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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

Bitcoin surges 12% to all-time high above $2700; Has now doubled in May - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin surges 12% to all-time high above $2700; Has now doubled in May
CNBC
Bitcoin rose more than 12 percent to a record $2,791.70 before losing some ground, according to CoinDesk. That's more than twice its April 30 price of $1,347.96. The currency has gained more than 45 percent in a week amid strong demand from Asian ...
Bitcoin soars to a new all-time highNew York Post
Bitcoin Surges to Another Record, This Time Passing $2500Fortune
Bitcoin blows past $2500, $2600, and $2700Business Insider
Bloomberg -Engadget -BBC News -Medium
all 116 news articles »

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 9:19 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

Bitcoin is near a level that could start a 47% correction, but some see it headed to $6000 - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin is near a level that could start a 47% correction, but some see it headed to $6000
CNBC
Bitcoin is close to hitting a price that could see a 47 percent correction, according to one analyst, following a huge rally for the cryptocurrency that has led it to record highs. On Thursday, bitcoin hit an all-time high of $2791.70, according to ...
Bitcoin: Another Record High?Barron's
Bitcoin could crash and lose half its value & correction may be imminent – analystRT
Bitcoin prices are going berserk, passing $2700 to record all-time highsCity A.M.

all 6 news articles »

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 6:32 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

Bitcoin: Getting Dangerous Up Here - Seeking Alpha


Bitcoin: Getting Dangerous Up Here
Seeking Alpha
GBTC has now surged to an 80% premium to its NAV. Be very cautious if you own it here. Most folks think Bitcoin is a short; that sentiment could cause it to spike further. That said, often the best trade is no trade at all. This is a good time to be on ...

and more »

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 5:06 am

Consensus 2017: Advice From a Lawyer to ICOs: 'Don’t Be Stupid'

The legality of the ICO as a funding vehicle was discussed on day three of CoinDesk's annual Consensus event.

Source

Posted on 25 May 2017 | 3:00 am

John McAfee Says Bitcoin Boom to Put MGT in the Black - Bloomberg


John McAfee Says Bitcoin Boom to Put MGT in the Black
Bloomberg
Bitcoin and other digital currencies like ethereum have surged as more companies embrace the underlying technology and some investors seek financial refuge from political uncertainty across the globe. MGT Capital primarily mines bitcoin, but also has ...

and more »

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 8:42 pm

Who's Behind The Spike In Bitcoin? - Forbes


Forbes

Who's Behind The Spike In Bitcoin?
Forbes
The Nasdaq continues to defy gravity, sniffing back toward new record highs today. It took two days to shed 3%. And four business days to get it all back. The VIX (the index that measures the demand big investors have for downside protection) has had ...

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 8:11 pm

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), over 50 companies signed and published on Medium a “Bitcoin Scaling Agreement” this week. The agreement intends to put an end to Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate. But whether it actually will is a different 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; impossible, according to some.

Then, this code must be brought into production. For the hard fork in particular, this means that everyone effectively needs to switch to a new protocol. If all signatories of the agreement follow through, it would probably be sufficient to at least keep this 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 bonanza and Dollar Tree earnings: Here's what could drive markets Thursday - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin bonanza and Dollar Tree earnings: Here's what could drive markets Thursday
CNBC
Bitcoin surged to yet another all-time high in late Wednesday trading, crossing the $2,500 mark for the first time, according to CoinDesk data. The volatile digital currency has now roughly doubled in the past month, and Schlossberg sees further upside ...
Bitcoin is Mandatory For Portfolio Protection: CNBCCoinTelegraph

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 3:39 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

Coinbase Today: Armstrong Talks Token, ICOs and Blockchain's Netscape

CoinDesk's Pete Rizzo talks to Coinbase CEO and founder Brian Armstrong about the firm's plans and changes in the wider blockchain arena.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 8:00 am

Consensus 2017 Day 2 Recap: Finding Blockchain's Common Ground

CoinDesk's Noelle Acheson recaps the second day of Consensus 2017, CoinDesk's New York blockchain conference.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 5:01 am

Consensus 2017: Blockchain and Healthcare's People Problem

Blockchain is viewed as a way to give patients greater control over their data – but getting there might not be as easy as it sounds.

