After Tripling in a Week Stellar Rockets into the Cryptocurrency Top 10

2018 is still in diapers and yet the cryptocurrency top 10 is already looking very different to last year. Gone are the likes of dash, replaced by coins that have never reached these heady heights before: tron and stellar. The latter peaked at number six this week after tripling in value in seven days from a low of 32 cents. Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

Also read: disables-new-user-registrationsbinance-exchange

From a Ripple to a Rocket

Stellar is described is an open-source project with a “distributed, hybrid blockchain”. It “exists to facilitate cross-asset transfers of value, including payments. The Stellar Network forms “an open, global financial network where all actors – be they people, payment networks, or banks – have equal access”. If that sounds a lot like Ripple, that’s because it is: Stellar is Ripple’s sibling, having been created by Ripple cofounder Jed McCaleb after he left the company. McCaleb is also famous for having sold Mt Gox to Mark Karpeles in 2011. Stellar was initially a fork of the Ripple protocol, before later being extensively rewritten.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

Lumens (XLM) are the currency that power the Stellar Network, which boasts transaction times of under five seconds. The network has a fixed inflation rate of 1% per year. Like Ripple, Stellar’s targets are financial institutions and corporations, and the company has already inked deals with IBM and Deloitte; the latter is classified as a partner. Stellar’s goal, like that of many cryptocurrencies, is to become the web’s go-to payment solution. Low fees and fast transaction times are its two biggest claims, although the same can be said of many altcoins.

Billions of Lumens Shining Bright

In 2017, 29 cryptocurrencies exceeded bitcoin’s 1,600% gains, and stellar was one of them. Its value has grown an astonishing 28,000% in the space of a year. In the past 24 hours, $800 million lumens were traded on exchanges. The token reached an all-time high of 90 cents this week and is currently trading for around 75 cents.

Stellar Rockets Into the Cryptocurrency Top 10 After Tripling in a WeekSome commenters see Ripple and Stellar as locked in a battle for supremacy, enacting their own version of Bitcoin Core vs Bitcoin Cash. Given the similarities between Ripple and Stellar, including their shared codebase, people, and target audience, these comparisons are inevitable. In terms of developing relationships with banks and other financial institutions, Ripple is streets ahead, but Stellar has the upper hand in other areas.

For one thing, it’s not hoarding 60% of the total supply to itself. Ripple, on the other hand, still holds 55 billion XRP. The total number of coins in existence on each network is very similar though, standing at 100 billion ripple and 103 billion stellar. 17.8 billion stellar are in circulation right now, two billion of which were awarded to Stripe in 2014 in exchange for a $3 million loan. If Stripe still has them, those lumens are now worth billions.

Despite Stellar’s interstellar ascent, not everyone is convinced by the cryptocurrency.

Stellar now boasts a $13 billion market cap. After lying low for the first three years of its existence, stellar is riding high and attracting widespread media attention.

How Centralized is Stellar?

Like Ripple, Stellar usesstellar-1068x1068ich have close ties to Stellar. As a consequence, stellar is not a true decentralized currency. Generally speaking, the closer a cryptocurrency is aligned with institutional investors, the more centralized it is by design. For what it is worth, Stellar is at least less centralized than Ripple.

It is debatable whether Stellar is worth its $13 billion market cap, but then the same could be said of many cryptocurrencies lurking in the top 10, including Ripple, Tron, and Cardano. In an irrational market, assets are worth whatever the next buyer’s willing to pay for them, and right now that figure is higher than the one before. If Ripple can become a $3 coin, there’s no reason why Stellar can’t continue on its rocket ride to infinity and beyond. After months of bitcoin dominance, altcoin season has returned, and it’s the penny stocks of the crypto world that are shining the brightest.

Which project do you prefer – Stellar or Ripple? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network’s Upgrade Approaches

It’s been a crazy week for cryptocurrency enthusiasts as the digital asset ecosystem is still reeling over the canceled Segwit2x fork that was expected to take place on the Bitcoin network next week. Over the course of the past few weeks leading up to the planned 2MB Segwit2x hard fork, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) markets have doubled in value after hovering around $300 per BCH for weeks. Now the market has stabilized around the $625 region as the BCH network participants prepare for their own fork that’s just four days away.

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Bitcoin Cash Network and Markets Remain Vigilant After the Canceled BTC Fork Event

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade ApproachesThe Bitcoin Cash network is thriving as the decentralized currency’s value has spiked quite a bit over the past few weeks. At the moment the price per BCH is hovering around $625 as markets currently command roughly $830M worth of daily trade volume. The price of BCH has allowed it to hold the third highest market capitalization at $10.4B just below the ethereum market cap. BCH markets are still seeing lots of trade volume from the South Korean won, as the currency typically captures around 49 percent or more of the daily volumes. The exchange rate stemming from BCH currently makes it the third highest digital asset trade volume within the cryptocurrency landscape. The exchanges trading the most BCH include Bithumb, Hitbtc, Bitfinex, Bittrex, and Korbit.

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade Approaches
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) markets are holding above $600 per token at the time of writing.

Miners Have Started to Signal Intent to Fork the BCH Network

As the currency’s network hard fork approaches, the BCH chain is 8100 blocks ahead of the BTC chain. BCH this week is operating at 8 percent of the current BTC difficulty, and it’s 3.4 percent more profitable to mine BTC. Mining profitability and its fluctuations may change after the BCH network reconfigures the Difficulty-Adjustment-Algorithm (DAA). BCH miners are now signaling their intent to activate the fork and the change is estimated to occur around 2 pm EDT depending on hashrate speed.

