Snip and the Future of Distributed, Online Content

Snip Header/Footer

Over the years, the world of online content has become
increasingly convoluted and disjointed.

The best articles get lost beneath an avalanche of biased pieces,
clickbait and content that’s too lengthy to read. All of this adversely impacts
the average person’s ability to access credible media outlets that allow them
to remain informed in today’s ever-changing world.

In the digital age, the biggest issue confronting the news
industry is verifiability. In other words, how can readers be certain that what
they’re reading is true? Moreover, how do they know whether a particular media
source is trustworthy?

The growing lack of credibility within the media industry became
the impetus for Ran Reichman and Rani Horev to create a fresh alternative to
today’s prevailing media model. Known as Snip, this innovative news site delivers short, to-the-point summaries
of the day’s most important stories and events. Through the use of
state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, Snip allows readers to tap into
targeted news feeds on topics customized around their interests.

“I founded Snip in May 2016 with machine learning and data science
specialist Rani Horev, a co-graduate of the elite Talpiot program of the
Israeli Defense Forces,” said Reichman. “Both Rani and I were frustrated by the
low quality of news and how hard it was to find high-quality, interesting and
brief content. Basically, there was a lot of long and good content and a lot of
short and bad content, but almost no high-quality short content. We started
Snip as a small Facebook page for friends and family and it gradually grew to
more than 30,000 users and 1,400 paying subscribers.”

When asked for a basic overview of Snip’s value proposition,
Reichman was succinct: “Snip is a news platform which keeps you updated on
things that are happening in the world, personalized to you and in a short and
concise format,” he said. “The headlines are anti-clickbait, allowing you to
understand what the story is about before clicking on it and wasting your time.
Snip quickly learns what you care about and provides you with stories on those
topics, in addition to enlightening stories on other topics.”

The platform’s core model, Reichman said, is predicated on a
distributed system where a worldwide collective of content generators curate
short news submissions, or “snips,” that are then read by others on the site.
Snips can be accessed in a number of different mediums, including audio and
video, in addition to traditional, text-based posts. At its core, the site is
censorship resistant — a characteristic generally viewed as a key element in
the democratization of journalism.

In
gathering and curating online content, site curators are incentivized and
rewarded for their efforts. The Snip online community connects writers to
readers directly, mitigating the risk of censorship and bias inherent in the
legacy news industry.

This
entire process is seamless, with end users able to take in their own collection
of snippets which are personalized through machine learning algorithms. The
ultimate goal is to ensure that users can have a quality site experience
without needing to understand the intricacies of the distributed technology and
cryptocurrency systems undergirding the site.

Writers
can generate income from their efforts. Currently, those rewards are in the
form of fiat currency with plans to transition to the site’s native
cryptocurrency, SnipCoin, an ERC20 token secured by the Ethereum blockchain.

Readers
will have the ability to utilize SnipCoin to purchase premium services such as ad-free
news feeds, audio snips and customized written content. Additionally,
advertisers will eventually be able to use SnipCoin to purchase ad space to
increase their visibility on the platform.

SnipCoin distributions will begin in late September with the
commencement of Snip’s token sale, where a total of 3 billion coins will
eventually be released. The initial coin offering (ICO) is valued at $8
million. Upon completion of the ICO, the project will launch in a closed,
invite-only alpha format for the purpose of testing critical features germane
to the site such as comments, voting, customized news feeds and spam
protections.

Reichman, for one, has strong opinions about ICOs, noting that
project developers often launch ventures without any credible evidence of a
functional product or service model. Snip, he added, transcends this as a
result of already having tens of thousands of active users, as well as over a
thousand paying subscribers.

This proven functionality, he said, should give “our ICO
participant confidence that the Snip team will create a product people will
actively engage with and enjoy.”

A New Era of Blockchain-Driven Content

Blockchain-based news delivery offers immense possibilities in
terms of how news could be digested, whether on social media or mainstream
media feeds. This nascent technological movement has the potential to decentralize
control, remove third-party intermediaries from public news access, prevent
censorship and promote bias-free content.

According to Reichman, Snip is uniquely positioned to capitalize
on three major trends that are currently reshaping the media landscape:

Tokenization and Cryptocurrencies: Tokens allow companies to turn their users and contributors into
real stakeholders of the ecosystem, making them ambassadors of the product.
This is especially important in news, where distribution is a huge challenge.

