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Egypt's First Exchange Bodes Well for Bitcoin Adoption

2 hours 6 min ago


Egypt will see its first bitcoin exchange, Bitcoin Egypt, launch at the end of August. Citizens gain direct access to the cryptocurrency for the first time.

International bitcoin exchanges have refused to deal with Egyptian Pound, acting as a barrier to adoption. Acquiring bitcoin can be done via LocalBitcoins or with money exchangers who work with other payment methods. Two entrepreneurs from Alexandria, Rami Khalil and Omar Abdelrasoul, want to change this.

Abdelrasoul saw the gap in the market and will launch the exchange as bitcoin’s price hits record highs, and interest in the cryptocurrency grows across Egypt:

“We got the idea after we saw that there were lots of people in Egypt who wanted to trade cryptocurrencies but they were a hard time doing it on international exchanges as they were unable to buy coins using Egyptian Pound (EGP). So we decided to offer a solution by giving them the chance to trade using the EGP.”

Egyptian’s have suffered a severe loss of purchasing power of their national currency. The central bank devalued the currency in November as part of a deal with the IMF for a three-year loan for $12 billion. Since the devaluation, the Egyptian Pound lost more than 50 percent of its value against the US Dollar, illustrated by the chart below.

While a currency devaluation is good for bringing in investment from overseas, it has hit savers and lower-income groups hard. And with most of the population under the poverty line, it is doubtful whether the government can prescribe a policy solution for the detrimental effect on low-income households.

The weaker currency may have increased investment, but inflation has skyrocketed to 30 percent, with a potential side effect being that bitcoin will be a savior to Egyptians. With citizens feeling the pinch of austerity, it will be no surprise if Bitcoin Egypt is immensely popular when it launches at the end of August. With the number of bitcoin in existence never to exceed 21 million and the decreasing rate of money supply growth, countries that have experienced sharp increases in inflation, such as Venezuela, have adopted bitcoin widely. The cryptocurrency provides them one of their only safe spaces if the economy is experiencing catastrophe.

However, Sherif Samy, Chairman of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, recently warned the public that no legal protections exist for bitcoin.

With bitcoin’s resistance against devaluations, like the one the Egyptian government undertook, the cryptocurrency could become very popular as the population senses a deepening economic crisis. In a similar vein to how the IMF destroyed Latin American economies in the 1980’s, Egypt has privatized state assets (and sold two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia) to stay afloat.

The effects of the IMF policies on Argentina’s economy is still a fresh memory. A similar austerity plan introduced in the 1980’s saw living standards decline. The IMF even admitted to exacerbating Argentina’s currency crisis in the early 2000’s. The results of these interventions have been negative. And by no accident, it is a region of the world where bitcoin is very popular.

Could Egypt follow in the footsteps of India, and become a major hub for bitcoin trading in a short period? Austerity will have lasting economic impacts. Bitcoin Egypt has arrived at the right time. Furthermore, the birth of an EGP-denominated exchange bodes well for the future of the Bitcoin ecosystem in Egypt, according to Abdelrasoul:

“We think it will bring lots of positivity for Egypt with lots of opportunities for innovation and development. Now that there is an exchange accepting EGP, it will allow people to start developing applications and uses for Bitcoin in Egypt.”



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ATLANT Ending ICO Pre-Sale on August 19: Revenue Goals Achieved, Focus Turns to ICO Launch on September 7

7 hours 19 min ago


Today ATLANT (Atlant.io) announced the successful completion of its ICO presale, raising over $1 million in just a few days, exceeding its revenue objectives. ATLANT is ending its ICO Presale on August 19, 2017 at UTC 00:00.

Investors are welcome and encouraged to participate until that time. Full presale details are available at ATLANT’s website, Atlant.io.

ATLANT will now focus on its ICO (Initial Coin Offering) which will launch on September 7, 2017.

“The ATLANT Platform has significant long-term potential to positively impact the global real estate market in multiple ways”, said Julian Svirsky, ATLANT CEO “And the revenue we anticipate from our ICO will help us build out our complete solution quickly, while also creating a global community benefiting from tokenization of the world’s largest asset class.”

The core features of the ATLANT platform provide revolutionary capabilities in terms of security, efficiency and profitability in the global real estate market. ATLANT is planning its platform launch in March 2018.

ATLANT’s blockchain platform provides a secure, tamper-proof system enabling platform users to trade parcels of property without traditionally prohibitive costs and inefficiencies. Its Peer-to-Peer (P2P) transaction features will allow users to bypass intermediaries in rental deals, which will enhance ease-of-use and security for guests and hosts alike, improving user experience, reducing costs, and driving accelerated adoption.

The ATLANT platform will also enable the financial subdividing of individual parcels of real estate by tokenization, and ATLANT will subsequently list them on exchanges via PTO (Property Token Offering), starting with the decentralized ADEX exchange, based on Ethereum smart contracts.

The ATLANT platform will ease transfer of ownership, simplify fractional holding without minimal constraints, alleviate tax inefficiencies, make cross-border transactions simpler, and eliminate the substantial overhead faced in certain jurisdictions due to bureaucracy and unnecessary intermediaries

Starting in December 2016, ATLANT began working with leading experts in finance, real estate, emerging markets and scientific fields to develop the ATLANT platform. Please see the current ATLANT roadmap for further detail on the ICO and platform launch.

For a comprehensive technical and market overview, please see the current version of the complete ATLANT White Paper.



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Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Stockholm to Feature Discussions on ICOs and Blockchain Development

8 hours 21 min ago


On September 7, Stockholm will host a large conference dedicated to blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs – Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Stockholm. That is one of the events from Smile-Expo company that organized 15 blockchain conferences in Europe. 

The key discussion topics will include blockchain implementation (in finance, power industry, municipal services, insurance), token issuance as an investment tool, and legislative regulation of cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

ICO for Startups and Investors

The hot topic of Initial Coin Offering will be highlighted in the discussions with the cofounder of TenX Julian Hosp, blockchain evangelist Oleg Kudrenko, and cofounder of Cofound.it Daniel Zakrisson.

Daniel will share the experience of successfully held crowdsale campaign that raised over $15 million to develop a platform intended for finding investment and financing startups. Julian will present five main characteristics of a successful ICO and give practical advice on token issuance, and Oleg’s presentation will focus on the analysis and prospects of Initial Coin Offerings.

Legislation and Cryptocurrency Adoption

One of the keynote speakers of Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference will be the main blockchain and cryptocurrency lobbyist in the Swedish Parliament Mathias Sundin. He is known as the world’s first politician that ran his political campaign backed up by bitcoin donations only. Mathias, whose election program contained the summons to support innovations, will present his view on cryptocurrency adoption by the society.

The report of Safello’s CEO Frank Schuil will cover a similar topic – the adoption of blockchain and bitcoin. He will review different stages of cryptocurrency adoption, from their zero value several years ago to wide opportunities in 2017.

Blockchain in Power Industry and Other Areas

Leading engineer of Polish IBM division Karolina Marzantowicz will devote her presentation to blockchain application in the power industry. The audience will learn how decentralization helps to cut costs in the power market.

In addition, the conference will include presentations on the topics of national cryptocurrency issuance, mining, shifting business to smart contracts, and blockchain application in the insurance field.

Alongside the conference, an exhibition of software, hardware, and related services that cater to the needs of crypto industry and investing will be held. 

More information about the topics and speakers is available on the website of Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference Stockholm.



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Bitcoin Begins to be Taken Seriously by Big Financial Players

9 hours 23 min ago


The market cap hit $120 billion and bitcoin already seen its price go up more than 400 percent in 2017. Institutional investors are finding it harder to turn their back on the cryptocurrency.

In finance, many of the debates revolve around digital currencies and Blockchain technology. Many investors are looking to consult with the best financial advisors. There are concerns over how fast new entrants are raising funds, with initial coin offerings and fundraising now exceeding Internet angel and seed investing.

Goldman Sachs acknowledged the growth of digital currency is something investors cannot ignore. Robert Boroujerdi and Jessica Binder Graham, two Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts, clarified a few points about trading cryptocurrencies, ICO’s and how to define cryptocurrencies. They argue between the Currency and Commodity definition. Even so, Goldman strategists haven’t specified whether investors should buy digital currency.

Bitcoin is also on the radar of other notable strategists. For example, Swissquote, a leading provider of online forex trading and research, now includes bitcoin in its daily market reports, as shown below.

The bottom line is that institutional investors are now more interested than ever. With a race to unleash Bitcoin futures and Bitcoin-based ETF’s, we can expect their appearance by 2018. Up until now, institutional investors have avoided the cryptocurrency market due to its relatively small size, the structure of mandates and volatility. But the times are changing as many companies are planning to offer Bitcoin investments. Even though the classification of cryptocurrencies varies by country, government and even application, all agree in giving Bitcoin a legal tender status while for tax purposes, it is treated as virtual currency as property. Well, this is exactly the definition used for investors to file for new cryptocurrency funds.

