Snapcard Partners with Alpha Payments Cloud

Bitcoin Magazine
Snapcard Partners with Alpha Payments Cloud

Bitcoin wallet service provider and one of the leading bitcoin payments processors Snapcard has entered into a strategic partnership with Alpha Payments Cloud to enable Alpha hub users to accept bitcoin payments.

Alphahub is an omni-channel access platform that combines payments, risk management and transaction settlement onto one single platform, with “over 250 connected third-party solutions and a suite of white-labeled product.”

By integrating Snapcard’s bitcoin payment infrastructure, Alphahub will begin offering its third-party solutions, which include banks, financial platforms and institutions, with a bitcoin payment option, together with many other online payment tools.

“We’re excited to work with Snapcard to help our clients capture the added-value of accepting global alternative payments like Bitcoin,” announced Ronan Gallagher, chief product officer at Alpha Payments Cloud.

Through the partnership, AlphaHub users will be able to accept bitcoin payments with a transaction fee of 0.5 percent with no fixed or setup fees. Unlike other cloud systems, Alpha Payments Cloud’s clientele includes top-tier institutions and organizations, which increases the significance of this integration.

Snapcard CEO Michael Dunworth explained that bitcoin still is in the educational process, and a company like Alpha, which is known for its innovative initiatives, will help Snapcard bring bitcoin products to a new range of clients.

This marks the second major deal of Snapcard since its partnership with ifeelgoods, which began to use Snapcard’s MassPay API, to offer bitcoin as an incentive tool.

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Coinffeine Launches Beta Version of Decentralized Bitcoin Exchange Platform Worldwide

Spanish Bitcoin startup Coinffeine has launched the world’s first decentralized Bitcoin exchange platform in more than 70 countries, including Russia, China, Indonesia and Brazil.

The company, which started offering a technical preview of their platform in May, was funded by the Spanish bank Bankinter through the Bankinter Innovation Foundation in November.

The Coinffeine platform is still in beta, and the company recommends exchanging only moderate amounts of money through the platform until further notice.

The founders describe Coinffeine as “BitTorrent for Bitcoin,” a decentralized exchange based on peer-to-peer operations.

“Coinffeine is completely distributed, just like BitTorrent,” notes the Coinffeine website. “The exchange is done peer-to-peer (P2P), so there is only a very limited disclosure of information (your payment processor account so the money can be transferred) with the person you are doing the exchange. You are always in control of your bitcoins, and your trusted payment processor of choice is in control of your local currency.”

Coinffeine CEO Alberto Gómez Toribio said that using Coinffeine is as simple as using LocalBitcoins, but as powerful as using Coinbase or BitStamp. “We want our customers to be those who simply have a PayPal-like account and want to buy or sell bitcoins in a simple and effective way,” he said.

Major exchanges such as Coinbase and Bitstamp work just fine and, after the first turbulent years with massive failures like Mt. Gox, many of today’s bitcoin exchanges are solid, responsible and professional businesses. However, banks have been rumored to monitor transactions to and from bitcoin exchanges, and report them to the government under instructions from the authorities.

Only a few weeks ago, a memo received by a bank in Europe from the national financial institute was disclosed, with instructions to report anyone who receives more than €1,000 that may be linked to bitcoin. That’s likely to annoy those who are paid in bitcoin (for perfectly legitimate work) and must cash out to pay bills and buy food.

It’s very easy to imagine how a possible surge of anti-bitcoin sentiment in public administrations may force banks to reject any transactions to or from bitcoin exchanges. In that case, bitcoin users would have to find alternative means to buy and sell bitcoin, and Coinffeine’s P2P exchange system could be one of the best options.

Coinffeine works like traditional exchanges, but using external payment processors – such as PayPal or local processors – to manage funds in local currencies, and a desktop application to manage bitcoin. The P2P Coinffeine system works without requiring the company to hold user deposits in bitcoin or local currencies. Therefore, Coinffeine doesn’t have to identify users or take costly measures to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations in each country.

