Public Obelisk Server for the Community

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Our development team recently discovered the Obelisk data server and we think it’s the bees knees. Unfortunately, there are not yet many of them available. To fix that, we’ve put one together and made it open for the public to use:

obelisk.coinkite.com:9091

This is the bleeding edge of crypto currencies. There is no web page there, and almost no documentation exists for Obelisk. It’s one of those things “if you don’t know what it is, you don’t need it”. Sorry, but just being honest!

What is Obelisk?

Obelisk is a full bitcoin node and data server. It provides up-to-date blockchain data in a handy binary format over 0MQ sockets. It does not use the RPC-JSON protocol of Bitcoin Core and in general it is a more difficult interface to speak to. Unlike Bitcoin Core, Obelisk does not operate as a wallet, but it does speak bitcoin wire protocol and functions as a full bitcoin node on the P2P network.

Why do we use Obelisk?

There are a number of blockchain data providers (both well-funded and hobbyist), and we’ve toyed with being one ourselves in the past, but the bitcoin network is stronger if we can use open-source code for infrastructure. We do not want to rely on few specialized companies to provide data. Some of our newer projects at Coinkite require specific blockchain data that we have not been tracking yet at Coinkite.

How to use Obelisk

As far as we know, the only common use for Obelisk is Dark Wallet. We aren’t endorsing everything they stand for, but we do like the tech and many of their ideas, so we can at least support the tech. We think other specialized/niche wallet developers may start using Obelisk in the future.

Other Coinkite APIs 

Coinkite’s Bitcoin and Blockchain API provides simple and powerful REST integrations for adding bitcoin functions into your business or application. Read the announcement or check out the Documentation Portal.

"Nyms": Anon Personas and Payment Pages For All

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We’ve added a new feature today: Every Coinkite user can now create multiple “Nyms" linked to their account. Thanks goes out to all our users who have suggested this feature.

What is a Nym?

Nym is short for pseudonym. But it’s more than just another name! It’s your payment page (for receiving Bitcoin or our other currencies), and it’s a place on the Internet where you can make a sales pitch for what you are offering, link to your other public profile pages and much more. We will show your verified email and twitter handles—if you wish—and of course, there is a profile picture (avatar image).

Our in-house artist had some fun making over 30 original crypto-related avatar images and you can also reuse your pic from twitter or gravatar.

Heard enough? Want one now? Make your first nym here.

Search and explore public nyms here.

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What is it good for?

  • It’s a page you can link to, or send to other people, just for receiving funds. They are short: coinkite.com/u/bnb
  • It’s easy to forward incoming nym funds via our funds forwarding feature into a P2SH addresscold storage wallet, an exchange, or another bitcoin wallet. You can even do a percentage into different places.
  • You don’t have to give out your Coinkite username, and it’s really easy (and error proof) to ask another Coinkite user to send you money. Just point them at your nym page and in about 2 clicks you’ll get their funds. It works with all wallets though, and will always be easier than sending out a bitcoin payment address.
  • You can separate  your work and personal life (or lives) into completely different public nyms, and yet direct all those funds into a single Coinkite account. Each nym has a unique receiving address (BIP32 HD) that can be changed as needed.
  • They are perfect for non-profit donation pages, because they can be verified and contain marketing messages. For non-profits that Coinkite recognizes (see our non-profit package) we mark them as such, and we’ve set them up with an extra quota of nym pages for different campaigns.
  • Nyms are a critical part of our plans for Multisig, P2SH, BitID support and PGP/BitMessage.

For the fund senders, sending to a Coinkite nym instead of just a bitcoin address has advantages too:

  • The sender can have some confidence they are sending funds to the right person. They can trust the twitter and email fields, as they are both verified by Coinkite.
  • The details of the nym page can be captured into a (bitcoin) signed message that can be used as proof that you sent to the person you meant to. Any specific claims in the profile page (ie. warranty or identity claims) are included in that signed message and anyone can verify that message with a bitcoin wallet.
  • You can favourite (star) a nym for repeated or monthly payments. 