Machine Learning: Snip uses machine learning to find the best content online, then
offers it to writers and subsequently personalizes the content to users with
additional machine learning technology.

The Rise of the Millennial Generation: As opposed to previous generations, millennials never got used
to reading print newspapers and expect an online-first news outlet — ideally, one
which is smart, interactive and to the point.

When asked about his greatest hope and vision for Snip over the
next 12 to 18 months, Reichman laid out his thinking.

“Our vision for Snip is to become the go-to place for news, a
household name which everyone can rely on for information on what’s going on,
and also to discover new and interesting topics of conversation,” he said. “In
18 months we aim to reach more than a million daily users.”

To learn more about Snip and its token sale this
month, read the white paper, follow
Snip on Twitter or contact the team via Telegram.

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Bitcoin Exchange bitFlyer Hopes to Win Big With the Japanese Bankers Association

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While China tightens its grip on its cryptocurrency community, Japan is openly embracing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, legalizing bitcoin, and encouraging and funding blockchain research.

Even Japan’s banks are onboard, working collaboratively to develop a blockchain platform specifically for the financial sector. With its 120 member banks, the Japanese Bankers Association (JBA) is creating a Collaborative Blockchain Platform and is actively looking for a company to supply its blockchain technology on an ongoing basis.

Experimenting with the Collaborative Blockchain Platform, the JBA will initially determine which financial services best lend themselves to the new platform, likely including settlement/transfer services, know-your-customer (KYC) systems and financial infrastructure such as their Zengin System and Densai Net System.

Japanese bitcoin exchange bitFlyer is stepping up to the plate to take on tech giants including Fujitsu, Hitachi and NTT Data to be the supplier of the blockchain platform that will be used by Japan’s banks.

Although it is one of the largest cryptocurrency and blockchain startups in Japan, the Tokyo-based bitFlyer has its work cut out for it if it wants to upset these three corporate heavyweights and win the right to supply the bankers with a blockchain platform using its miyabi technology.

The company’s COO Bartek Ringwelski told Bitcoin Magazine:

“bitFlyer is the only startup in the event, and we have only raised $36mm since 2014, but we have deep expertise in blockchain technology through our virtual currency exchange (the largest in the world by volume, including margin trading) and our ‘miyabi’ product.”

By way of comparison, Hitachi posted $83 billion in revenue in 2016, Fujitsu posted $47 billion on 2015 and NTT Data posted $15 billion in 2016.

Acknowledging a sea change in Japan’s attitude to cryptocurrency, Ringwelski noted that Japan is actively encouraging and supporting both cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology:

“Japan is emerging as a leader in blockchain adoption. Japanese consumers are embracing virtual currencies, regulators are proactive, and banks are recognizing the power that blockchain, and specifically miyabi, can bring to the financial infrastructure.”

Miyabi Blockchain Technology

The name “miyabi” was first coined between the 9th to 12th centuries by Japanese aristocrats to refer to the theme of elegance and refinement.

According to Ringwelski, bitFlyer’s miyabi blockchain platform is the fastest in the world:

“Based on our research, ‘miyabi’ is the fastest enterprise-grade blockchain technology, delivering 1,500 – 2,000 transactions per second on average, and in some cases, even faster,” Ringwelski said.

Their processing speed of 1,500 to 2,000 transactions per second compares with Bitcoin’s two transactions per second and Ethereum’s seven transactions per second. They also estimate that among the other three competing companies, the maximum speed to beat is 1,000 transactions per second.

When it launched the competition, the JBA made it clear that security and immutability were their first priority. In their view, only a private, permissioned blockchain could satisfy this requirement.

Going Global

BitFlyer’s CEO Yuzo Kano has said he wants the company to go global in the near future and will start by expanding to the U.S. market this fall, initially offering bitcoin trading but expanding to other cryptocurrencies within the next year. The company says it has received approval to start trading from 34 U.S. states.

In the meantime, Ringwelski says that they are eagerly awaiting the decision of the JBA:

“The partner ultimately chosen by the JBA will stand to become part of the core Japanese banking infrastructure — it would be a big deal. Beyond the value of gaining the JBA as a new customer, securing a JBA contract would help spread miyabi to new enterprise blockchain applications and customers worldwide.”

Investors in bitFlyer include SMBC Venture Capital, Mizuho Capital, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Mitsubishi UFJ Capital, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Venture Capital, Recruit Strategic Partners, Dentsu Digital Holdings, SBI Investment, GMO Venture Partners, QUICK and Venture Labo Investment.

