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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

ICOs soar as pump-and-dump cowboys trade on 'next bitcoin' FOMO - The Australian Financial Review


The Australian Financial Review

ICOs soar as pump-and-dump cowboys trade on 'next bitcoin' FOMO
The Australian Financial Review
And while rivers of straight money (read: fiat currencies like the Australian dollar, US dollar and Japanese yen) have most certainly been giving Bitcoin another leg-up in its recent bull run, most of the action has been happening in secondary markets ...
I threw away $4.8 million in BitcoinThe Sydney Morning Herald

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 9:50 pm

Japan's BITPoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to Retail Outlets - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Japan's BITPoint to Add Bitcoin Payments to Retail Outlets
Bloomberg
BITPoint Japan Co., the company behind Peach Aviation Ltd.'s move to let travelers use bitcoin to pay for tickets, is planning to give hundreds of thousands of Japanese retail outlets the ability to accept the digital currency. “We're holding ...

and more »

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 9:28 pm

Is The PBOC Stopping The Music On Bitcoin? - Forbes


Forbes

Is The PBOC Stopping The Music On Bitcoin?
Forbes
The past few days we've looked at the run up in bitcoin. Remember, I said: "If you own it, be careful. The last time the price of bitcoin ran wild, was 2013. It took about 11 days to triple, and about 18 days to give it all back. This time around, it's ...

and more »

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 6:58 pm

The bitcoin bubble is back - but investors should avoid it - Telegraph.co.uk


Telegraph.co.uk

The bitcoin bubble is back - but investors should avoid it
Telegraph.co.uk
Remember bitcoin? For a brief moment back in 2013 it looked like the currency of the future: capital controls during Cyprus' financial crisis had shaken confidence in the freedom of traditional currencies, and regulators were gradually warming to ...

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 2:11 pm

Crypto Massacre: Why Bitcoin, Altcoin Prices Suddenly Declined - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Crypto Massacre: Why Bitcoin, Altcoin Prices Suddenly Declined
CoinTelegraph
Bitcoin and major altcoins have recently experienced some significant volatility. While some players in the industry believe that the initial surge in price is as a result of value proposition and reasonable adoption of the entities, others have ...

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 5:22 am

What to Know Before Trading Monero

Monero, a privacy oriented currency that has generated widespread adoption, provides opportunities for traders. Here's what you should know.

Source

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 4:35 am

Consensus 2017 Recap: Panels Cast Wide Net for Blockchain Discussions

A look back at some of the fascinating and diverse panels that took place at Consensus 2017 this week.

Source

Posted on 28 May 2017 | 4:00 am

Consensus 2017 Recap: The Biggest Main Stage Moments

A roundup of the major events that took place on the Consensus 2017 main stage earlier this week.

Source

Posted on 27 May 2017 | 3:25 am

Factom Harmony Takes On the Mortgage Industry

Factom Harmony Takes On the Mortgage Industry

Already working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to secure records on their blockchain, Factom has now set its sights on the trillion-dollar mortgage industry. Having launched its new Factom Harmony solution in March, the company hopes to attract big banks and host their sensitive mortgage data. By increasing the efficiency of document management, Harmony will allow a seamless transaction process between lenders and brokers, without them having to worry about lost documents, altered agreements or incomplete records.

Built on the Factom Apollo data management solution, which allows users to store and create immutable digital records, Harmony “works with existing imaging or document management solutions to create secure, transparent, unalterable records for final loan documents.” In the process, every file is secured within a blockchain container, locking in the order of the final documentation, recording each person who accesses files and rejecting duplicate documents.

Factom refers to this system as “a perfected digital audit vault” for each specific loan. Thus the core product behind Factom Harmony is called Digital Vault, which locks into time the most important closing documents and gives a complete history of every file from origination to close.

As an all-inclusive solution, Factom Harmony

  • creates a permanent record and index of final loan documents, making audits smooth by reducing quality control, due diligence and review time;

  • reduces costs by creating a single source that organizes the final documentation and provides cryptographic truth that each document is an authentic copy;

  • provides access control to multiple parties that can collaborate under audit conditions and exceptions, and includes an immutable audit trail of all actions on each document in real-time, giving a true history of every loan;

  • opens a secure audit room or due diligence deal room that can be tracked on the Factom blockchain.

According to Peter Kirby, CEO of Factom Inc., “The Harmony solution and the underlying Factom blockchain provide lenders with something that was fundamentally missing from the industry. With Harmony, a lender is able to create a final set of documents for each closed loan.”

Right now, origination of a loan has underlying costs of about $7,500 per loan — up from approximately $2,500 per loan in 2006. The costs have tripled over the last few years as banks have been forced to step up their efforts to be in compliance with new laws.

Factom Harmony addresses many of the redundancy issues associated with these efforts by permanently documenting the process from the moment documents are first created, and then allowing that data to be quickly shared and verified digitally. Having digital records that can be securely shared and verified also speeds up financial institutions’ ability to settle transaction among themselves. Factom does not claim to move money faster, but it does attempt to allow others to have the confidence in the data they are reviewing and thus speed up the processes.

According to Factom, Harmony is the first practical and effective deployment of blockchain technology in the mortgage industry. Through combining blockchain technology, advanced cryptography tools and a digital fingerprint for each document or data file, lenders can securely store and expose individual loan files or documents to various third parties.

“This technology dramatically changes the approach and reduces the costs for audits, third-party reviews, litigation costs and due diligence costs,” Jason Nadeau, executive vice president of Factom, said in a statement. “The combination of blockchain and digital signature technology within Factom’s solution creates a solution where the benefits of digital signatures and electronic vaulting are now available for all documents without having to deploy any eMortgage or eClosing technology.”

