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Tag: blockchain

Launching Today: Liberalcoins.com – the First One-Stop-Shop for Cryptocurrency Trading

Launching Today:
Liberalcoins.com — the First One-Stop-Shop for Cryptocurrency Trading

Let's unite the diverse cryptocurrency market by also facilitating trades between cryptocurrencies.

  

The next generation of cryptocurrency trading has arrived:

Liberalcoins.com is the first local cryptocurrency exchange that offers Bitcoin and Altcoin trading for cash as well as inter-cryptocurrency trading all under one roof. The new user-friendly platform charges the lowest fees in the market and offers unrivaled security features.

Liberalcoins is the brainchild of entrepreneur Simon Lange, 26, who addresses the need for more flexibility, privacy, and safety in the cryptocurrency exchange market. After two years of development, his international one-stop-shop for crypto trading launches today (13/5/2017). With its secure, intuitive and easy interface, Liberalcoins is perfect for newbies who want to start their crypto portfolio as well as for experienced traders. Users can find local traders via the platform and arrange to meet face to face for cash for Bitcoin or cash for Altcoin exchanges. Alternatively, they can choose from a wide array of wire and transfer services.

Bitcoin/cash trades are charged at 0.5% per completed transaction. This is the lowest fee in the market. 

Here’s the brilliant thing: The platform aims to unite the diverse cryptocurrency market by also facilitating trades between cryptocurrencies. This will give users the option of easily balancing their cryptocurrency portfolio, and has potential to further drive the demand for Altcoins on the back of the recent surge in Bitcoin prices.  Currently supported are exchanges between Bitcoin, Dash, Monero and Litecoin in any combination, giving traders ultimate flexibility when balancing their portfolio. As Lange puts it, “Liberalcoins has the potential to bring the cryptocurrency community closer together to drive towards a common goal — a stronger integration of digital currencies into our daily lives.”

The company has gone to lengths to offer the best security features on the market: Shortly after launch, users will be able to encrypt access to their assets with a password — an industry first. A built-in escrow system releases the coins after the transaction is completed. Liberalcoins is business validated by Symantec, which also runs daily security checks. Users also benefit from the stringent privacy laws of the Isle of Man and Scandinavia, where servers and email storage are located respectively.

“At Liberalcoins we seek to give traders the opportunity to trade and invest in digital currencies minimizing dependence on the global banking system”, says Lange. “We firmly believe in the future of cryptocurrencies and the security and privacy of our users.” “We strongly advocate that the cryptocurrency market remains free from any governmental regulatory and legal intervention. In an economic reality of historically increasing inflation, rising prices and central bank printing of fiat currencies we are part of the evolution of our financial future.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

U.K. Land Registry Looks to Register Property on a Blockchain

U.K. Land Registry Looks to Register Property on a Blockchain

U.K. Land Registry Looks to Register Property on a Blockchain

 

Her Majesty’s Land Registry, a U.K. government agency responsible for registering land ownership, has announced it is seeking three non-executive board members as it undertakes a project using blockchain technology to register property.

The posting noted that the agency recently committed to making HM Land Registry “the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data.” It referenced the project as the most substantial transformation in the registry’s 150-year history.

State-Backed Ownership Guarantee

The registry, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, provides state-backed guarantee of ownership on the register rather than requiring title insurance.

To meet its objectives, the registry will have to become more digitized. It plans to launch a live test in the near future of a “Digital Street” to allow property ownership changes to close instantaneously. The Digital Street will also allow the registry to hold more granular data than is presently possible.

Digital Street would be the world’s first such registry, having great transformational potential for the property market, the posting noted. Blockchain technology is an underlying technology for the project.

 

Three Positions Needed

The registry seeks three non-executive board members to ensure the right mix of expertise. Experience in transformational/digital issues is being sought, along with finance and legal issues.

The transformational/digital member is expected to have experience delivering transformational change to provide service improvements and cost savings.

