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The Weekend Read: Feb 20

SpurlockCNN-640 In case you missed it (and judging from CNN's ratings, you probably did) you can catch Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) try to spend an entire week using only bitcoin here. Looks like Morgan got caught long at $630...

1. The Bitcoin Bull corner

Influential Payments Startup Stripe Now Accepts Bitcoin

Stripe, the intriguing startup that helps drive payments on everything from Facebook to Lyft, is now handling bitcoin.

Wences Casares: Here's why bitcoin will be bigger than the internet

So, you know, we live in a world in which there are 5 billion people who have a phone but do not have a bank account or a credit card. So these banks that do so well have managed to barely bank 1 billion people. There are 5 billion people who get abused for not having a bank account or a credit card. They cannot participate in this global economy that we're talking about all day. This is the one time that we see a true, realistic hope this could change.

2. The Bitcoin Bear corner

R3 Advisor Tim Swanson seems increasingly comfortable in this corner...

Is Bitcoin Stalling?

Last week, nearly 200,000 bitcoins changed hands each day, on average. But fewer than 5,000 bitcoins per day (worth roughly $1.2 million) are being used for retail transactions, according to estimates by Tim Swanson, head of business development at Melotic, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency technology company. After some growth in 2013, retail volume in 2014 was mostly flat, says Swanson.

For many people, the currency simply doesn’t solve a problem, given the convenience and familiarity of using credit cards.

Can Bitcoin’s internal economy securely grow relative to its outputs?

Tim brings up a point that I often struggle with yet gets a response of mostly hand-waving from most bitcoin folks: what happens when the coin value used to represent a transfer of value other than btc is much smaller than the value being transferred?

For example, if for some reason Apple Inc. decided to issue all of its shares onto the Bitcoin network via a metacoin, this could create a top-heavy security vulnerability. Recall that the total market cap of Apple’s shares is ~$750 billion USD but the labor force of Bitcoinland is only destroying enough capital to secure ~$3.46 billion in bitcoins (at the time of this writing $250 x 13.85 million mined coins).

Thus in the long run, miners are probably not destroying enough capital to ultimately secure metacoin assets, making the network less secure.

3. Ripple Labs joins W3C Web Payments Interest Group

Ripple Labs CTO Stefan Thomas cited informational web as a potential prototype to the upcoming web payment standards, saying how they could actually improve efficiency and provide “greater access in financial systems” — just like access of information in the case of HTTP’s growth. “Critically, we believe that there will be multiple protocols and ledgers that make up the value web,” he continued. “However, they will all benefit from standardized interfaces and greater interoperability.”

4. Bitcoin technology offers clarity for derivatives [reg req.]

The impact of this could be revolutionary given the millions of bilateral trades that big banks have in place at any one time. The complex and opaque web of trades face chaos if a bank fails, as was proved in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. More than six years on, administrators are still attempting to unwind all the trades in place when Lehman failed. [snip] Regulators want the financial services industry to move more derivatives trading on to central clearing systems, but some banks see the bitcoin model as a way of leapfrogging the need for a central counterparty.

5. The Windhover Principles for Digital Identity, Trust, and Data

A very brief article published by ID3 last fall that lays out four broad principles that could serve as the building blocks to a functional, federated digital identity that provides "transparent and proportionate access" to that data without violating the individual's (or entity's) chosen level of privacy.