Toni Moss is the founder and CEO of AmeriCatalyst LLC, an advisory firm located in Austin, Texas, specializing in corporate strategy, business development, market intelligence and market positioning for companies engaged in all sectors of the residential real-estate and housing finance industry in the North American market. Moss has advised clients including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, the European Commission and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Well-known in the U.S. mortgage industry, she is a big fan of Factom Harmony, and had this to say about the blockchain-based solution:

“The industry remains disparate and fractured with regard to the acquisition, management, distribution and protection of data, with a wide variety of third-party providers, proprietary platforms and programming languages. It’s just a matter of time before mortgage data is aggregated into a secure and centralized industry utility — and blockchain [technology] is the most promising catalyst to enable it,” Moss said to Bitcoin Magazine.

“As data becomes more plentiful, accurate, accessible and immutable, investors will have the confidence to return to the mortgage market; processing, servicing and transactional costs (should) decrease; and the market itself will be far more secure and sustainable in the long-term.”

Factom has yet to announce any contracts or partnerships related to its mortgage solution, but the time is right for big banks to start utilizing blockchain technology. In a separate recent development for the company, the Factom blockchain was made accessible to Chinese developers through WanCloud, a product released by Wanxiang Blockchain Corporation to drive progress among Chinese enterprises.

The post Factom Harmony Takes On the Mortgage Industry appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 7:22 pm

Three reasons why this time is different for bitcoin - CNBC


CNBC

Three reasons why this time is different for bitcoin
CNBC
Bitcoin's exponential surge is different this time around, most digital currency investors and software developers say. To many, the enthusiasm resembles the rush into technology stocks before the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. Bitcoin itself plunged in ...
Bitcoin is making a big comebackBusiness Insider
Bitcoin's price keeps breaking records. Here's what's driving its growth.Vox
Japan, South Korea drive global bitcoin prices as retail investor pile inReuters
MarketWatch -Investopedia -Medium
all 129 news articles »

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 11:44 am

Is the Crypto Asset Class Finally Coming Into its Own?

Cryptocurrency values have surged this year, with many posting huge percentage gains. But is it a sign they're reaching a broader audience?

Source

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 11:35 am

Bitcoin's Price Surge: Are Government's Behind It? | Fortune.com - Fortune


Fortune

Bitcoin's Price Surge: Are Government's Behind It? | Fortune.com
Fortune
National governments jostling for control of bitcoin could also trigger new forms of crime or economic aggression on the Internet.
Bitcoin Price Officially Doubles That of Gold, Experiences Minor ...CoinTelegraph

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 9:22 am

Skeptical of ICOs? Investor Vinny Lingham Can Change Your Mind With a Marker

The blockchain startup launched by Gyft founder Vinny Lingham is planning to launch an ICO.

Source

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 6:30 am

Bitcoin Price Rebounds to Near $2,640 Following Yesterday's Losses

The price of bitcoin has rebounded after a notable fall yesterday that saw the digital currency lose over $400.

Source

Posted on 26 May 2017 | 3:29 am

SALT Enables Traditional Lending Secured by Cryptocurrency

SALT Enables Traditional Lending Secured by Cryptocurrency

A new startup in Denver, Colorado has set out to take on the blockchain-based lending market. Secured Automated Lending Technology, or SALT for short, is a membership-based financial enterprise with its eyes set on being recognized as the first lending platform to facilitate loans collateralized by bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Touted as “traditional lending secured by cryptocurrency,” SALT will allow members to leverage assets like bitcoin and ether for loan collateral. This new platform, which will be tethered to Ethereum ERC20 smart contracts, will enable borrowers to tap into “capital on demand” via its ecosystem of lenders. The major value proposition is that it provides a mechanism for supporting the value of investor holdings, while simplifying all aspects of the loan process and leveraging the power of a blockchain-centric lending market.

The following scenario illustrates a typical use case for SALT: imagine if you sold out your entire bitcoin holdings in 2016 for a luxury purchase, only to see the price shoot to the moon in 2017, resulting in a loss of all that you might have gained over the course of that period had you held on to your bitcoins.

With SALT, an investor who has collateral they wish to retain can leverage their crypto-assets for a loan. This allows them to maintain a long position with their assets while creating a greater set of options with their taxes.

The SALT loan process consists of four primary steps:

  1. Loan Creation: a borrower sets up a membership account and then forwards their collateral to the SALT Oracle Wallet. This is a multi-signature blockchain wallet that functions as a repository for collateral while automatically managing the lending terms.

  2. The loan funds, once approved, are transferred to the borrower’s bank account.

  3. Loan Repayment: a borrower makes timely, periodic payments to the lender.

  4. Loan Completion: upon repayment of the loan, the borrower will have their collateral returned.

SALT doesn’t perform credit checks on borrowers but does conduct full Anti-money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) verification checks. Loans made via the platform are denominated in and repaid with traditional currencies.

Cryptocurrency assets are used only by the recipient as collateral for the loans. Borrowers can choose to pay off their loans early without being subjected to a prepayment penalty.

SALT members are not required to possess blockchain assets in order to lend on the platform. Lenders must be accredited investors in accordance with federal regulations and guidelines established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. They must also pass SALT’s Lending Suitability Test.

At the time of the company’s soft launch, Shawn Owen, CEO of SALT, told Bitcoin Magazine, “Currently, if you are a holder of blockchain assets, a large chunk of your financial wealth is not being recognized by lenders. With SALT, we see a future where virtually all of the world’s value is on blockchains, with lending reflective of our globally connected, digitized lives.”

Owen says he left his full-time job in 2016, intrigued by the idea of a lending platform that could leverage billions of dollars of untapped cryptocurrencies. “I saw this trend where the vast majority of Bitcoiners just wanted to hold on to their assets. With this realization, the light bulbs all went off, which prompted me to go full blast with SALT. I haven’t really looked back since.”  