The person will have to deliver change across most transformation disciplines, including technology, process and people. The candidate is expected to have knowledge of information technology developments, including the delivery of digital services to customers and in data rich organizations.

The closing date for applications is June 22, 2017. Remuneration is £20,000 per annum.

 

Other Governments Have Similar Tests

The U.K is not the only country to explore blockchain technology for registering and managing property.

In February, the Republic of Georgia teamed with Bitfury Group, a provider of blockchain infrastructure, to use the bitcoin blockchain to validate property related transfers, marking the first time a national government used the bitcoin blockchain to validate and secure government actions.

Blockchain technology has also be tapped to improve land ownership in developing countries.

Last year, a team of blockchain technology pioneers from Ghana, Denmark and the U.S., launched the Bitland initiative to establish usable land titles and free up trillions of dollars for infrastructure development in West Africa.

The Bitland initiative will educate the population about technology and provide the benefits of documented land ownership to those who don’t have it. It will begin in Ghana and expand throughout Africa, with hopes of catapulting infrastructure development and strengthening democracy.

 

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Contributor: Lester Coleman

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Russians and Koreans are the biggest payers to the global ransomware hackers

Russians and Koreans are the biggest payers to the global ransomware hackers

  

                                     There for the taking, but who's watching?
Users with infected computers in Russia and South Korea are so far the two biggest ransom payers to the hackers who mounted a global ransomware attack, called “Wannacry,” yesterday, according to new data from Chainalysis, a provider of software that works with banks, law enforcement agencies, and bitcoin companies to analyze the blockchain for financial crimes.

All bitcoin transactions are permanently recorded on the blockchain, and anyone can view them. Chainalysis crunches these transactions and assigns them to clusters of “entities,” which could be bitcoin exchanges, wallet providers, or bitcoin miners. The firm found that the hackers, who ask for ransom to be sent to three bitcoin addresses, had received a total of nearly $23,000 so far in dollar terms, converted at the point the transaction was made. The two entities that sent the most money to the hackers were bitcoin exchanges serving the Russian and Korean markets. “If you look at the infection rates, a lot of it is in Russia, so [the data] is complementing that,” says Jonathan Levin, a Chainalysis co-founder. “Given that we know the infections are also in Russia, I would say, it’s Russian users.”

Analysis by information security firm Kaspersky Lab showed Russia had the most infections, although South Korea doesn’t appear among the top countries. Here’s the list of where ransoms originated from via Chainalysis:

Counterparty name Counterparty category US dollar value of bitcoins sent
BTC-e.com exchange $4,270.66
Bithumb.com exchange $2,163.48
Bitstamp.net exchange $2,012.15
Kraken.com exchange $1,917.03
Poloniex.com exchange $1,627.24
Unknown uncategorized $1,526.32
Coinbase.com exchange $1,043.04
CoinPayments.net merchant services $849.30
Unknown uncategorized $774.25
CoinOne.co.kr exchange $684.05
LocalBitcoins.com exchange $670.84
Gemini.com exchange $627.97
MaiCoin.com exchange $627.79
Unknown uncategorized $576.62
CoinJar.com exchange $550.05
BitPanda.com exchange $375.71
Bitfinex.com exchange $313.63
Korbit.co.kr exchange $312.10
Bittrex.com exchange $295.78
Unknown uncategorized $294.16
Unknown uncategorized $253.50
Unknown uncategorized $205.33
BitoEX.com exchange $168.11
Xapo.com hosted wallet $165.39
Circle.com exchange $101.01
Bter.com exchange $91.42
Yunbi.com exchange $60.14
Unknown uncategorized $45.28
Paxful.com exchange $44.24
Huobi.com exchange $43.28
Hashnest.com mining pool $20.88
OKCoin.com exchange $15.07
Unknown uncategorized $14.56
Unknown uncategorized $9.60
HaoBTC.com mining pool $7.21
Unknown uncategorized $5.82
AlphaBay Market Tor market $5.41
Unknown uncategorized $2.80
ANXPro (Payout wallet) uncategorized $2.07
Silk Road Marketplace Tor market $1.85
  Total $22,775.16
Source: Chainalysis