On August 11, a leading manager of gold-related investment funds filed for a bitcoin-related exchange-traded fund with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In the first quarter of 2017 the Winklevoss brothers saw their Bitcoin ETF refused by the SEC. Now VanEck filed with the SEC for an exchange-traded fund that would invest in Bitcoin futures contracts and trade on the Nasdaq. Derivatives like futures allow investors to bet on potential gains or losses in Bitcoin’s price without buying the digital currency itself. The fund will be an actively managed ETF seeking to a total return. Other firms have proposed digital currency trading products in the last several months.

In late April the SEC said it would review the Winklevoss brothers’ application for a Bitcoin ETF, but up until now the SEC has not commented on that and declined to comment on this recent filing.

Since then, the Chicago Board Options Exchange revealed in early August plans to offer Bitcoin futures as soon as the fourth quarter of 2017. The news followed the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s approval for a digital currency trading platform LedgerX for clearing derivatives, which plans to offer Bitcoin options in early fall.

Ethereum is also receiving a lot of attention from financial groups. Bitcoin acts like virtual cash, Ethereum on the other hand, offers something much more complex; a platform that can run decentralized applications or Dapps and execute self-enforcing “smart contracts.” Ethereum uses its own currency called ether. The key function of ether is to facilitate and reward using the network.

For now, the Ethereum ecosystem is filled with unregulated ICO’s which are experiments that are most certainly going to fail. There is no doubt that we will be seeing the same interest in Ethereum from institutional investors.

For instance, one Swiss private bank will offer Ether to its clients from August 22. Arthur Vayloyan, Global Head Products and Services, explained that the decision to add three cryptoassets was down to the success of the Bitcoin service Falcon group introduced in July:

“We are pleased to add Ether, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash to our services just a month after introducing blockchain asset management solutions with Bitcoin, The first reactions to our Bitcoin services have been very encouraging, and we are convinced that by adding three new blockchain assets we will fulfil our clients’ future needs.”

Is Bitcoin the digital analogue of Gold? While many believe that Bitcoin will never surpass gold as a store of value, others see it stealing a lot of volume from the yellow metal. Experts believe it will take the price even higher. After hitting a peak above $4,300 on August 13, Ronnie Moas raised his price projection to $7,500. The Standpoint Research founder also claimed that a target of $50,000 by 2027 is viable.



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How NEO Became the Sixth Largest Cryptocurrency With $2 Billion Market Cap

16 hours 44 min ago


Since the beginning of August, NEO has demonstrated a rapid increase in value, quickly becoming the sixth largest cryptocurrency in the market, with a $2.3 billion market cap as well as entering the top five of CoinGecko’s rankings. Still, the vast majority of traders and investors within the cryptocurrency market are still unfamiliar with NEO and its history.

NEO first debuted in China as Antshares Blockchain. The Shanghai-based open-source blockchain project raised over $4.5 million in its initial coin offering (ICO) and developed the “Onchain” universal blockchain framework. In the Chinese cryptocurrency market, Antshares gained popularity amongst traders as a competitor to Ethereum.

Upon its successful ICO in 2016, Antshares founder and CEO Da Hongfei stated:

“Our vision is to make Onchain a truly universal Blockchain framework. Utilizing different plug-in modules, our framework could be applied for a public chain, a consortium chain or even a private chain. Our cross-chain adaptor module, currently under development, creates interoperability among these different chains.”

NEO takes a hybrid approach to blockchain technology; while a blockchain is utilized, its approach to asset transfers differs from NXT or BitShares, and “gas” is not used to power smart contracts, as with Ethereum. Instead, the NEO token is like a security, similar to shares in the company. In a move that might be polarizing amongst cryptocurrency enthusiasts, NEO aims to be a brigde between the to the legacy financial system with smart contracts, identity, and legal compliance.

Antshares Rebrands to NEO

Despite its ambitious vision and long-term strategy to compete with Ethereum, Antshares struggled to allure traders in the global market. To better appeal to the global cryptocurrency market, the Antshares development team came to a consensus to rebrand its blockchain network into NEO. Initially, the Antshares team planned to complete the rebranding by the end of 2017. But, the process was sped up as the team behind Antshares secured a partnership with Chinese certificate authorities to develop Smart Contracts 2.0.

As Antshares rebranded into NEO, some of the largest bitcoin exchanges in the global market including US-based cryptocurrency trading platform Bittrex integrated support for NEO traders. Within months since the completion of its rebranding, NEO secured its position as the one of the top ten largest cryptocurrencies in the world.

The integration of NEO by Bittrex has been a key factor behind the rapid growth of NEO. As of current, more than 50 percent of NEO trades are processed through Bittrex, which has demonstrated a daily trading volume of roughly $100 million for NEO exclusively. Binance and Yunbi, two major China-based exchanges, have also served local Chinese NEO traders, providing efficient high performance trading tools and high liquidity.

Can NEO Sustain its Momentum?

Various analysts including Inc 500 entrepreneur and Influencive CEO Brian Evans believe that NEO will be able to sustain its momentum in the upcoming years by collaborating with Chinese authorities and commercial companies, and integrating physical assets into its smart contracts protocol.

“I personally am excited to see how NEO’s smart economy will start incorporating into the real world. If it’s able to integrate physical assets and even intentionally involve government in China, that could be a good thing for the growth of NEO’s project, in this case,” said Evans.

According to Hongfei, the founder of NEO, the flexibility of NEO’s smart economy and its adaptability to a wide range of programming languages have successfully appealed to organizations investigating into the potential of integrating blockchain technology onto existing infrastructures and systems. The Chinese government for instance, is utilizing Ethereum to create a blockchain-based currency but using NEO to create a smart economy to process certificates.

“NEO developers can write smart contract code in .NET and Java/Kotlinm, and we are currently testing integration with Go, JS, and Python for a rollout in the future. This will allow a great number of developers globally to build smart contracts on NEO,” said Hongfei.

In the upcoming years, Hongfei emphasized that it will continue to work with law enforcement agencies and governments to demonstrate the potential of blockchain technology in real world applications and create a modern blockchain ecosystem:

“We believe blockchain usage will eventually integrate real world applications, such as digital assets based on digital identity. This would allow for better anti-money laundering and know your customer capabilities in blockchain, of which there is a paucity in the modern blockchain ecosystem.”



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Cryptocurrency Exchange Shapeshift Acquires Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Keepkey

17 hours 49 min ago


The Switzerland-based digital asset exchange Shapeshift has announced that the company has acquired KeepKey, manufacturer of cryptocurrency hardware wallets.

According to the cryptocurrency exchange, by pairing the KeepKey hardware wallet with ShapeShift, users will be allowed to safely store their coins on a secure physical device while trading their assets directly over the ShapeShift API, which can be reached from KeepKey’s interface.

ShapeShift AG Acquires Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Maker, KeepKey, @bitcoinkeepkeyhttps://t.co/dxreJmfAYd pic.twitter.com/gOLYWiq1ZI

— ShapeShift.io (@ShapeShift_io) 16 August 2017

“Security is of critical importance when it comes to holding and trading digital assets,” Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift said. “One of our priorities has always been to make the exchange experience as safe and easy for users as possible, and our pairing with KeepKey enables us to provide an unmatched customer experience.”

KeepKey already had integrated ShapeShift’s API a year ago, allowing it to supporting the most popular cryptocurrencies. The firm’s objective is to support all leading digital assets providing the users with the “most secure storage wallet available.”

“This partnership will not only guarantee the future success of the KeepKey brand and product line, but joining the ShapeShift team will enable us to focus on continuing to work on developing better technology and security for crypto-holders,“ said Ken Hodler, Chief Technology Officer at KeepKey.

ShapeShift confirmed that the company will preserve KeepKey’s brand and product line. Furthermore, the acquisition of KeepKey will allow ShapeShift to “provide increased capital for inventory and security expertise.”

“Amid heightened interest in the concept of digital currencies, a simple, user-friendly cold storage wallet with native exchange functionality is one key to wider adoption,” said Voorhees.

Shapeshift thinks consumers will appreciate the partnership between Shapeshift’s trustless exchange and hardware wallet security.

“With Shapeshift, users don’t need to leave funds on an exchange. With KeepKey, users don’t need to leave funds on any computer whatsoever. We see a future in which keys are kept on hardware, and non-custodial exchange occurs directly from the hardware,” Voorhees added.