When asked about how he came up with name SALT, Owen has this to say: “We liked the name because ‘salt’ was historically the first well-known commodity-based money. Our version of SALT is a way to articulate what we do: taking blockchain technology and smart contracts and building lending terms and everything revolving around credit products and putting them into smart contracts in a more automatic and secure way.”

Owen says many in the Bitcoin community have at one point or another experienced a situation where they have sold because they felt that they had a good gain, only to look back and realize that they had missed a massive opportunity. And in that sale, notes Owen, they most likely had to worry about capital gains tax counting and were now wishing they could go back in time six months and have all that ether or bitcoin back.

In terms of emerging trends in the blockchain lending space, Owen points to the massive growth in the number of cryptocurrencies coming online and the innovation associated with them. He says that although it will be a bumpy ride, he believes we’ll continue to see more and more of the world’s value accounted for on distributed ledgers and on blockchains.

“I see a world where large portfolios will be made up of digital assets and they will be much more granular abilities to lend against these portfolios in a much higher liquid form than what we have today. This, I am certain, will solve a lot of the liquidity inefficiencies in the market.”  

Though SALT is currently operating only in the U.S., Owen anticipates making a quick move into Ireland, followed most likely by Canada. “The big picture we are striving for is to create the mechanisms with which lending terms of any type, between any person or individual, whether it be business or not, can interact in a peer-to-peer way with contracts that are enforceable without counterparty risk.”

Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift and a member of SALT’s board of directors, commented, “SALT’s disruptive innovation is an important project for broadening the usefulness and global reach of blockchain technology.”

The post SALT Enables Traditional Lending Secured by Cryptocurrency appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 7:29 pm

Bcoin Protocol Gets Major Development Funding With New Agreement

Purse Introduces New Bcoin Protocol Agreement

Purse has announced a new agreement with Bitmain Technologies, F2Pool, Bitcoin.com and Bixin that will allocate millions of dollars to its bcoin protocol development.

When working with Bitcoin, decentralization is king. Purse CEO Andrew Lee, through bcoin, extends that logic to the Bitcoin protocol itself.

“For Bitcoin to take off, we need multiple implementations with even market share,” Lee explains in a Medium post. “Decentralizing protocol development will lead to multiple clients, diverse communities, more developers, better security and more innovation.”

So what is bcoin? Put simply, Bitcoin was written in C++ coding language, which has a steep learning curve and remains a bit out of reach for many developers. Bcoin helps to solve that problem by re-implementing Bitcoin in Javascript, arguably a more widely used language. This opens the door for more innovation in Bitcoin because more developers will be able to create apps and protocol improvements in Javascript instead of the more complex C++. In October of 2016, Purse announced that it would be running its online market service on top of bcoin.

An important feature of this new agreement is that the participants will gain no equity in any of the projects that arise from the funding. “Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Bixin and F2Pool donated funds for a non-equity stake to specifically help with supporting the development of multiple implementations. Similar companies also donated to Parity (who is working on a Rust implementation of Bitcoin). The more client diversity Bitcoin has, the better,” explained Steven McKie, head of Growth & Product Content at Purse, in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. “Bcoin remains an independent project.”

As for how the funding will be allocated, McKie explains, “The funding will help directly with onboarding and training new developers to commit to the bcoin full-node implementation, open-source project.”

The timing of this announcement is important as it comes almost immediately after the announcement of the 2MBHF + SegWitSF agreement. According to McKie, “Bcoin will work to implement support for the 2MBHF + SegWitSF proposal into the codebase as we stated in our support for the proposal.” This funding agreement will go a long way toward helping that initiative.

“Bcoin is built for modularity and for developers to quickly be able to start utilizing Bitcoin’s robust global network and start hacking together useful tools and applications. Our full node is built on a stack that is attractive to as many developers as possible (node.js). Bcoin has support for all of Bitcoin’s latest features; it’s secure and production-tested by companies like Purse, BitPay, Bixin, Ripio and Bitwala — with more to come.”

The post Bcoin Protocol Gets Major Development Funding With New Agreement appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 6:29 pm

Crypto Traders See Red As Profit Taking Fuels Price Pullback

Profit taking caused crypto prices to suffer notable declines.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 4:20 pm

Blockchain Entrepreneurs Target Apple and Google at Token Summit

The Token Summit was held today, showcasing how a blockchain-based economy may be on the horizon with real-world applications that serve actual needs.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 3:42 pm

Bitcoin's Price Tumbles More Than $400 From New High

Bitcoin prices fell sharply today after setting a new all-time high above $2,700 on the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (BPI).

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 11:43 am

Bank of Canada: DLT Won't Replace Canada's Payment System

Canada's central bank likely won't launch a wholesale payment system based solely on distributed ledger tech.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 11:24 am

LocalBitcoins Trader Pleads Guilty to Money Transmitter Charge

A Michigan LocalBitcoins trader plead guilty last week to operating an unlicensed money services business.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 10:00 am

Consensus 2017: Even Academics Can't Keep Pace With Blockchain Change

Universities have a role to play in developing a workforce with blockchain skills, but the rapid pace of innovation brings challenges, academics say.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 7:00 am

ICOs Going Mainstream? Chat App Kik to Launch Token Sale

Messaging service Kik has revealed plans to launch its own cryptocurrency and ultimately create a new ecosystem for digital services.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 6:00 am

How Blockchain Tech Could Move Self-Driving Cars Into the Fast Lane

With autonomous cars on the horizon, blockchain startups are eagerly building IoT systems for the fledgling industry

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 4:30 am

Hyperledger Moves Blockchain Frameworks Sawtooth and Iroha Forward, Adds Members

Hyperledger Moves Blockchain Frameworks Sawtooth and Iroha to Active Status

Hyperledger, the open-source, cross-industry collaborative effort focusing on blockchain technology, has advanced the status of its Sawtooth and Iroha blockchain frameworks from “Incubation” to “Active” status.