Bitcoin Cash Markets Remain Resilient As the Network's Upgrade Approaches

Bitpay Prepares Users for the Bitcoin Cash Consensus Change

Because the fork is drawing closer the Atlanta-based company, Bitpay, has announced to its wallet users its plans for the BCH hard fork. The firm explains that with any blockchain protocol change it must always ensure that customer funds will be safe.

“For the November Bitcoin Cash protocol change, Bitpay and Copay wallets will follow the bitcoin cash chain with the most accumulated difficulty — With current miner signaling, this means that our wallets will be compatible with the new rules activated by the bitcoin cash mining majority,” explains Bitpay.

We don’t currently have any reason to think that this hard fork will be contentious or will result in a blockchain split for bitcoin cash. Users can continue to receive and send bitcoin cash transactions from their wallets up to, during, and after the hard fork protocol change.

Kim Dotcom Asks His Fans Which Cryptocurrency Will Dominate — BTC or BCH?

Also this week the notorious Kim Dotcom started talking about bitcoin cash with his 671,000 followers. Dotcom asks his fans, “By 2021 which of these two is going to carry the larger volume of Internet payments?” With just 11 hours left remaining for the poll bitcoin (BTC) is leading by 64 percent and bitcoin cash (BCH) has 36 percent.

Overall the BCH community seems pleased with the currency’s growing ecosystem and many supporters believe next week’s fork will be smooth. With Segwit2x gone and the rest of the cryptocurrency competition constantly nipping at BTC’s heels many spectators will be focused on bitcoin cash.

What’s your thoughts on bitcoin cash at the moment? Do you think the hard fork approaching will be smooth? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies

Following the meeting with Vladimir Putin, Russian regulators announced that cryptocurrencies will officially be regulated in Russia. The central bank and the finance ministry will now work together to come up with one draft law to provide a basic regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, which is expected by the year’s end.

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Putin Has Spoken

At the meeting on cryptocurrencies between Putin and top Russian regulators on Tuesday, the decision to regulate cryptocurrencies in Russia was reached. “The Russian government has decided to officially regulate the mining and circulation of cryptocurrencies,” RT described and quoted Finance Minister Anton Siluanov announcing on Wednesday that:

We have agreed on the following: the state should regulate the process of issuing cryptocurrencies, the process of mining, the process of circulation…The state should head this situation and regulate it legally.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies
Putin’s meeting on cryptocurrencies.

The meeting was attended by Siluanov, Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina, Central Bank Deputy Governor Olga Skorobogatova, Presidential Aide Andrei Belousov, and Qiwi CEO Sergei Solonin.

In the meeting, Putin acknowledged the risks associated with cryptocurrencies. However, he also stressed that “it is important not to create unnecessary barriers, of course, but rather to provide essential conditions for advancing and upgrading the national financial system.”

Finance Ministry to Work With Central Bank

Currently, cryptocurrencies including bitcoin are not regulated in Russia despite many attempts by various government departments to put forward proposals to regulate them. Both the central bank and the finance ministry have been working separately on a draft law to regulate cryptocurrencies. A draft bill was supposed to be introduced in October but was postponed due to a lack of consensus among the regulators.

Putin Confirms Russia Will Regulate Cryptocurrencies
Finance Minister Anton Siluanov.

The finance ministry proposed to legalize cryptocurrencies but was opposed by the central bank due to “a loss of control over the money flows from abroad.” This week, the ministry proposed to register cryptocurrency miners and to license crypto exchanges.

After the meeting with Putin, however, Siluanov told journalists that the finance ministry and the central bank will now work together to prepare one basic draft law to regulate cryptocurrencies, Tass reported on Wednesday and quoted him saying:

We will prepare the draft law together with the Central Bank…I think we will be able to determine the basic regulatory positions before the end of the year.

“According to him, with regard to regulation, the functions of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and Rosfinmonitoring will be delineated,” the publication elaborated.

Possible Restrictions

In addition, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev indicated on Wednesday that there may be some restrictions. “Russia’s Finance Ministry supports the idea to limit the amount cryptocurrency that can be purchased by individuals,” Tass detailed and quoted him saying:

We said that restrictions are needed on purchases and sales, accounts, miners’ taxation and so on…Yes, there is such an idea, we support it. We should discuss the amounts. We should look at international practice.

This is not the first time Moiseev talked about restricting the purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies in Russia. In August, he proposed listing them on regulated exchanges but banning non-qualified investors from buying and selling them. However, his proposal did not receive a lot of support from other regulators. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov promptly commented on Moiseev’s suggestion, stating that no legislation had been decided. The finance minister followed up with a suggestion that cryptocurrencies could be made available to anyone in the same way federal loan bonds (OFZ) are.

How do you think Russia will regulate cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section below.

Pakistan Set to Become a Major Bitcoin Hub

Pakistan is currently the seventh most populous country in the world with approximately 202 million residents. Today, the country exhibits many traits ripe for accelerated bitcoin adoption. Bitcoin.com discussed bitcoin trends in Pakistan with Danyal Manzar, the co-founder of Pakistan’s first and largest bitcoin trading platform, Urdubit.

 

Huge Freelance Market, but Payment Solutions Lacking

Despite having no access to Paypal, Pakistan still ranks among the top countries for freelance outsource workers. In fact, “Pakistan is ranked 3rd on freelance websites,”paypal According to the New York Times10,000 IT graduates in Pakistan are estimated to enter the Pakistan job market every year.

