Blockchain Biometrics Startup Raises $3 Million

A startup aiming to bridge the worlds of blockchain tech and biometric security has raised $3m in new funding.

HYPR raised the funds from RTP Ventures, Boldstart Ventures and Mesh Ventures. The funding round comes just under two years after the startup closed a $350,000 private investment, while at the time pitching itself as a means to secure bitcoin transactions with the help of a fingerprint.

According to George Avetisov, CEO of HYPR, the majority of the funds will be used to build out the startup’s development team, based primarily in New York.

Avetisov said of the funding round:

“As traditional identity verification measures continue to fail, we are witnessing significant enterprise validation of the biometric security space. This signifies a tipping point in mass adoption of secure password-less authentication.”

The concept of using biometric signatures to add an additional security layer for transactions involving bitcoin or other kinds of digital, blockchain-based assets has attracted interest in the past.

While not the only area of focus for HYPR – the startup is also pitching its technology for broader use in IoT and cloud computing applications – it’s an area that some advocates have said could play a role in developing means for putting identity on the blockchain.

European Central Bank Pushes Digital Currency Control

The European Central Bank (ECB) has urged its members to impose tighter controls on the activities of companies that exchange virtual currencies or custody them for their clients.

The comments come as the European Union movestoward extending the economic bloc’s anti-money laundering statutes to cover digital currency activities. At the same time, the ECB has been conducting its own investigations of both digital currencies like bitcoin as well as its underlying technology.

Perhaps most notable in the ECB’s legal opinion, published earlier this week, is its assertion that the broader adoption of digital currencies “could in principle affect the central banks’ control over the supply of money” and impact its role in seeking price stability.

The ECB states:

“Thus, while it is appropriate for the Union legislative bodies, consistent with the FATF’s recommendations, to regulate virtual currencies from the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing perspectives, they should not seek in this particular context to promote a wider use of virtual currencies.”

The opinion paper isn’t the first instance in which the ECB has sought to question the impact of digital currencies. Last year, the central bank described them as “inherently unstable”, while at the same time making the argument that the technology could have an impact on future monetary policymaking.

“Although [virtual currency system] units are not denominated in euro, they do have the potential to have an impact on monetary policy and price stability, financial stability and the smooth operation of payment systems in the euro area,” the ECB said at the time.

Introduction to Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a digital currency that operates on a peer to peer level without an intermidiary. What this means is bitcoin is paperless. it is not in the form of coins or banknotes. It exists purely in a digital fomat. the peer to peer level stated means that exchanges happen from one person to another.

There is no issuing bank and it is not controlled by any organization. To be able to send or receive bitcoin, you must have a bitcoin wallet. This is your digital wallet that acts as both your wallet and bank. So how does bitcoin work if it has no regulation? The bitcoin as a currency system was invented and released to the public as open source. This removed any ownership or control claims.

Further every transaction is verified and recorded in a publicly distributed ledger called a block chain. This distributed approach makes it work without the need for a central repository eliminating administrator requirements. This transparency is also what makes it trustworthy as it is impossible to tamper with the entire network of bitcoin.

Bitcoins are generated through a process called mining. This is done by offering your computing power for verification and recording of payments in return for bitcoin. This is however not an infinite process. If there were an infinite amount of bitcoin then there would be uncontrollable inflation. To keep the value intact therefore, there can only be 21 million bitcoin maximum.

These will be mined between 2110 to 2140. Bitcoin can be exchanged for goods and services at the moment. there are even companies that offer exchanges for traditional money. With all the good things bicoin brings to the table, there are also the bad. Notorious of this is the fact that it does not have a mechanism for refunds. Once bitcoin is sent there is absolutely no way of recourse.

The Best Ways To Get Bitcoins

There is no doubt in the fact that bitcoin trading is slowly taking the world of trading by storm. There is some hype, which says that the Way to get Bitocins Free can be dangerous and difficult but honestly, it is a lot easier than Way to get Bitocins Free, even easier than you think it is. There are a variety of general Way to get Bitocins Free:


· Accept bitcoins as payment for goods or services.


· There are several services where you can trade them for traditional currency.


· Find someone to trade cash for bitcoins in-person through a local directory.


