Bitcoin Weekly 2014 June 11: Yahoo! Finance adds BTC ticker, REEDS Jewelers partners Coinbase, Dark Wallet alpha promises anonymity

bitcoin-weeklyIn the news today, Yahoo! Finance follows Bloomberg in adding a Bitcoin market price ticker. REEDS Jewelers is the newest retail chain to partner with Coinbase for bitcoin payments. Finally, Dark Wallet has been in the news since April, but how does it work and what does increased anonymity mean for regulators?

The market also seems to have stabilized at a higher price. Starting at a price per BTC around $450 in mid May and now it hovers in a band around $650 almost a month later. Speculation is still high on the $200 jump in value.

Yahoo! Finance adds a Bitcoin ticker [UPDATED]

The Yahoo! Finance website has added an official Bitcoin market value ticker under the tag “BTCUSD=X”.

The page includes close and open prices (which are irrelevant to Bitcoin markets), current bid and ask, as well as today’s range, and a 52 week range. Below those metrics the page also displays some headlines related to Bitcoin and offers an RSS feed.

It is not yet been determined what indexes that Yahoo! Finance uses. We have reached out to Yahoo! to ask but have not received a reply.

This decision from Yahoo! follows Bloomberg’s adding Bitcoin market value tracking back in April.

UPDATE: Without much fanfare, Google Finance is now also displaying Bitcoin market values. The Google Finance page display BTC to USD as a chart and primary exchange value and below the chart a selection of conversions to other world currencies including GBP, JPY, EUR, and CAD.

REEDS Jewelers partners with Coinbase

REEDS Jewelers has announced a partnership with Coinbase. REEDS is a jewelry retail chain with over 64 locations and intends to accept bitcoin payments at all locations using digital tablets.

This gives the opportunity for a lot of bitcoin holders to purchase engagement rings, necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets, charms, watches and much more.

The jewelry chain has also published a website telling customers how to use bitcoin to make purchases.

Customers will also be able to check out from with bitcoin. According to the press release, the website also allows customers to buy gold ingots and loose diamonds (delivered by armored car) if they happen to be into that sort of thing.

REEDS Jewelers follows a long line of retailers and services partnering with Coinbase to sell their wares. A list that includes Overstock.comDish Network, and even the San Jose Earthquakes. 2014 has been an amazing year for Coinbase bringing new partners on board.

Dark Wallets: True anonymity for Bitcoin?

The way Bitcoin currently works it’s not an anonymous process at all. Every transaction is recorded in a publicly available peer-to-peer ledger. If any given Bitcoin address is matched to a person that person’s transactions can be traced back through the ledger via a process known as taint analysis.

Enter Dark Wallet, a project developed by Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki. Wilson is best known for test-firing the first 3D printed gun and Taaki is the mind behind DarkMarket, a prototype for an anonymous marketplace.

Dark Wallet’s alpha launched in April and it’s still marked as “Not Stable or Safe” but it is available for testing. The software promises a solution to Bitcoin’s lack of anonymity by combining two concepts: CoinJoin mixing and stealth addresses.

CoinJoin mixing is a process by which multiple transactions are all passed together through the same wallet address. A taint analysis tracking one transaction could follow it to a single address only to watch multiple unrelated transactions pass out of that address as well. The end result is that it would obfuscate the original transaction by mixing it with the others.

Stealth addresses permit a senders and receivers to use shared secrets to produce once-use addresses to help hide transactions in the Bitcoin ledger.

Right now, though, Dark Wallet is just a prototype and doesn’t convey true anonymity because not enough people are using these techniques.

“If Dark Wallet is widely used then a lot of people will be coming together and mixing their transactions this way;” says Egemen Tas, VP of Engineering at Comodo, “combining these two features will make tracing transfers extremely difficult. Making BItcoin actually anonymous instead of pseudonymous.”

But Dark Wallet and their ilk are not there yet, explains Tas. A critical mass of users will be needed before coin mixing and stealth addresses have any reasonable effect.

Regulation has been a sticky issue for Bitcoin throughout 2012 and 2013 with subpoenas and hearings taking place in the US. National watchdogs have cited Bitcoin for potential money laundering concerns. Exchanges in other countries have found themselves shut down or in questionable circumstances.

Bitcoin is still a young technology. Its potential anonymity has been cited by the FBI, watchdog groups, and others as a potential concern. Although during the New York hearings law enforcement seemed nonplussed by the technology in general. That noted, Tas believes that US regulators will be watching these sort of advancements.