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Op Ed: How Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt Digital Content Distribution

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The way we consume media content has been on a continual overhaul for the past two decades. Every aspect of media distribution has become more streamlined from the razor-thin devices we use to consume media to the manner in which we purchase and store our coveted content. Books, music and movies have all seen their physical bodies and storage locations dissolve, to be replaced with on-demand downloads and digital copies.

The digital content revolution has done a lot for increasing access and visibility for artists and authors, but the current publishing giants have failed to adequately adjust to the times in a few crucial areas. While it’s true that platforms such as YouTube and Medium have granted publishing access to the greater public and eliminated gatekeeping middlemen like talent agents and PR people, the current digital content sharing platforms have built their empires on the skeletons of the publishing giants’ templates that existed before and, unfortunately, have continued operating in ways that fundamentally undermine the artistic control and profits of their contributors.   

YouTube, for example, recently announced they will not allow users to earn any money until they reach 10 thousand views. Medium was recently very candid about the moral dilemmas and growing pains they have faced while trying to balance the selling of advertising space as well as respecting their contributing authors and readership. And it’s no secret that Amazon and iTunes take a chunk out of authors’ and artists’ earnings, with iTunes currently pocketing 30 percent of its artists’ profits and Amazon taking a hefty 30–75 percent.

Though it’s easy to be critical, I am more interested in looking for a viable alternative to disrupt the existing system. This will require harnessing the decentralizing nature of emerging blockchain content distribution technologies. Here’s why:

Blockchain could be the solution to making micropayments a reality.

As media consumption has gone digital, a cost-effective way to charge per article or per song has been a limiting factor. Many platforms and publications have opted for subscription-based charging as high transaction costs make pay-per-use charging impossible. Amazon, for example, passes on its internal transaction costs to their clients, which currently equal 2.9 percent of the total transaction as well as a flat fee of 0.30 cents for every transaction.

The pricey transactions make processing small charges inefficient and not cost-effective, which has led many experts, such as editor of TechCrunch John Biggs, to predict that the future of digital publishing will depend on the adoption of micropayments.

Blockchain technologies allow for an incredible number of transactions to be processed at a low cost. Decentralized blockchain systems distribute the collective payment history across the entire network and don’t favor any single “auditor.” The network is maintained by all blockchain nodes as a whole.

Emerging blockchain transaction processing speeds have also recently shot past the leading blockchain currency, bitcoin, and would be capable of processing on a large scale. Where Bitcoin’s transaction speeds average 7 transactions per second, new blockchain-based currencies are already approaching thousands of transactions per second; Bitshares claims they can process 100,000 per second.

In fact, a newspaper in Winnipeg, Canada, has already begun to use a micropayment system to charge per article for its news content and projects earning over $100,000 in digital revenue.

Blockchain could tilt the balance of power towards individuals, not publishing powerhouses.

As mentioned previously, YouTube and Medium have dramatically increased content creators’ access to audiences and established a more democratic, popularity-based promotional scheme. Unfortunately, they are both still centralized content distribution entities that can make arbitrary and unilateral decisions. YouTube and Medium both have the right to remove comments, content or entire channels or profiles without leaving a trace.

In contrast, a blockchain content distribution platform preserves an unchangeable record of all actions. The record produced by blockchain systems creates an environment of total transparency for both content creators and media consumers, and it also ensures that all views, comments and ratings reflect the real interactions the content has experienced, leaving no room for subjective, inflated ratings or deleted bad reviews.

With nothing deleted, content producers can create and post with the security that their work and reputation will remain intact, trolls can’t hide their past bad behavior and can easily be spotted via their comment history, and all content fairly reflects its actual popularity.

Blockchain technology could provide instant payouts and security.

Today, freelancers, authors and artists working with publishing platforms are accustomed to waiting multiple months to receive payment for their work. For big-name artists, this is just part of the business. But for smaller artists, it can be difficult to wait for reimbursement without any idea of how much they will eventually be paid. The financial uncertainty, prolonged waiting periods and lack of payment transparency in current digital content media sharing platforms could be discouraging potential artists and authors from seeing content creation as a viable source of income. Instead, the system encourages content creators to seek payment, not for the quality of their content, but through product sponsorships, PR and ad-focused content.

With blockchain-based content distribution, content creators can be paid within seconds of a consumer paying for a download. Consumers would also know their purchase was directly supporting the content creators they enjoy and effectively cut out the publishing middlemen eating up the content producer’s profits.