Hardcore Privacy and Security Features

  • Nym names can never be changed. That’s important so that someone else cannot take over your nym name after you’ve been advertising it and building it up.
  • Individual nyms can be disabled/reenabled as needed at any time.
  • Can also mark as “non-searchable” so they don’t appear in search results (but they are still public to thoughs in the know).
  • Underscore (_) cannot be used as first or last part of a name: that’s a scammer’s trick.
  • Bitcoin addresses linked to a nym can be changed with the click of a button. In fact, we recommend doing this periodically as more and more transactions become linked to the nym.
  • No link to your Coinkite login name, and yet you may publicize your twitter handle and email addresses. Each nym can send funds into any specific subaccount of yours.
  • Any combination of Bitcoin, Litecoin or Blackcoin can be supported on the same Nym page.

Make sure to reserve your nym name today! Nyms are not transferable.

Our bitcoin API works with nyms too: you can send directly to a nym name via API, and view your nym details or search for public nyms. Incoming payments trigger the events you would expect so you could automate the delivery of digital products.

Links

Example Nyms

Signed By Coinkite: 1GPWz…pmu7g

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Starting this week, some public values that we publish on our website will be protected by bitcoin signatures.

For example, our  FAQ entry regarding our onion address for Tor users is sensitive. If for example a malicious extension on your browser somehow changed the onion address we publish there, they might be briefly able to intercept some traffic.

To prevent this, we have updated our FAQ to include text like this:

-----BEGIN BITCOIN SIGNED MESSAGE-----
http://gcvqzacplu4veul4.onion
-----BEGIN SIGNATURE-----
1GPWzXfpN9ht3g7KsSu8eTB92Na5Wpmu7g
H+RCnK9nDuEv3/tugNelCqcwkT6eevo1sTdJ+9gmy+rJ5XAihTNfCUiALBCQgp4ybqVmKCON5oQ2mETEZFe5k+I=
-----END BITCOIN SIGNED MESSAGE-----

The above message can be verified using most Bitcoin wallets and sites such as Brainwallet. You just have to cut and paste it into the right spot.

But what you need to know right now is our signing address for these messages, effective today, September 3, 2014 is:

1GPWzXfpN9ht3g7KsSu8eTB92Na5Wpmu7g

In the unlikely event that we need to change this address, we will tweet and blog about it again. Do not accept any change to this address unless you see both messages.

You may now remove your tinfoil hat…

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Client Testimonial: Bitcoin Foundation Canada

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"The Bitcoin Foundation Canada is a non-profit which has declined the use of traditional banking institutions and instead relies solely on Bitcoin for all its budget. This means that we require a lot more security and flexibility than most Bitcoin-accepting businesses. A concern we share with small businesses and other non-profits that want to use Bitcoin is that we must find an adequate balance between security and convenience.

A Bitcoin organization like ours would typically hold the majority of its bitcoins as an endowment in a highly secure, hardly-accessible Bitcoin wallet with full and exclusive access to our private keys. But for day-to-day operations and expenses, it is also necessary to have a chequing-style “hot wallet” that must be accessible in a timely and convenient manner.

The Coinkite wallet has struck a perfect balance between security and convenience when it comes to managing our operations budget. We have found numerous uses for its advanced features such as the ability to send payment in the form of vouchers via email or even SMS, which minimizes the risk of human error on both ends of the transaction. The ability to create public payment pages to receive funds is a powerful tool for transparency and the activity log helps with our internal accounting. The security level with Coinkite’s two-factor authentication is also greatly appreciated.

Coinkite has been a driver of innovation when it comes to the community’s needs, particularly with the ability to audit your deposits (transparency) and the ability to easily connect to Coinkite over the Tor network (privacy). In terms of its features, there is no doubt that Coinkite is one of the world’s most advanced Bitcoin wallets worldwide.”

- Francis P., Bitcoin Foundation Canada

Public Version: https://gist.github.com/FrancisPouliot/0e5b0e29a2e1b1889f6b

Want to share your Coinkite story? Let’s us know.

Send Bitcoin by SMS — Worldwide.

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You can now send Bitcoin (or other crypto-currency) by Mobile Phone Text Message (SMS) to any one in the world! We’ve also enabled this feature in our API.

It’s this simple: 

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… and by API:

In either case, the recipient will get a short message with a link to a voucher. You have the option of including the PIN code (6 numeric digits) in the SMS message, or you can send it separately. The voucher can be redeemed into the recipient’s Coinkite account or into any Bitcoin address.

