The Daily: 100 Exchanges’ Security Rated, Enjinx Block Explorer Launches

The Daily: 100 Exchanges’ Security Rated, Enjinx Block Explorer Launches

Tuesday’s installment of The Daily details new tools that are helping users safely navigate the cryptocurrency ecosystem. From making an informed decision about which exchanges to trust to tracking blockchain transactions with Enjinx, we cover a selection of developments from across the cryptosphere, before finishing with a trip to the darknet where KYC documents are allegedly up for sale.

Also read: How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously

100 Crypto Exchanges’ Security Assessed

Over the last few months, Crypto Exchange Ranks (CER) has been shining a light on the practices of the exchanges tasked with protecting customer funds and fairly reporting trading volume and other metrics. While a good number of exchanges act ethically, there is a lot of unscrupulous operators out there. In its latest report, CER has applied a security score to the top 100 exchanges, ranking them for server security, user security, and an ongoing crowdsourced security assessment.

The Daily: 100 Exchanges’ Security Rated, Enjinx Block Explorer Launches
The top 20 exchanges for security according to CER

Just nine exchanges scored more than 8/10 in the report, with the top four comprising Kraken followed by Coinbase Pro, Binance, and Bitmex. Not surprisingly, the exchanges that received the lowest score were troubled by hacks during 2018. Bithumb, Coincheck, and Zaif all scored less than 5/10.

Enjinx Launches New Block Explorer

Enjinx has launched its new blockchain explorer. The tool, for interacting with the Ethereum network, is characterized by a clean and minimal design that sets it apart from traditional blockchain explorers. The Enjinx team is aiming to position its new resource in direct competition to Etherscan, the most popular explorer within the Ethereum ecosystem. Transactions, blocks, and ERC20 tokens can all be browsed, with the most popular Ethereum tokens ranked by 24-hour volume, price change, and market cap.

The Daily: 100 Exchanges’ Security Rated, Enjinx Block Explorer Launches

Enjinx is now working on integrating Bitcoin Core, Litecoin, and Dogecoin explorers in a bid to become the go-to tool for cryptocurrency users seeking to query public blockchains. The project’s Ethereum explorer is also scheduled to be upgraded further to incorporate data on ERC1155 and ERC721 non-fungible tokens.

Bitfinex Denies Security Breach After KYC Details Surface on Darknet

The Daily: 100 Exchanges’ Security Rated, Enjinx Block Explorer LaunchesCustomers of several leading crypto exchanges have had their personal details leaked according to a darknet hacker. “ExploitDOT” claims to have the details of 100,000 crypto customers, including selfies, passport scans, and other identification documents. The allegedly stolen data is believed to originate from early 2018 and pertains to Binance, Bitfinex, Poloniex and Bittrex. Bitfinex has issued a denial that it has suffered a security breach, though given that the hack is thought to have come from a third party KYC processor, this doesn’t mean that Bitfinex users are unaffected.

On darknet forum Dread, ExploitDOT insisted that his trove of documents was legitimate, writing “if you ever sent a KYC, chances are … your documents [are] in my dump,” adding that “the exchanges are completely denying the documents were took from them, whereas there is clearly docs with ‘Binance’, ‘Poloniex’ and such written on the paper.” While the veracity of the haul is debated, the story has reaffirmed to many in the crypto community something they have always known: enforced KYC makes everyone less secure.

What are your thoughts on the stories in today’s news roundup? Let us know in the comments section below.


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How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously

How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously

Buying bitcoin is not a revolutionary act. Nor should it be. And yet the way statists, apparatchiks and politicians bang on, you’d think the mere act of acquiring digital currency was akin to receiving the keys to a pandora’s box in which lurks every illicit artifact known to man. One day, these dinosaurs will begrudgingly concede that buying bitcoin is no more seditious than buying a soda with a $20 bill. But until then, you’ll want to preserve your privacy when acquiring cryptocurrency.

Also read: Wasabi’s Privacy-Focused BTC Wallet Aims to Make Bitcoin Fungible Again

Buy Your Bitcoin, Keep Your Privacy

The reasons why you might want to keep bitcoin ownership to yourself don’t require rehashing. Put simply, though, it’s no one’s damn business what you want to do with your money or how you wish to store your wealth. In the future, governmental scrutiny of bitcoin ownership will look as archaic and benighted as state intrusion into the religious or sexual preferences of its citizens. By the time that day comes, bitcoin may be worth a lot more than it is today. The steps you take to preserve your privacy in the present, therefore, may prove particularly precious in the future. Just think about 2011 bitcoiners who had no need to conceal their ownership at the time, only to find themselves sitting ducks once those bitcoins multiplied 3,000x by 2017.

How to Buy Bitcoin AnonymouslyAnonymously buying bitcoin in small amounts is relatively easy, though getting your hands on larger quantities without having to jump through hoops can be harder. Just as it’s common practice to use fake personal details when signing into public wifi, the same can be done when buying bitcoin through ATMs and terminals such as the newly repurposed Coinstar machines. Doing so will require a burner phone or a secondary SIM card that isn’t tied to your real world identity. Alternatively, search for “receive SMS online” to find links to services that will provide you with a one-time number.

Buying Bitcoin in Person

In addition to BATMs, which can be used to buy a few hundred bucks’ worth of crypto at a time, P2P sites like Localbitcoins.com enable you to locate sellers in your area and meet them in person. Better still, if you have acquaintances who work in the cryptocurrency industry or mine crypto, you should be able to purchase bitcoin directly from them, since they’ll be obliged to periodically liquidate some of their coins for fiat to cover living expenses. Newly mined coins are particularly precious (which is why they’ve been known to fetch a premium on OTC markets) because they have no history associated with them.

How to Buy Bitcoin Anonymously

Purchasing bitcoin face-to-face (or face-to-ATM) brings its own risks, of course, particularly from a privacy perspective. If you would prefer it that no one knew of your business – not the miner you’re buying crypto from, nor the surveillance cameras watching you feed banknotes into the BATM in the 7/11 – you’d be better served transacting online. While this removes the ability to transact in cash, there are privacy gains to be made elsewhere.

Anonymously Buying Bitcoin Online

Finding a bitcoin marketplace that won’t KYC the hell out of you isn’t easy, but there is one platform that stands out from all the boot-licking exchanges willing to do the government’s bidding. Its name is Bisq, and what it lacks in liquidity and spot prices, it makes up for in privacy. The range of payment methods the P2P marketplace accepts is extensive: face-to-face is even an option, if you’re fortunate enough to live within range of a seller. Generally speaking, you’ll need to make payment using an e-wallet or bank transfer. While this entails certain compromises from a privacy perspective, it’s easy to disguise the nature of the transaction using a generic banking reference such as “Car” or “Video editing.”

How to Buy Bitcoin AnonymouslyJust as Localbitcoins.com will connect you with sellers willing to meet face-to-face, it will link you online in a manner similar to Bisq. Once again, if paying by bank transfer, you can put whatever you like on the pay-in reference, as most sellers do, as putting “bitcoin” on a bank reference is asking for account suspension. (This will change one day, but by the time it does, banks will no longer be relevant and will be begging bitcoiners for business.) It’s easy to set up a Localbitcoins account using a private email account, such as Protonmail, and a fake social media account and burner number if you’re particularly cautious. Hodl Hodl is another P2P market where verification is optional rather than enforced. The number of available offers is low, but Hodl Hodl has a wider range of cryptocurrencies including XMR and EOS.

Buy Privately Then Stay Private

Anonymity measures shouldn’t end the moment you’ve bought bitcoin. It’s an ongoing mindset that calls for using privacy-centric wallets such as Wasabi, avoiding sending funds to exchanges that enforce KYC, and also avoiding address reuse. But those are all topics we’ll cover in one of our next “How To” guides. Like bitcoin itself, privacy is likely to become an increasingly precious commodity in the years to come. The steps you take now to preserve yours will pay future dividends.

What other platforms do you recommend for buying bitcoin without KYC? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App

There’s a lot to love about Ledger’s hardware wallets. There’s also a lot to loathe. From a design, manufacture, and presentation perspective, they’re a dream. From a software perspective, they’re capricious, prone to connecting and disconnecting on a whim. The new Ledger Nano X continues that tradition.

Also read: Ledger Unveils Bluetooth-Enabled Hardware Wallet

Nano X: Has Potential, Needs Work

I’ve got something of a love-hate relationship with Ledger hardware wallets (HWs). I love their aesthetics and theoretical functionality. I hate their practical functionality, because in practice, Ledgers never work for me. I’ve got four of ‘em sitting in a drawer somewhere, one of which I purchased myself and the others sent by Ledger for reviewing purposes. I managed to get all of them to work, eventually, after much cursing and teeth-gritting, but predicted that I would be unlikely to use those particular devices again. I’ve kept my word.

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App
My review edition of the Nano X was great until I unboxed it.

The new Ledger Nano X, unveiled at the start of this month, is a device I want to crush on, or at least develop as much of an affinity for a HW as it’s natural for a man to have. And, straight out the box, I feel all those feels. No other HW manufacturer makes devices that look as good as Ledger. You name them – Cold Card, Ellipal, Cobo Vault – I’ve reviewed them and found them functional, but none looked as slick as Ledger’s wallets when the cellophane was peeled off.

There’s a much more desirable attribute of hardware wallets, however, than looking good in the palm of the hand, and that’s where Ledger and I don’t see eye to eye. I don’t know if it’s my laptops or my attitude, but Ledgers hate me. I had been hoping their new Nano X, scheduled to ship in March, would end my lousy run of luck with Ledgers, but it wasn’t to be.

‘Our Most Advanced Hardware Wallet Yet’

Ledger’s “most advanced hardware wallet yet” is basically the best-selling Nano with Bluetooth bolted on, an extra button, and the new Ledger Live mobile app as a companion. The X is the future of Ledger’s production line, with the original Nano now reduced to 70 bucks, as the French firm looks to get shot of stock and make way for the sleeker Nano X, which will retail for around $140.

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App

The Nano doesn’t feel dated until you look at the Nano X, whereupon it feels as obsolete as a first edition iPhone. That’s not to slate the trusty Nano however – it remains a highly regarded hardware wallet, and there is no need to upgrade to the X. If you’re shopping for a new Ledger, however, it’s all about the X. It’s hard to overstate how much utility is added by simply upgrading from one push button to two. Entering your PIN into the device is much easier now, with the buttons serving as left and right respectively, while pushing them in unison acts as ‘enter’.

The Nano X comes with 5x the storage capacity for applications as its predecessor, allowing it to store more cryptocurrencies than any other major HW on the market. The test version of the device I received came with instructions noting that “Many things will be improved [in final production] including firmware, battery life, laser engraving quality, screen luminosity, general quality.” So pretty much everything then. The build and finish quality of the X look perfectly good to me. My only issue – and it’s a major one – is with the software.

In theory, software is a lot easier to fix than hardware, not least because it doesn’t require recalling 100,000 devices. That said, Ledger have been working on their Ledger Live wallet management software for over six months now, and it’s yet to work for longer than a few minutes at a time for this reviewer.

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App
My laptop would ideally have one Ledger application – not four.

A Long and Fruitless Week

When it comes to product reviews, my policy is to wait until everything’s working correctly before putting fingers to keyboard. After a long and frustrating week with the Nano X, however, in which far too many hours were frittered away on fruitless troubleshooting, it behoves me to write this review. As I type these words, I have yet to send or receive cryptocurrency using my Nano X, but despite this failure, I feel well qualified to expound on what the X can and cannot do.

Given that bluetooth and a standard mini USB are fitted to the Nano X, there are two ways to install the Ledger Live software onto the device. If I can’t get Ledger Live on desktop to work, I figure, I’ll just do it over bluetooth using the Ledger Live mobile app. It was a nice idea, but it wasn’t to be. I was stymied at first by this error message:

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App

After reaching out to Ledger support, I was informed that “Yesterday, we announced a new firmware version. Our servers were overloaded that’s why you have this error message. Can you retry tomorrow?” I certainly could. Only, the next day Ledger Live was still producing the same error message – on two desktop devices and also on mobile. The next day it was the same. And the day after, and the day after that. This evening, however, while the desktop software was still being unresponsive, I made a breakthrough on mobile at the umpteenth attempt.

Hope Springs Eternal

With some relief, I sat down to write my Nano X review in the knowledge that I was just a few clicks away from having the device fully operational. The last step was to install a cryptocurrency app, because Ledger insists on forcing users to install apps within apps. If you want to store 100 cryptocurrencies on the X, for example, you have to install 100 apps onto the HW. Utter madness.

