Thursday, April 24, 2014

Xapo Set to Release First Bitcoin Credit Card

Xapo made big news in March of this year, launching an insured, secured repository for high exposure BTC investors. Now, the service is going after the novice or average bitcoin user credit cards that link directly to their Xapo bitcoin wallet.

“Most of our customers keep 90% of their bitcoin in our vault and 10% in their wallet,” said Wences Casares. The addition of card access to these wallets will allow that 10 percent to be instantly transferred to cash.

Users of the Xapo wallet service will receive a free credit card number, complete with expiration date that they can use for transactions online. For an extra $15, they can request a physical card with a magstripe that is usable at any store that accepts MasterCard. PIN and chip cards will be available in Europe. 

Here’s the transaction structure: the card gets run and Xapo checks the associated bitcoin wallet for sufficient funds. Once the funds are verified, Xapo sells the bitcoin on Bitstamp for fiat currency and pays the vendor with the fiat currency. Vendors pay regular credit card fees while the customer pays no fee.

The service doesn’t allow for ATM withdrawals - yet. Cesares expects that functionality to come soon. The credit card clearly isn’t for the bitcoin community as a whole - only for targeted individuals that are either unfamiliar with bitcoin itself, or for those that want to use it for transactions. There are many that are simply hoarding the currency and have no intention of using it. 
Cesares also claims that Xapo has no intention of becoming an exchange, which is reasonable considering the difficulties exchanges have on a daily basis to make money. Hedging a highly volatile currency is no easy task. For now Xapo seems content to specialize in the storage aspect, which they’ve performed quite well in doing. 

Users who want to try the new credit card service can simply open a new wallet and request a credit card number.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Climate Report from UN

The UN has been working hard to release a series of investigative reports about climate

change over the past seven months. The three reports present data that indicates we must

act soon to save our planet that is warming up dangerously quickly. However, it is yet to

be seen whether these reports will make any difference because individual countries will

need to act to slow down the process. If no one takes action, the reports will have been in


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the most recent climate

change assessment on Sunday. Their report revealed that if we take action now to sharply

cut the world’s greenhouse gas emission, by starting with a 40 percent reduction and

then increasing to a 70 percent reduction by mid-century we could avoid the very worst

of the climate change effects. However, if we don’t take action we could experience

horrible consequences. The head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

(UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres said, “We cannot play a waiting game where we bet

on future technological miracles to emerge and save the day.” Her department, the

UNFCCC, has been holding international summits about taking global action against

climate change since the 1990s. The next summit is scheduled to occur in Paris in 2015

and the UN is hoping that these reports will affect countries to the point that they will

be willing to discuss taking real action at the summit next year. Figueres stresses that,

“Above all, governments must strengthen and expand bold policy incentives to reduce

emissions at home and together construct a new climate change agreement in Paris next


The worst outcome of the Paris meeting would be inaction. The UN reports, written by

thousands of science, policy, and economic experts, includes existing climate research

and touts the “virtually certain” dire global impacts and the catastrophic effects for the

planet. Kelly Levin is an emissions tracking expert for the World Resources Institute

and says, “These are the most authoritative statements on climate science available…the

IPCC does not recommend policies; they lay them out for officials. But the reports play a

central role in policymaking.” We can but hope that the Paris meeting will be productive

and that world leaders will take the warnings of these reports seriously.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

UN has Declared Antarctic Whaling Illegal

ANTARCTIC-ICJ-AUSTRALIA-JAPAN-WHALING-COURT-DIPLOMACY-FILES Animal rights groups have been trying to stop Japan’s Antarctic whaling for years by trying to physically stop ships in the ocean and lobbying for lawful action. The United Nations has fulfilled their later wish. On Monday the highest court in the U.N. ruled that Japan’s whaling efforts are not “scientific,” as they claim and therefore Tokyo must immediate stop the practice.

The International Court of Justice ruled 12-4 against Japan’s whaling practices. The court stated that Japan failed to prove that their practice of harvesting over 1,000 whales every year was for scientific purposes. The Japanese had a three-week trial to prove their case and failed to make sound arguments defending the slaughter of the wales in the Antarctic Ocean.

The investigation into Japan’s whaling practices began in 2010 when Australia lodged a complaint stating that Japan was in violation of the 1986 International Whaling Commission ban on killing whales. The Japanese tried to get around the ban by calling their killing science and painting “Research” in large, white capital letters on all the ships they used to capture and kill the majestic mammals. Since the 1986 ban there have been 14,410 whales harvested for research purposes and 95 percent of those whales were killed by Japan.

Although the U.N.’s ruling is a great victory for whales and environmental groups like Greenpeace, it only prohibits Japan from whaling in the Antarctic. They have a smaller fleet of boats that hunts in the Pacific and this whaling fleet is not affected by the U.N.’s call to halt the practice.

from Nature and Outdoors Blog | Samantha Krahenbuhl

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