Remittances are also a “very big market” in Pakistan, . “We see about 20 billion USD coming in annually,” . “Since there are not enough jobs, the major remittance is seen from the UAE and Saudi Arabia followed by western countries.”

Despite the lack of jobs, however, life in Pakistan has been modernizing in recent years. Rapid lifestyle change, technological innovations, and increasing broadband access in Pakistan have all accelerated the number of Pakistani freelancers. However, “the payments are always a problem,” adding that:

Since the job market is also limited we see many freelancers turning to bitcoin, there is no Paypal in the country and no proper payment processor which could aid payments.

High Broadband Subscription Growth

Mobile broadband use is growing very fast in the country. The World Bank describes Pakistan as “leading the way in South Asia in digital finance” with 6% of adults having mobile accounts, compared to South Asia’s average of less than 2.6%.world bank

Last June, the number of 3G/4G subscribers in the country had reached 29.53 million, up from 14.6 million in July 2015. Total broadband subscribers grew 92% to 32.41 million from 16.88 million, according to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

The World Bank also notes that about 100 million adults in Pakistan are unbanked, without access to formal and regulated financial services. Only 13 percent of adults there have a formal account and 27.5 million adults said the distance to a financial institution is a barrier to opening a financial account.

With so many unbanked, no access to Paypal, a huge freelancing industry, a major remittance destination, and so many subscribed to a high-speed mobile account, Bitcoin could find a huge home market in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Bitcoin Market

Admittedly, the bitcoin market in Pakistan “is still very new,” but it is fast growing. Citing low banking penetration and “very limited POS terminals in the country,”Pakistan-flag-1068x712

Bitcoin provides a cross-board payments system, as well as local payment solution at a much cheaper cost.

www.easypaypakistan.com is a real-time bitcoin exchange using the blinktrade engine. According to Coinhills, www.easypaypakistan.com trading volume has been growing steadily in the last few weeks, and the exchange has the largest bitcoin trading volume in the country, twice  in a 24-hour period. “I would say our market share is 1/3 of the total market,” he explained. If he’s correct, that indicates Pakistan trades around 40 bitcoins each day, putting it somewhere around 27th place among all currencies in volume rankings.

However, he also admitted that there are still not many shops accepting bitcoin. Online, the situation is a bit better, since many websites in the country have started accepting bitcoin as a payment “due to quicker payment times and no charge backs.”

We believe it’s only a matter of time before we see Pakistan follow India and become a major user of bitcoin.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government “hasn’t taken any stance on bitcoin as of yet,” blog.Easypaypakistan.com added. This company will soon be approved by the State Bank Of Pakistan. “They believe that bitcoin is a commodity and not a currency,”

Do you think Pakistan is ripe for bitcoin adoption? Let us know in the comments section below.

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a ‘Fraud’ — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

JP Morgan executive Jamie Dimon calling bitcoin a “fraud” and claiming he would fire any employee from his firm who traded the digital currency for being “stupid.” Now it seems JP Morgan has been caught red-handed purchasing a bunch of XBT shares, otherwise known as exchange-traded-notes, that track the price of Bitcoin.

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After a Few Harsh Statements from Executive Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Ltd., and Morgan Stanley Purchase Bitcoin ETNs

According to public records of Nordnet trading logs, the two associated firms JP Morgan Securities Ltd., and Morgan Stanley bought roughly 3M euro worth of XBT note shares. Interestingly after the recent regulatory crackdown in China, and the statements from JP Morgan’s senior executive Jamie Dimon talking trash about bitcoin, his firm bought the dip on September 15. In fact, out of all the companies on the list, like Goldman Sachs and Barclays, the JP Morgan team of buyers purchased the most XBT notes.

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

Image via @IamNomad on Twitter.

Bitcoin exchange-traded-notes (ETNs) are a popular investment vehicle for mainstream investors and financial management firms who want exposure to bitcoin. A few institutions offer ETNs, among them Denmark-based Saxo Bank, which sells notes called the “Bitcoin Tracker.” These bitcoin-based ETNs track bitcoin price movements against the Euro and USD. Bitcoin ETNs have done extremely well over the course of 2017 following suit with bitcoin’s meteoric price spike.

JP Morgan Applies for Blockchain Patent 175 Times

JP Morgan doesn’t just purchase bitcoin notes, but is also heavily involved with the ‘blockchain fever’ that has infected banks across the world. The financial firm has applied for a “bitcoin alternative” patent with the U.S. over 175 times in 2013. The company is also working on an ethereum-based blockchain alongside, according to people familiar with the matter, working with Zcash development as well. With the ethereum project called “Quorum,” JP Morgan has its own Github repo that explains how the permissioned blockchain does not need consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Work (POW) or Proof-of-Stake (POS).

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

The financial publication Zerohedge reports that JP Morgan applied for a “Bitcoin Alternative” patent in 2013 and was rejected 175 times.

Former JP Morgan Executives Leave the Firm for Bitcoin and Blockchain Projects

After the Boss Calls Bitcoin a 'Fraud' — JP Morgan Buys the Dip

Former JP Morgan derivatives executive, Blythe Masters, is all about the Blockchain hype.

Additionally, former JP Morgan executives are all about blockchain technologies these days and even bitcoin. The veteran commodities trader, Daniel Masters, joined JP Morgan right after graduating college and in 2014 announced he was starting a bitcoin-based hedge fund. Another former JP Morgan mogul, Blythe Masters, started her own blockchain startup Hyperledger which is now run by the Linux Foundation. Masters is still heavily involved with the blockchain project and has a seat on the governance board.

