Haven, a New App From OB1, Lets Users Chat, Shop and Send Crypto Privately

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Blockchain startup OB1, the developers of decentralized shopping platform OpenBazaar, have announced Haven, a privacy-focused app for socializing with friends and making purchases with cryptocurrencies.

The project was announced by Brian Hoffman, founder and CEO of OB1, at the North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami. The developers claim that Haven will “enable users to shop, chat, and send cryptocurrencies privately from their mobile device.”

The ability to chat with friends and family on social networks has been tainted with data breaches and reports of the networks tracking user activity and selling collected data to third parties.

According to a company announcement, Haven will have a little bit of everything. It will “combine a multiple-cryptocurrency wallet, a social network and a truly peer-to-peer marketplace” for an inclusive economy and global participation with a focus on privacy.

Users can set up an e-commerce store using just their smartphones. They can also purchase items through the marketplace using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. To speed up the shopping process, Haven features a multi-wallet where you can keep, receive and send the four cryptocurrencies supported on the platform: bitcoin, bitcoin cash, zcoin and litecoin.

Haven comes with a social feed, complete with features that allow users to share, like, comment and repost, prominent on the app.

To ensure a secure shopping experience, Haven leverages the OpenBazaar software and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized and distributed file storage system.

OpenBazaar is an open source project for building decentralized e-commerce stores that doesn’t require go-betweens to function. Think of it as an eBay without fees.

“We believe users should be in control of their own data and are inspired by how cryptocurrencies allow them to trade with one another around the world. Users can connect this way now without needing access to traditional payment processors or using giant e-commerce platforms that collect all their personal data,” Hoffman explained in the company announcement.

“Haven is OB1’s most advanced project representing our mission to bring a convenient but private social marketplace experience to users.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Binance Expands Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange Into Europe Via Jersey

Binance Expands Fiat-to-Crypto Exchange Into Europe Via Jersey

Binance’s cryptocurrency exchange platform has expanded into the European market with its entry into the Island of Jersey, a self-governing dependency of Great Britain. Binance Jersey will allow trading of popular cryptocurrencies bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) against the euro (EUR) and the British pound (GBP).

The exchange will launch with four trading pairs, including BTC/GBP, ETH/GBP, BTC/EUR and ETH/EUR.

In a statement, Wei Zhou, Binance’s chief financial officer, called the island “an undisputed pioneer in blockchain development leveraged by this strong framework and talent pool.”

He added: “Binance Jersey hopes to increase Jersey’s competitive advantage in banking from other jurisdictions competing for cryptocurrency-related business as the island’s cryptocurrency regulation allows.”

Binance and Digital Jersey first partnered in June 2018, with both companies signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) such that Binance could “develop a compliance base and cryptocurrency exchange in Jersey.” The partnership was also meant to help Binance develop a better understanding of the regulatory and economic environment of Jersey Island, particularly with compliance with anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (KYC) laws.

At the time, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao explained why they chose Jersey as their latest destination. “We have chosen Jersey to be the next big step in our global expansion strategy for its clear and pro-crypto investment and regulatory environment. With its local economy based on a major currency (GBP), and its proximity to the UK and Western Europe, we are confident the cooperation with Jersey will not only benefit the local economy, but also form a strong operational foundation for our expansion into the rest of Europe.”

Jersey is not part of the EU; however, it maintains a special relationship with the EU through the U.K. It is only regarded as being a part of the European Union for trade in goods; otherwise the Island is not a part of the EU. (Its formal relationship is set out in Protocol 3 of the U.K.’s 1972 Accession Treaty.) The island has made its intention known to Great Britain that, post-Brexit, it intends to preserve its relationship with the European Union, as well as with the United Kingdom.

Jersey could serve as a contingency plan post-Brexit for Binance, following in the footsteps of Coinbase, which opened a Dublin office last year. Binance officials were unavailable to elaborate on these potential plans.

Registration on Binance Jersey started immediately, as Zhao noted in a tweet:

“Binance.je is overwhelmed with registrations. There is a backlog of KYC verifications already. More resources are allocated to reduce it. In the mean time, we appreciate your understanding and patience. The registration prize is FIFO based, no worries. Just crazy!”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Living on Bitcoin Day 4: The Uphill Climb

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I woke up in a state of amazement: In my three days of living on bitcoin, I had managed to survive on a handful of services and the generosity of friends.

