BitcoinIreland 28 Jul 2014 Meeting Minutes

Minutes of BitcoinIreland meeting held 28 Jul 2014 6.30pm at Oil Can Harries pub, Dublin.

Attendeesimage2_2

  • Tim Callagy (Chair)
  • Martin Codyre
  • Peter Doherty
  • Mado Doherty
  • Ronan Lynch
  • Fergal Murray
  • Paul Williams

1. BitFin Conference, 3-4 July 2014 in the RDS

http://www.bitfin.com/

Fergal gave a summary of the conference. The idea of the conference wasn’t to make money, it was to put us on the map and bring the international Bitcoin network to Ireland. In that sense, it was a success, with everybody making some great contacts. The opportunity for networking was also highly praised in the very positive feedback from the conference attendees. A lot of people said that next time we should do it in London, as it would attract a much larger crowd.

Some lessons learned: Fergal didn’t want action items falling through the net so took on a lot himself. BrsHIM6IYAAqhorHowever, next time he would seek to have more organisers and would delegate responsibility. He was happy with the speakers but it was very time consuming organizing them all. There was also a ton of sales and marketing work for ticket sales, so he would start these activities (organizing speakers, sales and marketing) much earlier. He would also pick different dates next time, as the conference coincided with 4 July holidays in US, and with the World Cup. It would make sense to do a double whammy with some other event such as the London Coin Summit.

Next Steps:

  • Fergal will write up a summary of the conference for the web page.
  • We should take advantage of the momentum from the conference to organize other technical, social and educational events.
  • It could be a good idea to set up an Association for Bitcoin Businesses, as they have done in the UK.
  • It is also worth watching the progress of the legal discussions going on in the UK (which have been going very well apparently), as they may be relevant to Ireland as well.

2. Hackathon, 5-6 July 2014 in the Liffey Trust Centre

http://dublin.bitcoinathon.com/

Paul gave a summary of the hackathon. We managed to attract a high calibre of 14684598493_d0253ee97d_zparticipants and some interesting projects came out of it. It would have been nicer to have more participants though. Lots of developers expressed an interest, but couldn’t make it due to holidays. One or two more high profile developers would have made a difference. The venue was excellent and would be good for future hackathons, especially considering the difficulty we had in nailing down a venue initially. Realex stepped up again to provide sponsorship, and Moolah also got involved as a sponsor. The hackathon showed that there are a bunch of people who want to learn from each other.

Next Steps:

  • Paul will write up a summary of the hackathon for the web page.
  • We will think about a format for a technical meetup going forward. One possibility would be for one or two people to give a talk on what they’re working on. Another would be a workshop style meetup. Maybe alternating the two formats would also work.

3. Promotion of Bitcoin Ireland

The Bitcoin Ireland group easily has the largest concentration of bitcoin expertise in Ireland. However, when you google “Bitcoin Ireland”, the bitcoinireland.org website only EZ2011_BSK-AerialPhotos-3046-608x405reaches half way up the second page of results, behind a large number of duplicate and irrelevant sites. So why aren’t we getting the word out about the Bitcoin Ireland?

Everyone agreed that it takes time and concerted effort to get the word out, to build up followers on social networks, and to build a mailing list. You have to make it easy for interested parties to follow or join our mailing list and social media groups. Instead, we make it hard.

Everyone agreed that we need a media officer to act as a single point of contact for the group. However, all the attendees refused to volunteer for this role. This exposed a likely major cause of Bitcoin Ireland’s lack of momentum on this front – none of us has an economic incentive to promote Bitcoin Ireland, whereas other groups with a strong online presence do have such an incentive. On the other hand, we do have personal incentives to organise meetups and events, as we all gain from the social and technical exchange. We should take this fact into account when setting the goals of the group.

4. Future events

Everybody agreed that there is a need for regular, quality meetups. However, the problem 4044707424_132a4a40bfwith meetups is that you need commitment and financial sponsors. Circle or Realex might be interested in providing that sponsorship. A fixed location would also be a big advantage. Wayra was a great (and free) location, but likely won’t accommodate regular events. TCube was also good but costs E150 per night. Doing meetups more often than once per month may be too often.  Having a technical meetup, topical meetup and beginner’s meetup could work.

We do want to help new people understand and safely use bitcoin and so we should structure something for beginners. However, maybe this is better done through online materials instead of meetups. It might make more sense to dedicate our time to educating merchants and supporting Bitcoin startups instead of  educating beginners.

Next Steps:

  • Approach Realex / Circle for meetup sponsorship.
  • Organize regular meetup events in a fixed location (although not yet clear what the format will be).

