitcoin’s appeal. The promise of crypto riches drawing noobies into Bitcoin is not necessarily good.

“It’s toxic for Bitcoin because these people are very quickly disappointed with their loss and associate it with Bitcoin because they haven’t even had time to understand the difference between the two,” he said.

Kassamoto said that “Bitcoin, not crypto,” is what the West African community should understand.

There are more Bitcoin meetups and, therefore, more opportunities to demonstrate what many Bitcoin exchanges and thought leaders have preached for some time: that there could be a difference between Bitcoin and the rest of the crypto market.

Related: Worldcoin cryptocurrency project suspended in Kenya

The Central African Republic, which made headlines in 2022 for adopting Bitcoin as legal tender, was elevated and then dropped by large swathes of the Bitcoin community. After adopting Bitcoin, it announced its own crypto token, Sango Coin, while the country is now experimenting with tokenizing real-world assets such as farmland.

In Ghana, to the east of Benin, another large Bitcoin and educational conference will occur this year. Strike CEO Jack Mallers and Human Rights Foundation chief strategy officer Alex Gladstein will speak as part of a Bitcoin educational drive in West Africa.

Renewable energy Bitcoin mining company powers up in Sweden

https://cointelegraph.com/news/renewable-energy-bitcoin-mining-sweden

Sweden has welcomed a hydro-powered Bitcoin (BTC) mining data center. 

Genesis Digital Assets Limited (GDA), a mining and data center company with over 400 MW of power generation worldwide has made a opened a new data center in Sweden, driven by the country’s burgeoning renewable energy surplus.

The new operation is located in the far North of Sweden, where hydroelectric power dominates the grid.  Abdumalik Mirakhmedov, executive president and fouder of GDA, told Cointelegraph that the new data center is located near the Porjus Hydroelectric Power Station:

“Given the proximity to the hydroelectric power station, we expect all of our electricity consumption to be powered by renewable energy.”

The total capacity of the data center is approximately 8 MW and is expected to result in a hash rate of approximately 155 PH/s (peta hashes per second). GDA explained to Cointelegraph that there are 1,900 Bitcoin mining machines deployed in the Porjus data center.

As reported by Jaran Mellerud, a Business Developer at Luxor Mining, and a frequent Cointelegraph contributor, Sweden produces almost all of its electricity from nuclear and hydropower, particularly the north.

Mellerud, who hails from nearby Norway, explains that renewable energy is also abundant:

“Sweden is an electricity powerhouse, generating the fifth-most electricity per capita globally in 2021.

GDA’s strategic expansion is part of a broader trend in the Northern European Bitcoin mining landscape. Christian Anders, the founder of BT.CX, a Swedish Bitcoin exchange dating back to January 2012, told Cointelegraph that Bitcoin mining is not very common due to high energy prices.

However, the Nordics are a class apart, Anders told Cointelegraph:

“Sweden, Finland, and Norway have a surplus of energy and negative energy prices from time to time, and primarily renewable energy in the form of hydropower in a remote location which is hard to distribute.”

Untapped, stranded, and renewable energy are popular ingredients for Bitcoin mining as they tend to be the cheapest. Mirakhmedov explained, “Sweden also has abundant clean energy sources, which is an important factor we consider in our operations.”

Porjus is in the far north of Sweden where renewable energy is abundant.

Moreover, while sentiment among some Scandinavians is negative towards Bitcoin, Anders told Cointelegraph that energy companies are coming around to Bitcoin mining’s utility: “The CEO of the largest energy producer in Sweden, Vattenfall, is pro-bitcoin mining, and its use case for grid balancing.” Stabilizing electricity grids with Bitcoin miners is also growing in the United States. 

Tim Carra, the head of Nordic at GDA, expounded the point in correspondence with Cointelegraph:

“With abundant energy sources, a pro-innovation environment, and a strong educational system that results in a great culture of innovation, we believe that Sweden is one of the best countries in the world where to mine bitcoin and expect to further invest in this beautiful region moving forward.”

GDA concentrates the majority of its power generation in Texas: one facility consumes 300 MW of electricity. The new Swedish operations complement a new GDA facility in South Carolina and demonstrate that there are still some attractive and untapped potential mining destinations around the world. Anders chimes in:

“There is also a market opportunity in Spain/Portugal which gets cheap energy from Africa and its domestic solar production where prices also are very cheap from time to time. BT.CX is working with renewable bitcoin miners to offer a way to offset your bitcoin holdings.”

As Anders alludes to, the generation of new Bitcoins consumes considerable amounts of electricity. The European Central Bank reports that Bitcoin mining has a significant carbon footprint.

Stats from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. Global energy consumtion is estimated at 25,000 terawatt-hours according to the IEA.

However, portrayed as an energy-guzzling and carbon-intensive industry, Bitcoin mining consumes just 149.95 Terawatt hours of electricity per year, or less than 0.7% of global energy, according to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance.

Related: Tether invests in El Salvador’s $1B renewable energy project

Meanwhile, renewable energy including hydro continues to dominate the global bitcoin mining energy mix. Neighboring Norway, for example, contributes roughly 1% of the Bitcoin hash rate and is 100% renewable, while the new GDA installation in Sweden is another green energy Bitcoin miner.

Ultimately, Anders concludes, “It’s super cool that more miners are coming to the Nordic European countries to help us with this mission.”

Magazine: Bitcoin is on a collision course with ‘Net Zero’ promises

Free Bitcoin on Zaps experiment — but what are Zaps?

https://cointelegraph.com/news/free-bitcoin-on-zaps-experiment-what-are-zaps

A Bitcoin advocate based in Canada has “Zapped” 600 people a total of 300 Satoshis ($0.09 or 0.000003 BTC) each in a Bitcoin-inspired (BTC) social media experiment. 

To date, marketing executive Michael Degroot has doled out over $50 in Bitcoin to people around the globe. He has since been Zapped back more than 40 times, receiving more than $6.

But what are Zaps, and how is it possible to send money around the world without an intermediary?

Degroot recently signed up to the Orange Pill App, a social media platform that connects Bitcoin users from around the world. The app works similarly to Tinder or Meetups.com: the mission is to connect Bitcoiners in real life.

The app recently integrated Zaps or Bitcoin tips, and according to founder Matteo Pellegrini, 20% of users have added Zaps to their profiles.

Zaps use the layer-2 Lightning Network which runs on top of Bitcoin. Zaps are typically small or tiny amounts of Bitcoin, measured in Satoshis, and they are sent peer-to-peer.

To Zap, users have two choices. Create a non-custodial lightning wallet using a lightning node, or open a custodial lightning wallet. When users opt for a custodial solution, a third party such as Wallet of Satoshi, Blink or CoinCorner manages the Bitcoin. They take care of routing, lightning channels, and liquidity.

Users can then create a lightning address, known as an LNURL, to receive zaps. Think of the LNURL as an email address but for money. By adding this address to profiles on platforms including Orange Pill App, Geyser Fund or Nostr, users can now receive Bitcoin from users all around the world, instantly and at almost no cost.

Bitcoin tipping, or Zapping is mobile-first 

Crucially, there is seldom a Zapping middleman and it works well with micropayments, such as Degroot’s 300 Sats payment. Money remitters such as Paypal, Western Union or Wire Transfer charge a fee to route money around the world but are ineffective for micropayments due to high fees.

Zapping removes the need for a middleman, which also removes a money-making opportunity. Pellegrini explained: “It doesn’t cost us anything when users Zap each other and we don’t, nor shouldn’t, make any money off it.”

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, the United States’ largest crypto exchange, recently confused a Lightning Address–or Zap address–for an email address. It’s fair to say that Zaps are yet to light up the mainstream crypto conversation.

Zapathon

Back to Degroot’s Zapathon. The Canadian “Messaged and zapped every single person on the Orange Pill App who has a lightning wallet attached to their profile,” he disclosed to Cointelegraph.

“I want to contribute to the community more and I thought this was a way I could contribute and I could increase bitcoiners in my network. A way to find more signal.”

But while Degroot expanded his network, gaining hundreds of X (formerly known as Twitter) followers, the generous act also demonstrated the power of the Lightning Network’s money transfer mechanism. Degroot Zapped 300 Sats (less than 10 cents) to someone living 16,000 km away in South Africa, expressing: “It settled in a second and there was no fee for it.”

“I used to own a business and if someone paid us with a credit card before a weekend it could take up to 5 days for those funds to reach our bank account, and cost ~2.5%.”

Degroot also Zapped me (please note this was NOT a bribe to write this article!). It cost nothing despite that we are separated by the Atlantic Ocean.

Zapping on NOSTR

While Orange Pill App, Geyser Fund (a crowdfunding platform) and Stacker News are Zap-arenas, the tipping feature is increasingly popularised by Nostr, short for or Notes and Other Stuff Transmitted by Relays. In its present form, Nostr is a decentralized alternative to centralized social media platforms such as Twitter or Reddit.

Zaps sent on Nostr over the past 6 months. Source: Stats.Nostr.Band

Nostr is a protocol that comes to life by integrating with clients such as Damus (for iPhone), or Snort (for desktop). Nostr recently reached 4 million users while hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Bitcoin has been zapped across the world. Curiously, the “like” button does exist on Nostr platforms, but Zaps are sometimes favored over likes.

Why are people giving out free money on the Internet?

Zapping is a Bitcoiner behavior that, at first glance, doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why give out Bitcoin to strangers on the internet, knowing that Bitcoin is a scarce asset? There are only 21 million Bitcoin, or 21 quadrillion Sats and it’s highly unlikely that more will be mined.

Jeff Booth, founder of Ego Death Capital told Cointelegraph: “So for people in Bitcoin and on Nostr, that economy is emerging, and it’s really early.”

“For people that aren’t in that world, they wouldn’t see what we’re talking about. If you’re measuring from the existing system, you don’t know what we’re talking about.”

I asked Nostr users why they sent Sats. The responses were light-hearted, fun and moving. BitcoinSandy a Nostrich (a Nostr user), explained that “It is a really good feeling sending instant value to someone likeminded who values freedom.”

Manlikeweks explained that Nostr’s borderless and censorship-resistant properties are awesome, particularly “As a person based in Tanzania and being funded worldwide without any restrictions.”

Zapping also taps into the trend of Value for Value or creator compensation. Digital creators can monetize content directly, without the need for a middleman.

BitcoinBarry explained how it works in practice: “I often try to give answers where I can and am rewarded to give better than suboptimal answers too.” I.e – if you post useful content on Nostr, you may be rewarded with a bountiful Zap — much like you would tip a waiter in a restaurant for excellent service.

Nostrich JoeLibertarian spelled it out: “Sats speak louder than likes.” You can like a post on Nostr, or you can send the post Sats to truly express satisfaction and gratitude.

Nostr-ings attached?

Nostr is not without hiccups. Apple recently delisted Damus from the App Store due to the Bitcoin tipping feature. Apple said Zaps violate payment policies: “If they [users] are connected to or associated with receiving digital content, they must use in-app purchase in accordance with guideline 3.1.1.”

Nonetheless, Nostr is a protocol, not a centralized service. Clients similar to Damus have since popped up on the Apple App Store, such as Plebstr.

Regarding Orange Pill App, Pellegrini explained to Cointelegraph that there is no risk of being de-platformed by Apple. Why? Pellegrini explains, “We gave Tim Cook [Apple CEO] a free Orange Pill App membership!”

