Since cryptocurrency cultists began buzzing about bitcoin years ago, they’ve hinted that bitcoin’s technology might have much bigger implications than the ability to just move around digital coins. As Bitcoin startups become fintech’s latest craze, these kinds of applications are starting to rear their head in the startup community.
Blocksign, a startup that launches this morning, is using bitcoin’s giant records database, the Blockchain, to build an entirely un-financial application. Their service lets you sign legally binding documents and agreements in the same system that keeps all records of bitcoin transactions.
At first, bitcoin was just the purview of cryptography nerds and libertarian redditors. Since then, digital currencies have been used to fund everything from World Cup betting rings to congressional elections. Now that bitcoin is out in front of legislators and safer than ever to use, investors are starting to pour record amounts into bitcoin startups.
From April through June of this year, bitcoin startups pulled in a record $76.8 million in investments, which is almost as much as the entirety of 2013, CB Insights reports.
Rep. Jared Polis, the “Gamer Congressman,” has been a big advocate for Bitcoin on Capitol Hill. He’s taken BTC for campaign donation, lampooned his colleagues for speaking out against Bitcoin, and invited fellow congressmen to give Bitcoin a shot. Now, he’s helping bring Washington, D.C. its first Bitcoin Startup Demo Day.
Today, a few major Bitcoin startups like Coinbase, BitPay and BitGO will set up shop in the Rayburn House Office Building to convince Washington regulators to embrace Bitcoin. They’ll be joined by major companies who have successfully integrated Bitcoin into their business models, like Expedia, who started taking payments in Bitcoin earlier this summer and have been more than happy with the results.
Jesus died for our selfies
My introduction to Bitcoin came from the smartest living man. Balaji Srinivasan is the youngest General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Currently he is building a development wing for Andreessen—a project that, to my knowledge, no VC has ever undertaken. Ben Horowitz calls him “Young Einstein”.
Balaji is Indian, but has piercing green eyes. Looking at his face is hypnotic. He is a prodigy — he started teaching at Stanford when he was 26. The first time I met him, he took me to brunch in Williamsburg and we discussed asking Nas to record a diss track on this bitch-ass tech reporter whom we both loathe…
The conversation quickly turned to Bitcoin.
It's All About the Bitcoins Baby
What do Tour de France spectators, the NASA’s Mars Rover and potential Bitcoin users have in common? They all love selfies.
A company in the Philippines is taking advantage of our vanity by having millennials convert their cash into Bitcoin in daily “selfie contests.”
Fun With Bitcoins
While you could have used Bitcoin to bet on the World Cup or purchase 50 Cent’s latest album, there are still very few outlets willing to accept your confusing Internet money.
A new startup called My Coin Solution launched to help make accepting Bitcoin effortless for online vendors.
More Money More Problems
The World Cup begins this Thursday, and if you’re American, you probably have a number of questions: What sport is this again? Is the U.S. even playing? And (most importantly) how can I place bets? The answers to those questions are “soccer,” “yes,” and now, “in Bitcoin.”
A new service called Bitkup is taking bets on your projections for the World cup. You can either opt into the betting pool with a single payment of 0.05 BTC ($33 at time of writing) or simply play along without betting. Playing for fun won’t qualify you to win the jackpot, but could lead to winning Bitcoin-themed prizes.
As politicians and businessmen are getting on board with digital currencies, 50 Cent has hopped on the bitcoin bandwagon. The rapper’s new album Animal Ambition, along with his other merch, is now purchasable through BitPay, allowing consumers to use cryptocurrency to get 50’s latest.
“The bitcoin community represents his target demographic — young men between the ages of 18 and 30,” Stephanie Wargo, VP of Marketing at BitPay, told Betabeat, “The bitcoin community is also an untapped market ready to spend their money. Accepting bitcoin is a great business decision for a popular and independent hip-hop artist such as 50 Cent.”
it's all about the bitcoin baby
Ever since the FEC decided that it was legit for congressional campaigns to take donations in Bitcoin, a few future-forward politicians have made digital currency donations part of their platform. Now that trend is making its East Coast debut in New York City’s 7th district.
Congressional candidate Jeff Kurzon will start accepting donations to his campaign in Bitcoin this week as part of his effort to unseat Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez. Jeff Kurzon is the first New York politician to accept digital currencies for a campaign, following in the footsteps of Colorado’s Jared Polis and Texas’s Steve Stockman.
Part of bitcoin’s mystique is that it isn’t backed up by anything of traditional value. It’s kind of like U.S. dollars in that way, come to think of it, although bitcoin rejects silver and gold defiantly.
So for a major precious metal dealer such as Euro Pacific to start accepting bitcoin is not only surprising, but also a likely feather in the cap for the cryptocurrency’s advocates.