July 28, 2015- In This Issue:


Bitcoin Growing 25% Faster Than The Internet In Its Early Years

The growth of bitcoin in terms of investment is outpacing that of the early stage internet by almost 25%, according to the latest figures.


Venture capitalist investment in bitcoin startups is projected to be $786m (£506m) in 2015, compared with $639m in internet companies in 1996.


Data gathered by CoinDesk and PriceewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for the State of Bitcoin Q2 2015 report also revealed investment in bitcoin startups will double year-on-year from 2014.


The venture capital funding includes the $116m raised by the San Francisco-based 21 Inc in March, the most ever by a startup in the cryptocurrency sector.


Lead investor Marc Andreessen from Andreessen Horowitz said at the time that bitcoin was similar to the internet in its early years, as it is a "fringe technology" with "fringe characters" and "fringe politics".


Andreessen said: "In 1994, as a venture capital firm, it would have been a good idea to take the internet seriously and it would have been a good idea to invest in a cross-section of [internet] companies."

Bitcoin On The March: BNP Paribas Tests Bitcoin On A Currency Fund

Bitcoin continues to push deeper into mainstream currency trading with BNP Paribas, France's largest bank. The bank is testing bitcoin for one of its currency funds, according to International Business Times UK.


A source at BNP Paribas told IBTimes UK the bank has been "beta testing" crypotocurrency with one of the bank's currency funds in Paris and will make an announcement about it shortly.


Spokesperson Cites Block Chain Technology


"We are looking at blockchain technology and how it can be applied to post trade processes to make things faster and potentially cheaper but it's all very much projects and it's all in testing," a BNP Paribas spokeswoman said. "It's nothing live."


BNP Paribas raised headlines earlier this month when analyst Johann Palychata said bitcoin technology, when applied to securities trading, could make sections of the banking industry "redundant."


Palychata wrote in the BNP Paribas magazine Quintessence that the block chain "should be considered as invention like the steam or combustion engine" due its transformative capabilities.


Meanwhile, Société Générale (SocGen) has advertised for an IT developer on bitcoin, block chains and cryptocurrencies. The ad said this 12-month contact would involve "developing proof-of-concept in any language/protocols used in cryptocurrency protocols and blockchains 1.0-3.0."

Bitcoin Companies Move Ahead In Africa

Efforts to get Bitcoin off the ground in Africa received a boost this week as BitX announced it has raised $4 million in funding.


Africa is a market ripe for Bitcoin: it's underserved by financial institutions due to the high cost of having a physical presence like ATMs, bank branches and remittance offices, according Werner van Rooyen, head of business development and growth at BitX.


The company was founded in 2013 and runs a bitcoin exchange and provides wallets for the cryptocurrency. Its headquarters are in Singapore and it has offices South Africa, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia and Nigeria. The Series A funding round was led by South Africa's Naspers Group.


"There's a lot of talk in finance of 'the next billion' and a big part of this next billion will come out of Africa," Werner said via email. "Bitcoin is particularly great when you have low-value payments since there isn't a fixed minimum fee that gets charged to send it."


Another advantage for bitcoin in Africa is the high level of mobile phone penetration, Werner said. "Soon anyone will be able to download a bitcoin wallet on their Android device, transfer some bitcoin in and make payments, be it to the person sitting next to them or sitting on the other side of the world."


Earlier this month, BitX launched a bitcoin exchange and services in Nigeria. It joins ICE3x in that market, which launched the country's first bitcoin exchange in January.

CoinBase CEO: Bitcoin To Surpass The Dollar As Reserve Currency Within 15 Years

The CEO of the world's largest bitcoin wallet provider believes that bitcoin could replace the US dollar as the global reserve currency by 2030.


Brian Armstrong, the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, tweeted on 24 July that he thought "bitcoin could surpass the dollar as reserve currency within 10-15 years". Armstrong also revealed that Coinbase had a "rough plan" to make this happen.


We have a rough plan to get there @Coinbase

- Brian Armstrong (@brian_armstrong) July 24, 2015


Armstrong's comments come after reports that France's biggest bank, BNP Paribas, is looking at ways to incorporate bitcoin into its currency funds.


BNP Paribas has already been doing "beta testing" with cryptocurrency, a source at the bank told IBTimes UK, and an announcement is expected to be made in the coming weeks.


8 Banking Giants Embracing Bitcoin and Blockchain Tech

In its relative short history, bitcoin - and its underlying technology the blockchain - have captivated thinkers around the world, but not everyone was quick to see the potential.


Due in part to its initial billing as a threat to the traditional financial ecosystem, these institutions have perhaps understandably responded with sharp critiques and deep skepticism for the technology.


While major institutions found that bitcoin was perhaps problematic as a currency, they seem to increasingly believe that the blockchain, the protocol that manages and facilitates the exchange of bitcoin, offers benefits over their closed database systems.


With this in mind, big financial players have begun to come forward by discussing experiments with the bitcoin blockchain and other decentralized ledgers.


Though it remains to be seen how these experiments evolve, it's clear that some of the world's most famous banks are moving to leverage the technology.


First Publicly Traded Company Targets Western Union With Bitcoin

MarilynJean Media Interactive (MJMI.qb) announced on July 24 plans to enter the lucrative international remittance market using bitcoin. MJMI is one of the first publicly traded companies to shift focus exclusively to the bitcoin and cryptocurrency space and will be the first such company to offer international money transfer.


Multi-Billion Dollar Industry


According to figures from the World Bank, money worth in excess of US$580 billion was sent internationally last year, and this is expected to rise to over US$608 billion in 2015. With estimated transaction fees averaging nearly 8%, this equates to an almost US$50 billion market.


The majority of remittance transfers are sent from migrant workers in developed countries back home to family in developing ones with India and China being by far the biggest recipient countries by remittance value. In fact remittances sent home by migrants to developing countries are equivalent to more than three times the size of official development assistance.


International remittances are readily available through banks and foreign exchange brokers although these often require bank to bank transfers. The fact that many recipients have no access to a bank account has led to the dominance of high street firms such as Moneygram and Western Union.

The Technology Behind Bitcoin Could Replace Lawyers, Too

Everyone has heard the hype about Bitcoin, but the real promise of the technology behind cryptocurrencies is smart contract management-that is, legally binding agreements that execute themselves through software.


In Bitcoin, the contract is the transaction itself: one party sending another funds. But in commercial banking or investments, smart contracts could execute unknowably complex contingencies based on the terms of the contract, all in real-time, with total transparency to the agreeing parties.


If that sounds fast, then it's warp speed by comparison to the management time for human lawyers, accountants, consultants, and bankers, many of whom bill small fortunes by the hour. By comparison, a smart contract is just software-and not even complex software at that. What makes it unbeatable is its imperviousness to fraud: block chain transactions are recorded in a public ledger holding every transaction with a unique but anonymized key, so if someone modifies one copy of the ledger, everyone else's copy makes the fabrication clear by comparison.


The question is: if two nerds on the Internet hold a transaction, does anyone care? The Fortune 500 had better. Innovators in the block chain space are experimenting with ways to use the protocol in B2B payments without all the usual limits on transaction volume. If they succeed, credit card companies, payments processors, and legions of accounting and law firms (and of course, the attendant consultancies) would be devastated.


That'll cost jobs but save billions for companies and individuals alike. But it also will increase the speed (and potentially the anonymity) of transactions at all levels of the economy. With that kind of uptick in volume, the IRS might end up being the most disrupted entity of them all.