S2F Bitcoin Price Prediction Model as Accurate as Astrology, Says Exec

Before crypto analyst PlanB released another ‘red dot’ for its stock-to-flow chart, critics of the prediction model were voicing skepticism.

Prominent members of the crypto community continue to express skepticism over the stock-to-flow (S2F) chart, a Bitcoin (BTC) price prediction model recently revised by analyst PlanB. 

Nico Cordeiro, CIO at crypto quant fund Strix Leviathan, called S2F a “chameleon,” a term from Stanford professor Paul Pleifderer describing models built upon dubious assumptions. 

“The model’s accuracy will likely be about as successful at forecasting Bitcoin’s future price as the astrological models of the past were at predicting financial outcomes,” Cordeiro said.

Revisions to past models

Cointelegraph reported on June 1 that PlanB had updated its signature chart, making it seem as though Bitcoin was on the cusp of a massive bull run leading to a $100,000 BTC price before the end of 2021. This was far from the $9,000–$10,000 range in which the token has remained for weeks. 

On July 1, analyst PlanB released a new red dot, indicating that two months has passed since the BTC rewards halving. 

Despite its model failing to predict BTC price movements in June with significant accuracy, PlanB continues to update revised versions of the S2F model for its 114,900 Twitter followers. 

How stock-to-flow works

An S2F analysis treats BTC as a commodity comparable to gold, an asset with a fixed supply. This assumes new supplies — the amount mined — are insignificant when compared with the existing supply. 

PlanB applies this same logic to Bitcoin: more of the tokens available to be mined are diminished by halvings roughly every four years, with a total supply fixed at 21 million BTC. 

Cordeiro has refuted the basis of the S2F model, saying it relies on the assertion that the U.S. dollar market capitalization of a commodity like gold is derived directly from its rate of new supply. According to the CIO, PlanB has not provided any evidence to support this idea. He also used statistical analyses that result “in a high probability of a researcher finding spurious results.”

PlanB has responded to Cordeiro’s accusations on Twitter, saying he used “old and refuted” arguments for his claims. 

Being popular isn’t everything

Though Cordeiro admits the S2F chart has achieved “viral popularity,” he attributes its success to Bitcoin enthusiasts hopeful for bulls, even calling out PlanB directly, “I forgot the accuracy of a model is dependent on the number of Twitter followers a researcher has.”

The CIO isn’t alone in his skepticism. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has asserted that the idea that Bitcoin halvings are creating price rallies is “unfalsifiable.”

“Investors should be highly skeptical of this model even if they believe Bitcoin is digital gold, Cordeiro says. “The SF paper is not proper empirical analysis, but more akin to a marketing piece in which the author is trying to convince readers that Bitcoin is going to be worth a lot more tomorrow. This may or may not turn out true, but it has little to do with Bitcoin’s supply schedule.”

‘Boring’ Bitcoin Hits Multiple Record Highs in a Day

Bitcoin hit new heights on a variety of metrics today, despite some characterising the cryptocurrency as ‘boring’.

After weeks of uninspired price action, Bitcoin hit new heights today on a variety of metrics: new addresses, active addresses, hourly transaction count and hourly spent outputs.

Glassnode CTO Rafael Schultze-Kraft posted on twitter listing the achievements:

New Addresses

Looking up your address

Bitcoin hasn’t seen this number of new or active addresses since the bull run in 2017. From shortly after the drop in early 2018, the number of daily new addresses has been steadily on the rise from 195K to 450K today. Daily active addresses have grown almost three-fold from 423K to 1.08 million in the same period. 

The combination of increasing new addresses, combined with the surging active addresses and hourly transaction counts is welcome news, and comes only hours after crypto analyst Mati Greenspan from Quantum Economics tweeted:

“Man… even the difficulty adjustments are getting boring. Bitcoin volumes and social engagement have been falling for weeks.”

On July 1 the Bitcoin mining difficulty level remained essentially dead flat, with an adjustment down of just 0.0033%. Bitcoin daily volumes have fallen from $52 billion in mid May to $15 billion (at time of press).

Social Engagement

Looking at social engagement over 2020 by crypto analysis platform Lunarcrush, the overall trend is slightly positive from the start of the year. This week saw a slight gain in Bitcoin posts across all social platforms, to 927,000 posts. Despite the fairly flat social engagement throughout, Bitcoin’s price saw big gains in January and April.

Bitcoin’s social engagement relationship with price

Bitcoin’s social engagement relationship with price. Source: Lunarcrush

Binance Security Report Sheds Light On Crypto Scams

A report released by crypto exchange Binance illustrates how scams targeting cryptocurrency investors attempt to gain credibility.

A report released by major crypto exchange Binance illustrates how scams targeting cryptocurrency investors attempt to gain credibility.

In the report published on June 30, the exchange explained that its Binance Sentry risk investigation service observed reports of fraudulent investment schemes promising quick or exponential returns on cryptocurrency investments. The frauds do not just concern crypto but also forex, binary options and contracts for difference (CFDs).

Binance published the report after a Bitcoin (BTC) scam targeted the residents of Winnipeg, Canada, in late June.

Scams are often well-organized, big operations

Scam organizations are frequently the subject of regulatory warnings but often use different, seemingly unrelated brands. In fact, what seems like dozens of projects can often be just different branches of one big operation. In some cases “one brand might be crypto-specific, another may focus on forex or CFDs”.

Some fraudulent entities create false ‘consumer organizations’ that squeeze victims for even more funds after they become suspicious that the organization is a scam and try to report it. Projects often fabricate regulators and governmental agencies such as corporate registers in an attempt to earn the trust of investors.