· Participate in a mining pool


Here are some simple Way to get Bitocins Free:


· Find A Wallet


First of all, you have to find an e-wallet. It is basically a store or a provider that offers software from where bitcoins can be bought, stored, and traded. You can easily run it on your desktop, laptop, and even smartphones.


· Sign Up


Next, you have to sign up with e-wallet. You will make an account that will let you store your bitcoins. The e-wallet trader will offer you a chance to convert your local currency into bitcoin. Therefore, the more local currency you have, the more bitcoins you can purchase.


· Connect Your Bank Account


After signing up, the trader has to connect his bank account with his trading account. For this purpose, some verification steps are to be performed. Once the verifications are performed, then you can start purchasing bitcoins and get started.


· Buying And Selling


Once you are done with your first purchase, your bank account will be debited and you will get the bitcoins. Selling is done in the same way purchasing is done. Keep in mind that the price of bitcoin changes time after time. The e-wallet you are working with will show you the current exchange rate. You should be aware of the rate before you buy.


Mining bitcoin


There is another Way to get Bitocins Free.This process is known as mining. Mining of bitcoins is similar to discovering gold from a mine. However, as mining gold is time consuming and a lot of effort is required, the same is the case with mining bitcoins. You have to solve a series of mathematical calculations that are designed by computer algorithms to win bitcoins for free.

Bitcoin Future



Recently I started investing in bitcoins and I’ve heard a great deal of talks about inflation and deflation but not many people actually know and consider what inflation and deflation are. But let’s start with inflation.


We always needed a way to trade value and the most practical way to do it is to link it with money. In the past it worked quite well because the money that was issued was linked to gold. So every central bank had to have enough gold to pay back all the money it issued. However, in the past century this changed and gold is not what is giving value to money but promises. As you can guess it’s very easy to abuse to such power and certainly the major central banks are not renouncing to do so. For this reason they are printing money, so in other words they are “creating wealth” out of thin air without really having it. This process not only exposes us to risks of economic collapse but it results also with the de-valuation of money. Therefore, because money is worth less, whoever is selling something has to increase the price of goods to reflect their real value, this is called inflation. But what’s behind the money printing? Why are central banks doing so? Well the answer they would give you is that by de-valuing their currency they are helping the exports.


In fairness, in our global economy this is true. However, that is not the only reason. By issuing fresh money we can afford to pay back the debts we had, in other words we make new debts to pay the old ones. But that is not only it, by de-valuing our currencies we are de-facto de-valuing our debts. That’s why our countries love inflation. In inflationary environments it’s easier to grow because debts are cheap. But what are the consequences of all this? It’s hard to store wealth. So if you keep the money (you worked hard to get) in your bank account you are actually losing wealth because your money is de-valuing pretty quickly.


Because each central bank has an inflation target at around 2% we can well say that keeping money costs all of us at least 2% per year. This discourages savers and spur consumes. This is how our economies are working, based on inflation and debts.


What about deflation? Well this is exactly the opposite of inflation and it is the biggest nightmare for our central banks, let’s see why. Basically, we have deflation when overall the prices of goods fall. This would be caused by an increase of value of money. First of all, it would hurt spending as consumers will be incentivised to save money because their value will increase overtime. On the other hand merchants will be under constant pressure. They will need to sell their goods quick otherwise they will lose money as the price they will charge for their services will drop over time. But if there is something we learned in these years is that central banks and governments do not care much about consumers or merchants, what they care the most is DEBT!!. In a deflationary environment debt will become a real burden as it will only get bigger over time. Because our economies are based on debt you can imagine what will be the consequences of deflation.


So to summarize, inflation is growth friendly but is based on debt. Therefore the future generations will pay our debts. Deflation on the other hand makes growth harder but it implies that future generations won’t have much debt to pay (in such context it would be possible to afford slow growth).


What are Bitcoin Mining Pools?

One of the first questions that anyone interested in mining cryptocurrencies faces is whether to mine solo or join a ‘pool’. There are a multitude of reasons both for and against mining pools. However, if the hash rate distribution across the bitcoin network is anything to go by (and it is) then most miners are opting to join a pool. Here’s what you need to know.