“Not having to identify users or enforce KYC (know-your-customer) laws has allowed us to design a much more scalable exchange model,” said Gómez. “But what is even more interesting, is the user experience we offer. Coinffeine is like BitTorrent. You just download it, you connect your Okpay account, or PayPal in the future, and use it.”

While only Okpay is supported at the moment, Coinffeine expects to integrate other payment processors in the near future.

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Canada’s Shifting Economic and Political Climate May Affect Bitcoin Exchanges’ Plans

The Bank of Canada has confirmed that, after two quarters of negative growth, the Canadian economy is technically in a recession although the bank would prefer to call it a “mild contraction.” The dollar is at a six-year low, mainly due to the falling price of oil and gas.

There have been persistent rumors for some time here that New York-based digital currencies exchange Coinbase is planning to expand into the Canadian market.

One of the largest exchanges in the world, and a benchmark for the NYSE’s bitcoin index NYXBT, Coinbase was named one of the 50 “Smart companies” of 2015 by MIT Technology Review.

When Bitcoin Magazine asked Coinbase’s International Expansion Head Sam Rosenblum to comment on the speculation, he would say only:

“Thanks for thinking of Coinbase… While we currently operate in 25 countries around the world, Canada is unfortunately not one of them.  We certainly hope to launch our operations in Canada sooner rather than later.”

You may think Rosenblum is being coy, but he, along with other potential investors, may very well be reassessing the Canadian market in light of new economic realities and a sea change at the federal government level as every poll indicates the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP) will likely win the upcoming election.

The oil-dependent province of Alberta stunned the country earlier this year by electing the leftist New Democratic Party at the provincial level, the first time in its history.

Two things about the NDP: It loves to regulate, and it plans to abolish the Senate, whose report on regulating digital currencies will likely be ignored, if not actively flouted.

This may have given pause to any investment plans on the part of Coinbase.

QuadrigaCX currently dominates the Canadian market

For a small country, Canada has its share of digital currency exchanges with home-grown QuadrigaCX dominating the market with a majority market share.

Cointrader, Coinsetter (CAVirtex) and Kraken, along with a number of smaller exchanges such as CoinSquare are in competition for the remaining market share.

“The company recently acquired CaVirtex and plans to lead the Canadian Bitcoin exchanges in the country,” Coinsetter CEO Jaron Lukasiewicz said in an interview with Bitcoinist. “Coinsetter’s exchange offers deep liquidity and attractive pricing, low latency trade execution and enterprise Bitcoin security making it a leader in the industry.”

Christine Duhaime, Executive Director of the Canadian Digital Finance Institute, thinks that whatever happens in the coming months, QuardigaCX will likely be left standing when the dust settles.

Duhaime notes: ”What I know about them [QuadrigaCX] is that they run their fiscal operations conservatively and grow organically with their own revenues so they are likely to have staying power in the long term”.

Virgile Rostand, CEO of one of the smaller exchanges, CoinSquare, is watching with interest and told us:

“The Canadian Bitcoin landscape is certainly evolving rapidly, and this will benefit bitcoin users all across the country tremendously by bringing down the service fees and by increasing the level of service that Canadians should expect from their exchanges. As with all emerging markets, successes and failures will depend on how well a company can bring innovation into the market while keeping their operations viable.”

Back into regulatory uncertainty

The Conservative government has been cautious about regulating digital currency businesses, referring the issue to the Senate for study. As reported by Bitcoin Magazine, the Senate called for a hands-off approach to regulation in order to give new financial technology innovation room to grow and prosper.

At this point, the Canadian government would normally respond, but the Conservative party is fighting for its life in the current election campaign, and regulations for digital currencies is the last thing on their minds.

This leaves things in flux, and the fact that the province of Quebec has brought in it’s own regulations requiring licensing for bitcoin trading platforms, means more rather than less uncertainty for digital currency businesses in Canada.

Amber D. Scott, CEO of Outlier Solutions notes that, at least for now,

“The obligations that are placed on exchanges (security, compliance, etc.) are probably the least complex that they will ever be in Canada right now. Lower-cost business creation and launch is possible (at least for now)… The winners will be those that are able to leverage their resources well to meet these obligations, while simultaneously keeping up with end user demands in an era of uncertainty.”

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