Archive December 2018

Cypherpunk Legend Timothy May Has Passed Away

Timothy C. May, cypherpunk legend and author of the “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto,” has passed away at the age 67. His passing was announced Saturday by Lucky Green, also a self-described cypherpunk, on Facebook, saying that his “dear friend” May had passed away earlier this week at his home in Corralitos, California. “Death appears to be from natural causes pending autopsy. I.e. Tim did not die in a hail of bullets as so many who didn’t know Tim all that well and largely from his public writings had predicted,” Green wrote. May is known for co-founding the “Cypherpunks” mailing list – “perhaps the single most effective pro-cryptography grassroots organization in history, together with Eric Hughes and John Gilmore in 1992,” as Green put it. After retiring from tech giant Intel in 1986, May became influenced by early work on cryptocurrency by cryptographer David Chaum, and went on to write the “Crypto Anarchist Manifesto” in 1988, stating that “Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner.” Displaying great prescience on how cryptography would ultimately come to the forefront of technology and society, he went on:
“Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re- routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering”
Most recently, in October, May penned a piece for CoinDesk, sharing his thoughts on the bitcoin white paper and the developing cryptocurrency space, saying “Satoshi [bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor] did a brilliant thing, but the story is far from over.” He further warned:
“I can’t speak for what Satoshi intended, but I sure don’t think it involved bitcoin exchanges that have draconian rules about KYC, AML, passports, freezes on accounts and laws about reporting ‘suspicious activity’ to the local secret police. There’s a real possibility that all the noise about ‘governance,’ ‘regulation’ and ‘blockchain’ will effectively create a surveillance state, a dossier society.”
Correction: This article briefly displayed an incorrect image of Timothy May. CoinDesk apologizes for the error. Fonte: www.coindesk.com

A Year Ago Today Bitcoin’s Price Hit a Record $20k

Bitcoin (BTC) is still struggling to find the bottom of a bear market on the anniversary of its $20,000 all-time record price high. At press time, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was trading at $3,230 on Bitstamp – down 83.5 percent from the record high of $20,000 reached on Dec. 17, 2017. BTC is also down 76 percent on a year-to-date basis (from its opening price of $13,880 on Jan. 1) and is on track to end its three-year winning streak. The picture, however, was remarkably different in the fourth quarter of the last year. The cryptocurrency picked up a strong bid on Nov. 1, 2017, on speculation that the imminent listing of bitcoin futures products on major US exchanges would open the floodgates for institutional money. Back then, BTC was trading above $6,000. Notably, the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) established a self-feeding cycle of more investors joining the party, leading to an even bigger rise in price. By Dec. 17, BTC was trading at $20,000 and was seen rising to dizzy heights this year. Such was the frenzy that Ari Paul, current CIO of Blocktower Capital, purchased 12-month call options with a strike price of $50,000 for $1 million. Call options give holders the right to buy the underlying cryptocurrency at an agreed price on or before a particular date. Paul was essentially betting that BTC would rise to $50,000 by Dec. 28, 2018. The bubble, however, burst in the first quarter of this year and prices have been generally falling ever since. As a result, that now-worthless call option is set to expire next Friday.

A tough year

BTC’s slide from $20,000 to $3,200 could be categorized in the following phases: Sell the fact: BTC closed last year at $13,880 – down 44 percent from the $20,000 high seen on Dec. 17 – possibly due to profit taking on long positions initiated in the run-up to the futures listings. Most experts called it a “sell the fact” scenario and dismissed it as nothing more than a healthy correction. Bubble shrinks: The effects of regulatory clampdowns in China and South Korea weighed heavily over bitcoin’s price early in Q1. Both nations were the biggest sources of demand for cryptocurrencies before the restrictions. Prices subsequently fell to $6,000 on Feb. 6 and closed near $7,000 on Mar. 31. Bear breather: BTC spent a better part of the second quarter and the entire third quarter defending the psychological level of $6,000. Notably, the key support level held ground in the third quarter, despite the decision by the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) to reject BTC exchange-traded funds (ETFs). As a result, experts, including the likes of billionaire investor Novogratz, were convinced that BTC had bottomed out around $6,000. Losses resume: BTC’s inability to produce a notable price bounce despite the repeated defense of $6,000 proved costly. Prices nosedived below the critical 21-month exponential moving average (EMA) support on Nov. 14, signaling a resumption of the sell-off from the record high of $20,000.

What lies ahead?

BTC hit a 15-month low of $3,122 over the weekend and is showing little signs of life below the 21-month EMA. The short-duration, technical charts, however, are signaling scope for a minor price bounce.

