Beginning Nov. 26, Ohio will begin accepting Bitcoin payments for twenty-three kinds of business taxes. The state will become the first in the United States–and one of the first governments in the world–to accept cryptocurrency.
Up until now, there have been concerns that Bitcoin would not become a suitable means for conducting payments, instead, describing the cryptocurrency as a store of value. Opponents have described Bitcoin as “slow and costly.”
However, moves by the Ohio Treasurer’s office directly counter those criticisms. Through the use of the payment service BitPay, Ohio State now offers Bitcoin as a means to of paying state taxes.
According to the Ohio Treasurer’s website, twenty-three kinds of business taxes will be available for payment in crypto, including utility tax, sales tax, and employee withholdings. The website states that the state is adopting crypto payments because they are secure, transparent, and low cost:
“Cryptocurrencies cannot be transferred to third parties without user initiation, thereby practically eliminating fraud; Anyone can view all transactions on the blockchain network; Payments on the blockchain can be tracked on a second-by-second basis; a minimal fee is charged to confirm transactions on the blockchain network.”
The payment option will not only be limited to Bitcoin, as the website states, “the Treasurer’s office looks forward to adding more cryptocurrencies in the future.”
Furthermore, the state is looking to gain a foothold as a blockchain technology epicenter, with the Treasurer’s Office stating, “[we are] working to help make Ohio a national leader in blockchain technology.”
Adoption by Ohio serves as a harbinger of things to come. Use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have the opportunity to make governments more secure, more transparent, and more efficient. This move is the first of many to bring us into a world where this technology is leveraged to improve our day-to-day lives as citizens.
This post credited to cryptoslate Image source: Cryptoslate
Square’s mobile payments application, Cash App, posts impressive growth for Bitcoin transactions despite the bearish cryptocurrency market. In Square’s Q3 shareholder letter the company reports $43 million in Bitcoin revenues, contributing $560 thousand to quarterly net profit.
Square is a merchant services and mobile payments company based out of San Francisco. Founded in 2009, the company is known for its portable point of sale systems such as Square Reader and Square Register. Since inception, Square has become one of the most popular payment services for small and medium-sized businesses in the United States.
In a series of progressive moves, Square was one of the first major payment processors to support Bitcoin transactions.
The company made its first foray into crypto payments in March of 2017when Square Market, a tool for establishing eCommerce storefronts for small businesses, would also support Bitcoin payments.
The company continued to push for Bitcoin support in its more widely used Cash App (formerly Square Cash). Cash App is a mobile application that allows individuals and businesses to send and receive money through an online alias.
Another competitor, PayPal’s Venmo is yet to offer any cryptocurrency support. Square’s push into the cryptocurrency market led to a surge in downloads for Cash App, surpassing Venmo mobile money service. Cumulative downloads for the Cash App now total 34 million, exceeding Venmo’s 33 million for the first time ever, according to data aggregated from the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Square is one of the first mainstream payment processors to tackle the shortcomings of cryptocurrency payments. Issues such as price volatility, long confirmation times, and poor ease of use still make cryptocurrency a cumbersome option for retail payments. However, Square is tackling many of these issues head-on.
By leveraging its large user base and popularity among small businesses it is possible Square could become a leader in crypto payment processing.
According to Square’s Q3 shareholder letter, the company had revenues totaling $43 million related to Bitcoin transactions, up 16 percent from last quarter. The transactions contributed $560 thousand to the company’s net income, up 33 percent from last quarter, with a net margin of 1.3 percent on all Bitcoin transactions conducted through the service.
These figures indicate impressive growth in transaction volume despite the bear market. Since the release of Cash App’s Bitcoin support, cryptocurrency market capitalization has decreased by approximately 66 percent while Bitcoin transactions on Cash App grow unabated. This consistent quarterly growth may signal growing adoption despite the decreases in market capitalization.
Square is making strides in addressing the issues that make cryptocurrency impractical for payments in brick-and-mortar stores. As cryptocurrency becomes easier to use mass adoption will follow.
Square’s stock is up 218 percent from this time last year, down 4 percent in the last month.
This post credited to cryptoslate Image source: Unsplash
Matthias Steinig, a German developer whose focus seems to be on the development of Lightning Network-enabled technologies to serve consumers, has created two projects to date which are notable and Lightning-related. The first is an e-commerce solution which supports Lightning transactions in the traditional web store format. A demonstration of it is live here. The second is perhaps more interesting and certainly more novel: a rentable electric bicycle that allows the user to pay for “boosts” (wherein the electric motor kicks in and the cyclist can do less work) for tiny amounts of bitcoin.