There are a few caveats to the data. Levin points out that the payments attributed to “Tor markets,” the term Chainalysis uses to describe darknet markets, are probably “noise” generated by his analysis, and should be ignored. The low payment amount also suggests that it’s unconnected to the ransomware. Each entity could be using thousands of addresses, and it’s Chainalysis’ job to group them accurately. For instance, Levin says that one exchange, Poloniex, uses 376,000 bitcoin addresses, all of which have been clustered by Chainalysis, allowing correct attribution.

Additionally, just because a payment is from an exchange that serves Korean or Russian customers doesn’t necessarily mean the infected users are indeed in Korea or Russia—although it’s a reasonable inference. Lastly, little is known about BTC-E, the exchange at the top of the list, except that its operators are anonymous, it’s one of the longest running exchanges in bitcoin, and it notoriously doesn’t perform the identity checks that regulated exchanges must comply with, and it deals in the ruble-bitcoin market.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Top Safe Bitcoin Wallets

Top Safe Bitcoin Wallets

The only way to properly store your bitcoin wealth is by using a safe wallet solution.

It is hard to quantify what makes one wallet safer than the next, as users have their individual preferences and needs in this regard. However, there are some wallet solutions out there that take keeping funds safe to a whole new level. Keep in mind these wallets are listed in random order.

Electrum

On the software side of things, there are quite a few different bitcoin wallets to choose from. However, one of the primary wallets people use in this regard is Electrum, as it is a lightweight wallet that offers plenty of functionality. Thanks to proprietary — yet decentralized and redundant — servers, synchronizing with the bitcoin blockchain takes mere minutes. Moreover, the wallet offers a cold storage solution, as well as multisig wallet support. 

Trezor

Bitcoin users all over the world are familiar with the Trezor brand, as it is one of the most secure hardware wallets available today. Trezor is the original hardware wallet for bitcoin users and comes at affordable prices. It is also compatible with all major operating systems. Various bitcoin businesses implemented Trezor support, including Bitstamp, Bitwala, and BitPay. It also supports two-factor authentication for additional security.  

 Mycelium

On the mobile front, there is a lot of competition for the crown of being the most secure wallet solutions available today. Mycelium has gotten a lot of support in this regard, as they are considered to be a must-have secure bitcoin storage application. Their HD wallet support, as well as an option to delete the private key from the device and integrate “watch only” accounts make Mycelium one of the top secure mobile bitcoin wallets.

KeepKey

Hardware bitcoin wallets have become quite popular over the past few years. That is only normal, as storing bitcoin in a secure manner becomes more important than ever. Hardware wallets are designed to facilitate secure funds storage, with quite a few companies launching their products in recent years. KeepKey is one of the top solutions in this regard, as the device requires users to manually approve every transaction. Moreover, the device has PIN protection, adding an extra layer of security.

Ledger Nano (S)

The Ledger line of hardware bitcoin wallets can not be ignored. The company prides itself on making affordable yet secure bitcoin wallet solutions. There is no reason to pay hundreds of dollars for a device when the same goal can be achieved with a device costing a fraction of the price. Don’t let the cheap price fool you, though, as every one of Ledger’s devices is more than capable of keeping your wealth safe. All of Ledger’s wallets come in the form of a USB-size, although there are minor differences between each type. The Ledger Nano S is by far the most popular hardware wallet, as it is capable of storing both Bitcoin and Ethereum. Moreover, users can complete wallet actions through the display on the device or by using the browser plugins. An affordable, robust, and secure line of products, that much is certain.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Jaff Ransomware Demands a Two Bitcoin Payment to Decrypt Files

Jaff Ransomware Demands a Two Bitcoin Payment to Decrypt Files

Ransomware comes in many different shapes and sizes.