Source

Posted on 24 May 2017 | 3:00 am

Bitcoin's New Scaling 'Agreement': The Reaction

A meeting of bitcoin startup executives and miners held this weekend has resulted in a new proposal for how the project should be upgraded.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 6:00 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

Consensus 2017: Global Insurers Debate the Future of Prediction Markets

Today's discussion on blockchain and insurance touched on the subject of prediction markets.

Source

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 3:18 pm

Bitcoin & Ether Price Analysis: Bitcoin Still Going Strong While Ether Wearies

BTC ETH Price Analysis

Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to push all-time highs (ATHs) by most available metrics: price, market capitalization, daily traded volume, hash rate, transactions per day, etc.

mrkt cap.png

There appears to be a multifactorial convergence of fundamentals and technicals allowing for this surge to happen:

1. On-ramps

Specifically Coinbase for U.S. citizens, which now allows new users to purchase bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) or litecoin. Leading up to and even during the 2013 bubble, purchasing cryptocurrency was difficult for the average user. Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) checks cause a slight lag in on-ramping by limiting the total coins a new user can purchase. I expect the fuel for this rally to continue for at least another week.

2. Visibility in mainstream and popular media

At this point, you cannot use any social media or news source without hearing about Bitcoin. Everyone I’ve spoken with outside of the Bitcoinosphere is aware of its existence. Although purely anecdotal, this trend suggests Bitcoin is gaining visibility.  

3. ICOmania

Initial coin offerings (ICOs), similar to IPOs, allow for a company or brand to tokenize its assets through crowdfunding, most of which are done on the Ethereum blockchain. The quantity and rate of new ICOs remind many traders of the dot-com bubble due to large influxes of cash for almost every project.   

4. An agreement on the block size debate

The ongoing block size and scalability debate was stifling innovation surrounding Bitcoin. On Monday, it was announced that Barry Silbert and Bitcoin Unlimited proponents reached an agreement to activate SegWit now and hard fork in four months. Members of the Bitcoin Core community were not involved in the discussion. Shaolinfry, the user-activated soft fork (UASF) dev, had this to say regarding the agreement. UASF nodes continue to increase, despite the agreement.

To be clear, the proposal, as far as I can see, does not activate BIP 141, but is a completely new deployment that would be incompatible with the BIP 141 deployment. I’m not sure how that can be considered “immediate” activation. - Shaolinfry

uasf_nodes_all.png

5. Prices were already pushing ATHs  

Trend since 2015 has been bullish with several periods of extended consolidation. Price continues to break ATHs in large part due to further bullish technicals and market structure with every pullback/correction. Whether or not current price represents a bubble or euphoria is a bit irrelevant. What is more important is to look for signs of exhaustion. One such sign of exhaustion would be a toppy chart pattern such as an M double top or growing bearish divergence on a weekly chart.

Bitcoin

weekly.png

A bear div would consist of a higher high in price and a lower high on RSI, a measure of momentum. This would suggest lack of strength holding up price. In the case of BTC, however, there has been a steady increase in volume since the beginning of the year.

vol.png

As price continues to break ATHs almost daily, we can expect a large increase in volatility and range expansion, especially because there is no previous market structure at these levels. However, there are indicators that help determine support and resistance levels above ATH levels, the most common being Fibonacci extensions. Drawn from previous ATH to low, this would yield a target of ~$2,400.

daily.png

On a low timeframe, you can see yesterday’s $200+ volatility, which quickly rallied 50 percent of the drop.

15min.png

The current immediate target is the local top of $2,248.

Ethereum

Ethereum, on the other hand, is beginning to show signs of exhaustion. The weekly chart is showing a decline in volume since March, with ETH/USD pushing the top limit of RSI, and the ETH/BTC pair showing bear div.

ethusd.png

ethbtc.png

Structure currently has all the makings of an M double top. I would expect another retest of the previous consolidation level before moving higher. if Bitcoin makes a push past $2,400, however, it may drag up Ethereum with it as well.

ethusd 1h.png

The upside target should be between $198 and $217 according to Fibonacci extensions.

upside eth.png

Summary

  1. Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to push the envelope for almost every available metric and show little signs of slowing.