“Joking aside, there’s no feed on the app so the zapping is via profiles, that are not classified as content unlike notes / tweets.”

Apple can continue its crusade of Nostr platforms where content can be easily monetized, but as a popular Nostr-Creator Walker points out, Nostr is“A freedom-loving hydra.” If you remove one Nostr-playground others will pop up:

Meanwhile, Degroot’s quest continues. He hopes to Zap every user on Orange Pill App, buoyed by the enthusiasm he’s met with from fellow users:

“My Favorite response was ‘Thank you for sending me those sats I have never been zapped before you made my day!’”

He concluded the experiment on August 7, telling the Zap-curious to “DO IT”. 

Ultimately, Degroot regularly zapped profiles who received their first-ever Sats. Pellegrini summed it up sweetly: “After all, who doesn’t like some sweet sweet sats?”

Bitcoin phone home: Use crypto to buy sim cards in 140 countries with Bitrefill

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-crypto-to-buy-sim-cards-in-140-countries-bitrefill

A partnership between crypto e-commerce platform Bitrefill and eSIM Go enables crypto users to buy eSIMs in 140 countries worldwide.

Crypto advocates can now swap crypto for data at the checkout, using Bitcoin (BTC), the Bitcoin Lightning Network, Ether(ETH) and stablecoins like Tether (USDT). The move makes it easier to live on crypto and travel the world.

Bitrefill founder and CEO Sergej Kotliar shed light on the new development via email:

“Everyone who uses data on their phone is a potential customer […]. Right now, we’re directing it at travelers — many crypto users [who] travel the world either live as digital nomads or travel for conferences and such.”

Kotliar added in the press release that the process for buying eSims with crypto is straightforward:

“You can just get an e-SIM from the airplane wifi, install it in a minute, and be online from the moment your plane touches down on the tarmac, without worrying about getting a massive surprise bill from your telco.”

Founded in 2014, Bitrefill enables crypto users and advocates to live on Bitcoin by purchasing gift cards. The latest integration targets travelers and holidaymakers seeking to avoid touching fiat money payment rails.

Living on Bitcoin, even in the most Bitcoin-friendly destinations, such as El Salvador, can still be challenging. For example, Cointelegraph reporter Joe Hall failed to live solely on Bitcoin while investigating Bitcoin adoption in the country.

One of the pitfalls was trying to buy phone credit. Hall required the help of a Salvadoran local to load up his phone with mobile data.

Screenshot of the Bitrefill eSIM for El Salvador. Source: Cointelegraph

Now, with the Bitrefill integration, Bitcoin advocates making the pilgrimage to El Salvador can buy data with Bitcoin the moment they connect to WiFi at San Salvador airport.

Related: Singapore Red Cross starts accepting crypto donations

Competitor Silent.Link offers an anonymous eSim for travelers interested in paying in Bitcoin or Monero (XMR), while telecommunications provider MoreMins also accepts payments in crypto for its data services.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

From rugs to riches: UK carpet retailer to adopt Bitcoin Standard

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-from-rugs-to-riches-uk-carpet-retailer-to-adopt-bitcoin-standard

An online carpet and flooring retailer based in the United Kingdom has bought Bitcoin (BTC) and put it on the balance sheet, following in the footsteps of Tesla, Microstrategy and Real Bedford. 

Speaking with Cointelegraph, CEO of Flooring Hut, Paul Brewster explained that:

“We see it [Bitcoin] as an asset that has probably the best potential for growth of our capital reserves at the moment.”

He explained that the group decided against keeping their cash reserves in a bank account, as Bitcoin could provide the greatest potential for providing returns which ultimately delivers greater value for customers.

According to Companies House, the British Government agency that maintains the register of U.K. companies, Flooring Hut’s accounts from 2023 showed cash reserves of £75,105, which at time of writing could afford roughly 3.3 BTC.

Flooring Hut’s cash assets. Data taken from gov.uk

Moreoever, the company is Bitcoin-only. Brewster explained that “Bitcoin is an asset class in its own right;” it is akin to a “digital gold.” While on a personal level Brewster and his colleagues have an interest in the wider cryptocurrency space, “We’re not going to be putting those on the balance sheet at Flooring Hut any time soon.”

Flooring Hut will not custody the coins with crypto companies such as Coinbase or the now-defunct FTX. Instead, the company will resist rug pulls and keep the Bitcoin in cold storage, Brewster added.

This bold decision by the online retailer operating in the £2 billion carpet industry is particularly surprising as it’s one of the “very few sectors where the application of technology is has been severely lacking,” Brewster explained.  The Financial Times, one of the United Kingdom’s most popular legacy finance publications was quick to take a swipe at Flooring Hut on its page Alphaville.

The Financial Times pokes fun at the move. Source: FT.

In the article, the FT explained that the Flooring Hut news “is obviously engineering the kind of publicity stunt that’s catnip for snarky blogs such as ours.” The article’s comments section is even more scathing, with one commenter exclaiming, “This is pure comedy!” to the news.

Brewster understands Bitcoin’s somewhat negative portrayal in the mainstream media:

“You’ve just got to be mindful that people draw connotations from what they read in the media. When they see the word Bitcoin they think, ‘Oh, is this company legit?’”

However, businesses across the United Kingdom are seeking innovative ways to invest their capital as cash left in the bank depreciates under high inflation. The United Kingdom and its currency, the pound are suffering more acutely than the European Union. As Brewster explains, managing a business in 2023 and in such trying economic conditions is about being “progressive”.

“We’re going to reinvest that back into the company, which then leads to greater value for money for our customers, which gives us a competitive advantage over our competitors.”

The company is heading down the path of a Bitcoin Standard: that of building out a business with Bitcoin in mind. Next, the group will explore the implementation of Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to complement its online MasterCard, Visa and Paypal payment options.

Paying in Bitcoin is a small but growing trend in the United Kingdom, particularly as the Lightning Network offers lower fees than incumbent payment providers.

Related: Bitcoin block 800,000 mined — What’s next?

The price per Bitcoin is up more than 60% in 2023 in British Pounds Sterling, commencing on January 1 at £13,700. Nonetheless, Bitcoin continues to be volatile. The price corrected 2% today, while some traders predict a price plummet to $19,000 in the near-term.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Google Cloud furthers Bitcoin Lightning ambitions with Voltage partnership

https://cointelegraph.com/news/google-cloud-bitcoin-lightning-voltage-partnership

Google Cloud is the latest company to show interest in Bitcoin (BTC) Lightning. The $225-billion cloud and data service recently partnered with Voltage, an infrastructure provider specializing in the Bitcoin Lightning Network

The partnership will allow one of the world’s largest cloud computing providers to roll out Bitcoin-based services worldwide while assisting the expansion of Voltage’s operations. Graham Krizek, CEO of Voltage, told Cointelegraph:

“Voltage is leveraging Google Cloud to go to service our customers more globally. So, we have larger customers that need nodes deployed in specific geographic regions like the U.K. or Asia.”

Conversely, Google can use “Voltage as sort of their outsourced Bitcoin and lightning team.” He said, “We service that business for them of actually, you know, helping companies that are interested in adding Bitcoin or Lightning into their services.”

The announcement received significant traction on social media and reflects Google’s growing understanding and acceptance of Bitcoin and Lightning. But crucially, the implications of the partnership run deeper.

Christopher Calicott, managing director of venture capital firm Tramwell Partners, told Cointelegraph, “We had some people that were former Googlers in backchannels […] saying this is the kind of unexpected [social media] engagement that definitely gets people’s attention at Google.” 

Moreover, Google’s open-minded approach to Lightning diametrically opposes that of its competitor, Apple. Apple delisted Damus, the Lightning-friendly decentralized social media protocol, from the App Store recently, demonstrating an aversion to Lightning. Calicott explained that the tech world could be warming up to Lightning:

“There is a growing and broad-based corporate tinkering with Lightning in particular right now. If they’re adjacent to payments, they would ignore Lightning at their peril.”

Google Cloud operates under the umbrella of its parent company, Alphabet. The payments platform Google Pay boasts hundreds of millions of users in more than 15 countries.

Since 2020, the investment arm of Google, Google Ventures (GV), has shown a robust interest in blockchain and Web3 companies, as well as Bitcoin. 

GV participated in a $6-million seed round for Voltage in 2021. For Calicott, the interest of such a big player in the crypto space could be a sign of growing momentum:

“I hate to over-index on any one particular corporation here, but just for me, like anything in life, when people put their money where their mouth is, it sends a very strong signal of where they’re focusing.”

Krizek agreed, “I think that this really is a big signal into enabling more Bitcoin-focused strategies amongst Google specifically, but also just larger organizations.”

Despite Apple striking off the Lightning-friendly app Damus — much to the chagrin of the former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey — Lightning continues to gain traction among billion-dollar businesses worldwide. One of Mexico’s largest companies has begun experimenting with Lightning, while two major crypto exchanges, Binance and Coinbase, recently promised Lightning integrations.

Related: The world’s biggest Bitcoin conferences: Decentralize with Cointelegraph

Nonetheless, it’s still early, and “we’ve got to observe this as it as it grows,” Calicott noted. Krizek, who’s seen his fair share of Bitcoin ups and downs, having participated in the Bitcoin space since 2012, underscored why the partnership is important:

“As we start to expose these organizations more so into Bitcoin and what is possible with it via Lightning, I think we’ve caught their attention already with the amount of interest and demand that we’ve had from this.”

He added that more services should be rolled out in the near future, complemented by efforts in Bitcoin education.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Heating a home with a Bitcoin miner: Staying warm with sats

https://cointelegraph.com/news/heating-a-home-with-a-bitcoin-miner-staying-warm-with-sats

Bitcoin (BTC) miners emit a lot of heat. 

Some miners use that heat to warm swimming pools, dehydrate meat to make beef jerky or even dry out timber at a Swedish hydropower Bitcoin farm. In Ireland, the “Bitcoin Farmer” joked that he hangs out laundry to dry in front of his Bitcoin miner.

Miner heat is not new to the Bitcoin industry. In the early days of Bitcoin, enthusiasts would mine the cryptocurrency with their everyday computers, leading to overheating and stories of uncomfortably warm environments.

Bitcoin mining has changed since the early days. With the markedly increased difficulty of solving hash computations on the Bitcoin blockchain, miners have ditched ubiquitous graphics processing units for more powerful application specific integrated circuits, or ASICS. However, heating and cooling still remain an issue.

In a nod to the future of capturing waste heat, Satoshi Nakamoto shared a message showing precognition:

“The heat from your computer is not wasted if you need to heat your home.” 

So why not take advantage of that heat and use it for productive resources? That’s exactly what I wanted to experiment with at my home near Lisbon, Portugal, this winter. 

Do-it-yourself solutions that utilize Bitcoin miner “waste” heat in the home are increasingly popular. However, it can be tricky. The #mine4heat hashtag on Twitter boasts Bitcoin hobbyists who can rewire and soundproof Bitcoin miners — without electrocuting themselves.

One savvy miner heats their mobile home, an airstream, while others have found ingenious ways to mine Bitcoin and keep their homes toasty:

However, for the “average Joe,” like me, it seems daunting. I’m a technologically stunted Bitcoin enthusiast who took years to run a node. So while the idea is appealing, I feared I might burn the house down. 