Though blockchain technology may, at times, sound a bit hard to conceptualize, digital media distribution really shouldn’t be rocket science. While the zeros and ones behind publishing platforms get more complex, the process for content creators and consumers has simplified and should continue to do so.

The bottom line is content creators who make good quality content that people are willing to pay for deserve a simple and transparent digital media sharing platform that fairly compensates them according to the consumer demand for their work. Media consumers equally deserve the ability to directly support the content creators they enjoy. And blockchain technologies may be the disruptive technology that digital media content distribution needs.

This is a guest post by Matej Michalko, founder and CEO of DECENT. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine. 

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Blockchain Technology Plays a Critical Role in U.S. and International Open Government Initiatives

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On September 8, the U.S. government’s General Services Administration (GSA)’s program “Emerging Citizen Technology” hosted a workshop titled “Emerging Technology and Open Data for a More Open Government.” The participants in the workshop were directed to draft proposals that specifically use Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain technology and open data.

“Open data and emerging technologies — including artificial intelligence and distributed ledgers, such as blockchain — hold vast potential to transform public services held back by bureaucracy and outdated IT systems,” said Emerging Citizen Technology program manager Justin Herman. “We are opening the doors to bold, fresh ideas for government accountability, transparency and citizen participation by working with U.S. businesses, civil society groups and others to shape national goals for emerging technologies and open data in public services.”

At the workshop, several government agencies have indicated a strong government backing behind the development of blockchain technology. In particular, a representative of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that the Trump administration was serious about and committed to this technology, and would not be deterred.

The initiative is related to the fourth National Action Plan (NAP 4), which the U.S. government is releasing this year in the the framework of the multinational Open Government Partnership (OGP) and its Open Government Declaration. It is aimed at empowering citizens and advancing the ideals of an open and participatory government.

The September 8 workshop follows the first U.S. Federal Blockchain Forum, organized by the Emerging Citizen Technology program on July 18 to discuss blockchain use cases, limitations and solutions. Financial management, procurement, IT asset and supply chain management, smart contracts, patents, trademarks, copyrights, royalties, government-issued credentials, federal personnel workforce data, appropriated funds, federal assistance, and foreign aid delivery were among the government blockchain use cases discussed at the July 18 workshop. Participation was restricted to federal agencies’ managers.

The Government Blockchain Association participated in the September 8 workshop and shared details, reported by ETHNews, on the topics discussed. In particular, three priority areas were examined: a national identity system based on blockchain and biometric technologies and interoperable across different agencies; an open government innovation initiative aimed at improving the internal operations of government agencies through blockchain technology; and a blockchain open-interface framework to connect government blockchain pilots with external data systems.

The Government Blockchain Association, open to all interested individual, corporate and institutional members, was formed to explore blockchain-based solutions to problems typically faced by government entities.

“We are currently seeing deep and informed interest in blockchain [technology] across many levels of the public sector,” said Gerard Daché, Founder and President of the Government Blockchain Association. “This time next year, I would not be surprised to see dozens of pilots, legislative resolutions, and even funding spread across the various states and high up in the U.S. Federal Government specifically for piloting blockchain based innovation.”

The Association believes that blockchain technology, Bitcoin, distributed ledgers and cryptocurrencies will fundamentally transform how the government interacts with its constituents.

“We don’t believe blockchain adoption in the public sector needs to take over ten years as some suggest it might,” Daché added. “There is an excitement that is palpable so, our goal is to harness this enthusiasm and direct it into working groups that actually influence national, state and large city governmental policies.”

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Bitcoin Price Analysis: How Rumblings From China Play Into Wyckoff Distributions

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Unless you’ve been in a crypto-free cave for the past week, you might have noticed the crypto-wide market drop.

Last week, rumors of China’s crackdown on BTC to fiat transactions began to spread across the crypto-world. On Monday, mainstream news sources such as The Guardian, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg further supported or confirmed these rumors by releasing articles with the news of a Chinese crackdown on exchanges.

According to Chinese state newspaper Securities Times, “All trading exchanges must by midnight of 15 September publish a notice to make clear when they will stop all cryptocurrency trading and announce a stop to new user registrations.” 

Within a day and a half, BTC-USD saw a 15% markdown as the price dropped from $4400 to $3750. After all was said and done, BTC-USD managed to squeeze out one last push before bottoming out around $3000. The bottom was immediately greeted by a strong rally that propelled the price upward by $900.