Binance Sentry also notes that the global nature of many of the scams, make legal action against them harder. The report explains:

“[Scam] victims are often situated all over the world, living in jurisdictions that are different from the pseudo-services to which they fall victim. [...] As one may expect, this not only results in an increased level of difficulty for law enforcement investigations but also complicates the process of establishing connections between victims.”

Binance Security Report Sheds Light On Crypto Scams

A report released by crypto exchange Binance illustrates how scams targeting cryptocurrency investors attempt to gain credibility.

A report released by major crypto exchange Binance illustrates how scams targeting cryptocurrency investors attempt to gain credibility.

In the report published on June 30, the exchange explained that its Binance Sentry risk investigation service observed reports of fraudulent investment schemes promising quick or exponential returns on cryptocurrency investments. The frauds do not just concern crypto but also forex, binary options and contracts for difference (CFDs).

Binance published the report after a Bitcoin (BTC) scam targeted the residents of Winnipeg, Canada, in late June.

Scams are often well-organized, big operations

Scam organizations are frequently the subject of regulatory warnings but often use different, seemingly unrelated brands. In fact, what seems like dozens of projects can often be just different branches of one big operation. In some cases “one brand might be crypto-specific, another may focus on forex or CFDs”.

Some fraudulent entities create false ‘consumer organizations’ that squeeze victims for even more funds after they become suspicious that the organization is a scam and try to report it. Projects often fabricate regulators and governmental agencies such as corporate registers in an attempt to earn the trust of investors.

Binance Sentry also notes that the global nature of many of the scams, make legal action against them harder. The report explains:

“[Scam] victims are often situated all over the world, living in jurisdictions that are different from the pseudo-services to which they fall victim. [...] As one may expect, this not only results in an increased level of difficulty for law enforcement investigations but also complicates the process of establishing connections between victims.”

Boomer and Gen-X Interest in Bitcoin Surges During Pandemic

Boomers and Gen-X investors have increased their Bitcoin investments by a factor of nine since the start of the global lockdown.

The older generations have increased their monthly Bitcoin investments by a factor of nine on U.K crypto trading app Mode since the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns.

Mode Banking reported that Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Generation-X (born 1965-1980) investors are investing significantly larger portions of their wealth into Bitcoin since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using February as the baseline, the findings show that investments from these generations increased 2.24x in March, 4.49x in April, and 8.88x in May.

However the report does not cite any dollar values on the relative amounts invested, so it’s difficult to determine how significant the data is.

Mode Chief Product Officer Janis Legler stated:

“We believe these to be very interesting findings, and although the reasons for this could be manifold, they could potentially reveal an unprecedented change in the way investors think today, as a result of the global pandemic.”

Bitcoin investments by the older generations are growing during COVID-19

Bitcoin investments by the older generations are growing during COVID-19. Source: Mode

Millennials double investments each month

Mode’s figures show that investments on the app from the younger generations, Millenials and Gen-Z, were already doubling month on month prior to the pandemic. But, before lockdowns, the older generations were only spending 61% more month-on-month — which grew to an average of 107% month-on-month during the pandemic.

The investment gap between generations is closing

The investment gap between generations is closing. Source: Mode

Legler said this increase in interest is very important for ongoing success of crypto markets as the majority of wealth is still owned by Boomers and Gen-X:

“We expected Millennials to continue buying into cryptocurrencies, but to see more experienced investors also become increasingly interested in Bitcoin, is extremely promising for the growth of the industry.”

Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Jason Williams mirrored this sentiment, saying on Twitter that the older generation will soon own more digital assets than millennials:

“Boomers and Gen X’rs will move to own massive amounts of #Bitcoin and control exponentially more of the asset than millennials when it should be the other way around.”

Boomer and Gen-X Interest in Bitcoin Surges During Pandemic

Boomers and Gen-X investors have increased their Bitcoin investments by a factor of nine since the start of the global lockdown.

The older generations have increased their monthly Bitcoin investments by a factor of nine on U.K crypto trading app Mode since the beginning of the pandemic and lockdowns.

Mode Banking reported that Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Generation-X (born 1965-1980) investors are investing significantly larger portions of their wealth into Bitcoin since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using February as the baseline, the findings show that investments from these generations increased 2.24x in March, 4.49x in April, and 8.88x in May.

However the report does not cite any dollar values on the relative amounts invested, so it’s difficult to determine how significant the data is.

Mode Chief Product Officer Janis Legler stated:

“We believe these to be very interesting findings, and although the reasons for this could be manifold, they could potentially reveal an unprecedented change in the way investors think today, as a result of the global pandemic.”

Bitcoin investments by the older generations are growing during COVID-19

Bitcoin investments by the older generations are growing during COVID-19. Source: Mode

Millennials double investments each month

Mode’s figures show that investments on the app from the younger generations, Millenials and Gen-Z, were already doubling month on month prior to the pandemic. But, before lockdowns, the older generations were only spending 61% more month-on-month — which grew to an average of 107% month-on-month during the pandemic.

The investment gap between generations is closing

The investment gap between generations is closing. Source: Mode

Legler said this increase in interest is very important for ongoing success of crypto markets as the majority of wealth is still owned by Boomers and Gen-X:

“We expected Millennials to continue buying into cryptocurrencies, but to see more experienced investors also become increasingly interested in Bitcoin, is extremely promising for the growth of the industry.”

Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Jason Williams mirrored this sentiment, saying on Twitter that the older generation will soon own more digital assets than millennials:

“Boomers and Gen X’rs will move to own massive amounts of #Bitcoin and control exponentially more of the asset than millennials when it should be the other way around.”

Comedian Bill Burr: ‘I’m Getting Bitcoin! F—- This!’

Comedian Bill Burr has seen the light after hearing Anthony Pompliano explain the disadvantages of legacy systems.

Bitcoin bull Anthony Pompliano has just persuaded Bill Burr, one of the biggest comedians in the world, to invest in cryptocurrency.

