Is The Old Guard About To Get Disintermediated By UltraCoin? Ask Carl Icahn & PayPal

Reggie Middleton's picture


thumb Fortune Front Cover thumb Fortune Front Cover 

A few days ago I was waxing poetic over the abilty of David Z. Morris' ability to grasp rather complex, intangible concepts and loquaciously lay them forth in the written word via the pages of Fortune magazine. After all, what creative destruction advocate wouldn't get all mushy after reading "Reggie Middleton, currently building a client called BTC Swap. Middleton, gravelly voiced, dapper, and businesslike, doesn't fit the stereotype of woolly young bitcoin developers. But he slyly describes himself as "not quite an anarchist," and BTC Swap is a shot directly across the bow of the financial industry"...

Or "Middleton sounds a bit like an 18th-century pirate striking back against the Empire when he declares that "what I'm doing right now is a direct threat to fiat merchant banking." For him, excitement over value fluctuations in the bitcoin currency is missing the point: "It's not a threat as people sit there and ponder whether bitcoin is a bubble or not. But if people go through the protocol and use their imagination, the existing system is threatened."

Alas, nothing lasts forever. Fastforward 72 hours and Fortune publishes... 

thumb Icahn on PayPal

As exerpted:

FORTUNE -- Carl Icahn, the billionaire activist investor, has been interested in technology lately. Wednesday, he made several TV appearances to reiterate his call for tech giant Apple (AAPL) to engage in a massive $150 billion share buyback. As usual, he demonstrated that he was willing to put his money where his mouth was, revealing that he had upped his stake in the company by $500 million to $3 billion, causing Apple's stock to jump 1%.

Well, my subscribers (click here to subscribeknow where I stand on Apple, reference:

Then, after the bell, eBay (EBAY) revealed that Icahn had built up a stake in the online auction retailer and was pushing for some radical changes. But in this case, though, Icahn wasn't interested in buybacks -- he was looking for a breakup. Ebay said Icahn wanted the company to spin off its online payment arm, Paypal, and had requested two seats on eBay's board. eBay rejected both of Mr. Icahn's proposals.

... Paypal has grown from its roots as a small payment processor helping buyers and sellers of Beanie Babies feel safe to do business on eBay, to a full-on payment alternative for thousands of merchants with millions of members. Its advantage in many cases is simply speed and convenience -- how many times have you clicked the Paypal button while checking out of an e-commerce store just because you didn't want to get off the couch to grab your credit card?

Does the author mean like this?

thumb bitpay websitethumb bitpay website

...eBay is also lagging when it comes to valuation. The company as a whole trades on a multiple of nine times next year's enterprise value divided by earnings (or ev/ebitida), which measures a company's return on investment. Meanwhile, the payment operators, like Visa and Mastercard (MA), trade roughly at 15 to 17 times next year's ev/ebitda, or around 40% higher than eBay. E-commerce sites also trump eBay's numbers with Amazon trading at around 33 times next year's ev/ebitida and Groupon (GRPN) trading at around 17 times.

But Visa and Mastercard are about to face the same double whammy that PayPal is staying at. Let me show you with video...

or pretty pictures...

You see, the payment processors are very soon to be subject to...


Why? Because P2P solutions such as UltraCoin easily allow for such, and at dramatically lower prices to boot...

  send payment costssend payment costs 

If we were to look at this graphically, it would be comical to compare...

  send payment costs visualsend payment costs visual

On the commercial macro payments side...


So, what happens when your competitors offer a competitive product for between 1/1000th and 1/3rd the price? 

margin compressionmargin compression

Now, back to the Fortune article and the apparent strawman argument...

... As a part of eBay, Paypal is run by people who know tech and know retail, not by people who necessarily know payment networks. As such, Paypal's growth beyond the web may not be as successful as it could be if it was led by people who worked at a credit card company like American Express (AXP) or a global payment provider like First Data Resources.