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BTC-E Claim Illegal Seizure by US Law Enforcement, to Recover User Funds

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 15:47


BTC-E, the oldest bitcoin exchange in the market which was seized by the US law enforcement in July due to the involvement of Alexander Vinnik, the founder of the exchange, in some of the largest bitcoin exchange hacks including the Mt. Gox and Bitcoinica incidents, is planning to recover its services and user funds by distributing BTE tokens to users.

In 2016, when Bitfinex was hit with a $70 million security breach, the exchange’s development team designed a solution in which users were able to claim their lost funds through the Bitfinex (BFX) tokens as time passed. In essence, users were given the right to claim their balances through company profits. Eventually, Bitfinex bought back all of the BFX tokens issued after the hack, restoring the stolen funds of users.

At the time, Bitfinex stated:

“A combination of factors has led to this seminal moment for Bitfinex, including a dramatic uptick in equity conversions; record operating results in March; and, the decision to reduce our reserves in favor of this opportunity. We are tremendously grateful to all of our customers and new shareholders for helping us get to this point.”

BTC-E is trying to pursue a similar plan to Bitfinex by issuing convertible BTE tokens. Users that have lost funds during the seizure of BTC-E’s hot wallets and domains will be allowed to reclaim their funds through BTE tokens as BTC-E resumes its services and generates a stable source of profit.

One important condition of the token-based user fund recovery system which BTC-E users must take into consideration is that like Bitfinex, BTC-E must be in operation and should be able to generate profits in order for the company to purchase back its BTE tokens like Bitfinex ultimately did. However, in July, the US Financial Crimes Enforcement NetworK (FinCEN) fined the BTC-E team with a $110 million penalty and before settling it, BTC-E will likely not be able to resume its operation. More importantly, the BTC-E.com domain and its servers are currently being handled by the US law enforcement.

At the time, Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director for FinCEN, stated:

“We will hold accountable foreign-located money transmitters, including virtual currency exchangers, that do business in the United States when they willfully violate U.S. anti-money laundering laws. This action should be a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks that they can facilitate ransomware, dark net drug sales, or conduct other illicit activity using encrypted virtual currency. Treasury’s FinCEN team and our law enforcement partners will work with foreign counterparts across the globe to appropriately oversee virtual currency exchangers and administrators who attempt to subvert U.S. law and avoid complying with U.S. AML safeguards.”

Despite the announcement of the FinCEN, the BTC-E team announced on their social media platforms that the exchange will be back live within five to ten days. Almost immediately after the BTC-E team released their statement, their servers, domains and funds were seized by the US law enforcement.

As of current, the only logical and possible way for BTC-E to release BTE tokens and operate its exchange is by obtaining its servers, domains and funds from the US law enforcement. According to the BTC-E team’s statement released on the BitcoinTalk forum, the company has recovered 55 percent of the funds and plans to sue the US FinCEN to recover the rest of its funds. Another statement released August 14 stated, “For each currency, a recalculation will be made taking into account the currently available assets. Currently 55 percent of funds are available, so 55 percent will remain in currency, and 45 percent will be converted to a specific currency token.”

BTC-E has already made false promises to its users, clients and investors. It claimed to recover its platform within five to ten days since its closure and yet, nearly a month after the incident, the exchange is far from being in operation.



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DASH Follows Bitcoin's Footsteps, Establishes Fresh All-time High

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 14:45


DASH, one of the most popular altcoins, has surged to a fresh all-time high, following bitcoin higher on August 16 as the price reached $249.00 on Kraken and $234.50 on the Bitfinex exchange. With the price at unprecedented levels, we aim to find a new ceiling for the altcoin.

The weekly chart below for the Bitfinex exchange shows that DASH-USD could find a new ceiling around $315. The Fibonacci retracement tool is sued for the swing low point above $80.17, the low of May 2017 and the swing high point at $225.55, the peak of the previous bullish run in late June. This week, we have seen the market move above the fractal resistance at $225.55, bringing in a fresh all-time high.

Given the market has completed an upward move from $80.17 to $225.55 as well as a retracement from $225.55 to $120, we should see the long-term uptrend continue, with an initial target at the 161.8 percent extension level at $315.39. Moreover, a weekly close above $225.55 will give further bullish confirmation.

The weekly outlook for DASH-USD on the Kraken exchange is displayed below. As noted in our weekly cryptocurrency market outlook on August 7, we looked for a buy position if the weekly close was higher than $195.97. On August 14, the weekly candlestick closed higher than this level, at $198.99, confirming the bullish signal outlined in the August 7 report and as we stated, DASH surged to new highs.

A weekly close above $219 will give further bullish confirmation for the altcoin over the long term. Using the Fibonacci analysis for the price action on the Kraken exchange, we see that resistances are given at $283.27 and $387.27.

Looking at the daily timeframe for the Kraken exchange, we see that a Bullish Saucer pattern is setting up for DASH (the same pattern is also displayed for Bitfinex). The chart below illustrates the bullish signal from the Awesome Oscillator. Given that August 16’s high remains at $249.00, the Bullish Saucer will be confirmed on August 17 and we look to place a limit buy order at $249.01. Once the market triggers this order and moves above $249.00, we should see bullish momentum intensify, as bulls look to target the Fibonacci extension level at $283.27.  

In summary, we look for the Bullish Saucer to be triggered on August 17, with a move above August 16’s high required for confirmation; once the Bullish Saucer signal is triggered, it is likely to spark a fresh bullish run for DASH-USD, with targets near $300 and $380 valid over the long run.



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Blockstream Satellite to Broadcast Bitcoin Across the Globe

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 13:43


Blockchain technology company Blockstream has unveiled a satellite system that will bring Bitcoin connectivity to almost everyone on the planet.

The new service, Blockstream Satellite, streams blocks down to much of the planet’s surface for free, in order to boost the connectivity, decentralization, redundancy, affordability, security, privacy, and ultimately adoption of Bitcoin.

Announcing Blockstream Satellite: now sending real-time blockchain data from space. Join the #Bitcoin network. https://t.co/9FtxVfx2dW pic.twitter.com/tiPahLsraP

— Blockstream (@Blockstream) 15 August 2017

Blockstream CEO Dr Adam Back told IBTimes:

“There are lots of places with internet problems, and sometimes whole countries get cut off due to wars or political instability and at those times the only kinds of connectivity that leak out of these countries are satellite communications and sat-phone and things like that.

“And there is also an interesting coincidence between countries with infrastructure challenges and unstable currencies – so there is also a demand for access to global internet money.”

Blockstream Satellite allows anyone to operate and maintain Bitcoin nodes across two thirds of the Earth’s landmass, with additional coverage areas soon to come online to reach almost every person on the planet by the end of the year.

The service currently runs on three geosynchronous satellites positioned 22,000 miles above the Earth covering four continents – Africa, Europe, South America, and North America. Ground stations called teleports uplink the public Bitcoin blockchain data to the satellites in the network, which then broadcast the data across the globe.

Additional satellites will be added to the Blockstream Satellite network enabling worldwide coverage and reaching nearly every person on the planet by the end of 2017.

Blockstream Satellite Coverage

Setup costs are low, less than $100, which can be reduced further by using a recycled satellite dish – a regular TV satellite dish will do. There is no ongoing bandwidth cost once you’ve got it up and running. Blockstream Satellite brings the costs down by using GNU Radio, an open source software development toolkit which eliminates the need for specialised hardware. Performance is enhanced with Fast Internet Bitcoin Relay Engine (FIBRE).

Chris Cook, head of satellite at Blockstream explained that rather than launching new satellites which is expensive and time consuming, the company is leasing time on existing commercial satellites.

“We had a look at the feasibility of launching satellites but were thinking, why launch our own satellite when there are plenty of interesting communication satellites up there that have capacity,” Cook said.

He pointed out that typically satellite equipment costs many thousands of dollars, but that using GNU Radio is major cost saving innovation. This involves a USB connection to the computer, and then it’s a programmable radio, like analogue to digital radio processing equipment, which can be used to process all kinds of different signals.

“One of the other cost-saving advantages is that existing TV dishes can be re-used and the system of designs use very small dishes, particularly the ones that are 46 cm or 18 inches in diameter – so they are very common and very unobtrusive,” he added.

Dr Back also says, a user or a local business can run a full node, receive all the data and then when they go to send a transaction, they can pay the bandwidth cost for that. A Bitcoin transaction is pretty small, like 250 bytes.”

Bidirectional satellite equipment which can be purchased quite cheaply on eBay could be added. Other communication channels people could use include local Wi-Fi, mesh networks, SMS gateways, dial up, or other kinds of low bandwidth, high distance radio equipment.

For example, a small business on the side of the road with a little petrol generator and a satellite dish on the roof, using a Rasberry Pi to receive the blockchain data and with a Wi-Fi hotspot, can manage to transact globally on the Bitcoin network.