The green light was given by Hyperledger’s 12-member Technical Steering Committee (TSC), chaired by Christopher Ferris, CTO of Open Technology at IBM. It followed an extensive review period during which each project was evaluated based on exit criteria that include legal compliance, community support, test coverage and continuous integration support, documentation, code reviews and more.

Ray George, senior director of PR at the Linux Foundation, told Bitcoin Magazine that “there is no difference [between Incubation and Active status] when it comes to how the projects are expected to run and how the TSC works with them to ensure a healthy community continues to be built.

“The most tangible difference is how this is presented to the public — not as projects whose communities are still finding their bearings, but as communities ready for new contributors and whose users can depend upon those communities persisting for the long term.”

Hyperledger Iroha, which was initially proposed by Soramitsu, Hitachi, NTT DATA and Colu, is a business blockchain framework inspired by Hyperledger Fabric. It was designed to be simple and easy to incorporate into infrastructural projects requiring distributed ledger technology, and aims to provide a development environment where C++, web and mobile application developers can contribute to the Hyperledger Project.

Hyperledger Sawtooth was initially contributed by Intel and designed to explore scalability, security and privacy questions prompted by the original distributed ledgers.

The modular platform allows organizations to build, deploy and run complex distributed ledgers, and includes a novel consensus algorithm, Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), which targets large distributed validator populations with minimal resource consumption.

Sawtooth and Iroha follow Hyperledger Fabric, the first project to graduate in March 2017. These projects, alongside five others, all fall under the Hyperledger organization umbrella, which focuses on bringing together software developer communities to develop open-source blockchain and smart contract related technologies.

Projects currently in Incubation include Hyperledger Cello, a blockchain module toolkit; Hyperledger Composer, a set of collaboration tools for building blockchain business networks; and Hyperledger Explorer, a blockchain explorer for viewing, invoking, deploying or querying blocks, transactions and associated data.

Hyperledger’s Membership Expands

The news of Sawtooth and Iroha moving out of Incubation broke on Monday at Consensus 2017, a major blockchain-focused event taking place this week in New York, during which Hyperledger also announced the addition of eight new members, bringing its total membership to 142.

New members joining the Hyperledger Project include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Schroder Investment Management, AlphaPoint and Change Healthcare, one of America’s largest healthcare IT companies and the first healthcare organization to join at the top membership level.

Change Healthcare’s CTO, Aaron Symanski, will be joining the Hyperledger Governing Board, chaired by Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset, and consisting of representatives from 20 members of the Hyperledger membership.

“Blockchain [technology] is a promising and exciting new technology for secure online transactions,” said Symanski. “But it is crucial that healthcare leaders step up to champion innovation to help take blockchain [technology] from its early implementations to tomorrow’s healthcare IT solutions.”

In October 2016, Hyperledger kicked off a Healthcare Working Group to advance blockchain development in the healthcare industry. The group now has more than 425 technologists and executives representing the likes of Accenture, Gem, Hashed Health and IBM.

Another company that has joined the Hyperledger Project is FZG360 Network Co. Ltd., a leading real-estate portal and trading platform in China, which aims to “enhance the application of [blockchain technology] to a higher maturity level,” particularly in the area of real estate.

Hyperledger was founded in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation and counts among its members leading firms representing various industries including blockchain technology, finance, healthcare, the Internet of Things, aeronautics and real estate, among several others.

The post Hyperledger Moves Blockchain Frameworks Sawtooth and Iroha Forward, Adds Members appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 7:03 pm

Qtum’s Block Size Limit Will Be Governed by Smart Contracts: Here’s How

Qtum’s Block Size Limit Will Be Governed by Smart Contracts: Here’s How

Qtum is an up-and-coming smart contract platform set to launch in September of this year. Sometimes ambitiously referring to itself as “China’s Ethereum,” the project recently raised $15 million in three days through a successful crowdsale or “Initial Coin Offering” (ICO).

On a technical level, the Qtum blockchain will resemble Bitcoin, but will integrate an Ethereum-like Virtual Machine on top for smart contracting purposes. Additionally, Qtum is in the process of implementing a “Decentralized Governance Protocol” (DGP). This DGP will have smart contracts determine the blockchain’s parameter selection, like its block size limit.

Jordan Earls, also known as “earlz” online, is the co-founder and lead developer of Qtum.

“We believe this will allow for Qtum to be the first self-modifiable, self-regulating and ultimately self-aware blockchain,” he told Bitcoin Magazine.

 The Concept

Any blockchain has a number of parameters. In Bitcoin, this of course includes the 1 megabyte block size limit. But it also includes the block reward (currently 12.5), the block interval time (ten minutes) and more. These and three other parameters apply to Qtum as well.

But there are two basic problems with needing to have these parameters. First, they are very hard to get “right,” in so far as that’s even possible, since different parameters benefit different use cases. And second, in a decentralized system, these parameters can be very hard to change.

“The core rationale and problem we had when designing this is that we will release Qtum with some initial parameters that we try to make perfect,” Earls told Bitcoin Magazine. “But we don't know what the ecosystem will look like one month after release, much less one year. So, we designed DGP. That way, we can tune the blockchain to be as usable and secure as possible without needing to fork, just to change a simple number from 1 to 2.”

Qtum plans to realize this way of “tuning the blockchain” by doing what it does best: The DGP will consist of relatively straightforward smart contracts made up of blockchain-readable pieces of executable code.

