BitBlotter: Bitcoin Rallies Above $600; Dish Network Becomes Largest Company to Accept Bitcoins

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Whether you’re a Bitcoin fanatic or just beginning to familiarize yourself with the emerging space, BitBlotter gives you a weekly snapshot of all things digital currency.

Bitcoin continued its upward momentum over the past week after breaking out of a month-long holding pattern on May 20. The price of a single Bitcoin on BitStamp, the world’s largest exchange, had been knocking at $590 over the past four days, but broke above $600 today.

Source: bitcoincharts.com

There was speculation in Bitcoin circles that the rally has been driven by a sell-off in another digital currency called XRP, which is issued by the alternative payment system Ripple. Jed McCaleb, a co-founder of the company, announced he will be selling his 9 billion XRP stake in Ripple (20% of the entire market) in two weeks time, which sent the price of XRP crashing over 50% in 48 hours. McCaleb’s announcement was followed by the resignation of Ripple board member Jesse Powell, who took issue with some of Ripple’s management decisions. Earlier this week, the price of XRP recovered around half its losses when Ripple CEO Chris Larsen announced he would be giving 7 billion of his XRP stake to charity. Whether or not the return of at least some confidence to XRP can be correlated to the price of Bitcoin topping off just shy of $600 is left for investors to decide.

While on the topic of price analysis, a new report titled the “Willy Report,” which was published on Sunday, made waves after claiming the extreme rise in Bitcoin’s price in December 2013 was caused by price manipulation enacted by the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange, Mt.Gox. Until now, it’s been popularly believed that buyer frenzy in China helped drive prices up to a peak of $1,260. The report ties two trading bots named “Willy” and “Markus,” which purchased 270,000 Bitcoins in November — when the price of Bitcoin went from $200 to $1,000 — back to Mt.Gox. After the report’s release, discussions flared up on Reddit over the veracity of its revelations.

Here’s what’s been going on in the space over the past week.

Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) will begin accepting Bitcoins as payment. The satellite TV provider has chosen Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase to handle transactions. With 13.9 billion in revenue last year, Dish has become the largest company to accept Bitcoins as payment so far.

Mt.Gox is selling its trademark right to the word “Bitcoin.” The former exchange’s parent company Tibanne KK (which was named after owner Mark Karpeles’ cat) acquired the rights to the word in 2011, which are set to expire in the EU in 2021 and Japan in 2022. The trademark is being packaged with a number of domain names that Mt.Gox no longer uses in a $1 million package.

Wedbush Securities’s new report shows VC Bitcoin funding has doubled in three months. The report, titled “Timing and Sizing the Era of Bitcoin” takes a deep look into Bitcoin’s effects on trust-based markets, payments markets, and other industries. Notably, the authors of the report believe the disruptions caused by Bitcoin will be more prolonged than most people expect, timing the “era of Bitcoin” from the next two to 20 years.

Former Skype COO and co-founder Michael Jackson has joined the board of MaidSafe. MaidSafe is building a platform that aims to decentralize the Internet using the principles behind cryptocurrencies. Maidsafe also announced it has recruited 500 developers to build applications for its upcoming network launch. MaidSafe’s project SAFE (Secure Access for Everyone) has been called the Bitcoin for data, and last month conducted a crowd sale of its own newly created digital currency Safecoin, which sold out in five hours.

“Bitcoin Jesus” got hacked, but he retaliated. Roger Ver, an American ex-pat living in Japan and one of the most well-known Bitcoin activists and investors, had an old email account hacked and personal information ransomed by a hacker. Ver paid the hacker 37 Bitcoins, approximately equivalent to $20,000, but then used those Bitcoins to put a bounty on the hacker. Soon after Vers posted the bounty, the hacker returned control of Ver’s email account to him.

BitPay is now processing $1 million in payments per day. The Bitcoin payments processor services over 30,000 businesses and organizations including Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), Virgin Galactic, and Gyft. BitPay, along with other Bitcoin payment processors like Coinbase, allow merchants to accept Bitcoins without having to handle them. Earlier this year, BitPay received $30 million in a Series A funding round.

Bitcoin got its first lobbyist on Capitol Hill. Investment fund Falcon Global Capital, LP has registered its director Brett Stapper to lobby Congress on Bitcoin. Stapper, who has no experience lobbying Washington, will have five lobbyists hired to promote traditional payment methods by Mastercard (NYSE:MA) to contend with.

Twitter: @brokawbrokaw

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