Pretty soon, I’m installing the BTC app, though I can’t tell from the onscreen prompt whether it’s being downloaded onto the mobile app or onto the HW itself. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, as I’m soon greeted by a message that reads “Operation was cancelled. Something went wrong. Please retry or contact us.” I try a different app, ETH this time. “Installing Ethereum. The installation of Ethereum app may take a while, please keep the app open,” I’m informed. Again, I’ve no idea whether this means the app on my phone or that I should keep the Nano X open and powered on. A moment later, I’m greeted by an entirely new error message:

Review: The Ledger Nano X Adds Bluetooth and a Fussy Mobile App

And that’s about the point where I gave up. I would have no problem cutting Ledger some slack on what’s an early production model of their Nano X, were it not for the fact that the problems with this device have nothing to do with manufacturing and everything to do with coding. The Nano X works as well as its predecessor, which for this reviewer means barely/not at all. I still want to find a Ledger HW I can love, and I still dream of opening one of their devices to find it works straight out the box. Until that happy day arrives, however, I’m resigned to composing verbose reviews that don’t even begin to convey the lengths I went to in order to get this damn thing to work. Better luck next time.

What are your thoughts on Ledger’s hardware wallets? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Wallet Hacking Debate Heats Up, Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Emerges

The Daily: Wallet Hacking Debate Heats Up, Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Emerges

To kickstart the weekend, we’ve curated a handful of short but compelling stories from across the crypto sphere. First up, we’ll revisit the fallout from Wallet Fail’s demonstration of hardware wallet cracking. We’ll then move on to a Patreon alternative that’s powered by cryptocurrency and a viral tweetstorm about everything that’s allegedly wrong with Ethereum.

Also read: Blockchain Company Buys Spanish Soccer Club, Cementing Crypto-Sports Connection

More Hardware Wallet Manufacturers Respond to Hacking Claims

As we reported yesterday, a team known as Wallet Fail have captured attention after demonstrating how to crack several cryptocurrency hardware wallets. Ledger and Trezor, the manufacturers whose devices were exploited at the 35C3 conference, were swift to issue rebuttals and reassurances, emphasizing the impracticality of an attacker implementing one of Wallet Fail’s methods in the wild. Since we reported on the story, a number of other hardware wallet companies have also responded to the presentation.

The Daily: Wallet Hacking Debate Heats Up, Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Emerges
The Coldcard hardware wallet

“Keepkey did not have prior knowledge of this vulnerability through our responsible disclosure program,” tweeted the wallet manufacturer, but explained that “The Keepkey dev team is working on a fix.” They then stressed that “all users should make sure their physical device is in a safe place, as the attacker must have physical access to be successful.” Coldcard, meanwhile, pointed out that its own device wasn’t referenced in Wallet Fail’s presentation, and used the opportunity to boast that, unlike the competition, its own wallet doesn’t fail. The Wallet Fail team, for its part, has denied allegations that it didn’t disclose the vulnerabilities it found to manufacturers in advance of its presentation:

Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Tallycoin Takes Off

In the wake of widespread controversy over Patreon liberally banning content creators, a bitcoin-based alternative has begun to gain traction. Tallycoin takes the model popularized by Patreon and Gofundme and adapts it for P2P cash in the form of BTC. Unlike Patreon, which charges 5 percent, Tallycoin takes zero fees, with all funding going directly to the creator’s bitcoin wallet. Regular BTC and Lightning Network payments are accepted, and while the user interface is simple, the platform demonstrates the potential for a censorship-resistant Patreon alternative.

The Daily: Wallet Hacking Debate Heats Up, Bitcoin-Based Patreon Alternative Emerges

Tuur Demeester’s Anti-Ethereum Rant Goes Viral

On Friday, prominent bitcoiner Tuur Demeester embarked on a 50-strong Twitter rant about everything he deemed to be wrong with Ethereum. From scaling to decentralization and from use cases to monetary supply, he left no stone unturned, describing the project as “at best a science experiment.” “I agree with Ethereum developer Vlad Zamfir that it’s not money, not safe, and not scalable,” he continued.

Demonstrating that there are two sides to every tweetstorm, Bryant Eisenbach issued a point-by-point rebuttal of Demeester’s lengthy indictment on Ethereum. While Adamant Capital founder Tuur Demeester’s rant caught plenty of flak from Ethereum proponents, Bitcoin maximalists such as Jimmy Song were swift to endorse his critique. The thread also prompted intense discussion on the Ethereum subreddit where a few feathers were rustled.

Kraken Launches BCH and XRP Margin Trading

Finally, margin trading for bitcoin cash and ripple has been enabled on Kraken. The U.S. cryptocurrency exchange now enables retail and institutional clients to obtain leverage on both coins, with the borrowing limit depending on the level of the account in question. Bitcoin cash can be traded with up to 3x leverage and ripple with 5x.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Samsung Files UK Trademark for Smartphone Crypto Wallet

Samsung Files UK Trademark for Smartphone Crypto Wallet

Electronics manufacturer Samsung has filed a trademark that suggests it may be considering integrating a cryptocurrency wallet into its smartphones. The filing, submitted to the U.K.’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on Dec. 27, reinforces reports that emerged earlier this month claiming that cryptocurrency integration was on Samsung’s agenda.

Also read: Influential Politicians Are Advocating Crypto Around the Globe

South Korean Giant Files UK Trademark

Speculation is growing that Samsung may be on the brink of launching a cryptocurrency-equipped smartphone. The filing of a trademark on Dec. 27, following weeks of rumors, has added weight to the notion that Samsung has cryptocurrency on its roadmap, and that a built-in wallet may be the next feature to be added to its flagship phones, which retail for up to $750. Simply titled “Samsung Crypto Wallet,” trademark UK00003363431 doesn’t reveal much by way of detail, but its name is unambiguous enough.

Samsung Files UK Trademark for Smartphone Crypto Wallet
The filing category Samsung’s crypto wallet UK trademark was placed in.

As a result of the filing, cryptocurrency users will be left with two pressing questions:

1. Is Samsung developing a standalone hardware wallet or an integrated smartphone wallet?

2. Has the trademark been filed defensively or offensively? In other words, does Samsung have any intention of actually developing the device in the near future?

It is common practice for corporations to prolifically file patents and register trademarks, even though only a handful of these will result in a product being brought to market. Indeed, on the same say the Samsung Crypto Wallet trademark was approved, another 42 trademarks from the Asian electronics manufacturer were also filed in the U.K.

Blockchain Smartphones Are Proliferating

Samsung Files UK Trademark for Smartphone Crypto Wallet
The Exodus blockchain phone

With each new iteration of smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy and Apple’s iPhone, technical improvements become less discernible and new features less frequent. Integrating a cryptocurrency wallet, with its private key stored in a secure enclave separate from the rest of the phone’s core operations, gives manufacturers an opportunity to distinguish their handsets from the competition. It also gives cryptocurrency users a new gadget to lust after. To date, however, so-called blockchain phones have been underwhelming.

Sirin’s Finney smartphone has been derided in some quarters for its clunky design and mediocre features when compared to those of high-end phones. The HTC Exodus smartphone, meanwhile, backed by cryptocurrency figures such as Charlie Lee, was meant to ship this month, but has yet to deliver. The bar for blockchain phones, therefore, sits pretty low. Should Samsung throw its hat into the ring and attempt its own crypto-equipped smartphone, it would stand a very good chance of becoming the most popular device of its kind.

Do you think Samsung is developing a cryptocurrency-equipped smartphone? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3

Bitcoin’s 10th anniversary will fall on Jan. 3. As a decentralized currency that belongs to everyone and no one, there is no official way to commemorate its 10th birthday. From wallet manufacturers to developers, every ecosystem participant will have their own suggestions as to how bitcoiners should mark the historic occasion.

Also read: Support Grows for Bitcoin Proof of Keys on Jan. 3

Unofficial Ways to Celebrate Bitcoin’s Unofficial Birthday

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3It’s human nature to see significance in numbers. That’s why the crypto community lost its mind over a block hash containing 18 consecutive zeros earlier this year, and it’s also why there will be great fanfare over Bitcoin’s 10th birthday, despite the fact that numerically speaking, 10 is no more significant than any other integer.

It’s fitting that the cryptosphere can’t even agree on the official date of Bitcoin’s birthday, which could fall on Jan. 3, when Satoshi mined the genesis block, or on Oct. 31, when he published his whitepaper. For those who believe it to be the former (or simply want an excuse to celebrate Bitcoin’s birthday twice a year), there’s no shortage of ways to mark Jan. 3. Here’s how various ecosystem participants will be celebrating the event.

Merchants and Manufacturers

Vendors would predictably like you to celebrate Bitcoin’s 10th by buying memorabilia. We’ve covered much of this stuff already, including an expensive watch, an expensive clock, and a reasonably priced hardware wallet. For those too penurious or too cynical to rinse $4,000 on a Bitcoin timepiece, there are more affordable souvenirs available; a t-shirt or framed print should suffice.

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3

Mainstream Media

Mainstream media have gotten cryptocurrency wrong for a decade, and they’re not going to break the habit of Bitcoin’s lifetime on its 10th. Expect buttloads of verbose hit pieces masquerading as thought pieces pondering “What has Bitcoin actually achieved?” By the time they finally get it, it’ll be too late. Meanwhile, don’t give the media the rage clicks they crave. If you really want to read about Bitcoin’s decade in review, there’ll be plenty of cryptocurrency publications, news.Bitcoin.com included, on hand to do the honors.

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3
Mainstream media: still struggling to understand Bitcoin

Bitcoin Users

On Jan. 3, a significant number of bitcoin users will be busy withdrawing their cryptocurrency from exchanges and storing it on non-custodial wallets. The move will be initiated as part of Proof of Keys, a scheme designed to return ownership of bitcoin from third parties to individuals, where the digital coins were always meant to reside.

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3

Bitcoin Developers

Expect to see plenty of geeky tweets from prominent Bitcoin developers on Jan. 3 that draw upon the rich trove of data at their disposal. A handful of devs have been working on the cryptocurrency’s code since the early days, and thus Bitcoin’s 10th will also be an opportunity for self-reflection. There are no longer service medals to be earned for making code commits to Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Cash — merely the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve played a small part in optimizing Satoshi’s creation for the next wave of users.

Bitcoin Businesses

Here’s How the World Will Commemorate Bitcoin’s 10th Anniversary on Jan. 3Exchanges, wallet developers, P2P platforms and other crypto businesses will be celebrating Bitcoin’s 10th in their own way; expect to see discounts, zero-fee trading and other offers to mark the occasion, plus a whole lot of Bitcoin trivia shared on social media.

While there’s no obligation to celebrate Bitcoin’s birthday (as a permissionless creation, that’s one of its charms), many of those who’ve come to know and love the cryptocurrency over the last 10 years will take a moment to toast this milestone. Whether that means raising a glass, buying bitcoin, or withdrawing coins to a non-custodial wallet, there are numerous ways to observe Bitcoin’s most symbolically significant birthday yet. The next time an anniversary as widely celebrated arrives will likely fall on Jan. 3, 2059, when Bitcoin turns 50. Here’s to the next 40 years.

How will you celebrate Bitcoin’s 10th birthday? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019

Another year is coming, filled with fresh optimism and newfound determination to make 2019 the year when cryptocurrencies take over. Having gotten their calls badly wrong for 2018, so-called experts will be hesitant to make bullish price predictions for 2019. That’s probably for the best since there are far more interesting things to focus on than price action. Here are seven trends that should dominate the cryptosphere over the next 12 months.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 6: The First Bitcoin Exchange

2018 Didn’t Play Out the Way it Was Promised

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019This time last year, all kinds of bold predictions were being issued for what 2018 would hold for the crypto space. In the event, the biggest trend of the year was one which few futurologists foresaw – stablecoins. 2018 will go down as the year the markets went south and ICOs died off, leaving a new wave of digital assets to shine – dollar-pegged stablecoins.

Love, hate or tolerate them, there’s no denying that stablecoins were a recurring motif this year. Whether they will continue to dominate in 2019 depends to a large extent on how conventional crypto assets perform. Should the current bear market persist, or bite deeper still, stablecoins will remain ubiquitous. If more favorable market conditions return, however, stablecoins will be forced to take a back seat, leaving the following trends to joust it out in 2019.

New Privacy Protocols Will Gain Traction

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019With the Mimblewimble-powered Grin and Beam cranking into life, the stage is set for 2019 to be the most private year in crypto in a long time. The last few years of encroaching blockchain surveillance have stripped away a lot of the anonymity that cryptocurrency users once took for granted, but the fight back has begun. It’ll take more than a single privacy protocol to restore the imbalance of course, so it’s just as well there’s a host of privacy-minded tools set to come onstream.

Aside from the Mimblewimble coins, there’s the prospect of Bitcoin Core getting Schnorr signatures next year, which could open the door to privacy tech such as Coinjoin at some point. Before then, we’ll be seeing a lot of other pro-privacy platforms, apps and protocols gaining traction. Wasabi Wallet, a privacy-focused BTC wallet, will hoover up new users, while Ethereum may get its own take on confidential transactions courtesy of Aztec protocol. Stablecoins could get private too should Zkdai – zero-knowledge DAI transactions – become a thing. Pro-privacy projects like Dust and Loki should also make progress, while new projects such as Resistance, a privacy coin and accompanying DEX, are in the works.