Hungry for any place that would let me spend it, I was more determined than ever to call up every single store in the Bay Area that might accept bitcoin. A few, like Bamboo Asia and Ramen Underground, were closed yesterday, so I still had a small, if shrinking, beacon of light at the end of a tunnel of rejection.

Most places weren’t open yet, so I had a call with my editor, who was keen to hear about how it had been both too simple and hopelessly difficult.

“Well hey, there’s the angle,” she suggested.

It was an angle, but it was also a dead end of sorts. I needed to find someplace to finally spend my bitcoin to make my day-to-day purchases different for a change (though going shop-to-shop in unsuccessful attempts to spend it and acting like a hungry lunatic on Haight street could also be considered “something different”).

A bit of work, a bit of coffee, a bit of social media trumpeting and it’s 11:00 a.m. Excited by the prospect of hopefully going out for lunch for once this week, I called up Bamboo Asia first.

“Hello, is this Bamboo Asia?”

“Yes it is,” a woman responded over the phone.

“Do y’all still accept bitcoin?”

“What?”

“Do you still take bitcoin?”

“Bit … coin?” she stuttered, a bit confused.

“I take that as a no, then?”

“No.”

“Okay, thank you,” I hung up.

Strike one.

Next up: Ramen Underground:

“Yes, hello, do you take bitcoin?”

“Bit what?”

“Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency.”

“Oh. No.”

Strike 2.

Then, I dialed Numa, a sushi joint that had slipped through yesterday’s round of solicitations:

“Do you accept bitcoin?”

“Do we have corn?”

Uh, no.

“No, no, do you take bitcoin — as a method for payment?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what that is,” she said hesitantly.

“It’s internet money. It —”

“Oh, no, no, no — no, not that, sorry.” She quickly cut me off.

Strike 3.

Well, in reality, there were many more strikes than that. I even called Siegel’s Clothing Superstore and Tuxedo, just for hell of it.

Over the phone, the question like an incessant recording (at this point, everytime I ask, I close my eyes and squinch my face up in embarrassed anticipation for the answer).

“I — I don’t think so, but let me check — can you hold on a minute?”

“Absolutely,” I answer, excited at the prospect of potentially something to go on.

“For the current sale, I’m sorry, no, they don’t accept bitcoin. No Apple Pay. Just Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and, of course, U.S. cash.”

Yep, I expected as much.

There was one last hope, but I was beginning to doubt that even Stookey’s, a bar I’d been told takes bitcoin by someone other than Google, would take it. If all else fails, maybe I’ll get to spend it there — eventually.


As night rolled around, I got ready to transition to the Crypto Castle. Queen Liz had granted me two night’s stay: On Tuesday, I’d be on the couches upstairs, but for Monday, I’d be sleeping in Jeremy’s room.

Oh. Ok.

The gesture took me aback for a second but it made sense for the bohemian-tech aesthetic that the house has going for it. That I would sleep in a millionaire’s bed one night and then a couch the next was humorous and exotic in a very benign way to me.

It was a short walk from Christian’s apartment, only half a mile, but distance can be deceiving when San Francisco’s hills tack on a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. Lugging my belongings in a 50-gallon hiking backpack, my daypack slung over my right shoulder, I schlepped myself up the hills that were sloping at a crazy 45 degrees.

I was partially heaving when I topped the hill, turned right on Kansas Street and stopped in front of the castle’s telltale blue door with a “Bitcoin Prefered Here” sticker in the window. I pressed the buzzer.

“Yes, who is it?”

“Colin — the Bitcoin journalist,” I responded, and soon heard the door’s unlatching click.

Hans, an Italian expat developer with a machine-learning background who’s relatively new to the space, let me in. He has rich olive skin and curly black hair, and an apprehensive but affable personality.

We walked over to Jeremy’s room as Hans recapped some of what Liz had told me.

“I’m finishing up some work right now, do you mind?” he asked as we entered the room. Apparently, Jeremy’s room is a free-for-all space; he would likely have it no other way.

