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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

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Posted on 18 January 2018 | 10:05 pm

SEC says bitcoin funds raise 'investor protection issues' - Reuters


Reuters

SEC says bitcoin funds raise 'investor protection issues'
Reuters
Bitcoin's 1,500 percent surge last year stoked investor demand for any product with exposure to the red-hot asset. A host of companies are jostling to launch exchange-traded funds which would open up the cryptocurrency to a broad retail market. The SEC ...

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 8:58 pm

Bitcoin drifts slightly lower after briefly topping $12000 - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin drifts slightly lower after briefly topping $12000
CNBC
Bitcoin drifted slightly lower after surging in the last session to briefly top $12,000. Still, the cryptocurrency stayed above $10,000 — a milestone level it had fallen below for some time earlier this week. The volatile digital currency hit a high ...

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 6:29 pm

Bitcoin is 'something regulators need to deal with but not ban,' says former FDIC chair - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin is 'something regulators need to deal with but not ban,' says former FDIC chair
CNBC
By Thursday, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — including ripple, ethereum and litecoin — were on the upswing once again. Bitcoin briefly topped $12,000 on Tuesday, an increase of more than 30 percent from the day before. But prices were still down ...

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 5:18 pm

Bitcoin's on a wild ride, but investors have shown it's here to stay, analyst says - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin's on a wild ride, but investors have shown it's here to stay, analyst says
CNBC
Despite its recent price whipsaw, bitcoin has gained legitimacy with investors and is here to stay, according to Spencer Bogart, a partner and head of research at Blockchain Capital. Bitcoin has been on a jolting ride this year after soaring more than ...
Is This It? Bitcoin Tanks, Skeptics CelebrateBarron's

all 15 news articles »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 4:17 pm

Bitcoin Devs Release Long-Awaited Schnorr Paper for Scalability Gains

Bitcoin devs have released the first paper on the Schnorr multi-signature protocol, which, if implemented, would increase bitcoin block sizes.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 3:45 pm

When Trading in Bitcoin, Keep the Tax Man in Mind - New York Times


New York Times

When Trading in Bitcoin, Keep the Tax Man in Mind
New York Times
Bitcoin may grab headlines when it skyrockets in value, as it did much of last year, or when it plunges precipitously, as it has this week. But the virtual currency has a reputation for providing a sense of anonymity to those who own it. That anonymity ...

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 2:45 pm

Cryptocurrency Investors Worry, Wait After Bitcoin Price Drop - NPR


NPR

Cryptocurrency Investors Worry, Wait After Bitcoin Price Drop
NPR
Over the last month, in a series of volatile swings, the price of the cryptocurrency bitcoin rose to a record high — then plunged to less than half that value. The abrupt changes have inspired comparisons to the dot-com bubble, and underscored the ...
This week's Bitcoin crash was all about fraud and regulationThe Verge
Bitcoin and Ethereum Have a Hidden Power Structure, and It's Just Been RevealedMIT Technology Review
Bitcoin: Dead Cat Bounce Or Bottom In Place?Forbes
CNBC -The Guardian -Fortune -Bloomberg
all 1,259 news articles »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 2:40 pm

Virginia Beach Government Backs Bitcoin Mine With $500K Grant

The U.S. city of Virginia Beach has granted $500,000 to help establish a new bitcoin mine in the area.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 1:45 pm

NYSE Parent Company Launches Cryptocurrency Data Feed

Intercontinental Exchange announced today that it was partnering with Blockstream to launch a cryptocurrency price data feed.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 1:00 pm

ESMA Seeks Public Input on Cryptocurrency Derivatives Policy

The European Securities and Markets Authority released a public call for input on cryptocurrency-based contracts-for-differences.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 12:00 pm

Ledger-to-Ledger? Hardware Wallet Integrates with Decentralized Exchange

Decentralized exchange Radar Relay has partnered with Ledger to allow for hardware wallet-to-wallet direct transfers.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 10:40 am

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Blockstream Releases Lightning Charge, Launches Test E-Commerce Store

Blockstream Releases Lightning Charge, Launches Test E-Commerce Store

Following the release of the first Bitcoin Lightning Network white paper, published in February 2015, developers have been working on Lightning Network implementations to enhance the throughput and usability of the Bitcoin network. For an overview, see this three-part series on “Understanding the Lightning Network.”

In December 2017, lightning developers ACINQ, Blockstream and Lightning Labs, announced the 1.0 release of the Lightning protocol and the world’s first Lightning test payments on the Bitcoin mainnet across all three implementations. The standardization and deployment of the Lightning Network’s second-level, off-chain payment layer is expected to result in instant bitcoin transactions, improved scalability and lower fees, enabling fast and cheap micropayments.

Blockstream’s implementation of the Lightning spec, c-lightning, is a low-level technology designed to implement the Lightning spec without added complexity. At the same time, Blockstream realizes that developer tools are needed to unlock the power of Lightning for advanced applications, such as those that integrate with credit card companies and with existing online payment systems.

Blockstream is releasing the Lightning Charge complementary package for c-lightning to make it simpler to build sophisticated applications on top of c-lightning.

“Web developers will be able to work with c-lightning through their normal programming techniques, and they’ll also get expanded functionality such as currency conversion, invoice metadata, streaming payment updates and webhooks,” reads the Blockstream announcement. “Together, these additions make it easy for developers to use c-lightning to create their own, independent web-payment infrastructures.”

