Overstock.com’s tØ blockchain platform went live, and Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for Bitcoins. Here are the cryptocurrency highlights of week 50:
- Friday December 16 marked the first day of trading on Overstock.com’s tØ blockchain platform. The activity on the tØ blockchain explorer was confined to the verification of two blockchain addresses, but this happened in public. This level of transparency is the key innovation provided by the platform. According to Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne “it is exactly this public record that will prevent a wide range of profit generation employed by the middlemen responsible for connecting buyers and sellers and helping them settle their transactions.”
- A Los Angeles attorney is asking a federal judge to halt an IRS probe into more than a million customer accounts at Coinbase, a popular site for buying and holding the crypto-currency bitcoin. In a complaint filed on Tuesday in San Francisco, Jeffrey Berns asked the court to quash a subpoena that orders Coinbase to turn over the names and account information of all of its customers. The IRS obtained the subpoena on the grounds that Bitcoin owners are likely to engage in tax evasion by failing to declare capital gains on the currency, or by engaging in schemes to buy goods and services with bitcoin in order to avoid the taxman.
- Amid growing economic chaos, and the highest inflation rate in the world, some Venezuelans are swapping bolivars for Bitcoins in order to buy basic necessities or pay their employees. The digital currency is free from central bank or government controls, and users in Venezuela see it as a safe alternative in an economy where the government has enforced strict foreign exchange controls, and inflation is running at an estimated 500%. Although Bitcoin users still represent a tiny minority, some believe that the currency will become more popular in Venezuela as economic uncertainty escalates.
- Compared to the previous week the price of Bitcoin has increased by more than two percent, with the exchange rate currently at $791 per BTC. The price of Ethereum lost almost nine percent, taking Ether down to a rate of $7.90 per ETH. Ethereum Classic on the other hand gained more than 20 percent, with the price increasing to $1.01 per ETC. Zcash continued to decline, losing 28 percent of its value this week. One ZEC is now trading at roughly $36 per coin.