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Money20/20 to Expand Financial Conference to Europe

Money20/20Europe Designed to be a Eurocentric Global Catalyst Enabling Payments & Financial Services Innovation for Connected Commerce

Money2020, LLC, the organizer of Money20/20, the world’s largest event for payments and financial services innovation with 7,000 attendees expected this year in Las Vegas—now less than 2 weeks away—today announced the launch of Money20/20Europe, a world-class conference and exhibition that focuses on the opportunities and challenges specific to Europe. The inaugural Money20/20Europe is set to take place in Spring 2016.

Created in 2011 by long-term FinTech entrepreneurs Anil D. Aggarwal and Jonathan Weiner, Money20/20 has quickly become the preeminent event for innovators in payments and financial services, bringing together the world’s leading organizations in the evolution of commerce and money. This year’s U.S. event, to be held in Las Vegas on November 2-5, is on track to sell out at 7,000 attendees–including more than 2,000 C-level executives and 650 CEOs—from over 2,300 companies and 60 countries.

Following three successful years building Money20/20 to serve as an important catalyst for the growth and development of the U.S. payments and financial services ecosystem, Aggarwal said that now is the time to do the same for Europe.

“Money20/20Europe will provide an entirely new platform for European and global companies to convene and collaborate on the opportunities and challenges of the European payments and financial services industry, including new and disruptive ways in which consumers and businesses manage, spend and borrow money.”

Money20/20’s success has been built on three key values that ensure events of enduring significance and relevance:

(1) Exceptional content, including the best and most relevant speakers in the region,
(2) An all-inclusive audience comprised of thousands of key stakeholders ranging from established organizations to innovative up-and-coming startups as well as retailers, investors, analysts, media, regulators and more, and
(3) An unparalleled experience that is genuinely fun, insightful and offers unique opportunities for all participants.

“These values made our U.S. event a critical part of the fabric of the global payments and financial landscape and we will bring the same relentless commitment to them to Money20/20Europe along with the resources and attention to detail required to create Europe’s definitive annual payments and financial services event,” added Weiner.

According to Pat Patel, Money20/20Europe’s London-based Content Director, “Now, more than ever, there is a critical need for the whole industry to come together, and we are excited to provide the platform for the European market to take the conversation forward for thought leadership and commercial benefit.”

To learn more about Money20/20, visit www.money2020.com and for further information about Money20/20Europe contact info@money2020.com.

Money20/20 Announces the ‘Money20/20 Hackathon’

Teams to compete to build FinTech applications for a $125,000 prize pool and the chance to present to an audience of thousands

 Money20/20, the world’s largest event for payments and financial services innovation, today announced the launch of the ‘Money20/20 Hackathon’ to be held October 31 to November 2, 2014 at the Aria Resort & Casino convention facility in Las Vegas, immediately before the kick-off of 2014’s Money20/20, which will take place November 2-6.

The Money20/20 Hackathon will host hundreds of talented developers, designers and entrepreneurs who will compete in teams of one to five members over a 36-hour period. Each team will be challenged with developing FinTech applications using application programming interfaces (APIs), software development kits (SDKs) and other tools from 10 of the biggest innovators in payments and financial services, including Blockchain.info, Chain.com, MasterCard, Mercury Payment Systems (a Vantiv company), ModoPayments and PayPal.

Ten winning teams will share a total prize pool of $125,000, with five $20,000 and five $5,000 cash prizes provided by Money20/20. The overall winning team will also have the opportunity to present their solution as part of Money20/20’s exclusive Launchpad360, a program that provides companies with a forum to showcase their leading-edge innovation in front of an audience of thousands of investors, media and other ecosystem participants. Last year’s Launchpad360 participants have since raised more than $65 million in venture capital funding.

Money20/20 will provide qualified participants with a $250 stipend to cover travel, lodging and other expenses. Participants can also join a series of other events, including a Halloween party on Friday evening as well as judging and awards ceremonies that conclude the proceedings on Sunday.

“What’s exciting for Blockchain about participating in Money20/20 is being able to provide the most reputable, complete, reliable and fastest Bitcoin API product suite in the industry, which leading developers and creative minds can use to build software that will change the future of the payments industry,” said Nicolas Cary, chief executive officer of Blockchain.info. “We are already the industry leading provider of APIs for thousands of Enterprise Bitcoin businesses, and we look forward to being that same partner for thousands more to come.”

 For more information about the Money20/20 Hackathon and to register or sponsor, visit http://www.money2020.com/money2020-hackathon.

Online Education Meets Bitcoin with Skilljar

Skilljar (www.skilljar.com), a Seattle-based online courseware platform, announced today that instructors using its course platform are now accepting payments in Bitcoin.

Skilljar is used by online education instructors to deliver classes directly from their own websites, with topics ranging from yoga to computer programming.



Bitcoin Comes to Online Courseware

Instructors on Skilljar’s platform are automatically enabled for Bitcoin payments, in addition to accepting credit, debit, and PayPal. Bitcoin payments are converted to fiat currency at time of purchase, so instructors are protected from currency fluctuation risks.