Again this seems to ignore the coming wave, alas... I digress...

... eBay's aggressive international expansion is helping to grow PayPal's global presence, especially in countries like Brazil and Russia, where eBay is taking off. If the cord is cut too early the fear is that PayPal's international growth may stall.

Stall or stagnate? 

As my readers recall, I've developed a cross currency swap system that allows holders of BTC to dance around two dozen or so sovereign fiat currencies with ease. Combine this with dramatically lower costs and ease of transmission and I see either a material change in business model or... Margin Compression!!!

 This really makes one think... Is eBay a short play in and of itself? I know Carl Icahn would likely get a large bang for his investment buck backing UltraCoin than he would calling for a PayPal spinoff. Then again, what do I know? Those who wish to discuss the merits of an UltraCoin investment by Icahn can feel free to ping me at reggie at 

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Mon, 01/27/2014 - 12:39 | 4371360 thorgodofthunder
thorgodofthunder's picture

It's called marketing.  It's a gimmick.


Hey Middlefinger, where can I short Shitcoin?  You still haven't told me.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:50 | 4363861 Amagnonx
Amagnonx's picture

Nice work Reggie - I look forward to it.  The exchanges were extremely vulnerable to govts - p2p currency exchange is going to be damn hard to contain.


Of course the other functions will be a great addition as well, best of luck in getting it out the door smoothly.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:20 | 4363448 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

F.Y.I. - TigerDirect accepting Bitcoin; saw that just this morning on their main page.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:02 | 4363373 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

Reggie, if you can fuck over the bankers and Central Bankers I'm behind you 110%.

Best of Luck.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:35 | 4363262 linrom
linrom's picture

If you want to take a different look at Bitcoin and how central banks are playing it, read Naked Capitalism story how they are embracing the concept(1/23/14). In a nutshell: Bitcoin is a test in alpha mode before central banks deploy their own version of digitized currency.


Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:10 | 4363685 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Central banks already have deployed their own digital currencies: they are called the Euro , the Yen , The Dollar , they are all FAILING.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:59 | 4363358 centerline
centerline's picture

These crypo currencies are interesting for sure.  No doubt TPTB would love to move to a purely digital currency.  Complete tracking.  On the other side of this would be the emergence of a black market that operates entirely by barter or alternative non-electronic system.

Should laws be passed one way or another against alternative currencies, does anyone really think they are going to feel safe using an illegal currency that is electronically based?

Although I think alot of the NSA crap is psy-ops - it's purpose is pretty clear... don't trust electronics... we have access to them anytime, anywhere, etc. even when they are off.  The game is already in motion.

Right now, there legitimately are people who love the idea of crypo-currencies for all sort of good reasons.  And there are many who are salivating at the chance to get rich quick while the getting is good.


Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:01 | 4363119 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

Fortune pretty much nails it:

"Bitcoin is not just digital currency. It's Napster for finance."

Ok, someone remind me, what happened to Napster again?

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:38 | 4363274 Metal Minded
Metal Minded's picture

Toolshed, you're in trouble, and behind the curve, if you don't see that Fortune got the headline wrong(and they correct themselves in the body of the article). Bitcoin is not Napster(a centralized app on company servers in one location). Bitcoin is decentralized, distributed over the internet, peer to peer- like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay, both of which are unstoppable.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:34 | 4363479 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

And does not exist in the real world being an intangible asset and all. Good luck with that. As far as being in trouble goes, not hardly. I am gainfully employed, have gold and silver bars in my safe, and fully recognize, after some practical and profitable experience, that the arena of intangible assets is truly the epitome of "the wild, wild west" where laws generally do not apply. And, gosh, what kind of people seem to thrive in the total absence of law enforcement? Just ask Detroit residents.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:49 | 4363854 grunion
grunion's picture

There is someting about your post that leads me to think you are being a little less than forthcoming. Defending your right to speak by virtue of your portfolio sends a red flag up the pole.

