1. Microsoft Accepting Bitcoin for Digital Goods

Ian DeMartino broke the big news this week when he reported Thursday that Microsoft quietly began accepting bitcoins via BitPay.

“Microsoft is allowing people to fund their Microsoft accounts with bitcoin, not to make direct purchases. Microsoft account holders simply go to account.live.com, click ‘Payments & Billing,’ ‘Payment Options,’ and then select ‘Microsoft Account’ from the left-hand column.”

2. White Hat Hacker Returns Missing Bitcoins to Blockchain.info

Following up on the story of security issues at Blockchain.info, Amanda B. Johnson reported Thursday that whoever stole the 255 BTC from the wallet provider had returned all the money.

“An anonymous white hat (meaning well-intentioned) hacker going by johoe noticed the security problem and began sweeping coins from vulnerable addresses. Two days later, on December 10, the white hat hacker emailed Blockchain.info and offered to return the 255 bitcoins to them, worth about US$90,000 at time of writing.”

3. Russia Hastens to Fine Bitcoin Users 1 Million Rubles

Allen Scott reported Thursday that the Russian government appears all too eager to fast-track anti-cryptocurrency legislation.

“State Duma deputy Andrey Krutov (Spravedlivaya Rossya) explained: ‘Cryptocurrencies pose a risk to the financial stability and the financial sovereignty of Russia. There is already enough uncertainty in the market and people taking advantage of this situation by putting their money into Bitcoin and then losing everything is something that we do not need. We created our own bill regarding the penalties for using cryptocurrencies, which will be officially submitted to the State Duma in the next few days.’”

4. Bitcoin Trust Wins Majority of US Marshal Auction, Tim Draper Gets the Rest

Ian DeMartino reported Tuesday on the outcome of the US Marshals’ auction of 50,000 bitcoins last week.

“The Bitcoin Investment Trust announced that it has won the majority of the auction, 19 of the total 20 ‘blocks’ were picked up by the trust, totaling 48,000 bitcoins, worth roughly US$16.6 million at press time.

“The remaining 2,000 bitcoins were sold to Tim Draper, which he announced last week. He also purchased the majority of the first auction of Bitcoins seized from the Silk Road back in June.”

5. SEC Fines Operator of Two Cryptocurrency Exchanges That Shut Down in 2013

Finally, we reported Tuesday that the SEC had reached a settlement with the now-defunct BTC Trading Corp., whose owner, Ethan Burnside, must pay US$68,000 to the US government for having traded unregistered securities.

“Through the websites, Burnside also offered shares in unregistered transactions in exchange for bitcoins and litecoins in LTC-Global and LTCMining, another virtual currency enterprise founded by Burnside,” the SEC said in its claim against the company, incorporated in Belize.


Check out Nick Szabo’s new post, “The dawn of trustworthy computing.” And read it for the actual content, not just to look for evidence that Szabo = Satoshi.

Here is one good insight from the piece:

“We are still thinking up new applications and the categories will be in flux, but a very productive approach is to think of fiduciary applications by analogy to traditional legal code that governs traditional fiduciary institutions.

“Fiduciary code will often execute some of the functions traditionally thought of as the role of commercial law or security, but with software that securely and reliably spans the [globe] regardless of traditional jurisdiction.”

This should be a major selling point going forward. Blockchain technology allows two people to hop over onto a more secure platform to transact, as an end-to-end encrypted chat program might be necessary to pass along a secret, or some other sensitive information. For certain things, the technology is superior to legal code.

Market activity

The bitcoin price took a hit early this week, dropping from the mid-US$370 range to a low of nearly US$340 on some exchanges. That price drop coincided with an uptick in USD-exchange trade volume, which may or may not have had something to do with 50,000 bitcoins getting sold at auction.

Whatever the case, the price rebounded slightly after the Microsoft news broke Thursday, but only enough to keep 1 bitcoin trading for about US$357 as the work week came to a close.

One graph to continue to watch is the number of transactions. This week’s low figure for daily transactions came Monday, when only about 77,000 transactions were registered. That figure would have been a high mark this past July, when the most active day for bitcoin movement saw 71,000 transactions. This is the clearest sign yet that Bitcoin is gaining traction among more and more people.

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