BitPagos Acquires Argentinian Bitcoin Exchange Unisend

Bitcoin Magazine
BitPagos Acquires Argentinian Bitcoin Exchange Unisend

Latin American bitcoin merchant payment processor BitPagos has acquired Argentinian bitcoin exchange Unisend, to provide bitcoin exchange and trading services on its bitcoin purchasing platform Gravel.

BitPagos launched Gravel in August 2014 to enable its users to purchase bitcoin at more than 8,000 Argentinian convenience stores. During that time, BitPagos CEO Sebastian Serraon told Coindesk, “You can go to any location, give them your account in Ripio and the amount of pesos you want to get in bitcoins. Boom: You have some bitcoins.”

The acquisition of Unisend will allow the company to operate a fully operated bitcoin exchange on Gravel. “The big change is that … users of the platform will have a new online exchange market in Argentine pesos and bitcoins, connecting immediately offers for buyers and sellers,” the BitPagos team announced in a press release.

BitPagos empowers small businesses and online merchants to process and facilitate simpler transactions internationally. The company believes that easy-to-use bitcoin exchange platforms could be the main factor that affects the growth of the Argentinian bitcoin industry.

“The acquisition of Unisend and the integration of BitPagos onto the Unisend bitcoin exchange platform will result a significant increase in bitcoin transactions, promoting and strengthening the Latin American and Argentinian bitcoin network,” the BitPagos team announced.

BitPagos raised $600,000 in a seed funding round led by Pantera Capital, Tim Draper, Barry Silber and Boost VC in 2014, to boost bitcoin use in South America. At the time, BitPagos processed around $150,000 per month on average. With the acquisition of Unisend, the company hopes to process around $1 million per month.

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Wall Steet Interest in Bitcoin Grows with ARK Fund Investing in Silbert’s Bitcoin Investment Trust

ARK Investment Management LLC (ARK), an active manager of thematic Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), announced that the ARK Web x.0 ETF has become the first ETF to invest in bitcoin. ARK has made its investment for ARK Web x.0 ETF through the purchase of publicly traded shares of Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust.

The ARK Web x.0 ETF trades on the NYSE Arca exchange with the symbol ARKW. Securities within ARKW are related to cloud computing, Big Data, sharing services and social media, digital education, wearable technology, data mining, Internet of Things (IoT) and now cryptocurrencies. Like the other ARK ETFs, ARKW can be purchased by investors through various trading platforms, including FidelitySchwab and E-Trade.

“We’re believers in bitcoin, the currency, and Bitcoin, the technology platform.  We also believe that current prices present an attractive entry point for our investors,” said ARK’s Founder and Chief Investment Officer Cathie Wood. “Bitcoin is a disruptive innovation, and, while still in its infancy, interest has been growing rapidly in Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington, D.C.”

Wood founded ARK Investment Management in 2014. In 2013, she completed 12 years at Alliance Bernstein as chief investment officer of Global Thematic Strategies with nearly $5 billion in assets under management and superior long-term investment returns. New York Business Journal notes that ARK has holdings in LinkedIn, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, which says much about Wood’s ability to pick stocks of disruptive technology companies with high potential for growth.

“We’ve been watching [Bitcoin] for a long time, not long after Satoshi Nakamoto, whoever he or she is, designed it,” Wood said to New York Business Journal. “We’re looking at something now that’s stabilized.” Grayscale’s director of sales Michael Sonnenshein added that ARK can’t hold bitcoin directly – because bitcoin is considered as property by the IRS in the United States – but can hold Bitcoin Investment Trust shares. “Rather than them purchase bitcoin directly, the way they can purchase shares of Apple and Tesla, they can buy shares in the Bitcoin Investment Trust,” he said.

In March, Bitcoin Magazine reported that Grayscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust received formal approval for listing on the OTC Markets Group’s OTCQX exchange, with the symbol GBTC. Trading started in the following week.

“We’re excited to receive an investment into the Bitcoin Investment Trust from an innovative firm like ARK,” said Grayscale Founder Barry Silbert. “ARK, a pioneer in the investment community, is in good company. Recent news has highlighted Goldman Sachs, UBS and Citi for their initiatives in the digital currency space.”

“Grayscale is a leader in the bitcoin ecosystem, bridging the gap between digital currency and the broader investment community,” added ARK’s Chief Operations Officer Jane Kanter. “Our investment philosophy is to invest in innovative companies, and we’re glad to be making our own innovative mark within the ETF community.”

Another ETF focused on Bitcoin, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF (COIN) to be launched by the Winklevoss twins, is still going through the regulatory approval process.