Merely an observation.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 16:39 | 4364093 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

My portfolio? LOL I own no stocks, bonds, or other "paper assets", with the exception of FRNs. Well, actually, I do have a small sum in a 401k through my employer. Small as in under $10,000 and it is there only because that is what was left over after I withdrew all of the funds that the plan would allow and, in spite of employer matching, I refuse to contribute any further. The instant I turn 59.5 years of age it comes out as well. My investments include pm's, assorted firearms and ammo, and my home. I can not begin to imagine what it is you are attempting to decipher from my post. Your comment literally screams raging paranoia. Observe that.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:46 | 4363034 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

I have alot of respect, and have voiced it here in the past, for Mr. Middleton's research and analysis, however this ultracoin pimping does not pass the smell test. Also, as for transfers via ultracoin having a much lower cost/performance ratio.........if that was all that mattered then Apple would have gone bankrupt many years ago.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:34 | 4363239 Martel
Martel's picture

Resembles Max Keiser's Quark-pimping. Neither of these two Altcoins will ever amount to anything. Bitcoin has got the momentum and the developers. There is some room for other alternatives, but only if they offer huge, tangible benefits over bitcoin. At this point, whether the Feds like it or not, there's room for a Silk Road successor. Built on distributed technology, no central servers, using completely anonymous currency. This could kickstart some other Altcoin.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:07 | 4363654 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Has anybody here actually read anything ? This is not an Alt-Coin pump , this software is another application layer which sits on top of the bitcoin protocol , it injects zero-trust contractural data into the bitcoin blockchain , it IS NOT an Alt-Coin !

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:49 | 4363853 DontGive
DontGive's picture

I figured this post would go over many heads before I even opened it. This tech is something we have put some thought in (as I'm sure have others) but the difference is Reggie is doing something about it.

What Reggie is trying to do is somewhat like a decentralized/collateralized Web of Trust (see A layer that sits on top of the protocol. 

In this case, you don't have to look hard for a counterparty, the software should do the heavy lifting. Even folks on WoT charge a spread, this could change/lower that. At least that's my understanding.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:42 | 4363010 slightlyskeptical
slightlyskeptical's picture

The way I understand it is that Reggie is trying to set up a derivatives platform for Bitcoins. The securities are called Ultracoin but represent Bitcoins. I don't think he is setting up a system where you would actually purchase goods and services using Ultracoins. I could be wrong though. I think he may have a chance to make some money before the whole Bitcoin thing crumbles, just hope he takes it out by then.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:09 | 4362597 Grosvenor Pkwy
Grosvenor Pkwy's picture

Apparently there are 2 entirely different altcoin developments going on with exactly the same name: UltraCoin. I eventually found this out on page 11 of the discussion:

But the issue has already been considered and these two groups of developers have agreed to both continue to use the exact same name UltraCoin:

"that other ultracoin is unrelated to us,we have agreed to co exist"

"yes i see your point ,but i cant change it now,that would mean recompiling code, changing wallets,logo, changing the website and so on....

I have spoken to the gentleman in question and we are both too invested in this name,so rather then follow the path of certain smartphone companys we have agree to peacefully coexist."

So how exactly are people going to know which coin is which? When we see a value for UltraCoin quoted on an exchange or market cap summary, which is it?

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:13 | 4362608 Reggie Middleton
Reggie Middleton's picture

There's a pretty big difference if you would have bothered to read before attacking. Apolopgize to me and I'll walk you through it if I have the time.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:13 | 4362833 gerryscat
gerryscat's picture

Mr. Middleton: great stuff. Thanks for a little honesty (in your articles in general) in a shit lying world. 

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:20 | 4362622 Grosvenor Pkwy
Grosvenor Pkwy's picture

It was very clever of you to fix the misspelling and then pretend it didn't happen. Your credibility is falling minute by minute.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:52 | 4363873 grunion
grunion's picture

Are you for real? Jeez.....