The price shot down, the price shot up — where does this leave us now?

Figure_1 (7).JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 6-Hour Candles, GDAX, Macro Bull Run

Since the beginning of this bull run from $1800, we have established very clear, very strong support and resistance levels along the Fibonacci Retracement set shown above. At the time of this article, BTC-USD is testing the macro 38% retracement line where strong, historic support will prove quite tough to penetrate. With such a large growth in such a short period of time, BTC-USD managed to climb about 150% in market value within the span of about a month.

One idea I’ve been considering during the climbs to toward the ATH is the the Wyckoff trading range schematic shown below:

Figure_2 (7).JPGFigure 2: Wyckoff Trading Range (A great breakdown of schematic details are found here)

Historically, as markets progress through time, they go through phases of accumulation (a phase where investors and traders begin to buy and accumulate assets) and distribution (a phase where traders and investors begin to sell off their accumulated assets). In order words, the market goes up and a bull rally begins, the market begins to top out, and then a bearish rally will bring the prices back down to a comfortable level. It’s a sort of give-and-take in the market as traders begin to place their bets on the future market direction.

In our current case, over the last couple months bitcoin has formed a very similar pattern to Distribution Schematic #1 shown above. The above schematic represents one of the possible ways a market can rise, find its top, and distribute assets to market.

Comparing the schematic above to the the current BTC-USD market pattern, we can see a lot of striking similarities:
Figure_3_again.JPGFigure 3: Wyckoff Schematic Within BTC-USD Trend

The nomenclature for this schematic is found here and is vital to understanding the upcoming discussion.

While a bearish continuation has yet to be confirmed, the most recent price hike this morning seems to fit the last test of the Wyckoff schematic LPSY (Last Point of Supply). The last point of supply is essentially a false rally where those who didn’t have an opportunity to sell on the previous LPSY now have an opportunity and will begin to sell into the more bullish traders who fall victim to a false breakout.

The SOW (sign of weakness) is marked by high sell volume that leads into an AR (automatic rally) where the sell pressure lets up and bullish traders assume a bottom has been hit. The automatic rally is marked by a bullish climb with great ease before finding its top near the previous lines of support shown above in green.

The LPSY is most notably described as a series of peaks and valleys on a fairly narrow spread as the bulls and bears exchange positions. During this LPSY, we will expect to see diminishing volume as the market pushes to new highs and becomes more and more difficult.

A closer view of the current trend reveals we have begun the process of weakening rallies with the LPSY:

Figure_4 (3).JPGFigure 4: BTC-USD, 5-Minute Candles, Bitfinex

Throughout the length of this small trend, we can see diminishing volume on each consecutive push toward new highs. If we manage to continue downward, expect turbulence at the $3000 levels and a possible secondary bounce as the $3000 level offers very strong, historic support.

It should be noted however, even though this current trend has a strong resemblance to the Wyckoff schematic, it is always important to confirm the trend before trading it. As with any market, it is entirely possible that this Wyckoff distribution pattern will fail and bitcoin will manage to continue onward and upward to new highs. A market reversal should definitely not be ruled out as the current market trend is showing a strong sign of uncertainty between the bulls and bears.

Whether the market breaks upward or downward, always confirm the move with strong volume to support a strong move in the direction the trend. Volatility is to be expected, but we approach the market with a level head and objectivity, seeing the proper positional entries and exits will much easier to spot.

Summary:

  1. Strong, bearish news hit the crypto community this week as China announced harsh regulations on the BTC to fiat transactions on exchanges.

  2. Currently BTC is seeing a strong rally off the $3000 levels but is showing signs of waning strength in the upward direction.

  3. A possible macro distribution pattern is unfolding and new lows could be in store for  bitcoin over the next few days and weeks.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.

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Mexican Bitcoin Exchange Bitso Aids Red Cross Earthquake Relief Efforts

Bitcoin exchange Bitso helps mexican hurricane relief

Bitso, a cryptocurrency exchange in Mexico, has continues its campaign to aid the victims of the recent earthquake in Mexico.

A few days ago, Bitso announced their support for the Mexican people who were affected by the recent earthquake. The cryptocurrency exchange has enabled donation wallets that can be used by the company’s clients to send aid using different digital currencies, such as bitcoin, ether and ripple. According to Bitso, cryptocurrency donations are a quick and efficient way to help the victims since the assets are easy to transfer.

