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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

25-Year-Old Bitcoin Millionaire Travels the World, Becomes Bitcoin Booster - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

25-Year-Old Bitcoin Millionaire Travels the World, Becomes Bitcoin Booster
CoinTelegraph
In an interview with Business Insider, Jeremy Gardner revealed that it all started in 2013 when a friend offered him Bitcoin in exchange for cash. Since he was curious about the controversy surrounding the Silk Road marketplace, he bought Bitcoin.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 8:41 pm

Japan Financial Services Agency Claims that 50 Bitcoin Exchanges Filed for License - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Japan Financial Services Agency Claims that 50 Bitcoin Exchanges Filed for License
CoinTelegraph
The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has announced that it received registration applications from 50 Bitcoin exchanges as of August 2017. The applications are being reviewed for compliance. A report by the local newspaper Sankei Shimbun ...

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 4:21 pm

Russian Real Estate Firm Experiments With Selling a Luxury Mansion for Bitcoin

Russian house for sale in crypto

The Russian real estate firm Kalinka Group has announced that once of its clients is selling his luxurious home for bitcoins. The 4200 square foot country mansion is located in the village of Nikolino, situated in a fashionable neighborhood off the Rublevo-Upenskoe highway. According to the Kalinka Group, this is the first time in the history of the Russian real estate market that a client has offered to sell a property for cryptocurrencies.

"Such transactions are still a novelty, even for world real estate markets,” Ekaterina Rumyantseva, the chairman of the board of Kalinka Group, said in a statement. “We are pleased to be pioneers and open new frontiers in business.”

She pointed out that Russian legislation has not yet defined the rules for working with bitcoins, and so far there is no legal definition of the cryptocurrency. Also, as there is no regulatory or legal framework governing the sale, the agency's service fees will still be paid in the national currency, rather than in bitcoin.

The legal department of the Kalinka Group is currently investigating whether the sale of a property for cryptocurrencies is legal, according to the laws of Russia.

The real estate firm cited China and Switzerland as examples of countries that consider bitcoin to be a tangible asset, which means a transaction is possible under the “barter agreement.”

However, if cryptocurrencies are considered cash in Russia, according to the law on foreign exchange operations, a transaction in BTC would be impossible since the only currency permitted in the sale of Russian real estate is the Russian ruble.

Kalinka Group recognized that volatility is another issue to consider when property sales are listed and transacted in cryptocurrencies. The real estate company acknowledged that bitcoin is much more volatile compared to other currencies, thus, exchanging the payment into rubles can “significantly change the value of the object.”

"The sale of the house in Nikolino will probably become a precedent in the legal practice and real estate market. We [will] carefully study the world experience of conducting such transactions and understand that cryptocurrencies should be described at the legislative level in the shortest possible time because this innovative method of settlement is already able to affect the money turnover in business,” Rumyantseva said.

Kalinka Group added that since bitcoin is volatile, the exact value of the designer-furnished mansion — which has an open-air jacuzzi and a movie theater along with many other luxurious features — will have to be determined at the moment of the sale. At the time of the announcement, the house was listed for 3000 BTC.

The post Russian Real Estate Firm Experiments With Selling a Luxury Mansion for Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 4:01 pm

Mark Cuban Backs Cryptocurrency Fund After Saying Bitcoin Is a Bubble - Fortune


Investopedia

Mark Cuban Backs Cryptocurrency Fund After Saying Bitcoin Is a Bubble
Fortune
Despite saying Bitcoin was a bubble in early June, Cuban has backed venture capital firm 1confirmation, according to Bloomberg. The firm not only has plans to invest some $20 million in companies developing blockchain technologies, but it also wants to ...
Bitcoin Skeptic Mark Cuban Reverses CourseInvestopedia
Bitcoin Skeptic Mark Cuban to Invest in Cryptocurrency FundBloomberg
Bitcoin skeptic Mark Cuban investing in cryptocurrency fundThe Hill
Business Insider
all 15 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 3:14 pm

Exchange Strains Drive Crypto Exchange Kraken to Trim Trading Pairs

Kraken is making some platform changes in a bid to reduce the strain on its cryptocurrency exchange.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 2:34 pm

Why Bcash Mining Shouldn't Affect Bitcoin Much (But Bitcoin Mining Could Ruin Bcash)

BCH vs BTC mining

For the past couple of days, Bitcoin Cash (Bcash or BCH) was more profitable to mine than Bitcoin (BTC). This has resulted in miners switching from Bitcoin to Bcash, causing a significant speedup of blocks on the Bcash chain, to the point where several dozens of blocks were found per hour. Meanwhile, the Bitcoin blockchain had slowed down significantly; in some cases only one or two blocks were found each hour.

In the short term, therefore, Bitcoin users were inconvenienced: they had to wait longer for their transactions to confirm, and they had to pay more fees to get them confirmed quickly.

In the longer term, however, this dynamic could make the Bitcoin Cash chain very unstable.

Here’s why.

Theory Versus Practice: Assumptions

It should first be noted that this article makes some assumptions that do not quite (or necessarily) hold up to the full extent in reality.

For example, the article will assume that all (or most) miners mainly care about short-term profits, it will assume that miners can switch between different blockchains at no (or little) cost, it won’t take into account that miners need to wait 100 blocks before they can spend their block rewards, and more.

Perhaps more importantly, the article will also assume that Bitcoin block rewards are more valuable than Bitcoin Cash block rewards. At the time of writing this is the case, by a relatively large margin. Both Bitcoin and Bcash miners are awarded at least 12.5 new coins per block, but BTC is about six times more valuable than BCH. On top of that, Bitcoin blocks contain significantly more fees.