The SMS message will come from Coinkite’s SMS number, so your mobile phone details are not revealed (and you don’t need to share them with Coinkite to use the feature either). For extra privacy, consider login via our Tor Address.

Receivers do not have to use Coinkite to claim the amount, and we think that’s important. Since we already have the best wallet in the world (IMHO), we don’t need to lock in anyone or create artificial barriers.

Other Changes

Did you know… All vouchers are setup automatically for the “Friends Program”, which means if you SMS a voucher to someone and they become a monthly or yearly Coinkite member, you’ll get 33% of their first invoice. That can be more than $100 USD depending on which plan they pick! You don’t have to do anything to get this; it’s all automatic!

Coinkite Has an Onion for Tor

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Many of our users protect their privacy and defend themselves against snooping advertising companies by using Tor. This has been the case from day one at Coinkite and we accept that everyone has their own reasons.

Until now, these users have been using the Tor Browser and simply surfing to Coinkite.com using that wonderful package. Starting today, anyone who wishes to use Tor with Coinkite can also use our new “onion address" to connect directly to Coinkite over the Tor network:

http://gcvqzacplu4veul4.onion

This is faster and more private, but comes with a few caveats:

  • The main font is not Open Sans, but something a little more plain.
  • Maps are not displayed because that leaks data to the map graphics provider.
  • Videos are removed for privacy reasons (only used in a few FAQ entries).
  • In-browser notifications (popup at top of screen) are not available. SMS and Email alerts will still happen however.
  • The Coinkite store works a little differently: you need to reload after adding to your cart.

What are the advantages to using the onion address?

  • Does not consume precious resources at the Tor exit nodes.
  • The exit nodes do not see your traffic, although it would be encrypted anyway (HTTPS).
  • Does not reveal your traffic to USA-based CloudFlare which is used for all normal HTTPS traffic.
  • Additional privacy as a few external services are not used (maps, videos, google analytics).
  • Slightly faster or much faster depending on chance.

New to Tor?

The best and easiest way to get started is by installing and using the Tor Browser. First though, take the time to learn more about the Tor Project and the many faces of it’s users. Almost everyone has a reason to get some extra privacy from using Tor occasionally.

I never plan to use Tor. Can I block it?

Yes, you can disable all access to your account over Tor, using a new setting under your account’s Misc Security Options.

But only criminals use Tor!

Certainly there have been some well-known criminal sites on the “dark web” that transact in Bitcoin, just like the normal web. Coinkite is a site with both a very public face and an onion address, so we are obviously something quite different. For more on this topic, start here with the Tor Abuse FAQ.

Final Notes

  • Please report any privacy problems you find with onion service so we can address them to protect all our users.
  • We reserve the right to suspend these Tor features if they are abused.

Read More

Six New World Currencies at Coinkite: MXN (Mexico), SGD (Singapore), HKD (Hong Kong), MYR (Malaysia), ZAR (South Africa), VUV (Vanuatu)

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Total of six of new currencies have recently been added to Coinkite:

  • HKD Hong Kong Dollar
  • SGD Singapore Dollar
  • MXN Mexican Peso
  • MYR Malaysian Ringgit
  • ZAR South African Rand
  • VUV Vatu (Republic of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific)

To support this, we now track the following additional exchanges:

  • ANXPRO for HKD, SGD, JPY, AUD, NZD, and GBP (some are vs. BTC and LTC).
  • BitX for  ZAR.
  • iceCUBED for ZAR (vs. both BTC and LTC).
  • BITSO for MXN.

Most of these currencies have been requested by our Coinkite Terminal operators in those respective regions, so they can do “in person” bitcoin exchanges with our handheld device.

On Coinkite.com, you’ll see the new currencies:

- in the “rate box”, shown at the right of most interior pages

everything in our store can now be priced in those currencies

- the Coinkite API now supports them as well, particularly in the public/rates endpoint which lists a full currency matrix from any crypto to/from any fiat that we support!

Learn more about our Bitcoin API here and merchants can enable these new currencies on their terminals at their convenience.

Bitcoin API and Wallet-as-a-Service: The Coinkite API is Here!

