Decentral Blog

What the Data Says: This is Going to Escalate Quickly

The magnitude and speed of Bitcoin’s disruption to society will both be larger than anything mankind has ever seen. This claim is dramatic, but I stand behind it. While preparing for a bitcoin presentation for the FISD Conference, I began tailoring my standard "What is Bitcoin and why does it matter?" presentation to suit the audience. While I normally give speeches about cyber security, bitcoin security, and other information security topics, it's fairly common for us bitcoin supporters to give generic "Bitcoin 101" talks to audiences who are fairly new to the topic. This is a job shared by…

Tags: blog, adoption, data

Holiday Hours

For this holiday season Decentral will be closed on the following days: December 24th, 25th, 26th, 28th, and January 1st. We will be open on Dec. 27th from 10-3pm, regular hours on Dec. 29th, 30th, and from 10-3pm on Dec. 31st. Enjoy the holidays, and stay safe.…

Up, Up and Away with BTCTrip.com: My first experience booking a trip with BTC

My son goes to university up north. Every time we want to bring him home for breaks, I look into a few travel options: flights (convenient but pricey), coach bus (cheaper but less pleasant for him), or driving the eight hours each way (ugh). This week, I decided to look into buying a return flight for him using bitcoins. Using BTCTrip.com was pretty simple. I’ve bought tickets on Expedia and CheapOair many times in the past so I’m used to buying airline tickets online. The user experience on BTCTrip is similar to these sites so the whole…

Tags: blog, spending, adoption, international

Decentral Talk Live launches on Decentral.tv

As part of its bid to become the premier news and information site with video content related to cryptocurrencies and decentralized tech, decentral.tv is launching Decentral Talk Live, a daily show about bitcoin, blockchain technologies, and all things decentralized. Interviews with prominent personalities, innovators, and entrepreneurs will be the key focus, along with product reviews and general news and discussion of current events in the cryptocurrency and decentralized tech space. Hosted by Anthony Di Iorio and Ethan Wilding, Decentral Talk Live will also feature an assortment of guest hosts including specialists in legal, accounting, security, and tech development from…

Tags: decentraltv, news

Dealing with Cryptowall and Ransomware

by Michael Perklin As a digital investigator who spent years tracking cyber criminals online, and as someone who has launched a Bitcoin security consulting company, I’ve been contacted a number of times by victims of digital ransom, looking for ways out. The story is always the same: they see a warning on their computer screen telling them that their files are encrypted, and unless they pay a hefty ransom (with Bitcoin) before the clock runs out, they will never gain access to their files again. I’ve decided to write this blog post to answer some questions about this…

Tags: blog, security, consumer protection

#BitcoinGivingTuesday: Sharing the bitcoin love

After the frantic spending hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a welcome palate-cleanser. And just as we did on those first two days, the Bitcoin community is holding its own event: Bitcoin Giving Tuesday — a project organized by Bitcoin Black Friday, the BitGive Foundation and the Bitcoin Foundation. The number of charities accepting bitcoin donations is on the rise. It’s one more way that they are able to engage with a set of committed donors while reducing their overhead costs. Donated bitcoin can be recorded as a non-cash gift and then exchanged for fiat, without…

Tags: blog, philanthropy, spending, adoption

Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping with Bitcoin

It’s Cyber-Monday — want to take advantage of some deals AND spend your bitcoins? There are a few options. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is use bitcoin to buy electronic gift cards for some of your favourite online stores and then shop as usual. There are some excellent sites out there that offer gift cards. Even if you don’t take advantage of Cyber Monday sales, these are still great options for online holiday shopping with bitcoins. YesToBitcoins.com offers gift cards in a dozen different countries - just select your country from the drop-down list to see which…

Tags: blog, spending, adoption

Highlights from the Ethereum Update

Excitement over the Ethereum project continues to grow. Speaking in front of a packed room at the Toronto Decentral meet-up, Paul Paschos delivered the latest news from the team. According to Paschos, the projected launch date for Ethereum is still on track for this winter: between December 21st, 2014 and March 21st, 2015. Here are some of the other highlights: A new, more navigable, user-friendly website has been launched for developers, containing a wealth of resources including tutorials, videos, and articles. Both Gavin Wood (ÐΞV) and Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum inventor) have emphasized that the project will not release the genesis…

Tags: blog

Andreas Antonopoulos on the Canadian Senate Hearings and Mastering Bitcoin

By 6:00 pm on Wednesday night, a small crowd had begun to gather on the front steps of 64 Spadina, as excitement built in anticipation of Andreas Antonopoulos’s Skype address. By the time the highly-respected bitcoin guru and advocate began speaking, the crowd had filled every one of the 40+ chairs and taken over most of the standing room along the perimeter. Another 80+ watched the feed online. Host and moderator, Anthony Di Iorio, encouraged general participation in the Q&A, in keeping with the decentralized theme of the evening. He initiated the discussion by asking Antonopoulos…