Monthly chart

The above chart shows BTC’s journey from the record highs a year ago to recent 15-month lows near $3,100. The outlook as per the monthly chart would turn bullish, if and when BTC crosses the former support-turned-resistance of the 21-month EMA, currently at $5,719.

Daily chart and BTC/USD Longs on Bitfinex

BTC’s daily chart shows a “sideways” breach of the falling wedge resistance, meaning the breakout is not convincing. As a result, a more credible evidence of a bullish reversal is needed, possibly in the form a high-volume break above $3,633 (high of the 3-day inverted hammer candle). That could yield a stronger corrective rally to levels above $4,000. BTC/USD long positions on Bitfinex rose to 35,773 BTC earlier today – a level last seen on July 23. More importantly, the longs have risen by 33 percent in the last six days. That could be an indication that bargain hunters are paying heed to extreme oversold conditions reported by the 14-week relative strength index (RSI). BTC, therefore, could witness a corrective bounce ahead of the year’s end.

View

  • A drop to the psychological level of $3,000 remains on cards as long as BTC is trading below the crucial resistance at $3,633.
  • A break above $3,633 would validate the falling wedge breakout seen in the daily chart and allow a rally to $4,000. A violation there would expose next resistance lined up at $4,410 (Nov. 29 high).
Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing. Fonte: www.coindesk.com

Switzerland to Regulate Blockchain Within Existing Financial Laws

The government of Switzerland wants to accommodate the blockchain sector within its existing financial laws. The country’s Federal Council issued a report on Friday, providing a legal framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT), or blockchain,, stating that Switzerland’s existing rules are well suited to dealing with such new technologies, but there is still a need for some amendments. Firstly, the council has proposed an amendment to the country’s securities law to increase the legal certainty of crypto tokens. “Since an entry in a decentralised register accessible to interested parties can create publicity similar to the ownership of a security, it seems justified to attach similar legal effects to this entry,” the highest executive authority of the Swiss Confederation explained. The council also wants to segregate crypto assets from the insolvent debtors’ total estate in bankruptcy proceedings. However, because under the country’s existing Debt Enforcement and Bankruptcy Act (DEBA) it is not clear whether these assets can be segregated, the council said there is a “great need for legal certainty” for the parties involved and thus a corresponding change is proposed in the DEBA act. Further, the government body has proposed the creation of a new “authorization category” for infrastructure providers in the blockchain sector, and will make amendments to its Financial Market Infrastructure Act accordingly. Currently, the council has not yet proposed any specific changes, as the central definitions of the terms “securities” and “derivatives” in financial market regulations are also relevant for blockchain-based business models, it said. Regarding the country’s Anti-Money Laundering Act, the council said the legislation is currently adequate enough to also cover activities related to cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). “The general principles of the Anti-Money Laundering Act also apply to crypto-based assets.” it said, adding that there is no need for a “fundamental revision” at present. The Swiss government has been working on blockchain regulations since 2016, when the country’s Federal Department of Finance outlined its plans to regulate fintech. Later in early 2017, the council itself was seeking consultations on regulatory changes for the domestic financial industry to account for fintech including blockchain. Most recently, Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) introduced a new fintech license with “relaxed” requirements that is applicable to blockchain and cryptocurrency-based firms. Fonte: www.coindesk.com

Exchanges, Startups Pick Sides After the Bitcoin Cash ‘Hash War’