While the reality of the situation is more complex than this, the overall dynamic should hold up — at least until and unless Bcash block rewards become more valuable than Bitcoin’s.

Normal Mining Dynamics

Miners mine to turn a profit, or at least that’s the assumption for this article. They invest resources — time, electricity, hardware, and more — in return for coins.

Mining profitability is determined by the value of the block reward, and the “difficulty” to mine a block. If the difficulty is higher, miners need to invest more resources to find a block. If the difficulty is lower, miners need to invest less.

Notably, what doesn’t actually matter for profitability in the short term, is how many other miners (by hash power) are mining on a particular chain. If many miners are, for example, mining on the Bcash chain, it just means that all these miners find Bcash blocks faster for a while.

This situation does self-correct over time, when the difficulty adjusts. On both Bitcoin and Bcash, difficulty adjusts once every 2016 blocks, which is “supposed” to happen every two weeks. If these 2016 blocks are found in less than two weeks, difficulty adjusts upwards, so the next 2016 blocks will be harder to find. If these 2016 blocks are found in more than two weeks, difficulty adjusts downwards, so the next 2016 blocks will be easier to find.

These adjustments happen relative to how much faster or slower blocks were mined than they were “supposed” to, but it can increase or decrease fourfold (x4 or x0.25) at most.

Bitcoin Versus Bcash

Now, since one Bcash block reward is currently worth about seven times less than one Bitcoin block reward, Bcash can only be more profitable to mine if its difficulty is more than seven times lower. (This has been the case for the past few days.)

But if that occurs, something interesting happens. From the very moment that Bcash is more profitable to mine, it immediately becomes more profitable to mine for all miners. In this hypothetical, all miners would immediately abandon the Bitcoin chain, and instead mine Bcash exclusively.

Of course, this can’t go on forever. If there are so many miners on the Bcash chain, the 2016 blocks will be found extremely fast. (This has been the case for the past few days.) As such, the next difficulty adjustment comes very fast too; potentially within a day or two. (This just happened.) Importantly, because that’s much too fast, the difficulty now adjusts upward by a lot: probably fourfold. (This just happened.)

That’s where Bcash's problems start.

At this point, Bcash’s difficulty is so high that Bitcoin is once again the most profitable chain to mine on. As such, after a lull of about two days, all miners should now switch back to mining Bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s difficulty, meanwhile, was already pretty high. Once all those miners switch back, the 2016 blocks may or may not be found a bit faster than usual. But nothing out of the ordinary.

As such, even after the 2016 Bitcoin blocks are found, not much changes. Bitcoin would still be more profitable chain to mine. Profit-maximizing miners would therefore all continue to mine on Bitcoin only.

And once the next difficulty period is over, once again, nothing will change. Bitcoin would still be more profitable for all miners.

Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the equation, no miners would mine on Bitcoin Cash whatsoever. It's not as profitable to mine. The Bcash blockchain should freeze in its tracks.

Bcash’s Solutions

Bcash does have solutions for this problem — sort of.

First off, Bcash implemented an emergency re-adjustment scheme to deal with situations like these. If, within a time-frame of twelve hours, fewer than six blocks are found, difficulty adjusts downward by 20 percent. This can help get difficulty down to normal levels quicker.

But that’s not a perfect solution in itself. For one, it does still require at least six blocks to be found, and probably more to get difficulty back to normal. This means that miners still need to mine on the Bcash chain at a loss, against their short-term interests. Furthermore, miners that are unfriendly toward Bcash could — somewhat ironically — mine on this chain just enough to prevent such a re-adjustment.

And even if some miners do mine on the Bcash chain toward a difficulty adjustment, it would just set the exact same dynamic in motion after a while. The Bcash chain would be more profitable to mine for a couple of days, after which difficulty shoots upwards and the chain should freeze in its tracks. Then these miners would have to, once again, mine at a loss to keep the chain alive, only to set the same dynamic in motion again. And again. And again.

Interestingly, this scenario could potentially benefit miners at large, especially if they coordinate. While some miners do need to mine against their short-term interests to reach the required difficulty adjustment, once that difficulty adjustment is reached, all miners get to sweep up massive amounts of block rewards within a day or two.

As long as there are buyers for these coins, such a stop-and-go cycle could be very profitable for miners in the long term.

Other Solution(s)

This is not a new science.

Namecoin, one of the first altcoins, faced similar problems in 2011. After a sudden jump in hash rate, its chain got stuck, and it took months for ideologically motivated miners to work toward a next difficulty adjustment at a loss. This cycle repeated a couple of times, at which point Namecoin fixed the problem by “merged mining” the coin with Bitcoin. All Bitcoin miners can now automatically mine Namecoin using the same hash power, without needing to switch between chains. Many Bitcoin miners do.

The problem that Namecoin had to face is also a key reason why Litecoin's creator, Charlie Lee, decided to implement the Scrypt mining algorithm in Litecoin, another early altcoin. He realized that a secondary cryptocurrency should not compete with Bitcoin for hash power on the SHA256 algorithm at all, exactly because of the instability that would result. By picking an entirely different algorithm, miners can’t hop from one chain to another, thus resolving the problem as well.

And many other altcoins, like Ethereum, have much faster difficulty readjustment schemes. While this may technically still require miners to mine at a loss in some cases (and could have other detrimental effects), this situation should resolve within hours or days — not weeks or months.

If Bitcoin Cash chooses to adopt any of these solutions, the coin will probably require another hard fork.

Alternatively, of course, its block rewards will have to become more valuable than Bitcoin’s…

Thanks to Litecoin creator Charlie Lee for information and feedback.