STOs Will Replace ICOs

2018 was meant to be the year of security tokens until it wasn’t. That prediction can be rolled over to 2019, however, when it might just come true provided the technical and regulatory hurdles can be cleared by enough applicants. What’s beyond dispute is that 2018 killed the ICO, and no one is tipping the crowdfunded utility token model to rise again. The increased legal and compliance costs of holding an ICO, which now average around $1 million, have put paid to the vast majority of initial coin offerings.

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019
The ICO market died off dramatically in 2018.

Amazix head analyst Jose Macedo believes the security token offering (STO) will become the standard model most crypto-based projects deploy. “While utility tokens are far from dead, what the industry has now realized is that few of these token economic models actually made sense in terms of long-term value capture,” he explains. “As a result, we’re seeing a lot of projects come to us looking for help in either launching their STOs or restructuring their ICOs as STOs,” adds Macedo. He continues:

We’re also seeing a lot more STO infrastructure be built out in terms of quality legal, token sale platforms, book-building firms, exchanges etc … As of right now, we have about $1B worth of STOs partnered with us looking to launch in 2019.

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019While security token projects are poised to launch in proactive territories like Malta and Gibraltar, where regulatory frameworks have been drawn up, slower progress is expected in the U.S., where fundraising options are limited. There, the SEC will likely deem most ICOs to be issuing securities. American crypto-based projects are no closer to being granted Reg A+ approval to launch an STO, despite some, such as Gab, having filed the paperwork over a year ago.

Decentralized Credit Networks Will Take Off

Decentralized credit networks made huge strides this year in terms of infrastructure development. The tools necessary to facilitate collateralized loans, social credit and open finance have been fine-tuned and proven to work. 2019 will be when they scale up and start to serve the sort of users they were envisioned for – global citizens who’ve been excluded by the current financial system.

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019Crypto debt markets and credit networks will be bolstered by the growth of projects like Dharma Protocol, GEO Protocol, Nexo, and Maker DAO. Maker’s system of multi-asset over-collateralization will be emulated, having proven its robustness through extreme market volatility this year. Multi-collateral dai will see a wide range of applications in 2019, as the number of users grows with the number of assets that can be collateralized. 2018 was all about ETH, but in 2019 Maker will accept BTC, ERC20s and other crypto and non-crypto assets.

Other Trends to Expect in 2019

It’s possible that 2019 could be the year when one or more dapps finally sees mass adoption, but don’t count on it. It may also prove to be the year when the first viral  blockchain game arrives. At the very least, crypto collectibles and virtual reality projects will attract fresh investment, with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) tethering them to public blockchains to facilitate the trading of digital assets. Once Decentraland’s virtual world launches in 2019, a meeting ground for all kinds of crypto games and projects will be established.

Seven Cryptocurrency Trends to Look out for in 2019The Bitcoin Cash community will continue to find new ways to spend and receive peer-to-peer cash, while the BTC brigade will have optimism that 2019 will finally be the year when the Lightning Network proves its suitability for something more than purchasing stickers. Custodial services for institutional investors will improve, bringing new money into the crypto space (but probably not propelling crypto assets to new highs). NYSE’s Bakkt will launch, bringing physical BTC futures contracts, and there’s an outside bet the SEC might approve a bitcoin ETF.

Stripped of much of the greed that characterized the dawn of 2018, and with 12 months of robust infrastructure work completed, 2019 is shaping up to be an exciting time for cryptocurrency users from all tribes, countries and continents.

What other trends do you expect to see in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin History Part 6: The First Bitcoin Exchange

Bitcoin History Part 6: The First Bitcoin Exchange

Aside from mining, the only way to obtain bitcoin in the very early days was by trading it on forums or IRC. This arrangement relied on the other party fulfilling their side of the deal, since there were few escrow services back then. Bitcoin didn’t have to wait long for a dedicated exchange to spring up, thankfully, with the first cryptocurrency exchange going live in March 2010.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin Appears

Bitcoin Gets Its First Market

The first cryptocurrency exchange wasn’t Bitstamp, Vircurex, or Btc-e. It was in fact a now defunct platform called Bitcoinmarket.com. The site was proposed on the Bitcointalk forum (where else?) by “dwdollar” on Jan. 15, 2010. “Hi everyone. I’m in the process of building an exchange,” he wrote. “I have big plans for it, but I still have a lot of work to do. It will be a real market where people will be able to buy and sell Bitcoins with each other.” He elaborated:

I am trying to create a market where Bitcoins are treated as a commodity. People will be able to trade Bitcoins for dollars and speculate on the value. In theory, this will establish a real-time exchange rate so we will all have a clue what the current value of a Bitcoin is, compared to a dollar.

Dwdollar’s quest was a much-needed one, for at the time there was little common consensus on how much a bitcoin was worth. Most price charts only go back as far as summer 2010, at which point 1 BTC was trading for around $0.05, though when Bitcoinmarket.com launched in March of that year, a single bitcoin was priced at around $0.003 – that’s 333 BTC to the dollar.

Bitcoin History Part 6: The First Bitcoin Exchange
Bitcoinmarket.com

Bitcoinmarket.com Goes Live

On March 17, 2010, Bitcoinmarket.com went live. Like all platforms that sprung up in those early days, the exchange was rickety, and holes were often patched following feedback from Bitcointalk forum members. The site accepted Paypal initially as its means of exchanging BTC for fiat. This system worked for a while, but as Bitcoin grew, so did the number of scammers. Following a string of fraudulent trades, Paypal was removed from the exchange on June 4, 2011.

On the same day, a forum user captured the giddiness that was starting to encircle the Bitcoin community, writing: “That market is going nuts. Yesterday, I saw a guy selling BTC on ebay for $20. Thought he wouldn’t sell any right away. Sold all 30 to 4 diff bidders in 12 hours. Now this morning I see bitcoinmarket.com at $23.99! I’m usually a buy and hold kinda guy, but this rapid growth is freaking me out. I only own 75 BTC, but feel like the rich guy.”

Bitcoin History Part 6: The First Bitcoin ExchangeBy this point, Bitcoinmarket.com’s days were numbered. There was a new exchange poised to open its virtual doors to a tsunami of bitcoiners, many of whom had been wooed after learning of a deep web marketplace known as Silk Road which launched in February of that year. Bitcoinmarket.com’s successor launched in July 2011 and by 2014 was handling 70% of all global bitcoin trades. Its name, of course, was Mt. Gox.

Bitcoin History is a multipart series from news.Bitcoin.com charting pivotal moments in the evolution of the world’s first and finest cryptocurrency. Read part five here.


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Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web Giants

Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web Giants

Consumers and enterprises are exiting centralized web platforms amid growing concerns over unwarranted data sharing. Loss of privacy and data leakage are the primary drivers leading users away from web giants such as Google and Facebook. In some cases, disaffected users are seeking out decentralized alternatives that facilitate personal data ownership.

Also read: Feed 7 Different Species at the River Forest Farm’s ‘Bitcoin Cash Zoo’

Facebook and Google Keep Leaking Data

The opaque data sharing practices of internet oligarchs such as Google and Facebook, which wield huge power over billions of web users, have attracted significant attention throughout 2018. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the more recent revelations that Facebook shared users’ private messages with privileged partners, the disclosures have kept coming.

Minds.com, disillusioned by the current state of affairs, has vowed to boycott the web monopolies altogether. On Dec. 19, the company explained its stance, writing of Google, Facebook and other closed-source networks’ unfair practices, which include “excessive surveillance, data mining, algorithm manipulation, subjective bans, inconsistent enforcement of terms and even complete de-platforming.” It concluded:

In response, Minds is suspending our support of all Google and Facebook products until the above mentioned items are resolved.

The Quest for Decentralized, Censorship-Resistant Platforms

Platforms as multifaceted as Google are not easily replaced like for like. However, there are alternatives for users who desire more privacy, full sovereignty over their data and reassurance that they will not suddenly be suspended without warning for supposed infringements. In its blog post on Dec. 19, Minds.com wrote of privacy-focused alternatives such as Duckduckgo and Brave that are championing the flight towards less data-hungry platforms.

While the web’s largest companies have caught flak for their data handling practices and their propensity to ban users with little provocation, it’s not just Facebook and Google that have been guilty of this. Patreon, under pressure from payment processors, has been merrily deplatforming users, while online services such as Slack have been exiling users on the grounds of Iranian heritage under fear of U.S. sanctions. The spate of perma-bans, data leaks and privacy scandals has been a boon for decentralized platforms that are oriented around personal ownership of data.

New Data Storage Solutions Are Coming Online

Data Leaks and Deplatforming Drive Businesses Away From Web GiantsDoc.com is a cryptocurrency-powered service with a series of health apps that facilitate free medical and psychological consultations. It’s taken the distributed data storage route. “Because we handle extremely sensitive healthcare data,” explained CEO Charles Nader, “we knew that following the centralized model Google and Facebook have was not the best idea.” Nader spoke of using cryptographic protocols, including blockchain technology, to store data and ensure it is only accessed by authorized parties. “This way we give control back to our users,” he finished.

Other projects that have launched decentralized data storage frameworks this year include Essentia and Inrupt, the latter led by internet godfather Tim Berners-Lee. The project speaks of “decentralizing the power that’s currently centralized in the hands of a few” which it proposes to achieve through an open source protocol called Solid. For now, the vast majority of the web is hostage to the likes of Google and Facebook, and is too deeply embedded in their ecosystem to contemplate an escape. The tide is slowly turning, however, and with each new entity excluded from the web’s dominant platforms, the case for decentralized alternatives strengthens.

Do you think decentralized platforms will see mainstream adoption, or are they destined to remain the preserve of privacy purists? Let us know in the comments section below.


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A Look at 2018’s Best and Worst Performing Cryptocurrencies

A Look at 2018’s Best and Worst Performing Cryptocurrencies

With the dust all but settled on 2018, it’s time to reflect on the year’s best and worst performing cryptocurrencies. In the Best category, there are few standout candidates, with all major altcoins deeply mired in the red. The Worst category, however, is stocked with shockers, including coins that need to multiply more than 100x in price to reach their former glory.

Also read: Spot Develops New Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Portfolio App

Altcoins Have a Long Way to Go

The last seven days have been extremely positive for the cryptocurrency markets, with many digital assets up between 40 and 70 percent. Iota is up 67 percent, stratis 108 percent, and bitcoin cash 150 percent. It’s an impressive recovery, but it’s certainly not a reversal. Back in January, “expert” traders were throwing out wildly ambitious end of year targets that, amidst full bull market hysteria, may not have seemed that outlandish at the time. With 11 months of hindsight, however, it’s evident that calls for $500 neo and $20 ripple were total fantasy.

A Look at 2018’s Best and Worst Performing Cryptocurrencies

None of the altcoins that were tradable at the start of 2018 are on course to finish the year in the green, and it’s no coincidence that the coins that have lost the least, such as BSV, are also the newest, having been spared the bulk of the bloodletting that’s characterized 2018’s protracted bear market. An examination of the break-even multiple – i.e. the number of times an asset would need to double to reach its former all-time high – shows that many altcoins haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of reaching the giddy heights they once occupied.

188x to Break Even

The worst performing altcoin, based on Messari’s break-even multiple, is zclassic (ZCL). One year ago, it was pumped to a high of $235 ahead of a fork to create bitcoin private (BTCP). Both coins have since performed disastrously, ZCL because it’s a dead coin and BTCP because it was always a shitcoin whose primary purpose was to enrich ZCL bagholders. Today, ZCL trades at $1.25 and would require a 188x to reach its former top. Down 97 percent from its own all-time high, BTCP would require a 33x.

A Look at 2018’s Best and Worst Performing Cryptocurrencies
Worst performing cryptocurrencies by break-even multiple

Other altcoins that have a long way to climb include rchain (RHOC), a project that is close to bankruptcy, and which has a break-even multiple of 83x. Ethos requires an 85x and smartcash 113x. To place these losses in context, BTC is down 5x from its high one year ago. This puts it in the top 10 cryptocurrencies based on break-even multiple. Only a handful of altcoins that were available one year ago, such as mana, waves, binance coin, and link, have outperformed BTC this year.

While altcoins can provide significant profits, if realized in a bull market, holding onto them in a bear market can see them plummet to almost zero. It will be interesting to see whether crypto traders are as bullish with their price calls for 2019, or whether this year’s abject failure will have taught caution.

What are your thoughts on how cryptocurrencies will perform in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update

The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update

The news is bullish in this edition of the The Daily, mirroring the mood of the crypto markets. We’ll start by delving into BTC’s record-breaking day for trading volume and then examine a couple of stories that suggest 2019 is poised to get off to a very positive start.

Also read: Only Sharks Will Feed on the Crypto Market’s Elusive Price Bottom

BTC Posts Record Daily Volume

The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major UpdateIt’s not just the price of bitcoin – both cash and core – that’s been shooting up this week – volume has followed suit. In fact, the real headline about this week’s price rally isn’t BCH doing a 3x or BTC passing and then holding the $4,000 mark. Rather, it’s the significant increase in trading volume that occurred on Dec 20, which some traders have taken as evidence of a full reversal. That’s right, the bottom may finally be in – though no one’s willing to publicly make that call just yet it seems.