In a July 1 episode of the Bill Bert Podcast — so named for the comedian and his co-host Bert Kreischer — Burr said he was buying Bitcoin (BTC), after one of his famous profanity-laden tirades culminated in the phrase: “I’m getting Bitcoin! f--- this s---!”.

Pomp commented on Twitter after the interview: “I’m calling it now. On July 1, 2020, Bill Burr and Bert Kreischer kicked off a historic 18-month Bitcoin bull market.”

Comedy of education

Pompliano, AKA Pomp, had just finished educating the duo on how banks are unable to provide more than $250,000 in protection from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for some accounts. 

Burr, who has a net worth of roughly $12 million, risks losing a lot of money should a bank fold, unless his fiat assets were highly spread out. The comedian took aim at “unqualified” bankers using his money to turn a profit, claiming they inflated the housing market. 

“You create this whole f----ing bubble and when the whole thing goes to s--- you still get a f---ing bonus and you're only gonna give me 250 off my million bucks? How is that f---ing legal? I’m getting Bitcoin! f--- this s---!”

Blockchain Monopoly

The duo quizzed Pomp on almost everything financial, from legacy systems and inflation to the history of cryptocurrency back to Satoshi. Though not shying away from using financial lingo, Pomp kept his analogies simple, explaining distributed ledgers as a game of Monopoly in which everyone tracks the money.

Eventually the conversation turned practical, with the pair asking about the current price — $9,232 at the time of writing — and how crypto is held. Pomp even proposed Burr consider adding Bitcoin as an option for payments for his comedy shows, while Kreischer also expressed an interest in mining the cryptocurrency.

Responses from viewers were generally positive at the trio’s exchange.

“Pomp explains BTC to two wisecracking comedians so well that they're genuinely fascinated,” said Twitter user jeffcrow.

Redditor Peter4real also credited the Bitcoin educator for explaining the concept to Burr: “He is being critical but trying to understand that there’s something rotten in the economy that affects everybody except the rich.”

Room for humor

However, being comedians, Burr and Bert took the time to make Pomp chuckle on a number of occasions with statements including “Bitcoin is like Cardi B: you’ve heard of her, but never heard of her songs.” Burr threw out the name of a person he invented at the Fed when challenged on his knowledge, which nearly caused Pomp to fall out of his chair laughing.

Upon seeing clips of the interview, members of Crypto Twitter were also quick to try their hand at a few jokes. User LowkeyKyrie said: “Bill, blink twice in the next clip if you are being held hostage until you push enough Bitcoin.”

Russian Court: Theft Of 100 BTC Isn’t A Crime Because Bitcoin Isn’t Property

A Russian court turned down a request from a victim of a 100 Bitcoin theft seeking restitution, with the court arguing that cryptocurrencies have no legal status.

On June 30, a Russian criminal court denied a motion to provide restitution to a victim of what would in many jurisdictions be a felony, arguing that Bitcoin (BTC), as a virtual currency, does not enjoy the same property protection as other assets.

The case goes back to 2018, when the two men impersonating Federal Security Service (FSB) agents and their accomplices kidnapped the victim and forced him into giving them 5 million rubles or $90,000 in cash and 99.7 BTC — worth about $900,000 at the time. The kidnappers were sentenced to eight- and ten-year prison sentences. 

Virtual currencies have no legal status

As part of the criminal proceedings, the victim requested the court rule to force the thieves to repay the funds that they stole from him. The court ruled partially in the victim’s favor, asserting the thieves must repay the 5 million rubles. However, when it came to the cryptocurrency, the court declared that it is unable to satisfy the claim, since virtual currencies are not recognized by Russia’s laws as legal tender or its surrogate.

The victim may still try his luck in a civil court. Regardless of any future legal proceedings, this court decision is remarkable — in essence, it declared that Bitcoin theft is not a crime.

Kazakh Gov Plans to Double Its Investment in Digital Currency Mining

Kazakhstan says it will double its digital currency mining investment at the end of this year, and is eyeing a CBDC.

Kazakhstan officials revealed the nation’s digital currency development plan to experts from Russia and China at "2020 Astana Online Financial Day". According to the China Ministry of Commerce on July 1, Kazakhstan plans to double its digital currency mining investment by the end of this year, and continues to develop its central bank digital currency.

According to the report, Kazakhstan's digital currency mining project attracted 82.6 million Tenge, which is about 20 million USD. The scale of this investment will increase by 80 million Tenge in 2020.

Blockchain and CBDC a work in progress

The development of blockchain technology gives digital currency new practical significance, says Kazakhstan. 

In May 2020, Mu Xin, Kazakh President's adviser proposed the introduction of blockchain technology and the digital Tenge. This would aim to combat corruption and ensure transparency in the allocation of state budget funds. In June, Kazakhstan adopted a development outline for blockchain and digital technology. 

At present, the Central Bank of Kazakhstan is demonstrating the feasibility of introducing the CBDC Tenge. Zarenov, adviser to the president of the Central Bank of Kazakhstan, emphasised: 

“The main task of the central bank is to maintain inflation targets and financial market stability, and the digital currency solution is the second priority. The key is to ensure that the design of a digital currency system is consistent with the objectives of monetary policy.”

Legal framework for its CBDC

Kariyev, development manager of Astana International Financial Center, or AIFC, said AIFC is willing to provide test support and formulate a legal basis for Kazakhstan to introduce its digital currency. The AIFC’s protocol includes cryptocurrency classifications, smart contract, digital wallet and other common cryptocurrency market terms. 

Kazakhstan previously developed a method of cryptocurrency storage and circulation meant to standardize these processes through a professional platform.

Crypto Mobile Apps Are on the Rise in India Following Supreme Court Decision

Crypto businesses keep showing interest in the Indian market by attracting users through products like mobile apps.