The post Why Bcash Mining Shouldn't Affect Bitcoin Much (But Bitcoin Mining Could Ruin Bcash) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 2:11 pm

Hyperledger Blockchain Consortium Reveals Hybrid 'Sawtooth Ethereum' Tech

In collaboration with Monax, Intel released Sawtooth Ethereum to allow ethereum smart contracts to be deployed on enterprise-grade Sawtooth platform.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 1:15 pm

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Op Ed: A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros

A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros

How does one design a blockchain protocol? Back in 2013, while in Athens, I set out to design a non-proof-of-work-based blockchain protocol motivated by the debt crisis in Greece, looming bank liquidity problems and the increasing discussions about the possibility of having a parallel currency. The new protocol had to be based on proof of stake to make sure that it can run even on cellphones and be secure independent of any computational power existing that is external to it.

Very soon it became clear that the problem was going to need much more than a few months’ work. Fast-forward three years to 2016: I was at the University of Edinburgh and had joined forces with IOHK whose CEO, Charles Hoskinson, was poised to solve the same problem. The protocol, “Ouroboros” as it would be eventually named, was there but the core of the security proof was still elusive when my good friend Alexander Russell visited me.

Together, we tackled the problem of proving the security of the system. Whiteboards were filled over and over again until we felt we mined a true gem: a clean combinatorial argument that enabled us to argue mathematically the security of the scheme. 

Diving Into the Mindset of a Cryptographer

Security is an elusive concept. Take a system that is able to withstand a given set of adverse operational conditions. When can we call it secure? What if it collapses in the next moment when it is subjected to a slightly different set of conditions? Or when it is given inputs different from any that have been tried before?

Security cannot be demonstrated via experiment alone since attacker ingenuity can rarely be completely enumerated within any reasonable timeframe. Cryptographic design, thus, has to somehow scale this “universal quantifier”: the system should be called secure only if it withstands all possible attacks.

In response to this fundamental problem, “provable security” emerged as a rigorous discipline within cryptography that promotes the co-development of algorithms and (so-called) proofs of security. Such proofs come in the form of theorems that, under certain assumptions and threat models that describe what the attacker can and cannot do, establish the security of cryptographic algorithms. In this fashion, modern cryptographic design pushes the “burden of proof” to the proposer of an algorithm.

In the world of academic cryptography, gone are the days when someone could propose a protocol or algorithm and proclaim it secure because it was able to withstand a handful of known attacks. Instead, modern cryptographic design requires due diligence by the designers to ensure that no attack exists within a convincing and well-defined threat model.

This approach has been a tremendously powerful and inspiring paradigm within cryptography. For instance, the notion of a secure channel has been studied for more than 40 years. This is the fundamental cryptographic primitive that allows the proverbial Alice and Bob to send messages to each other safely in the presence (and possibly active interference) of an attacker. Today’s provable security analysis, even using automated tools, has unearthed attacks against secure channel protocols like TLS that were unanticipated by the security community.

Back in 2009 though, the blockchain was a concept that was presented outside regular academic cryptographic discourse. A brief white paper and a software implementation were sufficient to fuel its initial adoption that expanded rapidly. In retrospect, this was perhaps the only way for this fringe idea to ripple the waters of scientific discourse sufficiently and force a paradigm shift (in the sense of Thomas S. Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions”) in terms of how the consensus problem was to be studied henceforth.

As the shift settled though, a principled approach became direly needed. The newly discovered design space appears to be vast and the avenues of exploring it too numerous. The “burden of proof” needs to return to the designer.

Blockchain protocols need to become systematized, as they have gradually become one of the dominant themes in distributed consensus literature. The blockchain is not the problem; it is the solution. But in this case, one may wonder, what was the problem?

In 2014, jointly with Juan Garay and Nikos Leonardos, we put forth a first description of “the problem” in the form of what we called a “robust transaction ledger.” Such a ledger is implemented by a number of unauthenticated nodes and provides two properties, called persistence and liveness. Persistence mandates that nodes never disagree about the placement of transactions once they become stable, while liveness requires that all (honestly generated) transactions eventually become stable. Using this model, we provided a proof of security for the core of the Bitcoin protocol (a suitably simplified version of the protocol that we nicknamed the “bitcoin backbone”).

Given this proof, a natural question a cryptographer will ask is whether this protocol is really the best possible solution to the problem. “Best” here is typically interpreted in two ways: first, in terms of the efficiency of the solution; and second, in terms of the relevance and applicability of the threat model and the assumptions used in the security proof.

Efficiency is a particular concern for the Bitcoin blockchain. With all its virtues, the protocol is not particularly efficient in terms of processing time or resource consumption. This is exactly where “proof of stake” emerged as a possible alternative and a more efficient primitive for building blockchain protocols.

So, is it possible to use proof of stake to provably implement a robust transaction ledger? By 2016, with our Bitcoin backbone work already presented, this was a well-defined question; and the answer came with Ouroboros: our proof-of-stake-based blockchain protocol.

Ouroboros

The unique characteristic of Ouroboros is that the protocol was developed in tandem with a proof of security that aims to communicate in a succinct way that the proposed blockchain protocol satisfies the properties of a robust transaction ledger. Central to the proof is a combinatorial analysis of a class of strings that admit a certain discrete structure that maps to a blockchain fork. We called “forkable” those strings that admit a non-trivial such structure, and our proof shows that their density becomes minutely small as the length of the string grows.