There are several heater-cum-Bitcoin mining companies, like Heatbit and BitHeater, which are aware of Bitcoin miners’ ability to make money while heating spaces, but also that there could be pent-up demand for a plug-and-play solution.

Heatbit founder Alex Busarov told Cointelegraph that while ease of use was appealing, the environmental use case for Bitcoin miner heat drove the mission: “We want to make mining truly green,” he said.

Busarov said, “The claims that ‘xx%’ of energy used for mining comes from renewable energy’ are misleading. While the number might sound impressive, it ignores the fact that this renewable energy would have been added to the grid if not used for industrial mining.”

“Bitcoin mining is only genuinely green when combined with heating; this way, no extra energy is consumed by mining.”

Busarov referred to the statistics and claims published by Bitcoin mining advocates, including that Bitcoin is the greenest industry and that Bitcoin mining incentivizes renewable energy buildout. Nonetheless, Bitcoin miners take a lot of heat even when using waste heat for productive purposes. 

Magazine: Bitcoin 2023 in Miami comes to grips with ‘shitcoins on Bitcoin’

Personally, I was more focused on the power draw of the Heatbit Bitcoin miners. If it consumes less electricity than my standard electric heaters, it would be a no-brainer for use over the winter — so I got my hands on one and put it to the test.

The result: for four months, I heated my small flat in Portugal with a Heatbit.

Set up

The package arrived in mid-November during an unseasonably hot spell. I lugged it upstairs, unboxed it and scanned the instructions. It seemed too good to be true. The instructions are idiot-proof.

Heatbit box. Cointelegraph slippers for scale.

I connected the Heatbit to power, downloaded the Heatbit app, and it quickly found the Heatbit device and synchronized. I selected the hot setting and soon felt a warm stream of air coming from the vent at the top. I pushed my ear to it and was surprised at how quiet it was.

Bitcoin miners are very, very loud when turned up full blast. Some residents of a Norweigan town have even made noise complaints about a nearby industrial-scale Bitcoin mine, but my fridge is much louder than the Heatbit.

I waited until I had mined one satoshi — less than a penny — which took about 15 minutes. By that point, the balcony enclosure of my flat was uncomfortably warm, so I turned it off.

Over the next few months, I turned the heater on and off, moving it around the flat on its two rear wheels.

Can you make money with it?

Technically yes — but not really. I raked in 30,000 satoshis during winter, which is just over $10.

The miner was whirring away for a couple of hours most evenings and in the mornings I was at home. Sadly, I wasn’t in Portugal a great deal, with trips to Senegal, Poland and Cape Verde during the winter. Had I been home, I would have netted another roughly 50,000 sats of “heat.”

Using the Heatbit during winter.

Moreover, my electricity bill was marginally lower than the previous winter, which is a minor success in light of double-digit inflation in Portugal. 

However, that misses the point. The Hearbit is a heater first and a Bitcoin miner second. The heat is smoother than my regular heater and requires zero maintenance (so far). Plus, as Busarov points out:

“We want to decentralize mining. It’s unlikely that Satoshi envisioned mining to be centralized in large farms. The ideal approach is ‘everyone contributing a bit.’”

The Heatbit contributes to the Nicehash mining pool. Some critics claim that mining pools lead to mining centralization — something the Bitcoin community is attempting to overcome with upcoming Stratum V2 upgrades to the mining algorithm. Nonetheless, there have been other unexpected consequences to running a Bitcoin miner. 

Living with a Bitcoin miner

In Portugal, central heating is rare. Most homes I’ve stayed in use oil heaters or electric heaters. The Heatbit quickly replaced my electric heater, which was more expensive due to its higher power draw. The miner is also quieter, and the heat emitted is consistent and less punchy. However, it’s also 10 times the price of my electric heater.

Interestingly, the Heatbit’s size and stature raise eyebrows and questions like, “What’s that?” among friends visiting my flat. Guests were surprised to learn that the white box was mining Bitcoin, as invariably, they thought that Bitcoin mining took place in giant data centers. I showed them how much I’d earned on my phone, and, in a way, the heater is an orange pilling aid.

As Busarov explains, the point of the Heatbit “is to expand the Bitcoin community.” “There are far more people using electric heaters than miners,” he said. Tools like easy-to-use at-home Bitcoin heater miners are another step toward greater adoption.

The downsides are the price tag and the size. The unit is large, heavy and costs over $1,000 brand-new. Given that in Portugal, I use a heater for four to five months a year, the Heatbit becomes a large paperweight from April to October.

Ultimately, it would take a few years to pay off at current price levels in a warm country like Portugal. Naturally, if the Bitcoin price were in the six figures, it would be a different story. 

Moreover, on Reddit and YouTube reviews, some users have reported problems with use and concerns about customer service.

Plus, the mainstream and plug-and-play nature of the Heatbit is contrary to the ethos of the DIY Bitcoin miners, who see the company as making a profit on something a person could do themselves. And fundamentally, Bitcoin was first propagated by hobbyists, so it’s understandable.

Developers working on works on the Heatbit One prototype. Source: Heatbit

To Heatbit’s credit, it listened. The company is introducing a smaller heater, the “Heatbit Mini,” from $299, in time for the next European winter. Busarov explains:

“We also added air purifying functionality, making the device usable all year round. And, as the name suggests, the [Heatbit] Mini is smaller in size — less than 50 cm tall — making it convenient to place in any room.”

The Heatbit Mini consumes 300 watts for mining and air purification, boostable to 1,300 watts of heat in the wintertime. The 300-watt setting still contributes the full 10 terrahashes per second, while the original Heatbit hash rate drops off as it dials down. 

Recent: Bitcoin ETF race begins: Has institutional trust returned to crypto?

That should mean you can run it all year round as an air purifier and a heater. Naturally, I’ve signed up for one.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

The world’s biggest Bitcoin conferences: Decentralize with Cointelegraph

https://cointelegraph.com/news/the-world-s-biggest-bitcoin-conferences-decentralize-with-cointelegraph

As the bear market rages on, the die-hards, evangelists and Bitcoin believers just keep building. In this week’s episode of Decentralize with Cointelegraph, reporter Joe Hall spoke to CEOs, key opinion leaders and cryptographic visionaries at two of the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) conferences: Bitcoin 2023 in Miami, Florida, and BTC Prague in the Czech Republic.

While BTC’s price has remained stubbornly under $30,000 in 2023, the Bitcoin 2023 conference welcomed 15,000 Bitcoin enthusiasts through its doors just off Miami Beach. In June, the first edition of BTC Prague set records as more than 7,000 attendees hit the Czech capital to learn about and interact with Bitcoin.

Despite taking place on different continents roughly two weeks apart, the themes and discussion points overlapped. Bitcoiners compared notes on the future of Bitcoin inscriptions known as ordinals, and some lamented the rise in “toxic” Bitcoin maximalism, but both conferences set out to achieve the goal of greater Bitcoin adoption.

While Bitcoin and crypto remain a niche interest for the general public, United States presidential candidates, massive companies like eToro, and even Stanford professors participating in the discussion at Bitcoin 2023 could indicate the “mainstream-ification” of the Bitcoin and crypto space.

Related: Bitcoin adoption in Mexico boosted by Lightning partnership with retail giant

As Christian Anders, CEO of BTC.X explained, “It’s so nice to attend a Bitcoin conference because it’s not just a conference. It’s like a big Christmas dinner.”

Ultimately, while the discussions centered around how to change the world using arguably better money in the form of Bitcoin, most Bitcoin advocates were simply enthused to rub shoulders with like-minded entrepreneurs. Obi Nwosu, CEO of Fedimint, told Cointelegraph:

“Everybody is really high energy, but also slightly exhausted. And the reason they’re exhausted is because they’re so busy because so much building is happening; so much stuff is coming back to Bitcoin or extending on Bitcoin.”

Indeed, from CEOs of companies building on Bitcoin with their own tokens, such as Muneeb Ali, CEO of Trust Machines and co-creator of Stacks, to Daniel Fogg of IOV Labs and Rootstock, the Bitcoin economy is a big tent in 2023.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Listen to this week’s episode of Decentralize with Cointelegraph for an on-the-ground investigation of the brightest minds in Bitcoin.

Crypto adoption in Cyprus beefed up by ByBit license approval

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bybit-gains-crypto-license-approval-in-cyprus

Crypto exchange Bybit has announced a license approval to operate as an exchange and custody service in Cyprus. The world’s third most visited crypto exchange will begin offering to trade between crypto and fiat currency pairs and crypto-related financial services.

Cyprus is the third most populous island in the Mediterranean Sea with a population of 1.2 million people. In a press release, Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit explained the importance of expanding the group’s global presence, highlighting crypto’s role as a way of opting out of the legacy financial system:

“We are excited to introduce the Crypto Ark to Cyprus.”

Cyprus is increasingly a crypto hotspot in the Mediterranean, in some parts driven by actions from the public sector. In 2022, Kyriacos Kokkinos, Republic then Cyprus Deputy Minister to the President for Research, explained that the country would become a hub for new disruptive technologies, including blockchain.

Historically, the Cypriot central bank warned against crypto; while a decade has passed since a run on Cypriot banks induced a 600% price increase for Bitcoin (BTC). In 2023, Cyprus expressed its intentions to adopt blockchain technologies, sharing the Distributed Ledger Technology Bill in 2021.

Nonetheless, adoption levels pale compared to those observed on the island of Malta, also situated in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta offers three times as many blockchain-related jobs per capita and is commonly referred to as “Blockchain Island,” while Bitcoin OGs, including Adam Back, speak highly of the crypto environment in Malta.

Related: Bitcoin adoption in Mexico boosted by Lightning partnership with retail giant

Furthermore, crypto industry behemoth Binance recently announced it would deregister in Cyprus. Initially headquartered in China, Binance now hosts offices worldwide and in crypto-friendly hotspots such as Dubai and Bahrain, and has besmirched Cyprus to focus on larger markets worldwide.

ByBit recognizes the “Immense potential of the Cyprus market,” while the newly approved license will make a contribution to the local cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Honk if you love Bitcoin! Lightning takes the wheel of a European rally car adventure

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-lightning-takes-the-wheel-of-european-rally-car-adventure

A Bitcoin-mobile (BTC) piloted by the “Bitcoin Ambassadors” team is competing in the 8,000-kilometer Baltic Sea Circle Rally race, orange-pilling competitors and campsites along the way. 

The car is adorned and sponsored by Bitcoin companies. Source: Cercatrova

Two Bitcoin advocates, Cercatrova, the democratically elected president of German-speaking Bitcoin community Einundzwanzig, and his copilot Daktari, set off on the orange-pilling adventure this week, attempting to pass through 9 Northern European countries, aiming to spread BTC adoption in their Bitcoin-branded car.

Speaking to Cointelegraph from somewhere above the Arctic Circle, Cercatrova explained:

“The whole rally is a charity rally; there are 150 teams or cars. It starts in Hamburg and goes up to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and around the Baltic Sea – it’s around 8,000 kilometres, 16 days and we’re the only Bitcoin team here–none of the other teams are cryptocurrency teams.”

The goal is to “Bring Bitcoin to the people,” while also raise money for two sources, a Panamanian coffee farmer and an El Salvadoran peer2peer ride sharing app developed on lightning. Naturally, they’ve been “orange pilling” or introducing people to Bitcoin along the journey.