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:34 | 4362651 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Admit it buddy , regardless of the spelling mistake you do owe this man an apology , you really jumper the gun on that one - are you going to man up ?

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:40 | 4362690 Grosvenor Pkwy
Grosvenor Pkwy's picture

Agreeing to use the same branding for two completely different alt coins is about as serious a mistake as anyone could make in this business. Since as you well know there is really no technical difference among these coins other than setting parameters such as total number of coins, difficulty of mining, etc.

It might be excusable if Reggie had not known about the other development. But clearly he did know about it and just continued his marketing pitch anyway. I will be generous and chalk this up to incompetence rather than fraud.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:57 | 4362759 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Your own incomptance you mean , I spotted straight way this was a completely different entity .. Wasn't rocket science. Reggies app. is not even an Alt--Coin , it's another application layer which sits on top of the bitcoin protocol which injects contractual data into the bitcoin blockchain.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:39 | 4363276 Matt
Matt's picture

If it is not a unit of account (coin) why is it called a coin?

Wouldn't BitContracts be a far more accurate name, that would avoid confusion and also avoid having the same name as an alt coin by Ziggy and Bumface?

I mean, if you have a serious project and someone googles it and the first result is ziggy and bumface, wow. Branding is very important in this business, look at the trading volumes for DogeCoin, just because it is tied to an Internet meme.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:03 | 4363642 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

The blockchain itself is basically a realtime bitstream of accounting data , every 'block' is effictively a 10 minute segment of that bitstream. The first layer of data over that bitstream is called bitcoin , then you can come up with whatever name you engineer for the layers above , in the future there will be all different names for the apps and layers which sit on top of bitcoin. When the TPC/IP protocol was first developed the developers never dreamed that people would be watching porn films and phoning each other up over the top of it .

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 16:31 | 4364045 Matt
Matt's picture

Terrible marketing, having a Bitcoin protocol with an implementaion called Bitcoin, which has units of account called bitcoins.

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 20:54 | 4373228 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

I have just given you one of the most insightful pieces of information I can think of.

And that is your response.

Looks like our future is not a bright one,.


Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:09 | 4363158 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

So what you are syaing is tech savy guys like you can easily spot the difference. Ok, what about everyone else, which is the vast majority of humans btw. I am not trying to be insulting, but in marketing, which is a very important factor, branding is widely recognized as highly significant.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:17 | 4363431 Reggie Middleton
Reggie Middleton's picture

It's not tech savvy,  it's called reading! 

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:55 | 4363614 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Unfortunately it's starting to look like even reading is being tech-savvy for a lot of people these days.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 16:57 | 4364192 Toolshed
Toolshed's picture

You just caught on to that fact? You and Reggie must have a very nice lifestyle where you never need to interact with the common man. I am forced to deal with the blue collar unwashed masses on a daily basis, and let me tell you our (US) education system had failed miserably. A frightening number of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Many can't even count money - as in make change. Point of sale cash registers have been doing that bit of math for the computationally impaired clerks for many years now. Did you not notice? Why do you think the console game market rapidly overtook and ran away from the PC game market? Those darn PC's are just too hard to make work. This is one of the features that draw users to Apple computers. Simplicity from the user perspective. I truly hope BTC and Reggie do well. Anything that starves the banksters of revenue is a positive in my view. However, expecting anything approaching mass appeal for a technically sophisticated concept such as BTC or Ultracoin is a setup for disappointment. Now, if you can figure out a way for BTC transactions to be facilitated via Xbox 1 or PS3 and promoted with marketing for dummies......chaching!

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:08 | 4362574 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

Bitcoin is one firewall rule blocking port 8333 away from being unusable.  The blockchain is growing exponentially by gigs a year.  The first time they try to trim, if they even figure out a way, it will be exploited to resurrect already spent coin.  Have fun trading it.  It is not the future.  It was an awesome idea.  I like how paniced the bankers are.  But that blockchain is going to be over a terrabyte in a few years.  The crisis is built in. 