Whether Jamie Dimon wants to admit it or not his firm was trading bitcoin-based notes after his statements. Further, over the past few years, JP Morgan cannot hide the fact that they are infatuated with blockchain technology, just like the hundreds of other financial institutions hoping they won’t be replaced.

What do you think about JP Morgan Securities Ltd. purchasing bitcoin-based exchange-traded-notes? Let us know in the comments below. 

Lead Developer Amaury Séchet Discusses the Future of Bitcoin Cash

This week the lead developer of Bitcoin ABC, Amaury Séchet, engaged in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) discussion about the future of Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and the protocol’s future scaling.

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An AMA With Amaury Séchet – Lead Developer of Bitcoin ABC

This summer Amaury Séchet (otherwise known as ‘deadalnix’), the lead developer of the Bitcoin ABC client, revealed the team’s intentions at The Future of Bitcoin event to hard fork the Bitcoin network on August 1. Since then Bitcoin Cash has been thriving, and Séchet recently explained his vision for the future of the BCH chain and the ABC client. Many other BCH supporters and developers were involved in the conversation with Séchet including Yours network founder Ryan X Charles, Openbazaar’s Chris Pacia, Bitcoin Classic’s lead developer Thomas Zander and others.

Developer Amaury Séchet Discusses the Future of Bitcoin Cash

A Configurable Block Size and Finding the Right Fee Structure for Bitcoin Cash

Developer Amaury Séchet Discusses the Future of Bitcoin Cash
Amaury Séchet, lead developer of the Bitcoin ABC client.

Participants asked Séchet questions concerning the current roadmap for bitcoin cash; such as future block sizes, BCH and BTC compatibility, and protocols like layer two solutions. For instance, the developer of the Electron Cash wallet, Jonald Fyookball asked the ABC developer what he thinks about “algorithm-based block size” solutions. Séchet explains the BCH block size can be configurable using the protocol in the ABC client.”

“I like these proposals,” explains Séchet. “Right now the block size is configurable in ABC, but I would like to have a way to determine this configuration automatically in the future.”

Yours network developer, Ryan X Charles, asks Séchet how the protocol can avoid ‘dust limits’ and fee management. “We [Yours developers] run into dust limits quite easily,” Charles explains regarding the software’s recent implementation of bitcoin cash.

“There is work to be done on fee management,” Séchet responds. “Finding the right fee structure will take time, if one exists at all.”

The next version of ABC will reserve a percentage of the block space for low fee transactions. This will improve over time.

BCH & BTC Compatibility and Layer Two Solutions

Developer Amaury Séchet Discusses the Future of Bitcoin CashFollowing this discussion, an AMA participant asked Séchet if he believes BCH and BTC can coexist in the future with different use cases or if he thinks all the hashpower will converge to one chain.

“Because of the way the difficulty adjustment works on the Bitcoin chain, it makes it very unlikely that it would survive being a minority chain,” Séchet states in response to the question. As a result, it is unlikely that this chain will survive if Bitcoin Cash gets a lot of traction. As long as Bitcoin Cash is a minority chain, both chain will continue to live.”

Séchet also gives his opinion about layer one and layer two scaling solutions. The ABC developer reveals he’s not against layer two solutions but believes pushing every issue towards a layer two solution is unrealistic.

“I have nothing against layer 2 per se, but I think some important points have been ignored,” Séchet explains. “First layer 2 can only be as reliable as layer 1.”

When blocks become congested and layer 1 becomes unreliable, layer 2 does so as well. Second, layer 2 will have different characteristics than layer 1 and thinking we’ll push everything into layer 2 is not a realistic roadmap.

Learning from Past Mistakes

Séchet explains a whole lot more about how he envisions the future of bitcoin cash and the ABC client, including BCH anonymity – where he hopes the protocol’s lower fees will allow for cheaper tumbling processes. The ABC developer also gives further opinions about programmers like Gavin Andresen and Jeff Garzik not being “protective enough” to keep the original values of the Bitcoin project in the past.

“It [Bitcoin] ended up being hijacked. We need to learn from this mistake and not reproduce it,” Séchet states.

Maxwell Claims Bitcoin ABC Developer Séchet Plagiarized Bitcoin Core Code

However, there is no shortage of drama around the Bitcoin Cash code base. In a recent Github post, Gregory Maxwell claimed the Bcash developer plagiarized a piece of code. He said that Amaury Séchet (deadalnix) copied the migration to the per-txout UTXO database from the Bitcoin Core project, and did not credit the original authors with it. Instead, he used his name and copied everything verbatim down to the “grammatical oddities,” according to Greg Maxwell.

Do Séchet’s Actions Infringe on a Licensing Agreement?

Furthermore, Maxwell claims Séchet’s actions infringe on an open source licensing Maxwell Claims Bcash Developer Séchet Plagiarized Bitcoin Core Codeagreement and constitute a copyright infringement. He said, “Beyond being fraudulent and sleazy behavior, this action is a violation of the very minimal requirements of the MIT license.”

There is controversy over Maxwell’s position, though. Some commentators believe there is no infringement on the commit, because there is information on the source code within it. Séchet further said the code was “backported” and is “mentioned in the series of commits.”

The schnorr code is backported from https://github.com/deadalnix/schnorr/blob/master/schnorr.d
The per txout db is backported from core and it is mentioned in the series of commits.