With this argument, we showed how there is an opportunity for the nodes running the protocol to converge to a unique history. The protocol then dictates how to take advantage of this opportunity by running a cryptographic protocol that enables the nodes to produce a random seed, which, in turn, is used to sample the next sequence of parties to become active. As a result, the protocol facilitates the next convergence step to take place; in this way, it can continue ad infinitum following a cyclical process that was also the inspiration for its name. Ouroboros is the Greek word for the snake that eats its tail, an ancient Greek symbol for re-creation.

Having the protocol and its proof in hand gave us the unique opportunity for peer review, i.e., asking fellow cryptographers to evaluate the construction and its associated security proof as part of the formal submission process to a major cryptology conference.

Peer reviewing at the top cryptology venues is a painstakingly rigorous process that goes on for months. Papers are first reviewed independently by at least three experts, and afterward a discussion for each paper rages on as the three reviewers, as well as other members of the scientific committee, get involved and try to converge on the intellectual merits of each submission.

As a result of successfully passing this rigorous peer review process, Ouroboros was accepted and included in the program of Crypto 2017, the 37th annual cryptology conference. Crypto is one of the flagship conferences of the International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) and is one of the most exciting places for a cryptographer to be, as the program always contains research on the cutting edge of the discipline.

Furthermore, Ouroboros will be the settlement layer of the Cardano blockchain to be rolled out by IOHK in 2017, making it one of the swiftest technology transfer cases from a basic research publication to a system to be used by many thousands in just one year.

While all this may seem like a happy conclusion to the quest for a proof-of-stake blockchain, we are far from being done. On the contrary, we are still, as a community, at the very beginning of this expedition that will delve deep into blockchain design space. There are still too many open questions to solve, and new systems will be built on the foundations of the research that our community is laying out today.

The views expressed in this op ed are those of its author, Aggelos Kiayias , and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Media.

Ouroboros image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


The post Op Ed: A Cryptographic Design Perspective of Blockchains: From Bitcoin to Ouroboros appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 11:35 am

Ripple's XRP Price Climbs 40% on Surge in Korean Trading

The price of XRP, the cryptocurrency of the Ripple network, rose more than 40% today.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 11:29 am

Congressional Group Pushes for Blockchain Security Standards

Members of Congress are advancing research into blockchain security standards, according to a new podcast.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 10:45 am

The IRS Has Been Using Bitcoin Tracking Software Since 2015

The IRS has been using software tools to track the movements of bitcoin for the past several years.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 10:09 am

Blockchain ID Startup ShoCard Raises $4 Million in New Funding

ShoCard has announced a new venture funding round, news that coincides with its launch of a new enterprise-focused identity product.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 6:59 am

Boldstart Founder Launches Hyperledger Fabric's First Blockchain Accelerator

The enterprise-facing Hyperledger Fabric blockchain now has its own accelerator, one backed by a notable venture investor.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 6:30 am

Walmart, Kroger & Nestle Team with IBM Blockchain to Fight Food Poisoning

A new consortium being spearheaded by IBM is seeking to use blockchain to improve global food safety – and cut costs for suppliers.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 5:59 am

Believe the Hype: Here's the Actual Next Big Thing in Tech - Fortune


Fortune

Believe the Hype: Here's the Actual Next Big Thing in Tech
Fortune
Blockchain is the sophisticated accounting architecture that underpins Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency at the center of an investing mania of late. (As the Sept. 1, 2017 issue was going to press, the price of a single Bitcoin was around $4,200, up ...
Bitcoin, Blockchain Splits And What It Means For Business - ForbesForbes

all 13 news articles »

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 4:30 am

Asus Debuts Specialized Motherboard for Cryptocurrency Miners

Asus is to release a new product aimed at cryptocurrency miners – a motherboard that can be packed with 19 GPUs.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 3:32 am

Bitcoin's Battle Over Segwit2x Has Begun

Is a new version of bitcoin's software a way to please all over the scaling issue, or a hostile takeover by commerce? The community is divided.

Posted on 22 August 2017 | 3:01 am

Bitcoin Prices Dip Below $4,000 to Hit 7-Day Low

The bitcoin price is back below $4,000, falling below a notable milestone after roughly a week of trading above the mark.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 7:55 pm

$10.4 Million: In-Game Item Exchange DMarket Raises New Funds in ICO

Virtual goods marketplace DMarket has raised more than $10 million in an ICO.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 2:59 pm

AMD Releases Beta Graphics Driver for Better Cryptocurrency Mining

AMD miner

A few days ago, AMD released the “Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute” driver. According to the release notes on the tech giant’s website, the software optimizes the performance for “Blockchain Compute Workloads,” thereby boosting the efficiency of cryptocurrency mining rigs that are using a GPU for mining (eg., Ethereum mining rigs).

Currently, the graphics driver can be downloaded from AMD’s official website. The beta software supports desktop GPUs from AMD Radeon HD 7700, and it can be installed on 64-bit Windows 7 (Service Pack 1 or higher required) and 64-bit Windows 10 systems. AMD highlighted in the release notes that the graphics driver is not intended to boost users’ gaming performance. The company added that since this is a beta software, it will not be “supported with further updates, upgrades or bug fixes.”

AMD’s new beta driver is designed to fix an issue related to the DAG (directed acyclic graph) size. As the number of blocks in the Ethereum blockchain increases (taking roughly 14 seconds to generate a block), so does Ethereum’s epoch (a 100-hour window). For every epoch, or 30,000 blocks, a DAG is generated. As the DAG size grows, the memory requirements for mining Ethereum increase. Since the memory footprint of the workload is increasing, it will, at a certain time, overflow from the graphics card’s memory and will be stored in the main system memory. The main system memory is much slower than accessing the GPU’s VRAM. If a mining rig is slower to access the memory, it will result in performance penalties concerning the miners’ hashrate.

