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[Note: this essay was first published at CryptoInsider on August 1, 2018.]

If you started following Bitcoin in late 2017 or anytime afterward, you may be wondering why some Bitcoiners are referring to August 1, 2018 as the one-year anniversary of “Bitcoin Independence Day.” If so, this guide is for you.

The goal is a basic understanding of what happened, and why it’s important moving forward. It’s for beginners; it excludes many details and plots. For a fuller account, check out Aaron van Wirdum’s “The Long Road to SegWit”, published in August last year. Let’s go:

Can you explain the meaning and significance of Bitcoin Independence Day in one sentence?

On August 1, 2017, Bitcoin users demonstrated their independence from miner control by successfully deploying a software upgrade via a user-activated soft fork (UASF) that circumvented uncooperative miners, and in so doing made clear that users (nodes), not miners or anyone else, control the rules of the Bitcoin network. …


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[Note: this essay was first published at CryptoInsider on June 27, 2018.]

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the credit card industry, at the expense of cardholders and merchants who accept credit card payments. While the decision has been read narrowly in terms of antitrust law, it highlights the potential for broader common ground among innovators of new financial technologies, public interest lawyers who are pushing back on monopolistic behavior, and progressive economists.

In the immediate aftermath of the the Court’s decision, left-leaning economists took to social media to express outrage at the holding and propose solutions ranging from industry-correcting legislation to government-regulated pricing:


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[Note: this essay was originally published at CryptoInsider on May 1, 2018.]

Saifedean Ammous’s The Bitcoin Standard is a telling of monetary history through Ammous’ eyes, a collection of his unapologetic observations on money’s impact on society, and a vision of how bitcoin could change it. It is no surprise that Nassim Taleb wrote this book’s foreword: like Taleb, Ammous plants his feet firmly and pulls no punches.

It is worth noting that Ammous’s theories on bitcoin — heavily influenced by the “Austrian School” of economics — is just one of several prominent and sometimes-overlapping schools of economic thought in the space. Murad Mahmudov and Adam Taché’s essay “The Many Faces of Bitcoin” is a well-researched introduction to four bitcoin-related economic theories, and Jimmy Song did a narrowed in on the “Crypto-Austrians vs. …


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[Note: this essay was first published at CryptoInsider on March 16, 2018.]

Next week, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) plans to auction off over 2,000 seized bitcoin to domestic and foreign private bidders who can afford to pay a $200,000 deposit. On one level the auction should come as no surprise, given longstanding U.S. policy of selling assets seized by law enforcement. But the auction of bitcoin in particular carries a host of real concerns for U.S. national security and fiscal policy. These concerns demand close review, and, on balance, I believe they strongly counsel against this sale.

Although the auction will likely bring in some revenue, the risks may outweigh the reward. …


tl;dr: Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is marketing itself as Bitcoin (BTC), scamming consumers into thinking they are buying Bitcoin at a lower price. Its backers use at least three sites to perpetuate this scam—Bitcoin.com, Reddit (r/BTC) and Twitter (@Bitcoin). Scams have no place on Coinbase, perhaps the best-known American digital asset exchange. But by adding Bitcoin Cash alongside its three other assets, Coinbase has helped legitimize BCH’s scam, inviting a regulatory crackdown in this industry’s early years.

The other day, I was listening to an excellent interview of Papa-Wassa Chiefy Nduom, a banker who has recently made waves arguing that African central banks should add Bitcoin (BTC) to their reserves. …


tl;dr: Coinbase’s surprise launch of Bitcoin Cash deserves closer scrutiny and clearer answers than what they’ve provided so far, especially in regard to their announced investigation into insider trading.

On December 19, 2017, Coinbase (and its exchange, GDAX) suddenly announced it would begin trading of a Bitcoin hardfork called “Bitcoin Cash” or “BCash”, traded under the symbol (BCH). The decision came as a surprise to nearly every Coinbase customer, since to that point Coinbase had assured its customers it had no plans to allow BCH trading on its platform.

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The surprise launch, in short, was a disaster. Coinbase gave its customers just one hour between its announcement and the start of trading, and this created market panic. Coinbase had planned to allow three trading pairs: BCH/BTC, BCH/USD, and BCH/EUR — but by the time it was all over, GDAX had to cancel two trading pairs entirely, and as of writing GDAX only allows BCH/USD trading. Coinbase was inundated with accusations of insider trading, since BCH’s value experienced a strong run-up before Coinbase’s announcement that appeared untethered to any real changes in BCH’s fundamentals. And any Coinbase customer who had planned their taxes carefully suddenly found themselves in many cases with an unexpected capital gain. …

About

@MishaGuttentag

Attorney at the intersection of law, tech, and digital money. Yale Law ‘17, former chemistry teacher.

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