Lightning Charge is a micropayment processing system written in node.js. It exposes the functionality of c-lightning through its REST API, which can be accessed through JavaScript and PHP libraries, both of which have also been released through the Elements Project.

"Lightning Charge makes integration with the Lightning Network much simpler, since it bridges the needs of application developers and the underlying infrastructure, to provide a simple and extensible way to accept Lightning payments," Blockstream developer Christian Decker said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine.

“Since the introduction of Lightning Charge, less than 48 hours ago, we have seen a dramatic interest in the Lightning Network, both on the user as well as the developer side,” Decker added. “We have gotten a lot of feedback, and the mainnet network has doubled in the number of participants."

The desired effect of the Lightning Charge launch was to reach a wider audience, get early feedback from future users and to showcase what will be possible in a not-so-distant future, and I think we have achieved that goal.

Israeli entrepreneur Nadav Ivgi, founder of Bitrated, worked with Blockstream developers to create Lightning Charge. “Together with him we built this new code, or this immediate piece of software that provides this nicer to use interface,” said Decker.

“So far the development for Lightning has been mostly on the network side of things. It’s been very much this close-knit group of people that are building it and are trying to build the infrastructure. Infrastructure is nice to have. But if nobody can actually use it then it’s not worth much, right?”

To test Lightning Charge, Blockstream is launching the Blockstream Store, a working e-commerce site that allows users to make small purchases of stickers and t-shirts. “By offering an early demonstration of this cutting-edge technology, we hope to bring Lightning to life with real-world functionality, providing a way for you to test Lightning and become a part of the micropayment revolution,” states the Blockstream announcement.

The Blockstream Store, built on WordPress and WooCommerce, connects with Lightning Charge and c-lightning through a WooCommerce Lightning Gateway, which Blockstream also released as part of the Elements Project.

The only way to purchase the items in the Blockstream store is with a Lightning payment. A disclaimer warns that, although the products sold in the store are real, this store is for testing and demonstration purposes only.

“Lightning is still very new and contains known and unknown bugs,” reads the disclaimer, adding that users may lose funds.

"We believe this is an important step towards a full rollout of the network as a whole, however we’d like to remind users that the Lightning Network is still experimental and that testnet is to be preferred for testing before making the jump to mainnet," Decker told Bitcoin Magazine.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 10:37 am

TSMC Expects 'Strong' Crypto Mining Demand to Continue

Cryptocurrency mining demand provided a boost to TSMC's fourth-quarter revenue, according to new statements from the foundry giant.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 9:20 am

Bitcoin Holds Gain After Frantic Rally Set $10000 Support Level - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin Holds Gain After Frantic Rally Set $10000 Support Level
Bloomberg
The January roller coaster for cryptocurrency investors eased on Thursday as Bitcoin held onto gains after roaring back from its first plunge below $10,000 since December. Bitcoin climbed 6.1 percent to $12,069 at 10:48 a.m. in New York, Bloomberg ...

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 8:53 am

Ripple and Stellar Lead the Way as Crypto Market Shakes Off Rout

The cryptocurrency market is showing early signs of possible recovery, with Ripple and Stellar performing best among the top 10 currencies.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 8:20 am

Antpool Adds Support for Siacoin Mining Amid Bitmain Miner Launch

AntPool adds support for the siacoin token, as the mining pool's parent firm, Bitmain, launches a device that can mine it.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 7:45 am

Bitcoin's fluctuations are too much for even ransomware ... - The Guardian


The Guardian

Bitcoin's fluctuations are too much for even ransomware ...
The Guardian
Malware developers have had to demand ransoms in local currencies as they attempt to not price their targets out.

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 7:22 am

Bitcoin's price crashed, but it's still devouring an obscene amount of energy - Vox


Vox

Bitcoin's price crashed, but it's still devouring an obscene amount of energy
Vox
Mining bitcoins — or verifying transactions to get coins — is a hugely energy-intensive process because of all the electricity needed for computational processing. About 80 percent of mining costs go toward electricity. Unlike conventional currencies ...

and more »

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 7:20 am

Is Bitcoin A 'Busted Flush' As Price Falls 20% Below $10K Mark? - Forbes


Forbes

Is Bitcoin A 'Busted Flush' As Price Falls 20% Below $10K Mark?
Forbes
It might be premature to talk about Bitcoin being a busted flush - that is anything that ends up worthless despite great potential. But after riding the crest of a wave last year, traders in the digital currency might be scratching their heads as to ...

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 7:16 am

Bull Run or Just Bull? Take CoinDesk's State of Blockchain Sentiment Survey

Do you care about prices? Which innovations have you most excited? If you've strong opinions on the state of the industry, make your voice heard.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 7:00 am

Bitcoin Is Back Above $11,500, But Bulls Not Out of the Woods Yet

Despite a sharp recovery to over $11,500 today, bitcoin's price is still on shaky ground, the charts suggest.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 5:30 am

Dept of Veterans Affairs Wants Industry to Propose Use Cases for Blockchain

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will consider any blockchain use cases that can help solve its problems, its CTO said Tuesday.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 3:00 am

“Bitcoin Laundering” Study: Where Do Criminals Turn to Mask Illicit Cryptoassets?