AMD’s new beta driver appears to have fixed the DAG issue. According to TechPowerUp, there is only a minimal difference between mining different DAG sizes with the beta software. Compared to the old driver, the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 8GB (1546 MHz/945 MHz) experienced an 81 percent increase in the hashrate mining DAG 199.

The Reddit community has also confirmed that AMD’s new update is resulting in greater hashrates for their GPUs.

“My RX Vega went from 31 to 37Mh/s mining ETH only. Very nice improvement,” wrote a user named “Hot-Diggity-Daffodil.”

“Just got these new drivers installed on one of my 6 gpu rigs. MSI RX 580 8GBs confirmed back up to 29.5 from 27.5. Installing on other rigs now. Using BBT modded ROMs,” another user called “TheHansGruber” wrote in the /r/EtherMining subreddit.

AMD’s beta driver will boost the performance of Ethereum mining rigs for a while. However, if Ethereum evolves from proof of work to proof of stake, with a first step toward this model expected on November 1, GPUs will be less needed over time. At the instance of proof of stake, the mining is based on coin ownership rather than hash power.

The post AMD Releases Beta Graphics Driver for Better Cryptocurrency Mining appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 1:08 pm

Wall Street Keeps Valuing Bitcoin Higher and Higher - Fortune


Fortune

Wall Street Keeps Valuing Bitcoin Higher and Higher
Fortune
Bitcoin has been on a tear this year, more than tripling in value as it crossed the $4,000 mark and touched a record $4,477 last week. It's since retreated about 7% from the high as investors took profit and assessed whether the rally had gone too far ...

and more »

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:31 pm

Bitcoin Cash Wins Mining Power as Price Falls Back Below $600

The bitcoin cash blockchain is becoming more competitive against the bitcoin chain from which it forked – and that's having interesting impacts.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 12:15 pm

ICO Scammers Steal $500k in Phony Enigma Project Pre-Sale Launch

As much as $500,000 in ether has been stolen from supporters of the Enigma blockchain project following a security compromise.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 9:40 am

Credit Suisse Eyes 2018 Launch for Blockchain Loans Platform

A group of banks led by Credit Suisse is eyeing the launch of a blockchain platform for syndicated loans, according to reports.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 8:30 am

A Bitcoin Law for Every State? Interest and Animosity Greet Model US Regulation

A bill for unifying state legislators around virtual currency rules is seeing both interest and hostility, each from unexpected parties.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 7:00 am

Swift's Cross-Border Blockchain Trial Is Moving Into Its Next Phase

Swift has completed development work on its first blockchain proof-of-concept, and six global banks are about to put it through its paces.

Posted on 21 August 2017 | 6:00 am

A Bitcoin Social Media Storm Hit BitPay This Week: Here's Why

Everyone’s Mad at BitPay. Here’s Why.

The Bitcoin community is not taking kindly to BitPay this week. Influential developers are accusing the major payment processor of fraud, Bitcoin users on social media are calling for boycots, bitcoin.org is removing recommendations of the company’s products, and NBitcoin developer Nicolas Dorier has launched an initiative to fork some of BitPay’s projects altogether.

Here’s why.

Bitcore

The controversial issue has to do with Bitcore.

Bitcore is a type of Bitcoin node developed by BitPay. It is specifically designed to offer a development platform, on top of which it is easy to build all kinds of Bitcoin applications. Anyone can use this open-source tool; some of the better-known applications that utilize it include video-streaming service Streamium, Trezor’s web interface and BitPay’s own Copay wallet.

Within the next a couple of days, most likely on August 23, the long-awaited Bitcoin protocol upgrade Segregated Witness (SegWit) will activate. Seemingly in response to this upgrade, BitPay published a blog post titled What Bitcore Users Need to Know to Be Ready for SegWit Activation

But not everyone is happy with the contents of this blog post…

The “Major Risk” That Is (or Isn’t) SegWit

The first problem is not the most important problem, but it is worth mentioning, regardless. It concerns the topic of the blog post itself: Segregated Witness.

In the blog post, BitPay states:

Nodes which fail to upgrade to support SegWit will face major security risks, including the risk of double-spend transaction fraud.

This appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Segregated Witness is specifically designed to be backwards compatible. Regular nodes that do not upgrade remain part of the Bitcoin network. And importantly, since SegWit was activated by a unanimous hash-power majority, all miners should be enforcing the new rules. As such, transactions that are invalid according the new rules should never be accepted in any Bitcoin blocks at all. Even non-upgraded nodes should never see these invalid transactions confirm.

It is true that — like every other soft fork before SegWit — there are some increased risks for non-upgraded nodes. And in an additional blog post, BitPay does provide more details and nuance regarding the situation.

But the somewhat alarmist tone of the first blog post seems a bit unnecessary. Therefore, to many it appears to have had the specific goal of pushing users toward a software upgrade for very different reasons.

Which brings us to the next point…

The “Upgrade” That Is (or Isn’t) Bitcoin

While BitPay’s alarmist tone seemed like an unnecessary means, it’s the end that really ticked so many people off.

As per the “New York Agreement,” a significant group of Bitcoin companies, mining pools and individuals plans to adopt an incompatible set of protocol rules by November. Dubbed “SegWit2x,” and implemented in the BTC1 software developed by former Bitcoin Core contributor Jeff Garzik, this project would “hard fork” an increase of Bitcoin’s block weight limit, allowing for blocks of up to eight megabytes. (Whether this should technically be called a hard fork or an altcoin is debatable, but never mind that for now.)