  2. Reliable on-ramping coupled with awareness and popularity continue to fuel demand.

  3. Despite several weeks of large gains, the possibility of continuing to further ATHs for Bitcoin remains high.

  4. With declining volume and a growing bear div on high timeframes, Ethereum is beginning to show signs of slowing.

The post Bitcoin & Ether Price Analysis: Bitcoin Still Going Strong While Ether Wearies appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 23 May 2017 | 1:43 pm

Consensus 2017: CME Group, UK Royal Mint Detail Plans for Blockchain Gold

Derivatives giant CME Group and the UK's Royal Mint have revealed details about their plans to bridge the worlds of gold and blockchain.

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Posted on 23 May 2017 | 11:30 am

Consensus 2017: Smith, Voorhees Talk Today's Bitcoin Market Craze

ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees and Blockchain CEO Peter Smith took on the topic of bitcoin's market moves today.

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Posted on 23 May 2017 | 9:52 am

Entrepreneur Vinny Lingham to Announce ICO at Consensus 2017

The CEO of blockchain identity platform Civic is expected to announce a forthcoming token sale today.

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Posted on 23 May 2017 | 9:15 am

Fidelity CEO Talks 'Love' For Bitcoin, Why Blockchain Will 'Change' Markets

At Consensus 2017, Abigail Johnson, chair and CEO of Fidelity Investments, went public with her enthusiasm for blockchain technology and its future.

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Posted on 23 May 2017 | 8:07 am

Netki's Digital ID Service Tackles Global Compliance Challenges

Netki Digital ID Tackles Compliance

Netki, the New York–based software startup, wants to make blockchain technology more user friendly by launching its new universal Netki Digital ID service, so that anyone can access services on blockchains without re-validating their ID at every stop. The Netki Digital ID will be both KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) verified, allowing users to access a variety of blockchain businesses including financial institutions like banks, exchanges and healthcare services.

Netki wants their ID to work on any blockchain, public or private, around the world and to provide automated onboarding and validation of new customers, as well as easy sharing of digital identities.

The company’s goal is to create a digital identity certificate that uses a standard recognized by governments everywhere as legally validated, to process transactions anywhere in the world. Pricing will be based on the number of certificates and the complexity of validations.

The Digital ID uses a new peer-to-peer payment protocol (BIP 75) that allows senders, receivers and their financial partners to exchange all four identities via a private encrypted channel.

According to Netki’s announcement, the Netki Digital ID service will allow for the easy capture of an individual’s documents and biometrics via their smartphone, along with multiple levels of automated and manual verification, including database checks, machine learning and biometric analysis.

International Compliance: A “Herculean Task”

Netki IDs are already in use in the U.S. and Europe on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, and the company is hoping to expand its service both to new jurisdictions around the world and on new blockchain networks.

Netki’s CEO and Co-Founder Justin Newton talked to Bitcoin Magazine about the process of expanding its ID service, despite the challenge of many different legal requirements in an international regulatory environment.

The regulatory landscape is changing around the world at a rapid pace. With this in mind we designed our tools and protocols to be flexible in the case of differing, new or expanding regulatory requirements.

“As we work on each new use case, we work with the customer’s risk and compliance team to determine what requirements are appropriate for their needs.”

Newton told us their team spends time in each new jurisdiction consulting with local regulators before offering their service.

Amber D. Scott, whose company Outlier Solutions  works with blockchain startups on compliance and security issues, admires the spirit and sheer scope of Netki’s undertaking but recognizes that it is a herculean task to have any ID be compliant in every jurisdiction.

She recommends that companies planning to implement any new identification solutions should thoroughly research the requirements of the jurisdictions they are operating in, to ensure “that a solution meets those requirements in their entirety.”

Scott added, “We spend a lot of time with our clients conducting this type of testing, and very few solutions pass the tests.”