Bitcoin laundering study

A recent study (PDF) from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance and blockchain analytics company Elliptic explored the “bitcoin laundering” ecosystem. In the study, Elliptic’s forensic analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain and other publicly available data were used to track the flows of illicit funds from 2013 to 2016.

“This study aimed to identify where individuals turn in order to cash out or transmit bitcoins (BTC) acquired from illicit entities and to discover typologies for criminals ‘laundering’ bitcoins,” the report says.

The study describes bitcoin laundering as a special type of money laundering that exists within the Bitcoin network where a user moves some bitcoins to a new address in a manner that obscures the original source of funds. The conversion of bitcoins into fiat currency on exchanges that lack adequate anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) policies can also fall under the category of bitcoin laundering.

In addition to describing the common mechanisms for bitcoin laundering and explaining that this sort of activity is a small percentage of all transactions sent to exchanges and other conversion services, the study also offers some recommendations for law enforcement in terms of preventing the masking of illicit funds on the Bitcoin network.

It should go without saying that any study related to the dark web or illicit use of the Bitcoin network needs to be taken with a grain of salt because avoiding detection is the whole reason for a criminal to use these sorts of platforms in the first place.

The Bitcoin Laundering Ecosystem

Much of the study, which is titled “Bitcoin Laundering: An Analysis of Illicit Flows Into Digital Currency Services,” revolves around the use of “conversion services.” Conversion services are basically platforms where users convert bitcoins to fiat currency (a Bitcoin exchange) or another cryptocurrency (a cryptoexchange), or move the bitcoins to another Bitcoin address accessible to the user. This results in a flow of funds that cannot be viewed or traced directly on the public blockchain.

According to the study, darknet markets are the main source of funds that are sent to conversion services in bitcoin laundering attempts.

Additionally, the number of illicit services that could be the source of “dirty bitcoins” sent to a conversion service increased fivefold from 2013 to 2016. Having said that, the study finds that the sources of illicit funds entering conversion services are quite centralized.

“Only a small number of entities account for the majority of illicit activity in our sample,” the study says. “Nine of the 102 illicit entities were the source of more than 95 percent of all laundered bitcoins in our study. All nine were darknet marketplaces.”

bitcoin-laundering_Figure1.png

While exchanges are the most commonly used type of conversion service, bitcoin mixers and gambling sites have much more illicit funds coming into their platforms as a percentage of their overall transactions. As potential conduits for bitcoin laundering, these two types of conversion services benefit from concealing their country of operations and avoiding enforcement of AML regulations.

“Fewer than 10 percent of all transactions overall passed through unknown jurisdictions ... while 52 percent of illicit laundering went through them,” the study says.

Much like the sources of illicit funds, the conversion services where these funds are sent are also highly centralized, the study finds. The data indicates that 97 percent of illicit transaction volume at mixers and gambling sites goes through three different entities. Additionally, two platforms in Europe account for half of all illicit transfers that go into exchanges.

Not Much Bitcoin Laundering Activity Overall, and It’s on the Decline

Another notable aspect of the study is that the data indicates a low level of bitcoin laundering as a percentage of all payments sent to conversion services.

“The amount of observed Bitcoin laundering was small (less than one percent of all transactions entering conversion services),” notes the study.

The report clarifies that the actual volume of illicit Bitcoin transactions sent to conversion services is “almost surely to be significantly larger” than what the data in the study shows because intermediate transactions are not counted. In other words, the report only covers transactions made directly from an illicit source, such as a darknet market, to a conversion service.

The study also indicates a decrease in illicit Bitcoin transaction volume going to conversion services over time.

bitcoin-laundering_Figure2.png

“It is likely that illicit bitcoins fell as a percentage of total volume entering conversion services due to the cryptocurrency’s increasing popularity as a speculative investment as well as new laundering techniques,” the study says. “The drop may also reflect better AML/CFT compliance by conversion services, including the use of blockchain analysis services to determine customers’ source of funds.”

The study later adds, “Our study, the first of its kind, indicates that while most types of conversion services have received some bitcoins from illicit activity, the vast majority of the funds they receive do not appear to be illicit.”

Recommendations for Law Enforcement That Will Likely Fall Short

The report offers recommendations for law enforcement in terms of what they can do to combat the effectiveness of bitcoin laundering.

First, the study says proper KYC and AML policies need to be enforced on the bitcoin mixers and gambling sites that allow for anonymous usage. It notes that the three conversion services that account for 97 percent of bitcoin laundering on these types of platforms should be targeted by financial authorities.

“The fact that most mixers and gambling sites hide their location of operations indicates they probably seek to evade the basic regulations in place to uphold transparency and financial integrity standards in most jurisdictions,” adds the study.

Of course, it should be noted that targeting these sorts of services will become nearly impossible as they become more decentralized over time. Decentralized platforms like JoinMarket, TumbleBit and ZeroLink remove the ability for authorities to clamp down on bitcoin mixing in an effective manner, as these solutions act more as software than services.

Second, the report also calls for increased AML and KYC compliance at European exchanges.

“Many large European Bitcoin exchanges do implement robust AML policies,” says the study. “However, this is out of choice rather than obligation, and there are some who choose not to, possibly to attract business from criminals.”