The so-called “hash war” over the future of bitcoin cash is over – and what remains appears to be a persisting rivalry between the forces behind what are now two distinct cryptocurrencies. Created in November when the blockchain underwent a controversial system-wide upgrade (also called a hard fork), there remains a segment of the bitcoin cash community that follows a new software protocol called Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision, or BSV. With the remaining community following a competing implementation of bitcoin cash called Bitcoin Adjustable Blocksize Cap, or ABC, the expectation shortly after the split was that one blockchain would quickly overtake the other. In part, these expectation were stoked by rumors of an impending “hash war” in which SV proponents would redirect computation energy also called hash power – normally used to mine blocks on a blockchain – to sabotage operations on the ABC chain. But following the hard fork that led to a split the bitcoin cash blockchain, Craig Wright – the one-time Satoshi Nakamoto claimaint, chief scientist at nChain and one of the leading figureheads for BSV – denied plans of chain attacks, instead calling for a strategy called “persistence hunting.” He told CoinDesk:
“This is long term. People have got to understand that we are not taking the quick easy path and if they don’t like it that’s too bad.”
Now, nearly one month after the fork occurred, proponents on the SV side, including Wright, are focusing efforts on developing SV’s brand and attracting adoption among users and businesses. Though on this front, Roger Ver – CEO of bitcoin.com and outspoken supporter for Bitcoin ABC – argued at a CNBC event in Tokyo last week the SV side was still losing. “The ABC version of bitcoin cash has more hashrate, more exchanges, more wallets, more everything. The BSV coin – I wish them good luck – but it’s a separate project and it’s not bitcoin cash. They have … less everything,” said Ver. As such, the two coins – while no longer engaged in a battle over sustained computation energy or hash power – are nonetheless in fierce competition with one another to achieve the highest degree of user adoption. After all, the original vision of bitcoin cash, still championed by Bitcoin ABC and SV supporters alike, is the creation of a global peer-to-peer payments network. Both see the ultimate use case for their respective cryptocurrencies as a digital form of cash, certain proponents on the Bitcoin SV side even go so far as to say that in the long-run there will exist only one cryptocurrency. Speaking to CoinDesk, Lorien Gamaroff CEO of BSV wallet Centbee said:
”There will be one bitcoin. I think that all these other coins – all these thousands of them – will disappear and only bitcoin [SV] will survive and that’s bitcoin in its original form.”

A “pro-business” move

Straying from the original design of bitcoin in an important way, bitcoin ABC developers implemented a contentious upgrade five days following the bitcoin cash split. The changes to the network were two-fold:
  1. Block finalization: The history of blocks on the bitcoin ABC blockchain can only be reorganized – or “reorged” in short – back to ten blocks. This means that transactions featured in a block that has been added to by a minimum of 10 blocks are final. In other words, these transactions cannot be changed even if a longer running version of the ABC chain proposes alternative transaction history.
  2. Reorg threshold: In addition, for a longer running bitcoin ABC chain to reorg even less than ten of the most recent validated blocks, the length of the chain must feature twice as many blocks as the number it seeks to reorg. This means that for an opposing chain to attempt a four block reorg, this chain must present not only five newly rendered blocks but eight.
Outside of preventing a maliciously mined version of the bitcoin ABC blockchain from overtaking the network, this upgrade dubbed “Bitcoin ABC 0.18.5″ poses benefits to businesses and cryptocurrency exchanges operating on the network. Speaking to CoinDesk, Tanooj Luthra – ex-Coinbase engineer and current CTO for blockchain startup Elph – explained:
“It’s definitely a pro-business, wallets, operations heavy move … If you don’t have some amount of guarantee that a transaction has been finalized how can you ever actually use the currency? How can you actually buy a good with it?”
Viewing the traditional guarantee of “proof-of-work” or the longest running chain as an ideological preference, Luthra explained that in practice reliance on hash power did not hold practicality for smaller cryptocurrencies like bitcoin ABC. As such, he predicted strengthened support from exchanges and businesses exchanging funds on the network as a result of this upgrade. To Luthra’s point, three cryptocurrency exchanges – Coinbase, Bitso and Gemini – have since allocated the bitcoin cash ticker symbol “BCH” to the Bitcoin ABC blockchain. They have also additionally refrained from adding support for users looking to trade the Bitcoin SV cryptocurrency citing continued “uncertainty” over its future as in the case of Gemini. Outside of these three, other exchanges have enabled support to Bitcoin ABC and Bitcoin SV either allocating the bitcoin cash symbol to Bitcoin ABC or differentiating it from Bitcoin SV as “BAB/BCHABC.” These exchanges include but are not limited to: OKEx, Kraken, Poloniex, Bitfinex, and CoinEx.

The makings of ‘sound money’