Is He Fixing it Faster? Multiple Copyright Violations by Séchet

Maxwell continued his accusations, saying Séchet is also claiming he fixed the issue quicker than Blockstream. Maxwell also mentioned Séchet was been accused of copyright violations before. This is not a first offense. He said, “Amaury SECHET has a well known history of these copyright violating false attribution events. To give a few other examples. I also understand that he is advocating in your private issue tracker to remove all attribution to Bitcoin Core in the codebase from your repository.”

Community Response

The community has responded to Maxwell’s accusations with dramatic flare. Some users are attacking Maxwell and Blockstream for focusing on trivial issues instead of updating Bitcoin Core. One user, sandakersmann, said, “So you guys are prioritizing this instead of releasing a new version of Bitcoin Core that is not vulnerable? Fits the pattern of backward priorities from you blockstreamers.”

Other users defend Maxwell and Core, saying people like sandakersmann were shifting the goalposts of the original post. They were trying to create a diversion from the serious issue of fraud and copyright infringement. User thijstriemstra responded to sandakersmann:

This has nothing to do with the fact you’re copy/pasting code and stripping out author. This is not done in any opensource project and you’re trying to divert attention away from it. It’s this project that creates unneccessary annoyance and extra work for the maintainers of bitcoin core.

Maxwell Asks Séchet to Discontinue Violating Copyright

Maxwell finished his blog post by asking Séchet to discontinue violating their copyright. He also wants him to correct his repository and credit the actual authors. At press time, Séchet had not responded to the request, other than to say the original code was “backported.”

 

Bitcoin’s Relationship With the ‘Mark of the Beast’ Theories

Over the past eight years bitcoin has been involved in a few conspiracy theories, and even though they are highly improbable, they are pretty humorous, to say the least.

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The New World Order and Bitcoin

Bitcoin's Relationship With the 'Mark of the Beast' Theories
Lots of people thought this man’s company purchased Bitcoin the other day. Baron Jacob Rothschild, of the Rothschild Family Baronetcy, allegedly the richest family on earth for three centuries.

Just recently we reported on the Rothschild Investment Corporation purchasing bitcoin shares and how some people thought it was Lord Rothschild, the alleged owner of the world’s largest fortune for three centuries.

Since the end of time, humans have always liked to tell ‘tall tales.’ Bitcoin itself is often considered a weird subject because an anonymous developer made the software and this has led to many conspiracy-like discussions involving the digital currency. Some have said the protocol was created by the CIA or some underground government agency plotting to rule the world. Today we will discuss two tales that have often been tethered to bitcoin by those who wear tin foil hats. After reading this, you may find yourself in a Faraday cage with your ‘bug-out bag’ waiting for the next EMP, so please proceed with caution.

The Mark of the Beast

Bitcoin's Relationship With the 'Mark of the Beast' TheoriesThis particular tale is tied to a religious belief based on the Christian’s book of Revelations where bitcoin could be considered the “Mark of the Beast.” Yes, there are a couple of random people on this earth who believe that the digital protocol may be the tool of the Antichrist that allows you to purchase food and survive under the Devil’s rule. The Illuminati has many tricks up their sleeve, and this one is fantastically clever.

The Mark of the Beast comes from a story in the Bible’s New Testament, in the book of Revelations chapter 13. In that section, particularly 13:17, it says that people on earth will have to get a mark on their bodies in order to purchase living necessities. The mark is forced upon everyone from “the great, the small, the poor and the rich.” Now because society is gravitating toward a cashless society some curious characters believe bitcoin will be the notorious mark.

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” explains Revelations 13:17

Bitcoin's Relationship With the 'Mark of the Beast' Theories
Microchip implants with bitcoin wallets have helped fuel the ‘Mark of the Beast’ and Bitcoin theory.

So you might be still asking yourself — How the hell is bitcoin associated with this mark? Well, more recently the subject of “biohacking” and microchip implants have become a popular trend. Some people in this movement have installed chips into their hands with a bitcoin wallet inside. Because Revelations states people will “receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads,” some consider this the missing link to bitcoin and the mark.

However, there are those in religious circles that think this theory of bitcoin being the mark might be the opposite of what’s really happening. The publication Christian Money says bitcoin might be a way people can fight the beast.

“One of the key elements of the Mark of the Beast is to be able to prevent those that refuse to take the Mark from buying and selling. Bitcoins are decentralized and prevent any such control,” explains Christian Money.

The One World Currency

Bitcoin's Relationship With the 'Mark of the Beast' TheoriesAnother story conspiracy theorists have up their sleeves is the “One World Currency” scheme. Another speculative theory thinks that the whole globe will share one single currency, likely owned by the Rothschilds and the Bilderberg group. Now, this conjecture is again tied to the ‘cashless society’ progression, and if you want to be even more clever, this theory can be related to the Mark of the Beast. The one world currency will be trackable, and everyone on the globe will likely be forced to use these funds. That’s where bitcoin comes in, and some speculators believe that because the blockchain is traceable and the technology is part of the ‘cashless society’ paradigm shift — Bitcoin will be the one world currency. For instance, the website Occupy Corporatism believes this may be the case.

“The technocratic push toward cyber-currency or e-money, is a march toward complete control over global currencies with the development of supporting technologies and the distribution of such that facilitate an online representation of money that can be used for exchange with another fiat system,” explains Susanne Posel, of Occupy Corporatism.