Christian, founder of Seedor, a metal Bitcoin backup based in Germany who’s avidly following their journey told Cointelegraph that while in Norway “They orange pilled the campground.” The duo showed the campground owner how to pay in Bitcoin:

Cercatrova told Cointelegraph that so far they have discussed Bitcoin with at least 30 people as part of the rally as well as chance conversations with interested observers. Plus, passersby and overtakers can scan the QR code on the side of the car to receive free Satoshis, or small amounts of Bitcoin, to get started on their Bitcoin journey.

“So when somebody sees us and asks about Bitcoin, “how does it work?” We can actually take the people to our car and say, okay, just install a wallet and it’s done in about 30 seconds. And they’re amazed: ‘I didn’t have to fill out anything, didn’t have to take a passport or whatever.’ It just works,”

The car is also equipped with a candy machine that accepts Bitcoin, so noobies can spend their brand new Sats on candy, “just to see how it works,” Cercatrova explained.

The team’s location, northern Norway. Source: superlative-adventure.com

For the Bitcoin enthusiasts following at home, the car is Lightning-ready. A remote-play jukebox and a Lightning-switch horn can be paid to operate from all around the world. Fans and supporters worldwide are sending their song requests to the car’s Lightning-ready Telegram group, paying less than a dollar for the courtesy.

Lightning enthusiasts can also set off the car’s horn from thousands of miles away. The process uses a Lightning switch which turns on when it has received enough sats. Cercatrova explains:

“So on my Twitter feed is also the QR code, where you can scan the lightning invoice. And when you pay that, it’s about 3000 Sats to honk it once. And then our car honks!”

The honk is comically loud and playful, while the lightning jukebox playlist has featured metal to Mozart and German folk tunes to crypto classics such as Pump it Up. Cercatrova explained that the musical variation is a great source of fun and motivation:

“One time there is death metal and the other side it’s Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and it’s really crazy.”

To date, the Bitcoin Ambassadors rally team has raised approximately 4 million Satoshis or $1,200 for charity, although Cercatrova added “the next days and the willingness to send more Sats,” could drive the number higher. The drivers are about halfway through the journey, expecting to finish by the end of June.

Related: Wen Lambo fixed? Mechanic receives first payment in Bitcoin to mend Lamborghini

As vital research for this article, Reporter Joe Hall not only set off the horn during the phone interview but he also queued up a famous song by Rick Astley.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Bitcoin adoption in Mexico boosted by Lightning partnership with retail giant

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-adoption-in-mexico-boosted-by-lightning-partnership-with-retail-giant

The world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) conference, Bitcoin 2023, in Miami, Florida, passed without major fanfare this year. Past conferences announced nation-state adoption, massive crypto integrations in the United States, and islands and territories worldwide embracing Bitcoin

Nonetheless, at Bitcoin 2023, one partnership with a potentially significant impact on the world’s 15th-largest economy flew under the radar.

José Lemus, the CEO of Ibex Mercado, closed out the Bitcoin 2023 Industry Day. He announced a partnership with Grupo Salinas, one of Mexico’s largest corporate conglomerates. In brief, the collaboration would allow millions of Mexicans to pay their internet bills at popular telecoms company Total Play using the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Crucially, the Salinas Group owns tens of businesses across Mexico. Its billionaire founder, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, is the third-richest person in the country and a well-known Bitcoin maximalist.

Not only does the Bitcoin Lightning payments integration already deliver Bitcoin adoption to millions of Mexicans, but as Lemus explained to Cointelegraph, Total Play is one small retailer that’s part of the vast Salinas conglomerate:

“Imagine if Best Buy, Bank of America, Fox News and an NFL team were all owned by the same individual. All of them will have Lightning capabilities in the future.”

Lemus explained it’s just the “tip of the iceberg of what will go on in Mexico,” as more Bitcoin and Lightning integrations, and on and off-ramps attract more Bitcoin business. Speaking via video link, Lemus explained that fiat and Bitcoin can interact more freely in Mexico:

“Let’s say you have a wallet and you want to make Mexican pesos available in Mexico, or you have an exchange and you want to make the balances for your customers in Mexico. You can do that through CoinPro or through Grupo Salinas.”

The partnership is the beginning of Lightning functionality across Grupo Salinas. There will be a Lightning app “for employees, a super app for soccer teams to do something similar to what we have with the Perth Heat where we drive fan engagement with innovative ways.”

The Australian baseball team, Perth Heat, adopted a Bitcoin standard in 2021, with players earning salaries in Bitcoin and “Sats4Stats”, where players receive Bitcoin for hitting home runs. Plus, fan engagement activities use the Lightning Network. For example, during baseball games, “When a player steals a base, a QR flashes on screen and the first people that scan it get satoshis,” Lemus explained.

Players can send satoshis to players directly during Perth Heat baseball games. Source: PerthHeat.com.au

In the first year of operation, the Perth Heat players earned an extra 1% through Bitcoin, Lemus said on stage at Bitcoin 2023. “It’s still early” for such a technology, but an extra 1% is already encouraging. 

Grupo Salinas owns the Mexican football clubs, Mazatlán and Club Puebla. Fans could soon get their hands on free money — in the form of Bitcoin or satoshis — for simply scanning the QR code on the stadium screen when a player scores, just like with Perth Heat.

A snapshot of some of the Grupo Salinas brands spanning retail, banking, sports and advertising. Source: GrupoSalinas.com

Ibex Mercado understands the massive opportunity for financial inclusion offered by the Lightning Network. Lemus founded Ibex in neighboring Guatemala, and the company delivered the Lightning Network integration for El Salvador’s Chivo Wallet — which effectively banked millions of Salvadorans — two years prior.

Lemus explained that more Bitcoin adoption could improve the lives of unbanked and underserved populations. Moreover, financial inclusion goes beyond banking the unbanked:

“It’s the ability to raise funds for your company. It’s the ability to open yourself to a broader market. And that is what, for me, true financial inclusion is.”

Finally, Lemus highlighted the potential of Mexico as a Bitcoin destination: “I think that Mexico is going to be the place where this is going to take off.“ More broadly, 2022 was a promising year for Bitcoin and crypto adoption in the country, from crypto remittance companies establishing in Mexico to crypto exchange expansion.  

Related: Bitcoin adoption of Guatemalan merchants grows one BTC tattoo at a time

Does this mean that crypto enthusiasts may soon be able to live on Bitcoin like they can in El Salvador? Lemus replied:

“Let’s say you conduct most of your life in Bitcoin, I think 18 months is a reasonable target where you can do most of your life. But obviously, things like taxes and maybe rent will not run on Bitcoin yet.”

Similarly, the partnership with Grupo Salinas took 18 months of work and preparation, Lemus said. More partnerships and projects are on the horizon in Mexico, although it’s too early to share details, Lemus concluded.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

Bitcoin in Cuba: Why some Cubans are adopting BTC to escape ‘The Matrix’

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-in-cuba-interview-btc-advocate

Bitcoin adoption could swell in Cuba, particularly if private businesses understand the upside to accepting Bitcoin as currency. That’s according to a Cuban businessperson and Bitcoin advocate, Erich Garcia Cruz.

A recent emigrant to the United States, Cruz is a vocal proponent of Bitcoin adoption in Cuba. Cruz leads the remittance and money transfer services BitRemesas and QvaPay and has been outspoken in his support for his countrymen using Bitcoin since 2020.

In an interview with Cointelegraph as part of an upcoming documentary, Cruz explained that Cubans can use Bitcoin “as a tool.”

Photo of Erich and Joe during interview.

While some Cubans use Bitcoin as a store of value, a means of exchange, or a remittance tool, ultimately it’s about getting “out from the Matrix,” he explained. Cruz referred to the country’s centrally planned, and officially communist, economy.

There is no independent press in Cuba, while the historic United States trade embargo makes it very hard for Cubans to access American products, services, and even applications. Bitcoin is money independent of the state and has no leader or central party.

Cruz explained that during a visit to El Salvador in 2022, one of his friends asked “How do you teach about Bitcoin in Cuba if Cuba is run by a communist party?” Surely the party would be against Bitcoin?

“I don’t know if the government doesn’t know just how powerful Bitcoin is; they don’t know, and they are just thinking I’m teaching the people about coins in the casino, or if they are afraid of the hyper-Bitcoinization of the Cuban society.”

Cruz hints that the government may already have an understanding of how Bitcoin works, and maybe, “They can bypass some sanctions worldwide” using internet-based money.

Plus, since 2021 the government has been warming up to cryptocurrencies: private businesses can legally accept cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for goods and services. Cruz explains that more and more private businesses should accept cryptocurrency instead of the Cuban currencies of the Peso or the MLC (Moneda Libremente Convertible / freely convertible currency”):

“If you get paid with CUP or MLC, you are solving the customer’s problem, but you are creating a problem for you because owners are saying that then or later they will try to convert the CLP or MLC into international currency.”

The Cuban Peso has devalued by more than 800% since its inception. If a Cuban bought the absolute top of the Bitcoin bull run, $69,000, they would still have more value in Bitcoin than Pesos. Moreover, the MLC is a government-backed stablecoin used for purchases in state-run supermarkets. Cubans looking to save money typically do so in the US Dollar, and increasingly, Bitcoin.

MLC price movement as compared to USD and EUR since 2015.

Cruz shares the example of his father who bought a small amount of Bitcoin with his Cuban peso pension fund three years ago. The pension fund has dramatically lost value, as the Cuban Peso continues to devalue, while Bitcoin has not only retained, but also increased in purchasing power:

“It’s not financial advice but it’s better to store your value in Bitcoin than the CUP–a government-issued shitcoin.”

Nonetheless, despite the huge currency devaluation, Bitcoin suffers from a bad reputation in Cuba. Cruz was scammed by a crypto project before learning what Bitcoin is.

“We have no internet [in Cuba] until five years ago and Bitcoin is 14 years old. The first contact with Bitcoin in our society was through scams.”

Cuba has a highly educated population and university education is free, however, the island is sheltered from western influences and the internet is a relatively new tool. The internet, as Cruz points out, only began to penetrate the country in a meaningful way over the past five years.

Related: Cuba Bitcoin community hosts BTC-only meetup

Cruz’ work and that of the Cuban Bitcoin community targets private businesses in Cuba; an area in which Bitcoin adoption could thrive:

“You have to teach the people who have the power to embrace that solution. And that’s the private sector. Okay? There is no law. There is no law that forbids the business from accepting Bitcoin. Not yet.”

Cruz’ interview will feature in an upcoming documentary about Bitcoin in Cuba.

Magazine: Peter McCormack’s Real Bedford Football Club puts Bitcoin on the map

How Peter McCormack is turning an unknown town into a Bitcoin hub

https://cointelegraph.com/news/how-peter-mccormack-is-turning-an-unknown-town-into-a-bitcoin-hub

Can a football team backed by Bitcoin (BTC) really raise up a town? In the latest Cointelegraph Documentary, reporter Joe Hall investigates the impact of a Bitcoin football club, Real Bedford, on the small commuter town of Bedford in the United Kingdom. 

Peter McCormack, the renowned host of the “What Bitcoin Did” podcast, bought Real Bedford FC in 2021 during the peak of the Bitcoin bull run.

While many questioned his decision, McCormack saw an opportunity to revive a football club and promote Bitcoin adoption in his hometown. Two years later, Real Bedford has gained promotion, secured significant sponsorships, and attracted a legion of local and international fans.