Some malware strains are rather easy to remove free of charge, whereas others can be a real pain in the rear. Jaff, a new type of ransomware, is perhaps one of the most expensive types of malware we have seen in quite some time. It demands a ransom of $3,700 to be paid in Bitcoin, which is a rather steep amount.

Jaff Ransomware Swings For The Fences

It is evident criminals who rely on ransomware distribution are looking to make a lot of money in quick succession. That is much easier said than done, though, as security researchers often come up with free decryption tools to nullify these threats.  However, in the case of Jaff,  there is no free decryption option whatsoever right now. Similarly to virtually any other type of ransomware, the Jaff malware encrypts files and gives them a custom file extension. It appears the files are encrypted using AES, which has become the norm over the past few months. It also appears Jaff shares a lot of similarities with Locky, at least here the payment page is concerned. That is rather interesting, although Jaff demands a much higher amount compared to Locky.

This brings us to what puts Jaff on the radar of security researchers right now. The malware demands victims to pay $3,700 worth of Bitcoin to have the files restored. It is rated unusual for ransomware types to charge such a steep amount, considering most consumers won’t spend that amount of money on recovering their files. Then again, people who are genuinely worried about losing sensitive files may be tricked into paying the ransom in the end. Regarding the distribution of Jaff ransomware, it appears the malware is actively distributed through MALSPAM traffic originating from the Necurs botnet. People who have been following our ransomware coverage may recall the Necurs name, as it is a popular botnet to distribute malware on a rather large scale. Spam email campaigns have been a very popular tool among cybercriminals over the past few years, and it looks like things will not change anytime soon.

To be more specific, the Jaff ransomware is hidden in a malware-laden email attachment that requires users to enable macros in Microsoft Word. Once the user does so, they will download multiple malicious files on their machine, including the Jaff payload itself.  As soon as the download is finished, the files on the computer will be encrypted. Breaking this encryption is impossible right now unless the money is paid. A demand of a $3,700 payment in Bitcoin is rather unusual, to say the least. This aggressive method by the criminals will make their ransomware a type priority for security researchers to decrypt with a free tool, though. It is doubtful anyone would pay 2 Bitcoin to restore file access. It is unclear if files can be restored from a previous backup, though, as most ransomware types often delete shadow volume copies as well.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Why Bitcoin’s Price Has Been Surging and Where It Could Go From Here

Why Bitcoin’s Price Has Been Surging and Where It Could Go From Here

  

Bitcoin has shown amazing, and fairly steady, growth over the last year.

A single bitcoin was worth just $455 in May 2016. And even after retrenching slightly from a record Thursday high of over $1,800 per token, it has shown a stunning 286% annual return, based on prices from CoinMarketCap. As with most assets, explaining bitcoin’s bull stampede is more art than science. Bitcoin's price is fundamentally linked to how many people use the system to send money. But it's currently mostly driven by speculators, who trade on their belief that it will become more popular in the future. Positive news on that front has been plentiful in the last three months in particular.

Globally, Bitcoin is being treated with a great deal more respect by regulators. Positive comments about blockchain by Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari coincided with the latest Bitcoin price surge. Japan approved Bitcoin as a legal method of payment in early April, and Chinese regulators have made progress in squaring Bitcoin usage with that country’s tight capital controls. There have been positive internal indicators, as well. Bitcoin’s major headwind is an ongoing debate over scaling up the system to handle more transactions. While that effort is still basically stalled by bitter infighting, some have seen a positive development in the successful deployment of a solution known as Segregated Witness on the LiteCoin system, which is largely a Bitcoin clone.

When considering further upside on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, one factor looms above all: cryptocurrency is still essentially off-limits for institutional investors. While venture capitalists have poured more than $1.5 billion into blockchain startups, the tokens themselves don’t meet regulatory standards for more traditional funds. Once something like the Winklevoss twins’ proposed Bitcoin ETF is approved, the pool of potential Bitcoin investors will explode overnight. There are also two very important points of caution. First, Bitcoin is still a risky asset in the short term. Boosters were just as excited when it peaked at over $1,100 in late 2013—and the price then spent years gradually slumping, reaching a low of $200 in mid-2015.