Michael Perklin, an internationally recognized security expert who oversees security for ShapeShift, acknowledges that verifying users can be time-consuming and expensive, and agrees that something like a universal ID would make this process easier.

“Many people complain that there are 20+ different identity standards and it seems that Netki is proposing a 21st. It seems like a great idea in theory but its success would depend on the community adopting the Netki ID as the industry standard as opposed to another service like uPort.”

UPort offers a mobile app that allows users to create self-sovereign credentials that would allow them to process transactions on blockchains.

Newton told us that while uPort is focusing on a business model, Netki has open-sourced their protocol. Another important difference between the two companies is that uPort stores private information on the blockchain while Netki stores information off-chain. That being said, Netki is currently partnering with uPort on several projects.

Caribbean Service Bitt Is the Test Case

Netki chose the Caribbean region to test its new service, partnering with fintech company Bitt, which provides a mobile wallet and payment services to anywhere in the world.

Newton told us:

“In terms of the project that we are working on with Bitt, we believe that one of the greatest promises of blockchain [technology] is around financial inclusion. The Caribbean region has far greater mobile phone penetration than banking penetration, and most banking is effectively controlled overseas,” he said.

By creating a locally run and focused alternative, they can lower the cost of remittance, spur inter-island trade and service many people currently excluded from banking and online finance.

Empowering Individuals Over Institutions

Netki’s founders believe that blockchain technology is the game-changer that will take society to the next level, allowing more democratization and levelling of existing silos.

Newton believes that blockchain technology is a means of empowering individuals and changing the way society interacts with each other; however, without easy access for the majority of people, universal adoption will remain a dream.

As part of simplifying and making blockchain technology more user friendly, Netki already offers a wallet-naming service for $9.99 per year, which allows users to register their unwieldy wallet address of letters and numbers to a simple name, making for easier transactions for both users and businesses.

Newton is excited about the future possibilities of blockchain technology for decentralization and democratization, saying:

“For the first time, using the standards we implemented at Bitt, and more broadly with BIP 75, regulated entities such as banks can operate on public networks like bitcoin and ethereum while still meeting their risk and compliance requirements.  With the recent institutional interest, and positive government movement around digital currency, these tools couldn’t come at a better time to enable the ecosystem to really step up to the next level in terms of both usage and opportunity.”

Netki is partnering with IBM in the Hyperledger Project and with PwC Australia in its Vulcan Project.

Investors in Netki incluse O'Reilly, AlphaTech Ventures, Colle Capital, Digital Currency Group, Plug and Play, the Husseine Group, Bitfinex and Base Ventures.


The post Netki's Digital ID Service Tackles Global Compliance Challenges appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:55 pm

EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Expansion Announcement

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) has announced that 86 new members have joined the initiative that aims to bolster innovation around the Ethereum blockchain. The EEA, founded by corporate giants such as Microsoft, Intel and BP, views the Ethereum blockchain as a potential treasure trove of innovative opportunity.

Ethereum cryptocurrency founder Vitalik Buterin has praised the EEA, saying, “The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance project can play an important role in standardizing approaches for privacy, permissioning and providing alternative consensus algorithms to improve its usability in enterprise settings, and the resources the project and its members are contributing should accelerate the advancement of the Ethereum ecosystem generally.”

There are some more big names jumping into the alliance, joining Santander, ConsenSys and BlockApps. Some new members include Deloitte, Samsung SDS and the National Bank of Canada: all looking to build, promote and support Ethereum-based technology.

Deloitte is not new to Ethereum. Eric Piscini, Deloitte’s Global Blockchain Financial Services leader, said in a statement, “We have been investing on the Ethereum platform for a while. We are excited to actively contribute to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and drive blockchain adoption globally.”

Kwang Woo Song, vice president of Distributed Ledger Technology Business Group at Samsung SDS, stated, “As a company whose key focus and experience is in delivering solutions for enterprise business, joining the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was a clear decision for us. Ethereum is one of the fastest growing blockchain technologies, with potential to provide exceptional benefit to enterprises.”