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Not just another API—Coinkite’s Bitcoin API enables you to build complete Bitcoin systems. Want to move some funds? Of course that’s easy with the Coinkite API. Need to search by public transaction number, link that back to a voucher you made last month? Sure, no problem.

But there’s more, much more: we allow you to remotely control your Coinkite terminals, and make them print receipts with whatever you want on them. Maybe it’s the toppings for a pizza order or your latte’s pre-order with special instructions.

We use the Pubnub platform to send you or your web visitors real-time status updates on pending transactions (via push notification). This allows you to build Bitcoin invoices that respond to being paid: you can unlock the content or provide the digital goods right away, or at least thank your new customer for sending a bitcoin transaction. In fact, all your account activity can be pushed to your browser or server backend if desired. Finally a complete solution to automating payment processing for crypto-currencies without all the hard stuff like hosting super-sensitive P2P clients.

At the end of the day, there are other ways to do many of these things, but the reason many already choose Coinkite, is because of our HSM technology. Your funds on Coinkite are secure and yet fully liquid at the same time. You can send and receive funds immediately, with no limits using the API. Plus, you always have the option of using our simple web interface for admin functions or rarely-used features.

What’s Possible with the API?

  • View account balances, transactions and search by transaction hash.
  • Send funds, create vouchers, email funds, create new receive addresses quickly.
  • Monitor deposits, withdrawals, logins and all other events related to your account via Pubnub push notifications. Pubnub offers free toolkits for 20+ languages and platforms.
  • Drive your Coinkite Terminal remotely, causing receipts to be printed at any time.
  • Fetch public data about exchange rates and worldwide CK terminal locations.

Getting Started

  1. Check out the complete specification at our new documentation site: docs.coinkite.com
  2. Skim our sample programs and examples at Coinkite.com/apps and on Github.com/coinkite. Many of them are live demos and ready to be used, and all come with full source code and BSD license.
  3. Create your first API key here, and start experimenting!

What can I do with it? Live Examples and Sample Code

You can view all of our demos and language-specific toolkits in our “App Gallery" on Coinkite.

- The API includes everything needed to make a Bitcoin ATM (which we prefer to consider a crypto-currency vending machine). We made a complete example in AngularJS which you can use either in a demo mode, or by putting in your own Coinkite API key, as a working system.

- Making a complete Invoice system turned out to be a bit too much for a demo, but we wrote most of the HTML, Javascript and  Python for Google App Engine. You can see an example Litecoin invoice and if you download the code, it’s easy to run it locally to create invoices as well.

- We are developers ourselves, so we know what makes an API popular: lots of toolkits for the major web languages. Go to our Github page to see all the languages in place today: Python, Ruby, Javascript (Node and browser), AngularJS and PHP.

- We didn’t forget your favorite API starting point: curl. We’ve made a little helper program to make curl really easy to use with our authentication steps:

Security, Security, Security

We’ve given lots of thought to security (as always), so API access is of course locked out by default, and you must create API keys explicitly and each key can be limited in some really powerful and useful ways:

- by function (capability): you control if a key can read data and do nothing else. Other keys might allow authorizing sending out funds, or maybe you only do that  manually, and never give that permission to the API.

- by amount (specified in any currency): you can limit the amount sent out of your account to a specific number of dollars (or BTC, etc) per one-hour period. This is a great “safety fuse” to avoid those really bad days.

- by sub-account (any subset). You can limit a key to work only on a few specific sub-accounts (ie. perhaps “chequing” but not “savings”). Limited keys like this can’t even see transactions on the other accounts.

- by IP address range (CIDR or specific IP’s). You might not need the whole entire Internet to access your account, so why not limit it to your static IP address or your ISP’s netblock, etc.

Future Plans

We are going to be aggressively expanding our API to support our customers who are building their businesses on our platform. Already on our API roadmap:

  • More terminal control: allow some “take over” of the terminal so that the QR scanner, magstripe reader, and keypad can be leveraged for your applications. More receipt rendering options.
  • Send funds by SMS message (will launch in web UI at same time as API)
  • Enhanced event hooks.
  • Buy buttons, Javascript widgets for pricing are on the wishlist.
  • Typically new Coinkite features will be accessible via API at feature launch time.

Feedback

As always, we are looking for feedback (connect@coinkite.com). Please let us know what you are working on, what we can do to help and what we can do differently!