Extra redundancy

As well as bringing more nodes and more decentralisation to the global Bitcoin network, Blockstream Satellite provides extra redundancy and an additional layer of reliability for blockchain data in the event of a network partition.

Back said from the perspective of miners and Bitcoin businesses generally, “if you’re doing high value Bitcoin things or doing mining, you really want to make sure that you’re on the Bitcoin network proper. Occasionally there will be internet disruptions where a transatlantic cable is cut or something like that and for a period of even hours you can have network splits. The satellite is a truly redundant link that protects against those kinds of issues for users and businesses.”

Using a sail-over connection is also interesting in regard to places where Bitcoin’s legal status is unclear, or a government wants to impose capital controls, filter the internet and so on. Back pointed out that the system leaves practically no footprint.

“If a government were looking at the internet connection or if it were going through a government-operated firewall or something, there would be no evidence of participating Bitcoin just coming down from the satellite. And the actual transactions will be very small so they leave a much smaller footprint and be much easier to lose in noise. So it’s certainly much more possible to use Bitcoin privately, anonymously, and robustly.”

The business of downloading full Bitcoin node software has also been made less onerous in recent times. One of the recent releases introduced pruned modes and there’s a no-relay option as well.

“If you turn on all the bandwidth saving options and the disk storage options, your footprint is much smaller because it doesn’t have to store the historic data, only the current data which will fit in a gigabyte of local storage. So you basically need something like an SD card or something like that, even on a Rasberry Pi,” said Adam Back.

Looking ahead, Blockstream intends to add more features and programmability, so that smart phone wallet authors and Bitcoin application developers can also broadcast data by the satellite.

Back added:

“If it was a particular application that needs to send a message to a recipient that can be broadcast by the satellite too for a small Bitcoin fee.”



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Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute Released

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 08:46


AMD has released a new beta video driver “for Blockchain Compute” or with other words a driver intended for mining and not for gaming use. The Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition Beta for Blockchain Compute Driver Version 17.30.1029 (Windows Driver Store Version 22.19.659.0) is available for Windows 7 and Windows 10 in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The driver supports AMD Radeon HD 7×00 GPUs all the way up to the latest Radeon RX Vega Series Graphics. There are no official details available on what are the optimizations and if you should expect any kind of performance improvement. In fact this is more like a driver fixing the DAG epoch issues for Ethereum mining and id does not seem to be bringing any specific hashrate improvement other than restoring performance for Ethereum miners on Polaris GPUs. There was an unofficial fix a couple of days ago, but now you can use this official beta driver with the same results as the previous unofficial solution.

For more details about the beta driver for Blockchain Compute fixing the DAG epoch issue…



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Weekly Cryptocurrency Market Outlook August 15

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 05:24


BTCManager’s Weekly Cryptocurrency Outlook highlights the price action and technical indicators on a long-term basis to identify the best opportunities in the largest cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, ether, and others.

BTC-USD (Bitstamp)

Bitcoin triggered the Bullish Saucer signal on August 8, breaking above $3339.66, and subsequently went on to establish a new high at $4400 on August 15.

Last week saw bulls dominate, but bears managed to push back, down from the high near $4200 and bringing the close to $4053.87, shown by the chart below.

The market attained our target at $4270.80, the first Fibonacci extension level. We look for a weekly close above $4270.80 to confirm a continuation of the long-term uptrend. On the other hand, support lies at $2980, the previous all-time high, and should provide strong support in the event of a prolonged pullback. Moreover, the conversion line (blue) also offers support at $3115, so we may see a test of this support before any further upside.

The daily timeframe is displayed below, with important supports standing at $3342.99 and $3178.72. The conversion line has held as support for August 15, at $3789.36. The market came within $15 of this critical support, posting a fresh low at $3800, but since then, buyers have managed to bring BTC-USD back above the $4000 handle.

Momentum is still indicated to be bullish by the Awesome Oscillator and the Ichimoku indicator. The conversion line may flatten out in the days ahead and give us an idea of where to place limit buy orders to get in on the uptrend. However, a daily close below the conversion line will point to a higher likelihood of an imminent test of the supports at $3342.99 and $3178.72.

On the 4-hour timeframe, the most recent fractal resistance lies at $4400, so we look to buy once this resistance is broken. On the other hand, a fractal support will form at $3800, suggesting short-term momentum will be skewed to the upside. Based on these fractals, we look to buy on a break above $4400, and sell on a dive below $3800, with a target of around $3350-$3200. A break above $4400 will see the market attempt our next target at $4730.74.

ETH-USD (Kraken)

The weekly price action for ETH-USD is interesting, as it seems to present a bullish setup for next week, but the Ichimoku simultaneously suggests a weakening outlook.

Firstly, the positive side for ether bulls. Notice the Awesome Oscillator, which was red in color and falling in value for five consecutive weeks but this week it has turned green and begun to rise. This is known as a Bullish Saucer and sets up a buy signal for next week; that is, a limit buy at the high of the current week’s candlestick.

Once triggered, we should see ETH-USD invalidate the fractal resistance at $320 and drift toward the all-time high.

On the other hand, a failure of the bullish saucer signal may see ETH-USD dive lower toward $250 and $208, supports highlighted by the conversion and base lines. Notice that the conversion line is moving lower and looks to cross the base line, which would give a weak bearish signal. A fractal resistance is also potentially going to form at $320, so if ether does not manage to regain this level in the next fortnight, a longer-term downtrend will be confirmed. More clarity will be given at the end of the week, once the current weekly candlestick has formed.

BCC-BTC (Bittrex)

Bitcoin Cash might be getting ready to make some large gains against bitcoin.

The daily chart below shows that the conversion line (blue) has moved higher on August 15, suggesting a short-term equilibrium around 0.0934. However, the market remains below an important fractal support at 0.0785. BCC-BTC must regain this level for a bullish outlook.

Once BCC-BTC regains the fractal support, we should look to target 0.0934, with a daily close above the conversion line providing a stronger bullish signal. Given that the conversion line is moving higher, and assuming it continues, we get an indication that the market will also head higher. Also, notice that the lagging line (purple) seems to have bottomed out and is also following the conversion line.

The 4-hour price action shown below indicates that we may see a bullish breakout for bitcoin cash on August 17. The chart shows that the red Ichimoku cloud is very thin for the entirety of August 17’s trading session; a thin cloud suggests very weak resistance, and if BCC-BTC is going to make some strong gains, it is very likely to begin on August 17. On the other hand, since the cloud is red and looks to be getting ready to move lower, we look to sell on a break of the most recent fractal support at 0.0675.

LTC-USD (Bitfinex)

There are two main things to note from the weekly chart of LTC-USD. Firstly, this week’s price action looks to drop below the conversion line, potentially giving a weak bearish signal by August 21. Secondly, the market managed to break to a fresh high above $50, but this high may turn into a fractal resistance.

Notice that the preceding candlesticks have lower lows and lower highs. Therefore, if LTC-USD remains below $50.247 until August 28, we expect further downside, with the base line (red) providing an important support level at $29.60.

On the other hand, a weekly close above the conversion line, that is above $44.04, will keep the long-term uptrend intact. Furthermore, if we see LTC-USD break above $50.247 any time in the next two weekly trading sessions, this will give bullish confirmation. Finally, litecoin failed to close above the resistance at $48.20 last week and a weekly close above this level will also give a strong bullish signal and a reason to enter into a long position.

NEO-BTC (Bittrex)

NEO displayed its largest ever gain in a single week against bitcoin, rising over 100 percent on large volumes, as Forbes‘ August 10 article put a spotlight on the project.

The weekly chart below identifies two possible areas of support where we look to buy NEO-BTC. Since last week’s action was dominated by bulls and the candlestick is almost a bullish Marubozu, we can use the open and 50 percent levels to find an entry to buy. The first support lies at 0.00844130 whereas further support will be found at 0.00493265. Also, notice that bullish momentum should strengthen, as the conversion line is moving higher above the base line and the Awesome Oscillator continues to move higher too.

The daily price action for NEO-BTC is shown below with a Dragonfly Doji looking to form for August 15. This doji candlestick pattern suggests that bulls will continue to dominate, as the low of August 15’s price action was very close to the conversion line, which provides support at 0.0092. If bears manage to take hold, we should see increased buying interest around the supports at 0.0089 and 0.0067. Alternatively, we look to buy once the market breaks the most recent fractal at 0.01199999 or with a daily close above 0.01190.

XMR-USD (Bitfinex)

Monero showed some indecision last week, with a slightly bullish slant, posting a a two month high at $53.43.

However, bears tempered bulls back to $48 by the end of the week. However, like ether, we are seeing a potential opportunity for a long position for the week beginning August 21. Notice that the Awesome Oscillator is forming a bullish saucer, which will be confirmed on August 21.

