Iron Mike, Taylor Swift, President Obama … And Bitcoin?

With a story about Mike Tyson getting his own bitcoin ATM on the Vegas Strip kicking off the week, it was a little hard to get serious about any bitcoin story this week.

Especially when you read its tagline: “Mike Tyson’s fastest knockout in the ring was 30 seconds. The Mike Tyson bitcoin ATM can turn your cash into bitcoin in under 20 seconds.”

Yes, this is very real. And very odd.

Who knew Iron Mike was making his comeback, and who knew it would be with a bitcoin ATM? Certainly not us. But as much as we want to dig into the why of this story, there’s plenty of other big bitcoin news that deserves some attention this week. Plus, it’s not all that odd to have a quirky bitcoin story of the week. Quirky seems to be bitcoin’s middle name.

So what else happened in the world of bitcoin this week? Well, as always, the answer to that is plenty. To keep your bitcoin curiosity satisfied for the week, we’ve rounded up the top stories in the digital currency world that have everything from bitcoin ransom and a boozy bitcoin Brit to Taylor Swift to a former Obama administration tech advisor who thinks bitcoin could change government.

Didn’t we tell you it was going to be another odd week of bitcoin news? Surely, these headlines should live up to that promise.

 Bitcoin Tracker Week 84

The Good, The Bad — The Top Bitcoin Stories Of The Week

Another Illegal For Bitcoin Hits The Headlines

What is it about bitcoin that keeps it continuously tangled in the headlines tied to criminal activity?

To start, the somewhat anonymous nature of bitcoin itself obviously lures criminals to the digital currency. But what’s more is that bitcoin seems to have taken on a new role as being the currency involved in the modern day criminal heist that involves demanding a ransom from vulnerable consumers. Or, as a New York Times reporter phrased it in his piece about the criminal trend, bitcoin ransom has become the “modern day version of a mob shakedown.”

“The criminal underground very much likes bitcoin,” Curt Wilson, a senior threat intelligence analyst at Arbor Networks, told Nathaniel Popper. “It’s enabled a greater sense of obfuscation.”

“Hackers around the world have seized files on millions of computers, taken down public websites and even, in a few cases, threatened physical harm. The victims — who have ranged from ordinary computer users to financial firms and police departments — are told that their only way out is through a bitcoin payment that is sometimes more than $20,000,” Popper wrote.

Bitcoin, Taylor Swift And Spotify

One of those things is not like the other.

But that was the subject of a story this week that delved into a tale about the music industry and how musicians are miffed by the streaming music services. And what was the solution to fix the industry?

Bitcoin (of course).

An article featured in TheStreet this week suggests that streaming services like Apple Music, Pandora or Spotify could please musicians better by partnering a cryptocurrency with a central database of music rights. For example, the author suggests that the streaming services “could accurately and promptly divide a payment for a single streamed song, according to music industry experts.”

Because tracking music rights payments is complicated and nuanced, making it so the payments are better tracked could make more artists — like Taylor Swift — embrace more streaming services.

“The [current] economic system is no longer viable,” said Panos Panay, a researcher at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. “The more we looked into it, the more we thought … bitcoins could really work.”

I guess that might make all those bitcoin haters hate a little less and give bitcoin the little shake, shake it needs.

From Presidential Tech Advisor To Bitcoin Advocate

Brian Forde, a former senior advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for the Obama administration, has traded in his White House credentials to be the MIT Media Labs new director of digital currency.

He recently sat down for an interview to explain how he believes bitcoin could eventually play a role in government. And here’s what he said:

“Digital currencies have immense potential to improve human welfare by strengthening the capacity of governments to deliver more responsive services and secure the rights of their citizens to property, identity and increase financial inclusion … And because it is an open-source protocol for innovation, a wide range of services and products can be built by entrepreneurs and nonprofits on top of it.”

But what sectors could it really help in? Banks and security, he says.

“Today, we practice a lot of authentication theater. Your government-issued identity, for example, starts out in a database of a government agency. It’s then printed out in the form of a Social Security card, driver’s license, birth certificate or passport … $24 billion in identity theft occurs annually because corporations treat your Social Security number as a user name and a password,” Forde said.

And for banks, he believes it could help bring the unbanked into the traditional economic world that the banked are participating in. Bitcoin could help bring more people in without the typical hurdles that traditional finance organizations put up, he said.

“More than 2 billion adults around the world do not have access to a bank account. Without a connection to the financial support services that typically accompany formal bank accounts, the unbanked have very limited access to the savings and borrowing mechanisms necessary to drive broad-based economic growth,” Forde said.

Man Gets Drunk And Buys $550 Worth Of Pizza (In Bitcoin)

Thanks to a lovely discovery on Reddit, we know the real dangers of drinking and ordering food. Especially if you’re shopping with bitcoin.

Well, here’s how the story goes…

A British man named Daniel Sobey-Harker thought his boss should buy some pizza to reward a user for gaining their company some exposure. But because he was from the U.S., he made a callout to the Reddit community asking this: “Can someone help me (U.K.) buy a pizza for someone in the U.S? I’ll reward whoever can get me a method that works.”

Then, he waited. And had a few beers. It was then he realized he could use bitcoin to purchase Papa John’s pizza vouchers. Well, he ended up buying a few vouchers too many and ultimately charged around $550 worth of bitcoin in pizza vouchers.

Now, he’s trying to sell those pizza vouchers back, but it appears he’s going to be giving most of them away.

“Are you in the States? Do you want pizza? Talk to me. May have gone overboard with bitcoins,” he wrote in a Reddit post.

Potential For Bitcoin Technology Is “Gigantic”

Blythe Masters, the chief executive of Digital Asset Holdings and a former JPMorgan executive, made the case this week for bitcoin technology being used in markets.

She spoke at a conference this week, saying that “the potential addressable markets for these types of technologies are gigantic.”

How gigantic? Well, she said that things like stocks, bonds and derivatives could be exchanged and paid for through the same type of technology that the digital currency community exchanges bitcoin transactions. Still, she recognized the financial world is not ready for such a change. But it doesn’t mean she wouldn’t like to see it get there.

“In reality, the world is not there yet,” Masters said.

Bitcoin Going Contactless?

There’s more than just a few criticisms about bitcoin. To start, it’s hard to use, it’s hard to know where it can be used and it’s hard to get your hands on. It’s not mainstream, and most people don’t trust it.

But what if there was a mechanism in place that made it more trusting to make a bitcoin payment? Say a contactless payment mechanism that’s a lot like Apple Pay for the bitcoin world. That’s what OneBit is testing out with a new payment system.

Reports indicated that this new system will enable bitcoin users to use OneBit’s mobile wallet app to pay at any store that accepts contactless payment options. The technology works by converting bitcoin to major currencies and linking them with the credit card payment networks.

While this wallet is still in alpha testing mode, if it ever makes its way mainstream, that could help bitcoin go a little more mainstream — at least for those consumers who use contactless payments.

Rick Perry Throws His Support Behind Bitcoin

Another presidential candidate has joined the bandwagon of bitcoin support.

First Rand Paul, the libertarian-esque Republican, enabled bitcoin campaign contributions and even spoke at a conference about it. Now, Rick Perry, fellow Republican presidential hopeful, has said that he supports looking into “regulatory breathing room” for bitcoin. 

“Wall Street should not be left off the hook for their bad behavior … instead of them being punished, it was the average American who paid the tremendous price. The fact of the matter is, to be quite frank, we got screwed,” he said in an interview about the financial system.


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