There’s also a serious long-term downside risk to Bitcoin. While the potential of Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology is widely acknowledged, Bitcoin itself is now only one of dozens of implementations of the idea. Bitcoin has a big first-mover advantage, but innovators with names like Ripple and Dash have already significantly expanded on its features. Foremost among those innovative competitors is Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, whose price has also spiked over the last month. Many entrepreneurs building blockchain applications are using Ethereum, so it’s likely to share in—and maybe even cannibalize—Bitcoin’s long-term growth.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Update on Blockchain and Beyond: The Future of Distributed Ledgers

Update on Blockchain and Beyond:
The Future of Distributed Ledgers

         inShare

Distributed ledger technology (DLT)

may have started off as the basis for bitcoin, but it already promises to be much more than a cryptocurrency. That’s why treasury and finance professionals need to pay attention, experts said at a panel discussion at Faster Payments 2017, the US conference and exhibition event organised electronic payments association NACHA.

Christopher Mager, CTP, managing director and head of global innovation for BNY Mellon, said that his bank is collaborating with other financial institutions on several proofs of concept, include Utility Settlement Coin, which aims to digitise fiat currencies for exchange on a distributed ledger. BNY also is one of the several banks working with SWIFT on its nostro account reconciliation POC, which is part of the global payments innovation (gpi) initiative,

he said.

“Dubai and Singapore are the two countries where they’ve embraced the technology throughout the whole ecosystem—banking, corporates and the government”

“2016 was a lot of proofs of concept, 2015 was a lot of talk about how blockchain is different from bitcoin. But now we’re in the world of reality,” said James Wallis, vice president, payments industry and blockchain, global industries for IBM. He said IBM and Northern Trust launched in Europe a distributed ledger that services the private equity market. Wallis added that the trade finance community is keenly interested in DLT. “Last I counted there were at least a dozen trade finance initiatives in the world, and at least two of those are looking to go into production this year,” he said.

Beyond process improvement

Microsoft is one organisation that is using DLT for trade finance. However, panellist Peter Hazou, director of business development for Microsoft, is more interested in blockchain’s potential beyond trade finance and payments. “It’s the smart contracts, how it connects to people, how it changes in a transformative way for the better—not just a simple process improvement to do the same old, same old,” he said. “That’s where the thinking has to go.”

Wallis agreed, noting that while there is validity in process improvement, “you’ll see uses for DLT that you can’t even think of today.” However, the success of DLT will hinge on the willingness of the different players in the ecosystem to collaborate. “It involves a level of sharing that hasn’t really existed before,” he said. Collaboration is happening. IBM and SecureKey Technologies have teamed with Canada’s largest banks on a digital identification solution that uses DLT. “The banks are collaborating to share, on a blockchain, data about clients,” Wallis said. “It will enable Scotiabank, for example, to offer a loan much quicker. You apply on your mobile phone, you authorise your other bank to provide information in a very secure way, and you can get the loan approved instantly.”

Interoperability and regulation

For DLT to truly advance, there needs to be interoperability between competitors, Mager noted. Currently, there are a number of digital ledgers that are emerging, such as Hyperledger’s Fabric, R3’s Corda, Ripple, and more. “You’ve got a lot of ledgers out there that don’t talk to each other,” he said. “Until interoperability occurs, or one of them emerges as the leading code base, that’s going to impair the network effect.”

The other missing piece is regulation. Thus far, regulations around blockchain and DLT apply only to digital currencies. Regulators have yet to tackle distributed ledger as a book of record. This creates a legal quandary: Is settlement that happens on a ledger final and legally binding? “That hurdle has to be overcome before you’ll see large scale enterprise applications with a distributed ledger underpinning them,” Mager said.

