Inside Bitcoins to Hold Startup Competition at South Korean Bitcoin Conference

Bitcoin Magazine
Inside Bitcoins to Hold Startup Competition at South Korean Bitcoin Conference

In what has become a staple of the Inside Bitcoins conferences, leading Bitcoin experts will be judging the demos of five companies from South Korea in this year’s Startup Competition. The event takes place at 3 p.m. Korea Standard Time on December 10.

The companies taking part are Bitholla, KoreanBuddy, WageCan, Epsilon Technologies and Coin Trade. The judges are Simon Dixon, Andrew “Flip” Filipowski, Hans Lombardo and Roger Ver.

As a whole, the South Korean bitcoin ecosystem is relatively small when compared to nearby countries such as China and Hong Kong.

“Bitcoin exchange in South Korea is present but is insufficient, bid/ask is very small in quantity yet to deal with large volumes,” said Mike Hwang, CMO of Coin Trade, one of the presenting companies, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “Coin Trade has [a] plan to launch the global Bitcoin exchange platform service from this January 2016,” Hwang explained.

Like many other wallet/exchange providers, Coin Trade is attempting to create an onramp for those who have yet to own bitcoin, plus provide them with the ability to store their bitcoin in a secure wallet and trade it as they desire.

“In South Korea, there are two early movers that dominate the ecosystem, and they are Korbit and Coinplug,” Paul Bugge, co-founder of Bitholla, told Bitcoin Magazine. “Korbit is the most-used exchange, while Coinplug is providing multiple services such as Bitcoin ATMs and selling bitcoin through retail convenience stores. Aside from these two tech companies, the new batch of companies are small pre-seed startups like ourselves.”

Bugge explained that Bitholla is a social networking platform that first launched back in July 2015. “Since that time we have focused more on continued development of the product than pushing for traction,” he explained. “Using Bitholla you can set your own wallet, receiving payment address, make payment requests and send messages. Bitholla is a proximity service so it shows users nearest to you for convenience of paying people around you.”

All bitcoin may need for Korea to adopt it is for it to reach critical mass in other parts of the world.

“Korea is a follower country,” Chris Williams, co-founder of Korean Buddy, told Bitcoin Magazine . “Koreans need to see other countries using bitcoin, or a major company domestically adopt bitcoin or a couple of big celebrity endorsements for the normal person to start using bitcoin.”

He also explained that the ambiguity of regulation in South Korea could be interfering in adoption.

“Is it legal? How is it going to be taxed? Do businesses need a license to accept it?” Williams said, suggesting this uncertainty could be impeding others from trying the technology.

But that hasn’t stopped him from creating a product he believes will help adoption. KoreanBuddy “is a virtual Korean shopping agent service. With this service people will be able to buy anything in Korea with bitcoin. We are a commission-based shopping agent. The shoppers tell us what they want … and we order and ship the items to them.”

He compared his service, which he expects to launch on January 4, to tourist info centers where people go in foreign cities. “We want to be the [tourist info centers] to all foreigners who want to shop online here in Korea. The Korean online shopping info center.”

The market may be small in Korea, but the excitement is intense. Day 1 of Inside Bitcoins had topics that covered bitcoin as an investment, blockchain technology for nontechnical people, and bitcoin trading and analysis. Day 2 of the event, which will include the competition, will have panels on rate of adoption, blockchain loyalty and customers, and a panel on why bitcoin commerce is broken.

Jacob Cohen Donnelly is a consultant and journalist in the bitcoin space. He runs a weekly newsletter about bitcoin called Crypto Brief. Subscribe to receive a hand picked roundup of the best bitcoin and cryptocurrency news, opinions, and analysis every week sent to you on Monday mornings.

The post Inside Bitcoins to Hold Startup Competition at South Korean Bitcoin Conference appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

BTCC COO Samson Mow: Without Consensus on Block-size Limit, Stakeholders Might Implement an Increase

BTCC Chief Operating Officer Samson Mow indicated that the leading Chinese mining pool and exchange supports an incremental increase of Bitcoin’s block-size limit to 8 megabytes in order to buy time for alternative solutions to be developed.