Moreover, the conversion line has jumped higher compared to last week, suggesting the general market direction will be upward. We look to place limit buy orders near the conversion line at $40.71. A break above the recent high at $53.43 will also necessitate a bullish outlook; by invalidating the fractal resistance that is in progress, we should see an attempt to find a new ceiling by the market, with a further resistance at $58.14.

Finally, we can also examine this week’s candlestick close and compare it to $47.85 for an indication of the long-term momentum of XMR-USD. For instance, a closer higher than $47.85 means that is will be likely XMR-USD continues the upward trend. However, a weekly close below $47.85 could mean that the altcoin will display some weakness.

OMG-BTC (Bittrex)

OmiseGo is a relatively new Ethereum-based token gaining a lot of attention from traders; when judging by the 24 hour volume, it is within the top ten cryptocurrencies.

The daily chart below illustrates a bullish outlook for OMG-BTC, as it looks as if another test of the Fibonacci extension level at 0.00203578 is due. Notice the flat conversion line has held as support. We could place buy limit orders around the conversion line and base line and target the Fibonacci levels at 0.00203578 and 0.00308076.

ARK-BTC (Bittrex)

The altcoin ARK has displayed high volume over the past 24 hours, as well as compared to any other week, shown by the chart below.

At the time of writing, the trading volume for ARK is similar to that of Ethereum Classic and DASH. The weekly price action shows an interesting market structure, with just three fractals formed so far in ARK-BTC’s history.

Two are down fractals (supports) and one is an up fractal (resistance). Notice that the market has tested the fractal resistance at 0.00044206 so far; a sustained break or weekly close above this level will open up the first resistance at 0.00196608. Notice that this is the 50 percent level of the large bearish Marubozu for the week that Bittrex listed the crypto-pair. Given the relatively short history and that the lagging line has broken all of its resistances, 0.00044206 is the nearest resistance given the limited information that we have from the market price and its behaviour.

We also see that the conversion line has started to form an uptrend, moving higher this week. Since the market has remained below the conversion line since mid-June, it could be the week where we get the first close above this important support. However, the market may close a lot higher, given no prior resistances and the increase in the volume, so we suggest buying on a break of the fractal at 0.00044206 or once we get the weekly close, providing it is not too far away from the conversion line.

Market Snapshot

The top ten cryptoassets are shown below by market capitalization and 24-hour volume.

Market Capitalization

24-hour Volume

Source: CoinMarketCap.com



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Bitfinex Closes its Exchange to US Consumers, Impractical Regulations

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 16:21


On August 11, digital assets exchange ShapeShift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees revealed that Bitfinex, the third largest cryptocurrency exchange behind Bittrex and South Korea’s Bithumb, has terminated its services in the US due to inefficient and impractical regulations.

“Bitfinex is closing service to US customers. Yet another innovative exchange abandoning US regulatory nightmare,” said Voorhees, who had previously terminated ShapeShift’s service to its users and clients in New York, after the BitLicense was approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services which required companies like ShapeShift to maintain strict Know Your Customer (KYC) systems that placed user data vulnerable to security breaches and hacking attacks.

In an official company announcement, the Bitfinex team stated:

“Unfortunately, we have an obligation to our whole customer base and to our shareholders to make rational resource allocation decisions. Furthermore, over the next 90 days, we will be discontinuing services to our existing U.S. individual customers. We will be communicating further with affected users on timing and specifics.”

Reasons Behind the Termination of Bitfinex’ Services in the US

Effective upon the release of the company’s announcement on August 11, Bitfinex stopped receiving verification requests from US-based consumers and has begun to clear its backlog of verification requests.

The Bitfinex team emphasized that it has considered pulling its company away from the US retail marketplace for a relatively long period of time, and in light of the recent difficulties surrounding the company’s financial service providers and the abrupt closure of the bank accounts of Bitfinex, the firm came to a decision to end its services in the US.

“We have for some time considered pulling away from the retail marketplace in the U.S., and now with a current backlog of verification requests and ongoing difficulties in providing USD deposit and withdrawals for U.S. individuals, we feel that the time has come to begin disengaging from U.S. retail customers,” the announcement from Bitfinex read.

One of the driving factors that led to the closure of the services of Bitfinex in the US is the disparity between the amount of resources the company has allocated to serve US customers from actual profits generated through verified US individual accounts. In order to operate in the US, exchanges like Bitfinex, Coinbase, GDAX, Gemini, Kraken, and Bitstamp are required to comply with strict KYC and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies. Furthermore, the SEC’s recent ruling concerning Initial Coin Offerings stated that any exchange or project offering tokens to US customers falls under the regulator’s jurisdiction.

In a financial standpoint, it is a logical decision from Bitfinex to leave a small market for the company that is the US and cut massive costs and expenses in return. More importantly, for the sake of user privacy and financial freedom, it is of utmost importance for Bitfinex to not operate in markets that require excessive KYC and AML requirements that do not necessarily benefit neither the company and its users.

“Accounts while a dramatically outsized portion of our resources goes into servicing the needs of U.S. individuals, including support, legal and regulatory. We anticipate the regulatory landscape to become even more challenging in the future. Bitfinex is not based in the United States. Exchanges based in the U.S. are better positioned to properly service retail U.S. customers,” added Bitfinex.



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Blockstream Satellite Ignites Bitcoin Access

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 15:19


On August 15, Blockstream, a leading provider of blockchain technologies, launched Blockstream Satellite, an innovative service that provides free access to the Bitcoin network. It will target an estimated four billion people currently not connected to the internet, due to lack of availability or affordability.

Blockstream Satellite broadcasts real-time Bitcoin blockchain data from satellites in space, delivering availability across two thirds of the Earth’s landmass, with plans for near global coverage by year end.

In an exclusive interview with BTCManager, Blockstream Co-founder Adam Back offers his thoughts below on the genesis of Blockstream Satellite, its purpose and long-term vision.

What is Blockstream Satellite and What was the Impetus Behind its Launch?

Blockstream Satellite is a new service that broadcasts real-time Bitcoin blockchain data from satellites in space to almost everyone on the planet.

Today there are an estimated four billion people around the world who aren’t connected to the internet, due to lack of availability or affordability in their area. As members of the growing Bitcoin community, and as believers in the technology to be able to create a positive, social impact, we wanted to make bitcoin available to even more people than ever before.

How Will People be able to Access it?

With Blockstream Satellite, just one person in a community needs to have access to the blockchain data through Blockstream Satellite, allowing for the distribution of that data to other people locally. Although Blockstream Satellite users today will still need some internet access (cellular, satellite internet, etc.) for bitcoin transactions themselves (the median bitcoin transaction size is only about 250 bytes). Blockstream Satellite handles broadcasting on the Bitcoin blockchain which is projected to grow by 8 gigabytes per month.

How Secure is it?

At Blockstream, we take a security-first approach to technology. More people participating strengthens the overall robustness of the network. Blockstream Satellite also provides an additional layer of reliability for blockchain data in the event of a network interruption.

“Users can also gain improved privacy by receiving the Bitcoin blockchain over satellite and avoiding the highly identifiable traffic patterns associated with retrieving it over the network.”

What sort of Infrastructure Supports it?  

The Blockstream Satellite network currently consists of three geosynchronous satellites at various positions over Earth that cover four continents; Africa, Europe, South America, and North America. Ground stations, called teleports, uplink the public Bitcoin blockchain data to the satellites in the network, which then broadcast the data to large areas across the globe. Additional teleports are being built out in phases to enable worldwide coverage.

“By the end of 2017, additional satellites will be added to the Blockstream Satellite network enabling worldwide coverage and reaching nearly every person on the planet.”

And the Software?

Blockstream Satellite makes extensive use of open source software. GNU Radio, an open-source software development toolkit, enables the cross-platform implementation of software-defined radios (SDR). The use of SDRs eliminates the need for specialized hardware, which greatly reduces cost and makes the technology widely available. To further ensure performance and reliability, Blockstream Satellite utilizes the Fast Internet Bitcoin Relay Engine (FIBRE), an open-source protocol based on several years of experience operating and studying the Bitcoin Relay Network. Together, these open-source technologies power the Blockstream Satellite network enabling Blockstream to provide this free service to users reliably and cost effectively.

What sort of Real Impact Do You Believe it will have on Bitcoin Adoption?

We believe Blockstream Satellite will accelerate Bitcoin adoption. Blockstream Satellite creates a way to bring Bitcoin to more people, especially in places where there are internet limitations. One of challenges of blockchains is that they are broadcast; every block on the blockchain has to go to every node everywhere in the world. It’s hard to do broadcast data on the internet; you have to make copies over and over again, which is inefficient and can be quite expensive or impossible in some areas.