Once standardization, regulation and interoperability are sorted out, the use cases for distributed ledger technology are potentially endless

Regulators in the United States and the UK have largely taken a wait-and-see approach to blockchain and DLT, given that they don’t want to stifle innovation. However, some governments have been a bit more proactive. “Dubai and Singapore are the two countries where they’ve embraced the technology throughout the whole ecosystem—banking, corporates and the government,” Wallis said. “In Dubai for example, one of the proofs of concept was around trade. It was two banks, an airline, a shipping company and the port authority trying to figure out what a new ecosystem might look like.”

DLT tomorrow

Once standardisation, regulation and interoperability are sorted out, the use cases for DLT are potentially endless. Whereas there will be “low-hanging fruit” like Know Your Customer (KYC) and digital identity management, Mager also sees much more exciting prospects, such as a convergence of technologies. “The Internet of Things and DLT have a lot of potential overlaps,” he said. “Smart contracts and artificial intelligence have a lot of potential overlaps. I think you’re going to see a convergence of these technologies emerge in the coming years.”

Hazou agreed, noting that DLT has hit the collective consciousness. But it’s just one of many technologies. “Advanced analytics, predictive analytics the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence—there are so many profound technologies that are going to interact,” he said. “It’s a matter of how one navigates this brave new world.” “I think that’s a matter of thinking through what the potential use cases are, and experimenting with it.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Suddenly, Spotify Goes Blockchain, Aims to Improve Tracking of Royalty Payments

Suddenly,
Spotify Goes Blockchain,
Aims to Improve Tracking of Royalty Payments

  

Spotify, the largest European streaming music platform,

has announced its decision to acquire Blockchain-related startup Media chain. According to Investopedia, the main objective of the acquisition is to improve Spotify’s tracking and processing of royalty payments thanks to the distributed ledger technology.

What’s Media chain?

Media chain has launched in 2016 thanks to seed funding received by Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures. The New York-based startup created a peer-to-peer database to register, identify and track the online distribution of creative works. This was made possible through Blockchain technology, which works as a timestamp and certification of the ownership of content. Through its new partnership with Spotify, Media chain wants to enhance the ability of musicians to prove ownership over their composed music, in order to also receive payment of royalties.

Royalties payments: who earns them?

This is one of the biggest problems that Spotify currently faces. In the case of independent musicians and labels, understanding who owns the rights to a particular composition is difficult for streaming platforms to determine. In order to solve this issue, Media chain indicates that "a music blockchain would be a single place to publish all information about who made what song, without have to trust a third-party organisation." In assisting artists to receive royalties payments through the use of Blockchain technology, Media chain could help Spotify to obtain a competitive advantage over its competitors, reaching more producers, artists and labels.

Blockchain and music

In addition to the specific case of Media chain and Spotify, Blockchain could revolutionise the music industry. That’s what Benji Rogers, founder of PledgeMusic, had in mind when he decided to create dotBlockchain, a company with a desire to disrupt the music sector thanks to a new media format. In fact, dotBlockchain wants to develop a new media and architecture to benefit musicians, composers, among other artists. This format will be created via an open source protocol and licenses, leveraging the Blockchain in order to have a fair and transparent way for music artists to express their rights and wishes for commercialising their art. Also, it should prove useful in improving the efficiency in which music is delivered worldwide.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain Can Be China’s Global Tech Breakthrough: Bitbank VP

Blockchain Can Be China's Global
Tech Breakthrough:
Bitbank VP

  

China's appetite for Blockchain technology

is getting bigger and the world needs to be ready for the breakthrough that the country may come up with, says Virgilio Lizardo Jr., vice president at Bitbank Group. Lizardo Jr has been in China for nine years and currently lives in Shenzhen where he handles international business development and other services for companies under Bitbank including BW and Bter. He says it remains to be seen how Blockchain-related developments will translate into successful products or services in domestic markets. “They have a much greater chance of being successful in China because it’s for domestic use,” Lizardo Jr. states.