“The enthusiasm around EEA is remarkable,” said Julio Faura, the chairman of EEA. “Our new members come from varying industries such as pharma, mobile, banking, automotive, management consulting and hardware, as well as the startup community driving innovation. It’s great to see everyone come together and build the next generation of our economy on Ethereum blockchain solutions.”

Companies joining the EEA in this announcement include names like Elevondata Labs Inc., Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Hashed Health, Gem and Ledger. The collaborative efforts that may arise among the membership could lead to giant leaps in the Ethereum blockchain technology and a groundswell of supportive infrastructure that should solidify Ethereum as a staple in the blockchain marketplace.

There is amazing potential for Ethereum and smart contracts in healthcare. Hashed Health is excited to work with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance on defining and developing enterprise-grade solutions that can safely and securely handle the complexities of the evolving healthcare marketplace. - John Bass, Founder & CEO, Hashed Health

The post EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:29 pm

ShapeShift Introduces Prism's Trustless Crypto Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

“ShapeShift” is a concept describing the ability to change form or identity to adapt to changing conditions. It is also the name of a Swiss-based company that created the world’s first trustless asset portfolio for acquiring digital assets without counterparty risk.

Launched today at the blockchain summit Consensus 2017 held in New York, the cutting-edge platform known as Prism seeks to usher in a new age for investors with a thirst for cryptocurrencies.

The Prism announcement comes on the heels of record-setting growth within the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin among others advancing to new all-time price highs. Momentum has been further buoyed by a blockchain industry that is already experiencing an incredible diversity of projects, from tokenized venture capital funds to blockchain-based casinos to global distributed computing systems. Prism is the first live platform that enables investors to create their own funds focused on investments in crypto-assets.

This new development is the brainchild of Erik Voorhees, long-time champion of and entrepreneur in the Bitcoin space. ShapeShift, the company he founded in 2013, raised $10.4m during its Series A from leading German VCs in March 2017 to jumpstart this new venture.

Built entirely on Ethereum-based smart contracts, Prism will enable investors to curate portfolios, known as “Prisms,” of digital assets known as “Prisms,” such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Monero and Golem. Within minutes, an investor can set up a crypto portfolio — absent of third-party intermediaries — and gain exposure to a wide swath of blockchain tokens. Moreover, they can secure their investments without having to establish a unique wallet for each asset.

With Prism, users will create their portfolios by funding it with ether (the native token of the Ethereum blockchain network). The total amount of ether is divided among whichever assets they decide on, in percentages they elect to allocate to each asset. When the investor is ready to finalize their Prism portfolio, they will be prompted to send a zero-ETH transaction to a provided Ethereum address, signaling the smart contract to close the portfolio.

The beta period for Prism will likely extend for at least six months after the launch, with new features being added over time.

Prism’s approach and philosophy offers an ideal complement to ShapeShift and its established reputation for securing over a million secure transactions for customers since 2014. ShapeShift’s policy of not holding any customer assets or private personal information keeps users safe from identity or financial theft — a critical improvement in digital exchange technology.

ShapeShift is now leveraging their proven model of simplicity and security to cultivate Prism. With this latest development, the complex functionality of a diversified crypto portfolio is distilled down into a simple interface allowing users to buy, rebalance and settle their assets. All of this can be executed by a user with nothing more than their Ethereum wallet.

Prism enables investors to gain secure, transparent exposure to digital assets in a way that has never before been possible. The days of leaving funds at an exchange ‘because it’s easier’ are over. - Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder of ShapeShift and Prism

Voorhees goes on to assert that Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, will demonstrate a new normal for financial security. “Prism takes us one step closer to a world of truly borderless finance. We suspect it will kickstart a vast horizon of financial experimentation upon smart contracts.”

Raine Revere, lead engineer for the Prism project, says that ShapeShift’s focus on simplicity and security was a perfect fit for the design of Prism. “Part of the joy of engineering is seeing how all the pieces will fit together and then systematically carrying out that vision in order to build a working product. That link between vision and functional product is what makes software engineering so special. The vision of Prism was clear from the beginning, allowing this creative process to proceed uninhibited.”

