By CCN: Most of crypto land celebrated when Flexa and Gemini partnered to deliver digital currency-fueled micro-payments to merchants. Spedn will let consumers shop at major stores including Nordstrom and Lowe’s and pay with crypto across bitcoin, ether, Bitcoin Cash, and Gemini Dollar. But one crypto influencer was left out of the celebration – Litecoin Creator Charlie Lee. That’s because Litecoin was noticeably absent from the list of coins that the Spedn app supports.
Lee tagged Flexa Co-Founder Trevor Filter in a tweet rallying followers to agree that the “app should let us pay with Litecoin at Whole Foods, Gamestop, and thousands of other merchants!” Filter retweeted the message with a mysterious response saying that “retweets don’t equal endorsements…or do they?” That left Crypto Twitter to speculate that the fifth-biggest cryptocurrency would be the next coin to make the list.
Retweets ≠ endorsements (…Or do they?) https://t.co/U71uKOEOSg
— Trevor Filter (@trev) May 16, 2019
LITECOIN IS BASICALLY BITCOIN JUNIOR
Litecoin Vice President of Nationwide Merchant Solutions Jon Moore couldn’t agree more. He tweeted:
“The reason Litecoin should be added to Flexa is because #PayWithLitecoin is all about spending and supporting merchants that accept LTC!! It has nothing to do with tech, it’s about sound money, freedom, and supporting crypto adoption.”
Litecoin is meant to be a lot like bitcoin, only faster and eventually more private. The Litecoin team doesn’t seem to mind being the silver to bitcoin’s gold. The LTC price has nearly tripled year-to-date while bitcoin has only doubled.
— johnkimofficial.com ⚡️Chief LTC Evangelist🌏 (@johnkim77) May 16, 2019
A WHOPPING $90 MILLION WAS SPENT ON CREDIT CARD PROCESSING FEES LAST YEAR
If any app so far has the ability to usher in mainstream adoption of crypto, it’s Flexa’s Spedn. Not only do they make it easier for users to spend crypto as a currency but they slash fees for retailers that suffer from a huge pain point of credit card fees, costs that ultimately trickle down to shoppers. According to crypto exchange Gemini, which was founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss:
“Retailers spent $90 billion on credit card processing fees in 2018. This was almost entirely passed onto customers.”
First real world real crypto purchase that was actually as easy as a credit card! pic.twitter.com/kaejvOKsYO
— Joey Krug (@joeykrug) May 13, 2019
The #Spedn app, built on open #Flexa network uses #crypto stored at #Gemini, therefore: not your keys – not your crypto. Additionally, Flexa collects personally identifiable information, as well as has the right to temporarily delay, hold, or return deposits. #ThisIsntCrypto
— Weiss Ratings (@WeissRatings) May 17, 2019
To spend, users must display a code that gets scanned at the point-of-sale, and the transaction is completed. Retailers don’t take on any volatility risk thanks to Gemini.
“They custody and insure all the funds that are deposited within the app,” stated Flexa Co-Founder and CEO Tyler Spalding in a Yahoo Finance interview.
Flexa and Gemini have done all the work and have the power to dramatically lower fees for merchants. But in order for crypto’s use case as a currency to increase, consumers must begin spending bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, ether, and Gemini Dollar via the Spedn app in stores. And eventually perhaps Litecoin, too.
Retailers spent 90 billion on credit card processing fees in 2018. This was almost entirely passed on to customers. @FlexaHQ is "designed with merchants in mind, and users experience 0 volatility risk when transacting." #CryptoNotCredit https://t.co/6RPo8UF7dO
— Gemini (@Gemini) May 16, 2019
Firefox Browser Adds Option to Automatically Block Crypto Mining Scripts
Mozilla has released an update for its Firefox browser which includes an option to block cryptocurrency mining scripts on websites.
The option is being offered alongside control of cookies and trackers in the “Privacy & Security” tab of the browser, where users can now also choose to tick a box that prevents “cryptominers” from running, Mozilla announced on its blog Tuesday.
Crypto-mining scripts on websites run in the browser, normally without users’ knowledge or consent, using the power of the computer processor to mine cryptocurrency for hackers’ personal gain.
“These scripts slow down your computer, drain your battery and rack up your electric bill,” Mozilla said.