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TechCraft podcast turns attention to Bitcoin

The guys over at TechCraft (http://www.techcraftnation.com/) have been making quality tech podcasts for some time.  After looking into Bitcoin for a recent episode they quickly disappeared down the rabbit hole and realised that the topic really deserves a full series of podcasts.

Half the team is based in Dublin, so we can expect an Irish flavour, with locals from the Irish bitcoin community already making guest appearances.

Contact them here: @TechCraftNation

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Ossian Smyth – the Irish politician who welcomes bitcoin

Ossian Smyth, a Green Party candidate from Dún Laoghaire, made a splash this week when he announced he is taking bitcoin donations for his campaign in upcoming local elections. Bitcoin has the potential to transform many aspects of our lives. Ossian is particularly interested in the transparency it can bring to the flow of money through government. His bitcoin donations are of course visible to all on the bitcoin blockchain: https://blockchain.info/address/1DCa4L6g9E2FYu9U8ZuHxk3Esr6RtjkWUK

We caught up with Ossian at our weekly Wednesday social night in The Baggot Inn and asked him to give us some background on his decision.

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Does Bitcoin need political support?

 

Bitcoin is decentralised and technocratic so does that make politics irrelevant to Bitcoin? 

 

If Bitcoin proves disruptive to existing vested interests, then political pressure will emerge to curtail crypto-currencies. If you are worried that your precious metal stocks will fall in value when people divest into Bitcoin or that your payment processing business will suffer, then you may lobby to outlaw or restrict Bitcoin.

 

Let’s look at how a range of political actions could be effective at damaging the development of Bitcoin.

 

Taxation

Governments could seek to introduce punitive taxes on Bitcoin. Bitcoin is already taxable in Ireland. If you are paid in Bitcoin then you are still due to declare and pay income tax. We don’t know yet if the Irish Revenue regard Bitcoin as a currency or a commodity or whether gains on bitcoin would be subject to capital gains tax.

 

Restrictions on exchanges

Imagine that Bitcoin exchanges are made illegal and their holdings are frozen. Customers lose access to their Bitcoins and lose confidence.

 

Restrictions on banking

Let’s imagine that the banks are told that crypto currency transactions are now to be placed in the same bracket as money laundering or other illegal activity. The cash accounts of coin exchanges and of anyone found to be trading in bitcoins are frozen.

 

Prohibition

If Bitcoin use is simply made illegal, then transaction activity will be restricted to those willing to break the law and the perceived association with criminality will grow stronger.

 

Restrictions on Core developers and foundation board.

The US outlawed foreign Internet Casinos from accepting US customers., Most complied with this law. Executives from companies that did not comply were arrested when they visited US territory. Being a core developer or member of he Bitcoin foundation board would be unattractive should it lead to becoming an exile or outlaw.

 

We know from experience that idiotic technology legislation is often passed virtually unopposed. I’m thinking of the US DMCA, EU Data Retention Directive and continual extensions to copyright duration. These laws are passed because the voice of reason is weaker than the voice of lobbyists. Even when they want to act in the public interest, politicians lack the basic technical expertise to exercise good judgement in the regulation of technology.

 

How could politics help Bitcoin development?

  • Announce policy not to interfere in the development of crypto-currencies.
  • Announce policy not to levy discriminatory taxes on crypto-currencies.
  • Accept Bitcoins in payment for government services.
  • Mandate the National Consumer Agency to advise the public on how to transact Bitcoins safely.
  • Include regulation of Irish domiciled coin exchanges under the Central Bank of Ireland.

 

So when you go to choose the politicians to represent you at the next election, bear in mind that your choice will affect the way technology is regulated.

 

by Ossian Smyth (@smytho)

Candidate in Dun Laoghaire local election

Bitcoin in Ireland – how we compare

One of our goals at BitcoinIreland.org is to promote Ireland as a location for Bitcoin-related companies. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how other countries in Europe are attracting foreign companies and fostering home-grown talent. The European Bitcoin giants seem to be the UK, where the London meetup group has over 1500 members & where meetup events are sold out in minutes, as well as Germany, the first country in the world to recognize bitcoin as a currency. As much as I’d like to measure Ireland’s success against the UK and Germany, it makes more sense to compare Ireland with countries that are similar in size and which usually compete with Ireland in terms of fostering innovation.

Finland
A recent polled showed that 1 in 10 Finns are interested in investing in Bitcoin, so there is certainly a high level of awareness there. They are also not afraid of the unknown – Finland was the first European country to have a Bitcoin ATM. The Finnish central bank does not classify bitcoin as a legal form of tender, capital gains are taxed while losses are not tax deductable. Finland is home to some great bitcoin startups, such as Local Bitcoins which helps bitcoiners buy and sell bitcoins in person.