“Gone are the days of trusting a 3rd party with one’s wealth," said Voorhees in a statement. "Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, demonstrates a new standard in financial security.”

The post ShapeShift Introduces Prism's Trustless Crypto Asset Portfolios appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:54 pm

Op Ed: How One Investor Is Riding the Cryptocurrency Token Wave

Op Ed: One Investor Rides Cryptocurrency Token Wave

I was yanked down the rabbit hole hard and fast when I first caught the Bitcoin Bug in late 2013. Before I even knew what a “blockchain” was I had founded what is now known as the Blockchain Education Network (then called the College Cryptocurrency Network), and was voraciously trading “altcoins.”

Back then, the term “altcoin,” which was used to describe any cryptocurrency besides Bitcoin, felt quite suitable. Most of those altcoins, including the most popular still in existence today, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin, were forks of Bitcoin’s code and were merely alternative “coins” with different rules or hashing algorithms. Watching these strange new financial vehicles violently fluctuate in value was both addictive and impossible to resist trading into. While I was slow to inoculate myself against that masochistic urge, I was quick to realize that few of these protocol tokens (that is, crypto-assets that incentivize validators, such as miners or stakers, to secure a blockchain) provided much value beyond Bitcoin’s own use case. Admittedly, I am shocked that many of these tokens still exist today.

On the other hand, as the blockchain ecosystem began to evolve, more novel iterations of Satoshi Nakamoto’s revolutionary financial tool began to appear. The rise of Ethereum, BitShares, MaidSafe and Omni, amongst others, represented a paradigm shift that went far beyond decentralized digital currency. Soon enough, I dropped out of school to focus on this industry full-time, and ended up cofounding Augur, a decentralized prediction market platform.

Lessons from Augur

When we first designed Augur, we wrote a white paper that outlined how to build a prediction market platform using Bitcoin’s source code — sort of like an altcoin. However, Bitcoin’s UTXO model did not jibe well with the sort versatility required for such a complication decentralized application. Soon after we published our white paper, despite the promise of Blockstream’s recently released sidechains proposal, our advisor and Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin convinced us to build Augur on his yet-to-be-launched smart contract–enabled blockchain. In hindsight, deciding to build Augur on top of what was then referred to as “vaporware” was a decision a more seasoned entrepreneur would have determined to be … “batshit insane.” But, the potential of the platform was too great, so we felt as if we had no other option.

Soon after deciding to build atop Ethereum, we began to realize that there was no way to create a decentralized oracle solution (i.e., a means to determine the outcome of markets without a centralized arbiter) unless we issued our own token. I went to game theorists, computer scientists and anybody else I could get to listen, to see if there was an alternative and whether it even made sense to do this. After much consultation and internal debate, we came to the decision to build an unstoppable betting engine that predicted the future, with no central point of failure (such as those that exist in a platform such as Gnosis), with a native token used by “reporters” around the world, to assert the outcome of events, was our only option. Thus Augur’s native asset, Reputation, known as REP, was born.

Venturing Into ICOs

2014 was winding to a close as we came to these conclusions, and the thought of performing a crowdsale was terrifying. (We would, for a short time, eradicate the term “ICO.”) Most conversations about Ethereum and recent token sales would lead to speculation about when regulatory authorities, namely the SEC, would bring down the hammer on token issuers.

With no other option, however, I hit the books and started reading about all sorts of securities laws and case law, in addition to prediction market and gambling regulations. I quickly earned the nickname “JG Esquire” within Augur, and spent much of early 2015 working with our legal team and advisors to find a compliant structure for the REP token sale. By the time our sale came about in late summer 2015, all involved parties had a fairly high degree of confidence that we had developed a token and offering that would not fall afoul of regulations.

Expanding Investment Opportunities in the Token Economy

While our sale raised over $5 million and was quite a success for the time, shortly after the Augur sale ended bitcoin and ether prices began to stagnate. Both the confidence and companies created during the first boom began to falter. In my mind, Augur was a ripple in the current before a tidal wave of new financial instruments to come, but it was unclear whether I was right and there was considerable coding remaining for the project.