Moreover, Mow believes the Bitcoin industry might opt to raise Bitcoin’s block-size limit even if no consensus is found among the Bitcoin Core development community.

“If there is no consensus soon, I could see a situation where stakeholders make a decision to implement a small increase,” Mow said. “Without bigger blocks, a fee market will develop, increasing the cost of transactions, and we believe it’s too soon for that to happen.”

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, the COO of the prominent Chinese Bitcoin company formerly known as BTCChina, explained that he believes the long-lasting block-size limit debate is more than a debate regarding the specific block-size parameter. Rather, Mow says, there is a deeper issue at play.

“The core of the issue is actually about what Bitcoin will be,” Mow said. “If we can answer the question of what we all want Bitcoin to be, then the answer to the question of whether the block size needs to be increased will come naturally. Bitcoin can’t be free (as in zero cost), secure, and decentralized all at once and in perpetuity. An extreme view would be: free, secure, decentralized; pick two.”

Given this trade-off, and much like Bitcoin’s “decentralists,” Mow considers “secure and decentralized” the most sensible choice in the long term. However, and more closely aligned with proponents of a block-size limit increase, Mow believes that Bitcoin transactions should remain cheap and accessible for now, in order to attract new users. Meanwhile, developers can improve Bitcoin’s fee market mechanisms and alternative scalability solutions, such as the Lightning Network.

“Being free and secure is great for getting more people to use Bitcoin and growing the market cap,” Mow said. “As we don’t have a production-ready solution to scale Bitcoin, we should consider increasing the block size so we can drive adoption in the near term.”

An incremental increase to 8 megabytes over four years, as proposed byBlockstream CEO and hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back, therefore, makes a lot of sense for BTCC. Another favored solution is Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik’s BIP 100, which allows miners to vote on the block-size limit up until a hard cap of 32 megabytes.

“The ‘2-4-8’ proposal is a good solution for the short term until we can figure out how to really scale Bitcoin,” Mow explained. “It will let us move incrementally and measure the results carefully. We will only be able to fully understand the impact on the network by scaling block size incrementally. Alternatively, we think BIP 100 is a good option, too, because it is flexible and allows for increases and decreases of the block size as needed. BIP 100 also makes Bitcoin more decentralized in that it reduces reliance on core developers to make adjustments in accordance with market conditions.”

Lastly,BIP 101 is still off the table for BTCC. This proposal, which was implemented in alternative Bitcoin implementation Bitcoin XT last summer, is programmed to increase the maximum block size to 8 megabytes if a threshold of 75 percent of mining power accepts the change. Once activated, this limit is set to double every two years for 20 years, ultimately leading to an 8 gigabyte block-size limit.

While prominent industry members such as Coinbase, Bitstamp and others have publicly backed BIP 101, BTCC believes it will increase the block-size limit too fast and too uncontrollably.

“BTCC will not support BIP 101. It’s simply far too risky to have automatic scaling in the manner proposed,” Mow said. “BIP 101 presumes that its formula for increasing block size is the right one for the next 20 years, which is either incredibly arrogant or incredibly reckless. For me, the key take-away from the talks at Scaling Bitcoin in Montreal is that we really don’t know how the network will perform with larger blocks.”

BTCC was one of the first and is one of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in China, and is available in an increasing number of countries outside of China as well. Additionally, BTCC’s mining pool controls some 13 percent of hashing power on the Bitcoin network, while the company also provides a wallet service.

Recently, BTCC launched a new BlockPriority service, which guarantees its customers that their transactions will be included in the first block that the BTCC pool mines.

“BlockPriority was developed to protect our customers from attacks on the network or confirmation delays because blocks are full,” Mow explained. “But the other reason was to emphasize the block-size issue. Although BlockPriority reduces the impact of the block-size debate on BTCC and our users, we still prefer a block-size increase. Ideally, there would be no need for BlockPriority.”

The post BTCC COO Samson Mow: Without Consensus on Block-size Limit, Stakeholders Might Implement an Increase appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.