Tags: blog

Navigating Opportunities

In 1992, the Internet was emerging as a game-changing force. Early adopters were eager to build the network and create the next “big thing.” This is where we are with bitcoin today. For anyone looking to hitch their wagon to a rising star in the bitcoin space, there are certainly plenty of worthwhile ventures. There are also plenty of less reputable or simply poorly managed projects that will return nothing but headaches and empty wallets. Start-ups fail all the time and for any number of reasons, and everyone involved loses out: CEOs, developers, managers, and customers. These businesses, good and…

Tags: blog, security, scams

Michael Perklin: All about security

In 2010, Michael Perklin was a digital forensic investigator who focused his efforts on computer security and security theory. He first came across the term “Bitcoin” on a security mailing list. It was being touted as a “totally secure digital money system.” “I scoffed at it,” says Perklin. As a graduate of Sheridan College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Sciences (BaISc) and a Masters degree in Information Assurance (MSIA), he and his classmates had toyed around with notions of digital currencies and decide that they weren’t feasible because a central ledger was always required. “So I set…

Tags: blog, security, decentral

How Dell, Expedia and Others Accept Bitcoin Payments

Screenshot of Coinbase merchant landing page. —— Dell recently announced that they are accepting Bitcoin as a means of payment. Expedia announced last month they’ll start rolling out Bitcoin payment for their services. How are these companies implementing Bitcoin payments online? Dell and Expedia use Coinbase.com. Coinbase is a popular US service for buying, selling and storing Bitcoins (they’re an exchange and offer a wallet). Unfortunately Coinbase is not available for Canadian customers. NewEgg and TigerDirect (online electronics stores) use BitPay.com. BitPay is targetted at developers rather than business people. BitPay is like Stripe for Bitcoin. BitPay…

Tags: blog, spending, adoption

Buying Bitcoin at Decentral

At Decentral we have a convenient bitcoin teller machine that makes purchasing bitcoin easy. To use the machine at our location, simply follow these steps: Click ”Start” on the main screen when you are ready to begin. The price per bitcoin displayed at this point will be your purchase price. Note, of course, that you can always buy fractions of a bitcoin, but the minimum amount per transaction is $5 Canadian. Enter your phone number and then the verification code that you receive by SMS message. Choose “Buy Bitcoin” Next, choose “Yes” if you already have a bitcoin wallet. Choose…

Tags: spending, decentral, atm

What You Need to Know About the New Canadian “Bitcoin Law”

This post was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a tech lawyer who works for Decentral. Addison is a lawyer but he is not your lawyer. You should seek legal advice before acting on any of the legal information presented in this article. Photo by @spettacolopuro. What’s Happened? A Canadian federal law affecting Bitcoin passed last Thursday. Bill C-31, an omnibus budget act, contains provisions that will eventually bring certain Bitcoin businesses into Canada’s anti-money laundering regime. The new rules are not in effect yet. Who Will Be Affected? In short: anyone engaged in the business of buying or selling…

Tags: blog, legal

Decentralized Bitcoin Exchanges: A Solution with Three Big Challenges

The author, Addison Cameron-Huff, is a lawyer who serves as part-time in-house counsel for Decentral. Decentral is Canada’s main decentralized application business development centre. Flickr photo shown on laptop is by @jalavega Bitcoin Exchanges Bitcoin exchanges are businesses that connect buyers and sellers of Bitcoin to each other and the banking system. Exchanges pose three problems: they sometimes go out of business and lose everyone’s money + bitcoins (“counterparty risk”); and, they are easy targets for regulation that can be easily and suddenly shut down by authorities (they are “centralized”); and, they have a limited number of options for…

Tags: blog

What is a Compliance Officer?

This blog post explains what a “compliance officer” is within Canada’s money laundering regime. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal advice when faced with money laundering compliance issues. Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/23912576@N05/2962194797/ Compliance with the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act may require the appointment of a “compliance officer”. A compliance officer typically performs the following roles: "Puts in place and maintains the compliance regime. Ensures that all employees are trained as required. Monitors and observes that…

Tags: blog

A Smart Property Real Estate System for Ontario

This blog post is about how the ideas of Bitcoin could be applied to Ontario’s land ownership records system (POLARIS). It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer retained by Decentral in Toronto. "Smart property" is a concept of great interest in the cryptocurrency industry. Smart property is property for which: the ownership can be verified through a decentralized trust system (like the Bitcoin protocol); and, transfers can take place using the electronic system. Could Ontario adopt a smart property system for land records? Knowledge of how Bitcoin works is a prerequisite to thinking about how a property system…