The study adds that the European Union is already moving in the right direction via an update of their 2015 Anti-Money Laundering Directive to include fiat-to-cryptocurrency exchanges, but in the view of the authors of the paper, crypto-to-crypto exchanges must also be regulated in this manner.

Again, it needs to be pointed out that more problematic technology — at least from law enforcement’s point of view — is on the horizon in the form of decentralized cryptoexchanges. Through the use of cross-chain atomic swaps via the lightning network, users will be able to instantly trade between different cryptoassets without the need for a trusted third party.

Third, the study calls for a sort of propaganda campaign against the use of darknet markets by criminals and the general public at large.

“Law enforcement should increase customer skepticism about [darknet market] sites’ integrity and reduce the perceived security of such platforms by exposing their vulnerabilities publicly,” says the study.

The report adds that law enforcement should make it well known that they’re lurking on these darknet markets to further shake confidence in them.

Darknet markets are another area of the Bitcoin ecosystem that are becoming more decentralized through platforms such as OpenBazaar. While illicit activity on the OpenBazaar network appears to be limited at this time, it could potentially explode in popularity as a reaction to law enforcement’s hypothetical campaigns against the centralized darknet markets.

Fourth, the report praises the decision by financial authorities in the United States to regulate exchanges as Money Service Businesses. The authors of the paper would like to see this sort of policy rolled out worldwide.

Last, the study notes the need to prevent the illicit use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to get around economic sanctions imposed by the United States or other nations.

“In addition to mitigating illicit finance risks like criminal money laundering, there will likely be a need to develop strategies to counter state actors aiming to use cryptocurrencies to circumvent U.S., EU, and UN sanctions.”

Recently, there have been reports of North Korea, Russia and Venezuela all looking into separate mechanisms for avoiding economic sanctions through the use of cryptocurrencies.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 18 January 2018 | 2:52 am

Report: South Korea Could Decide This Week on Crypto Exchange Regulation

South Korea will make a decision on Thursday over its stance on cryptocurrency exchange regulation, according to a report by Reuters.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 11:30 pm

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3 (Possible) Reasons the Crypto Markets Tanked This Week

What do you get when you mix regulatory threats, an immature market infrastructure and an influx of new investors? Lots of red on the trading screens.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 5:00 pm

Halong Mining and MyRig Announce Partnership

dragonmint.png

Halong Mining and MyRig are working together to bring the new DragonMint miner from Halong to market.

First announced in November 2017, the new Halong Mining DragonMint 16T miner is the result of 12 months of R&D and a $30 million investment in development. It has a hashrate of 16th/s with a power consumption of 1440–1480 watts optimized for 240v operation. The DM8575 ASIC runs at 85 GH per chip with a power efficiency of 0.075 J/GH. No special modifications are needed in a data center to use the DragonMint if it is already configured to support a typical Chinese-manufactured ASIC miner.

MyRig (formerly BitmainWarranty) has been providing hosting and retail sales of miners and accessories, PCB design and manufacturing, software engineering and factory approved warranty and repair services since 2013. The partnership with Halong means that MyRig will take care of retail-side distribution, support and warranty services for the DragonMint 16T.

Halong will be manufacturing the DragonMint and continue to sell direct, albeit with a five-unit minimum. Halong told Bitcoin Magazine that the five-unit minimum per order on their site will remain when ordering direct from Halong, but when ordering from MyRig, customers will be able to order single units. They indicated that lead time for shipping at the moment is April 15–30, 2018, and they expect the first batch to go out in March 2018.

According to a MyRig representative, they will ship to any country that either UPS or DHL can deliver to, provided it is not on a sanctions list.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 3:37 pm

Hyperledger’s Behlendorf: 2018 Will Bring Breakthrough Blockchain Developments

hyperledger_behlendorf.png

Brian Behlendorf is confident that 2018 will be a peak year, not only for Hyperledger — the international consortium of companies and organizations developing open source, permissioned blockchain technology — but also for blockchain technology in general as businesses and governments recognize the potential power of distributed ledgers and smart contracts.

“2018 will be the year that Hyperledger and blockchain come into their own. Projects demonstrating real world solutions, like Change Healthcare, that will enable healthcare systems to better and more efficiently process claims and payments, will launch this year.”

Hyperledger, founded in 2015, incubates and promotes blockchain technologies for business, including distributed ledgers, client libraries, graphical interfaces and smart contract engines.

Their 200 members include leading companies in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology development.  

“2017 was a milestone year for Hyperledger both for new members and for new technical breakthroughs. In 2017 we doubled our membership, gaining companies like American Express, Cisco, Daimler and Baidu, and we’re expecting more companies and organizations to join in 2018,” said Behlendorf.

“On the technical side, 30 companies and more than 100 developers contributed to the launch of the first production ready Hyperledger blockchain framework called Hyperledger Fabric,” he added.

According to Behlendorf, an important part of Hyperledger’s mandate is to also help educate and train the workforce for the many new blockchain opportunities coming in 2018.

“We’re happy to have launched our new Resource Center, and our online blockchain course is a great success with more than 45,000 enrolled and an average of 2,500 new enrollments per week.”

Hyperledger Blockchain Frameworks

In 2018, Hyperledger will start launching a number of frameworks and platforms that are currently in incubation.

“Interoperability in a multi-blockchain world will be the major focus in 2018. A number of Hyperledger projects are exploring integrations among one another including Hyperledger Sawtooth and Burrow and Indy, Composer and Quilt.”

