Ross Ulbricht found guilty at Silk Road trial, New York's BitLicense bill re-emerges after public consultation, Italy clarifies Bitcoin’s legal status, BitPay claims over 100,000 merchants now accept Bitcoin, and a lot more that happened on February 4.
1 – Ross Ulbricht found guilty on all charges
The defendant in the Silk Road trial, Ross Ulbricht, has been found guilty on all seven charges related to his alleged role as site administrator “Dread Pirate Roberts” for The Silk Road. Following a four week trial, the 30 year old now awaits sentencing and faces a minimum of 30 years to life in prison.
“The heaps of evidence brought against Ulbricht seemed almost incontrovertible. But false nonetheless, the defense contended. In his final closing statements on Tuesday, Ulbricht's lawyer Joshua Dratel maintained that Ulbricht did indeed create the Silk Road, but merely did so as an experimental free marketplace.”
2 – NY BitLicense clears public consultation
The controversial Bitcoin regulation dubbed the “BitLicense” in New York State, has finished its first 90 day consultation period with the public. Issuing a revised edition of the bill with “major” changes, the bill now enters a second 30 day consultation period.
“The draft released Wednesday is broadly similar to that which came before it. Notable updates include an expanded definition of “gift card,” an item which had earlier caused criticism due to a previous, overly broad definition implicating too many extant schemes as now requiring a BitLicense.”
3 – Italy’s Central Bank clarifies Bitcoin’s legal status
Ruling that the virtual currencies are not subject to any regulations beyond the standard financial and commercial rules already in existence, the Italian Central Bank has declared the digital currencies such as Bitcoin will not be subject to specific Anti-Money Laundering regulation.
“In Italy the purchase, use and acceptance of virtual currency must be considered lawful activity: the parties are free to transact in amounts not expressed in legal tender.”
4 – Number of global Bitcoin accepting merchants passes 100,000
Taking industry figures from a new report by the digital currency payment processor BitPay, the International Business Times reports there are now over 100,000 merchants world-wide accepting Bitcoin as payment. 54% of these merchants are supported by BitPay, according to the company.
"Bitcoin is now moving in to its second phase," Sonny Singh, chief commercial officer at BitPay, told IBTimes UK. "The first phase was merchant adoption and I think this is pretty much done now.”
5 – Roger Ver: The gaming industry ‘Should Be Scrambling to Implement Bitcoin’
Speaking at the ICE Totally Gaming Conference 2015, the digital currency angel-investor Roger Ver highlighted the low-cost, low-fraud risk, and international reach, of Bitcoin as an ideal payment system for the gaming industry.
“Bitcoin is the payment system the gaming industry has been waiting for. With bitcoin they can accept payments from anyone, anywhere in the world, basically for free, and with no risk of fraud. No other payment system on earth even comes close, so they should all be scrambling to implement it."
6 – Blockchain technology could be used to foil diamond thefts
Speaking to the Financial Times, Blocktrace CEO Leanne Kemp has spelled out plans for a decentralized diamond register based on blockchain technology. Using existing diamond marking registry techniques, the new system would then track this information on a distributed ledger.
“Blocktrace, for example, works by creating digital certificates, stored in the blockchain, that are mapped on to diamonds. The idea is to reduce fraud and eliminate the patchwork of third parties that perform identity and value checks.”
7 – OKCoin CEO to take part in Reddit AMA session
Taking to the popular “front page of the internet” the CEO, Star Xu, will be taking questions from the Reddit community in order to “raise Bitcoin awareness.” The Chinese exchange, which sees 170,000 BTC per day trading volumes, already hosts regular physical meet-ups for those interested in Bitcoin.
“OKCoin is looking to develop a stronger community and will be multiplying initiatives both locally and on social media to raise Bitcoin awareness and promote its brand within the industry.”
8 – European companies may start using Bitcoin as a way to avoid US intelligence gathering
In the wake of digital privacy revelations about the level of online spying performed by the US authorities, security analyst Steve Banker suggests that European companies “increasingly want their data “walled off” from the NSA.” Banker argues Bitcoin provides both a more secure and cheaper method of payment for these companies.
“Rik Willard, in charge of branding and marketing at MintCombine, says his company “has been studying blockchain DRM with a former CEO of Virgin Records for the past year. ... It makes perfect sense that companies everywhere will begin to look into this more as time goes on. ... It’s going to be global.”
9 – Indian Mountain School to accept Bitcoin donations
Connecticut based boarding school Indian Mountain School has started accepting donations in Bitcoin via the GoCoin service. Taking the lead from alumni Charles Allen, now CEO of BTCs, the school will now accept BTC donations upon request.
“Indian Mountain School sees itself as a progressive school technologically, and had some alumni ask that digital currencies be added as a donation option.”
10 – Reddit's /r/bitcoin community reacts strongly to Coinbase's username criticism
Having criticized a Reddit user for using the phrase Coinbase in their username, verified Coinbase employee “Coinbase-Craig” has drawn ridicule from the /r/bitcoin community for trying to protect the technical term for the start of a bitcoin transaction.
“Coinbase [is] getting mad at Redditors for having ‘coinbase’ in their usernames. Yet, everyone here hates on Blockchain.info for their name. Coinbase is a bitcoin transaction, anyone can have it in their names!”