Finally, What is Your Long-term Vision for Blockstream Satellite?

Our plans for Blockstream Satellite include bringing on more satellites and teleports to enable worldwide coverage and to reach nearly every person on the planet by the end of 2017. As more people start using Blockstream Satellite in the coming months, we look forward to seeing increased user adoption and to hearing from businesses what advanced features and capabilities they would like to see considered in the commercial roadmap.



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AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 Benchmarked With NiceHash Miner Legacy

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 15:08


Yesterday we have posted some first impressions and initial results from AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 with Ethash and Equihash and now it is time to get some more results. We ran a quick benchmark using the latest NiceHash Miner Legacy version 1.8.1.1 Pre-release 3. While the VEGA 64 may not perform outstanding for more memory intensive algorithms like the ones used by Ethereum (ETH) and Zcash (ZEC) it does perform very well in more GPU intensive algorithms. As expected dual-mining does work well and provides a nice bit of extra profit when compared to single Ethereum or Zcash only mining. As you can see however some of the miners included in the NiceHash Miner Legacy pack are having trouble working on the AMD Radeon RX VEGA 64 for the moment as not all of them apparently support properly the new GPU.



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Bitcoin Ecosystem Strengthens Amid Record Highs Above $4000: BTCManager’s Week in Review August 14

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 02:54


The price of bitcoin hit yet another all-time high this week when the market managed to reach $4,190 on August 13 as SegWit has been locked in and will soon come into effect. However, that was not the only driver of the cryptocurrency’s price. The Bitcoin ecosystem is showing clear signs of maturing, with the cryptoasset not only into a viable alternative asset class, but also underpinning a new industry.

Bitcoin’s trading volumes have jumped so far in August and the number of bitcoin transactions have doubled from August 1 to August 14, returning to the pre-fork level around 260,000 per day. While some of this volume can be attributed to bitcoin holders selling their “free” bitcoin cash (BCH) tokens, there is also new money flowing into bitcoin now that the split that threatened bitcoin’s existence has passed with little to no damage to the digital currency or its network.

Furthermore, the Bitcoin ecosystem is expanding as seen by Coinbase’s recent $100 million cash injection in the form of a Series D funding that now values Coinbase at around $1.6 billion. This makes Coinbase the first bitcoin startup unicorn and is a big step towards fully legitimizing bitcoin and cryptocurrency as an asset class. Also, Fidelity expanded on their offering to let customers view their holdings on Coinbase, after initially rolling out the tracking service for bitcoin in May. GBTC is trading at a substantial premium to bitcoin, approval for an ETF looks to be on the horizon and big players in the financial space are starting to take bitcoin seriously.

The Bittrex exchange has been one of the main benefactors as well as driving forces behind the boost in altcoin trading as it has now become the second largest exchange in terms of traded volume for digital tokens, which is also indicative of the progress of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Bittrex is most known for being one of the first large exchanges to list new altcoins (especially ICO tokens) and capitalized on the Bitcoin blockchain fork by capturing a big share of bitcoin cash’s (BCH) trading volumes just after the split, as well as adequately handling the split. Improved confidence, as well as moves away from Poloniex by many traders due to several ‘red flags,’ has propelled Bittrex to the forefront as a leading cryptocurrency exchange. Further, the popular trading website TradingView.com recently added trading pairs for the exchange, further increasing the visibility of bitcoin (and cryptoassets) to established traders and investors.

While bitcoin is soaring, altcoins are not lagging behind by much. The price of ethereum shot back up through the $300 mark amidst geopolitical turmoil in Korea and the cryptocurrency of China-based smart contract platform NEO (formerly known as Antshares) has shot into the top ten cryptocurrencies by market share, as well as into the top five of CoinGecko’s weighted rankings, rallying from $15 to $52.

This week’s review is compiled from contributions by Alex Lielacher, Nigel Dollentas, Jamie Holmes, Joseph Young, and Michael Scott.

SegWit Lock-In: What Does it Mean for Bitcoin?

On August 9, the highly-anticipated Segregated Witness (SegWit) protocol upgrade to the Bitcoin blockchain was officially locked in on block 479,707. While there is still a two-week waiting period before SegWit will be fully activated, the lock-in means that all bitcoin mining operations have to implement this update now or else they will have to give up their bitcoin mining income going forward. The two-week waiting period gives Bitcoin participants the time to upgrade their systems to the new software and will be finished around August 22.

The move of the Bitcoin community to implement SegWit, which also led to the hard fork that created the new altcoin bitcoin cash was welcome by the majority of the community as well as investors who witnessed the price of bitcoin rally to new all-time highs.

Korean Buyers Take Ethereum Beyond $300 Amidst Geopolitical Tremors

Since August 9, tensions between North Korea and the US have intensified, with South Korean traders piling money into the cryptocurrency of the second largest blockchain network, Ethereum. ETH-USD breached the $300 handle and now finds support at this psychological level; we provide an outlook for the cryptocurrency going forward.

While markets across the world have shown increased volatility in response to the war of words, cryptocurrencies have remained fairly stable, incubated from any threat of a war on the Korean peninsula. The drama started on August 9, when a US report was released claiming that the North Koreans had developed a minature nuclear weapon.

Australian Senators Call for a Bitcoin-like Currency

Two Australian Senators from different political parties teamed up on August 8 to speak at the country’s parliament in Canberra about the promise of blockchain technology, and urged the Reserve Bank of Australia to consider a Bitcoin-esque currency.

Liberal senator Jane Hume and Sam Dastyari, a Senator from the Labor party, have pushed forward blockchain adoption ‘Down Under’ with the formation of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain group. The motivation for the group is best explained by Dastyari, who stated that when he first raised the topic of bitcoin in the Senate, one of his colleagues came to him and said: ‘I don’t get what the issue is, don’t they just melt all the coin bits they don’t use?’ The Australian Parliamentary Friends on Blockchain group will provide a much-needed forum for all things related to digital currency.

WikiLeaks Accepts Zcash: Why It Is Raising Eyebrows

In a move viewed as highly questionable within some cryptocurrency and libertarian circles, non-profit media group WikiLeaks, founded in 2006 by Australian computer programmer Julian Assange announced that it is now accepting donations via the privacy-centric cryptocurrency zcash.

WikiLeaks recently revealed on Twitter its intent to utilize this new payment option. Zcash becomes the third cryptocurrency the organization is accepting for donations, along with bitcoin and litecoin. Exactly one week later on August 13, the organization announced it would be accepting Monero, another privacy-focused cryptocurrency.

WikiLeaks has been accepting cryptocurrencies for donations since 2011. This move was in direct reaction to efforts on the part of banking institutions to thwart the nonprofit’s revenue streams. All of this was part of a larger attempt to squelch WikiLeaks repute as a public disseminator of classified information and secrets. As a result, WikiLeaks, in an effort to do a end-around government controls, now utilizes a funding model that is primarily cryptocurrency based.

8-Year-Old Computer Prodigy Programming ‘WoorannaCoin’ to Grasp the Blockchain

A group of elementary students, including eight-year-old computer prodigy Seth Yee, at the Wooranna Park Primary School in Australia work on programming ‘WoorannaCoin’ under the guidance of former network engineer Kieran Nolan, which teaches them methods of developing software behind Bitcoin, including the blockchain.

The family of Yee permanently relocated from Singapore to the Dandenong North suburb in Melbourne, Australia, to provide a better ecosystem for Seth, who has proven his talents in coding and software development over the past few months.

The emergence of young minds and developers who are exposed to the blockchain at an early age, including Seth, will allow the Bitcoin ecosystem and blockchain-based projects to evolve exponentially.

Microsoft’s Coco To Speed Up Blockchains for Enterprise

Microsoft announced on August 10 a new technology looking to speed up blockchain-based systems and make them more private at the same time on the enterprise level.

Blockchains have always been very good at maintaining data integrity due to every participant in a network having their own copy of the ledger to verify all transactions, but this made it difficult for large businesses with strict privacy requirements to adopt the technology.

The system is called Coco Framework, which stands for Confidential Consortium. Coco will be made ready and open source by 2018 Microsoft is claiming. Coco would make it to where companies could control who was able to see what was on the network, without slowing it down. Microsoft is planning to offer Coco for free, in hopes that customers of the framework will use their cloud services as well.



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Creating Space for Investors on the IoT

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 01:52


The IoT (internet of things) is creating a whole new ‘connected’ world.

Every day, new devices are introduced to the marketplace that promise to connect our lives together. Dishwashers, cars, homes, and 3D printers are connected to the internet and provide a level of personal control and access unheard of even three years ago. This complex web of devices has also created a new opportunity for revenue generation, as connected machines can be used for profit, and investors are flocking.