He adds:

“Shenzhen, where our office is located is poised to be the digital currency experimentation zone and could be an example for other places. The factors for international success goes beyond just this industry, China is yet to develop a globally recognizable brand/product/service but perhaps Blockchain technology could lead to that breakthrough.”

Bitcoin plays a major role

Earlier in the cryptocurrency space, China has been known for its interest mainly in Bitcoin. Now, there is a growing interest from the government, corporate organisations and startups to explore the potentials of the distributed ledger technology. The Blockchain spreading in China is being accompanied by the introduction of more altcoins in the Chinese market. Most of them identify with Blockchain technology though Bitcoin still plays a major role in the crypto landscape in China.

Rise of interest in Ethereum

In the case of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic both of which enjoyed a rise in China lately due to greater Chinese interest in these two coins, Lizardo Jr. said he was not expecting such a dramatic rise. He expects the prices of ETH and ETC to continue rising in the long-term barring any major setback due to the hype and the organisation of the developers/community.

He says: “At this point, it continues to be mostly speculative, though the news of large tech firms starting to use Ethereum for projects could lead to some real world use. Bitcoin will remain the reserve currency for entering the altcoin market not only in China but the world for some time. Though at a website we do offer ETH and ETC/CNY pairs as we are the largest ETH/ETC market by volume, in China, we are seeing a big demand for these two tokens in the last couple months. China does have a very developed altcoin market domestically of projects and altcoins that do not make it to the international markets. Teams from overseas also market their projects for the Chinese market regularly. The desire of young tech-savvy investors and the sheer size of the market makes it that projects can be hugely successful simply in the China market.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How Encrypted Weather Data Could Help Corporate Blockchain Dreams Come True

How Encrypted Weather Data Could Help Corporate Blockchain Dreams Come True

Banks and investors have sunk millions into the idea that blockchain programs called smart contracts can make finance and other industries more efficient.

  

In the era of fake news,

professor and cryptographer Ari Juels is preparing to launch an online service designed to provide the most trustworthy information on the Internet. But Town Crier, scheduled to launch Monday, is for the benefit of machines, not humans. The downside is that a smart contract is only as trustworthy as the data it draws on. JJules a professor at Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York, says that is limiting progress on making the concept practical. Smart contracts can’t simply scrape data from the Web, because existing systems don’t provide a way to verify that the data a contract is acting on hasn’t been tampered with, he says: “Because you don’t have good sources of data, there’s not a lot you can do right now with smart contracts.”

The Town Crier service launching next week is designed to showcase software of the same name that Juels and colleagues at Cornell say offers a solution. Their system pulls in data such as weather reports over an encrypted connection, and repackages it into feeds for use by coders building smart contracts. Town Crier’s feeds wrap data in cryptography that allows outsiders to verify the data’s source and confirm that it hasn’t been altered. Smart contracts are a favourite idea of the banks and venture capitalists that have ploughed millions into blockchain technology, an approach to managing data and money inspired by the digital currency Bitcoin. Town Crier is built to integrate with Ethereum, a cryptocurrency and smart contract platform with a total value of $8.4 billion, which has been endorsed by corporate giants including UBS and Microsoft.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, hopes Town Crier can help translate more of the enthusiasm about smart contracts into action. “The lack of data feeds from the outside world is definitely a large impediment, and Town Crier could go far in mitigating this issue,” he says. The Cornell researchers plan to release Town Crier as open-source software for others to use. The demonstration service launching next week will provide feeds of data including stock prices, weather reports, flight information, cryptocurrency exchange rates, and UPS package tracking. Longer term, a commercial version is planned.

Town Crier’s design also allows smart contracts to hide the data they are using for everyone but the parties to the contract. The default on blockchain systems like Ethereum is generally for all transaction data to be visible to all.

Do you think blockchains will really catch on?

David Yermack, chair of the finance department at New York University, says those privacy features could help address another challenge for financial companies interested in blockchains. “Privacy is a huge issue for people looking into distributed-ledger technology,” he says. “The clients, banks, and regulators put a very high premium on secrecy.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member