The problem is that, while a significant group of Bitcoin companies — including, indeed, BitPay — signed on to the New York Agreement, this agreement currently does not have industry-wide consensus. Most notably, Bitcoin’s development community has almost unanimously rejected the proposal. There is also a long list of companies that never signed onto the initiative in the first place; in fact, some of them are actively opposed to it. And more informal metrics, like social media sentiment, opinion polls and network node count generally also show limited support for SegWit2x.

As such, it is likely that SegWit2x would split off to create a new blockchain and currency, not unlike what Bitcoin Cash (Bcash) did. Unlike Bcash, however, SegWit2x currently has no intention of picking a new name, nor does it plan to implement safety precautions like replay protection. (Replay protection would prevent the “same” coin from accidentally being spent on both chains.) For all intents and purposes, the companies behind SegWit2x appear to be set to claim this coin is the “real” Bitcoin, while the coin that follows the current Bitcoin protocol won’t be.

This approach is controversial. Many Bitcoin users that do not support the hard fork may prefer to keep using Bitcoin as is, without worrying about added (replay) risks or other inconveniences caused by SegWit2x. And if two different coins claim the name “Bitcoin,” it could lead to much confusion, for obvious reasons.

Regardless, in BitPay’s blog post, which speaks of an “upgrade” for Bitcore users in preparation for SegWit, the payment processor actually directs readers to download the BTC1 software; that is, the software that embeds the SegWit2x protocol, rather than the current Bitcoin protocol. It therefore appeared that the company was really trying to get Bitcore users to switch to a whole new coin, which BitPay will consider “Bitcoin.” And the payment processor initially did so without so much as warning Bitcore users that following these instructions would make them incompatible with the current Bitcoin protocol by November.

Herein lies the concern: BitPay must have known that this advice is controversial. Failing to mention the risks or consequences made the blog post seem deceptive.

The Hash Power That Supports (or Doesn’t Support) SegWit2x

Finally, after BitPay faced initial blowback for its blog post for reasons described, it included an addendum. In it, the payment processor writes:

[O]ur instructions follow this version of Bitcoin because over 95% of Bitcoin miners have adopted Segwit2x.

While this addendum provides a little bit more clarity, it is once again a bit of a questionable statement.

Perhaps most importantly: If BTC1 indeed hard forks in November, BitPay right now has no way of knowing how much hash power will really be mining on the SegWit2x chain.

While it is true that mining pools currently representing a supermajority of hash power signed on to the New York Agreement, mining pools usually don’t have full control over the hash power that is pointed toward their pools. Much of this hash power actually belongs to individual miners (“hashers”), who could switch to a new pool with the click of a few buttons. (For example, when another mining pool, Ghash.io, reached over 50 percent of total hash power on the network a couple of years ago, hashers were also urged to move to different pools.)

Furthermore, even if a specific mining pool does control its hash power, nothing in the New York Agreement says these pools should mine on the SegWit2x chain exclusively. Since miners typically dedicate their hash power to maximize profit, it is very possible that this hash power will be attributed to different chains according to the value of the coins on these chains. (This is what usually happens between altcoins. Similarly, just over the past couple of weeks, some signatories to the New York Agreement have already begun directing some hash power to the Bcash chain.)

In its addendum, BitPay appears to be ignoring these dynamics. Once again, this has an air of deceptiveness.

In BitPay’s Defense…

All that said, it should be noted that the risks are still limited, even if users follow BitPay’s instructions.

This is because BitPay is not (currently) suggesting that users run BTC1 software to send and receive transactions. Rather, BitPay is advising users to connect their Bitcore nodes to a BTC1 node as a “border node.” This means that the BTC1 node will essentially act as a network filter to reject all transactions invalid under the new SegWit rules.

Until the hard fork in November, using BTC1 as a border node shouldn’t do any harm whatsoever. BTC1 is compatible with the Bitcoin network until that point in time, and indeed enforces the new SegWit rules.

If no further action is taken, the BTC1 border node would switch to the SegWit2x blockchain by November. But even then, the current Bitcore nodes that are used to send and receive transactions will not make that switch. As such, BTC1 nodes would only let SegWit2x transactions through, which would then, in turn, be rejected by Bitcore nodes. This incompatibility between the two nodes actually means that no blocks would come through at all.

As such, no one would send or accept (confirmed) payments in a different coin than they mean to. In a worst case scenario, the whole setup essentially shuts down.

While the blog post appears deceptive in some ways, BitPay’s advice shouldn't, in itself, cause a of loss funds.

Shortly before publication of this article, BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said in statement to Bitcoin Magazine:

This was unfortunately not the way I had intended this conversation to begin. I will have more to say on this topic in the near future, and feel I owe it to the community to say something. Unfortunately, it may take a little while for that communication to happen as I have other matters demanding my attention at the moment.

The post A Bitcoin Social Media Storm Hit BitPay This Week: Here's Why appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 August 2017 | 9:13 am

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Long and Short Squeezes Shape a Weakening All-Time High

Bitcoin Price Analysis

This morning, BTC-USD pushed a new all-time high on several exchanges. However, this time, the momentum to continue higher seems to be waning. Shortly after establishing the new all-time high, there was a $150 flash crash that sprang a series of account liquidations across several exchanges in a move that would ultimately “long squeeze” the market. A long squeeze is a term used to describe the sudden cascade of long positions getting stopped out of their positions, causing market orders to propel the price even lower:

Figure_1 (1).JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 5-Minute Candles, Bitfinex, Long Squeeze

The figure above shows the price movement correlated to the volume during the $150 drop. Halfway through the drop we see a sudden spike in sell volume. This spike in volume is the beginning of the “long squeeze” that initiated the cascade of market sell orders caused by traders in long positions being forced out of their positions via their stop-loss market orders.