And though Bitcoin SV is currently unlisted by certain cryptocurrency exchanges, it’s value on the exchanges that do allow SV trading has climbed in recent days to sit almost at par with the ABC coin. Having grappled over the past week on the five exchanges listed above, bitcoin ABC looks to hold a slight price advantage over the other – both being valued below $100 at the time of publication. Confident that the SV platform will “ramp up” in profitability over time, Steve Shadders – Bitcoin SV developer and director of solutions and engineering at nChain – told CoinDesk:
“Substantial businesses and organizations have committed to building on the SV blockchain … I’m very confident about the future of bitcoin SV because the businesses that have pledged to support us are the ones that have real sustainable business models.”
Pointing to the official bitcoin SV website, Shadders noted that two dozen cryptocurrency services and ten different wallet applications currently support the nascent blockchain network. One of these very businesses being Centbee, Gamaroff added that his convictions about the SV blockchain came down to believing in its future as “sound money.” Rejecting all new and controversial changes to protocol – apart from increases to block size – bitcoin SV supporters like Gamaroff believe in “a fixed protocol set in stone.” “Every coin out there wants to be sound money but nobody realizes that for it to be sound, it needs to be unchangeable,” said Gamaroff. Echoing these sentiments, Ryan X Charles CEO of MoneyButton – an online payments tool listed to operate on the SV network – told CoinDesk before the split that the “burden to businesses” of continual changes to the protocol was “well-intentioned but not based on operating a … business.” At the same time, supporters of ABC like Luthra maintain that changes to the code – as opposed to reducing the stability of a network – are healthy signs indicating prolonged usability. Speaking to ABC’s most recent upgrade 0.18.5, he told CoinDesk:
“It’s a really good sign that [ABC developers] are trying to get more widespread adoption and make things little bit more usable and little bit more practical.”
Though several businesses, such as CoinText and BitPay, have already announced their support of the new bitcoin ABC network, a full list to indicate the relative number of competing services on ABC has yet to be created. As such, with the bitcoin cash hash war having come and gone, the renewed battle between these two camps are unlikely to be solved on the basis of hash power any longer. Leaving it up to market forces now to decide the fate of bitcoin ABC and SV, the key question to ask moving forward will be: who is using which network? Fonte: www.coindesk.com

US Government Issues Advice Over Bitcoin Bomb Threat Emails

The U.S. government has confirmed the existence of bomb threat emails that demand bitcoin from organizations and suggested steps to take. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, announced Thursday that it is aware of such an email campaign worldwide. “The emails claim that a device will detonate unless a ransom in bitcoin is paid,” the NCCIC said. There have been several media reports stating that scammers are demanding hefty bitcoin ransom with the subject line, “I advise you not to call the police.” The email reportedly read:
“My man carried a bomb (Hexogen) into the building where your company is located. … I can withdraw my mercenary if you pay. You pay me 20.000 $ in Bitcoin and the bomb will not explode, but don’t try to cheat – I warrant you that I will withdraw my mercenary only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.”
Some Twitter users also posted screengrabs of threatening emails, including some individuals. The NCCIC advised citizens that, if they receive one of the bomb threat emails, they should not try to contact the sender or pay the ransom. The agency also asked people to report emails to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or to a local FBI field office. The mayor of Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser has also released an official statement confirming that she has been briefed by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on the ongoing investigation into the several bomb threats nationwide, including DC. “Each of the threats was received via email, requesting bitcoin ransom, but we have no knowledge that anyone has complied with the transaction demands,” she said. Bowser added:
“MPD is investigating these threats with our federal law enforcement partners. This is an issue being reported in other cities nationwide and is not considered credible at this time. If you receive a threat or observe suspicious activity, please call 911.”
Australian and New Zealand government agencies are also reportedly investigating bitcoin bomb threat emails received by some residents, as confirmed by cybersecurity officials to Reuters. Fonte: https://www.coindesk.com/us-government-issues-advice-over-bitcoin-bomb-threat-emails

US Lawmaker Suggests ‘WallCoin’ Crypto to Fund Trump’s Mexico Border Wall

Ohio Congressman Warren Davidson thinks crowdfunding may provide a solution to the controversial proposal of building a wall on the Mexican border. And, perhaps more notably, he suggested using a cryptocurrency to do so. During an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, the U.S. lawmaker explained that he has already proposed letting the American public pay for the wall, which is opposed by Democrats but mades up a key aspect of President Donald Trump’s list of 2016 campaign promises. In particular, Davidson told Inskeep, he has suggested a private funding program wherein “the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” (including residents of Mexico) would be able to fund the wall’s construction. He went on to add:
“You could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins, but you could raise the money and frankly if we get it right at the Treasury you could even pay with Mexican pesos.”
Davidson noted that this funding would not support a full wall across the entire border and that some parts could likely be reinforced with fences. “There are areas that you would want to secure with a wall, and if you look at the areas where you have secured them with walls, $5 billion isn’t going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China, this is going to build secure fences,” he said. Davidson is an outspoken supporter of the cryptocurrency space, having previously held a round-table event with more than 80 representatives from both the crypto and finance industries to discuss possible legislation for initial coin offerings. A spokesperson for Davidson did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Fonte: www.coindesk.com