India’s crypto developers have begun to release new mobile apps, following a positive ruling by the nation’s Supreme Court with regard to blockchain technology. The Court’s decision reversed laws that previously prohibited banks from providing services to crypto traders and businesses.

A growing interest in the Indian crypto market

B21, a digital asset investment company, recently launched their own Blockchain investment portfolio app in light of these changes. They claimed that the Supreme Court of India's announcement "has led to renewed interest in digital asset investing and a spike in exchange trading volumes" in the country.

Speaking with Cointelegraph, Nitin Agarwal, founder and director of B21, commented on the technology’s market potential in India, following the Supreme Court's decision:

"The decision in India has helped us focus on partnerships and marketing in India, as we see a large population which are smartphone savvy and also a large emerging class of investors looking for investment opportunities which previously were not available to them."

Will crypto remain legal in India?

B21's founder stated that India has "a lot" to contribute to the development of crypto-assets and the emerging blockchain ecosystem.

The Supreme Court's decision on cryptos in India could still face future challenges, however. Cointelegraph reported on June 12 that the Indian Ministry of Finance has proposed a ban on cryptocurrencies within the subcontinent.

Mac Users Beware — New Ransomware Targets Apple Computers

EvilQuest ransomware is launching attacks against macOS users through infected installers.

A new ransomware is targeting macOS users who download installers for popular apps via torrent files.

Known as EvilQuest, the attack was first spotted by Dinesh Devadoss, a K7 Lab malware researcher. Findings show that EvilQuest has been quite active since the start of June 2020. Malware lab firms, like Malwarebytes, have found the ransomware attached to pirated macOS software distributed mainly through torrent sites and warez forums.

Same BTC address used

EvilQuest asks victims to pay a ransom through the same static Bitcoin (BTC) address in every documented attack. One of the first signs that EvilQuest has deployed an attack is that MacOS Finder freezes. Once file encryption is complete, a text file is generated with ransom instructions.

Speaking with Cointelegraph, Brett Callow, threat analyst and ransomware expert at malware lab, Emsisoft, believes that EvilQuest is unlikely to be anything other than a very small-scale threat:

“The fact that Macs have a relatively small market share means they’re not a particularly attractive target for ransomware groups and they’re unlikely to invest significant resources in targeting Mac users.”

Not a significant threat

Findings also show that the average ransom demanded by the attackers is $50 worth in BTC. Victims are usually given a deadline of 72 hours to pay.

Callow adds:

“That said, a threat is a threat and it’s something Mac-users should be aware of. Thankfully, as this ransomware appears to be targeted exclusively via pirated software, it’s very easily avoided simply by not using pirated software. That holds true whether you’re a Mac user or a Windows user: pirated software and cracks are the primary distribution method for the types of ransomware that target home users.”

Recently, Cointelegraph reported on the rise in ransomware that targets home users rather than companies.

Startup Brings Blockchain Functionality to Steam Gaming Platform

The Pavillion Hub games platform integrates with Steam to enable easy issue of tradable NFTs.

Blockchain’s inexorable push into the world of gaming is occurring simultaneously on a number of fronts. From AAA tentpole productions backed by major crypto players, through crypto-powered Esports tournaments in popular non-blockchain titles, to encouraging developers on board with easy-to-use blockchain integration tools.

GOATi Entertainment is taking a dual-headed approach of its own with its Pavillion Hub offering; targeting both the developers and players on one of the largest gaming platforms around, Steam.

Steam, but turbo-charged and blockchain-enabled

Pavillion Hub, powered by Phantasma blockchain, acts as a kind of blockchain-enhanced front end for Steam.

Gamers can simply link their Steam accounts to the downloaded app, and play all of their existing Steam content. However, the app will also create a Phantasma wallet for the player, allowing them to seamlessly utilize tradable non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, along with their Steam inventory.

Game developers can use the blockchain back-end of Pavillion to deliver the same in-game inventory through NFT assets. This stretches from in-game items and expansion packs, to mods and even the game licenses themselves.

The real draw is that it enables this with no need for specialist blockchain knowledge.

Steam, but with a resale marketplace

Steam has locked down the selling of individual in-game assets, meaning the only way to profit from that level 99 warlock that you’ve spent the last 4 years levelling is to sell your entire steam account, game licenses and all.

However, with Pavillion Hub’s NFT marketplace, any item represented as an NFT can be bought and sold. This means your rare amulets, complete characters, and even game licences can be sold on.

It also enables the modding community to monetize their skill, as game mods and extensions can also be freely traded.

The platform also allows the running of events, with smart contracts dealing with the collection and distribution of GOATi tokens, through betting or prize money.

Interested gamers can download a test version of the app now. Look out for a full review of the sample game, 22nd Century Racing Series, on Cointelegraph soon.

Destination Blockchain: Shaking Up Travel Industry and Cutting Costs

Blockchain initiatives are being applied by large companies to reduce intermediaries and costs in the travel industry.

The word “blockchain” is no longer perceived as something exotic and super innovative, partly because large companies have found various uses for this technology and customers have begun to understand how it works. On the other hand, the growing adoption and awareness of blockchain has led to the fact that since 2017, many projects have used the technology solely for marketing purposes. The tourism industry is no exception.

Some of the initiatives related to the use of blockchain for traveling failed to materialize, with some cases proving that the majority of decentralized travel projects had nothing to do with the real application of blockchain in tourism. For example, the startup Beenest promised to build a middleman-free, decentralized network of hosts and guests during an initial coin offering. The project appears to have been abandoned, according to comments left by users on the project’s official subreddit.

Meanwhile, the experience of other companies has shown that blockchain is still an immature technology and is inferior to more traditional ones. For example, decentralized platform FlightChain — which logged more than 2 million flight changes between British Airways, Geneva Airport, Heathrow Airport and Miami International Airport — turned out to be more difficult to use than cloud-based data services.

