Gyft Unveils New Tech for Blockchain-Powered Gift Cards

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Gyft and bitcoin API developer Chain have partnered to create Gyft Block, a trading platform aiming to make gift cards easier to exchange. Announced at Belfast’s MoneyConf, the news marks Gyft CEO Vinny Lingham‘s latest step in transitioning his mobile gift card company from one of bitcoin’s most active merchants to a more direct supporter of its underlying technology. Gyft Block is part of Gyft’s broader mission to digitize gift cards so that they can be securely traded using bitcoin’s public ledger, the blockchain. Termed ‘gift cards 2.0’, the ambitious project was first revealed at SXSW in March and followed Lingham’s own involvement as an advisor and investor in so-called ‘crypto 2.0’ firms, including Koinify and Trustatom. A statement from Gyft implied that the platform could solve real problems for the $100bn gift card market: “Consumers can redeem different forms of digital value in a single transaction: for example, a consumer can buy a cup of coffee by combining a gift card, branded reward point, and coupon, since all blockchain-based digital assets operate on the same open standards.” In an accompanying white paper, Gyft’s head of special projects Guillaume Lebleu suggests Gyft Block would seek to establish a common API for gift card issuers that more closely replicates …

Bitcoin Now More Currency than Commodity: BitPay

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Bitcoin is now being used more as a currency than as a simple investment commodity, according to data released by bitcoin payment service provider BitPay and IBTimes UK. Most BitPay transactions are for gift cards, followed by IT services, e-commerce, food delivery and a relatively tiny number of precious metals transactions. The total number of bitcoin transactions processed by BitPay more than doubled last year from 209,420 to 563,568, a 170 percent increase. The average order value dropped during the same period by more than 45 percent, from $513 to $281. More than 100,000 retailers now accept bitcoin, according to IBTimes UK, including Microsoft, Dell, Wikipedia, Twitch, Greenpeace, Expedia and PayPal. Fifty-three percent of all bitcoin merchants use BitPay, according to the newly released data. North America is still the largest bitcoin market for BitPay, with 57 percent of their global business. The top emerging markets are Brazil, India and Indonesia with rapid growth in BitPay signups. “We see bitcoin being used in emerging markets as a supplement to the current banking and monetary systems,” said Wouter Vonk, BitPay’s European marketing manager. “Bitcoin breaks down the barriers to financial tools that many people in emerging countries are facing.” Bitcoin mining …