As the video demonstrates, the club’s bright orange jerseys proudly display the Bitcoin logo, symbolizing its close association with the world’s largest digital currency. Before each game, Bitcoin meet-ups are organized, and influential figures from the Bitcoin world are invited to attend.

Naturally, the manager’s unconventional approach has sparked curiosity and criticism alike, with some locals skeptical of the Bitcoin branding and its implications. Hall asks locals in street interviews and pitchside conversations just how much influence the club has had on the town. Some are familiar with the Bitcoin takeover, others had never heard of McCormack, while the overarching sentiment was negative.

McCormack, however, aims to dispel misunderstandings and facilitate greater Bitcoin adoption through the football club. Rather than forcing the currency on the town’s residents, he believes in using the team as a Trojan horse to introduce them to Bitcoin gradually. The Real Bedford website even features a statement titled “Why you shouldn’t buy Bitcoin,” emphasizing the importance of education and responsible investment.

While Real Bedford remains a Bitcoin-only club, McCormack acknowledges the allure of other cryptocurrencies and crypto-related projects:

“If I did a shitcoin, I could raise a billion and I would get this club in the Premier League in nine years because you have the money to do it. I could build a £200 million stadium if I did a shit coin. It’s really tempting.”

Nonetheless, McCormack is committed to Bitcoin’s principles. He is convinced that through hard work, and the support of the Bitcoin community, Real Bedford could reach the Premier League in the 2030s.

Featuring interviews with Jeff Booth, Ben Arc, fans, and locals, The Real Bedford documentary will shed light on the Real Bedford story, showcasing the transformative power of Bitcoin in sports and local communities.

While the United Kingdom warms up to Central Bank Digital Currencies–despite the Bitcoin community’s best wishes–Bitcoin could lose a foothold in the country. In such an environment, Real Bedford is increasingly a beacon for Bitcoin adoption in the United Kingdom.

Related: Bitcoin soccer club Real Bedford FC wins the league

Overall, and to pinch Barcelona’s motto, Real Bedford is “mes que un club”, or “more than a club.” It’s a symbol of resilience, rebellion, and a real-world example of Bitcoin’s ability to raise up areas.

Magazine: Bitcoin is on a collision course with ‘Net Zero’ promises

Cuba Bitcoin community hosts BTC-only meetup

https://cointelegraph.com/news/cuba-bitcoin-community-hosts-btc-only-meetup

Cuba Bitcoin hosted the meetup at the Bitcoin-friendly bar and restaurant Pazillo. Cuba Bitcoin is a lively group of Bitcoin advocates and activists whose discussions on Telegram between anonymous social media accounts that hide people’s identities, had yet to make it into the real world.

The Cuba Bitcoin community complete with emojis to hide faces.

Cuba’s foray into Bitcoin signifies a departure from the centralized economic model that has shaped Cuba’s economic progress for decades. Despite limited internet access, financial constraints, and a socialist-styled government, the meetup underscored that Cubans are increasingly turning to crypto as a means of financial freedom and an “exit” from the local economy.

Co-founder of Cuba Bitcoin, Forte11 (not his real name) told Cointelegraph:

“The mission of the meetup is to educate–not convince Cubans about the potential of Bitcoin in Cuba. Each person has the freedom of expression to decide what they want to do. It’s education, education, and education first and foremost.”

While Bitcoin meet-ups in the Western World might be dominated by white, middle-aged men, Cuba’s Bitcoin-only meet-up included a wide range of characters. From small business owners to software developers to teenage students to grandmothers, more than 60 people turned up. Paco de la India, a Bitcoin vlogger and evangelist also attended, delivering a talk on Bitcoin adoption around the world.

Although Cuba is technically a centrally-planned economy, the state recently relaxed laws on private business ownership. This arena is the target market for Bitcoin merchant adoption, as coupled with the recent crypto regulations passed in Cuba, it is now legal to accept cryptocurrencies for goods and services.

To demonstrate this, the group sold Cuba Bitcoin t-shirts for 1,000 Satoshis ($0.30) so attendees would learn about the layer-2 lightning network. The T-shirts sold out.

Paying for T-shirts with Bitcoin Lightning during the meetup.

Nonetheless, the main talk of the day revolves around how to get one’s hands on Bitcoin. In a country where mobile Internet penetration remains relatively low and smartphones are not yet ubiquitous, downloading Bitcoin applications or wallets is out of reach for many Cubans.

What’s more, due to the US trade embargo, familiar exchanges, such as Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini are not welcome in Cuba. As a result, to buy Bitcoin, Cubans tend to do so the OG way, through peer-to-peer exchange.

Forte11 introduces “C” (face hidden) ahead of their talk on buying Bitcoin peer-to-peer.

Bitcoin Cuba co-founder “C” delivered a talk on how to buy bitcoin, peer-to-peer through telegram trading groups. Through a lightning-enabled tipping bot chat on Telegram, Cubans can buy bitcoin in exchange for Cuban pesos, or the Cuban MLC, which is a “dollar-backed” government-owned stablecoin. Mobile transfers can also make purchases as more and more Cubans access, government-run banking services. Most trades in the telegram groups range between $.20 to $50; the average Cuban owns just $40 a month.

Related: ‘The Bitcoin Standard’ author becomes economic adviser to El Salvador

A well-known Cuban crypto enthusiast, Erich Garcia Cruz also attended the meetup. He told Cointelegraph:

“Using Bitcoin you can be a freedom person. We have a lot of opportunity here if we teach to all the businesses to use Bitcoin as a payment method; to use Bitcoin as a freedom tool–as that’s the path.”

Now more than 10 businesses in Cuba’s capital, Havana, accept Bitcoin for goods and services. Buoyed by the success of the first Cuba Bitcoin meetup, the community intends to set up regular future meetups and events.

This interview is part of an upcoming Youtube documentary about Bitcoin adoption in Cuba. Subscribe here.

Bitcoin Lightning company River raises $35M amid ‘new wave of institutional adoption’

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-lightning-company-river-raises-35m-amid-new-wave-of-institutional-adoption

The tide might have gone out on Bitcoin Ordinals, but there’s a strong undercurrent of investments in Bitcoin-only companies. River, a U.S.-based Bitcoin (BTC) technology and financial services company is the latest to make a splash. 

River announced a $35 million Series B equity funding round despite the bear market. Kingsway Capital led the round, with notable contributions including Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, Cygni, Goldcrest and Valor Equity Partners.

According to Alex Leishman, the CEO of River, the new wave of Bitcoin interest is “largely driven by business and institutional adoption.” He added:

“It’s not fueled by hype. This year’s bank failures and bailouts have been a wake-up call, revealing the cracks of the traditional financial system and reminding us why Bitcoin is so important–it’s a secure path to a stronger and more transparent global economy.”

The San Francisco-based company manages one of the largest Bitcoin lightning nodes, enabling payments and managing liquidity for the Bitcoin Lightning Network.

Top Bitcoin Lightning nodes by capacity. Source: River.com

The River Lightning API enables companies to easily integrate with the Lightning Network. The service has already taken charge of one of the key players in the Bitcoin payments landscape; El Salvador’s Chivo wallet use River for near-instant and near-free Bitcoin payments.

River was an early adopter of the Lightning Network, similar to global crypto exchanges including Bitfinex and Kraken.

A snapshot of the River lightning node’s capacity and connected channels. Source: Mempool.space

Moreover, the world’s largest exchanges, Coinbase and Binance, may soon adopt Lightning as the world slowly warms up to the low-fee, high-throughput payments network. At the Advancing Bitcoin conference in London, River CEO Leishm told Cointelegraph:

“I still think that we are very early. Yeah, there’s a lot of cool things happening. We’re building this really amazing foundation protocol-wise.”

He said that it’s important to see more people “ working backward from the real human problems as well. We need more of that.” In light of the surge in mainchain transaction fees due to meme coin mania, more and more exchanges and crypto companies may turn to the Lightning Network as a solution.

Related: The state of the Bitcoin Lightning Network in 2023

River joins a burgeoning list of Bitcoin companies making raises during the bear market. Custody service provider Unchained Capital recently raised $60 million, while El Salvador’s education program received a flood of investments from Bitcoin advocates around the world.

Pepe would be ashamed by PEPE investors

https://cointelegraph.com/news/pepe-would-be-ashamed-by-pepe-investors

Death threats, viral rap videos and a stream of frog-themed insults. That’s the state of my social media profiles after hosting a Twitter Space on May 8 about PEPE, the new token based on the “Pepe” meme.

Poignantly hosted during a monumental PEPE price crash, Cointelegraph set out in the May 8 Twitter Space to understand the token. Why had it surged so quickly? What separates PEPE from the thousands of other memecoins and dozens of other PEPE tokens? And what’s the duration of these token projects?

The backlash was “ribbiting.”

Though we endeavored to talk about PEPE’s popularity, I ended up enduring rather grim — if predictable — personal outcomes.

I’ve been memed into myriad amphibian images, someone painted a Microsoft Paint Pepe portrait of me, I feature in a rap song, I’ve received over 100 written insults in my Twitter DMs, and I’ve been photoshopped into weird and wonderful frog poses.

On top of that, one of the speakers on the Twitter Space, Irina Heaver — a lawyer based in Dubai — has received personalized death threats. (She’s OK, by the way.)

So, what on earth is going on? How is a token that’s barely one month old generating such high levels of harassment, toxic behavior and diehard commitment?

Every frog has its day

The PEPE token hopped over a $1 billion market cap this week. The milestone meant that a meme token that is “completely useless” — according to the PEPE website — now exceeds the gross domestic product of some countries.

Kudos to PEPE. It has shown us that even the most unassuming of memes (with a somewhat checkered past) can transform into billion-dollar success stories. It’s an amphibious achievement that has presumably left the somewhat “traditional” cryptocurrencies green with envy. 

Related: Brian Armstrong promised me $100 in Bitcoin — so where is it?

As the latest ERC-20 token to amass a significant social media presence, PEPE proponents project a peaceful and “happy” community that protests against crypto venture capitalists.

The project’s Telegram group includes more than 43,000 members, a fraction of the more than 100,000 PEPE hodlers. The idea behind the group is to be “positive” and “happy,” and to “onboard new people into the [crypto] industry.”

Memes and fun internet culture aside, the PEPE community has also threatened to “end my career,” making death threats and creating viral EDM and rap videos of my panelists and me.

Heaver, who joined the Twitter Space halfway through, has received death threats from the community. During the Space, Heaver, tongue in cheek, said, “I am legally predicting it will go to zero.” 

The PEPE community did not see the irony in her prediction. They subsequently took to doxing info related to Heaver and her credentials, peppering her profile with hate mail and imagery.

Asked to comment for this column in the aftermath of the event, Heaver told Cointelegraph: “I refuse to comment since my family members are being threatened, and I refuse to engage in such antics.”

Bleak, but so what? This is crypto. Cointelegraph and Heaver were “fudding” PEPE. It serves us right for repeating that the meme token has no purpose except entertainment.

Plus, PEPE is not the first challenging crypto community — nor will it be the last. I’ve had my fair share of “fun” with the Cardano community, and I’ve had a few scrapes with the toxic Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists, a subset of the broader Bitcoin community. They employ acronyms such as GFY (go fuck yourself) and HFSP (have fun staying poor) at leisure. 