Gaming PC Maker Razer Offers Store Credit in Return for Crypto Mining

Gaming hardware manufacturer Razer has launched an app that rewards users for mining cryptocurrency – but not with either cash or crypto. Announced Wednesday, the app, dubbed Razer SoftMiner, allows gamers to utilize their idle graphics cards to mine for new transactions blocks on the ethereum blockchain, among other networks. While mining directly using software clients or via other apps earns computer owners cryptocurrency, SoftMiner instead rewards them with loyalty points under Razer’s Silver program; the amount of “silver” they get depends on the processing power of their computers and the amount of time dedicated to running the app, among more technical factors. The loyalty points can later be redeemed in-store for discounts on Razer products, merchandise, gift vouchers and more, the firm says. The app has also seen some push-back on social media, with one Twitter user summing up the app concept as: “Razer SoftMiner uses your GPU to mine cryptocurrency, but you don’t get the coins.” SoftMiner has been built using the same engine as GammaNow, a similar desktop app that rewards users for handing over their unused GPU processing power. While the news might seem an easy way for owners of powerful gaming machines to earn some extra cash-equivalent, it comes as miners are struggling to make ends meet with prices down at least 80 percent across many cryptos this year. As a result, single GPU miners are unlikely to make significant earnings even if mining directly via dedicated software. Last month, Taiwan-based tech giant Asus similarly moved to allow gamers to use their graphics cards to earn a share of profits from cryptocurrency mining. Asus partnered with mining app provider Quantumcloud for the effort and pays users out in cash via PayPal or WeChat. Fonte: www.coindesk.com  

South Korea’s Kakao Leads $15 Million Raise for Public Blockchain Startup Orbs

Hybrid blockchain platform Orbs has raised over $15 million in cryptocurrency with help from South Korean app provider Kakao. A Kakao representative told CoinDesk that its investment arm had joined the funding effort because it “always seeks to invest and support innovative startups and Orbs is a good example.” The startup raised 139,000 ether ($12,371,000) and 892 bitcoin ($3,017,026), which amounts to about $15.4 million as of press time. Orbs is building a public blockchain that it describes itself as a “universal” and “scalable” second layer for decentralized applications with “the liquidity of a base layer.” With the fundraising effort now completed, Orbs will now invest further in research, as well as continuing to develop its core technology, said Orbs president and co-founder Daniel Peled. Peled explained:
“A lot of the funds have been used for R&D and research, and one of the other verticals that are very important is obviously to enable the growth of the ecosystem around the infrastructure … The test product is already live, and people can use the APIs and we’ve released a testnet version.”
The mainnet is scheduled to go live in April 2019. According to a blog post from Orbs, the investment is an extension of its existing partnership with Kakao’s blockchain subsidiary Ground X, that see the two companies partnering on blockchain applications and R&D projects. Orbs has been running its fundraiser over the past year, converting some of the cryptocurrency raised into fiat along the way to avoid the market decline since January. “I think one of the things that Orbs has done well is be responsible with the funds, so we hedged a lot of the funds in fiat, we pay salaries in fiat, in shekels,” Peled explained. At the current burn rate, he projects that Orbs has sufficiently full coffers to operate for another seven years without additional fundraising. Fonte: https://www.coindesk.com/south-koreas-kakao-leads-15-million-raise-for-public-blockchain-startup-orbs

Ethereum’s Geth Software Upgrades Ahead of January Hard Fork

The most-used ethereum software client has published code that includes an activation time for Constantinople, a proposed upgrade that, if enacted by users, would bring additional features and enhancements to the network. Go-ethereum (Geth) v1.8.20, released on Tuesday, sets the Constantinople hard fork on the ethereum mainnet, the principal version of the platform, for block 7,080,000. Together with Parity, Geth is one of two softwares used by a majority of the participants in ethereum’s network. As such, the move is the latest sign Constantinople is moving ahead on schedule. The hard fork’s activation block was proposed earlier this month during a developer call, setting the stage for the upcoming release. Should users adopt the new code – by design, such upgrades are subject to acceptance by the network’s userbase – Constantinople could go live between January 14 and 18. Prior to that, Constantinople would activate on the Rinkeby testnet at block 3,660,663. Developers had previously proposed to activate the Constantinople hard fork in November 2018, but issues identified during testing led developers to opt to delay that launch in an effort to squash the bugs. Constantinople seeks to bring an array of design changes, with the broader goal of streamlining the platform’s overall code. Notably, it would reduce the per-block mining reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH, and also push ahead the so-called “difficulty bomb” – a code element designed to promote frequent upgrades – by another 18 months. Once launched, Constantinople will mark the end of an upgrade process for ethereum formerly dubbed Metropolis. Looking ahead, developers are already working to build what could constitute the next phases of ethereum’s development, dubbed ethereum 1x and ethereum 2.0. Fonte: www.coindesk.com