“Of course not — work away,” I told him. I mean, it’s not really my place to dictate what he can and can’t do in a room that isn’t mine to begin with.

The in-and-out style of the house’s residents made for some brisk but pleasant introductions. I would meet Teddy, a tall, lanky and balding Ethereum-to-EOS developer who works with Hans. He’s a bit jumpy and is into Soylent (and keeps offering me some to drink). Diego, another developer who used to play soccer at Boston College, would also come through with Kingsley, an Australian venture capitalist.


I posted up upstairs and did some work, shot the bull with Crypto Castle denizens and made plans for the rest of the week. I also reviewed Kashmir Hill’s 2014 living on bitcoin series. She had held on to some of her coins (she had a few left) and they had appreciated in value from 2013 to 2014.

Her second series is even more entertaining than the first. With her bitcoins’ increased purchasing power, she could access more exotic experiences: She spends it on winery tours, a nice (boy, I mean nice) dinner and even a riotous strip club experience.

Reading her accounts, I feel a wave of envy and the sense of a missed opportunity. She had so many more ways to spend her bitcoin; in reality, five years later, my bitcoin doesn’t have the same reach and San Francisco has basically zero merchant presence. Even if I had 2–3 bitcoin like her at the time of this experiment, I wouldn’t have a way to spend it (unless I wanted to drop it on bottles at Monarch, but that’s not really my scene).

Toward the end of the day, the reality that I hadn’t had one, in-person exchange with a merchant of any kind deeply depressed me.

Why the hell am I even doing this, and why I am spending so much money here?

I could be doing this anywhere. I could be doing this back home. Even there — in little ol’ Nashville with its tinkertoy tech scene — I could have at least bought dinner at Flyte, the only restaurant in town to accept BTC. But it’s a pricey dine, so by the time the week was up I would have been out a month’s rent (or a week’s rent in San Francisco).

Dinnertime approaching, I decided to use a Whole Foods gift card to stock up on provisions. It was a five-minute walk from the castle, and Kashmir had used gift cards she purchased from Gyft on her second go-around, so I thought it was permissible to buy one off of Bitrefill myself.

At least I could tear into the San Francisco Whole Foods’ hot and cold takeaway bars, an unmatched cornucopia of grocery store self-serves. Turkey pot pie, steak fries, tabouli, butternut squash, kale salad, chicken salad, couscous, shrimp, croquettes, yams, all crammed into the brown to-go box. I also got some Peet’s coffee and almond croissants for the house (should have gone for whole bean because of course this house would also have a grinder).

While the young woman at the counter dealt with the somewhat clunky process of redeeming my gift card — after I’d had to go through the even clunkier process of buying bitcoin before buying said gift card before being able to buy the groceries in store — something Hill observes in her article resonated with me.

The process was more time consuming and labor intensive than paying in fiat, but it was also liberating in its own way.

Bitcoin had provided me the opportunity to purchase those groceries, just as it had allowed me to buy all my Uber Eats food up till now. The merchant/drivers didn’t know where the credit came from, nor where or how it was bought.

For Uber, KYC is a given. But with gift cards, you can use bitcoin to transact in near complete anonymity. You can bank like a ghost if you want, and you can buy most everything you need without leaving a trail of credit or debit. Like cash, bitcoin can be used as an anonymous transfer of value — you just need to transmute it into a different payment method for real-world use first. If you want to increase your anonymity, you can take steps to mask your network activity. (e.g., I started using the privacy-focused Samourai wallet on the fourth day after my BRD wallet became too unreliable).

With these thoughts, I returned home (unfortunately, uphill again). After hanging with the castle’s crew and eating my meal, I took my rest in the bed of a guy who probably didn’t even know I was sleeping there but would doubtless not care.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Analyst: Bitcoin Price Must Get Above $3,700 in Order for Crypto Markets to Surge

Although this week was off to a volatile start, as the days went on Bitcoin began finding increased stability in the $3,600 region. This stability has led to a bout of sideways trading for the entire crypto markets, which have drifted down slightly today. Now, one prominent crypto analyst believes that Bitcoin needs to trade

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