Behlendorf expects that 2018 will also see some experimentation with different levels of permissioned access to blockchain networks.

He noted that permissioned and permissionless is more of a spectrum than a binary notion, and an important question is what the cost to join a node to a network is in any blockchain platform.

By reducing the cost of joining a networked ledger, Hyperledger hopes to enable new use cases and ways to solve problems.

“Hyperledger was started by a set of developers very focused on modest-sized permissioned ledgers, so that’s where the initial work has been, but there’s no hard limit to that. So we’re happy to look at options that make it easier, perhaps even to full permissionless frameworks,” said Behlendorf.

“I should note that our projects including Hyperledger Indy (for identity), Hyperledger Burrow (for smart contracts), Hyperledger Quilt (for interoperability) and Hyperledger Composer and Cello (developer tools) are agnostic about consensus mechanisms and would work fine with permissionless approaches,” he added.

Expect to see the following Hyperledger launches in 2018:

Quilt will offer interoperability between ledger systems by implementing ILP, which is a payments protocol designed to transfer value across distributed and non-distributed ledgers.

Sawtooth is a blockchain platform for creating and managing distributed ledgers. Sawtooth includes Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET) and a new consensus algorithm that is maintained without a central authority. It was originally proposed by Intel.

Iroha is a business blockchain framework for infrastructure projects that require the use of distributed ledger technology. It includes a chain-based Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus algorithm. Soramitsu, Hitachi, NTT DATA and Colu originally proposed this framework.

Burrow is a smart-contract creator with a permissioned smart-contract interpreter included.

Indy is a distributed ledger with a decentralized identity designed to create independent digital identities between blockchains.

Composer is an open development tool set designed to make it easier to integrate existing business systems with the blockchain.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 3:21 pm

Treasury Official: Department Working With IRS to Police Crypto Exchanges

U.S. Treasury Department Deputy Sigal Mandelker explained how the department would regulate cryptocurrency exchanges in testimony before the Senate.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 2:30 pm

Cryptocurrency’s Red Tuesday Firesale Leaves Everyone Speculating

cryptomarket_sell-off.png

The cryptocurrency sky fell yesterday as 49 of the top 50 coins (by Market Cap) were down with only Tether (USDT) posting a gain. In fact, only two coins, KuCoin Shares and VeChain, showed losses less than 10 percent and only 12 of the top 50 have lost less than 20 percent of their value.

The effects of the market-wide shock are clear, but explanations vary based on where you get your news. In an effort to make sense of the situation, here are the stories and rationales explaining the systemic drop.

South Korea

Korean leadership this week has been fragmented on the subject of cryptocurrencies, causing a public backlash in a country that has enthusiastically embraced the new asset class.

On January 16, 2018, Yonhap News reported that the Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon stated, “What the justice ministry is going to do is not immediately shut down (exchanges) ... As this is a legislative issue, it is not possible to shut them down without going through the National Assembly.”

This seemingly contradicts a radio interview given earlier in the day by Korea’s finance minister, Kim Dong-yeon, who stated in a radio interview with TBS Radio, “The government stance is that it needs to regulate cryptocurrency investment as it is a largely speculative investment … The shutdown of virtual currency exchanges is still one of the options (that the government has).”

The perceived discord from top Korean officials is a carry over from January 11, 2018, reports where Justice Minister Park Sang-ki stated regulators were preparing legislation to halt cryptocurrency trading. Those statements were walked back by the presidential office (The Blue House) later in the day, when a spokesperson relayed that the government has not yet decided on shutting down cryptocurrency exchanges. This statement came a mere seven hours after the Justice Minister’s statements and after a petition to the presidential office gained viral support. This communicative disharmony doesn’t even address the raids on Korean exchanges Coinone and Bithump last week.

Bloomberg (which also cites China as a causal factor), New York Post, MarketWatch, and others have cited the latest actions today by South Korea as an inciting reason for the digital currency market-wide bloodbath.

China Threatens More Bans

Korean Leadership may not be the only source of consternation for the cryptocurrency market. Some media outlets, such as Quartz have pointed towards Korea’s much larger neighbor to the West, China.

China has had a tumultuous history with cryptocurrencies. In the past few months alone, the Central Bank of China banned ICOs in September 2017, followed by a January 2, 2018, leaked memo where the leading internet-finance regulator in the country, the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation, called for an orderly exit of crypto-mining operations. The forced exodus of crypto-mining operations, according to TechCrunch, will slowly extinguish a group that is estimated to produce three-quarters of the world’s supply of bitcoin.

The final straw for the China thesis were reports on Monday, January 15, 2018, that the Chinese government is escalating its crackdown to include domestic cryptocurrency trading by planning to block access to online platforms, exchanges, market-makers and mobile application platforms that cater to Chinese citizens.

While Chinese citizens have in the past used VPNs to work around similar blocks to sites such as Google and Facebook, China has been determined to stem capital outflows from the country (and the government has ordered a crackdown of VPN usage starting next month).

Cryptocurrencies have provided the potential for unregulated outflows of capital from the mainland, so it seems that the cryptocurrency facilitators in China may face a different fate than their internet counterparts.