The good news is that there are solutions that are recognized by large travel companies as promising and are being adopted at the state level, primarily relating to air travel and the hotel industry.

Eliminating intermediaries and agent fees

According to a report published by SITA, a provider of air transport communications and information technology, 59% of airlines are implementing pilot or research projects with the goal of integrating blockchain into their internal processes by 2021. Along with the airlines, airports continue their experiments: 34% of them are planning to finalize research and development in this area by 2021. A survey conducted by consulting company Accenture in 2018 showed that 86% of aerospace and defense companies planned to implement this technology within the next three years.

And here, blockchain can be used for a wide range of purposes — from identifying passengers to selling tickets, tracking luggage and managing loyalty programs. Each of these use cases enhances the collaboration between industry stakeholders.

Today, air carriers and airports are getting increasingly fed up with siloed data and multidepartment infrastructure. The biggest obstacle to comfortable, efficiently organized passenger transportation is the isolation of the work processes of airlines, airports, ground handling specialists and regulatory authorities. Delayed flights or overbooking — the consequences of this management model — can cost companies tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, how can blockchain attempt to solve this problem?

The way out is eliminating the middlemen by deploying a peer-to-peer network. For example, S7 Airlines, one of the largest Russian air carriers, issues and sells tickets through blockchain technology. More specifically, it uses a private blockchain based on the Ethereum protocol that uses smart contracts to exchange data between parties, reducing the settlement time between the airline and agents from 14 days to just 23 seconds. The platform is being actively used now, and according to the data revealed by S7 in 2019, the monthly volume of transactions processed through the blockchain exceeds $1 million.

S7 Airlines became the first air company to deploy blockchain infrastructure to make payments from start to finish — from the ticket booking system to the bank’s payment system. In a press release, S7 noted that the introduction of the platform allowed it to increase the transaction speed and reduce paper workflow while guaranteeing the safety of operations. Jennifer Willy, the editor of Etia.com — a platform that provides the travel community with the latest travel-related information and education — told Cointelegraph:

“Blockchain tech has resulted in a reduction of transaction costs up to 20% for consumer ticket bookings. Several airline companies including Air New Zealand has employed this tech, which has resulted in preventing over boarding, simplification of the process, and quick & secure payments.”

Last year, Hahn Air, another airline company, also issued airline tickets in collaboration with Winding Tree, a blockchain-based travel distribution platform, and has already conducted its first flight using such tickets. Through the Winding Tree platform, Hahn Air is said to list inventory, manage booking requests and accept payments. Winding Tree has also entered into agreements with numerous well-known airlines, including Air Canada, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa along with its subsidiaries Eurowings, Swiss Air Lines, Swissport, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Air New Zealand.

Winding Tree also found a way to bypass commissions taken by hotel services. The team says it has created a specialized blockchain platform that allows people to conduct transactions without incurring third-party fees. Despite the fact that some transaction costs remain, they are not comparable with those in today’s services such as Expedia, Booking.com and Airbnb, where agency fees can range from 10% to 30%.

Last year, Hobo Hotel in Stockholm, a member of the Nordic Choice Hotels group, completed a booking on a public blockchain, conducting the first transaction through Winding Tree. Additionally, tourist giant TUI moved all of its contracts onto a blockchain even earlier. Its BedSwap project created back in 2017 helps hotels with extra inventory and allows all authorized parties to track real-time prices and work directly with the hotelier. Such a system removes the need for intermediaries such as Expedia and, therefore, becomes cheaper for both parties.

Flight delayed or overbooked? Blockchain compensates

French insurance company AXA began to use blockchain back in 2017 to automate the compensation payment process for passengers whose flights are delayed. When a customer signs up for flight-delay coverage at the insurance company, its “fizzy” platform creates a smart contract and connects to global air traffic databases. If a delay of more than two hours is recorded, compensation is provided automatically, eliminating the need to file a claim and reducing the processing time of the application.

Related: Cryptocurrency Adoption: How Can Crypto Change the Travel Industry?

In order to make the overbooking compensation experience smoother, software developer Volantio launched its so-called “Flex-Schedule” program. The solution is now used by United Airlines and helps to resolve instances where a passenger is removed from a flight due to the number of passengers exceeding the number of seats.

In cases of overbooking, the system automatically selects flexible clients — those for whom a flight change is less critical — sends them compensation, and allocates them a new flight. This, in turn, maximizes profits for airlines, allowing them to sell highly profitable seats to last-minute passengers.

Known Traveller Digital Identity

The hours spent waiting at the airport and customs clearance can cast a shadow over any trip, but Accenture came up with a digital passport for travelers. Canada and the Netherlands were the first countries to agree to apply this system at their airports, with cooperation agreements reached with Air France-KLM and Air Canada, among others. It was reported that the blockchain identification system developed by Accenture will allow travelers to inform customs and border control about their route and biometric characteristics in advance.

A blockchain will store the traveler’s personal and biometric data, and the status of a “known traveler” will be obtained through the accumulation of attestations or requests that are confirmed by trusted partners, such as border agencies and airlines. It is expected that the new data identification system will significantly reduce the time spent at the airport. Norbert Goffa, the executive manager of ILCoin — a scalability-focused blockchain startup — told Cointelegraph that such solutions can be important given the rapidly growing volume of air travelers:

“World airlines carry more than 3 billion passengers annually and the industry’s annual profit exceeds $600 billion. Analysts predict an increase in passenger traffic by 50% in the next 10 years, which means that companies will face the need to optimize their business processes through automation and technology adoption. The experience of world companies in using the blockchain has shown that this technology has great potential for simplifying the exchange of data between participants.”

