Bitcoin Weekly 2014 June 18th: BitPay announces the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, Expedia to take BTC for hotels, GHash.IO sneaks up on 51% again

bitcoinweekly-3This week has seen a lot of interesting news and some drama from the world of Bitcoin. BitPay has made news by announcing the world’s first upcoming “Bitcoin Bowl” and also brought news of TigerDirect expanding bitcoin payments onto their Canadian website. Coinbase made big news last week with a partnership with Expedia, offering bitcoin payments for hotel bookings. GHash.IO has been edging towards the dreaded 51% of network hash power (again) but has been trimmed back once again.

Finally, version 0.9.2 of the Bitcoin Core has been released (with some security fixes) so be sure to upgrade if you’re running it.

The Bitcoin Bowl will be a thing, thanks to BitPay

We’re going to have the world’s first “Bitcoin Bowl”, BitPay announced this morning.

bitcoin-stpetesburg-bowl-logo

Through a sponsorship with ESPN Events, BitPay will be rebranding the annual college football postseason game played in St. Petersburg around Bitcoin. Beginning with this year’s December 26th game, the bowl game will take on the name Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl. Bitpay will serve as title sponsor for three years through the 2016 game.

By sponsoring the bowl with the “bitcoin” name, BitPay hopes to further promote interest in the digital currency and stimulate the community around the game.

The 2014 game will be played on Friday, Dec. 26, at 8 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The salient point for the Bitcoin community is that the game will be broadcast on ESPN, along with the “Bitcoin” name, providing a national stage.

Tickets and merchandise will be available for purchase with bitcoin. For those without BTC burning a hole in their wallet, tickets will also be on sale later this year through Ticketmaster or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. No news is available yet on what venue will serve bitcoin buyers.

Bitcoin has had a good year with sports. Earlier this year, The Sacramento Kings announced that the team would start accepting bitcoin. Shortly followed by the San Jose Earthquakes own announcement about taking the currency at their stadium.

Expedia accepts bitcoin for hotel accommodations

The day of the last Bitcoin Weekly, Expedia announced a partnership with payment processor Coinbase to allow customers to reserve hotel accommodations with bitcoins. This sets yet another industry first, and continues an accelerating adoption trend for Bitcoin.

Expedia.com is now accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for hotel reservations. The travel website is planning to extend BTC payments to other portions of its portfolio, such as booking cars and plane trips, in the future.

It also gives Coinbase yet another notch in its belt. Coinbase has seen a lot of new business this year with the addition of Overstock.com, Dish Network, the San Jose Quakes, and REEDS Jewelers.

Tigerdirect expands BTC payments into Canada, mobile devices

TigerDirect partnered with Bitpay in January to begin accepting bitcoin payments via its US website; now TigerDirect is expanding that vision to include its Canadian website, TigerDirect.ca, and mobile devices.

TigerDirect will be the first major Canadian retailer to take bitcoin payments. As the US branch of TigerDirect has seen such a positive experience with BitPay the Canadian branch of the company will also now be implementing it for payments.

Shortly after the announcement, TigerDirect opened a Reddit Ask Me Anything to answer questions about the company’s experience with Bitcoin. Very quickly the top rated question became one about when Canadian customers would be able to pay with BTC (at 78 points) and the answer, “HOW DOES RIGHT NOW SOUND??” (at 166 points.)

Another tidbit from the AMA is that TigerDirect intends to provide periodic exclusive promotions for Bitcoin customers.

Along with the Canadian TigerDrect accepting bitcoin, customers may also now use mobile devices and tablets to purchase electronics from TigerDirect with bitcoins.

GHash.IO again flirts with 51%

GHashOver the past week, cloud-mining pool GHash.IO came extremely close to controlling a majority 51% share of the total hash power of Bitcoin network mining operations.

Upon approaching the dreaded 51%, CEX.IO, the exchange operator of Ghash.IO, was quick to reach out to the community to quell anxiety with a statement on its website:

Our investment, participation and highly motivated staff confirm it is our intention to help protect and grow the broad acceptance of Bitcoin and categorically in no way harm or damage it. We never have and never will participate in any 51% attack or double spend against Bitcoin.

If GHash.IO reaches 51% it could become possible for the mining pool to theoretically exploit the advantage. Such exploits could include the ability to reverse transactions the pool is in control of, prevent some transaction confirmations (but not stop them outright), block other miners; but an attacker could not outright create coins, reverse other people’s transactions, or even move coins not belonging to itself. In short, such control could lead to dire consequences for the Bitcoin network at large.

The last time this happened, in January 2014, the Bitcoin community noticed that GHash.IO had inflated from 32% hashing power to 42% hashing power. The reaction came from Reddit, BitcoinTalk, and other Bitcoin-related communities to withdraw mining power from GHash.IO and the mining pool’s power plummeted.

Although sounding altruistic, CEX.IO’s promise of not exploiting the advantage has not done much to suppress dissent this time. Some time on Sunday it is thought that GHash.IO was targeted by a massive distributed denial of service attack (unconfirmed.) Over a period of 24 hours GHash.IO started at near 38% but dropped at low at 6% to finally stabilize around 27%.

At press time the pool currently stands at 32%, according to Blockchain.info. It is still the largest mining pool in the network.

Bitcoin Core 0.9.2 released

June 17th the newest update to the Bitcoin Core software was announced on SourceForge. It is available for download from Bitcoin.org.

“This is a new minor version release, bringing mostly bug fixes and some minor improvements. OpenSSL has been updated because of a security issue,” reads the announcement. The OpenSSL update is to change dependencies on OpenSSL libraries to correct a recently discovered exploit (not related to the previous Heartbleed exploit.)

Other fixes include a number of small bug fixes, GUI changes, and build options.

As with every new version, especially those with security fixes, it is recommended that all users upgrade.

Image credits: Bitcoin St. Petersburg Logo (ab0ve); and GHash.IO webpage screenshot (above.)

About Kyt Dotson

Kyt Dotson is a Senior Editor at SiliconAngle and works to cover beats surrounding DevOps, security, gaming, and cutting edge technology. Before joining SiliconAngle, Kyt worked as a software engineer starting at Motorola in Q&A to eventually settle at Pets911.com where he helped build a vast database for pet adoption and a lost and found system. Kyt is a published author who writes science fiction and fantasy works that incorporate ideas from modern-day technological innovation and explore the outcome of living with those technologies.