Tags: blog

It's legal to do business in bitcoin

This blog post discusses the legality of doing business using bitcoins. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal advice when considering Bitcoin legal issues. Businesses are adopting bitcoin (BTC) as a payment method at an ever faster rate (20,000 merchants use the BitPay network and coinmap.org has mapped >3000 businesses). Despite the growing adoption, some people wonder whether “it’s legal”. This blog post takes a look at the legality of doing business with Bitcoin. The starting point for any discussion about what’s legal or…

Tags: blog, legal, taxes, business

Setting up a Bitcoin Business in Canada

This blog post is an overview of the steps required to set up a Bitcoin business. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you obtain your own legal advice before starting a Bitcoin-related company. Every business is different but the following steps are an overview of the general process that many businesses take in order to get started. Step 1: Identify Legal Issues with Your Proposed Business There may be laws that restrict your ability to do business or might direct you to carry out your business in a certain way.…

Tags: blog

What is Money Laundering?

This blog post discusses the definition of “money laundering”. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal counsel to obtain advice about money laundering. “Money laundering is the process used to disguise the source of money or assets derived from criminal activity" according to FINTRAC, Canada’s money laundering regulator. Money laundering is how criminals earn money illegally and convert it, through a series of steps, into money indistinguishable from legitimately earned income. The “series of steps” that money launderers use are diverse and constantly changing as they attempt…

Tags: blog

Deducting Expenses Related to Bitcoin Mining

Deducting Expenses Related to Bitcoin Mining This blog post was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you obtain legal advice before acting in the Bitcoin space. Bitcoin mining is the process by which new bitcoins are generated. It requires buying hardware (“ASIC miners”) to mine bitcoins and power to run the hardware. If you’re mining to make a profit then you may be able to deduct your business-related expenses. According to the CRA: “As a rule, you can deduct any reasonable current expense you paid or will have to pay to…

Tags: blog, legal, taxes, mining

Searching the MSB Registry

FINTRAC (the anti-money-laundering regulator in Canada) maintains a public database of every registered money services business: http://www10.fintrac-canafe.gc.ca/msb-esm/public/msbregistry/searchByName/clf-eng.html Here’s an example from the registry for Canada’s largest Bitcoin trading network: VirtEx.…

Tags: blog, legal

Selling Bitcoins: Do You Need to Charge HST?

This blog post looks at the issue of whether sellers of bitcoins need to charge HST. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. Tax is a complex area and you should seek accounting/legal advice before acting. Most stores in Ontario that sell goods are required to charge 13% HST. According to the CRA: “Almost everyone has to pay the GST/HST on purchases of taxable supplies of property and services (other than zero-rated supplies). A limited number of sales or supplies are exempt from GST/HST.” One transaction that is exempt from HST is…

Tags: blog, legal, taxes

Do the Consumer Protection Act Gift Card Rules Apply to Bitcoin Sales?

This blog post discusses the applicability of the Ontario Consumer Protection Act, 2002 gift card rules to the purchase of bitcoins. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal advice when deciding whether the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 applies to your transactions. Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6710889059/ The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA)is the main consumer protection law in Ontario. Among its many provisions are rules about “gift cards”, a concept that sounds like it could include bitcoins. If the sale of bitcoins…

Tags: blog, legal, spending, adoption, consumer protection

Are Bitcoins “Securities” Under the Ontario Securities Act?

This blog post discusses the question of whether bitcoins are “securities” in Ontario. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal advice on issues related to securities law. Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/foto_orange/11921659744/ If bitcoins are “securities” under Ontario securities law then there are important implications for anyone engaged in trading them. According to the Ontario Securities Commission (the regulator of securities): "In general, firms must register with the OSC if they conduct any of the following activities in Ontario: -are in the business…

Tags: blog, legal, taxes, securities

The IRS and CRA on Bitcoin

Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/51486173@N00/223052548/ The IRS (US tax authority) recently released a six page document with 16 questions and answers that explain position on Bitcoin: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-14-21.pdf. Our own CRA hasn’t put quite so much pen to paper but did post a fact sheet on digital currency late last year: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/nwsrm/fctshts/2013/m11/fs131105-eng.html.…

Tags: blog, legal, taxes

Criminal Money Laundering: s. 462.31

This blog post outlines criminal money laundering under s. 462.31 of the Criminal Code. It was written by Addison Cameron-Huff, a lawyer who specializes in Bitcoin. He highly recommends that you seek legal advice when considering issues related to criminal money laundering. Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/59937401@N07/5857345827 Criminal money laundering is a serious offence and can result in a ten year jail sentence. The offence for “laundering proceeds of crime” is found in s. 462.31 of the Criminal Code: “462.31 (1) Every one commits an offence who uses, transfers the possession of,…

Tags: blog, legal, security, crime