Coverage

CoinTelegraph: Coinkite Launches ‘Game-Changing’ API

Toronto Bitcoin Hackathon 2014

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Bitcoin is an incredible technology and we’d like to see what you can do in one weekend!

Coinkite is launching our API in July, so we thought why not have a Hackathon!

Join us on August 22 through 24, at the Extreme Startups office.

Tickets available here

Official event site is www.tobh.ca 

Lots of prizes from us and Vault of Satoshi

All Cryptos Welcome! Litecoin, Blackcoin and all the alts.

New Feature: Flex Liquidity [Smart UTXO Management]

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Improving Funds Availability for our Busy Merchants — Solving Slow Bitcoin Transactions

As requested by our merchant users buying and selling bitcoins, this new feature maintains more of your balance in a number of smaller UTXO. This means high-volume users are less likely to need to wait for confirmations.

When you have a single 1 BTC deposit (stored in a single UTXO), and you send just 0.001 of that, you might have to wait half an hour before you can use the other 0.999 BTC. This happens with all Bitcoin wallets because the “change” from the first transaction shouldn’t can’t be spent until the previous transaction completes and is confirmed. It is less of a problem on Litecoin and Blackcoin networks due to their faster block times.

Coinkite’s unique Flex Liquidity feature improves on normal Bitcoin wallets by splitting the “change back” from each regular transaction a number of small UTXO. Subsequent transactions are more likely to be able to use a small UTXO that is better suited to the needs at that time.

Flex Liquidity is enabled by default in all of our Professional  and up plans. We cover the additional transactional costs that this feature requires.

Not sure what a UTXO is? Learn more in our FAQ.

Blackcoin Comes To Coinkite

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Today Blackcoin joins Litecoin and Bitcoin, as a fully-featured cryptocurrency on Coinkite. All Coinkite customers can create new sub-accounts to hold BLK (Blackcoin) balances and use the familiar Coinkite interface to send and receive them.

The Blackcoin community has been very helpful, after wining our recent competition to pick the first new altcoin to be added to Coinkite.

Just like Bitcoin and Litecoin, you can now:

- create a voucher, to be claimed by PIN

- send Blackcoins by email

- setup Blackcoin funds fowarding

Blackcoin works on Coinkite terminals too:

- easily create bills for your retail customers to pay in Blackcoin

- buy and sell Blackcoin as a “mini ATM” or mobile exchange service

- access your Coinkite account using your Coinkite card

Tell us your Blackcoin success stories. We’re really excited to be part of a new altcoin and particpate in the BLK community.

Background on Blackcoin

Blackcoin is a “Proof of Stake” coin that doesn’t use large-scale mining. Therefore, it’s considered more eco-friendly and doesn’t waste electricity for security purposes. Your transactions are fast because blocks are sent every minute (not ten minutes as in Bitcoin). 

Coinkite does not yet support staking, meaning you will not be credited 1% per annum on your Blackcoin deposits. In time, we may offer that option to our customers.

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How to:

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Donations back to the community. As promised, 25% (66,373) Blackcoins were given to the community for use. Audit here.

Now With P2SH Support

You can now send from Coinkite to bitcoin P2SH addresses. These addresses start with the number 3 and are used on a few sites to support special use cases such as escrow or multisig.

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To use the feature, just supply a P2SH address when sending bitcoin. P2SH address look identical to a normal bitcoin address except that the first digit is 3 instead of 1.

If someone has a good list of sites which need P2SH or use them for some special purpose, please tweet a link to @Coinkite and we’ll update this posting with some example usage cases.

We only support P2SH for Bitcoin today, because we don’t know of anyone using it on Litecoin or Blackcoin. We can enable the feature for those networks easily, but held off doing so because we couldn’t test the feature.

Nooshin Mohtashami Joins Coinkite As Advisor

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Nooshin Mohtashami joins Coinkite’s advisory board after serving more than 10 years as Chief Operating Officer of OANDA, where she was instrumental in building a unique and fair forex trading experience for retail consumers.

Nooshin has been exploring the Bitcoin space over the last year and we’re very excited to welcome her to our growing team.

Her background as a computer engineer and her in-the-trenches business leadership experience will serve her well as she guides Coinkite into a dominate position as an international cryptobank.