Unfortunately, some people have lost their homes, their belongings, and sadly even the lives of their loved ones. We are hoping this aid will help them return to their daily activities as soon as possible.

Thousands of homes were destroyed and nearly 100 people have died across the country as a result of an earthquake that struck just before midnight on September 7. It reached a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale.

The donation details can be found on the cryptocurrency exchange’s blog:

“Join this campaign and help the efforts made by the RED CROSS in Mexico by using the hashtag #BitcoinAidMexico and make a donation to one of the following accounts:
Bitcoin (BTC) 1DaHfXsoPfZ2jznJhB62vR3QEVFhhZ2tMR
Ethereum (ETH) 0x88B6021aE4BB9830f2E9D5BB38B83427b9D7ffEc
Ripple (XRP) rEFMdiTbLmZq5ZiMGrWGoyP48DMFqXjNkM [No Destination Tag required]”

The Red Cross thus far has been able to set up collection and relief centers in several areas affected by the earthquake, especially in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, benefiting around 24,000 people.

Due to the transparency, traceability and real-time reporting of the technology, donations can be easily tracked by users at any time. The total amount Bitso has raised will be exchanged later for Mexican Pesos (MXN) at market rates. Bitso wrote:

“The equivalent amount in Mexican Pesos will be transferred using a local bank wire to Cruz Roja I.A.P. (RED CROSS Mexico) to the bank account CLABE 012180004040404062. This CLABE number can be validated on their website https://www.cruzrojamexicana.org.mx or on their twitter account: https://twitter.com/CruzRoja_MX/status/906600599864582144

The deadline for sending the funds is September 15; however, Bitso added that if they still receive funds later, the company will exchange those donations between September 15 and 22, and wire them to the Mexican Red Cross.

Bitso highlighted that there is no minimum amount for donations and that they will accept all transactions. The company wrote that the fundraising started with them donating MXN $50,000, which will be added to the total amount of donations.

The amount the company has raised and the transaction proof will be publicly displayed for total transparency.

Bitso emphasized that although the Mexican Red Cross will ultimately receive the funds, user contributions cannot be used as tax deductions.

“Important: BITSO will not make any user contributions tax deductible. Mexican Pesos will be transferred on behalf of third parties according to Mexican law LISR artículo 35, and the following TIN XAXX010101000 will be used in order to generate the corresponding payment as ‘General Public Invoice.’”

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Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 Is Released: Here’s What’s New

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 Released: Here’s What’s New

Today marks the official release of Bitcoin Core 0.15.0, the fifteenth generation of Bitcoin’s original software client launched by Satoshi Nakamoto almost nine years ago. Overseen by Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan, this latest major release was developed by nearly 100 contributors over a six-month period, with major contributions through Chaincode Labs, Blockstream and MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 offers significant performance and usability improvements over previous versions of the software implementation. It also introduces several new features to better deal with the current status of the network.

These are some of the more notable changes.

Chainstate Database Restructure

One of the biggest changes compared to previous versions of the software involves how the state of Bitcoin’s blockchain is stored. This “chainstate” or “UTXO-set” is saved in a dedicated database, whereas previously it had been categorized per transaction. If one transaction sent bitcoins to several outputs (“addresses”), these different outputs were stored as a single database entry, referring to that one transaction.

With Bitcoin Core 0.15.0, these outputs are instead stored in a single database entry each. If a single transaction sends bitcoins to different outputs, every output is stored separately. While this method does claim more disc space, it requires less computational resources if one of these outputs is spent later on.

The most concrete benefit of this new data structure is that initial sync-time for new nodes is decreased by about 40 percent. It also introduces simpler code, reduces memory usage  and more. Additionally, it fixes a bug that could theoretically crash Bitcoin Core nodes, controversially revealed at last weekend’s Breaking Bitcoin conference in Paris.

Improved Fee Estimation

As Bitcoin blocks have been filling up over the last year or two, not all transactions fit in the first block that is mined. Instead, miners typically prioritize the transactions that include the most fees. If a user wants to have his transaction confirmed quickly, he should include a high enough fee. If he’s not in a rush, a lower fee should suffice.

However, the Bitcoin network deals with inherent unpredictability in terms of the speed at which blocks are found or the number of transactions that is being transmitted at any time. This makes it hard to include the right transaction fee.