“We have open-source smart contracts which implement the rules for changing the parameters, which will then be accepted by all nodes. It implements a fairly simple governance system of ‘user keys’ and ‘admin keys.’ There is a modifiable parameter in the contract which determines how many keys of each type must vote in order to approve a change to, say, the block size limit.”

Importantly, through the use of smart contracts, these keys can actually represent more than just a regular user per key: Each key can represent a defined group.

“Perhaps one key represents a majority of hash power; or a key represents coin votes by coin holders; or a key acts according to a dynamic limit based on how full blocks are. Or even oracles: a key can effectively be controlled by people or servers that act based on input not directly readable by the blockchain itself, like USD market price for transaction fees. It’s extremely flexible.”

Qtum will almost certainly include smart contracts for the block size limit, the gas schedule to determine the price of different smart contract operations (for which Ethereum hard forked several times) and the minimum gas price. Additionally, it might deploy smart contracts for block interval times, block rewards, maximum gas per block and maximum script size or signature operations per transaction or block.

Changing the Rules

Embedding the parameter selection in smart contracts is clever and having all node software adjust accordingly even more so. However, an arguably even harder problem is not so much what parameter is decided on, but who gets to decide in the first place and how.

In Qtum, the initial parameters will be set by the developers based on their testing and measurements.

“For instance, we've already determined that a block size of 2 megabytes should be reasonable,” Earls said.

After that, the initial set of rules to define the parameters can be changed themselves within the rules of the system, too.

A smart contract could, for example, start out relatively simple: It requires a majority of core developers to change the rules of the contract. Then, if a majority of core developers decides that instead of just developers, it should also include a majority of coin holders, the contract can be changed to a two-of-two multisig contract. From that moment on, one key would represent the developers, while the other key would represent the majority of coin holders. Next, if both developers and coin holders agree, hash power can have a seat at the table, too, and so forth.

As such, Qtum smart contracts can change not only the parameters of the system, but also how the parameters themselves can be changed.

That said, as Earls acknowledged, the Decentralized Governance Protocol can’t actually solve all governance problems. It’s specifically designed to make certain predefined parameters more easily adjustable, and it can indeed even change how these parameters can be adjusted to some extent.

But the Decentralized Governance Protocol does not and cannot apply to network rules that aren’t among these predefined parameters. Protocol changes outside of these specific parameters would still require a typical upgrade mechanism, like a hard fork or a soft fork.

“I believe if Bitcoin had DGP technology, then we would still see all this fighting about SegWit vs Bitcoin Unlimited, etcetera,” Earls acknowledged. “But, DGP would have been used in the meantime to increase the block size to something conservative but reasonable like 2 megabytes or 4 megabytes, to avoid all the transaction speed problems. Meanwhile, the developers and community could figure out a more permanent solution.”

The post Qtum’s Block Size Limit Will Be Governed by Smart Contracts: Here’s How appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 6:38 pm

DCG’s Bitcoin Scaling Proposal and What it Needs to Succeed

DCG’s Scaling Proposal and What it Needs to Succeed

Spearheaded by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group (DCG),  this week over 50 companies signed and published a “Bitcoin Scaling Agreement” on Medium. The agreement intends to put an end to Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate.

Whether it actually will is a another question.

Here’s what the agreement entails, how it compares to existing scaling proposals and what it requires to succeed …

What the Agreement Entails

The DCG agreement is based on the “SegWit2MB” proposal, originally floated by RSK Founder and Chief Scientist Sergio Demian Lerner. This proposal couples activation of Segregated Witness (SegWit), the centrepiece of Bitcoin Core’s scaling roadmap, with an added block-size-increase hard fork down the road. While SegWit itself offers an increase to two to four megabytes, the added hard fork should double this to a maximum of eight megabytes.

According to the Medium post, the soft fork will be activated “at an 80% threshold,” (presumably) referring to hash power. And the hard fork will be activated “within six months.”

However, it seems that different signatories have different interpretations of what this actually means. Some claim that SegWit will be activated as a soft fork first, followed by a separate block-size-increase hard fork later. Others suggest that the soft fork will come first, but in such a way that it would trigger hard fork code, which still activates later. Yet others suggest that both the soft fork and the hard fork will be activated at the same time. And some even think the hard fork will come first, followed by SegWit activation later.

While these kinds of details may still need to be worked out, over 50 companies signed the agreement. Combined, they currently represent more than 80 percent of hash power on the network and, according to these companies, $5.1 billion USD in transaction volume as well as 20.5 million Bitcoin wallets.

But there are telling omissions, too. Perhaps most notably, no Bitcoin Core developer is party to the agreement, nor were any of them even present at the meeting. Similarly, none of the entities that fund Bitcoin Core developers — like Chaincode Labs, Blockstream or MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative — signed on. And of course, some 50 companies are only a segment of the Bitcoin industry in the first place; several big players are still missing.

Last but not least, Bitcoin’s broader user base is not involved with the agreement either, nor is the agreement in any way tied to community support.

How the Agreement Compares to Existing Scaling Solutions

Like the DCG agreement, Bitcoin Core’s scaling roadmap includes Segregated Witness as well. It also suggests that a hard fork to further increase the block size limit could be needed in the future, though it does not specify a specific point in time. Most Bitcoin Core developers also believe that a hard fork requires at least a year to prepare, perhaps more. As such, both Bitcoin Core and the DCG agreement share activation of SegWit as a first step in their scaling plans — but not the hard fork part.

However, the SegWit activation mechanism that is part of the DCG agreement slightly differs from the current activation mechanism implemented in Bitcoin Core. Most important, the DCG agreement lowers the required hash power threshold from 95 to 80 percent. And because of how SegWit is designed, activation through the DCG agreement is incompatible with all SegWit-ready Bitcoin nodes on the network.