Denmark
The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority recently said that “Companies do not need permission to be able to establish their operation in Denmark if they want to run bitcoin Exchanges”. The Danish Tax Board also clarified that gains and losses through bitcoin trading are not subject to taxation. Despite the clarity in Denmark, the level of awareness is not particularly high, and few bitcoin startups have emerged. However BIPS, a bitcoin payment processor, is one notable exception.

Israel
A popular economics show in Israel reports the exchange rate daily and informational pieces are regularly broadcast, reflecting the high level of public interest in Israel. Several local exchanges buckle under the demand for bitcoin, there are regular bitcoin lectures and meetups, and there is even a physical location called the Israeli Bitcoin Embassy where enthusiasts meet to talk bitcoin. There are a number of innovative startups coming out of Israel, although few have made a big splash in the international community.

Holland
The contestant punching above its weight in Europe at the moment is Holland. Awareness of bitcoin is high, and as a result acceptance in shops is also impressive. There is a street in The Hague where all 9 restaurants and a bar accept bitcoin. Home delivery, paid with bitcoin, is available from 5000 restaurants countrywide. Startups report that Dutch banks are friendly towards bitcoin businesses, with 3 of the country’s 4 big banks cooperating with Bitcoin businesses (Rabobank is the exception). In fact, the local community has been invited to give presentations and workshops inside the headquarters of these banks. There are rumours of visiting Bitcoin business CEOs being offered office space and bank accounts if they are willing to relocate to Holland. So it came as no surprise that BitPay, the largest bitcoin payment processor, recently decided to open its European headquarters in Amsterdam.

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Where does this leave Ireland?
The biggest name to come to Ireland’s shores has been Circle, whose payment processing software and wallet will soon be released. There are also some notable homegrown startups, such as PredictiousCoinPrism, BitWasp, Haskoin (a soon to be released MultiSig platform), and EirCoin. However, surprisingly for an economy with such a large number of tech companies, awareness is low and the media is still asking whether Bitcoin is a Ponzi scheme. There is also very little interaction or understanding between the community and local government agencies & banks.

So while Ireland is competing with the likes of Denmark and Finland, we are playing catch up with Holland and Israel, not to mention the UK and Germany. But the Bitcoin world moves fast, check back in a few months for another health report.

Bitcoin now buys you a drink in Baggot Inn

Baggot Inn is the first pub in Ireland to accept Bitcoin. The launch of payment gateway took place on 4th of March and attracted a small crowd of bitcoin enthusiasts.

Glenn and Chris - the first pint paid in bitcoin

Glenn and Chris – the first pint paid in bitcoin

Glenn was the lucky one to get the first paint paid in bitcoin. Then, Peter delivered a joke on number of confirmations required to get a drink, as the excitement was causing some drinks to stuck half-filled beside the tap.

Jean-Pierre getting his pint paid in bitcoin

Jean-Pierre getting his pint paid in bitcoin

iPhone users had few bumps on the way, but generally transactions were processed nearly instantaneously. An Open WiFi network was in place to allow mobile wallet payments.

Bitcoin now buys you a drink in The Baggot Inn

Bitcoin now buys you a drink in The Baggot Inn

In coming week or two the Baggot Inn is planning to host a Bitcoin ATM. The machine is a Robocoin ATM capable of both vending bitcoin and dispensing cash.

BitcoinIreland 21 Feb 2014 meeting minutes

Minutes of BitcoinIreland meeting held 21 Feb 2014 7pm at TCube, Dublin.

Attendees

  • Sean Andrews (via Skype)
  • Glenn Bolger
  • Tim Callagy
  • David Fleming
  • Alan Kennedy
  • Ronan Lynch
  • Fergal Murray (Chair)
  • Michał Rudnicki

Minutes

Fergal and Alan

Update on website

Site is live with a basic set of content at at www.bitcoinireland.org.  More content to be added by members of the group.

Glenn to solicit news content from everyone, set up publishing schedule, and ensure regular publication of new content.

Michał and Glenn to investigate at Asana for editorial and publishing workflow.

Michał to add “News” section to homepage, driven by new blog entries.

Promoting BitcoinIreland

BTM launch imminent. Will feature BitcoinIreland logo and URL. Will arrange promotional activities around that event. Tim and Sean to liase with venue marketing.

Tim to seek to acquire an unused but apt twitter handle for BitcoinIreland.

Collectively, we are to tweet more, with #bitcoinireland hashtag.

Planning more events

Two events currently planned and published on site.

Consider joining GBA

Fergal attended Inside Bitcoins Berlin and gave a short briefing on the conference and the augural meeting of GBA (http://www.global-bitcoin-alliance.org) which happened during the conference. BitcoinIreland can affiliate with GBA in its current form. Decision taken to join GBA.