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 lowers this fee uncertainty: The newest version of the software includes significantly better fee estimation algorithms. This is mostly because the software takes more data into account when making the estimations, such as the fees included in older confirmed transactions, as well as fees in unconfirmed transactions — the fees that proved insufficient.

Additionally, users can enjoy more flexibility. For one, Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 for the first time allows users to include fees that could take their transactions up to a week to confirm. And, also newly introduced, users can choose to accept more or less risk that their transaction could be delayed due to a sudden influx of transactions.

Replace-by-fee in User Interface

Even with improved fee estimation, it is possible that users will still need to wait longer than they want for their transactions to confirm, perhaps because there is a sudden rush of transactions on the network, or maybe because a user changed his mind and prefers to have a transaction confirm faster than originally paid for, or for other reasons.

For these cases, some wallets let users add a “replace-by-fee” tag to their transactions. With such a tag, nodes and miners on the network know that the sender may want to replace that transaction with a newer transaction that includes a higher fee. This effectively allows users to bump the transaction in line to have it confirmed faster.

Bitcoin Core nodes have supported replace-by-fee for well over a year now: They already replace “replace-by-fee” tagged transactions if the new transaction includes more fees. But it was never easy to utilize for Bitcoin Core wallet users themselves.

Until now.

The Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 wallet introduces a replace-by-fee toggle in its user interface. This lets users include the appropriate tag, allowing them to easily increase the fees on their transactions later on.

Multi-wallet Support (Client and RPC Only)

Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 lets users create several wallets for the first time. These wallets all have their own separate Bitcoin addresses, private keys and, therefore, funds. Users can utilize the different wallets for different purposes; for example, one wallet can be used for personal day-to-day purchases, another for business-related transactions, and a third just for trading.

Using several wallets can offer a number of benefits. For instance, it makes accounting easier and more convenient. Additionally, users can more easily benefit from increased privacy as the different wallets cannot be linked to each other by blockchain analysis. It’s also possible to use different wallets for specific applications and more.

For now, multi-wallet support is not yet available for regular wallet users; only advanced users who operate from the command line or through connected applications can utilize the feature.

Other Improvements

Apart from the above mentioned notable changes, Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 includes a number of additional performance improvements, as most new major Bitcoin Core releases do. Concretely, these changes speed up how quickly blocks are downloaded from the network, they let nodes start up faster, and up-to-date nodes will be able to validate new blocks more quickly, in turn benefiting network-propagation time.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Bitcoin Core 0.15.0 will disconnect from BTC1 peers on the network. This means that the Bitcoin network will experience less disruption if the SegWit2x hard fork splits the network, as both types of nodes will more easily find compatible peers. While this change has gotten some media attention,c this hange shouldn’t really be noticeable.

Thanks to Chaincode Labs developer John Newbery for feedback and suggestions. For more details on what’s new in Bitcoin Core 0.15.0, see the release notes, or watch Bitcoin Core contributor Gregory Maxwell’s “deep dive” presentation at the San Francisco Bitcoin developers meetup.

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Building “Cappasity” for AR, VR and 3D Content

Capassity Thumb 3

Imagine for a minute the next
evolution of online retail, featuring an in-store browsing experience with
interactive 3D images. All of this would be tethered to a broader ecosystem that delivers fast and easy
augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D content.

This scenario above is not a fantasy.
Rather, it signifies a new world in which blockchains and virtual reality
intersect to provide valuable use cases for the world of commerce. Now content
creators can benefit from this convergence of blockchain technologies and AR/VR
through asset ownership verification. This allows a mechanism for receiving
royalties via smart contracts in order to design virtual worlds and encourage
collaboration.

Leading this movement is Cappasity, a cutting-edge company founded with the goal of developing new
standards as well as an easy-to-use and scalable platform for the creation,
embedding and analysis of 3D and AR/VR content. This new system allows users to
create, rent and sell 3D content that can be embedded into an app or website
for an immersive experience.

Click here to see the type of
3D model that can be generated and shared through the platform.

The emergence of Cappasity comes at a
time when new and exciting developments are arising in myriad verticals,
including the medical, automotive, gaming, entertainment, art and education
sectors. Here, the company is leveraging the blockchain in order to become the
go-to exchange network for users, developers and businesses seeking to benefit
from 3D image creation, embedding and trading.

This innovative platform will be
powered by a digital payment vehicle and currency called ARToken (ART), which
facilitates the trading of content inside the ecosystem. ARTs can be earned
through the creation and sharing of 3D/AR/VR content.