Crypto Quantamental noted that the $2.26 billion of BTC traded on Thursday, Nov. 20 was the highest recorded in the cryptocurrency’s history. Compared to previous days when BTC was trading in the $3,500-$4,500 bracket, yesterday’s BTC volume was greater by a factor of 3-4x. Regardless of which way BTC moves next, it’s fair to say that interest in the crypto market has been fully restored. BCH has also been on a tear, as this graphic by The Tie shows, comparing the cryptocurrency’s market cap to that of BSV and LTC this week.

The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update

Looking back at Twitter activity since the start of the month, the sentiment analysis platform noted that “while indicative tweet volume (# of tweets that contribute to sentiment score) peaked for both BCH and BSV on Dec. 7, BSV has basically been completely flat as the amount of twitter conversation around BCH has trended upwards. It’s safe to assume BCH’s astonishing growth over the past three days may have contributed to that interest.

The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update

Ledger Schedules Major Firmware Update

French hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger has planned its biggest upgrade yet to its Nano S devices. Version 1.5, scheduled for release in early January, will feature new hashes, signatures and derivation schemes, enabling the wallet to support new cryptocurrencies. These updates will be accompanied by a slew of security improvements including:

  • Full redesign of the arithmetic architecture
  • Improved MCU genuine check (firmware attestation)
  • PIN code implementation improved for better resistance to hardware attacks
  • Hardening of the PIN code against various hardware and side channel attacks

In the arms race hardware manufacturers are engaged in, the biggest winners are consumers, who now have a wide range of increasingly robust hardware wallets to choose from.

Virtual Land Goes up in Smoke

The Daily: Bitcoin Posts Record Volume, Ledger Plans Major Update
Decentraland

47 million mana tokens have now been burnt in Decentraland’s second land auction which ends over the weekend. This equates to around $2.5 million of tokens destroyed, in return for purchasing plots of land in the virtual world. With the price of each parcel dropping ever closer to its lowest possible price of 1,000 mana over the weekend, a bidding frenzy is suspected. Just 6,000 of the 9,300 parcels available a week ago are left, with nonfungible.com recording an average price per 10x10m parcel of $850.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


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BCH Leads the Way as Crypto Markets Brighten Up

BCH Leads the Way as Crypto Markets Brighten Up

One year to the day since reaching its all-time high, BTC did something it hadn’t done in a long time on Dec. 17 – it posted double digit growth. Over the last 72 hours, BTC has risen by over 20 percent, helping to drag the crypto market’s capitalization up by a total of $21 billion. At the head of the charge, however, has been BCH, up more than 40 percent in a day. While too early to call it a recovery, traders are feeling cautiously optimistic.

Also read: Offchain Indicators Suggest JP Morgan Is Wrong to Write off Bitcoin

Green Shoots and Cautious Optimism

Even the most stoic of traders would have to concede that the last few months have been grim. While two green wicks don’t signal a bull market, this week has eased some of the despair, and coaxed no shortage of Twitter traders out of hibernation. Making correct calls becomes a much easier undertaking when digital assets are rising or looking primed to break out across the board.

BCH Leads the Way as Crypto Markets Brighten Up
BTC trading volume has picked up noticeably in the last seven days.

The sense of relief that’s permeated the cryptosphere since Monday, one year to the day since BTC reached its all-time high of almost $20,000, has been palpable. No one is getting carried away at this stage, however, for to do so would be ridiculous; the top five cryptocurrencies by market cap are still down 25-52 percent each in the last 30 days. This week’s mini-rally, which has included BCH climbing from a low of $80 to $140 per coin, has only reversed recent losses.

Crypto Twitter Learns How to Laugh Again

BCH Leads the Way as Crypto Markets Brighten Up
Chainlink’s Sergey “meets” Donald Trump

As BTC passed $3,900 in trading sessions today, before retreating, and BCH went through the gears, cryptocurrency traders relished the respite from what has at times felt like a year of red candles. Other top gainers on Dec. 19 have included stratis (STRAT), up 50 percent, and chainlink (LINK), up 22 percent, much to the jubilation of bag-holders on /biz/ who remain convinced that memeing the project’s founder into increasingly preposterous photoshops will keep their altcoin pumping.

“Actually starting to feel bullish for the first time since we started dumping from $20k,” confessed one imageboard user. “The thing that really sucks about this pump is I decided pretty early on not to bother with it and watch multiple coins I normally hold when not tethered do a 40%,” replied another. “The stress of not fomoing in has been intense … Now I have to deal with weeks of this shit before we continue down again.”

The latter remark perhaps best captures the current mood: traders are happy for the uplift in crypto prices, but aren’t banking on the good times to last. They’ve been burnt too many times this year, and with 12 days to run, 2018 might yet have a sting in its tail.

What are your thoughts on this week’s market action? Do you think the good times will last or is this just another fake out? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin Appears

Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin Appears

It’s hard to imagine a time before cryptocurrency exchanges were stocked with hundreds of digital assets. A time before the pejorative “shitcoin” had been coined and there was no such metric as bitcoin dominance. But travel back to late 2010 and that’s exactly what you’d have found: a cryptosphere in which BTC was the only coin in town. But all that was about to change.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 4: Casascius Creates Physical Bitcoins

Namecoin Is First Out the Blocks

Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin AppearsThe first altcoin to emerge following bitcoin wasn’t litecoin, peercoin or dash. Rather, it was a now obscure cryptocurrency called namecoin (NMC). It was unveiled on the Bitcointalk forum on April 18, 2011, with a mandate that read quite differently from that of BTC. Compared to the many identikit alts that sprung up in the months to follow, NMC began life with novel intentions. “Namecoin is a naming system based on bitcoin with a few modifications,” explained its [announce] thread, utilizing a formula that is today known as an [ANN]. “This is a new blockchain, separate from the main Bitcoin chain. Name/value pairs are stored in the blockchain attached to coin … Names expire after 12000 blocks unless renewed with an update.”

Curiously, but perhaps not surprisingly, the inspiration for Namecoin came from Satoshi himself, though he had no hand in its development. Four months earlier, Bitcoin’s creator had essentially conceived the idea of Namecoin, writing, in a thread titled “BitDNS and Generalizing Bitcoin,” “While you are generating bitcoins, why not also get free domain names for the same work? If you currently generate 50 BTC per week, now you could get 50 BTC and some domain names too.” Satoshi went on to explain a technical proposal involving merkle trees that would eventually form the basis for Namecoin.

Moreover, Namecoin’s goal of serving as a decentralized domain registration system may have been partially inspired by Satoshi’s own experience of purchasing the bitcoin.org domain in 2008. With no anonymous cryptocurrency with which to pay, he was forced to use anonymouspeech.com, which enables services to be acquired using gift cards.

Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin Appears
In April 2013, namecoin was the fourth largest cryptocurrency based on market cap.

What’s in a Namecoin?

Bitcoin History Part 5: A Wild Altcoin AppearsToday, namecoin is effectively a dead coin, despite still being listed on Poloniex and Livecoin. In its seven-year history, NMC has had its moments of glory, like the time it pumped to $15.41 per coin or 0.014 BTC in Nov. 2013. Or the time it hit $8.64 in January of this year, one final burst of nostalgia at a time when every shitcoin under the sun was pumping. By then, namecoin was already a dead coin, with its bitcoin value reaching just 0.0006 BTC per coin. Today, its 24-hour trade volume stands at $15,000 and Namecoin’s DNS naming system is dead in the water. That’s not to say NMC has been an outright failure, however.

With over 2,000 cryptocurrencies now vying for supremacy, Namecoin can be credited with either starting the stampede or instigating the rot. Whatever one’s assessment of Namecoin and the plethora of altcoins that followed, NMC was pivotal in demonstrating that there is space in the cryptosphere for more than just one digital asset. Today there are multiple bitcoins and a panoply of shitcoins, but at a 97 percent reduction from its all-time high, Namecoin embodies the fate of all altcoins to date. As the history books show, Bitcoin is easily emulated but never bettered.

Bitcoin History is a multipart series from news.Bitcoin.com charting pivotal moments in the evolution of the world’s first and finest cryptocurrency. Read part four here.


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The Daily: HTC Blockchain Phone Delayed, Exchange Security Ratings Updated

HTC's Blockchain Smartphone Can Be Ordered With Bitcoin

In Tuesday’s edition of The Daily, there’s a little of everything in the mix: a story about hardware, in the form of the delayed Exodus 1 smartphone, one about security, concerning the latest crypto exchange ratings, and finally a human interest story. This latter tale concerns a war of words between two passionate figures within the cryptocurrency space.

Also read: Cypherpunk Godfather Timothy May Was Lightyears Ahead of His Time

HTC’s Exodus 1 Phone Has Yet to Ship

The Daily: HTC Blockchain Phone Delayed, Exchange Security Ratings UpdatedCustomers who made an advanced purchase of the Exodus 1 blockchain phone are still waiting to receive their devices. The crypto-friendly cell phones, priced at 0.15 BTC or 4.78 ETH, were rapidly snapped up by cryptocurrency proponents, who were promised that the devices would ship in December. While there’s still time for that to happen, manufacturer HTC is cutting it fine with Christmas less than a week away.

Figures such as Charlie Lee helped to promote the project, and by early December advance orders for the phone, which features a built-in BTC and ETH wallet, had stopped being taken. In the project’s Telegram channel, buyers have become impatient as they await delivery of their eagerly anticipated phones. “Biggest scam in the history of smartphones,” vented one irate buyer. His assertion, while very wide of the mark, captures the frustration that Exodus 1 customers have felt as they’ve awaited news. Today, Dec. 18, European customers received an email from HTC Exodus that explained, vaguely:

We are contacting you to let you know the shipment of your order has been delayed, as we are currently finalizing the last certification for European devices. We are working hard to get your order to you as soon as possible, and will keep you updated when we have a confirmed shipping date. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings Updated

There’s a ratings system for everything within the cryptocurrency space these days, from influencers to coins, and from exchanges to blockchains. In October, news.Bitcoin.com reported on ICOrating.com’s exchange security assessment that deemed 54 percent of trading venues to have security holes of some kind. ICOrating.com has now updated its report to reflect new information and additions that have served to alter its assessment of the top 10 exchanges. Coinbase Pro, which occupied the top spot, has slipped to ninth, while Kraken has leapt from second to first.

The Daily: HTC Blockchain Phone Delayed, Exchange Security Ratings Updated

Binance has dropped out of the top 20 altogether. “Overall, only 16 percent of exchanges fall into the A category. None of the exchanges have received an A+ rating,” noted ICOrating.com. While all ratings systems are subjective to a certain degree, their existence can only be a good thing if it spurs their subjects into improvement. Increased transparency and commitment to adopting better security standards will benefit not only exchanges, but also their customers, who can trade with confidence.

Crypto Figures Get Into a Tiff

The Daily: HTC Blockchain Phone Delayed, Exchange Security Ratings Updated
Ran NeuNer as he appears on Twitter

A war of words has broken out between Ran NeuNer, host of CNBC’s Cryptotrader, and Larry Cermak of The Block. Cermak, together with his colleague Mike Dudas, published an exposé of a fraudulent ICO called BCT and accused NeuNer of being embroiled in it. The CNBC host hit back with threats of legal action, ordering The Block pair to delete tweets and amend their story, after explaining that he’d done nothing to facilitate BCT’s misbehavior, and was in fact a victim himself. In a rambling blog post titled “An open letter to The Block”, NeuNer wrote:

According to Larry, the alleged fraud, scams on investors and employees and a man working in this industry under a fake identity, weren’t the interesting part, but rather my alleged “involvement”. [Larry] went on to make a series of accusations  —  most of which are incorrect, negligent, inaccurate, defamatory and damaging.

NeuNer then complained of The Block only giving him six hours to provide his side of the story before Cermak’s publication went to press, which he believes was a deliberate move on their part. He finished: “I was a fan of The Block and a regular reader of its stories, but if I go by my experience of your unethical business practice, false reporting and lack of verification, then The Block is unfortunately not that publication.” Mike Dudas, for his part, has responded to NeuNer’s open letter by stating that The Block stands by its story, and extended him an interview invitation. NeuNer has yet to respond.

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Cypherpunk Godfather Timothy May Was Lightyears Ahead of His Time

Cypherpunk Godfather Timothy May Was Lightyears Ahead of His Time

The crypto world has been mourning the passing of Timothy C. May at the age of 67. While an unknown entity to the general public, to early internet adopters, cypherpunks, libertarians, and cryptography evangelists, May’s writings remain hallowed. The intellectual was an early advocate against state surveillance, privacy erosions, and bête noire of the statist Silicon Valley startups whose tech dystopia has surreptitiously smothered society. May’s legacy lives on through his powerful writings that are as potent today as when they first appeared in the late 80s.