Update on Bitcoin Foundation affiliation requirements

Affiliation with Bitcoin Foundation is available only to incorporated organizations, which should be non-profit. In Ireland, incorporating as a non-profit bring restrictions and obligations including statutory requirement for annual audited accounts. While we support the objectives of the Bitcoin Foundation, BitcoinIreland does not wish to incorporate at present. Will re-consider at next meeting.

Update on Bitcoin Conference in Dublin – 3-4 July 2014

Fergal is organizing a major international Bitcoin event in Dublin on 3-4 July.  Pre-launch site is live at www.bitconf.eu.  Initial speakers and venue are secured.  Launch of website site and media launch of event within weeks.

Event and BitcoinIreland will promote each other. BitcoinIreland will be publicised as a sponsor of the event, and BitcoinIreland members will participate in organizing the event.

BitcoinIreland 21 Feb 2014 meeting agenda

When: 21 Feb 2014 7pm – 8pm
Where: TCube, Dublin

Agenda for BitcoinIreland – 21 Feb 2014:

  1. Update on website
  2. Promoting BitcoinIreland
  3. Planning more events
  4. Consider joining GBA
  5. Update on Bitcoin Foundation affiliation requirements
  6. Update on Conference in Dublin – 3-4 July 2014

Bitcoin practical workshop slides

On January 29th Ronan Lynch led a class on common Bitcoin wallet software and exchange services. Here is a PDF with slides from Ronan’s presentation. The material covers:

  • How to generate a secure password? What’s entropy and why is it important? What’s a password manager?
  • How to sign up to an exchange?
  • What is an exchange? Why are the prices different on different exchanges? Which are the most common/liquid exchanges and factors to be aware of?
  • Which wallets are available/can I use to store coins?
  • How do I make paper backups/offline wallets?
  • What’s a BIP?
  • What’s cryptography and what’s it got to do with Bitcoin?
  • Practical financial considerations from a Bitcoin perspective such as trade accounting.

Bitcoin-Practical-Workshop-Ronan-Lynch-Bitcoin-Ireland (PDF)

BitcoinIreland inaugural meeting minutes

Minutes of BitcoinIreland meeting held 31 Jan 2014 6pm at TCube, Dublin.

Attendees

  • Sean Andrews (via Skype)
  • Glenn Bolger
  • Tim Callagy
  • Lorraine Carpenter
  • David Fleming
  • Stephen Hendron
  • Ronan Lynch
  • Fergal Murray
  • Michał Rudnicki
  • Jean-Pierre Rupp

Minutes

Agreed to establish “BitcoinIreland”, an association with the following objectives:

  • Host regular events
  • Promote bitcoin in Ireland
  • Promote Ireland as a location for bitcoin and blockchain-based companies

We will proceed for now without an incorporated legal structure. Membership is open to anyone. At present, no fees will be charged.  Events will be funded via admission fees.

Will seek to get more info on Bitcoin Foundation / Global Bitcoin Alliance to investigate possibility of affiliating.

Michał Rudnicki to create a WordPress based website for BitcoinIreland.

Anyone can contribute content.  Michael Ryan (not present) has offered to assist with logos / creative.

Glenn Bolger to serve as news editor for the site.

We will review status and initial content on Friday 7th Feb, with a view to launching the site the following week at www.bitcoinireland.org

Ronan to investigate finding appropriate physical space which could be used by BitcoinIreland members for events or co-working.  Lease would be held by Ronan, and/or any other individuals who wished to participate, and BitcoinIreland would compensate the leaseholders for use of the space.

Fergal to investigate the possibility of hosting an international Bitcoin-related conference in Dublin summer 2014, which would run though a limited company.

Lorraine to act as treasurer for any pooled/shared expenses.

Other business

Agreed to hold future meetings at 7pm to allow people to travel from work.

Next meeting to be held approx 2-3 weeks from now.  Will be announced on BTC-Dublin, and we will invite other people who may be interested in attending.

BitcoinIreland inaugural meeting agenda

BitcoinIreland inaugural meeting – 31 Jan 2014, TCube Dublin

  1. Decide the name and objectives of the organization – eg.
    • Hosting Regular Events
    • Organizing international Bitcoin conference in Dublin in Summer/Autumn 2014
    • Promoting Bitcoin in Ireland
    • Promoting Ireland as a location for bitcoin and blockchain-based companies
    • Establishing a dedicated physical space in Dublin
  2. Decide a legal structure
  3. Decide on whether or not to affiliate with the Bitcoin Foundation and/or Global Bitcoin Alliance
  4. Establish membership levels and fees
  5. Establish any necessary working groups, eg.
    • Website
    • Events
    • Organizational Development, Fundraising
    • Public Advocacy, PR, Media relations
    • Public Policy, Regulatory
    • Engagement with EI, IDA
  6. Take up a collection (in coin) to fund setup