The U.S., Brazilian, Indian, French, German Regulator Effect

Regulation is the name of 2018. If the regulatory issues out of South Korea and China were standalone examples, that may be enough to explain the sell-off. But other regulatory fears may have been increased by a flurry of announcements over the past week:

On January 12, 2018, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mentioned a working group comprised of multiple federal agencies had been formed to look into how to regulate cryptocurrencies.

That same day, Brazilian regulator CVM banned funds from buying cryptocurrencies.

On January 14, 2018, The Hindustan Times reported the Indian government has formed a committee to fast-track the country toward regulating the domestic cryptocurrency marketplace. In line with previous efforts by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demonetize lower denominated rupees last year, the committee was formed, according to The Financial Express, based on Indian authorities’ apprehension of illicit money being used to trade cryptocurrencies (colloquially referred to as “black money”).

On January 15, 2018, French Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire announced the creation of a working group with the purpose of regulating cryptocurrencies and appointed Jean-Pierre Landau, the former deputy governor of the Banque de France, to lead the group. Landau wrote an editorial piece for the Financial Times in 2014 titled “Beware the mania for Bitcoin, the tulip of the 21st century.”

Also on January 15, 2018, a board member for Germany’s Central Bank (Bundesbank), Joachim Wuermeling, called for effective regulation of virtual currencies on a global scale.

The Post-FOMO FUD Factor

The cause for the market wide plummet yesterday in cryptocurrencies could simply be a case of FUD (“Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt”) among new investors panic selling in the face of all of these regulatory actions or initiations by major world economies. Or perhaps it is entrenched investors taking regulatory actions as their signal to sell before regulations negatively impact their unrealized profits.

It may be a combination of events and speculation. The news reports differ on what events are emphasized depending on what coverage you look at (and if you look to John McAfee for causation, you’ll note the market drop was all because of J.P. Morgan spiking fears about potential government bans).

Regardless of the cause, the effects are clear. It now remains to be seen whether there will be a rebound or whether the sell-off will gain momentum as we look ahead to a future where regulatory impacts potentially curtail the bull-run the industry blossomed under in 2017.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 12:40 pm

Qtum Forges Ahead with Development of Its x86 Virtual Machine and Expanded Network

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Qtum is on the move with the announcement of a partnership with Baofeng to begin running 50,000 full Qtum nodes and an upcoming x86 VM to support multiple languages for smart contracts.

Qtum is a hybrid of Bitcoin and Ethereum that is based on proof-of-stake consensus instead of proof of work, and is compatible with existing Ethereum contracts as well as Bitcoin gateways. Supporting the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) wasn’t enough for Qtum co-founder Jordan Earls, who has been working on an x86 Virtual Machine for the Qtum system.

Earls comments that a great reason to build a x86 VM is to add more programming language support for smart contracts, his favorite being Rust. The overall list of objectives is much bigger though:

  • Programming Language Support
  • Standard Library
  • Optimized Gas Model
  • Unlock the full power of the Account Abstraction Layer (AAL)
  • New possibilities for smart contracts
  • First-Class Oracles
  • Blockchain Analysis
  • Alternative Data Storage
  • Explicit Dependency Trees
Bitcoin Magazine spoke with Earls with some more in depth questions about some of those items:


Bitcoin Magazine: What proof of concept or scalability testing have you done for the VM?

Jordan Earls: We have a very rough proof of concept we completed a few months ago where we integrated a prototype x86 VM into the Qtum network. This success is what led us to pursue this plan. We are confident that the x86 VM will be more scalable than the EVM, but we are thus far unsure how much. We are designing the VM and all of its APIs and other aspects to be scalable. We are making a big shift in the smart contract world where we actually reward smart-contract developers (in the form of cheaper gas costs) for limiting the features their smart contract has access to, and we are confident it will be faster than current EVM technology.  

Bitcoin Magazine: What are you doing to address the problem with x86 programming in general, where they assume near infinite memory and CPU time being available?

Jordan Earls: We think smart contract development crossed with this x86 paradigm will resemble something similar to real-time or embedded programming, where there are various constraints that developers must always be optimizing for.  

We foresee the same kind of design optimizations happening in the smart contract world as happen in the embedded world, and, for the first time, Qtum's blockchain will allow for these small optimizations to be directly rewarded for all users of the smart contract.

We know these optimizations are not cheap for smart contract developers to spend their time on, so we need to reward developers for taking such steps to keep the Qtum blockchain running smoothly and efficiently.

Bitcoin Magazine: What are some of the advantages with the Standard Library that will help keep smart contract code tight?

Jordan Earls: Currently in Ethereum, if you want to do a simple operation, like testing if two pieces of text are equal, you need to write your own code to do it.

This is a problem for a number of reasons: Developers in a secure context should rely on existing code that's been tested and verified, if possible. A naive implementation of this function will be slow, but a more complex and optimized implementation could have security problems. Deploying this code with your contract means another 100 bytes or so of wasted code that every node in the ecosystem now has to worry about.

Qtum will provide a standard library of functions that contract developers can rely on to have reasonable gas costs, secure and validated implementation and an easy to use interface. This means less bloat on the blockchain, easier to write and understand smart contracts and even a faster blockchain (since these functions can be optimized with native code).

Bitcoin Magazine: What about executable size? These x86 programs tend to be quite large.