Also readHow Crypto Miners Are Adapting to Survive the Bear Market

Timothy May: Taken Too Early and Ahead of His Time

“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,” predicted Timothy May in 1988 with uncanny prescience. “Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.”

Cypherpunk Godfather Timothy May Was Lightyears Ahead of His Time

The cryptography community has often bemoaned the cryptocurrency community’s commandeering of the phrase “crypto”. In the case of Timothy May, however, both groups can lay claim to the cypherpunk godfather’s legacy. May was crypto in every sense of the word, shaping the nascent cypherpunk movement, which pioneered and pushed for strong cryptographic protocols, while paving the way for the cryptocurrency revolution that would burst into life more than two decades after he published his seminal Crypto Anarchist Manifesto.

A Free Bird Who Refused to Be Pigeon-Holed

Cypherpunk Godfather Timothy May Was Lightyears Ahead of His Time
May (left) gracing the cover on a 1993 Wired magazine

Timothy C. May, or simply Tim to his friends, was a visionary, a maverick and a free-thinker. The phrase “ahead of his time” has long since been reduced to the realm of cliché, but if ever there was a man to whom the the term belonged, it was May. While it’s easy to compose hagiographies of the recently deceased, it’s hard to look at May’s most famous writings and not feel a sense of awe. Had they been composed in 2018 they would have warranted all the RTs, regrams, shares and faves they would have doubtless received.

Many of the crypto OGs tweeting out tributes to Timothy May this week weren’t even born when his magnum opus was composed, or even when it was later subsumed into The Cyphernomicon. But for those who previously took the time to read May’s words, their resonance and relevance will have been felt as strongly today as they did upon first perusal. In 1994, most people had yet to even envisage using the internet, let alone conceive the need for electronic privacy and anonymous digital currency. May wasn’t so much ahead of the curve as on another racetrack altogether.

“The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration,” predicted May with unfailing accuracy. “Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion … But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.” He further foretold:

Just as a seemingly minor invention like barbed wire made possible the fencing-off of vast ranches and farms, thus altering forever the concepts of land and property rights in the frontier West, so too will the seemingly minor discovery out of an arcane branch of mathematics come to be the wire clippers which dismantle the barbed wire around intellectual property.

It wasn’t just what May envisioned that captivated his modest but passionate audience – it was the way he told it. Two decades after Timothy C. May shared his anarchist’s rallying cry to a cryptographic mailing list, a certain S. Nakamoto followed suit. The latter’s decision to share his own manifesto with the world via the same obscure route is no coincidence. What the cypherpunks, led by Timothy May, started, Satoshi propelled to its logical conclusion, sowing the seeds for the anonymous digital currency his forebear had prophesied.

“I can’t speak for what Satoshi intended,” said May in October, in what would be his last major interview, “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.” It is up to those of us who still care deeply about May and Satoshi’s vision to ensure the cryptographic protocols we we’re blessed to possess remain the preserve of the people.

All humans are fallible, but Timothy May’s perfections and imperfections made him the natural mentor for the current crypto generation. Don’t follow leaders, but do read the writings of Timothy C. May. Combined with Satoshi’s whitepaper, they form the essential starter kit for any self-respecting bitcoiner.

What are your thoughts on Timothy May’s passing? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Patreon’s Censorship Is Bad for Free Speech But Good for Bitcoin

Patreon’s Censorship Is Bad for Free Speech But Good for Bitcoin

A fresh wound has opened in the culture war, and this time money is the blade. In recent days, a number of prominent Youtubers and other content creators have abandoned the crowdfunding platform Patreon in protest at the deplatforming of “Sargon of Akkad” aka Carl Benjamin. Benjamin, who has over 800,000 subscribers and debunks social justice talking points, was removed from the crowdfunding site without warning, erasing his primary source of income overnight.

Also read: Hit by Sanctions, Iranian Students in the UK Use Bitcoin to Bypass Banks

Patreon Is Making the Case for Uncensorable Payment Protocols

In a video titled You Cannot Trust Patreon, Benjamin states “This is not new for Patreon – this is clearly part of a political campaign to deplatform opponents of political correctness.” His claim was seemingly strengthened by the fact that days earlier, political provocateur and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was also banned for “association with or supporting hate groups.”

There is now increasing concern among content creators and subscribers that Patreon, along with payment processors such as Paypal and Stripe, may be applying their rules selectively as a means of political coercion. As ordinary users abandon these services in increasing numbers, the financial collateral damage continues to spread.

Patreon’s Censorship Is Bad for Free Speech But Good for Bitcoin
Subscribestar’s payment processors before vigilante justice warriors began exerting pressure (in color, top) and after (black and white)

Vigilante Justice Warriors

Sleeping Giants, a prominent group leading the fight to deprive conservative creators of their income, describe themselves as “A campaign to make bigotry and sexism less profitable.” Using their verified Twitter account, the campaigners put pressure on social media platforms and payment providers while rallying against foes whose opinions they don’t share.

Given the success that such “woke” activists are having, they are unlikely to cease their activities any time soon. Following the growing exodus from Patreon, a number of content creators switched to the alternative platform Subscribestar, which vowed not to bend to mob rule. Shortly after, however, Subscribestar was crippled by the announcement that it could no longer offer Paypal to its user base at the payment processor’s insistence.

The general attitude of the emboldened vigilante justice warriors was summed up in the tweet of one Twitter user who opined:

Patreon’s Censorship Is Bad for Free Speech But Good for Bitcoin

With the lines defining what is and is not acceptable arbitrary and apparently as open to interpretation as Patreon’s own terms of service, anyone who creates content online may be justified in feeling concern. Among the growing voices of protestors and outspoken critics are psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, journalist Dave Rubin, who now accepts bitcoin, and the neuroscientist and prominent atheist Sam Harris. Until today, Harris had the number 13 podcast on Patreon and was estimated to make $20,000 plus per episode from the site.

In The War Against Free Speech, Bitcoin Offers Salvation

If it’s censorship-resistant payment protocols that content creators are seeking, there is only one alternative that can be relied on to resist pressure from governments, merchants and internet agitators, because its very design prevents it from being controlled. As free speech network Gab put it:

Silicon Valley giants can’t stop Bitcoin. They can’t censor it. They can’t no-platform it or bar it for falling foul of the prevailing ideology du jour. Through censorship and suppression, Bitcoin’s very competitors – Patreon, Paypal and their fiat-related cousins – are strengthening the case for cryptocurrency. With each ousted content creator, the case for censorship-resistant money grows stronger.

Why do you think social media platforms and payment providers have begun policing free speech so aggressively? And do you think this censorship is good for Bitcoin adoption? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Support Grows for Bitcoin Proof of Keys on Jan. 3

Support Grows for Bitcoin Proof of Keys on January 3

The campaign to see bitcoin withdrawn from third-party wallets to private wallets on Jan. 3 is gaining traction. Over the past week, hundreds of Twitter accounts, including those operated by prominent figures such as Nick Szabo, have appended “[Jan/3 ?]” to their Twitter handle to show support for the operation, timed to coincide with Bitcoin’s 10th anniversary.

Also read: Support for Proof of Keys — Celebrating Genesis Block Day

Your Keys, Your Coins

Last week, news.Bitcoin.com reported on Trace Mayer’s campaign to celebrate Genesis Block Day, which falls on Jan. 3, by withdrawing cryptocurrency to noncustodial wallets. “Not your keys; not your bitcoin,” is the mantra he invoked. “I want to start a new cultural tradition where we declare and re-declare our monetary sovereignty every Jan. 3 as a celebration of the Genesis Block,” proclaimed Mayer.

The vast majority of cryptocurrency holders are aware that they only truly own their coins once they’re stored in a private wallet. Due to laziness or a desire to have funds accessible for trading at a moment’s notice, however, many people store their coins with third-party services such as exchanges. It’s bad opsec, and it also violates one of the basic tenets of bitcoin: that it’s currency you and only you control.

Support Grows for Bitcoin Proof of Keys on Jan. 3

Mayer’s Genesis Block Day is in many respects a return to Bitcoin’s roots, when the only wallet available was the noncustodial Bitcoin-qt client, and there were no exchanges to rely upon for coin custody. It is one of Bitcoin’s many ironies that as the cryptocurrency has grown in value, so has the proportion of people entrusting their coins to third-party services.

Proof of Keys on Jan. 3 Gains Traction

Support Grows for Bitcoin Proof of Keys on Jan. 3Numerous figures within the Bitcoin community have now added “[Jan/3 ?]” to their Twitter profile to show their support for the grassroots movement. They include Max Keiser, Caitlin Long, and Giacomo Zucco. Jan. 3, 2019, is shaping up to be a very busy day for Bitcoin supporters, with the 10th anniversary set to grab most of the headlines. Once the day has passed, and the mainstream media has expended its supply of thought pieces on “What Has Bitcoin Achieved in the Last 10 Years?,” attention can turn to the Proof of Keys initiative.

It’s a scheme whose success can be measured, crudely at least, through the number of onchain transactions recorded that day. A major upswell in BTC and BCH transactions can be taken as evidence that the Genesis Block Day campaign has resonated with the community. Regardless of how many takers the inaugural event persuades, Proof of Keys looks set to become a staple of Bitcoin’s unofficial calendar for years to come, and in doing so to return ownership of more money to the people.

What are your thoughts on the Proof of Keys campaign? Let us know in the comments section below.


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These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to Anyone

These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to Anyone

Explaining Bitcoin to someone who knows nothing about Bitcoin isn’t easy. In fact it’s fiendishly tricky. Describing concepts such as blockchain, decentralized networks, and permissionless ledgers to beginners is as tough as describing the color orange to a blind person or the taste of an orange to someone who’s never peeled one. Two new Bitcoin analogies surfaced this week, however, that should make that task easier.

Also read: Password Manager App Dashlane Mocks Cryptocurrency Owners

How to Explain Bitcoin to Anyone

These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to AnyoneComplete the following sentence: “Bitcoin is like ____.” Defining Bitcoin isn’t easy; hell, even bitcoiners can’t agree on what the cryptocurrency is designed for, be it a store of value, medium of exchange, or a form of censorship-resistant money. It’s no surprise, therefore, that well-intentioned attempts at explaining Bitcoin to beginners can go awry. Two very different but equally compelling analogies provide a fresh take on Bitcoin. One likens it to text messaging, the other to fungus. Both are effective in driving their point home, with the text messaging comparison particularly suited to Bitcoin beginners.

Analogy 1: Bitcoin Is Like Text Messaging

These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to AnyoneAdvanced by ‘Beautyon’ on the Bitcoin Matters podcast, and then transcribed by David van der Weele on Twitter, the first analogy goes as follows: Bitcoin operates like text messaging, only instead of words, you can only send numbers. Those numbers are called bitcoins and because their supply is limited (unlike text messages, which are infinite), they can serve as a form of money.

Continuing the analogy, van der Weele explains how “Anybody can download a bitcoin app on their phone and start using it to buy things online or [receive bitcoin] for doing work for others.” This is similar to text messaging apps such as Whatsapp where it is necessary only for the other person to install the application, whereupon anyone in the world can message them.

Rounding off the Bitcoin-as-text-messaging analogy, van der Weele summarizes:

These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to Anyone

Analogy 2: Bitcoin Is Like Fungus

While less relatable to the average person, the second Bitcoin analogy to have garnered attention this week is arguably more accurate. The only downside is that to fully appreciate it, a degree of familiarity with eukaryotic organisms is required. The concept, advanced by Brandon Quittem, is that the Bitcoin network, made up of nodes, miners, wallets and other points of access, spreads just like fungus, which has been described as “earth’s natural internet.”

These Two Analogies Will Help You Explain Bitcoin to Anyone“Fungi don’t have a central ‘brain,” explains Quittem, “they’re decentralized networks distributing information and resources. These fungal networks form consensus on resource management, reproduction, and defense strategy.” It is fitting therefore, that “Mycelium”, a name that many bitcoiners associate with the popular BTC wallet, draws its name from fungus threads that branch together to form colonies.

Brandon Quittem drives the analogy home by adding: “Fungi are the most successful species on our planet. They “inherited the earth” after all five mass extinction events … because fungi are antifragile decentralized networks and can adapt quickly and don’t need sunlight to survive and find their own food. Bitcoin will become the most successful monetary species because it’s decentralized, adapts (relatively) quickly, finds its own food (unmet demand), and doesn’t need government support. In the event of a mass monetary extinction event, bitcoin will ‘inherit the earth.’”

Comparing Bitcoin to fungus probably isn’t going to entice a slew of new crypto converts. But it’s certainly a novel way of looking at a decentralized network that has thus far resisted all attempts to eradicate it.

How do you describe Bitcoin to friends and family? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit Extradited

In Friday’s installment of The Daily, we update a story we first reported on yesterday – the closure of stablecoin project Basis. Its team have now given the official reason for its cessation. We’ll begin, though, by covering a slice of crypto crime concerning “bitcoin bandit” Nicholas Truglia.