It may be possible to work around this issue, however. As proposed by Bitmain Warranty engineer James Hilliard, SegWit activation can be made compatible between the DCG agreement and Bitcoin Core, though it’s a bit “hacky.” In short, if miners signal support for SegWit along the DCG agreement with at least 80 percent of hash power, this 80 percent can also start to completely reject any block that does not signal support for SegWit. This activates the current SegWit proposal by Bitcoin Core, as that would reach its 95 percent threshold as well.

Down the road, the DCG agreement’s hard fork is very unlikely to be implemented in Bitcoin Core for a number of reasons, but most importantly because it is contentious.

Other scaling proposals, like Bitcoin Unlimited’s Emergent Consensus or Bcoin’s Extension Blocks, are not necessarily incompatible with the DCG agreement, or at least they don’t need to be.

What the Agreement Requires to Succeed

What the agreement requires to succeed depends on your concept of “success.” But it will be a challenge by any definition.

First off, it should be noted that the proposal — which allows for blocks of up to 8 megabytes — may not be safe. While the full extent of the block size issue is outside the scope of this article, suffice it to say that some think that 8 megabyte blocks are, in fact, a significant risk.

Perhaps even more important, code needs to be written, and it is not yet clear who will actually do this. Moreover, this code should really be reviewed and tested extensively: the plan is to have it carry billions of dollars’ worth of value. This will not be easy to do within six months; perhaps impossible.

Then, this code must be brought into production. For the hard fork in particular, this means that everyone effectively needs to integrate and switch to the new protocol. If all signatories of the agreement accomplish this, it would probably be sufficient to at least get this new protocol running.

It seems obvious that the signatories of the DCG agreement hope that the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem will also switch to the new protocol once the fork takes place. In that case, the new protocol would (probably) be considered the new "Bitcoin” by everyone.

But given the contention of the proposed hard fork, this currently seems very unlikely.

While it’s impossible to predict the future, it seems almost certain that at least some segment of Bitcoin developers, miners, companies and — most important — users will reject the fork. They will stay put on the existing protocol even if that means it takes much longer for blocks to confirm, or they will roll out a user activated soft fork, or perhaps they will even deploy a counter–hard fork. Under any of these scenarios, the Bitcoin blockchain would “split” into two chains, or more.

The real challenge, therefore, is to get people to use the new chain. And, if that is desired, to get them to consider it the “real” Bitcoin. This will probably be a much harder challenge than forking itself, even for all the companies involved in the DCG agreement.

And most important, for the agreement to succeed in any way at all (perhaps even under a different name than “Bitcoin”), it will require the signatories to follow through. The Bitcoin protocol is difficult to change, and promises or Medium posts alone don’t have any impact on it whatsoever, as several similar commitments have proven in the past.

The post DCG’s Bitcoin Scaling Proposal and What it Needs to Succeed appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 6:21 pm

Using Blockchain Tech to Keep Concert Ticket Prices Honest

BitTicket, the First Digital Events Ticket Platform on the Blockchain

Major events, from sporting to musical, are a significant part of most people's lives, bringing individuals together to enjoy a shared interest. Unfortunately, ticket touts (scalpers) and secondary websites are taking advantage and extorting the event ticketing industry. With big names such as Mumford and Sons, Coldplay, Adele and Ed Sheeran speaking out about this problem, the issue remains. The U.K. government has introduced legislation that aims to prevent the use of bots from purchasing tickets to resell them at inflated prices. Still, more than 21,000 people in the U.K. have reported falling victim to ticket fraud in the last three years with the majority of these reports concerning secondary ticket markets, according to research.  

In order to solve the issues around fraudulent tickets and the high prices associated with them Edinburgh-based Citizen Ticket, the ethical 'David meets Goliath' event ticketing platform backed by blockchain technology, was created by CFO Harry Boisseau and COO Philip Shaw-Stewart. During their time working in the events industry for the past 10 years, the pair has worked on everything from large-scale music events and pop-up food events to underground concerts and charity fundraisers.  

The Problem

In partnership with Get Online Safe and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR), the City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) found that over the last three years more than £17 million ($22 million) has been lost to ticket fraudsters.  

In April, the three organizations undertook a series of Facebook flash sales, which saw over 1,500 people attempting to buy music tickets from a fake ticket website called 'Surfed Arts.' Purporting to be a secondary ticket website, the adverts were aimed at certain locations where concerts were taking place over the summer but had sold out. The research found that women over the age of 65 and those who reside in London tried to purchase the most fake tickets; however, men and women aged 35-44 and those living in Birmingham were the least likely to click on the fake advert.

Those who did click on the Surfed Arts website were told they could not buy the sold out tickets before being informed on how they could better protect themselves from becoming a potential victim to ticket fraudsters. According to the NFIB, the idea was to get people to change their online behavior and to consider whether secondary ticket sales are legitimate.

Social media is also becoming another avenue for ticket fraudsters to advertise ticket sales. Data from Action Fraud found that in 2015 there was a 55 percent rise in ticket fraud with major sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup and the Premier League football accounting for a quarter of all incidents of ticket scams. Fraudulent tickets for gigs and festivals represented 15 percent, costing the U.K. public £5.2 million ($6.75 million).

Those who do purchase fake tickets can find that the nature of them can vary. They either don't materialize, never existed or charge hyper-inflated prices through secondary ticket websites than what's listed on a primary ticket website.

A Blockchain Solution

With the help from fellow team member Colin Palmer, CTO, Boisseau and Shaw-Stewart brought to fruition the recent launch of BitTicket, the first digital event tickets on the blockchain for public events, using the cryptocurrency Ethereum Classic. The idea was dreamt up while searching online for Ed Sheeran tickets on a secondary ticket website with high costs.

