Block Chain Summit Responds to Backlash Over Private Island Bash

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  Boasting an exotic location and the apparent blessing of billionaire Richard Branson, the Block Chain Summit has emerged as one of the most discussed events in the digital currency community in recent months. To be held from 25th to 28th May on Branson’s private Necker Island, little has been known about the conference apart from its available guest list, a factor that has led to speculation as to what the event would seek to achieve since it was first revealed by CoinDesk. In a new interview, however, Valery Vavilov, CEO of leading event sponsor BitFury and venture capitalist Bill Tai shed new light on the gathering, opening up about its planned schedule and responding to criticism that it is perpetuating negative industry stereotypes. Tai, who has previously invested in BitFury, sought to dismiss these criticisms, suggesting that the Block Chain Summit first and foremost will seek to attract attention to how decentralized ledger systems might positively impact the world. Positioning this as a contrast to past conferences, Tai told CoinDesk: “This is not a conference that’s about the pure technology and it’s not a gathering to try to disrupt governments and banks and mess with people’s currency systems. We …

Circle Internet Financial Raises $50 Million With Goldman Sachs Support

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Bitcoin financial services startup Circle Internet Financial has closed a $50m funding round. The Boston-based company drew support from  and China-based IDG Capital Partners, as well as all of Circle’s pool of existing investors, including Breyer Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Accel Partners. Tom Jessop, managing director at Goldman Sachs’ Principal Strategic Investments Group, said the bank recognizes the need to invest in companies that “have the promise to transform global markets through technical innovation.” Jessop added: “We think that Circle’s product vision and exceptional management team present a compelling opportunity in the digital payments space.” Quan Zhou, managing director of IDG Capital Partners and Circle board member, said that China in particular, will be a major focus for the company as it looks to further internationalize its services. “We are very excited about our investment and look forward to helping launch the company in the Chinese market where consumer adoption of innovative digital payment products is growing at a tremendous rate,” he said. Circle has also announced the launch of new account features that enable customers to hold, send and receive US dollars. Those funds, according to the company, will be insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The news follows reports from earlier this week that Circle was …

Purse.io Partners with ShapeShift

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Purse.io, the peer-to-peer marketplace that allows users to exchange their Bitcoins for Amazon products and vice-versa, haspartnered with ShapeShift in order to allow its users to use other crypto currencies aside from Bitcoins. This is made possible through the simple implementation of the “Shifty” button (seen above), which allows users to instantly convert their alt-coins to BTC as long as they’re supported by ShapeShift. At the time of this writing, the list of supported alts is as follows: Blackcoin, BitUSD, Bitshares, BitcoinDark, Clams, Counterparty, Dash, Digibyte, Dogecoin, Feathercoin, Litecoin, Mintcoin, Monero, Namecoin, Nubits, Nxt, Novacoin, Potcoin, Peercoin, Quark, Reddcoin, Ripple, Shadowcash, Startcoin, Tether, Unobtanium and Vericoin.   Purse.io CEO Andrew Lee had this to say about the partnership: “We’re excited to partner with Shapeshift.io to deliver huge savings on Amazon.com for not just the bitcoin community, but altcoin community as well, …” An spokesperson on Reddit added: “Since the day we started, we received requests to integrate altcoins. It always seemed like a lot of squeeze for the juice. Plus, we weren’t looking forward to having to keep up with the latest altcoin of the month.Shapeshift solves these problems beautifully. Thanks /u/evoorhees and team for making the integration super simple! …

Bitcoin Community Rallies to Aid Nepal Earthquake Victims

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The Southeast Asian nation of Nepal has dominated the headlines this week following a devastating earthquake, which at the time of press, had already claimed the lives of more than 4,000 people. Just as swift, however, has been the charitable response. The Red Cross has committed an initial $300,000 of aid as well as an additional 19,000 non-food relief kits including essential items such as clothes and mosquito nets. Meanwhile, online fundraising platform Global Giving has already raised approximately $570,000 as part of an attempt to raise $1m to support victims. Members of the bitcoin community, in Nepal and around the globe, have also rallied around the cause, seeking to provide both needed aid and a reminder of how bitcoin can help charitable efforts lower the cost of accepting international donations. See Change Foundation founder Erik Bouchard, for example, confirmed that his organisation has so far received over 100 bitcoin donations in 36 hours, “ranging from $1 to $100 [per donation]”. The Nepal-based charity is seeking donations to cover the costs of providing short-term housing units to those affected by the earthquake. More than 740 homes, he said, have been destroyed in his small district, at the epicentre of the quake alone. “People are still sleeping in the streets …

Richard Branson to Host Bitcoin Summit on Private Island

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Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson is set to bring “the greatest minds in cryptocurrency” together to discuss bitcoin and the blockchain on his personal private island this May. Taking place on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands from the 25th to 28th, Branson’s event will feature discussions moderated by Hernando De Soto, president of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Wall Street Journal senior columnist Michael J Casey and Matthew Bishop, US business editor for The Economist. Branson has been enthusiastic in his praise for the bitcoin, having previously invested in payment processor BitPay and accepted the digital currency for his space travel enterprise Virgin Galactic. The event’s welcome message frames the gathering in terms that emphasise the lasting impact of blockchain technologies, stating: “Come visit with Sir Richard Branson on his private island for a set of intimate discussions highlighting critical issues and solutions and to lay out the framework for a world where the humankind is fully benefiting from the amazing technology behind the blockchain.” Besides the Virgin Group founder, the event will be hosted by BitFury CEO Valery Vavilov and venture capitalists Bill Tai, Suzi Mai and George Kikvadze. In total, the event will include 30 luminaries from the bitcoin and larger …

MIT Media Lab Announces Launch of MIT Digital Currency Initiative, Headed by Former White House Senior Adviser

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A few days ago Bitcoin Magazine reported that Joi Ito, director of the prestigiousMassachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, was about to unveil a plan for the institute to become what he called an independent, neutral home to help with Bitcoin standards development. “I think within a couple of weeks we’ll be announcing something which will be a little bit more substantive,” said Ito. “And I’m not pushing it, but I’m offering MIT as a neutral academic home for some of the conversations and the technical coordination.” MIT has now formally announced the launch of a Digital Currency Initiative, to be directed by former White House senior adviser for mobile and data innovation Brian Forde, who joined the MIT Media Lab as director of digital currency. Forde will work with researchers across the institute and leading experts at other universities around the world to address some of the most critical challenges to creating a safe, stable and secure digital currency. “As a technologist, there’s no more exciting place to work than the MIT Media Lab,” said Forde. “The innovations that come out of the Media Lab have made a truly global impact. I look forward to working with the …