Pros and cons

If you’re deciding whether to join a mining pool or not, it can be helpful to think of it like a lottery syndicate – the pros and cons are exactly the same. Going solo means you won’t have to share the reward, but your odds of getting a reward are significantly decreased. Although a pool has a much larger chance of solving a block and winning the reward, that reward will be split between all the pool members.

Therefore, joining a pool creates a steady stream of income, even if each payment is modest compared to the full block reward (which currently stands at 25 XBTC).

It is important to note that it is important for a mining pool to not exceed over 51% of the hashing power of the network. If a single entity ends up controlling more than 50% of a cryptocurrency network’s computing power, it could – theoretically – wreak havoc on the whole network. In early 2014, many voiced concerns that the bitcoin mining pool was approaching this threshold, and miners were urged to leave the pool.

Currency difficulty

In bitcoin’s case, the current difficulty level is so high that it’s practically impossible for soloists to make a profit mining. Unless, of course, you happen to have a garage full of ASICs sitting in Arctic conditions. If you’re a beginner, joining a mining pool is a great way to reap a small reward over a short period of time. Indeed, pools are a way to encourage small-scale miners to stay involved.

What to mine?

Of course, bitcoin is not the only currency out there – it’s easy to find lists of mining poolsfor your chosen cryptocurrency.

One method of mining that bitcoin facilitates is “merged mining”. This is where blocks solved for bitcoin can be used for other currencies that use the same proof of work algorithm (for example, namecoin anddevcoin). A useful analogy for merged mining is to think of it like entering the same set of numbers into several lotteries.

First-time miners who lack particularly powerful hardware should look at altcoins over bitcoin – especially currencies based on the scrypt algorithm rather than SHA256. This is because the difficulty of bitcoin calculations is far too high for the processors found in regular PCs.

If you’re not sure which currency to mine, there is a pool called ‘Multipool’ which will automatically switch your mining hardware between the most profitable altcoin. Multipool updates every 30 minutes, and over time you’ll see balance grow in multiple altcurrencies. If required, the pool does allow you to fix your hardware on just one altcurrency too.

However, Mark from said of this type of switching pool: “Loyal coin followers hate them because as soon as the difficulty of a coin drops, the profitability of it rises. Then all the multipools swing round, push the difficulty through the roof in a few hours, then leave again. It leaves the loyal coin followers having to mine the difficulty back down again at very low profitability.”

Pool rewards

When deciding which mining pool to join, you need to weigh up how each pool shares out its payments and what fees (if any) it deducts.

There are many schemes by which pools can divide payments. Most of which concentrate of the amount of ‘shares’ which a miner has submitted to the pool as ‘proof of work’.

Shares are a tricky concept to grasp. Keep two things in mind: firstly, mining is a process of solving cryptographic puzzles; secondly, mining has a difficulty level. When a miner ‘solves a block’ there is a corresponding difficulty level for the solution. Think of it as a measure of quality. If the difficulty rating of the miner’s solution is above the difficulty level of the entire currency, it is added to that currency’s block chain and coins are rewarded.

Additionally, a mining pool sets a difficulty level between 1 and the currency’s difficulty. If a miner returns a block which scores a difficulty level between the pool’s difficulty level and the currency’s difficulty level, the block is recorded as a ‘share’. There is no use whatsoever for these share blocks, but they are recorded as proof of work to show that miners are trying to solve blocks. They also indicate how much processing power they are contributing to the pool – the better the hardware, the more shares are generated.

The most basic version of dividing payments this way is the ‘pay per share’ (PPS) model. Variations on this puts limits on the rate paid per share; for example, equalised shared maximum pay per share (ESMPPS), or shared maximum pay per share (SMPPS). Pools may or may not prioritise payments for how recently miners have submitted shares: for example, recent shared maximum pay per share (RSMPPS). More examples can be found on the bitcoin wiki.

The other factor to consider is how much the pool will deduct from your mining payments. Typical values range from 1% to 10%. However, some pools do not deduct anything.

Starting to mine with a pool

Having decided which currency to mine and which pool you’ll work for, it’s time to get started. You need to create an account on the pool’s website, which is just like signing up for any other web service. Once you have an account, you’ll need to create a ‘worker’. You can create multiple workers for each piece of mining hardware you’ll use. The default settings on most pools are for workers to be assigned a number as their name, and ‘x’ as their password, but you can change these to whatever you like.