According to a Reddit discussion, certain members of the SafeMoon crypto community are still the most toxic of all time. It plays out “like a soap opera” or a “warzone.” That token is down 99% from its all-time high.

Incidentally, the PEPE token crypto community was kicked out of the original Pepe Reddit community, right after the Reddit mods removed the subreddits’ question, “Do you know why they buy useless tokens?” Henceforth, the PEPE token crypto community is now separated from the Reddit Pepe community.

Could Pepe croak the Doge? Could it leapfrog the Shib?

Meme tokens are tokens and sometimes even cryptocurrencies derived from internet memes or culture, made for the sole purpose of profit and entertainment. Dogecoin (DOGE) was the first and most recognizable of the lot — created on a whim in 2013. Dogecoin was a fork of LuckyCoin (LKY), which in turn was a fork of Litecoin (LTC), which was itself forked from Bitcoin.

There have been thousands of meme tokens since Dogecoin. Shiba Inu (SHIB) at one point surpassed Dogecoin in market cap, a huge victory for the dog token that missed out on the first-woofer advantage.

PEPE believers reckon the dogs have had their day; PEPE now rules the swamp. If PEPE does a 5x, it will surpass Shiba; a 10x puts it ahead of Dogecoin. Could that happen?

Well, much like the other meme tokens that have done well, PEPE benefits from:

  • Unit bias — i.e., you can buy thousands of PEPE tokens for a few dollars, so buyers feel “rich.”
  • A fun but evidently toxic community backed by a popular internet-native meme.
  • Influencer participation and encouragement (although the PEPE community asserts that influencers are not involved).
  • A desire to fight back and stick it to the man! The overriding sentiment during the Twitter Space was that PEPE holders want to fight back against the VCs. It’s a shame GameStop was not able to trademark that narrative!

On the other hand, I’m still working to discern what elevates PEPE above other meme tokens. I asked that question a couple of times during the Twitter Space. The answers harked back to the “community” and “fighting back” against the VCs. Several speakers insisted that there was no VC involvement during the token launch, but we’ve seen this with every meme mania.

The Ethereum contract states: “Pepe is a community based memecoin with one mission: to make memecoins great again.”

However, in the PEPE Telegram group and on the website, the community regularly dunks on the dog tokens. I guess that, in a way, that’s a unique feature.

Related: Most blockchain advocates haven‘t even used Bitcoin

Personally, what I like about the token is that it doesn’t even pretend to be a cryptocurrency.

It has no blockchain, roadmap, utility or purpose — except entertainment. There are no plans to make it “useful” either. Technically, it’s not even a cryptocurrency, unlike DOGE, SHIB or the other wanna-be crypto dog tokens.

And this might not be such a bad thing for the “crypto” industry. A move away from weak promises of decentralized finance yield projects, algorithmic stablecoins or the tokenization of real-world items and a shift toward good old-fashioned gambling — but with a cause — bizarrely feels more honest.

It’s just that instead of buying casino chips, investors are buying into a toad-alitarian community hellbent on spamming social media in a desperate attempt to become king of the swamp.

Would Pepe be proud?

Joe Hall joined Cointelegraph as a reporter in 2021. He holds an MA in French and Spanish from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in economics from Sciences Po Lyon.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Bitcoin fee spike spurs shift to Lightning Network: Binance and Coinbase line up

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-fee-spike-spurs-shift-to-lightning-network-binance-and-coinbase-line-up

The recent surge in Bitcoin (BTC) transaction fees has lit a fire under one of the largest crypto exchanges to upgrade to the Bitcoin Lightning Network. Following a second halt in withdrawals, Binance announced it would work on “enabling BTC Lightning Network withdrawals, which will help in such situations.”

The Lightning Network (LN, for short, or simply, “Lightning”) is a federated system for cheap, near-instant, payments built atop Bitcoin. When the Bitcoin mempool (the space that transactions gather before being confirmed) is full or busy, the lightning network is unaffected.

To date, several large crypto exchanges have integrated the Lightning Network, including Bitfinex, River, OKX, Kraken and CoinCorner. If implemented correctly, the Lightning Network would allow users to withdraw and send Bitcoin immediately from wallets, sidestepping the congested Bitcoin blockchain.

The largest crypto exchange in the United States, Coinbase, is also warming up to the LN. Further to comments that CEO Brian Armstrong would integrate the LN soon, Armstrong finally sent Cointelegraph reporter Joe Hall $100 over the Lightning Network, demonstrating that he is familiar with the network.

European Bitcoin exchanges are also embracing the LN. Adem Bilican, the CTO of Swiss-based Bitcoin exchange, Relai, told Cointelegraph:

“We believe that Bitcoin is the best savings technology ever invented. But you should be able to spend and send BTC as fast and cheaply as possible. The Lightning Network is the best solution to tackle that, no matter how the on-chain transaction fees look.”

Swiss Bitcoin exchange, PocketBitcoin recently tweeted it would “get this Lightning thing started,” in response to higher and higher fees on the Bitcoin Basechain.

Related: Bitcoin Lightning Network capacity strikes 5K BTC

However, given that the LN is a relatively new solution in the crypto space, payment failure can occur. The network is growing and scaling organically, but more liquidity may help the network scale faster. Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Bitfinex shed light on the situation: 

“The Bitfinex node is the most interconnected node on the entire Lightning Network. It is also the biggest, providing liquidity to most of the other nodes. Hence the chances of failure are extremely low.”

True to form, the Bitfinex CTO tweeted in response to the high fees that users should ask their crypto exchange of choice to integrate LN. Binance and Coinbase are hopping on board, other large exchanges Gemini, KuCoin and ByBit have yet to announce or discuss implementing the LN.

Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Bitcoin takes flight in Liechtenstein: Minister proposes government services paid in crypto

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-takes-flight-in-liechtenstein-minister-proposes-government-services-paid-in-crypto

Liechtenstein Prime Minister Daniel Risch announced plans to accept Bitcoin (BTC) as a form of payment for government services. As reported in local news, the micro-European nation continues to embrace blockchain technologies. 

Risch, who also serves as finance minister is quoted as saying:

“A payment option with Bitcoin is coming.”

However, he did not give a timeframe. Moreover, the principality is unlikely to accept Bitcoin and “HODL” or hold onto the Satoshis it receives. Instead, it will accept deposits in Bitcoin and immediately exchange them for the Swiss franc, the national currency. The direct exchange into fiat money sidesteps the currency’s volatility.

Despite not being an EU member, Liechtenstein is part of the European Economic Area (EEA), where the EU’s forthcoming Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation could apply. This regulatory clarity could attract more crypto firms to the region.

Similar to Gibraltar or the Isle of Man, Lichtenstein is a small but thriving cryptocurrency hub in Europe. The Liechtenstein Blockchain Act passed in 2019, provided dedicated crypto regulation, and several crypto-focused businesses have since set up operations in the country.

The nation follows a similar course to the nearby Swiss communities of Zug and Lugano, which accept Bitcoin for some taxes, and public services and retailers, including the likes of McDonald’s.

Nonetheless, the sixth smallest nation in the world is cautious in its approach to investing in Bitcoin or crypto. Risch expressed that Bitcoin and other cryptos are currently too risky for the country’s multi-billion dollar treasury–but the verdict may change in the future.

Related: Liechtenstein adapts blockchain laws to developing crypto landscape

This move by Liechtenstein coincides with a growing trend of smaller nations embracing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Bitcoin crowdfunding is Lightning: El Salvador school program hits 1 BTC in donations

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-crowdfunding-is-lightning-el-salvador-school-program-hits-1-btc-in-donations

There’s a beacon of light in the bear market tunnel. The El Salvador nonprofit program, “My First Bitcoin” (Mi Primer Bitcoin), raised over 1 Bitcoin (BTC) in donations-not from venture capitalists and investors–but from generous Bitcoin education advocates worldwide.

Donations flooded in from Venezuelans, Poles and Canadians as 100s of people around the world sent Satoshis (small parts of Bitcoin) over the Lightning Work, to fund the expansion of My First Bitcoin’s Bitcoin Diploma program.

Cointelegraph wrote to John Dennehy, founder of the My First Bitcoin program to understand how the crowdfunding campaign reached 1 BTC in less than three weeks. Dennehy told Cointelegraph, “Bitcoin’s greatest potential is empowering the individual and making it easy to donate value is a big part of that.”

“Bitcoin crowdfunding makes it possible for anyone to participate, which is revolutionary when compared to the existing fiat system that restricts who can participate. This is a way to level the playing field.”

As opposed to Paypal or GoFundMe, Bitcoin’s censorship-resistant and self-sovereign properties make it one of the most efficient ways of sending money online. Plus, it’s far cheaper. Money is sent over the layer-2 Lightning Network, which costs a fraction of legacy payment services. Dennehy explains:

“Bitcoin crowdfunding is an example of how Bitcoin allows people to take control of their own money.”

The crowdfunding campaign was boosted by efforts made by Bitcoin Beach, the Bitcoin circular community in El Zonte, on El Salvador’s Pacific Coast. Bitcoin Beach was the spark that led to Bitcoin being declared legal tender in El Salvador in 2021. On April 27, Bitcoin Beach declared it would match all donations to the project until midnight on April 27:

However, the campaign had begun with lightning fast levels of generosity. Metamick, the founder of Geyser, told Cointelegraph it’s “Definitely the biggest educational project on Geyser ever! Insane traction in just a day!” Adding that it’s also the third largest crowdfund ever on Geyser after one day.

Related: El Salvador’s ‘My First Bitcoin’: How to teach a nation about crypto

Indeed, in April, the Bitcoin crowdfunding platform Geyser hit a new record, reaching over 2 BTC sent in donations:

Source:@kerooke Twitter 

In all, despite the fact that the Bitcoin price grinds lower–and wipes out traders–the Bitcoin community continues to build and educate. Dennehy sums it up:

“We are inspired everyday by the support we receive from the Bitcoin community. We couldn’t do what we do without it.”

To date, My First Bitcoin has educated 6,000 students in El Salvador. Cointelegraph attended the second graduation ceremony in San Marcos in November 2021.

Magazine: What it’s actually like to use Bitcoin in El Salvador

Bitcoin metrics to the moon: ATH for hash rate, daily transactions and Ordinals

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-metrics-to-the-moon-ath-for-hash-rate-daily-transactions-and-ordinals

A lot of Bitcoin (BTC) miners just came online. The Bitcoin hash rate, or the total computing power of the Bitcoin blockchain, just soared to 439 exahash per second (EH/s). Moreover, the number of transactions the Bitcoin blockchain processed in one day exceeded 682,000, as over 300,000 Ordinals were inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain. 

The hashrate, in orange, soars to 439 EH/s. Source: timechainstats.

These milestones demonstrate the network’s strength and stability, as well as the increasing adoption of Bitcoin for various use cases, all while the banking sector in the United States fractures.

The Bitcoin hash rate, a measure of the computational power dedicated to securing the blockchain, has reached an all-time high, signifying increased confidence in the network’s security. The hash rate is a crucial indicator of the network’s health, as a higher hash rate means more miners are participating, thus making the network more resistant to attacks.

The surge in hash rate reflects growing investments in mining infrastructure despite fluctuations in the price of Bitcoin. More and more territories and regions around the world are mining Bitcoin, with increasing amounts of renewable energy, allaying fears of centralization or environmental impacts that have shrouded Bitcoin mining in the past.