The team found that not only were there large quantities of tickets being hoarded by secondary ticket websites with increased prices attached to them, but that primary ticket websites were sending them, in bulk, to the secondary ticket websites before they went on sale. However, that wasn't the only problem the team found.

"The event ticketing monopolies own primary ticket websites and secondary ticket trading websites," said Shaw-Stewart, speaking to Bitcoin Magazine. "The secondary ticket website allows the monopolies to collect event tickets from their primary ticket website, then charge highly inflated prices for the tickets on their secondary website under the pretense of being a platform created to allow fans to resell tickets."

As an example, they cited a Robbie Williams concert that was held at the O2 Arena in London. On a primary website, the tickets were being sold for £40 ($52). However, according to Shaw-Stewart, the primary site proceeded to sell 80 percent of their tickets to the umbrella company's secondary sister site. There, the same tickets were being sold for £300 ($390) each.

"There is a problem in the industry we believe to be unethical, the resale of event tickets by secondary ticket websites, often at highly inflated prices."  

With the use of the blockchain, BitTicket is aiming to provide a secure and transparent system which is resistant to fraud and counterfeiting. With every ticket sale publicly verifiable on the blockchain, it locks and guarantees the value of the ticket in a way that is unmatched by private databases and paper systems, says Shaw-Stewart.

bitticket1

It also has inbuilt anti-fraud sales rules to ensure that no secondary ticket website can hoard tickets to control the supply that allows them to charge inflated prices. If the resale rules are broken by secondary ticket websites or ticket touts (scalpers), the fraudulent accounts are frozen and the tickets are made invalid.

Still in the early stages of launching Citizen Ticket, the team is planning on rolling out a large-scale marketing campaign in the coming months to target event organizers and event goers.

The first ever event to use this new blockchain application was the Scottish Street Food Awards in Edinburgh, which took place on May 12. Utilizing the BitTicket platform, the event proved to be a success for the Citizen Ticket team, who said that the platform had performed exactly as they had expected.

"From a customer's point of view very little changed; they purchased and presented their ticket like any other digital ticket," said Shaw-Stewart. "They were asked for ID at the door to confirm ownership of their ticket and that's it, they were in."  

In keeping with the company’s commitment to ethical practices, Citizen Ticket also works with two charitable partners: the Movember Foundation and SkatePal. Through ticket sales made on the platform, donations are made to these two charities.

With an array of events already listed on the platform, as well as its fundraising initiatives, the team is hoping to level the playing field for the industry with BitTickets.

"We hope that the launch of BitTicket will usher in a new era of ethical event tickets where both fan and artist are protected from the unethical practices of ticket touts and secondary ticket websites," concluded Shaw-Stewart.

The post Using Blockchain Tech to Keep Concert Ticket Prices Honest appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 3:45 pm

Bitcoin, Ether Set New All-Time Highs Amid Market Boom

Money continues to flood into cryptographic assets, with bitcoin, ether and zcash setting new highs today amid a broader market boom.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 2:25 pm

Consensus 2017: Blockchain Consortia in A Rapidly Changing Market

A sense of realism came through in a series of workshops sponsored by distributed ledger consortium R3 during CoinDesk's Consensus 2017 conference.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 12:00 pm

These Two UASFs Could Activate SegWit

BIP 148 and BIP 149: the Two UASFs to Activate SegWit

Segregated Witness (SegWit), the Bitcoin protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team, was originally designed to activate via the Bitcoin Improvement Protocol 9 (BIP 9) standard, a hash-power signalling mechanism. This would allow the Bitcoin ecosystem to coordinate the upgrade relatively safely through miner readiness.

But with the SegWit proposal in particular, BIP 9 no longer serves just to signal readiness. Miners as well as users increasingly see BIP 9 as a sort of miner vote on the desirability of the protocol upgrade. And some miners even seem to utilize it as a negotiation chip for protocol development.

The pseudonymous developer who goes by the name “Shaolinfry” considers this an abuse of the coordination mechanism. He therefore recently proposed an alternative activation scheme: a user-activated soft fork, better known as a “UASF.”

Shaolinfry also drafted two specific UASF proposals: BIP 148 and BIP 149. Both of these are currently “in the running” for user adoption. And speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Shaolinfry, at least, seems sure that one of them will be accepted by the network.

“There is no universe in which SegWit will not get activated.”

SegWit and the UASF

A soft fork is a change to the Bitcoin protocol that introduces new rules or tightens existing ones. This makes soft forks backward compatible: nodes that did not upgrade should remain part of the same Bitcoin network.

Segregated Witness is a soft fork that would increase Bitcoin’s block size limit and solve some longstanding protocol issues. While it’s always hard to say with conclusive certainty, the proposal seems to have broad support within the Bitcoin ecosystem. Many wallets, exchanges and other companies in the space have indicated they are ready for it, while an overwhelming share of reachable nodes on the network have implemented the solution, too.

As per BIP 9, the current implementation of SegWit activates if about 95 percent of hash power signals support within a two-week difficulty period before November. However, hash power support has so far stagnated at around 30 percent.

This apparent mismatch between the ecosystem and hash power support is why some — like BIP 9 co-author Rusty Russell — are increasingly thinking the activation method was a mistake.

And Shaolinfry does, too.

“The main issue with BIP 9 is that it has a veto of only about 5 percent of hash power,” Shaolinfry explained. “That veto could be intentionally or unintentionally triggered. Intentionally, like how miners are currently blocking SegWit activation. Or unintentionally due to upgrade apathy.

“Miner activation also draws attention to mining pool operators politically. The whole world is paying attention to who is and isn’t signaling. That is undesirable. And what if the soft fork is for something that could make governments angry? We know this is the case in China for anonymity features, and increasingly in the United States as well.”

As such, Shaolinfry proposed activating SegWit through a UASF.