How to Sell Bitcoin

Selling bitcoin isn’t quite as straightforward as buying bitcoin, but fortunately CoinDesk is here to help. This guide will give you all the information you need to cash out your digital currency.

When deciding how to sell your bitcoin, you first need to consider which method best suits your situation: selling bitcoin online or selling bitcoin in person. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Selling bitcoin online

Selling bitcoin online is by far the more common way of trading your bitcoin. There are now three ways to go about selling bitcoin online.

1. The first way involves a direct trade with another person, an intermediary facilitating the connection.

2. The second way is through an online exchange, where your trade is with the exchange rather than another individual.

3. New peer-to-peer trading marketplaces that allow bitcoin owners to obtain discounted goods with their bitcoin via others that want to obtain the cryptocurrency with credit/debit cards. The two groups are brought together to solve both problems in a kind of peer-to-peer exchange.

1. Direct trades: Websites that offer this type of selling structure include Coinbase and LocalBitcoins in the US, and BitBargain UK and Bittylicious in the UK.

On these sites, you will usually have to register as a seller. This involves verifying your identity, which we will discuss again later. Once you have registered, you can post an offer, signalling that you want to sell, and the website will alert you when a buyer wants to trade with you. From there, your interaction is solely with the buyer, but you use the website to complete your trade.

The process of selling on Bitbargain UK and (more so) Bittylicious can be quite involved and requires some patience. However, support at the former site has been great in our experience. Bitcoin users with bank accounts in the United States should consider usingCoinbase or Circle, which have both won many fans with their simplicity.


2. Exchange trades: The other way to sell bitcoins is to register with an online exchange. You will still have to verify your identity, but in this case you won’t have to do as much work when it comes to organizing the sale.

Exchanges act as an intermediary who holds everyone’s funds. You place a ‘sell order’ (just as you would place a buy order), stating the volume (amount) and type of currency you wish to sell (eg bitcoin), and the price per unit you wish to sell for.

As soon as someone places a matching buy order, the exchange will complete the transaction. The currency will then be credited to your account.

The downside that accompanies this ease of use is that, if you are selling bitcoin for fiat currencies, you will need to withdraw those funds to your bank. If the exchange is facing liquidity problems or issues with its banks, it can take an inordinate amount of time to receive your funds.

Mt. Gox became infamous for this problem before it went bankrupt, and BTC-e has recently been plagued with reports of similar difficulties. Therefore, you should carefully research the exchange you intend to use before committing funds.

Examples of other crypto-to-fiat currency exchanges includeCircle, Kraken and Bitstamp.

Alternatively, you could use a pure cryptocurrency exchange to change bitcoin for another cryptocurrency. It’s less likely that anyone would want to do this, but there are reasons such as arbitrage, or the rare occasion if a shop accepts something other than bitcoin (for example, Bitcoin Shop now accepts litecoin and dogeoin too, for a wide range of goods).

Examples of these types of sites are: BTER, CoinCorner and Cryptsy.

In addition, you’ll have to pay a fee to use some exchanges. BTC-e charges a flat 0.2%. For overviews of what fees are charged by the various cyrptocurrency markets and what volumes are being traded, see CoinCompare and Bitcoin Charts for up-to-date information.

Another consideration is that there will be some limit to the amount of money you are allowed to store (subject to change over time) on an exchange. Regardless, it is not wise to use exchanges to store your entire pot of coins, even though it can appear to be the easy option if all you are doing is speculating.

You should take responsibility for your own funds, and store any unneeded amounts on your own devices or offline, rather than trusting an exchange that might one day be hacked.

3. Peer-to-peer trading marketplaces

A new development in the bitcoin space is the advent of sites like Brawkerand Purse, which set out to bring together two groups of people with specific and complementary needs.

The first group are individuals who want to be able to use bitcoin to buy goods from sites which do not yet directly accept digital currencies. The second comprises of others who would like to buy bitcoin with a credit or debit card. The marketplace brings together individuals with matching requirements to effectively sell bitcoin to one and provide discounted goods for the other.

The marketplace acts as an intermediary, offering users the platform, bitcoin wallet and escrow for transactions.