The reason why conspiracy theorists believe a global currency is on its way is because many Keynesian economists have bolstered this idea over the years. Even John Maynard Keynes himself has been cited as a single world currency advocate. This school of economic thinking believes it would help the global economy and improve international trade. The introduction of the Euro, a currency that covers many countries was considered the beginning of this effort. However, in recent times certain countries like Britain, for example, have distanced itself from the Euro during the Brexit vote. As far as bitcoin is concerned becoming the world’s reserve currency, some forecast it to be the sixth largest reserve currency by 2030.

So to some of these theorists, bitcoin is just another catalyst towards the cashless one world currency secretly crafted by the elite. In essence, any electronic currency is suspect for being part of the ‘1 percent’s’ plan to enslave the ordinary plebs of society. Even the other day on July 25, 2017, the publication Beforeitsnews published a report called “The globalist one world currency will be very similar to bitcoin,” so these theories still run rampant.

It’s Highly Improbable Bitcoin Will be a One World Currency or the Mark of the Beast

Bitcoin is indeed a strange phenomenon filled with curious characters like Satoshi Nakamoto. However it doesn’t mean bitcoin was created by the CIA, will be used for a one world currency or even the mark of the beast.

What do you think about conspiracy theories tied to bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below.

How Time-locked Bitcoins Could Incentivize Smooth Hard Forks

There’s been a lot going on as far as development goes with the latest alternative clients and the Segwit2x plan also known as BTC1 on Github. One particular subject that came up on the BTC1 repository was the idea to incentivize the development community with time-locked bitcoins to smoothly activate a hard fork.

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Time-locked Incentive for a Bitcoin Hard Fork

Could Time-locked Bitcoins Incentivize Hard Forks?
Chain engineer Oleg Andreev.

The hard fork has gotten a bad name over time mostly because of the contentious fork that took place with the Ethereum network. Hard forks aren’t forward-compatible, which means that the entire ecosystem of miners, wallet providers, exchanges, and merchants need to upgrade to the new code. The Segwit2x plan aims to activate Segregated Witness (Segwit) and follow up with a hard fork a few months down the line.

This week Oleg Andreev, product architect of the blockchain network company Chain introduced Issue #72 to the Github repo called “Time-locked incentive for Bitcoin hard fork.” The scheme Andreev says is to incentivize the community with coins that cannot be spent for a period of time until after the completion of a successful hardfork. The idea comes at a time when Segwit2x offers a compromise of both Segwit and a 2MB hard fork, but the problem is some people think the second part of the agreement won’t be fulfilled.

“It is well-known that cryptocurrency development can be incentivized by long-term time-locked coins,” explains Andreev. “Meaning, that the coins cannot be spent in the peak of a bubble, or right before a disaster that was not prevented or worked around. For instance, Greg Maxwell claims that Blockstream uses such scheme.”

What Are Time-locked Bitcoins?

Time-locked bitcoins cannot be spent until a specified time or block height by using a distributed contract recorded on the blockchain. Over the years there have been added improvements to this type of time-locking infrastructure with code development like Check-Lock-Time-Verify, Relative locktime, and Check-Sequence-Verify. Bitcoin luminary and author Andreas Antonopoulos discusses the subject of time-locked bitcoins in his book “Mastering Bitcoin: Programming the Open Blockchain.” Moreover, in 2016 Thomas McCabe gave instructions on how he successfully spent a time-locked bitcoin transaction.

“Bitcoin’s scripting language is very powerful, but access to resources with regards to learning how to build a script is scarce,” details McCabe.

Could Time-locked Bitcoins Incentivize Hard Forks?

‘Measuring the Amount of “Skin in the Game” to Gauge Responsibility’

Chain engineer Andreev believes this technology could smooth the process of completing a successful hard fork.

“Considering that any hard fork by definition carries an increased systemic risk: from producing chain splits inadvertently (due to overlooked software incompatibility), to splitting the market and shattering the faith in the technology and perspectives of our social experiment.”

It makes sense to introduce a special kind of time-locked incentives that get unlocked only on a hard-forked chain. Such incentives allow community to measure the amount of “skin in the game” to gauge the responsibility of the people behind a hard fork proposal.

Forward Compatibility

Andreev gives specifications to his idea, and a few other developers including Jeff Garzik thought the concept was interesting. Additionally, Andreev’s proposal offers forward compatibility and “the code is expected to be modified to preserve the spirit of the proposal for the future hard forks,” explains the developer. Adding an incentive to smoothly activate a fork or fund bitcoin development, in general, is a unique concept but it’s likely this plan won’t be included in the Segwit2x working group’s current roadmap. There are multiple comments and suggestions made by developers that won’t make the final cut including funny ones like finding the Mt Gox missing bitcoins.

What do you think about incentivizing hard forks with time locked bitcoins? Let us know in the comments below.

How Exchanges Plan To Deal With a Possible August 1 Fork

Over the past week, many bitcoin exchanges have revealed plans for the possibility of a network fork on August 1, 2017.

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In about a week there still may be a possibility of a network fork come August 1, even though Segwit2x is showing strong consensus. If miners fail to continue joining forces to enact BIP91 and Segregated Witness, then the UASF and UAHF plans could still happen, in fact, the UAHF may happen regardless. Below is a compiled list of exchanges that have detailed their contingency plans for an upcoming fork, as some of them will be halting deposits and withdrawals and taking the necessary steps to secure their trading platforms and customer assets.