However, as Denver Bitcoin, a well-known Bitcoin miner with Upstream Data Inc, points out, the hash rate surge may be short-lived. It’s important to “Watch 1500-block to 5k-block avg time to get an understanding of true hashrate,” he shared in a tweet:

The hash rate may be temporarily surging–partly driven by a resurgence in the popularity of Bitcoin ordinal inscriptions. Bitcoin ordinals are unique, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) built on the Bitcoin network, each representing a distinct position in the Bitcoin blockchain. Each ordinal is “inscribed” on a Satoshi (the smallest denomination of a Bitcoin), and owners can prove digital ownership of their Sat.

Ordinals have gained traction among collectors, investors, and enthusiasts, offering a new way to engage with the Bitcoin ecosystem. Bitcoin ordinals fan Dan Held, for example, shares that altcoin advocates engage with Bitcoin for the first time due to their creation.

Ordinals reach 3 million.Source: Dune

The number of inscriptions in a 24-hour period exceeded 350,000 on May 1, as the total number of ordinals exceeded 3 million. Given that each ordinal inscription also counts as a transaction, the number of Bitcoin transactions has also soared.

Daily transactions reach 682,000. Source: timechainstats

As more people buy, sell, and trade Bitcoin ordinals, the number of daily transactions on the network has significantly increased to 682,000. The mempool, or the “waiting area” for incoming transactions before they are confirmed, is currently very busy. The cheapest transaction fee sits at 8 sat/vB, or about $0.30–way above its lows of 1 sat/vB. If users are looking to send money to wallets on the Bitcoin base chain, the costs are significantly higher than usual due to the surging number of ordinal inscriptions.

Related: ​​Bitcoin Ordinals community debates fix after inscription validation bug

For some, Bitcoin ordinals offer another role for the network that goes above its activities as a store of value and medium of exchange. For others, such as Dr. Adam Back, number 76 on Cointelegraph’s Top 100, ordinals are useless.

Cointelegraph Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Bhutan mines Bitcoin with hydropower since BTC price was $5,000

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bhutan-bitcoin-mining-with-hydropower-since-btc-price-was-5-000

The Kingdom of Bhutan is bullish on Bitcoin (BTC). Following the revelation that the small Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has been quietly accumulating crypto, the country is also mining Bitcoin. Moreover, the country of less than 800,000 people leverages green energy to power its Bitcoin mining operations.

Known for its focus on “Gross National Happiness” and picturesque landscapes, Bhutan has found ways to harness its immense hydroelectric potential, which accounts for 30% of its GDP.

First reported in an exposé in local Bhutanese News followed by inquiries from Forbes, Bhutanese officials had confirmed that mining began when the price of Bitcoin was around $5,000 in April 2019. The price per Bitcoin has since soared to roughly $28,000 per coin. 

The Kingdom has reportedly explored partnerships to expand its mining operations further. Notably, it is negotiating with Nasdaq-listed mining company Bitdeer to secure 100 MW of power for a Bitcoin mining data center in Bhutan. This partnership would increase Bitdeer’s mining capacity by about 12%.

The scale of Bhutan’s mining operations remains a mystery, with little information available about the location, size, and profitability of its mining farms. Some employees of Druk Holding & Investments (DHI) have listed “crypto mining” as their tasks and skills on their LinkedIn profiles.

It is also unclear why the government chose not to disclose this project to its citizens or international partners. However, it is known that the state-owned holding company, DHI, has invested millions of dollars in cryptocurrency holdings, with the funds managed on behalf of its people.

Although mainstream media would indicate the contrary, Bitcoin mining is the world’s cleanest industry: more than 50% of its energy sources are from renewable or clean energy sources. Bitcoin mining advocates, such as chairman of MicroStrategy Michael Saylor, explain that  “99.92% of carbon emissions in the world are due to industrial uses of energy other than bitcoin mining.” Due to cheap, abundant hydroelectric power, DHI reported that Bhutan is an ideal destination for mining Bitcoin.

Related: How Bitcoin mining saved Africa’s oldest national park from bankruptcy

Bhutan adds to a long list of regions from East Africa to Scandinavia mining Bitcoin with hydropower, one of the cheapest clean energy sources available.

Cointelegraph reached out to Druk Holding and Investments and will update the article when a comment is received. 

Cointelegraph Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

The Bitcoin Transition: How HODLers can become changemakers and drive adoption

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-transition-how-hodlers-can-become-changemakers-and-drive-adoption

If Bitcoin (BTC) were a country, it might be one of the biggest in the world. That’s according to Jeff Booth, general partner at Bitcoin venture fund Ego Death Capital and author of “The Price of Tomorrow.” Cointelegraph spoke to Booth to better understand–and visualize–the state of the Bitcoin movement in 2023. 

Booth sat down to enjoy a pint and a chat about Bitcoin in Bedford, a small suburban town that has attracted Bitcoin advocates and key opinion leaders from all over the world. Booth commented on the emergence and resilience of the Bitcoin community in the 2020s decade and how people can get involved personally.

Jeff Booth (right) speaks to Cointelegraph’s Joe Hall

Booth suggested that the Bitcoin community could usher in a fundamental change to the world if its members dedicated more of their time to the cause. “If all of those people just said, I’m moving and spending more of my time in this to massively step-change the adoption rate,” Booth told Cointelegraph.

The Bitcoin HODLers, those that “hold” onto their Bitcoin in the hopes of the currency one-day reaching mass adoption, are the backbone of Bitcoin. However, if more of those people could actively use their Bitcoin, the movement could pick up steam and reach its goal faster, Booth argues:

“It would be staggering if the people that were just holding as a hedge decided, I’m going to advance, I’m going to spend more time in the world I want to see and move their time and attention there. The world would move there. I saw it in myself.”

From simple steps such as asking if merchants accept Bitcoin to choosing to accept Bitcoin as a preferred means of exchange at businesses, there are certain moves that people can make in order to further the cause. In-person Bitcoin meetups also contribute. Booth commented on the impact of the Bitcoin-themed Real Bedford football team; it’s a means of introducing Bitcoin to a wider audience:

“He’s [Peter McCormack is] using this vehicle to advance a whole bunch of other stuff, which is really cool.”

Peter McCormack told Cointelegraph in a separate interview that the Bitcoin movement in 2023 isn’t just about Bitcoin: “It’s Nostr, it’s Bitcoin, it’s mainstream media lies, it is poor governance and regulation.” NOSTR is a decentralized protocol championed by Bitcoin advocates. The NOST applications such as Damus, seek to compete with Twitter and other popular social media platforms.

Booth shared that there are more and more ways to use and engage with Bitcoin since his initiation into Bitcoin–sometimes referred to as taking the “orange pill.” The Canadian observes that the payments network, the Lightning Network, and Fedimint, a solution for shared custody, present more ways for Bitcoin enthusiasts to get stuck in. Moreover, a lot of engagement and interaction within these Bitcoin subsets takes place online:

“It’s amazing how many friends that I’ve actually never met–and I consider them close friends that over time you develop these relationships–these online relationships that you’ve never met.”

That said, “There is something about meeting in person and spending that time going deeper doing this. Right, and there’s something about that that can’t be I don’t think can be replaced online.” Initiatives like McCormack’s in Bedford help bridge that gap and encourage Bitcoiners to engage with the local community.

Related: What security? Bitcoin enthusiast cracks known 12-word seed phrase in minutes

Plus, given that Bitcoiners are currently distributed across the globe–with communities popping up in Senegal, Guatemala and Vietnam, Booth sees potential for local network effects to develop.

“How many Bitcoiners are actually just holding it and are waiting?” He asked.

“It would be staggering if just the people that were just holding as a hedge decided, ‘I’m going to advance, I’m going to spend more time in the world I want to see’ and move their time and attention there.”

Ultimately, Booth concludes, “The world would move there.”

This interview is part of an upcoming documentary about Bitcoin in Bedford shown on Cointelegraph’s Youtube. Subscribe here.

Cointelegraph Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Bitcoin advocate cracks known 12-word seed phrase in minutes

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-advocate-cracks-known-12-word-seed-phrase-in-minutes

A systems architect cracked a seed phrase and won a 100,000 Satoshi bounty, or 0.001 Bitcoin (BTC), worth $29, in just under half an hour. Cointelegraph spoke to Andrew Fraser in Boston, who underscored how critical it is to keep a Bitcoin wallet seed phrase secure and offline. 

A seed phrase or recovery phrase is a string of random words generated when a wallet is created that can access the wallet, similar to a master key. Fraser brute forced a 12-word seed phrase that Bitcoin educator “Wicked Bitcoin” shared on Twitter:

As shown, Wicked’s Tweet challenged users to decipher the correct order of the 12-word seed phrase.

“Anyone wants to try and brute force this 12-word seed phrase securing 100,000 sats? I’ll give you all 12 words but in no particular order. Standard derivation path m/84’/0’/0’…no fancy tricks. GL.”

It took just 25 minutes to unlock the 100,000 Satoshis–or just under $30. The incident serves as a timely reminder for Bitcoin users and crypto enthusiasts to take crypto security seriously.

Fraser cracked the code using BTCrecover, a software application available on GitHub. The software offers a range of tools that can determine seed phrases with missing or scrambled mnemonics and passphrase-cracking utilities. Over Twitter DMs, Fraser told Cointelegraph:

“My gaming GPU was able to determine the correct order of the seed phrase in about 25 minutes. Though a more capable system would do it much faster.”

He noted that anyone with a basic knowledge of running Python scripts, using the Windows command shell, and understanding the Bitcoin protocol–particularly BIP39 mnemonics– should be able to replicate his success.

Cointelegraph queried Fraser about the security of 12-word seed keys. Fraser explained they are “perfectly secure if the words remain unknown to an attacker or there is a passphrase ’13th seed word’ used in the derivation path of the wallet.”

Moreover, he emphasized the superior security of 24-word seed keys.

“Even if an attacker knew the out of order words of your 24-word seed key, they would never stand a hope of discovering the correct seed.”

Fraser broke down the entropy calculations to explain the difference in security between the two types of seed keys. A 12-word seed has approximately 128 bits of entropy, while a 24-word seed boasts 256 bits. When an attacker knows the unordered words of a 12-word seed, there are only around half a billion possible combinations, which is relatively easy to test with a decent GPU. A 24-word seed, however, has roughly 6.24^24 possible combinations–and that’s a lot of zeros. 

Related: The worst places to keep your crypto wallet seed phrase

Even the probability of an attacker cracking a 12-word seed phrase is borderline absurd. 24-word seed phrases may be superior, but as Wicked points out in a post-mortem to the seed phrase challenge; “it’s not going to be hacked tbh.”

Ultimately, it’s a timely reminder to readers to ensure seed phrases are never published or shared online. That means a seed phrase should not be stored in a password manager, a cloud storage solution, and they certainly should not be typed out into a phone. 

Fraser also stressed the importance of keeping seed keys secret and to take advantage of a passphrase that functions as part of the derivation path. As for the 100,000 Sats Fraser took home? Fraser tweeted that he spent them on dinner that night: Chicken Marsala. Talk about circular economy. 