Problems abound, however. The cost barrier for entry is very high.

High-quality machines that can generate substantial revenue often run into the multi-thousands of dollars, and more. Investors are required to create huge front end financing in order to even begin generating income of any kind. Further, a single machine does not necessarily generate revenue unless it is connected to a system for advertising and use. Hence, for investors to capitalize on the IoT explosion, they must not only have enough capital for machine purchases, but must also create points of sale for the machines.

MyBit and the Solution of Tomorrow

One company, however, has envisioned a way to create a new and improved investment vehicle for small scale investors to capitalize on the IoT. MyBit.io has created a platform where small scale investors are able to enjoy the benefits of large scale investment. In very simple terms, individuals are able to pool financial resources to purchase revenue-generating machines. Rather than huge upfront capital investments, a pool of investors can work together to purchase machines that create profit, and then can receive revenue return from those machines in near-real time. The connectedness of these IoT machines makes use and revenue distribution nearly instantaneous.

The system is built on blockchain technology, the new darling of the tech world. The technology creates a distributed ledger system where the information and investment of each party is transparent, and the revenue generated is immediately credited to the investor. Legacy investment companies have centralized business models. These allow profits to be gobbled up by large management teams and infrastructures. MyBit replaces these top-heavy infrastructure models with blockchain, distributing both the investment and the return directly into the hands of users.

A Simple Test Case

Consider, for example, the case of a 3D printer in an orthodontic office. The printer is being rented by the orthodontist in order to create models of patient’s teeth. This creates a shorter life cycle for braces and increases the business revenue. The printer, however, is worth perhaps $100,000, and the orthodontist is paying a hefty rental cost, along with purchasing the cost of the consumables. The machine itself is connected to the internet and provides real time feedback on usage and condition.

Rather than a single large scale investor, the printer is owned by, perhaps, one hundred individual investors who have each invested $1000. Every month when rent is paid and consumable products are ordered, the investors each receive (instantaneously) their portion of the rental payment. The orthodontist is pleased because revenue is increasing, and the investors and pleased with the rapid return on investment.

Plus the sales and marketing are carried out by a local company who does not have to invest the massive up front cost for the printer itself and can focus instead on lead generation.

MyBit empowers the business to move forward by partnering with distributed investors while producing a seamless revenue stream for small scale investors. 

A Unique ICO

MyBit is currently in the midst of an ICO (initial coin offering). The unique benefit of the MyBit ICO, however, is that investor returns are not tied only to the value of the coin, but to the investment the coin has purchased. This means that investors are able to receive almost immediate return on investments, while still holding value in the coin.

The ICO will conclude on August 17, after which the price point of the coins will likely increase exponentially. The company has already signed agreements in both Germany and Dubai, and investment platforms are opening up around the world. The IoT will continue to be a point of revenue generation, as the machine economy grows. MyBit promises to move investors into this space at whatever level they feel comfortable, while maintaining the inherent value of the investment and promoting business development.



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Ukraine Government to Allow Foreign Investors to Purchase Real Estate Online with Propy

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 00:49


Propy, the global property store and decentralized title registry, is partnering with the government of Ukraine to allow online real estate purchases by foreign investors for the first time.

From the capital Kiev to the Black Sea beach cities, Propy will enable Ukrainian properties to be sold entirely online. As of January 1, new legislation is expected to allow foreign investors to purchase land in Ukraine, opening up the nation’s rich agricultural resources to international buyers. Pilot programs will be led by Propy in coordination with Ukraine’s Agency for E-Governance throughout the next year.

“Our ambition is for Ukraine to be one of the world’s foremost nations in establishing a comprehensive blockchain ecosystem, and the real estate sector forms an important part of our overall blockchain strategy,” commented Oleksandr Ryzhenko, head of the State Agency for eGovernance of Ukraine. “Adopting blockchain’s transformational technology will benefit all counterparties in real estate transactions through fostering greater transparency, efficiencies, security, and compliance.”

“Ukraine’s recent commitment to build a blockchain-based internal government database with Bitfury was a great first step. Ukraine’s government is strongly interested in building upon this progress by leveraging Propy’s technology to facilitate online real estate transactions to attract foreign property investors,” said Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy. “While this clearly benefits the Ukrainian real estate market, it also allows foreign investors to purchase enticing properties in a very low price range, all with the benefits and security that Propy provides.”

Ukraine’s housing prices experienced a massive decline in 2014 and 2015, and prices are down nearly 70 percent below their 2008 peak. However, Ukraine’s economy shows signs of recovery, with the GDP rising 2.3 percent last year. This has made real estate investments appealing to foreign buyers, and the Ukrainian government is seeking ways to facilitate transactions to boost economic outlooks in the nation.

To solve problems of real estate’s legacy registry systems and outdated property sales process, the Propy uses smart contracts to track and execute real estate transactions according to regional regulations. By using the Ethereum blockchain, Propy allows brokers, buyers, sellers, and title agents/notaries to sign off on transactions within their existing legal frameworks.

Propy’s PRO token will be required for interaction with the Propy Registry, specifically when users change ownership of a title or register a new title. ERC20 PRO token will allow for both simple integration into users’ wallets and ease of use in traditional exchanges. 100,000,000 PRO tokens will be available for purchase in PRO’s token sale beginning August 15, 2017. For more information, please visit: http://tokensale.propy.com/

ABOUT PROPY: Propy is the world’s first international real-estate marketplace, aimed at solving the problems of purchasing property across borders. Propy facilitates connections between international entities to enable the seamless purchase of international real estate online.

The Silicon Valley based company is advised by the founder of TechCrunch, Michael Arrington, Alain Pinel, Apple’s Daniel Kottke and Bessemer Venture Partners’ David Cowan.



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Quick Look at AMD’s Radeon RX VEGA 64 for Crypto Mining

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 16:43


AMD’s new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU is now officially out in the wild and we have some first impressions from it to share regarding crypto mining. There were various pieces of information and rumors regarding the mining performance of the new AMD VEGA, but since we got out hands on one we are going to share what are the actual out of the box results that we got from it. The new HBM2 memory used in the AMD VEGA GPUs is probably the most interesting part in the new product line, but unfortunately out of the box it does not do great in memory intensive algorithms. Of course we all know from AMD’s Polaris range that with some tweaks and modifications extra performance will most likely be available to miners, but that could take some time.

Probably the most important performance that people what to know about is the hashrate for mining Ethereum (ETH) and other crypto coins based on the Ethash algorithm. Unfortunately the out of the box performance from Radeon RX VEGA 64 using the latest Claymore Dual Eth miner that comes with official support for Vega is just around 31-32 MHS. We’ve seen claims of much higher performance being theoretically possible, but we are yet to confirm if it is and if these claims are actually real or just speculation. The not so great thing is that this hashrate is achieved with pretty high power consumption and the higher the temperature of the GPU goes, the lower the performance drops and it is really easy for the air cooler VEGA 64 to get hot.

Here is the situation with Zcash (ZEC) mining using the new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU from AMD, just about 475-480 H/s. The not so great performance in these two more memory intensive algorithms, even with HBM2 memory is not what is the most concerning thing however. What we are more concerned with AMD’s new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPUs is the fact that they are power hungry GPUs and quickly get hot, so cooling them properly for 24/7 mining might be a bit of a challenge, at least for the air cooled model. The amount of power used does not justify the level of performance we get for mining out of the box at this point…

You can say that the new Radeon RX VEGA 64 GPU out of the box at stock settings does manage to perform very similar in terms of performance to what a well overclocked Nvidia GTX 1070 can also deliver for ETH and ZEC mining. The AMD GPU however does it with significantly more power used when compared to what the Nvidia card requires to provide very similar performance for mining (double the power for the VEGA). As far as gaming goes, the Radeon RX VEGA 64 is apparently closer to GTX 1080 in terms of performance, but then again it still consumes more power than the Nvidia card.

What remains to be seen is what the initial availability is going to be and what the actual pricing of the new VEGA GPUs will be considering the fact that the demand from miners might not be that high, though you never know… with market prices of Polaris GPUs at the level they are available now the official recommended price of the VEGA 64 does seem unreasonably low, so expect higher initial prices for sure. On the other hand the Radeon RX VEGA 64 could also do better in more GPU intensive algorithms than it is doing for memory intensive ones. The option for dual mining with one memory-intensive and one GPU-intensive algorithm may also turn out to be pretty attractive alternative, even wiht the not so great performance in memory-intensive mining algorithms alone.



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Stratis' TumbleBit Wallet Is One Step Closer

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 16:23


On August 10, the Stratis Platform team announced the attainment of a major milestone in the development of their Breeze Wallet, which is one of the first implementations of TumbleBit, a protocol to improve Bitcoin’s anonymity.