The option to block mining scripts has been available in beta since the feature’s initial launch in April, with Mozilla partnering with cybersecurity firm Disconnect for the service.
Mozilla revealed its plan to offer the feature last August, saying its goal was to prevent third-party scripts from hampering the user experience. Web browser Opera also offers miner protection in its smartphone version, while Google’s Chrome has banned miners from its extensions.
Illicit crypto mining, sometimes called crypto-jacking, is fast gaining in popularity with criminals (there are more legitimate uses too). The code that carries out the task of mining can be propagated by malware and placed directly within computer systems, or it can be placed on websites by hackers to mine using victims’ machines through browsers.
A report from Skybox Security last year found that the method now account for 32 percent of all cyberattacks, while ransomware only makes up 8 percent.
In 2017, Skybox found that the situation was almost exactly reversed. While ransomware attacks – in which the data on an individual’s computer is encrypted by malware and only unlocked upon payment of a fee – made up 32 percent of all attacks, cryptojacking represented 7 percent of the total at the time.
Crypto Lending Startup BlockFi Slashing Interest Rates on Ether Deposits
Cryptocurrency lending startup BlockFi is almost halving the interest rates it offers on ether (ETH) deposits, while some bitcoin (BTC) rates will increase slightly.
From June 1, customers with 25–100 ETH balances in a BlockFi Interest Account (BIA) will see the interest rate drop from the current 6.2 percent annual percentage yield (APY) to 3.25 percent, the startup announced Tuesday. Those holding over 100 ETH balances will earn just 0.2 percent APY.
Some BTC balances, on the other hand, will see a slight interest rate increase – up to 2.15 percent from the current 2 percent – for deposits of over 25 BTC. Those holding 0.5–25 BTC will continue to earn 6.2 percent APY, BlockFi said.
The firm cited the reason for the increased interest rate on larger BTC deposits as being because borrowing and lending markets for the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization “have developed into a vibrant and growing field.”
On the contrary, the ether lending market has become “stagnant” over the last couple quarters, BlockFi said. The firm’s terms and conditions state that it can change interest rates at its discretion.
The company launched the BIA in March, offering an annual interest rate of 6 percent, paid on a monthly basis in cryptocurrency. That monthly interest is then compounded to produce a 6.2 percent APY.
BIA crypto holdings are custodied at the Gemini Trust Company, which is regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services and also offers insurance coverage for the digital assets it holds in custody.
In Tuesday’s update, BlockFi further updated that the BIA now has over $100 million in assets under management – almost double the $53 million it had as of last month.
BlockFi is backed by notable investors including Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital Ventures and Anthony Pompliano’s Morgan Creek Digital. The firm raised $4 million last December, and previously raised $52.5 million last July.
IRS Says It Will ‘Soon’ Issue Crypto Tax Guidance in First Since 2014
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is working on its first tax guidance for cryptocurrency since 2014, the agency’s commissioner told a lawmaker Monday.
In a reply to Rep. Tom Emmer’s request for further guidance on reporting cryptocurrencies, IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig outlined a non-specific plan to release in-depth guidance in the near future.
“I share your belief that taxpayers deserve clarity on basic issues related to the taxation of virtual currency transactions and have made it a priority of the IRS to issue guidance,” Rettig wrote.
The IRS is working on guidance for “acceptable methods for calculating cost basis, acceptable methods of cost basis assignment, and the tax treatment of forks” according to the letter.
Guidance on these and other issues will be published “soon,” Rettig wrote.
5.16.2019 emmer 2019-11771 by John Biggs on Scribd
“I am glad to hear of the IRS’ plans to issue guidance on this important issue,” Rep. Emmer said in a statement after receiving Rettig’s reply. “Taxpayers deserve clarity on several basic questions regarding federal taxation of these emerging exchanges of value. I look forward to seeing their forthcoming proposal, and working together to serve the American taxpayers.”
Rep. Emmer is part of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, a group of lawmakers that aims, among other goals, to solidify the reporting requirements and legal requirements associated with cryptocurrencies.
His original request called for the IRS to “issue more robust guidance clarifying taxpayers’ obligations when using virtual currencies” with a deadline of May 15, 2019.
2019 IRS Letter Final by John Biggs on Scribd