The idea behind any UASF, in short, is that users simply activate the soft fork at an agreed-upon point in time. If these users represent a majority of the Bitcoin economy — exchanges, merchants, users — miners are financially incentivized to follow the new soft fork rules. If they don’t, they could mine invalid blocks (according to the majority of the Bitcoin economy), and the “bitcoins” they earn would be worth less — or worth nothing at all.

Once a majority of hash power does follow these financial incentives and enforces the new rules, the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem should automatically follow, just like with any other soft fork.

BIP 148

The first UASF proposal drafted by Shaolinfry is BIP 148.

BIP 148 is an interesting take on a UASF because it is actually designed to trigger the existing BIP 9 SegWit-activation threshold.

“If you want to redeploy SegWit, you must wait for the current deployment to expire by November of this year because many Bitcoin nodes won’t accept it otherwise,” Shaolinfry explained. “BIP 148 is a way to make the current BIP 141 deployment activate before November. That’s faster, and has the advantage that more than 70 percent of nodes has already upgraded.”

Specifically, starting on August 1, BIP 148 nodes will reject any Bitcoin blocks that do not signal support for Segregated Witness via BIP 9. So, if the majority of the Bitcoin economy enforces BIP 148, miners will have to signal support for SegWit in order not to have their blocks rejected.

Once these miners do signal support for SegWit, this signaling would also trigger all the “normal” SegWit nodes on the network. All these nodes would then enforce SegWit, even if they didn’t participate in the BIP 148 activation themselves.

And, from a game theory perspective, it may even be viable for a relatively small minority of the Bitcoin economy to get BIP 148 activated. Miners should have little to lose by signaling support for SegWit, but something to lose from not signaling: a smaller total number of users to sell their bitcoins to. As such, even a modest but committed BIP 148 user base could potentially be enough.

Finally, echoing his Medium post on Litecoin’s SegWit activation, Shaolinfry noted that even the possibility of such a UASF could be enough to make miners signal support — without even needing nodes to actually enforce it.

BIP 148: Risks and Incentives

There are, however, some risks. These are why some prominent Bitcoin Core developers — like Blockstream CTO Gregory Maxwell and Chaincode Labs Co-Founder Suhas Daftuar — consider BIP 148 too disruptive.

Per BIP 148, otherwise valid blocks would be rejected merely because they don’t include a signal. The rejection of these blocks would waste miners’ resources and detrimentally affect Bitcoin’s security.

Moreover, if only a minority of hash power enforces the new rules — either because they ignore financial incentives or because only a small minority of the economy enforces the new rules in the first place — the Bitcoin blockchain could split in two. There would be a “SegWit chain” and a “non-SegWit chain.” That would open up a new can of worms, where the risks for users on both ends of the chain are not the same.

“The incentives are clearly there for miners to follow the economy,” said Shaolinfry in response to this criticism. “But indeed, there is a chain split risk if less than 51 percent [of] miners comply and run BIP 148. However, even in this circumstance, the non-BIP 148 chain is asymmetrically disadvantaged, and will almost certainly be completely wiped out. The SegWit chain will always be more valuable, and once a majority of miners switches to that chain, the non-SegWit chain will disappear altogether.”

Furthermore, from a certain threshold on, the risk of a chain split become smaller as it gathers more support. This is why another prominent Bitcoin Core developer, Luke Dashjr, is throwing his weight behind the proposal.

And to avoid these kinds of risks, there could be another twist to BIP 148 as well, Shaolinfry pointed out:

“The interesting thing about BIP 148 is that any majority of miners can trigger it — it doesn’t have to be 95 percent. If 75 or even just 51 percent of hash power starts rejecting non-signaling blocks per August 1, they will always claim the longest chain. So really, all miners will from then on have to signal support and activate SegWit — or have all their blocks orphaned by the network.”

Finally, Shaolinfry may also release code — “Segsignal” — to allow miners to signal whether they will deploy BIP 148 and under what condition. Using this, miners could, for example, agree to activate SegWit through BIP 148 if, and only if, 51 percent indicates that they are willing to.

“This should remove any risk of a chain-split, even a short-lived one,” Shaolinfry said.

BIP 149 (and BIP 8)

Shaolinfry’s alternative UASF proposal is BIP 149.

BIP 149 utilizes an entirely new soft fork activation mechanism: BIP 8. BIP 8 resembles BIP 9 in that it initially allows miners to activate the soft fork through hash power. However, as opposed to BIP 9, the soft fork proposal doesn’t just time out by the end of the activation period. Instead, it sets an activation deadline. If that deadline is reached, nodes activate the soft fork regardless of hash power support.

There is a particular technical advantage of BIP 149 over BIP 148: it is less intrusive for miners. While BIP 148 effectively forces miners to signal, with BIP 149 miners don’t actually have to do all that much. They can support SegWit if they want to. If not, they may want to run a so-called “border node” to filter invalid transactions and blocks post-activation, but that’s about it.

Shaolinfry plans to implement BIP 149 in dedicated Bitcoin software if BIP 148 doesn’t succeed, and when the current BIP 9 SegWit proposal has expired by mid-November. The activation deadline for BIP 149 is then scheduled for early July 2018.  

Some developers, like Maxwell, are in no rush to activate SegWit and consider BIP 149 preferable. But others, like Dashjr, believe it will take too long.

Shaolinfry himself noted:

“BIP 149 is not too slow from a technical point of view. But, I do think the longer SegWit isn’t activated, the more gremlins and obstacles are going to besiege Bitcoin. So if the ecosystem rallies around BIP 148, that would bring this nightmare to a close.”


The post These Two UASFs Could Activate SegWit appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:20 pm

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

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Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

Posted on 25 March 2014 | 5:46 pm

May 29, 2017 -
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