Also read: Digital Currency Platform Revolut Receives European Banking License

Bitcoin Bandit Faces Justice

The Daily: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit Extradited
Truglia maintains his innocence

On Dec. 13, so-called “bitcoin bandit” Nicholas Truglia was extradited to California to face charges of hacking into the phones of major Silicon Valley players. Truglia is accused of stealing a cool $1 million in crypto from one victim through SIM swapping, also known as SIM jacking. The trick has become one of the most successful attack vectors for hackers seeking to part victims from their cellphones and from there to infiltrate their email accounts and override 2FA. Other high profile figures Truglia is accused of targeting in this manner include Saswata Basu, CEO of 0Chain, and Gabrielle Katsnelson, co-founder of SMBX. Truglia, for his part, maintains his innocence.

While we’re taking a foray into crypto crime, a recurring story about someone making bomb threats and demanding bitcoin resurfaced this week. The story itself is neither interesting nor meaningful – anyone can email an anonymous threat and demand whatever they want to cease their mischief, but it doesn’t mean they’re getting it. One publication, however, took the threats very seriously: Business Insider Australia has claimed that the price of BTC slumped as a direct result of the threats. “Wow you are terrible at reporting,” tweeted one reader in response to the asinine assertion.

Dreamr Unveils Personal Crowdfunding App

The Daily: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit ExtraditedProject crowdsales may be on the decline, but the personal crowdsale is just getting started. That’s the view of the Dreamr team at least, who have released details of a new mobile app and marketplace where individuals can monetize their business ideas. The service, which harnesses cryptocurrency-based features, facilitates crowdfunding campaigns based around individual or shared goals. The Las Vegas project is seeking to combine elements of decentralized service-based marketplaces with those of a conventional crowdfunding website, and claims that Dreamr will make it easier for good ideas and talented entrepreneurs to secure capital.

Basis Confirms Project Shutdown

The Daily: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit ExtraditedAs reported yesterday in The Daily, algorithmic stablecoin project Basis has shut down and returned the bulk of the $133 million it raised to investors. In a blog post, Basis has now confirmed the reason for its closure, writing: “Having to apply US securities regulation to the system had a serious negative impact on our ability to launch Basis. As regulatory guidance started to trickle out over time, our lawyers came to a consensus that there would be no way to avoid securities status for bond and share tokens.” The team did consider moving out of the U.S. to complete their project in a friendlier jurisdiction, before concluding they were better cutting their losses and calling it a day.

Crash and Burn Trading Tale Goes Viral

The Daily: Crashing Crypto Trader Shares Advice, Bitcoin Bandit ExtraditedFinally, in the current bear market, tales of woe from investors who wish they’d sold the top are easy to come by. One trader’s tale has gone viral this week, however, on account of its candor and good grace. Peter McCormack’s thread on how he turned $32,000 into $1.2 million and then back to zero has been retweeted over 1,900 times and favorited another 6,300. “If there is another bull run and you make a bunch of cash then remember to take profits. Don’t overstretch yourself,” he concludes. “Don’t keep in crypto profits which will change your life.”

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


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The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

In Thursday’s installment of The Daily, we report on a highly anticipated stablecoin project that’s failed before it’s even launched, and explore the strangely centralized world of crypto Twitter. First though, we’ll start with the news that a third party app has made it possible to pay for your Uber ride using BTC.

Also read: Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

Fold Brings Bitcoin to Uber

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts DownFold, an app dedicated to making it easy to spend BTC in the real world, has added one of its biggest integrations yet. “We are excited to welcome Uber to Fold lineup,” explained the team in a blog post. “You can now use bitcoin to purchase your next Uber ride. Simply select the dollar amount, send your bitcoin, and then ride safely to your next event.” The app, which also enables BTC to be spent at stores such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, works by converting cryptocurrency into a corresponding gift card balance within the Fold wallet that can then be redeemed by scanning a code in-store.

Developers Pull the Plug on Basis Stablecoin

It’s being reported that Basis, the largest stablecoin project to date based on early stage funding, has been sunsetted. The algorithmic stablecoin, which had been categorized in the same bracket as coins like dai, raised $133 million in venture funding from the likes of a16z, Bain, DCG, Metastable, Pantera Capital, Polychain, Lightspeed, and Google Ventures. The bulk of that funding is now believed to have been returned, with the Basis team reportedly having been spooked by regulatory concerns. While the technical skills of the Basis team have generally been praised within the crypto space, not everyone was convinced by the merits of their algorithmic stablecoin. Back in May, Messari Crypto’s Qiao Wang predicted that Basis would “fail catastrophically”.

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts DownCommenting on the rumored shutdown of Basis, Three Arrows Capital CEO Su Zhu wrote “I hope the industry thinks more critically about what the shape of a good project is in this space. You can’t just cobble together ex-bigtech/bankers, raise [nine figures], and then pop the champagne. More importantly I hope LPs ask their VCs harder questions.” Stablecoin skeptic Preston Byrne was equally unimpressed, linking to a blog he had penned a year ago in which he called Basis “the worst idea in cryptocurrency.”

Bitcoin Cash and Ripple Dominate Crypto Twitter

Social sentiment service The Tie has been looking at what crypto Twitter’s had to say over the last few weeks. It’s plotted the change in sentiment for the top five cryptocurrencies, with a view to extrapolating actionable insights for the benefit of traders. The platform found bitcoin cash (BCH) and ripple (XRP) to be the most active Twitter communities over the past month, the former on account of the hard fork that got everyone talking, and the latter because the Ripple army is famed for its slavish devotion to its altcoin through good times and bad. How much of that discourse comes from unique accounts, however, is debatable.

The Daily: Uber Meets Bitcoin, Basis Stablecoin Shuts Down

“While accounting for only 3 percent of overall trading volume, XRP accounts for 8.97 percent of total conversational volume on Twitter. On average, 50 percent of daily tweets come from unique accounts, which means that much of the conversation is driven by the same accounts,” reported The Tie. The platform shared the above image with news.Bitcoin.com, which it claims “highlights how XRP has a centralized strong community.” Its acolytes might harp on about ripple’s “inherently decentralized” nature, but the coin’s community is as centralized as it gets.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets

Judge Business School, a subsidiary of the University of Cambridge, has published its second annual report into the cryptoconomy. Its inaugural report surfaced in April 2017, just as crypto mania was exploding. A lot has happened in the ecosystem since then, and the school’s new 96-page report covers a good portion of it, with a particular focus on cryptocurrency mining, exchanges, storage, and payments.

Also read: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’

Crypto Sector Receives Its Second Report in a Week

Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto AssetsWithin days of cryptocurrency enthusiasts being treated to a 59-page health check in “The State of Bitcoin,” a second weighty tome has hit their desks. Cambridge University’s “Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study” is as comprehensive as it sounds. Not only is the reference report packed with even more information than Delphi Digital’s effort, but it zeroes in on areas that the previous report skirted.

Judge Business School’s second crypto assets report draws a number of primary findings including:

  • Millions of new users have entered the ecosystem, but most remain passive.
  • The majority of mining facilities use some share of renewable energy sources as part of their energy mix.
  • Mining is less concentrated than commonly perceived.
Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto Assets
The survey found that mobile wallets remain the most supported format but web wallet support has significantly increased.

Unpacking a Trove of Data

While the price of crypto assets has tumbled through most of 2018, user adoption has continued to grow for many leading digital currencies. The Cambridge report found that “Total user accounts at service providers [exchanges, etc.] now exceed 139 million with at least 35 million identity-verified users, the latter growing nearly 4x in 2017 and doubling again in the first three quarters of 2018.” The authors conclude, however, that only 38 percent of these users can be regarded as currently active. It is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of these individuals will reignite their interest in cryptocurrencies once the market recovers.

Another key finding from the report concerns the growth in industry employment. Despite having been published within days of various crypto projects including Consensys, Spankchain, and Steemit all downsizing, the report highlights the significant expansion of the cryptocurrency workforce since 2016. Back, then, the average cryptocurrency business had just five employees. Today that figure stands at 20. Other interesting findings from the university’s report include:

  • Two-thirds of specialized custodial exchanges do not have a refund procedure in the case of customer funds getting lost or stolen.
  • The amount of funds held in cold storage by crypto businesses surveyed stands at above 80 percent.
  • More than 80 percent of firms do not publicly share information about security audits, indicating a general unwillingness to divulge security-critical information.

Benchmark University Study Shines a Spotlight on Crypto AssetsThe very fact that Bitcoin and its supporting cryptocurrencies are now regularly inspiring high-level research initiated by august institutions speaks volumes of the progress that digital assets have made over the past 18 months. Britain’s second oldest university, Cambridge University was founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III two decades later. Cryptocurrency proponents will be hoping that Bitcoin goes on to have an equally long and distinguished history.

Do you think the quality of research into crypto assets is improving? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Bitcoin History Part 4: Casascius Creates Physical Bitcoins

Bitcoin was born as a wholly digital currency, and it might have remained that way had it not been for the efforts of an early adopter from Utah. His name was Mike Caldwell, but on the Bitcointalk forum, he was better known as Casascius. The physical bitcoin creator took a digital phenomenon and converted into physical matter. For the first time in history, bitcoins were tactile.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 3: Turning on the Faucet

Why a Physical Bitcoin?

Bitcoin History Part 4: Casascius Creates Physical Bitcoins“Why a physical bitcoin?” That was the question with which Bitcointalk forum regular Casascius titled his thread on Sep. 6, 2011. Hours earlier, he’d posted a separate thread announcing the launch of the first physical bitcoins. In many respects, his creations looked and felt just like conventional coins, and back then were worth scarcely more. In fact, with the first batch that Casascius released, the cost of postage alone was set at 1 BTC, while each 1 BTC coin was priced at 1.25 BTC to cover production costs.

“One side has a hologram,” explained Casascius. “Underneath the hologram layer is a private key. The first 8 characters of the bitcoin address appears on each coin.” “These look awesome,” replied forum user ‘the joint,’ “but why would you buy this given the current state of the Bitcoin market/economy? This might be nice as an investment if there was a good indicator that your investment would give you any kind of return.” When he wrote these words, 1 BTC was trading for $6.86.

The 1,000 BTC Physical Coin

So successful were the Casascius physical coins that the 1 BTC batch was followed by 10, 25, 100, and even 1,000 BTC editions. At bitcoin’s peak, around this time last year, that holographic 1,000 BTC coin would have been worth around $20 million. Mike Caldwell sold his Casascius physical coins until late 2013, by which point close to 28,000 coins had been minted. Almost half of those coins have now been redeemed, but over 47,000 BTC remains unclaimed at this time, waiting until the owners can bring themselves to peel off the holographic layer and redeem them using the private key.

Bitcoin History Part 4: Casascius Creates Physical Bitcoins
Redeemed Casascius coins over time

“Now we can cross out the line in the first sentence of the [Bitcointalk forum] FAQ, which is that “a bitcoin is not tangible,” wrote Casascius, upon announcing his invention. “The fact that a bitcoin is no longer invisible, I think, is huge in and of itself.” He wasn’t wrong. While BTC has remained a primarily digital currency, today physical bitcoins exist in many forms including paper wallets, commemorative coins, and limited edition trinkets. Simply through engraving, printing, or etching the public and private keys to a bitcoin address, and obfuscating the latter, anything can be turned into a physical bitcoin and used to hold any amount of BTC or BCH.

Casascius started out as just another arcane pseudonym on an obscure digital currency enthusiasts’ forum. Today, his moniker stands synonymous with the birth of physical bitcoins.

Bitcoin History is a multipart series from news.Bitcoin.com charting pivotal moments in the evolution of the world’s first and finest cryptocurrency. Read part three here.


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Report: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’

Report: BTC Gets a Health Check in “The State of Bitcoin”

Delphi Digital has taken a deep dive into bitcoin core in its first “The State of Bitcoin” report. The 59-page document from the digital asset investment company leaves no stone unturned, covering everything from BTC payments to coin distribution and rolling returns compared to stocks and gold. The report brings together a plethora of interesting statistics that attest to bitcoin’s growing evolution and adoption.

Also read: Fundraiser Aims to Raise $1M in Cryptocurrencies for Venezuelans

Better Understanding Bitcoin

Few people, save for a handful of terminal haters and discredited economists, dispute that Bitcoin is valuable. But quite where that value lies, and what the primary purpose of Satoshi’s creation should be, is a matter of some dispute. “In its current state, BTC is easier to dismiss than understand,” acknowledge the authors of The State of Bitcoin. “We believe the primary long-term value drivers for BTC revolve around its ability to serve as 1) a censorship-resistant store of value and 2) a ‘check’ on governments as an alternative, country-agnostic digital reserve currency.”