Cointelegraph Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Global impact of a Bitcoin soccer club: Decentralize with Cointelegraph

https://cointelegraph.com/news/global-impact-of-a-bitcoin-soccer-club-decentralize-with-cointelegraph

This week’s episode of the Decentralize with Cointelegraph podcast takes a deep dive into Bitcoin (BTC) in Bedford. A Bitcoiner from the English town near London is turning heads and raising his town’s profile after buying his local soccer club, Real Bedford.

Peter McCormack, who took the No. 38 spot on Cointelegraph’s 2023 Top 100, hosts a Bitcoin podcast and is an avid soccer fan. At the start of the soccer season in August 2022, he told Cointelegraph that winning the league would put Bedford on the Bitcoin map.

Cointelegraph’s Joe Hall pitchside with Peter McCormack.

Nine months on, Real Bedford has fulfilled that promise. It won the United Kingdom’s South Midlands League and was promoted. However, has the move from the Bitcoin soccer club galvanized the locals or just grated on them? And how does running it work on the ground?

Cointelegraph traveled to Real Bedford’s final home game of the season to interview fans, locals and Bitcoin advocates from around the world to understand the whys and hows of the Bitcoin soccer club. From the club’s commentator to a Liberal Democrat councillor to well-known Bitcoin advocate Jeff Booth, this week’s podcast takes listeners on a whistlestop tour of Bedford.

Cointelegraph speaks with locals in the Bedford town center. 

An underdog story that explores themes of competition, community and Bitcoin awareness in the United Kingdom, it’s clear that Real Bedford has taken the Bitcoin community by storm.

Cointelegraph also caught up with McCormack pitchside during his What Bitcoin Did podcast live event to quibble about whether he was pursuing a personal passion project or the stakes were greater.

Moreover, with the price per Bitcoin still wallowing under $30,000, the production seeks to highlight that there is more than a speculative streak to the world’s largest cryptocurrency. McCormack explained:

“I think the thing about Bitcoin now is it’s not about Bitcoin. It’s Nostr, it’s Bitcoin, it’s mainstream media lies, it is poor governance and regulation.”

It’s not about “I’m going to get Bedford to buy Bitcoin,” he continued. He wants to be careful in curating the club’s image in the town,  and the Real Bedford website even has a blog post titled “Why you shouldn’t buy Bitcoin.”

The headline, however, is that this lower-league football team appears to be evolving into a bastion for Bitcoin adoption in the United Kingdom — listen to the Decentralize with Cointelegraph podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or your favorite platform to learn how.

Bitcoin Lightning Network is 1,000x cheaper than Visa and MasterCard: Data

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-lightning-network-is-1-000x-cheaper-than-visa-and-mastercard-data

Fresh data from Glassnode demonstrates that Bitcoin’s (BTC) Lightning Network is significantly cheaper to use than legacy payment networks.

The median fee rate, or the cost of sending value across the Lightning Network, is 0.0029%, 1,000 times cheaper than that of MasterCard of Visa payment processors. 

James Check, lead analyst at Glassnode, told Cointelegraph that the median fee rate, or the fee charged per 1 BTC sent across the Lightning Network, is currently 3,000 Satoshis (the smallest unit of Bitcoin). That is “equivalent to $0.84 to send $28,800 worth of value […] which is a fee of 0.0029%.”

“Pretty remarkable when you think about it.”

In a post on the Nostr social media protocol, Bitcoin analyst Dylan LeClair noted that this rate is many times less than that charged by major credit card companies. 

The Lightning Network, a layer-2 payments solution built atop the world’s largest cryptocurrency was first proposed as a way to make Bitcoin effective as a payment method. These data points demonstrate that it is not only fast but low-cost,  with the mean fee rate has been steadily trending lower since November 2021.

Source: Glassnode

Legacy payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard charge merchants a fee of around 2-3% per transaction, making them an expensive option for businesses. In an upcoming Cointelegraph documentary shot in Cape Verde, the business owner of one of the few businesses to accept Bitcoin explained that accepting foreign Visa and Mastercard costs over 8%.

Moreover, Glassnode’s Check referred to users who run their own nodes and manage their own channels. Many Lightning users take advantage of custodial wallets, such as Wallet of Satoshi and Alby to make micropayments on social media apps such as Nostr.

Some Bitcoin early adopters have noted the growing preference for custodial solutions (as the Bitcoiner mantra is “not your keys, not your coin”), although semi-custodial solutions such as Fedi and Cashu could undermine reliance on fully custodial solutions. 

Related: MicroStrategy’s Saylor fuses work email address with Bitcoin Lightning

Furthermore, the throughput of the Lightning Network could be called into question. Check explained:

“Of course, we must also consider that the typical channel is smaller than 1 BTC. The median channel size is 0.02 BTC and the mean is 0.08 BTC, so overall the Lightning Network remains well suited to payments below $1,000.”

In the below graph, the channel size is trending higher but still well under $10,000. In such an environment, payments over $1,000 may be better suited to the Bitcoin base chain in order to avoid payment failure or misfire. 

Related: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Bitcoin soccer club Real Bedford FC wins the league

https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-soccer-club-real-bedford-fc-wins-the-league

The so-called Bitcoin (BTC) soccer team, Real Bedford Football Club, won the United Kingdom’s South Midlands League for the 2023 season. 

Fans from all over the world, from Vancouver to Beijing, flew in to watch the last home game and see the trophy raised. 327 fans turned up, many of whom had traveled thousands of miles across the globe to watch a non-national league soccer team in a North London town.

At the first home game of the season in 2022, Bitcoin podcaster and club chairman Peter McCormack told Cointelegraph that he bought Bedford FC and rebranded it to be Bitcoin-friendly Real Bedford, sharing his vision of one day owning an English Football League side. The move would also put his beloved town of Bedford on the Bitcoin world map.

Pitchside and jubilant nine months later, McCormack told Cointelegraph that he’s now one step closer to realizing his soccer league dream. Moreover, the fans and the critics are starting to believe:

“It’s an underdog story. The thing is, it’s got more meaning now because there’s coming out and saying ‘Yeah, I’m going to buy a football team -making a Bitcoin team and getting it in the Premier League’. And everyone’s like, ‘Yeah, shut up you w*nker.’ But now, I’ve done the first promotion.”

Real Bedford’s promotion delivers more than recognition for the club. The club has a Bitcoin logo on its strip, crypto sponsors, and curiously, opposed to a founding date, i.e 2021, the emblem sports a founding block height: 712,003. As Peter explains, the win for Real Bedford is a win for Bitcoin:

“This is going to sound really cringy. It’s not my team; it’s our team. But it is. It’s our team. It’s our Bitcoin team.”

Bitcoin advocates worldwide tuned into live streams of the game during the 2023 season, while stories of Bitcoin soccer fans from Slovakia traveling to Legend to paint the town red have become a local legend. The team has given British Bitcoin advocates a headquarters and Bitcoin sports lovers worldwide a team to rally around.

Related: UK think tank launches a crusade against ‘surveillance’ CBDCs

However, McCormack is reluctant to push Bitcoin the currency onto his local town: “I don’t talk about Bitcoin much here because Bedford’s a deprived town, and I don’t want people thinking, ‘Oh my God, there’s that guy who’s made some money on Bitcoin. I’m going to buy Bitcoin,’ then they lose their money.” 

Peter McCormack shares a joke with Cointelegraph before the game.

Indeed, The Bitcoin price is still 60% lower than the all-time highs of 2021, and Bedford, like many U.K. towns, is on the decline. Battered by inflation and economic mismanagement, closing down sales and boarded-up shops overshadow the high street. McCormack explained that it may not be wise to grandstand Bitcoin in such an environment: 

“They [the people of Bedford] can see it, they can come to our [Bitcoin] meetups, but it’s a soft touch. It’s my Trojan horse. It’s a Trojan football.”

The Bitcoin trojan horse, a meme in the Bitcoin space popularised by Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation, explains that Bitcoin adoption delivers freedom as well as wealth. For McCormack, rather than capturing Troy, he could emulate the success of Bitcoin Beach in El Salvador, but in Bedford:

Each Real Bedford home fixture puts on a pre-game Bitcoin meetup. Locals and traveling Bitcoin enthusiasts ask questions and learn more about the decentralized currency, while Real Bedford merch can be bought using the Lightning Network. A show of hands at the last game of the season demonstrated that, for many people, it was their first real-life interaction with Bitcoin. 

“The goal is to communicate Bitcoin to the country. It’s a bit like El Zonte was the seed that turned El Salvador into a bitcBitcoinoin country. I want this to be the seed that makes our country understand and have better regulations towards Bitcoin.”

It might be an uphill battle. Despite grassroots efforts from Brits at the Bitcoin Collective and the Bitcoin Policy U.K., government ministers are still trying to understand what Bitcoin is and how to regulate crypto.

Peter McCormack behind the clubhouse bar with the trophy. Source: Twitter

Ultimately, the Bitcoin party atmosphere over the weekend–champagne showers, dancing with the kit man, and nights out to the wee hours in Bedford–will have to contend with a country committed to adopting CBDCs or central bank digital currencies while a cohort of the U.K. population is unable to afford basic amenities.   

Undeterred and committed to the long game, McCormack told Cointelegraph: “I’m going to be here for the rest of my life here in Bedford at every game I can possibly be at trying to lift up my town.”

Magazine: Bitcoin in Senegal: Why is this African country using BTC?

Unchained raises $60M to offer collaborative custody Bitcoin services

https://cointelegraph.com/news/unchained-raises-60m-to-offer-collaborative-custody-bitcoin-services

The bear market grind has not deterred a $60 million raise from a Bitcoin-only company. 

Unchained, a financial services provider for Bitcoin (BTC) holders, has announced a $60 million Series B funding round led by Valor Equity Partners. NYDIG, Trammell Venture Partners, Ecliptic Capital and Highland Capital Partners also participated.

Unchained Capital provides a more secure way to hold fees than storing crypto on centralized exchanges or on a single key solution. The custody model leverages the Bitcoin network’s native multi-signature capabilities in that clients share control of their Bitcoin between private keys they hold themselves and private keys held by Unchained or other financial services companies.

Multisignature solutions eliminate single points of failure and mitigate counterparty risk by sharing it between multiple parties. Simply put, compare the multi-sig process to a safe deposit box with two keys, one held by the customer and the other by the bank.

Single points of failure were a recurring theme during the 2022 crypto collapses: From BlockFi to Celsius to Three Arrows Capital, an array of centralized solutions collapsed, taking users’ funds along the way. Multisig radically reduces risk as no one party can run off with the funds. 

The CEO of Unchained Capital, Joe Kelly, explained:

“Multisig is one of the most important technologies in the ecosystem that can be taken mainstream. It helps to protect individuals from loss and theft, two of the biggest issues for the industry.”

To date, Unchained secures over $2 billion in Bitcoin across thousands of keys globally. Casa, a competitor crypto security company, recently added Ethereum (ETH) to its suite of products. 

Related: 6M Bitcoin Are Secured by Shared Custody

According to the announcement, the $60 million in funding will be used to expand the client base and product offering further. Kelly told Cointelegraph:

“Using this fresh capital investment to expand our reach and suite of services, we hope to enable new entrants to Bitcoin to leapfrog centralized custodians into our safer collaborative custody model.”

Ultimately, the group will hope to further the mantra “not your keys, not your coins.” In light of centralized exchange collapses, greater numbers of Bitcoin and crypto enthusiasts learn to take custody of their assets, and multisig will undoubtedly play a greater role.