Dubai International Airport uses blockchain, but in a slightly different format, as the Dubai’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, or GDRFA, has signed a contract with the British startup ObjectTech to install biometric tunnels.

This technology is designed to reduce long lines at the airport upon arrival into the United Arab Emirates. It will be possible to register in the country with the help of a preapproved and fully digitized passport, which includes an electronic chip, fingerprints, a scanned aperture and face scan data. Face scanning will be carried out using LIDAR technology, which is already used in autonomous vehicles in Dubai. GDRFA has already launched the “Emirates Smart Wallet” program, which allows passengers to pass through border control using smartphones rather than the traditional passports.

Another blockchain initiative is “Smart Path,” which has been used at the Orlando International Airport to enhance the air travel experience since 2018. The solution combines distributed ledger technology and biometrics to reduce the number of documents necessary for passenger identification.

Get rewarded

Almost every traveler has several airline or hotel loyalty cards at once, but according to a survey conducted by Colloquy, 28% of travelers leave these programs without using their accumulated loyalty points. Having a large number of cards may turn into a burdensome process that requires constant monitoring of promotions, using hard-to-remember codes and so on.

Businesses can move their loyalty programs to the blockchain to reduce costs. Some U.S. companies can spend up to $35 billion per year on such programs, and the introduction of cryptocurrency-based bonuses that are distributed automatically can entail significant savings.

A real-world example of this scheme is a blockchain-powered loyalty program offered by Singapore Airlines that allows its clients to spend their air miles at stores. The company became the first carrier in the world to launch a digital loyalty wallet, dubbed “KrisPay,” based on blockchain technology. By downloading the KrisPay app, users can convert their KrisFlyer miles to KrisPay miles, make purchases with the KrisPay QR code, and choose the number of miles to be used. At the moment, 18 sellers from various industries are working with the platform.

Related: Not Just a Pretty Name: Blockchain Creating Real Value in Traditional Industries

Similarly in 2016, Loyyal used blockchain tech in a universal loyalty system that allowed hotels and air companies to offer their clients more favorable reward programs and reduce costs associated with account reconciliation and payment management. In February, the company signed a three-year production vendor contract with The Emirates Group. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Evan Luthra, an Influencive “Top 30 Under 30” tech entrepreneur and blockchain expert, noted the smooth experience offered by blockchain-based loyalty systems:

“As someone who spends hundreds of nights every year in Hotels and flights, I see tremendous opportunities for the payments and points systems in use by various different companies coming together to work with each other using Blockchain. Travel is already heavily impacted by Blockchain Technology and we will see a much smoother, faster and overall better experience for the customer.”

So, is blockchain scratching the surface of tourism?

Blockchain has great potential in tourism and is already being used to improve the travel experience. Easy-to-access and low-cost decentralized business models can make it an attractive alternative to traditional systems, with the elimination of middlemen being one of the key benefits.

On the other hand, blockchain still needs to address several serious issues before reaching widespread adoption, such as personal data storage and identification, which can become a stumbling block because in case of improper management, the information can be accessed by third parties. Ian Khan, the director of the documentary Blockchain City, told Cointelegraph that the use of blockchain in tourism has not even scratched the surface:

“The global tourism industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry that has multimillion-dollar inefficiencies and the opportunity for technology companies to create efficiencies and enable seamless financial transactions, and transparency is in the billions. Startups and technology companies with a good value proposition must look at the complexity of how various segments within travel work, and how they can be helped.”

This Researcher Says Bitcoin’s Elliptic Curve Could Have a Secret Backdoor

According to one of the world’s leading cryptographers, Bitcoin’s elliptic curve could have a secret backdoor, invalidating all underlying security.

One of the world’s top cryptographers believes that Satoshi Nakamoto chose Bitcoin’s (BTC) elliptic curve either for its efficiency or because it may offer a secret backdoor.

Elliptic curve is worth $ billions

A Bitcoin public key is created by applying elliptic curve cryptography to the private key. One can easily create a public key from the private key, but it is impossible to go in the reverse direction. Unless, of course, Bitcoin’s elliptic curve is compromised.

Many crypto experts have noticed that Bitcoin’s choice of secp256k1 elliptic curve was unusual for its time as it was not yet well researched. Cointelegraph asked one of the world’s leading cryptographers, Tatsuaki Okamoto, about this unusual choice. Okamoto currently serves as director of the Cryptography & Information Security Lab at NTT Research.

Efficiency or vulnerability?

According to Okamoto, there are two alternative explanations for this choice, either Satoshi picked because it offers greater efficiency or because it may have offered a secret backdoor. Of course, Okamoto underlines that these are just two logical hypotheses, as he has no way of knowing what Satoshi was thinking at the time:

“(1) The Koblitz curve is specially designed for faster scalar multiplications. Hence the (signing, verifying and key generation) operations on Secp256k1 are faster than those on Secp256r1. (2) Although the Secp256r1 curve was announced to be randomly selected, there could still exist some suspicion that some backdoor might be secretly set up in the curve parameters. In contrast, the Koblitz curve parameters are mathematically determined, and there is little possibility for setting such a backdoor.”

Okamoto is impressed with the way the Bitcoin creator was able to combine several cryptographic techniques (hash chains, Merkle trees and elliptic curves) to create the world's first decentralized currency:

“I think it is a revolutionary invention, the first decentralized currency, and its core technology blockchain, is giving a great impact on our society.”

Bitcoin Core developer agrees

Bitcoin Core developer, Wladimir van der Laan, told Cointelegraph that he does not know why Satoshi chose this particular curve. He also notes that if he someone has discovered a vulnerability, they have not stepped forward to announce it:

“I have no idea why Satoshi chose this particular curve, they have provided no rationale anywhere (it seems, in hindsight, to have been a fairly good choice though). Even if Secp256r1 has a vulnerability, no one has stepped forward yet to announce their discovery. On the other hand, keeping this discovery to themselves could yield a multi-billion dollar reward.”