A List of Current Exchanges That Have Issued Statements Concerning a Possible August 1 Fork

Xapo

The bitcoin company Xapo has issued a statement about August 1 telling customers that bitcoin transactions during a fork will be suspended. Xapo says if users need to do transactions during a fork, customers should get their bitcoins off Xapo before August 1. Coins held on the exchange will be available after the network change and “Xapo will keep your bitcoins safe,” explains the firm.

GDAX/ Coinbase

Coinbase and GDAX have made similar statements because they are the same company. The San Fransico-based firm has detailed that it will suspend deposits and withdrawals during an August 1 fork scenario and may halt trading. As far as the user-activated hard fork is concerned GDAX and Coinbase have also announced they will not support that chain and its associated token. Coinbase recommends that those interested in acquiring UAHF tokens should remove their bitcoins from their exchanges.

Huobi

The Chinese exchange Huobi has issued a report on its plans to suspend bitcoin deposits and withdrawals on August 1 due to “potential technical risks.” The exchange details, “if there is no fork, and the network is stable, we will resume deposits and withdrawals from Bitcoin.” Further, the company says that if customers are not comfortable with their wallet or feel they are not protected with anti-replay attack software, then they should deposit funds on Huobi before August 1.

BTCC

BTCC has also announced its contingency plan stating that the exchange will honor both a minority and majority chain. However, the trading platform has not detailed if it will suspend deposits and withdrawals at this time. “In the case of a hard fork, BTCC will give existing customers tokens on the minority chains based on how many tokens they have on the majority chain at the time of the hard fork. We will update users as the situation progresses,” explains the Chinese exchange BTCC.

Okcoin

Another Chinese exchange, Okcoin has announced that it will suspend deposits and withdrawals. The company’s statements are nearly identical to Huobi’s contingency plan. The company does say that if Bitcoin splits into several blockchains, the exchange will honor “every blockchain and give users their rightful ownership of their Bitcoin.” Further Okcoin says that if anything “unexpected” happens the trading platform will suspend bitcoin trades as well.

Gemini

The Gemini exchange issued its statement concerning August 1 saying the company will do their “best to support chain withdrawals.” However, the exchange details that unlike the Ethereum / Ethereum Classic bifurcation last year they cannot “guarantee” they will be successful as there is a lack of “bidirectional repetition protection in the different bifurcations of Bitcoin Core (including Segwit2x, UASF, BitcoinABC, and Bitcoin Unlimited).”

Bity

The Switzerland based cryptocurrency exchange Bity has detailed it will be suspending deposits, withdrawals, and trading as soon as the 29th of July approaches. The company says it is preparing replay-protection and will “start bitcoin trading as soon as the dust settles and we know which chain(s) is(are) surviving.”

Kraken

The exchange Kraken has not officially given any statements about the fork. However, during a recent podcast, Krakens CEO Jesse Powell details that the trading platform will have to freeze deposit and withdrawal funding. “Everybody with a balance on Kraken would have two coins” in the event of a fork says, Powell. Depending on the risks of replay attacks customers should receive both tokens.

Thirteen Japanese Exchanges

According to Japan’s Cryptocurrency Business Association (JCBA), thirteen exchanges have announced suspending bitcoin services on August 1. This means participating exchanges will suspend deposits, withdrawals, and possibly trading. The exchanges suspending services include Bitbank, Bitpoint, Quoine, Fisco, Coincheck, Btc Box, Tech Bureau (Zaif Exchange), GMO-Z.com, Campfire Corporation, Bit Trade, Bitcrements, Tokyo Bitcoin, and Minnano Bitcoin.

Bitflyer

Japan’s largest exchange that wasn’t included in the JCBA list, Bitflyer published its plan on July 21. Bitflyer says that customer assets will be protected and a “coin made by each of the two (or more) chains after branching will be given to customers.” Additionally, Bitflyer is taking countermeasures for replay attacks that may occur during blockchain branching. Alongside this, the Japanese exchange will also temporarily stop deposits and withdrawals until the protocol changes are complete.

Many More Exchanges Still Haven’t Told Customers Their Contingency Plans, But Have Issued Statements in the Past

That sums up the list of exchanges that have issued statements concerning a potential split and suspension of services. There still are many exchanges that have not revealed their plans such as Poloniex, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Bithumb, Korbit, and a host of other trading platforms. At the moment people speculate that certain exchanges may be relying on the issued statements many trading platforms made last March or during the Ethereum split.

Are there any exchanges that you’ve heard from that’s not on this list? Let us know about it in the comments below.

August 1 Will Be the Potential Disruption of the Bitcoin Network

If you’ve been listening to the bitcoin ‘community,’ you’d know in about two weeks the bitcoin network may face some protocol changes. Due to the possible user-activated soft fork (UASF) planned and the chance some groups may counter this plan, this has created thousands of discussions concerning August 1. Now the bitcoin-focused web portal Bitcoin.org has issued a warning on the site that informs users of a “potential network disruption.”

 

August 1st and the Potential Network Disruption

Bitcoin users everywhere are getting prepared and heavily discussing the possibility of a blockchain split. The subject was discussed a lot this past March when bitcoin proponents and cryptocurrency businesses feared a potential split when the Bitcoin Unlimited implementation was seeing strong support. Now the conversation has resurfaced, but the topic of UASF or BIP148 is an entirely different scenario.