How it works:

  1. Alice posts her required Amazon wish list on the marketplace, stating the discount she would like (normally up to 25%).
  2. Bob has a credit/debit card and wants to buy bitcoin matching the value of Alice’s purchase(s). He accepts the trade and, through the marketplace, buys the Amazon goods and requests they be delivered to Alice’s address.
  3. Once the goods are delivered, Alice notifies the marketplace and Bob’s bitcoin are released from escrow and arrive in his wallet, minus Alice’s agreed discount and a small fee for the marketplace.

This system does mean that Bob will be paying a relatively high fee for the service, but also means he will be easily able to acquire bitcoin via bank card.

How Bitcoin Mining Works

In traditional fiat money systems, governments simply print more money when they need to. But in bitcoin, money isn’t printed at all – it is discovered. Computers around the world ‘mine’ for coins by competing with each other.

How does mining take place?

People are sending bitcoins to each other over the bitcoin network all the time, but unless someone keeps a record of all these transactions, no-one would be able to keep track of who had paid what. The bitcoin network deals with this by collecting all of the transactions made during a set period into a list, called a block. It’s the miners’ job to confirm those transactions, and write them into a general ledger.

Making a hash of it

This general ledger is a long list of blocks, known as the ‘blockchain’. It can be used to explore any transaction made between any bitcoin addresses, at any point on the network. Whenever a new block of transactions is created, it is added to the blockchain, creating an increasingly lengthy list of all the transactions that ever took place on the bitcoin network. A constantly updated copy of the block is given to everyone who participates, so that they know what is going on.

But a general ledger has to be trusted, and all of this is held digitally. How can we be sure that the blockchain stays intact, and is never tampered with? This is where the miners come in.

When a block of transactions is created, miners put it through a process. They take the information in the block, and apply a mathematical formula to it, turning it into something else. That something else is a far shorter, seemingly random sequence of letters and numbers known as a hash. This hash is stored along with the block, at the end of the blockchain at that point in time.

Hashes have some interesting properties. It’s easy to produce a hash from a collection of data like a bitcoin block, but it’s practically impossible to work out what the data was just by looking at the hash. And while it is very easy to produce a hash from a large amount of data, each hash is unique. If you change just one character in a bitcoin block, its hash will change completely.

Miners don’t just use the transactions in a block to generate a hash. Some other pieces of data are used too. One of these pieces of data is the hash of the last block stored in the blockchain.

Because each block’s hash is produced using the hash of the block before it, it becomes a digital version of a wax seal. It confirms that this block – and every block after it – is legitimate, because if you tampered with it, everyone would know.

If you tried to fake a transaction by changing a block that had already been stored in the blockchain, that block’s hash would change. If someone checked the block’s authenticity by running the hashing function on it, they’d find that the hash was different from the one already stored along with that block in the blockchain. The block would be instantly spotted as a fake.

Because each block’s hash is used to help produce the hash of the next block in the chain, tampering with a block would also make the subsequent block’s hash wrong too. That would continue all the way down the chain, throwing everything out of whack.

Why Use Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a relatively new form of currency that is just beginning to hit the mainstream, but many people still don’t understand why they should make the effort to use it.

Why use bitcoin? Here are 10 good reasons why it’s worth taking the time to get involved in this virtual currency.

It’s fast

When you pay a cheque from another bank into your bank, the bank will often hold that money for several days, because it can’t trust that the funds are really available. Similarly, international wire transfers can take a relatively long time. Bitcoin transactions, however, are generally far faster.
Transactions can be instantaneous if they are “zero-confirmation” transactions, meaning that the merchant takes on the risk of accepting a transaction that hasn’t yet beenconfirmed by the bitcoin blockchain. Or, they can take around 10 minutes if a merchant requires the transaction to be confirmed. That is far faster than any inter-bank transfer.

It’s cheap

What’s that you say? Your credit card transactions are instantaneous too? Well, that’s true. But your merchant (and possibly you) pay for that privilege. Some merchants will charge a fee for debit card transactions too, as they have to pay a ‘swipe fee’ for fulfilling them. Bitcoin transaction fees are minimal, or in some cases free.