Jordan Earls: This is true but also misleading. If I write a C program that just prints "hello world," about 8kB of that is going to just be the number "0." This is because x86 processors (as well as many others including ARM) benefit from a thing called "alignment." The important thing for Qtum is that the wasted bytes doing alignment can be discarded without performance impact. This immediately brings down that C program build to ~1-2kB.

We can reduce even more because we don't need all the baggage required by a standard program for Windows: We have our own "operating system" for smart contracts, so only a dozen or so bytes of actual setup code is wasted.

We have done some actual physical tests with these configurations to compare what an x86 smart contract might look like compared to an EVM smart contract. Our findings indicate that x86 programs are around 10–20 percent smaller than their EVM equivalent and, in many cases, significantly more so. And this was done without the standard library concept that was discussed above. We are not worried about getting usable executable sizes from x86 programs.

Bitcoin Magazine: So the language compiler has to be modified to support the VM? What kinds of modifications?

Jordan Earls: Only minor modifications need to be made. The language compilers do support our x86 VM already, but the Qtum smart contract environment is different from a traditional operating system like Windows or Linux. So, basically, the only big modification we have to make is to tell the language how to communicate with our smart-contract operating system.

Bitcoin Magazine: Is QTUM going to provide language packages or libraries to support the VM so people can just use those?

Jordan Earls: C and C++ will be the first languages we support "out of the box" because they tend to be the easiest due to the way they are designed. We also plan to support Rust. Go should easily be possible. For interpreted languages like Python and Perl, it becomes more complex and we must do research to ensure that they can be supported in an efficient and secure manner.

Bitcoin Magazine: Is this going to impact the development of your eSML smart contract language?

Jordan Earls: We are continuing to research the eSML approach and will decide at a later point if it is still a requirement to achieve our goals. We prefer to not do more work if it won't have a tangible benefit to our ecosystem.


Helping to support all this growth is the partnership announced on January 4, 2018, with Chinese video portal giant, Baofeng. With the help of Baofeng, the Qtum network will be boosted to 50,000 full network nodes, making it the most decentralized blockchain platform with the largest number of nodes with more than Bitcoin and Ethereum combined. The increased size of the Qtum system should provide for improved security, stability and speed, all of which will provide a solid base for the upcoming x86 VM later this year.

Earls projects that the x86 will be integrated into the Qtum main network in Q3 of 2018 but hopes to have a prototype to test with before Q2.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 January 2018 | 12:09 pm

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Sees Lower Lows as It Drops Below Historic Support

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Over the last couple months, we’ve been tracking a potential Distribution Trading Range at the top of bitcoin’s market cycle. Today, we have received higher confidence that bitcoin may have topped out. At around 3:00 p.m. EST, bitcoin broke through the bottom of the trading range and is now seeing aggressive selling as long positions begin to close and short positions begin to open. Today marks the first day of lower lows since bitcoin topped out around $20,000:

Figure_1.JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Distribution Trading Range

Bitcoin managed to blow through several milestones including both the parabolic and the linear trends. The linear and parabolic trends have been guiding trends for the last three years, and today bitcoin has broken parabolic support. It could get ugly:

Figure_2.JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 1-Day Candles, Macro Trend

What was once strong support has now become resistance as bitcoin scrambles to find a bottom. We can see quite clearly there is a line of support around $10,000 where the macro Fibonacci retracement values for the 50% retracement line exist. Any downward continuation will likely be supported in the interim. However, it’s fair to say that bitcoin is beginning a new downward trend. As stated earlier, today marks the first day of lower highs and lower lows — i.e., a downtrend.

So where does the bottom lie? That remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that there was a systematic distribution of bitcoin from large players to the masses; and now we are beginning the next phase of the market cycle — the markdown phase. Will it be a sustained markdown? It’s too early to tell at the moment, so we will have to play it by ear.

Bitcoin is a long-time fan of violent drops and violent bounces, so it’s unclear how this downtrend will terminate. For now, I highly recommend traders stay away from smaller time frames and focus more on the macro view of things.

As we come to test the macro 50% retracement values, it’s important to view how the market responds and see how the volume reacts. If we don’t see strong follow-through on a bounce from the 50%, there could be a strong bearish continuation in its future. Volume is your friend and confirms the trend. If you don’t see strong volume following an upward bounce, it’s entirely possible you could get stuck in a bull trap — and no one wants that.

Bull traps are designed to lure aggressive bulls into long positions prematurely to create liquidity for the bearish investors in the market. If you are unsure of what direction the market is moving, there is nothing wrong with sitting out.

Summary:

  1. A potential markdown phase is under way as bitcoin sees aggressive selling pressure.

  2. Today marks the first day of lower lows in weeks and marks a potential macro downtrend.

  3. Support will likely be found at the $10,000 values, which coincide with the 50% macro Fibonacci retracement values.


Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 January 2018 | 3:18 pm

BlackWallet Hacked: Warns Stellar Community Not to Log In to Site

Stellar Wallet “BlackWallet” Hacked

On January 13, an unknown hacker(s) hijacked the DNS server for BlackWallet.co, a web-based wallet for the Stellar Lumens cryptocurrency, and redirected it to their own server.

Security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who analyzed the code, said, “The DNS hijack of Blackwallet injected code, if you had over 20 Lumens it pushes them to a different wallet.” It is estimated that nearly 700,000 Lumens (XLM) were stolen, with a current value of over $400,000.