Report: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’The report itself offers something for everyone, addressing BTC’s current deployment as both a medium of exchange and a store of value. Delphi Digital devotes particular attention to charting BTC’s progress in the countries that need it most – inflation-hit Argentina and Venezuela. Here, as well as in regions where many of the world’s unbanked can be found – primarily Africa – cryptocurrencies have huge potential. The report identifies three primary drivers behind BTC adoption in these countries:

  • As an alternative to local currencies suffering from high or hyperinflation
  • Allowing citizens to hold their wealth directly, rather than trust a local bank
  • To improve the speed and reduce transaction fees of sending remittances

Report: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’The average cost of remittance for sending $200 is as high as $36 between South Africa and Botswana, for example, showing significant scope for cryptocurrencies to provide a low-cost alternative. But BTC’s use cases don’t end there. “In the past, when high inflation took hold in a person’s country, there was little that they could do except watch as their purchasing power evaporated,” continues the report. Now, “any person with internet access has the option to insulate themselves from local currency risk by switching to [BTC]. Essentially, bitcoin can offer a check on government power and policy while providing a vital safe haven for people from all around the world.”

Divining Trends Through UTXO Analysis

Examining unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs) offers up clues as to the market cycle that BTC is currently enduring, and hints at what may come next. Delphi Digital has used a green line to represent UTXOs that are at least a year old – i.e. coins that haven’t been spent in over a year. Monitoring the percentage of 1yr+ UTXOs, as part of BTC’s entire UTXO set, shows when bitcoin holders begin to move their coins once more, be it to sell, trade, or purchase goods and services. “In the second half of 2018, the 1-Year UTXO band began exhibiting a positive growth trajectory directly in tandem with the 1-2 Year band as older UTXO bands remain flat,” reads the report. “We believe we are in the midst of an accumulation process taking similar to the one in the 2nd half of 2014.”

Report: BTC Gets a Health Check in ‘The State of Bitcoin’
The black line represents the price of BTC on a logarithmic scale and the green line shows the percent of bitcoin UTXOs that have not been used in a transaction in at least a year

For those searching desperately for signs of a market recovery, one of the key takeaways from the report, based primarily on UTXO analysis, is that “Bitcoin may face additional selling pressure in the near-term, but we believe prices will bottom in Q1 2019 based on our analysis of holder dynamics during prior boom-bust cycles.”

From Banks to the Unbanked, Bitcoin Is for Everyone

Much of Bitcoin’s beauty lies in the fact that it can be many things to many people. While it can provide a lifeline to citizens suffering from hyperinflation or prone to having their assets seized by despotic governments, BTC can be equally valuable to governments themselves, central banks, and the so-called one percent. “There is a case to be made for central banks to hold a small portion of bitcoin in their reserves as a complement to gold if it matures into an accepted store of value,” ventures the report. It continues:

If the ~$1.4 trillion of gold reserves held by central banks grows at a similarly modest 2% rate per year, the expected value of bitcoin would be roughly $10,000 assuming a 25% chance it captures half the total value of future gold reserves … The upside potential for bitcoin is immense assuming it captures even a modest portion of the total assets held in offshore bank accounts, the investible gold market, and central bank gold reserves.

While it’s easy to speculate future use cases and users of bitcoin, what’s indisputable is that BTC is unlike any monetary system that’s gone before. Even now, 10 years on from the Bitcoin whitepaper, new applications for BTC are being discovered. It would take a brave soul to bet against bitcoin being worth more and transacted more 10 years from now.

Do you think it’s likely that BTC will start to recover from Q1 of 2019? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

Sentiment Analysis Tool Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

Keeping abreast of cryptocurrencies means frequently browsing and interpreting vast amounts of content from various online sources. As the crypto markets expands and matures, information overload becomes a problem. Astute traders are increasingly seeking crypto-specific tools that can distill the noisy input data into quality insights. Predicoin is one such potential solution.

Also read: Meet the New Sentiment Analysis Tools Empowering Smarter Trading

Predicoin Goes Live With “Sentscore” Functionality

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency TradersIn August, news.Bitcoin.com previewed Predicoin, which was then in early stage development. The data analytics platform, which is now open to the public, aggregates news and social media content before extracting the sentiment using machine learning. In addition to serving up crypto news and social media content, Predicoin provides its own built-in analytics in the form of “Sentscore” (sentiment score). This functions as a general sentiment indicator for the cryptomarket, powered by algorithms that compute sentiment from five verticals:

  • Amount of content and article context from crypto news sites
  • Social media sentiment (currently Twitter and Reddit) and volume from crypto influencers
  • Macro and micro economics/fundamentals of a coin (team, developers etc.)
  • Technical indicators on a coin’s price
  • Popularity and trending characteristics of a coin

Predicoin plans to use its datasets and analytics framework to derive trends between sentiment and price. “We’re still tuning our algorithms and regularly backpropagating updates to prior data,” explained Pierre-Alexandre Picard, Predicoin COO. “These metrics could change, but we’re very excited to start seeing some potential correlations on our charts. We continue to work hard on identifying patterns to provide the most accurate indicators to our users.”

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders
BCH social sentiment leading up to the hard fork

Gauging Social Sentiment

Although Predicoin is still in beta, testing shows the platform to be quite efficient in some cases at accurately conveying social trends. For instance, at the height of the recent Bitcoin Cash fork, Predicoin detected a significant upward shift in volume of news and social media that mentioned BCH. While this finding isn’t surprising, seeing the data overlaid with that of BCH price action suggests the degree to which sentiment can be used to predict price.

This is best seen in the case of Ripple’s eponymous cryptocurrency. XRP’s price run-up in September, which was linked to the announcement of U.S.-based PNC Bank partnering with Ripple to conduct instantaneous cross-border payments. Predicoin identified the positive news published on XRP and shared multiple times across social media, taking its native Sentscore to an all-time high for ripple. The price followed within the next 12-24 hours, boosting XRP to over $0.60.

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

BTC’s social chart is also interesting to explore, showing sentiment falling with the bitcoin crash that occurred on Nov. 15:

Sentiment Analysis Service Predicoin Launches for Cryptocurrency Traders

The platform detected a strong downturn in the sentiment of social media the moment BTC lost around $100. To further improve its algorithmic predictions, Predicoin runs statistical tests on the data it amasses to develop metrics that connect price and social information. The goal is to ultimately develop a tool that traders and investors can rely on for asset research.

Predicoin’s data analytics service currently extends to 30 cryptocurrencies, enabling enthusiasts to log in and discover social patterns, check daily, weekly, and monthly scores, and access the content from which these scores are formulated. Generating profit in a bear market isn’t easy, even when armed with tools and algorithms aplenty. Given the fallibility of technical analysis, however, alternative indicators are to be welcomed, be it to bolster existing trading ideas or to give rise to new ones.

Do you think sentiment analysis can be a valuable trading indicator? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Predicoin.


Disclaimer: Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service.

Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the mentioned company or any of its affiliates or services. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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The Daily: Virtual Land Auction Goes Live, How the Crypto Crash Affects Miners

The Daily: Virtual Land Auction Goes Live, How the Crypto Crash Affects Miners

From mining virtual currencies to purchasing virtual land, Monday’s episode of The Daily spans very different regions of the cryptosphere. We begin with an examination of how the latest bitcoin crash has affected miners, and then follow up with a look at the second Decentraland virtual land auction, which commences at 10 a.m. EST today.

Also read: Trace Mayer Draws Support for Proof of Keys — Celebrating Genesis Block Day

Miners Struggle to Keep the Lights on in Bitcoin’s Darkest Hour

It isn’t easy being a bitcoin miner, what with sunk costs, rapidly devaluing hardware, market volatility, and the stress of competing against every other entrepreneur in the world with the same idea. When the going’s good, the rewards for mining cryptocurrencies such as BTC can be handsome, but when it’s bad, the only certainty is a huge electricity bill at the end of the month. In its latest report, Bitmex Research has examined the effect that plummeting crypto prices have had on miners. It charts the two recent downward difficulty adjustments, in mid-November and early December, before observing that BTC “mining industry revenue has fallen from around $13 million per day, at the start of November, to around $6 million per day, at the start of December.”

The Daily: Virtual Land Auction Goes Live, How the Crypto Crash Affects Miners

The drop in mining revenue outstripped the drop in the price of BTC during this period. The report notes that “There has been considerable speculation around the causes of the price crash, with some saying miners sold [BTC] in order to finance a costly hashwar in Bitcoin Cash. The cryptocurrency intelligence monitoring platform Boltzmann flagged to us that their platform had detected unusually large miner selling of [BTC] on 12th November, a few days before the Bitcoin Cash split.” The report concludes with an observation that others within the crypto community have also made in recent weeks, to the effect that bitcoin mining will remain cost-effective for sufficient miners to secure the network for the foreseeable future:

This is likely to be a very tough time for the mining industry. However, for miners with lower costs, our basic analysis indicates that the situation may be better than people expect. If the miners acquired their equipment from Bitmain at below-cost prices, they could still be in the green, even when including depreciation and other administrative expenses.

Over 9,000 Decentraland Parcels Go Up for Auction

The second Decentraland auction commenced at 10 a.m. EST today, following on from the initial auction that took place in the virtual city last year. All of the remaining 9,331 parcels of land, currently marked as black squares on the map, will be made available via a Dutch auction in which prices begin at 200,000 mana ($12,000), before dropping gradually to as low as 1,000 mana if required. It is expected that all of the new parcels will have been purchased by the time the bidding price falls to around 5,000 mana, however.

The Daily: Virtual Land Auction Goes Live, How the Crypto Crash Affects Miners
Decentraland

During the past week, Decentraland has announced a number of partnerships and integrations, enabling bidders to purchase land using not only mana, but also ZIL, SNT, ELF, DAI, MKR, KNC, RCN, and BNB. There has been significant interest in the project as the auction date has neared, offsetting some of the gloom that’s pervaded the market at large amidst falling cryptocurrency prices. Bloggers have published guides advising interested parties on where the pick of the unclaimed lands lie on the map, and how to go about obtaining them. Despite Decentraland’s virtual world yet to have launched, interest in trading the parcels, represented as ERC721 non-fungible tokens, has been keen, with land fetching as much as $175,000 a square.

What are your thoughts on today’s news tidbits as featured in The Daily? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Decentraland, and Bitmex Research.


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New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings

A quarterly ratings report has upgraded the score previously given to seven cryptocurrency exchanges, while downgrading four. It has also added seven new exchanges, rating them on such metrics as trading volume, security, and compliance. In related news, Crypto Exchange Ranks (CER) has begun tracking the hot and cold wallets of exchanges as part of a drive to champion greater transparency.

Also read: Simple Ledger Developers Publish Monthly Puzzle With Bitcoin Cash Treasure

Okex Downgraded, Bithumb Upgraded

Cryptocurrency exchange ratings, much like cryptocurrency ratings, are highly subjective. Any attempt at rating and ranking the constituents of a particular set using specific benchmarks is bound to cause controversy. Nevertheless, quarterly ratings reports continue to grow in popularity and in number while shining the spotlight on various verticals within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Tokeninsight’s latest report tracks the progress of crypto exchanges over the past three months, amid difficult market conditions.

New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings
Tokeninsights’ exchange rating criteria

Unique visitors have dropped across the board during the last quarter, with the sole exception of Bithumb, whose traffic and aggregated score has risen. Okex, by way of comparison, has seen its weighted score fall, exacerbated by the fact that it “has repeatedly unilaterally changed its trading rules during our rating period, including data rollbacks and modifying its contract delivery rules.” The report continued:

In the case of the BCH hard fork, Okex delivered the last transaction price of BCH contract ahead of schedule at 16:05 p.m. on November 14, 2018 (GMT+8), and issued an announcement only one hour in advance, causing unnecessary losses to a large number of investors.

Hitbtc, Kraken, and Kucoin all saw their ratings upgraded by Tokeninsight, while Poloniex and Gemini were among the exchanges given ratings for the first time.

Trans-Fee Mining Exchanges Score Poorly

Transaction fee mining exchanges, often linked with wash trading and fake volume, have scored poorly in Tokeninsight’s report. Hong Kong’s Fcoin exchange is one such casualty, its score lowered, with the report noting how “Transaction mining trends once brought a large amount of traffic to the platform, due to the notion that the vast majority of transactions of transaction fees or dividends were free, and transaction volume has dropped significantly in the past three months. In terms of compliance, Fcoin has lagged behind in development and has not obtained any license of relevant regulatory agencies.”

New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings
The CER dashboard, showing hot and cold wallet balances for Bittrex.

Exchange analytics service Crypto Exchange Ranks has been instrumental in uncovering fake volume on Asian platforms such as Fcoin, Coinbit, and GDAC. Its latest initiative involves launching a crowdsourced framework for crypto exchange transparency. CER is seeking the help of “transparency hackers” to help it identify and then track the hot and cold wallets of all leading cryptocurrency exchanges.

The CER dashboard is already populated with wallet balances for several major exchanges. Results can be filtered according to the size of the exchange wallet, and clicking on the wallet balance will reveal the distribution between hot and cold wallets, where such information is available. Eventually, CER hopes to add this data for every exchange, and in doing so to bring greater transparency to the sector through a combination of self-reporting and public diligence.