Central governments can’t take it away

Remember what happened in Cyprus in March 2013? The Central Bank wanted to take back uninsured deposits larger than $100,000 to help recapitalize itself, causing huge unrest in the local population. It originally wanted to take a percentage of deposits below that figure, eating directly into family savings. That can’t happen with bitcoin. Because the currency is decentralized, you own it. No central authority has control, and so a bank can’t take it away from you. For those who find their trust in the traditional banking system unravelling, that’s a big benefit.

There are no chargebacks

Once bitcoins have been sent, they’re gone. A person who has sent bitcoins cannot try to retrieve them without the recipient’s consent. This makes it difficult to commit the kind of fraud that we often see with credit cards, in which people make a purchase and then contact the credit card company to make a chargeback, effectively reversing the transaction.

People can’t steal your payment information from merchants

This is a big one. Most online purchases today are made via credit cards, but in the 1920s and ’30s, when the first precursors to credit cards appeared, the Internet hadn’t yet been conceived. Credit cards were never supposed to be used online and are insecure. Online forms require you to enter all your secret information (the credit card number, expiry date, and CSV number) into a web form. It’s hard to think of a less secure way to do online business. This is why credit card numbers keep being stolen.


Bitcoin transactions, however, don’t require you to give up any secret information. Instead, they use two keys: a public key, and a private one. Anyone can see the public key (which is actually your bitcoin address), but your private key is secret. When you send a bitcoin, you ‘sign’ the transaction by combining your public and private keys together, and applying a mathematical function to them. This creates a certificate that proves the transaction came from you. As long as you don’t do anything silly like publishing your private key for everyone to see, you’re safe.

It isn’t inflationary

The problem with regular fiat currency is that governments can print as much of it as they like, and they frequently do. If there are not enough US dollars to pay off the national debt, then the Federal Reserve can simply print more. If the economy is sputtering, then the government can take newly created money and inject it into the economy, via a much-publicised process known as quantitative easing. This causes the value of a currency to decrease.

If you suddenly double the number of dollars in circulation, then that means there are two dollars where before there was only one. Someone who had been selling a chocolate bar for a dollar will have to double the price to make it worth the same as it was before, because a dollar suddenly has only half its value. This is called inflation, and it causes the price of goods and services to increase. Inflation can be difficult to control, and can decrease people’s buying power. Bitcoin was designed to have a maximum number of coins. Only 21 million will ever be created under the original specification. This means that after that, the number of bitcoins won’t grow, so inflation won’t be a problem. In fact, deflation – where the price of goods and services falls – is more likely in the bitcoin world.

Mobile wallets

Desktop-based wallets are all very well, but they aren’t very useful if you are out on the street, trying to pay for something in a physical store. This is where a mobile walletcomes in handy. Running as an app on your smartphone, the wallet can store the private keys for your bitcoin addresses, and enable you to pay for things directly with your phone.

In some cases, a bitcoin wallet will even take advantage of a smartphone’s near-field communication (NFC) feature, enabling you to tap the phone against a reader and pay with bitcoins without having to enter any information at all.

One common feature of mobile wallets is that they are not full bitcoin clients. A full bitcoin client has to download the entire bitcoin blockchain, which is always growing and is multiple gigabytes in size. That could get you into a heap of trouble with your mobile service provider, who will be only too happy to send you a hefty bill for downloading it over a cellular link. Many phones wouldn’t be able to hold the blockchain in their memory, in any case.

Instead, these mobile clients are often designed with simplified payment verification (SPV) in mind. They download a very small subset of the blockchain, and rely on other, trusted nodes in the bitcoin network to ensure that they have the right information.

Examples of mobile wallets include the Android-based Bitcoin wallet, Mycelium, Xapoand Blockchain (which keeps your bitcoin keys encrypted on your phone, and backed up on a web-based server).

Apple is notoriously paranoid about bitcoin wallets. Coinbase had its mobile wallet apppulled from the app store altogether in November 2013, and this was followed in February 2014 by removal of Blockchain’s iOS app. However, in July 2014, bitcoin wallet apps began to reappear on the iOS store, and now all of the major bitcoin wallet providers have released new editions of their previous apps.

The Aegis Bitcoin Wallet even supports android smartwatches

There are also other types of wallets that can be used on a mobile, such as the browser-based wallet CoinPunk is developing. Another unusual wallet is the Aegis Bitcoin Wallet, which supports Android smartwatches.