Stratis Marches Forward with Breeze Wallet

The new and improved wallet has been in testing since May, and is due for an imminent release, utilizing the TumbleBit protocol to provide enhanced privacy for cryptocurrency transactions conducted with the Breeze wallet. The Breeze Tumbler is expected to be used in commercial scenarios, for example, where businesses want to protect customer or sensitive data for competitive reasons.

The Breeze wallet is an ambitious project from the Stratis team, which was launched March 2017 and in less than a year, the wallet will have its alpha release. Adam Ficsor, one of the contributors to the original TumbleBit research paper, stated in March 2017:

“Everyone who is not using Bitcoin Core has already had all their addresses linked together by third parties. This is not a theoretical “assume the worst case” strategy, this is reality. The third parties are either the central servers your wallet relies on or in case of SPV wallets all Blockchain surveillance companies.”

Until a TumbleBit wallet such as Breeze is ready, it is best to hold your bitcoin in a full node for maximum privacy. With web wallets and SPV wallets, your identity is more at risk of being uncovered by third parties. The problem with traditional tumblers is that they frequently interact with the Bitcoin blockchain, which can be used to deanonymize users. TumbleBit solves two problems; how can we hide who sends from the tumbler? And how can we prevent the tumbler from stealing?

Enter TumbleBit…

To solve these problems, TumbleBit is based on David Chaum’s blind signatures. Let’s look at how one person, Alice, donates 1 bitcoin to another, Bob, through TumbleBit by formalizing the actions of the actors as follows:

Tumbler: I want to play a game, I created a bunch of puzzles. I pay 1 btc for every solution and I also solve any puzzle for 1 btc. So the Tumbler solves any puzzle, not just ones it created.

Alice: I use this game to anonymously pay Greg. I choose a puzzle and blind it. Then I make the Tumbler solve this blinded puzzle for 1 bitcoin. Once the Tumbler solves the puzzle, I unblind the blinded solution. Finally, I give the solution and original puzzle to Greg.

Bob: I can redeem this solution for 1 bitcoin from the Tumbler, according to Roger.

Alice blinds a puzzle, makes the Tumbler solve the blinded puzzle for 1 bitcoin, and unblinds the blinded solution. Alice then gives the original puzzle and the solution to Bob, and he redeems 1 bitcoin from the Tumbler with them. The key observation is as follows; when Bob and, say hundreds of other payees, come to redeem a bitcoin with their own solutions, the Tumbler cannot link together the blinded puzzles and blinded solutions, which it previously solved for Alice and the hundreds of other payers, with the real ones. This is the main idea behind TumbleBit’s anonymization technique.

Exploring TumbleBit Further

While we have explained how TumbleBit anonymizes payments, how does the Tumbler forward your bitcoin without the ability to exit scam on you? Digging deeper, there are similarities between TumbleBit and the Lightning Network. Stratis’ BreezeWallet is a bitcoin wallet that does not ruin full node-level privacy but not as cumbersome as a full node. Technically, it is also an unidirectional payment hub, similar to how the Lightning Network operates, where opening payment channels allows trustlessness. You can read more about the basics of payment channels here.

We can explain the three phases of TumbleBit for a better understanding; in the Payment Phase, off-blockchain payments take place. Secondly, the Escrow Phase sets up payment channels and finally, the Cash Out phase closes them down, where only these two phases require on-blockchain transactions.

Now suppose Alice wants to send bitcoin to Bob. Bob asks for a payment channel to be setup, where the Tumbler (T) escrows 1 bitcoin for a 2-of-2 multisignature transaction between the Tumbler and Bob, that is time locked for a certain time, say t. Then Alice escrows 1 bitcoin, time-locked for a specified time prior to t.

The next step for Bob is that he receives a cryptographic puzzle, as mentioned before, which occurs off-chain with the Tumbler. The output of the puzzle-promise protocol is a promise that T will pay Bob 1 bitcoin in exchange for the solution to the puzzle, z. The puzzle is just an RSA encryption of a given value. Solving the puzzle is equivalent to decrypting z and solving for the value. The promise part is a symmetric encryption key, which allows Bob to claim 1 bitcoin from T with the solution to the puzzle. It also ensures the Tumbler provides a proof that the puzzle solution is indeed the key that decrypts the ‘promise’ ciphertext.

Thirdly, once Alice indicates readiness to pay Bob, a random blinding factor is used to blind the puzzle, which ensures that not even the Tumbler can link the original puzzle to its blinded version. Bob sends the blinded version to Alice and he solves with T. This puzzle-solver protocol is a fair exchange ensuring Alice will send 1 bitcoin to T if and only if the Tumbler gives a solution to the puzzle. Then Alice sends the solution to the blinded puzzle back to Bob, who then unblinds the solution and accepts Alice’s payment if the solution is valid.

Then we get to the Cash Out phase, where Bob uses the puzzle solution to decrypt the ciphertext. With this, Bob can create a transaction that he signs and is signed by the Tumbler, which is then posted to the blockchain so Bob can receive 1 bitcoin from the Tumbler. The Tumbler could steal from Alice and not pay Bob, but we get around this as Alice signs claim 1 in the diagram below and Tumbler signs claim 2 at the same time with the use of hash locks, as mentioned previously, and hence explains why the 2-of-2 multisignature escrow between Bob and the Tumbler is longer than the time for Alice’s escrow. Alice signs claim 1, Tumbler signs claim 2 before time t specified earlier, then Bob recieves bitcoin. 

How TumbleBit Benefits Bitcoin

From Roger’s perspective, we can see how TumbleBit can help scalability. For example, the Payer will escrow some bitcoins in the beginning phase, which are used to make off-blockchain payments to the Tumbler for solving puzzles. Suppose we want to make numerous payments, not just one, and we escrow Q bitcoin. Now for each puzzle the Tumbler solves, we sign an off-chain transaction, and give the Tumbler a new puzzle.

The Tumbler updates the balance but does not sign the transaction yet. More and more puzzles can be requested to be completed, and if Roger refuses to sign the transaction for the puzzle solved previously, the Tumbler will not solve any more puzzles. Each transaction in this stage is signed by Roger, but not by the Tumbler, which is required for the 2-of-2 multisignature to release the escrow and complete the payments.

Suppose we have transactions up to j bitcoin, for j

TumbleBit is exciting not just because of the privacy-augmenting features, but also because it requires many bitcoins to be put into escrow, so once widely used, it will act as a direct pressure on the price of bitcoin, as many units of the cryptocurrency will be locked away into escrow.

However, as outlined in the TumbleBit research paper, there are some weaknesses of the protocol, which could be researched further once the Breeze wallet is available. Payees have better privacy than the payers, as the the Tumbler knows the time t at which the payer sends each transactions, whereas only the aggregate number of bitcoins cashed out by the payee is known by the Tumbler. There is also the theoretical problem of collusion between payees and the Tumbler to uncover the identity of the payer.

In summary, the Stratis project is just over one year old and it is showing signs of progress, with a soon to be released privacy-focused wallet that can hold both stratis (STRAT) and bitcoin (BTC). As one of the first implementations of TumbleBit, it will mark a significant development for the scalability and privacy of bitcoin and cryptocurrency payments for businesses. Actual implementation of TumbleBit will enable the Stratis team to polish the protocol, explore any weaknesses and improve upon it further, demonstrating one way in which the progress made by altcoins is beneficial for the future development of Bitcoin.



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New PCI-E 16X to 8 Port USB 3.0 Expansion Card for GPU Mining

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 07:49


It seems that there is a new option available for miners that want to run more GPUs on a single mining rig. We got a tip that there is a new riser card available on AliExpress claiming to be capable of splitting a single x16 PCI-E slot to 8x USB 3.0 type of connectors for use with the respective x1 PCI-E extenders. In theory this should allow miners to get up to 8 GPUs running from a single x16 PCI-E slot, so practically any motherboard should become miner friendly solution. However there is an important thing that needs to be considered, this expansion board seems to require motherboards that do have the Above 4G Decoding (TLOUD) option available in the BIOS. The expansion card is available for a price of around $100-$120 USD from China, so no that cheap actually… it relies on a PLX PCI-E Switch, so no wonder it does not come very cheap.

We have not yet tested this solution, but it seems interesting and may offer an alternative solution for people to build mining rigs with more than the most common configuration of 6x GPUs. Now that we do have motherboards that are capable of 12 or even 13 GPUs out of the box however pricing is also going to be a very important factor and at the moment at this price from China this expansion board is actually not that attractive. Not to mention that there could still be some compatibility issues as it may not work on all motherboards as you might expect, especially on a bit older motherboards that do not come with Above 4G Decoding (TLOUD) option.

To check the PCI-E 16X to 8 Port USB 3.0 Expansion Card on AliExpress…



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