Steinig announced his invention on Twitter recently and published the code on GitHub.
The bike rental system has two components, both of which operate on cheap Raspberry Pi hardware, with stable code that is relatively easy (written in Python) for commercial developers to tweak and potentially improve upon. The first is the server component, which authorizes the bike’s battery to deliver a “boost” to the bike for a given, prepaid length of time, and the second is the component attached to the bicycle, which includes a wireless receiver and an LCD screen.
Dubbed “Lightning Bike,” the system is simple enough: the user makes a payment of as little as 250 satoshis (not quite two cents at current market rates) for one minute, and the battery kicks on for a “boost.” That’s really the long and short of it from the user perspective.
In the words of Steinig himself:
“Once the payment has been made, the system will power on for the selected time and you can start driving !!! After the end of the paid time, the system switches off and the power supply is interrupted – of course you can continue driving, but only with muscle power. The program returns to the home screen and you can book new time again. If it did not work, the start screen will be displayed and you can try it again.”
Under the Hood
Lightning Bike’s software component is written in standard, modern Python, and all of the code used is open source. As to the hardware, the bike portion is best done on a Raspberry Pi Zero, as this is the smallest device that Raspberry Pi offers. It seems logical that any ARM processor with the appropriate dependencies for Raspberry Pi could also act as a substitute, with likely a few necessary code modifications.
For the server component, in the demonstration model a slightly larger Raspberry Pi 3 is used. However, this could be replaced with a large-scale server for operations which actually wanted to implement this system with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of bikes involved. The novel design itself, it’s important to note, only pertains to the rental of the payment for the “boosts” and electricity themselves; thus a separate or integrated system would necessarily need to be developed and implemented for the rental of the bike itself. That said, a perfectly reasonable business model would be to allow the bikes to be freely checked out in a given geographical space and earn money from the electric boosts alone. One thing is for sure: upkeep is low in a business like this.
The Power of Lightning and Micropayments
A long-standing debate in bitcoin circles used to be whether or not bitcoins should be used to pay for something as trivial as a coffee. One camp believed that the size of BTC blocks should be increased to accommodate this with low transaction fees, while the other camp figured that second-layer protocols, like the Lightning Network, made a lot more sense in terms of efficiency.
Steinig’s creation demonstrates that not only cups of coffee can be paid for, but much smaller transactions even, with the base unit in his e-bike system being less than $0.02 USD. The speed and efficiency of the Lightning Network and its ability to settle transactions in the blink of an eye — in a consumer-facing application such as Lightning Bike, even — is overwhelmingly evident in this seemingly simple invention.
The increasing popularity of rental bikes in metropolitan areas makes Lightning Bike a relevant, viable business model which has the opportunity to bring bitcoin into the consciousness of folks all over the place.
After all, it’s actually impossible to pay only 2 cents on a Visa or Mastercard transaction without the seller losing money, most such transactions having a fixed minimum fee higher than that. Even micropayments via PayPal would not be feasible for transactions this small. Thus, in the case of Lightning Bike and services like it that will flourish over time, bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies fill a void that traditional financial infrastructures simply could not while still making money.
This post credited to ccn Featured Image from Matthias Steinig/Twitter
Hitachi Payments is entering a joint venture with the State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, to establish a digital payments platform
The collaboration sees Hitachi Payments, the wholly-owned Indian payments subsidiary of 108-year old Japanese conglomerate Hitachi, join the State Bank of India (SBI) in developing a sweeping digital payments platform with applications in point-of-sale solutions (POS) and mass transit roadways in the country.
Hitachi Payments is investing in SBI Payment Services for a 26% stake, a press release confirmed, building on its relationship with the state-owned bank as its technology provider for card and digital payments since 2011.
Specifically, the tech giant is using its expertise in big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to introduce “Lumada”, its IoT platform to the Indian payments sector.
“Hitachi will provide wide range of services contributing to “Digital India” by creating innovative solutions with ‘Lumada’,” Hitachi said. “With this joint-venture, Hitachi will accelerate digitalization of financial services in India by linking up digital payments platform to state-of-the-art digital technologies of “Lumada”, and also will provide solutions for mass transit sector and e-commerce businesses.”
Hitachi Payments notably manages over 55,000 ATMs and 850,000 POS devices in India. With over 420 million customers, the State Bank of India also has over 6 million POS terminals in the country. The bank sees over 70% of its current network managed by Hitachi Payments.