Warnings and alerts not to log into the BlackWallet site have been sent out by the BlackWallet team and other XLM users via Stellar Community, Galactic Talk, Reddit, Twitter and GitHub. Unfortunately, users continued to log in for some time, and thus, saw their funds vanish from their wallets.

Following the address of the attacker, it is possible to track the movement of funds from BlackWallet to the Bittrex exchange, where they are likely to convert the funds and cover their tracks. BlackWallet has since messaged Bittrex in an effort to coordinate with the exchange to block the hacker’s account.

In a statement on Reddit, the BlackWallet admin is suggesting that people move their funds to a new wallet using the Stellar account viewer. At the time of this writing, the BlackWallet website is returning a 404 error. Bitcoin Magazine will update this story as it evolves.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 2:31 pm

St. Louis Fed: In Some Ways, Bitcoin Is More Robust Than Many Fiat Currencies

StLouisCrypto.jpg

In a recent article on the basics of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies (PDF), Aleksander Berentsen and Fabian Schär of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cover the usefulness of bitcoin and other alternative cryptoassets.

Throughout the article, Berentsen and Schär make the case that cryptoassets are well suited to become a new, important asset class. The duo goes as far to say that bitcoin is, in some ways, more robust than many fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrencies Are a Welcome Addition to the Current Currency System

Surprisingly, Berentsen and Schär are of the belief that cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the current currency ecosystem. While some critics claim bitcoin’s price should drop to zero because there is no intrinsic value found in the cryptoasset, the co-authors of the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis point out that this argument also applies to the various government-issued currencies around the world.

“Bitcoin is not the only currency that has no intrinsic value,” states the article. “State monopoly currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc, have no intrinsic value either. They are fiat currencies created by government decree. The history of state monopoly currencies is a history of wild price swings and failures. This is why decentralized cryptocurrencies are a welcome addition to the existing currency system.”

Berentsen and Schär also cover the possibility of Bitcoin’s consensus rules eventually being changed to allow for an increase in the supply of bitcoin tokens. They take the view that this scenario is very unlikely to unfold.

Even though in theory it is possible to increase the Bitcoin supply, in practice, such a change is very unlikely because a large part of the Bitcoin community would strongly oppose such an attempt.

The authors go on to point out that this sort of change in monetary policy may be more likely in a fiat currency protocol.

“Undesirable changes in fiat currency protocols are very common and many times have led to the complete destruction of the value of the fiat currency at hand,” says the article. “It could be argued that, in some ways, the Bitcoin protocol is more robust than many of the existing fiat currency protocols. Only time will tell.”

Bitcoin Is the Most Apparent Application of Blockchain Technology

In addition to offering some basic information on the topic of cryptoassets, the article from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis also provides a general outlook on the future of blockchain technology.

According to Berentsen and Schär, the most apparent application of this technology right now is the use of bitcoin as a new type of asset. The duo see cryptoassets, such as bitcoin, emerging as their own asset class and having the potential to develop into an interesting instrument for investment and diversification.

“Bitcoin itself could over time assume a similar role as gold,” says the article.

The paper also covers applications of blockchain technology in the areas of colored coins, smart contracts and data integrity. The Ethereum network is specifically pointed out as a leader in the area of smart contracts.

Risks of Blockchain Technology

The article from Berentsen and Schär also covers some of the risks associated with cryptoassets.

Minority splits from major cryptoasset networks, such as Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) and Ethereum Classic, are the first risk pointed out in the article, but the downsides of these sorts of spin-off assets are not discussed.

One could argue that these sorts of minority forks create uncertainty around the value of a particular cryptoasset, although this is also the case with the creation of new altcoins more generally.

The paper mentions excessive power consumption as another potential risk of blockchain technology, but Berentsen and Schär do not necessarily agree that proof-of-work mining is wasteful.

“There are those that criticize Bitcoin and assert that a centralized accounting system is more efficient because consensus can be attained without the allocation of massive amounts of computational power,” says the article. “From our perspective, however, the situation is not so clear-cut. Centralized payment systems are also expensive. Besides infrastructure and operating costs, one would have to calculate the explicit and implicit costs of a central bank. Salary costs should be counted among the explicit costs and the possibility of fraud in the currency monopoly among the implicit costs.”

In the past, “Mastering Bitcoin” author Andreas Antonopoulos has argued that the power consumed by Bitcoin miners is “used” rather than “wasted.”

The last risk associated with blockchain technology found in the article is bitcoin’s price volatility. Berentsen and Schär claim that a rigid, predetermined supply of bitcoin is not a desirable monetary policy in the sense that it will not lead to a stable currency.

“If a constant supply of money meets a fluctuating aggregate demand, the result is fluctuating prices,” explains the article. “In government-run fiat currency systems, the central bank aims to adjust the money supply in response to changes in aggregate demand for money in order to stabilize the price level. In particular, the Federal Reserve System has been explicitly founded ‘to provide an elastic currency’ to mitigate the price fluctuations that arise from changes in the aggregate demand for the U.S. dollar. Since such a mechanism is absent in the current Bitcoin protocol, it is very likely that the Bitcoin unit will display much higher short-term price fluctuations than many government-run fiat currency units.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 January 2018 | 11:04 am

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $3,000

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CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

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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

Posted on 29 April 2016 | 1:09 am

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

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Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

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

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

January 18, 2018 -
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