“We’re really excited to accept Bitcoin for our Food Startup Branding classes,” said Danielle Gould, CEO and founder of Food+Tech Connect. “Because our goal is to decentralize and democratize learning, it’s important for us to align ourselves with innovative technologies that share our ethos. Skilljar’s platform has made it very easy.”

“The decision to accept Bitcoin as a form of payment was simple,” said Sandi Lin, CEO and co-founder of Skilljar. “It was driven by instructor requests, ease of integration, and the international nature of our business. Since we already use Stripe for payment processing, their beta program with Bitcoin made it easy to integrate while also leveraging our existing payments infrastructure.”

Bitcoin Screenshot - YAS Fitness

Skilljar Investors See Promise in Bitcoin

Skilljar’s interest in Bitcoin extends beyond the executive chambers.

Will O’Brien, CEO of leading Bitcoin security firm BitGo and also an angel investor in Skilljar, said, “Skilljar is the easiest way to deliver online courses, and by adding Bitcoin as a payment method, the company has dramatically increased its addressable market and is furthering innovation in online education.”

Skilljar was founded in 2013 by three former Amazon colleagues. The company incubated at TechStars Seattle 2013 and subsequently raised $1.1 million in financing.


Tim Draper, Venture Capitalist, Wins Government Bitcoin Auction

Finally the winner has been revealed.

Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, was the sole winner of the US Marshal Bitcoin auction. Mr. Draper purchased all 30,000 BTC, outbidding many other participants in the auction such as Barry Silbert’s SecondMarket.

Draper is an investor in Vaurum, an exchange platform for financial institutions.

Tim Draper

In a statement, Vaurum founder Avish Bhama said that Draper’s new bitcoins will be used to provide liquidity to emerging markets through Vaurum.

“Bitcoin frees people from trying to operate in a modern market economy with weak currencies. With the help of Vaurum and this newly purchased bitcoin, we expect to be able to create new services that can provide liquidity and confidence to markets that have been hamstrung by weak currencies,” said Draper. “Of course, no one is totally secure in holding their own country’s currency. We want to enable people to hold and trade bitcoin to secure themselves against weakening currencies.”

Bhama added:

Vaurum has launched trading platforms in emerging markets, and we will be partnering with Tim to leverage the pool of ~30,000+ bitcoins as a liquidity source. It’s still quite difficult to get access to bitcoin in these developing economies — and that’s exactly where it is needed the most. Our goal is to build reliable infrastructure and increase liquidity, which are two major challenges in the ecosystem.


Fed Actions Confirm Legality of Bitcoin Sale; Key States Remain on the Fence

This is a guest post by Daniel Friedberg of Riddell Williams.

Actions Speak Louder than Words; Feds Agree to Auction Bitcoin

Bitcoins seized in connection with drug trafficking were auctioned off by authorities on June 27. The auction took place on June 27 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT. The property was sold in nine blocks of 3,000 bitcoins, and one block of approximately 2,656 bitcoins, for a total of approximately 29,657 bitcoins.

The winning bidder will receive a signed Bill of Sale from the United States Marshals Service in connection with the transfer of the bitcoins. By such Bill of Sale, the US will by its actions confirm that bitcoin may be sold to the general public, thereby finally endorsing the concept of bitcoin fungibility, albeit, ironically, for its own account.

This historic transaction is being cited as evidence that a bitcoin sale does not constitute a sale of securities under Federal law.

The bitcoin will apparently not be sold by the US Marshal in a registered securities offering, or one that expressly meets an exemption from registration, as the auction has been publicly advertised without typical required boilerplate securities contract provisions. Concerns that the SEC might take the position that bitcoin constitutes a “security” are not consistent with the Federal government’s proposed sale terms. It is noted that the bitcoin being sold in the auction is freely marketable by the purchaser, without resale restrictions that would be typically required after a sale of unregistered securities.

The auction comes on the heels of IRS guidance regarding the taxation of bitcoin transactions. It appears that the US government has finally accepted that there will be no stopping bitcoin sales anytime soon.

US Marshal Auction Bitcoins

Most States Still on the Fence

As the Federal government has clarified its position, most states have reacted slowly to the bitcoin phenomena. Under Federal law, a company that is in the business of exchanging fiat currency for bitcoin is required to register as a Money Service Business (MSB). However it remains unclear in most states whether a state money transmitter license will also be required for such activity.

While New York is working on its BitLicense regime to license virtual currency exchange businesses, Maryland has indicated that virtual currency remains unregulated in its state. Montana and South Carolina do not register money transmitters at all. Other states have issued their own pronouncements about bitcoin but most states have remained silent on whether exchange businesses are required to be licensed as money transmitters, although applications are often nonetheless considered by regulators on a “case by case” basis.


About the Author – Daniel Friedberg of Riddell Williams PS is a business attorney specializing in payment matters, including bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Daniel can be reached at dfriedberg@riddellwilliams.com.