Hitachi president and CEO Toshiaki Higashihara added:
“By establishing the joint venture with SBI, Hitachi will further contribute to the development of digital payments in India by building a state-of-the-art digital payments platform and leveraging SBI’s robust customer network.”
This post credited to ccn Image from Shutterstock.
From Visa’s potential entry into the world of crypto to a new app bringing XRP to social media, here’s a look at some of the stories breaking in the blockchain metaverse.
Visa & Crypto
In a new interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Visa CEO Al Kelly says Visa is prepared to implement cryptocurrency if need be.
“If we actually think that crypto starts moving from being more of a commodity to actually really being a payment instrument…
If it goes in that direction, we will move in that direction. We want to be in the middle, Jim, of every payment flow in the world regardless of how it happens or what the currency is behind it. So if we have to go there, we will go there. But right now, it’s more of a commodity than a payment vehicle.”
BitcoinNew data reveals Bitcoin adoption is on the rise in Canada.
According to a report from the Ontario Securities Commission and the Bank of Canada, the number of Canadians who own Bitcoin went from 2.9% in 2016 to 5% in 2017.
“The increase in Bitcoin ownership was seen more in certain demographic groups. The 18-to-24 age group, already one of the main users of Bitcoin in 2016, grew the most in ownership, from 6 to 14% in 2017. Most other age groups saw increased ownership as well, but the differences were usually not significant. The exception was the 45-to-54 age group, where ownership grew almost four times over from 0.9 to 3.5%.”
Ripple and XRP
In a new interview with the UK fintech outlet Bobsguide, Ripple’s head of strategic accounts says there’s little reason for Ripple to collaborate with the international payment network Swift.
“If you look at the value of Swift versus Ripple, it’s hard to see the incentive for us to collaborate. Swift may want to chat. They may see value in Ripple and the model that we’re developing.
I think it’s very important to keep things clean and focused. That’s how we’ve succeeded up until now. The entire stack we’ve created is fresh and new and free of legacy. It’s a very elegant proposition from top to bottom. We don’t really want to pollute that. Whether there’ll be some commercial arrangement, I don’t know.”
Meanwhile, the popular XRP Tip Bot just released an app for iOS and Android. The platform allows anyone to send XRP to users on Twitter, Telegram and Discord.
Tron founder Justin Sun and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao met up at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to boost blockchain’s use in the non-profit sector of the economy.
At the World Investment Forum, Zhao unveiled his company’s new blockchain-based donation portal, the Blockchain Charity Foundation. Tron recently contributed $3 million in donations to the new initiative.
A consortium of 61 Japanese banks, responsible for over 80% of Japan’s banking assets, has begun using a consumer-centric retail payments app using Ripple blockchain technology.
In a tweet by Ripple’s own official handle on Thursday, the San Francisco-based fintech confirmed the app went live on Thursday, nearly seven months after its initial announcement earlier this year. As CCN reported at the time, the app is the product of SBI Ripple Asia, a banking consortium that launched in November 2016 with a focused effort to leverage Ripple’s blockchain technology for domestic bank transfers in Japan.
Dubbed ‘MoneyTap’, the smartphone app will enable real-time, round-the-year domestic money transfers between bank accounts using xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise blockchain network, details from the app’s website reveal.
Payments can be triggered with the use of a simple QR code or the recipient’s phone number through the application, made available on both iOS and Android platforms. With today’s launch, the MoneyTap app is supported by three specific banks – Suruga Bank, SBI Net Sumishin Bank and Resona Bank, for zero-cost transfers between them. In the scenario of a request for a return of funds, participants will be required to pay a small fee.
Designed to be a quick, small-amount remittance service between everyday residents, MoneyTap allows for a maximum transfer amount of ¥30,000 (approx. $262) per transaction and a ceiling of ¥100,000 ($875) per day.
Japan’s current decades-old national payments clearing platform ‘Zengin’ facilitates domestic money transfers between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM in Japan, in addition to banking fees.
While the launch of the app is the first notable implementation of commercial blockchain technology on a consumer scale in Japan, Ripple’s tech is also live in Banco Santander’s One Pay FX. A similar application powered by Ripple’s xCurrent, Santander says its retail banking clients in Spain, the UK, Brazil and Poland can settle international payments in a matter of “3 clicks and 40 seconds”.
This post credited to ccn Featured image from MoneyTap.