Do you think ratings reports incentivize exchanges to provide greater transparency and to act ethically? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tokeninsight, and CER.


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Bitcoin History Part 3: Turning on the Faucet

Bitcoin History Part 3: Turning on the Faucet

With no exchanges, P2P marketplaces, or escrow services in Bitcoin’s earliest days, acquiring coins wasn’t easy. You either mined them or begged someone on the Bitcointalk forum to sell to you OTC. Then, along came a developer called Gavin Andresen who created a faucet that allowed anyone to claim free BTC.

Also read: Bitcoin History Part 1: In the Beginning

How Gavin Andresen Turned on the Tap for Bitcoin

Bitcoin History Part 3: Turning on the Faucet
Gavin Andresen

“For my first Bitcoin coding project, I decided to do something that sounds really dumb,” wrote Gavin Andresen. “I created a website that gives away bitcoins.” It was June 2010 and, in an era when obtaining BTC wasn’t easy, Andresen’s idea proved to be very smart. For the nascent cryptocurrency community to grow, it was essential that bitcoin be distributed as widely as possible. Only through having skin in the game, and sending and receiving BTC, would it be possible for people to understand Bitcoin and for it to grow from an idea into a global phenomenon.

Bitcoin faucets were the original airdrops, and Andresen’s was the first faucet. To begin with, it dispensed 5 BTC per visitor, each of whom was required to do nothing more than complete a captcha. The notion of receiving a king’s ransom in BTC for little more than visiting a webpage seems outlandish today, but back then, 5 BTC was worthless in dollar terms. “It only gives 5 coins [a day],” complained the second forum user to reply to Andersen’s post (the first was bitcoin pizza guy Laszlo). Satoshi was impressed though, enthusing:

Excellent choice of a first project, nice work. I had planned to do this exact thing if someone else didn’t do it, so when it gets too hard for mortals to generate 50BTC, new users could get some coins to play with right away.

To those who had the perspicacity to appreciate what they were taking from the tap, those bitcoins were priceless. A handful may have hodled, but the majority of claimants will have long since frittered their coins away on sites like Satoshidice and later Silk Road. Faucets such as Andresen’s were forerunners to the sort of websites where BTC could be exchanged for goods and services.

Bitcoin History Part 3: Turning on the Faucet
The webpage for Gavin Andresen’s bitcoin faucet

One thing that anyone revisiting the early Bitcointalk threads will note is the benevolence that pervaded: More than one individual found security holes in Andresen’s faucet, and one drained his wallet of BTC before kindly returning it and explaining how to patch the flaw. Through altruistic deeds such as these, bitcoin’s early adopters gave the cryptocurrency its value back then, placing community ahead of personal profit.

19,700 BTC Given Away

To fuel the first faucet, Andresen loaded it with 1,100 BTC of his own. After these were disbursed, the faucet was reloaded, with early bitcoin miners and whales also donating coins. “Bitcoins are a new kind of money,” explained Andresen’s faucet website. “They aren’t created or controlled by a government (like dollars or euros), they’re created and controlled by anybody who wants to be part of the Bitcoin payment network.”

“What’s the catch?” asked the last of the four questions on the developer’s website, to which came Andresen’s reply: “I want Bitcoin to be successful, so I created this little service to give you a few coins to start with.”

It’s fair to say that both Bitcoin and Andresen went on to overachieve in some style. By the time the faucet had dispensed its last coins in early 2011, 19,715 BTC had passed through Andresen’s wallet. Bitcoin, meanwhile, was on the way to its first parabolic price spike, mainstream media coverage, political censure, and a world of adventure. But those are all tales for another time in Bitcoin History.

Bitcoin History is a multipart series from news.Bitcoin.com charting pivotal moments in the evolution of the world’s first and finest cryptocurrency. Read part one here.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin Address Illuminates Amsterdam’s Lights Festival

Bitcoin Address Illuminates Amsterdam’s Lights Festival

Residents of the Herengracht, one of Amsterdam’s most famous canalside streets, have been confronted by a curious combination of illuminated letters and numbers. The large 34-character display has provoked curiosity and more than a little confusion. Part of Amsterdam Light Festival, the gaudy installation is in fact a bitcoin address with a benevolent cause attached.

Also read: House of Nakamoto Opens in Amsterdam

Cryptographic Code Down by the Canal

Bitcoin Address Illuminates Amsterdam’s Lights Festival
Frederike Top

“Code” is the name of Frederike Top’s eye-catching contribution to Amsterdam Light Festival. The 37-year-old Dutch artist, who learned her craft in Utrecht, normally creates lamps, furniture and interior designs that are characterized by playfulness, often with an element of user interaction. In “Code”, Top has taken her artwork to the streets and scaled it up significantly to create a coruscating bitcoin address in the heart of the city’s tourist district.

The positioning of the artwork, affixed to the face of a former bank building, is no coincidence. As the Amsterdam Light Festival website explains, “Central control is no longer needed for digital transactions as opposed to the traditional financial world. Cryptocurrency is a real threat for governments and banks as Top highlights in her installation by positioning it in front of the enormous, closed former bank building.”

Bitcoin Address Illuminates Amsterdam’s Lights Festival

Charity in the City of Crypto

The BTC address used for the project, 1MA8Wopde19HbANkJHnuu76LGbooQHLnuP, which even contains the word “bank”, has an altruistic purpose: all contributions it receives will be donated to Huis van de Tijd, a foundation for elderly people with dementia. So far, 14 modest BTC donations have been made.

Amsterdam has a strong Bitcoin heritage, having housed its own Bitcoin Embassy since 2014. It also recently opened the House of Nakamoto, an information center and retail store for cryptocurrencies that features a Bitcoin museum. Frederike Top’s bitcoin address artwork can be seen as part of Amsterdam Light Festival until Jan 20, 2019. The seventh edition of the festival comprises 29 illuminated artworks and 10 city stories, with the lights switched on between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. daily. Walking tours take visitors around the installations, which can also be viewed by bicycle or boat.

Bitcoin Address Illuminates Amsterdam’s Lights Festival
Amsterdam Light Festival

What are your thoughts on Bitcoin-themed artworks such as this? Do you think they help to raise awareness of cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Amsterdam Light Festival.


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Coinbase Opens the Door to More Than 30 New Cryptocurrencies

Coinbase has announced that it plans to list over 30 cryptocurrencies, with many more to follow. In its largest listing spree to date, the California-based exchange will add dozens of cryptocurrencies in the coming months, including dai, mana and neo. Moving forward, Coinbase ultimately plans to add over 90 percent of “all compliant digital assets.”

Also read: SEC to Decide Fate of Vaneck Solidx Bitcoin ETF by Late February

Coinbase Embarks on a Listing Blitz

Coinbase Opens the Door to More Than 30 New CryptocurrenciesOn Dec. 7, Coinbase shared an ambitious plan to list scores of digital assets. The seven cryptocurrencies it currently supports, BCH, BTC, ETH, LTC, ETC, ZRX, and BAT, will soon be complemented by over 30 more. A company blog post explained: “Coinbase’s goal is to offer support for all assets that meet our standards and are fully compliant with local law. Over time, we intend to offer our customers access to greater than 90% of all compliant digital assets by market cap.”

While focused on ERC20 tokens, the listing blitz will also include assets operating on other networks such as NEO and XRP. Ripple’s native cryptocurrency had long been a source of speculation, with both the company and its token-holders eager for XRP to be added to the dominant U.S. exchange. While their wish will now come true, ripple will have to share the limelight with many other tokens scheduled to be added around the same time.

Coinbase to Compete With Token-Rich Exchanges Such as Binance

Coinbase Opens the Door to More Than 30 New CryptocurrenciesOne of the main drivers behind Coinbase’s aggressive listing policy will be the desire to claim a slice of the trading volume being absorbed by token-rich exchanges such as Binance, which operates 393 markets. Okex has 415 and Huobi 290 trading pairs. Coinbase made record profits last year, but its financials for 2018 will show a major drop in revenue as market conditions have reduced the appetite among retail investors for cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, and BCH.

The full list of cryptocurrencies Coinbase has shortlisted for addition comprises cardano (ADA), aeternity (AE), aragon (ANT), bread (BRD), civic (CVC), dai (DAI), district0x (DNT), enjincoin (ENJ), EOS (EOS), golem network (GNT), iost (IOST), kin (KIN), kyber network (KNC), chainlink (LINK), loom network (LOOM), loopring (LRC), decentraland (MANA), mainframe (MFT), maker (MKR), NEO (NEO), omisego (OMG), poet (POE), quarkchain (QKC), augur (REP), request network (REQ), status (SNT), storj (STORJ), stellar (XLM), ripple (XRP), tezos (XTZ), and zilliqa (ZIL).

Coinbase Opens the Door to More Than 30 New Cryptocurrencies

“Some of these assets may become available everywhere, while others may only be supported in specific jurisdictions,” concluded the blog post. Coinbase Pro has since announced that it will begin accepting deposits for civic, district0x, loom, and mana ahead of trading commencing.

What are your thoughts on the 30 cryptocurrencies Coinbase intends to list? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Coinbase.


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What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin Privacy

What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin Privacy

In a little over a month, one of the most eagerly anticipated cryptocurrency projects in recent times will launch. There will be no ICO or premine, and, like the transactions themselves, the project team are highly private. Grin, the first network to utilize Mimblewimble cryptography, has wide-ranging implications for privacy that could ultimately shape the future of the Bitcoin network.

Also read: Previously Inactive Whales Are Moving Large Amounts of BTC

Grin and Beam Will Give Privacy Purveyors a Lot to Smile About

What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin PrivacyGrin and Beam are two projects that will make use of Mimblewimble, a form of cryptography whose applications include facilitating private transactions. Of the pair, Grin has garnered the most attention from bitcoiners. One reason for this is that the success of new privacy protocols could pave the way for Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Cash to adopt similar tech. That possibility remains some way off, but in the meantime, there are other reasons why Grin has intrigued the Bitcoin community.

Observers have noted the similarities between the launch of Grin with that of Bitcoin and Monero. Grin has a largely anonymous team, no founders’ rewards, and a community spirit that harks back to the early days of Bitcoin, when proponents were more interested in creating something useful than posturing and profiting. While Grin will certainly attract its share of speculators, its technology is its primary talking point. “Grin has no amounts and no addresses,” explains its website. “Transactions can be trivially aggregated … It’s not controlled by any company, foundation or individual. The coin distribution is designed to be as fair (but not gratis) as is known to be possible.”

The Magic and Mystery of Mimblewimble

What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin PrivacyAt the heart of Grin, as well as Beam, the latter described as a “Scalable confidential cryptocurrency,” is Mimblewimble. Named after a Harry Potter spell also known as the Tongue-Tying Curse that prevents an opponent from casting theirs, Mimblewimble enables the bulk of a blockchain’s past transaction data to be removed. It first surfaced on the #bitcoin-wizards IRC channel back in 2016, proposed, fittingly, by a pseudonymous developer known as Tom Elvis Jedusor, named after Voldemort’s real name in the French edition of Harry Potter.

Intriguing as Mimblewimble’s origins are, it’s what the so-called Tongue-Tying Curse can do in the here and now that’s had tongues wagging. “Mimblewimble collapses all transactions within a block into a single block-wide transaction,” explains Jordan Clifford in “Behind Mimblewimble”. He continues: “It uses a modified version of Confidential Transactions so that the balances are stored as cryptographic commitments rather than publicly visible amounts.”

What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin Privacy

Because Mimblewimble does away with conventional addresses, sender and receiver essentially have to agree to transact before broadcasting their actions to the network. With the amount that has been sent masked, it is extremely difficult for third parties to eavesdrop. This is in stark contrast to networks such as Bitcoin, where “blockchain voyeurism” is a very real thing.

What Mimblewimble Means for Bitcoin

What Grin and Mimblewimble Mean for the Future of Bitcoin PrivacyLike many cryptographic technologies to have emerged over the last decade, Mimblewimble’s origins can be traced back to Bitcoin. For one thing, it uses Dandelion, a technology that was originally designed for Bitcoin, as a means to obfuscate transactions by routing them through a series of network hops. Due to the decentralized design of Bitcoin, network upgrades are few and far between. “Move slow and break nothing,” is basically the mantra.

Bitcoin is still a long way from introducing privacy-enhancing technology, and there are many who believe that, due to pressure from institutional investors and regulators, it may never be possible to broadcast fully anonymous transactions directly on the BTC blockchain. Schnorr signatures, a scaling technology which can help to combat spam attacks, have a greater chance of being introduced first. This could provide a stepping stone, however, for the addition of Coinjoin or alternative privacy tech based on Mimblewimble.

Given the potential applications for a Bitcoin network with optional private transactions, it’s no wonder that Grin and Beam are attracting so much interest. The Beam mainnet launch is due this month, while Grin’s is set for Jan 15, 2019. Both networks will provide a fascinating insight into the capabilities of Mimblewimble, two and a half years after it was conceived.

What are your thoughts on Grin and Mimblewimble? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Jordan Clifford.


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