XRP Price Can Outperform Bitcoin in the Short Term — Here’s Why

As Bitcoin price continues to range sideways, the momentum may be shifting to XRP for the next big move.

Bitcoin (BTC) price sidewards action of late has been a hunting ground where whales can easily liquidate misinformed traders on leverage trading platforms. Without decent swings, any asset can become boring.

But let’s not forget BTC isn’t the only cryptocurrency out there as several altcoins are currently staging somewhat of a comeback. However, there’s one coin that doesn’t seem to be having a good time lately, namely XRP, the fourth-largest digital asset by market capitalization.

So in today's analysis, I’m going to look at whether holding XRP is likely to be more fruitful than BTC in the short term.

Daily crypto market performance. Source: Coin360.com

Daily crypto market performance. Source: Coin360.com

The bigger picture for Bitcoin

Starting out with the weekly chart, one can see why the bears favor this timeframe. Bitcoin is forming a massive pennant that is far clearer now than it was before the March 12 black swan event.

BTC/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

BTC/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

Typically, pennants break towards the end of the pattern, sometimes a little before. However, they are invalidated after. As things stand for Bitcoin, a breakout or breakdown could occur any time between now and approximately September 2021, 14 months from now.

With the current price around $9,156, a small 6% increase would put Bitcoin on the resistance line, and this is why we have failed to reclaim $10K. But at this rate, reclaiming just $9,750 would be a welcome breakthrough for the bulls.

On the flip side, there is a massive 47.42% gap from the current price to the support of the pattern. This puts a figure of $4,500 as a potential target, which may be a great opportunity to stack some sats. But is this just wishful thinking from overly aggressive bears that shout “burn this Ponzi to the ground?”

More bearish news for Bitcoin

BTC/USD 1-day chart Source: TradingView

BTC/USD 1-day chart Source: TradingView

The 1-day chart can be interpreted as equally bearish for Bitcoin. Using the Fibonacci retracement tool from the March 12 dump to the last time $10,500 was rejected, the price is still above .236. But should this level fail, then the .382, 50%, and .618 Fibs are where the action is, and this puts support levels at $7,900, $7,150 and $6,350, respectively.

While none of us hodlers want to see $6,350 or $4,500 Bitcoin, you can’t ignore the charts. However, the bull in me sees that just a 13% uptick in the price of Bitcoin is needed in order to reach the multi-year resistance of $10,500.

So what is more likely? Number go up? Or number go down?

Short-term resistance for Bitcoin

BTC/USD 1-hour chart Source: TradingViewBTC/USD 1-hour chart Source: TradingView

In the short term for Bitcoin, and using now the 1-hour chart, as well as the Fib levels from the tip of the June 23 pump and the $8,800 bottom on June 27, we can see that Bitcoin has broken the 382 (as I type this article). Thus, following the Fibonacci structure would put the most likely resistance levels at $9,300 on the 50% Fib and $9,420 on the 618.

Should Bitcoin continue on an upward path, reaching the top of the Fib at $9,794 would invalidate the pennant structure and also wipe out the chance of $4,500 to boot.

Once the bulls are in control, then $12K Bitcoin is the next key level to break, and when all is said and done, this is still only a 25% increase in price. Which brings me to Ripple’s XRP, an altcoin that has piqued my interest.

XRP is the new XRP

XRP/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView​​​​​​​

XRP/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

At first glance, the XRP chart looks like any other altcoin. A huge 2017 spike followed by a monster downtrend. Anyone that looks at this chart would draw the same conclusion that this project is dead.

But is the fourth-biggest digital asset by market cap really dead? Or is it the investment opportunity of a lifetime?

Using the Fib with a massive pinch of salt, the first target being the 382 is $1.33. With XRP currently trading at about $0.175, that’s approximately a 750% ROI. If the price continued to the 50% retracement, then that’s 900% and a massive 10x gain if it was to reach the .618 level.

I like those numbers, and since XRP is somewhat of the “Ralph Wiggum” of crypto, responding rather slowly after Bitcoin and Ethereum make their moves, and remaining stagnant for the majority of 2017, this could be a great speculative investment as Bitcoin looks like it’s close to its top.

The downside for XRP

XRP/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView​​​​​​​

XRP/USD 1-week chart. Source: TradingView

Moving down to the 1-day chart for XRP and the downside doesn’t look that great. If $0.16 support fails to hold, $0.10 XRP is what the Fib retracement tool shows as a potential target.

However, there is massive buying and selling pressure for XRP on Bitfinex, between $0.17 and $0.18 with no big orders below $0.17, according to the Tensorcharts orderbook heatmap.

XRP/USD heatmap. Source: Tensorcharts

XRP/USD heatmap. Source: Tensorcharts

This all leaves me asking the question: is the bottom in for XRP? But also, are we close to the top for Bitcoin?

Obviously, XRP hasn’t won as many hearts and minds as BTC as it’s generally discounted by the crypto community due to its centralized nature, Ripple’s regular monthly sales from its escrow and its “XRP Army” supporters.

Nevertheless, XRP is currently at mid-2017 levels while Bitcoin is already at December 2017 prices. So which horse looks better to bet on at these levels? Obviously, you should DYOR. But as Warren Buffet once said: “be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”

Bullish scenario

For Bitcoin, the first level of resistance is at $9,450. However, should we break this, then $9,750 is where bulls need to push toward to regain control.

Bearish scenario

Defending $8,900, which is the 236 Fib is massive for Bitcoin right now. Should this level fail, I would be looking at $7,900 as a very real target should the bears win this battle.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of @officiallykeith and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Blockchain Service Bison Trails Announces Support for Ethereum 2.0

Libra Association member Bison Trails looks forward to moving from the Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake, launching Eth2 support.