The ARK investment signals that Wall Street is ready to accept bitcoin as an investment that, as noted by Wood, is now stabilized. Now, ARKW offers investors – including small investors – who are bullish about bitcoin, but prefer not to hold it directly, the possibility to bet on bitcoin with a traditional investment vehicle that anyone can buy.

It’s worth noting, however, that the considerable increase in Bitcoin adoption and Wall Street incestments in Bitcoin (the technology) in this and last year hasn’t increased the value of bitcoin (the currency). In fact, the price of bitcoin doesn’t grow with adoption – if anything, it goes down. A reason is that bitcoin is not only a speculative investment, but also a currency that is increasingly used to pay for goods and services – you can’t buy a beer with Facebook’s stock, but you can buy a beer with bitcoin. Usually, merchants that accept bitcoin sell it for fiat immediately, which brings the bitcoin price down.

Therefore, investors should bear in mind that the growing adoption of bitcoin by consumers and merchants, and the growing Wall Street investments in the Bitcoin system, don’t necessarily result in an increase in the price of bitcoin and the value of investment vehicles tied to the price of bitcoin, such as GBTC and ARKW.

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First Peer-Reviewed Academic Bitcoin Journal, Ledger, Launches and Issues Call for Papers

Ledger, a new peer-reviewed scholarly journal, will publish full-length original research articles on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, as well as any relevant intersections with mathematics, computer science, engineering, law and economics.  Ledger will be published online on a quarterly basis by the University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, as an open-access journal.

“The journal Ledger invites authors to submit their original research for the inaugural issue of the very first peer-reviewed academic publication devoted solely to the field of cryptocurrencies and its related subtopics,” says the first Ledger Call for Papers. “Ledger is the first peer-reviewed journal devoted to the inherently interdisciplinary subject of cryptocurrencies, and is proud to be supported by its distinguished editorial board.”

The Ledger editorial board includes representatives from MIT, Stanford University, Duke University, Cornell University, Oxford University, and New York Law School, as well as Jerry Brito, executive director of advocacy group Coin Center, and Vitalik Buterin, founder and lead developer of the “Bitcoin 2.0” platform Ethereum.

“I’m happy to say I’ll be serving on the editorial board of this new journal along with a distinguished group of academics and experts,” said Brito on the Coin Center blog. “The quarterly publication will have regular calls for papers and will be published in an open access format with transparent peer-review.”

The transparent peer review process will include the publication of peer-review transcripts with all the correspondence relevant to the processing of the manuscript, including referee reports, author responses and editor comments. Ledger wants to put in place a relatively agile peer-review process, with the first round of reviews complete and returned to the author within six weeks.  Papers that require only trivial changes could then move from submission to acceptance within a six-week period.

Ledger welcomes papers of up to 4,000 words detailing new ideas and perspectives on any relevant topic, including, but not limited to, the technical, social, economic and philosophical developments and implications of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, public and decentralized ledgers, distributed consensus and more. The deadline for submissions for the inaugural issue is December 31, 2015, and the journal will consider submissions after that date for subsequent issues on an ongoing basis.

Motherboard reports that the idea of Ledger was born during a discussion between managing editors Dr. Peter R. Rizun and professor Christopher E. Wilmer on the Bitcoin forum bitcointalk.

“I wanted to build an academic and interdisciplinary communication channel that would allow bright minds in economics, sociology, physics, law and political science to contribute at the highest-level towards the evolution of Bitcoin,” said Rizun.

“I’m glad to see Ledger launch,” said Bitcoin developer Gavin Andresen, “and am looking forward to absorbing the great research that will be published there.”

Ledger will encourage authors to digitally sign their manuscripts, and timestamp the published manuscripts in the blockchain. In a concession to the early underground spirit of Bitcoin, the journal may permit authors to publish under a pseudonym “under extenuating circumstances.” It isn’t clear whether “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” the original Bitcoin whitepaper by the probably pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, would be accepted for publication on Ledger.

In fact, so far all technical contributions and whitepapers on important innovations in the digital currency space, including Ethereum, sidechains, and lightning networks, have been crowd-published outside of the scholarly journal publishing framework. Therefore, it might be argued that Ledger represents a step back to a more centralized and formal, less spontaneous and ultimately less efficient form of research.

However, only publications in formally established and peer-reviewed journals are recognized as valid scientific credentials, so Ledger is likely to stimulate academic researchers to contribute to digital currency innovations. Ledger has adopted the modern trends in scientific publishing – online publishing, open access, no author fees, and agile transparent peer-review – and might become a bridge between research hackers and the scientific establishment.

Photo the.Firebottle / Flickr (CC)

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