August 1 and The Potential Disruption of the Bitcoin Network

UASF (BIP148) is a mechanism designed to start on August 1st, at 00:00 UTC that activates a soft fork enforced by full nodes. After this point, full nodes participating in this plan will reject blocks that have not upgraded to BIP141 otherwise known as Segregated Witness (Segwit). At press time there are 1095 total UASF nodes out of 7896 reachable bitcoin nodes globally according to Bitnodes. UASF requires a lot of industry support and miners to activate Segwit, by this point if they do not support the activation the chain could diverge into two.

August 1 and The Potential Disruption of the Bitcoin Network

Currently, there are businesses that have announced initial support for BIP148 such as Abra, Trezor, Samourai Wallet, Electrum, Coinomi, Mycelium and roughly 37 other organizations. However, there are many wallets and a vast majority of exchanges that have not announced any support or issued warnings about the upcoming August 1st Segwit enforcement. This includes a significant amount of wallet providers and exchanges including Bitstamp, Kraken, Bitfinex, Gemini, BTCC, Poloniex, and many more. One relatively small exchange in Switzerland called Bity has warned its customers the platform will be halting trading on August 1st.

Bitcoin.org’s Warning

On Wednesday, July 12, 2017, 08:00:00 GMT Bitcoin.org issued a warning in regards to the potential network disruption that may take place on July 31, 20:00:00 GMT/August 1st, 00:00 UTC.

“Bitcoin confirmation scores may become unreliable for an unknown length of time,” explains the network disruption warning. “This means that any bitcoins you receive after that time may later disappear from your wallet or be a type of bitcoin that other people will not accept as payment.”

Once the situation is resolved, confirmation scores will either automatically return to their normal reliability, or there will be two (or more) competing versions of Bitcoin. In the former case, you may return to using Bitcoin normally; in the later case, you will need to take extra steps in order to begin safely receiving bitcoins again.

August 1 and The Potential Disruption of the Bitcoin Network

The warning gives users some preparation guidelines and possible outcomes for during and after the UASF event. This includes not trusting payments during this time, and not sending payments until after the dust has settled. Even the maintainer of the website Bitcoinuptime.com says that there may be “potential bitcoin downtime from the upcoming BIP148 fork” and the network’s 99.991523267% uptime will have to be updated. Further, there was an issue concerning the Bitcoin.org alert over the wording “Bitcoin may be unsafe to use starting July 31st” in contrast to saying “potential network disruption.” The developer who made the change writes;

Note: I object to this change, which I think makes the alert less clear, less forceful, and degrades alert usability.  I make this change only because the Bitcoin.org site maintainer insists upon it.

GDAX Issues a Statement Concerning UASF

Following Bitcoin.org’s disruption alert one large bitcoin exchange has come forward issuing a warning and how the company will handle the August 1 situation. The cryptocurrency trading platform GDAX, a subset of Coinbase announced there will be a temporary suspension of deposits, withdrawals, and possibly trading on August 1. GDAX executive Adam White says, “the activation of UASF may create two blockchains,” and outlines how the company plans on handling the possible fork. If August 1 results in two chains, GDAX states;

  1. One blockchain becomes dominant, resulting in the other blockchain having low community adoption and value.
  2. Both blockchains are adopted, co-existing and operating independently of one another with roughly equal community adoption and value.

In either scenario, we will implement safeguards to ensure the safety of our customers’ funds. For example, we will temporarily suspend the deposit and withdrawal of bitcoin on GDAX and may pause the trading of bitcoin as well. This decision will be based on our assessment of the technical risks posed by the fork, such as replay attacks and other factors that could create network instability.

Bitcoin ABC

Another possible scenario to think about is the “Bitcoin ABC” (Adjustable Blocksize Cap) implementation that was revealed by the software engineer, Amaury Séchet at The Future of Bitcoin event in Arnhem. The project has released its latest client Bitcoin ABC 0.14.2 and says it’s a full node implementation of Bitcoin that removes Segwit code and replaces it with an adjustable block size cap. During the initial announcement, Séchet detailed that Bitcoin ABC is part of the user-activated hard fork contingency plan against BIP148.

August 1 and The Potential Disruption of the Bitcoin Network

In essence, the ABC protocol prepares for any disruptive risks associated with UASF activation and could also activate during the August 1st “Flag Day” as well. Besides being a contingency plan, the UAHF protocol will move the block size cap towards the activation of emergent consensus where users can decide block size themselves. Bitcoin ABC could counter the BIP148 soft fork which could cause network disruption, and a possible blockchain split as well.

Meanwhile, the Segwit2x Plan Moves Forward In the Midst of Egos and Constant Bickering

Alongside these two alternative plans, the Segwit2x working group has also been steadily preparing the compromise idea announced called the “New York Agreement.” The group released beta code and have been experimenting with the Segwit protocol and a 2MB hard fork on a Bitcoin testnet. So far there has been a lot of bickering about Segwit2x between the project’s lead developer Jeff Garzik, Bitcoin core developers, and the Blockstream CEO Adam Back. Many core supporters refuse to compromise on Segwit2x calling it “Franken-segwit” and a great majority of core developers have rejected supporting the idea. However, some core maintainers have been making comments on Segwit2x’s Github and the working group’s Slack channel. There is still uncertainty concerning the New York Agreement plan, but the working group is still moving along as August 1st gets closer.

As far as August 1st is concerned users should make sure they hold their private keys. There is a possibility of network disruption and Bitcoin.com will inform our readers of everything people need to know, including exchange updates, trading, withdrawal and deposit suspensions, and any other important information that arises in regards to this specific date.

What do you think about August 1st? Do you think there will be any potential network disruption or do you think nothing will happen at all? Let us know what you think in the comments below