Figure_2 (1).JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 15-Minute Candles, Bitfinex, Short Squeeze

Yesterday, at around 12 pm EST, the exact opposite thing happened in a market event known as a “short squeeze.” You can think of a short squeeze as literally the opposite of a long squeeze: People who are anticipating a great short entry are suddenly forced out of their positions via their stop-loss orders, and market buy orders propel the market higher, thus triggering more stop-loss orders until the market equalizes.

Today the BTC-USD market has begun a series of long squeezes that pulled the price down by $300 in a matter of hours, and it doesn’t show much sign of letting up at the moment. Let’s take a look at the macro trend and see where the market is likely heading:

Figure_3 (1).JPGFigure 3: BTC-USD, 3-Day Candles, Bitfinex

For the fifth candle in a row, the 3-day candles have managed to puncture the Bollinger Bands in a move that indicates an overbought market. We have yet to see an attempt to move within the Bollinger Bands and provide some relief for the high price range.

Zooming in a little closer, we can see that clear signs of bullish exhaustion formed as we began to push the most recent set of all-time highs:

Figure_4.jpg
Figure 4: BTC-USD, 2-Hour Candles, Bitfinex, Bullish Exhaustion

The first thing that pops out about this trend is the decrease in volume (shown in pink) leading into this morning’s all-time high. Upon reaching that high, sell volume began to pick up considerably (labeled in blue) and has continued to remain strong during the push into the $4300 and $4200 prices. The previous all-time highs (labeled in yellow) are currently paired with a decreasing MACD moving average/signal line trend that indicates the market is losing bullish momentum across the macro trend.

The BTC-USD market seems to be running on fumes at the moment, but I would not  be surprised at all to see an all-time high squeezed out of this market. However, I would be VERY surprised if that all time had any notable follow-through. The market volume on the macro levels has steadily declined, and there are key market indicators that hint toward the need for sustained sideways consolidation. Alternatively, a strong market pullback might be in the cards for BTC-USD. Each push toward the new highs has been greeted by strong sell volume. In the event of a market retracement, your key support levels on the macro exist along the Fibonacci Retracements shown below:

Figure_5.JPGFigure 5: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Bitfinex, Key Support Levels

When the market begins to struggle to push new all-time highs, it is important to keep a close eye on the volume and see how it interacts with the price movement. Consistent price growth on decreasing buy volume is a signal that the bears, although losing the battle in price currently, are gathering as the market nears its final top before ultimately correcting or consolidating. And given the price growth over the past 30 days, I would be inclined to lean toward the former rather than the latter.

Summary:

  1. Short squeezes and long squeezes have begun to shape the current market trend.

  2. On the macro and micro scale, the market is showing a highly overbought market and is beginning to lose upward steam.

  3. Key support levels lie on the Fibonacci Retracements shown in Figure 5.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin, bitcoin cash 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.

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Long and Short Squeezes Shape a Weakening All-Time High appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 2:57 pm

Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain

Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain

On August 9, IBM announced the firm’s cooperation with Sony Global Education — a subsidiary of Sony, providing global educational services — with the objective to develop a learning platform for students implementing blockchain technology.

According to IBM, the blockchain-based educational platform would allow school administrators to manage and consolidate the educational data of students at multiple schools in addition to recording and referring their “learning history and digital academic transcripts with more certainty.” The platform will use the IBM Blockchain, which is based on the IBM Cloud, to establish “transparency and accountability of scholastic achievements between students and schools,” allowing both professors and students to track the latter’s learning progress.

The tech giant pointed out that it is often difficult for employers to verify student records of potential hires. According to IBM, there are multiple reasons for this issue, including students taking online courses and attending universities abroad. Such “non-traditional methods” can create confusion for the employers; however, IBM believes implementing blockchain technology will resolve the issue. The learning platform will give both the teachers and the students a digital, trusted record showing their accomplishments, which can be — thanks to the nature of blockchain technology — easily verified by future employers or educational institutions.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to impact systems in a wide variety of industries, and the educational sphere is no exception when educational data is securely stored on the blockchain and shared among permissioned users. We are pleased that we have worked together with IBM to build a new system which can help effect real change in the education sector,” Masaaki Isozu, President of Sony Global Education, said in a statement.

The system’s work is simple: student data will be recorded by the platform and shared with “need-to-know parties,” including future employers and school administrators. Since the learning platform will be using the IBM Blockchain, every piece of data can be verified by the parties.

Schools, colleges and universities can also share the data to help teachers identify and implement unique teaching methods for each student based on the information on the blockchain. The learning platform will also collect all related information and place it in a single repository, which will allow the reliable sharing of digital transcripts. Students will be able to create certain networks on the blockchain, which can’t be altered or changed by any party.

In addition, the platform will help specific vendors target offerings based on verified needs. Representatives from IBM Japan confirmed to Bitcoin Magazine that these vendors include private preparatory schools and cram schools (institutions specialized in training students to reach certain goals). The only data provided to the vendors are the study results of the students. The students or their parents will maintain access control for the students’ study results.

“Blockchain [technology] offers a new approach to how the lifetime history of data related to a person, place or thing is shared and managed. In effect, data tracked on a blockchain becomes a single source of truth. We are delighted to have supported Sony Corporation and Sony Global Education to build up a new blockchain-based platform for innovations in education,” said Yoshiki Minowa, Vice President and partner of Cognitive Process Transformation, Global Business Services, IBM Japan.

The platform will be powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation.