With time before Augur’s launch, I joined Blockchain Capital as an entrepreneur-in-residence. I became an advocate for tokens backing legitimate networks and spoke about the matter frequently. However, it still took quite a while for the token economy to sprout. Then out of the blue in late 2016, ether began to rally in price, and token offerings, more popularly referred to as Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), started popping up out of the blue, often raising millions in a matter of days, or even minutes.

This new trend was alarming to me, though in hindsight I suppose it shouldn’t have been. Ethereum, with its ERC-20 protocol, which allows the straightforward development of crypto-tokens on top of its blockchain, made the urge to create new assets irresistible. Instead of requiring developers to create entirely new blockchains and protocol tokens, which had to be secured by miners or stakers (a costly, challenging undertaking), a team could create a new token that was backed by the security of Ethereum’s blockchain in a matter of hours.

For the following few months into the new year I watched these developments from the sideline. It was apparent the biggest crypto-asset rally since 2013 had begun in earnest. I had sizable investments in ETH, BTC, XRP and, of course, REP. I couldn’t believe that this bull run and new trend of ICOs could be sustained. Not, at least, without the return of serious outside interest in the crypto-realm.

And then, of course, it started to come. Hedge funds, banks and consumers, many of whom had already begun professing their love of “blockchain technology” (albeit not Bitcoin), started funneling money into crypto-tokens new and old. Around this time, my friend Olaf Carlson-Wee, the first employee at Coinbase, announced that he would be investing in these strange financial instruments through a new type of hedge fund, Polychain Capital.

As I was busy working as a venture capitalist investing in traditional companies at Blockchain Capital, Olaf’s new fund was a means for me to gain exposure to this crazy new trend without falling into the crypto-asset rabbit hole as I had back in college. I quickly signed on as both a General and Limited Partner, and sent Polychain my first (but not last) wire.

Blockchain Capital’s Venture Fund

For most of early 2016, I was content to let Olaf (and his new partner, the talented Ryan Zurrer) review and manage any new ICOs I was sent. But the trend maintained. It appeared this new generation of crypto-assets was more than a massive pump-and-dump. In fact, my firm began to explore tokens much more seriously. Though it had often been teased that it was only a matter of time before I went to jail for Augur, there was an evolution in our thought process surrounding tokens and their corresponding offerings. Soon enough, we became convinced that Blockchain Capital should offer its own token, BCAPs, in order to provide a new sort of venture fund.

This decision would lead us to reevaluate the traditional scope of our investments mandate. Crypto-tokens, as I had long argued, could be revolutionary (or, at least, useful) financial instruments, and it would be foolish throwing out the crypto-asset babies with the altcoin bathwater.

Projects such as 0x, Maker, Golem and Filecoin demonstrated how much alternative crypto-tokens had evolved since the dodgy days of Doge and Darkcoin. Because of this evolution, I officially decided to take the plunge and deep-dive down the token rabbit hole once again with Blockchain Capital. In addition to my roles investing and as an entrepreneur-in-residence, I will be focusing considerable energy on the new token economy, evaluating new ICOs for the firm.

It is impossible for a firm such as Blockchain Capital, the earliest venture fund to state its commitment to this novel economy outside of Bitcoin, not to participate in this remarkable new chapter of the blockchain revolution. New platforms, such as AngelList’s Coinlist, will standardize and add further legitimacy to such offerings.

I am still extraordinarily skeptical of most ICOs and tokens in general, but I am more excited than ever about blockchain technology and all the ways it is bound to disrupt ingrained, outdated institutions. If decentralized applications and crypto-assets are the harbinger of such change, then I am on board.

It’s going to be a rocky road, and there will surely be corrections (if not dramatic drops), but I can’t say I haven’t seen it before. I look forward to sifting through the white papers, ponzis and pumps sure to fill my inbox in the coming months in order to find the game-changing diamonds in the rough. It’s going to be a wild ride. So buckle up, bring a barf bag and watch as the Crypto Rodeo brings out the bulls and bears.

This op-ed is a guest post by Jeremy Gardner. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: How One Investor Is Riding the Cryptocurrency Token Wave appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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