Bitcoin Weekly 2016 February 3: Wargaming joins forces with Bitpay, Spells of Genesis beta, Blockstream raises $55m …

This week gamers get a boost from Wargaming as they’ll be able to buy their tanks, planes and warships in World of Tanks/Warplanes/Warships with bitcoin thanks to a deal with BitPay. The blockchain-based tradable card game Spells of Genesis published by EverdreamSoft has also announced its beta (with web, Android and iOS mobile apps).

And in the world of financial technology, the blockchain is getting attention from investors with Blockstream raising $55 million in Series A funding and blockchain-technology startup Digital Asset receiving a total of $60 million in capital from investors including IBM and Goldman Sacks.

As for the Bitcoin market value, the airy highs of early January–exceeding $450 at the time–appear to be tapering off with market value dropping to $370 USD per BTC at time of posting (according to BitcoinAverage.com). The past month appears to have had some interesting ups-and-downs with the $400+ value dropping mid January with some flirtation around $400, but a slow down-trend since late January, last week, drifting down to the value it holds currently.

Technology news remains strong with the above video game partnerships and further venture capital being pumped into the Bitcoin ecosystem primarily via blockchain-technology research firms. Keep reading for the details in this Bitcoin Weekly.

One of the many warmachines you can purchase in Wargaming's World of Tanks, the Valentine ll soviet tank. Now available for bitcoins. Image courtesy of Wargaming.

One of the many warmachines you can purchase in Wargaming’s World of Tanks, the Valentine ll premium Soviet light tank. Now available for bitcoins. Image courtesy of Wargaming.

You can now buy your Valentine ll in World of Tanks with Bitcoin

Massively multiplayer war game publisher Wargaming.net (Wargaming Public Co Ltd) just joined forces with Bitcoin payments processor BitPay, Inc. and now video gamers can purchase virtual war machines for bitcoins. Wargaming is best known for being the publisher of wartime multiplayer games such as World of Tanks, World of Warplanes and World of Warships.

All of Wargaming’s online games are free-to-play, but players can pay money to buy in game premium currency that can then be used to purchase premium vehicles (such as tanks, planes and warships) and equipment, specialized ammunition and certain power-ups.

The announcement from Wargaming follows the slow march of other online gaming publishers beginning to accept bitcoin for virtual items. In September 2013, Bigpoint Games (Bigpoint GmbH), a German video game developer, began accepting bitcoins for virtual items in its games. In October 2015, Kinguin (Kinguin Limited) joined with BitPay to allow gaming merchants to sell virtual items and time cards for bitcoin. In December 2015, Taiwanese online payment card service GASH Point also began accepting bitcoins for subscriptions and game time cards.

Bitcoin’s penetration of the online video game market has been slow but BitPay has generally been at the forefront of these partnerships. The lower cost of using bitcoins to pay for virtual items in a video game makes it a perfect medium of exchange to provide value to gamers.

how-sidechains-work

Image credit: Blockstream, http://blockstream.com

Blockstream raises $55 million in Series A funding

Bitcoin sidechain innovation company Blockstream just announced $55 million in Series A funding as well as new investors. This funding raises the total received by the company to $76 million and was led by Horizons Ventures, AXA Strategic Ventures, and Digital Garage with participation of existing investors.

“Blockchain technology is redefining what is possible within the fintech ecosystem and beyond”, says Frances Kang, Horizons Ventures. “The transition to this new world – one that is decentralized, interoperable, secure, and trustworthy – is going to be illuminating. We are excited to be working with Blockstream to see their innovative sidechain technology reach its full potential.”

As a for-profit company, Blockstream seeks to innovate payment and exchange systems using the Bitcoin blockchain with sidechains. Sidechains are a method by which other cryptocurrencies can be pegged to Bitcoin, while providing different protocols and services that are not currently supported by Bitcoin or its blockchain.

Blockstream has already released one sidechain, dubbed “Liquid”, in October 2015. The Liquid sidechain is designed to “improve capital efficiency and market liquidity by facilitating rapid and secure transfers between accounts held at any participating exchange or brokerage.” It is currently in testing and expected to be used for high-volume currency exchange

IBM joins $60 million funding round into blockchain startup Digital Asset

The infrastructure that makes Bitcoin function, the blockchain, continues to receive a lot of interest from the technology sector and fintech markets. In recent news blockchain-technology research firm Digital Asset Holdings, LLC has received a total of $60 million funding, which included investments from IBM and the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.

Already two financial technology companies, JPMorgan Chase Co. and the Australian Securities Exchange, have already signed with Digital Asset to use its blockchain-technology as part of their trading systems. The two companies will leverage the blockchain to enable faster trading times, which in the industry can take as long as three days, but with blockchain technology that can be lowered to minutes.

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, Satoshi, copyright EverdreamSoft

Artwork from Spells of Genesis, “Satoshi”, copyright EverdreamSoft

Spells of Genesis, first blockchain-based tradable card game, enters beta

After a long development Spells of Genesis (SoG), an interesting blockchain-based tradable card game (TCG) has become available on web and mobile in an open beta. Players can now use their SoG cards to play against computer opponents and other players.

The initial beta is somewhat limited but show off the underlying mechanics of the game, which includes a way to play against opponents, earn and upgrade cards, as well as earn in-game currency. Players will receive cards that are blockchain-based, which means that they can be owned and traded like any cryptocurrency.

While most cards earned during gameplay cannot be traded on the blockchain, with sufficient upgrades these cards can be “blockchainized,” which evolves them into their blockchain tradable versions.

Published and developed by EverdreamSoft SA, Spells of Genesis led a successful crowdsale of its premium cryptocurrency that ended in October 2015 and raised over 930 BTC for the company (approximately $346 thousand USD).

Bitcoin exchange Kraken takes investment from big Japanese financial group

Bitcoin exchange Kraken (Payward, Inc.) announced last week a large investment from Japanese venture capital firm SBI Investment. Although the amount of the investment was not revealed, only mentioned as “multi-million,” it will become part of a Series B funding round being raised by Kraken.

“We knew that we wanted to invest in Bitcoin and the Blockchain. We wanted a company that would be a wise strategic investment,” SBI Holdings Chief Executive Officer Yoshitaka Kitao said in a statement. “Kraken has been a leading global Bitcoin exchange for years. They have grown tremendously during that time while building a strong reputation as one of the most innovative, secure, compliant, and reliable companies in this emerging financial services area. Kraken was the clear choice.”

This announcement comes after Kraken’s recent acquisition of Calgary, Canada-based Bitcoin exchange Cavirtex and New York-based exchange Coinsetter last month.

Featured image credit: Bitcoin Logo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/thelastminute/12350379324.
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Kyt Dotson
Kyt Dotson

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