The post Sony and IBM Join Forces to Put Student Achievement on the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 2:29 pm

Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf

Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf

Presearch, a software development startup specializing in information search engines, is challenging Google on its own turf with a double-barreled approach, using both blockchain technology and AI.

Presearch’s search engine, already in use internally since 2013, is launching in beta this September. Blockchain technology and AI will be supplemented with curation by subject matter experts.

Founder and project lead Colin Pape, who previously launched the e-commerce site ShopCity.com, said:

“While Google is generally thought of as a neutral entity for search, the company answers to Wall Street and operates very secretively.

“They’ve become known for promoting themselves at the expense of alternatives and appropriating others’ information, blaming it on ‘the algorithm.’ The reality is that they manipulate results and justify changes as being best for the user.”

Pape wants to provide a community-driven, decentralized, open and transparent alternative to Google, in contrast to what he calls the “manipulated algorithm-driven methods standard among today’s industry giants.”

Pape told Bitcoin Magazine:

“Presearch will use a combination of human curation by subject matter experts who are rewarded with tokens, and machine learning technology and APIs from other search providers (particularly for long-tail searches).”

Pape told us they will be using the Ethereum Blockchain ERC20 standard to start but may build their own blockchain technology at some point down the road.

Openness, Accountability and Community Participation

The company’s white paper emphasizes that never in the history of the world has so much information been concentrated in so few hands. It also points out that Google makes $100 billion in annual revenue from search engine searches.

Presearch estimates that 77 percent of global desktop searches and 96 percent of mobile searches, more than 5 billion queries per day, go to Google.

The white paper states that Google has built up an unprecedented degree of trust with users with “their simple interfaces, lightning-fast response times and utter reliability, combined with what appear to be amazingly accurate results.”

A Search Engine Wikipedia

Presearch believes that a decentralized, community-based decision-making process ensures everyone’s interests are considered. By rewarding members for using, promoting and contributing to the Presearch platform, the company wants to create a scalable “Wikipedia for search” to allow members to curate the best content for each inquiry.

The Presearch community can also vote on and fund new development projects, continually upgrading the platform.

Pape added: “With Presearch, I wanted to flip that business model on its head and put power over information back into the hands of all internet users.”

Search is the gateway to the web. The world deserves an alternative search engine that is open, transparent, and that involves the community in product development, consensus and quality control.

Funding

Presearch’s curation and overall development of the platform is incentivized with the Presearch Token (PST).

Presearch has run three separate crowd sales for $1 million, $1.5 million and $3 million in token revenue. There are three more sales to go that are targeted to generate more than $30 million in total revenue.

The startup is headquartered in Midland, north of Toronto, Canada. A “distributed” team is located in Silicon Valley, Boulder, Colorado and the Atlanta area, and the company is planning to expand internationally.

Advisors to Presearch include internet innovator, Rich Skrenta, who sold his search engine Blekko to IBM Watson; open-source search innovator Trey Grainger, SVP of Engineering at Lucidworks; and technology lawyer Addison Cameron-Huff, whose experience includes working with Ethereum’s founding team.

Bitcoin Magazine contacted Google for comment but has not yet received a response.

The post Presearch Uses Ethereum Blockchain and AI to Challenge Google on Its Own Turf appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 11:44 am

Blockchain and Bitstamp Customers Can Now Use Ether

Bitstamp and Blockchain add ether

Ethereum fans got a bit of a boost today from two different companies in the crypto space. UK-based cryptocurrency firm Blockchain and Luxembourg-based cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp have each added ether to their platforms for the first time.

Blockchain says its customers can simply toggle between bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) to manage and transact funds quickly and easily. Additionally, Blockchain has also integrated ShapeShift’s API so trading bitcoin to ether and vice versa can happen all from one place.

In an earlier, separate announcement to its customers, Bitstamp said it will allow full trading functionalities of ether today. Ether deposits and withdrawals opened at 9 am (UTC) and began to allow full trading functionalities at 1 pm (UTC).

Nejc Kodrič, CEO of Bitstamp, said: "We've been encouraged by ether's potential and the demand shown for its inclusion among our trading pairs.”

Ether now joins USD, EUR, bitcoin, litecoin and Ripple among the coins for which Bitstamp allows deposits and withdrawals. In July the company announced a strategic partnership with Swissquote, the Swiss leader in online banking. Swissquote launched BTC/EUR and BTC/USD trading on its platform, with Bitstamp providing full-stack services for their two new BTC trading pairs.

Kodrič added: ”Since starting out in 2011, Bitstamp's mission has been to be the safest and most reliable digital currency exchange on the market. Our careful approach has created a market reputation for prudence which has served us well as we continue to expand and give our customers the trading options they desire."

Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain, said in a statement that the popularity of Ethereum has grown and so has the desire from Blockchain customers to have the option to manage multiple digital assets within their Blockchain wallets. Smith said: “We are thrilled to introduce this new functionality to our community and will continue to find ways to make interacting with digital assets even easier.”

One of the earliest bitcoin companies, Blockchain was founded in 2011 and provides a non-custodial consumer wallet for digital assets, with over 16 million wallets created across 140 countries. The company has focused on creating products that make storing, transacting and hedging digital currency a frictionless experience.

Smith was recently quoted saying: “I predict that by 2037 a complete global computer fabric will make interacting with goods, services and people easier than ever. Citizens of the world will be more closely connected through technology, communication and networks."

Second in market cap, ether has seen its price soar as much as tenfold since the end of April, while its number of transactions quadrupled. Ether has since settled at about $300 at the time of publication.

The post Blockchain and Bitstamp Customers Can Now Use Ether appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 August 2017 | 10:48 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

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

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

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

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 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

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

August 23, 2017 -
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