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:08 | 4362591 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

More FUD: Bitcoin can use any port , ever played whack-a-mole ? And what happens when you Tor it ? Won't be long before we see Exabyte solid-state hard drives , the size of the blockchain is irrelevent , see Moore's Law.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:36 | 4363269 centerline
centerline's picture

You do know that Moore's Law is not a certainty?  It is only an oberservation at best.  Not to be compared with things such as the laws of thermodynamics.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:13 | 4362606 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

What if my firewall rule directs all your traffic to a seperate bitcoin honeypot network and stalls you infinitely?  The size of the blockchain and how fast it is growing is completely relevant.

It isn't FUD.  Bitcoin has serious flaws. 

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:25 | 4362644 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Total FUD , it's irrelevant what one router could do , are you going to replace all of the hardware on the entire internet ? Good luck with doing that , and once you have done that it can simply be Tor'ed , bitcoin MAY have some flaws but they are no where near what you are describing. IF any flaws exist they have not yet been discovered.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:34 | 4362674 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

Whatever man.  I see what is coming and what is possible.  Bitcoin is a cool idea.  But its popularity only makes the end come faster.  The flaws are obvious to me.  You don't need to replace all the hardware on the internet.  It isn't that difficult if the decision is made.  

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:26 | 4363230 Matt
Matt's picture

The Internet in its current form will not last forever. I suspect cyber-balkanization as nations flee from the oversight of the NSA, and soon after, quantum entanglement will create a new, point-to-point trusted network immune to interception.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:47 | 4362726 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Look mate , if you have found some obvious flaws , please tell me what they are , beleive me I can guarantee the bitcoin community will raise 10 million dollars for you for exposing these flaws , the community need to know every single possible flaw so they can be closed , 5 years has been spent by some of the smartest programmers and hackers on the planet searching for these flaws , so if you know what they are please get back ... sounds like you are one seriously smart programmer / hacker  ... or completely deluded ....

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:11 | 4362603 Reggie Middleton
Reggie Middleton's picture

Beat me to it. has 3TB drives for $99. 5 years ago that would have been the cost of an entire computer system, screen, chair, desk and all :-)

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:18 | 4362610 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

You think 3 terrabytes is enough??  Dude it is growing exponentially.  The next year you will need 30 terrabytes.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:19 | 4362620 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

An Exabyte is 1000 Terrabyte's, back to school .....

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:48 | 4363052 Non Passaran
Non Passaran's picture

Lol what a moron.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:12 | 4363174 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Yes I stand corrected 1 PetaByte.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:27 | 4362648 Quinvarius
Quinvarius's picture

It has to go through 30 first.  Heh.

I don't want to be a bitcoin basher.  But it would be a mistake to trust a human creation, or that humans will not find a way to break it.  I seriously don't even think ISPs will allow those terrabyte plus blockchains to be transfered once they started to impact the network.  And even if a way to trim them were put in place, they would grow back so fast that they would need constant trimming.  That would make them irrelevant.

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 11:31 | 4362662 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

When I first went on the 'net it was 14.4k over the phone line , it was slow then it went upto 64k , now we get around 8Meg ADSL , we can get 40gig now on fibre if we want it , they are talking about rolling out terra speeds in the near future , Moore's Law baby , you cannot fight it ....

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:47 | 4363049 TPTB_r_TBTF
TPTB_r_TBTF's picture

Moore's Law is NOT (not a law).

Moore's "Observation" is coming to an end.


No need to fight it:  Moore's Law [sic] will be dead within a decade

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 13:11 | 4363168 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

FYI For the last 35 years it has been predicted that Moore's Law will only last at maximum another decade. Your exact same prediction was made exactly 35 years ago.

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