Blockchain infrastructure-as-a-service company, Bison Trails, has announced support for Ethereum 2.0 — an upgrade that will move the network from its proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake.

Bison Trails offers a suite of enterprise products that allow users to interact with the Beacon Chain, stake Ether (ETH), and automatically manage validators, validator clients, and beacon nodes.

Importance of adopting Eth2

Joe Lallouz, CEO of Bison Trails told Cointelegraph about the importance of adopting Eth2 within the crypto industry and which benefits could bring like new scalability options for the protocol:

“The transition to Eth2 is incredibly important for the crypto ecosystem because it allows one of the most important and most adopted blockchains—with millions of users and tens of thousands of dApps—to introduce new scalability options for the protocol and that’s a big deal.”

Lallouz mentions that a fully-featured Participation Cluster product is included, which allows their customers to manage their Beacon Chain and validators from within the Bison Trails platform.

Bison Trails’ CEO said the network will reward validators early, with a reward rate of 23% on ETH, representing “a significantly higher potential return than most alternative uses of ETH.” He added:

“Because stake and rewards are locked up for several years on Eth2, choosing an infrastructure provider you trust is an important consideration. It is risky to change providers because transferring a validator requires sharing the private key, risking slashing.”

Recently, Bison Trails announced support for NEAR, which is designed to power open finance and the open web.

IOTA and the Department of Informatics at UiO, Norway’s largest university, cooperate on Research…

IOTA and the Department of Informatics at UiO, Norway’s largest university, join forces to research Digital Trust and the Tangle

The IOTA Tangle is a new open-source Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) protocol designed to serve as the backbone for the Internet-of-Things and the new data economy. As the technology matures towards production-readiness, the IOTA Foundation, the main engine behind the development of the Tangle, is scaling its cooperation with research institutes and academia. This ensures critical access to research capabilities and transparency towards public authorities and a growing business ecosystem interested in leveraging on the Tangle for new products and services.

Over the past years, IOTA has been growing a research and innovation ecosystem in Norway. This resulted in a number of initiatives in the smart city and industrial IoT domains such as Positive City Exchange, Dig_IT, Future Farm demo, Sustainable Energy Traceability showcase. As Norway further accelerates its transition to a leading digital and sustainable nation, UiO’s Department of Informatics and the IOTA Foundation will cooperate in areas of Basic Research, Applied Research and Education.

The group of Distributed Infrastructures and Systems at the University of Oslo (UiO) has been a leading center in DLT-related research and education in Norway. In line with national prioritization on information security, the group has been conducting basic research in technologies underlying DLT for the last decade, combining it with applied research in popular DLT application domains.

The collaboration will initially focus on Decentralized Digital Identity and GDPR compliance of the IOTA stack and its use across multiple application domains. The research will cover:

  • Research collaboration towards building a technical solution to facilitate GDPR compliance for IOTA technologies in the context of decentralized digital identity platform
  • Set up an IOTA DLT/Blockchain Lab at the UiO Department of Informatics

The Department of Informatics at UiO will also join the Tangle Enterprise Edition Working Group, a collaborative initiative hosted under the Eclipse Foundation. Digital Identity is one of the key focus areas where several enterprises, SMEs and academic institutions are cooperating to research, co-develop and ensure market fit of IOTA’s digital ID stack for people, organizations and machines.

Wilfried Pimenta de Miranda, IOTA Foundation BD Director for the Nordics: “A new Data economy is in the making. Decentralized Digital Identity lies at the heart of many new opportunities within smart cities, eHealth and many human-centered and cross-silo innovations. We are delighted to welcome UiO in our research and innovation ecosystem and accelerate together the development and adoption of DLT for real-world applications.”

Roman Vitenberg, Blockchain Lead at UiO: “We are living in exciting times that allow us to witness how the DLT technology is transforming the conventional methods of storing and sharing data central to the functioning of the society, in areas such as decentralized digital identity and certificates, eHealth, smart cities, trading, and more. From the data safety, authenticity, and nonrepudiation point of view, DLT is considered a perfect fit for dependable data storage since it provides an easily accessible, immutable, and transparent history of all related data, adequate for building applications with trust, accountability, and transparency. We are eagerly looking forward to a successful collaboration with IOTA and to leveraging on our joint expertise towards the design of real-world applications.

A broader range of further activities will be fostered over time including:

  • Empower Academics and educate students with the skills and tools needed to understand and use the IOTA technology for societal and for-profit purposes
  • Collaborate in the field of core research related to the IOTA Tangle technology through joint initiatives including joint research grant projects
  • Share knowledge and insights, and explore the integration of academic research and IOTA technologies through joint applied research & innovation projects and public-private partnerships in Norway and internationally
  • Promote the excellence of the university and the impact of IOTA technology through joint research and thought leadership publications

To explore collaboration opportunities with UiO, IOTA Foundation and its partner ecosystem, please get in touch with:

About IOTA Foundation

IOTA is a global non-profit foundation supporting the research and development of new distributed ledger technologies (DLT), including the IOTA Tangle. The IOTA Tangle solves the fundamental shortcomings of blockchain: scalability, environmental sustainability, and cost. IOTA is an open-source protocol connecting the human economy with the machine economy by facilitating novel Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interactions, including secure data transfer and feeless micropayments. To learn more visit www.iota.org, the IOTA Foundation YouTube channel, and follow @iotatoken on Twitter.

About the University of Oslo (UiO)

UiO is a leading European university and Norway’s largest. It is one of the highest-ranked institutions of education and research in Norway and one of the World’s Top 100 universities according to us.news Best Global Universities Ranking and Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). Department of Informatics (IFI) has contributed substantially to research, innovation, and education in the ICT field. www.uio.no


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