Cappasity has been in a joint effort
with Intel since 2014, a project initiative that led to the creation of a
scanning software for Intel RealSense 3D cameras. After a successful campaign
to raise more than $1.8 million from angel investors, the company launched a
beta version of its platform and 3D digitizing software in January 2017. This
ecosystem is designed in two layers, a marketplace and infrastructure layer, making it particularly special.

Given some of the company’s early
success, as well as the rapidly growing popularity of 3D content, there is
positive anticipation for the company’s initial ART token crowdsale which
begins September 27, 2017. Various cryptocurrencies, including BTC, ETH, BCH,
LTC as well as DASH, can be used to contribute to the campaign.

The goal of the crowdsale is to reach
175,000 ETH, which will make Cappasity’s revolutionary plans a reality. Two
endowment entities have been established to foster this: the AR/VR Innovation
Fund and the Reward Fund.

The Innovation Fund is designed to
get developers on board with the platform. Once content begins to be built, a
Reward Fund will be established over time. Upon completion of the token sale,
10 percent of raised funds will be dedicated to the former and 20 percent will
be allocated to the latter.

Value Proposition in 3D

The Cappasity platform provides tools
for 3D content creators and distributors to monetize and share their creativity
through a tokenized ecosystem.

Kosta Popov, Cappasity’s founder and
CEO, touts the company’s embrace of the decentralized economy through
blockchain technology, which he said enables the company to address fundamental
issues currently facing content creators.

“Top luxury retailers who have
implemented our 3D imaging integrations are showing conversion increases of 30
to 40 percent,” Popov said. “We are excited to bring innovative content
creators the opportunity to participate in the AR/VR content revolution with
the utility ARToken to power the whole ecosystem.”

Delivering Excess “Cappasity” Through
Collaboration

In a move signaling the company’s
forward advancement, Cappasity was recently selected to participate with Lafayette
Plug and Play
, one of the leading innovation
platforms and an accelerator designed to fuel the next generation of retail and
fashion companies. Located in Paris, Lafayette selects top startups like
Cappasity twice a year to promote cooperation with its partners, including the likes of Carrefour, Galeries Lafayette, Tesco,
Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Lacoste, Kering and Rakuten.

Cappasity therefore has been working
closely with corporate clients, including some of Europe’s top retailers, to
integrate its platform into their online stores in order to provide VR/AR
business solutions.

To learn more about Cappasity’s
forward trajectory, including its upcoming ART token sale, read its white paper. Visit the website and follow the company’s social
media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

The post Building “Cappasity” for AR, VR and 3D Content appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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NO2X: Breaking Bitcoin Shows No Love for the SegWit2x Hard Fork in Paris

no 2x breaking bitcoin

“There’s no such thing as a safe hard fork,” Electrum lead developer Thomas Voegtlin corrected an audience member at the Breaking Bitcoin conference in Paris last weekend. “I would recommend to have replay protection, of course,” he added.

Community support for SegWit2x, the Bitcoin scaling proposal spearheaded by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, was virtually absent in Paris. Whenever the “2x” part of the New York Agreement was discussed in the French capital, speakers and visitors overwhelmingly considered it a risk to defend against — not a proposal to help succeed.

Electrum users, for example, will not blindly follow hash power in case of a chain-split, Voegtlin explained throughout his talk; instead, they’ll be able to choose which side of such a split they want to be on. And importantly, the lightweight wallet will implement security measures to prevent users from accidentally spending funds on both chains: “replay protection” that seems unlikely to be implemented on a protocol level if SegWit2x does fork off.

“We are ready,” Voegtlin said. “If [SegWit2x] doesn’t include replay protection, the fork detection we have in Electrum will be useful.”

Breaking Bitcoin

Inspired by the successful Scaling Bitcoin conference format, the French Bitcoin community hosted the first edition of Breaking Bitcoin two blocks from the Eiffel Tower last weekend. Bitcoin developers, academics and other technical-minded Bitcoiners gathered for a diverse program, but with the common denominator being Bitcoin’s security.

“For the past two years, the Bitcoin community has been obsessing with scale and scalability,” Kevin Loaec, managing director at Chainsmiths and co-organizer of the event, told Bitcoin Magazine. “But I’m not so worried about scale, I’m worried about mining centralization, a lack of privacy and fungibility … these kinds of things. As an industry we need to recognize there are more challenges than just scalability; hopefully this conference reflects that.”

Whereas the first Scaling Bitcoin conference two years ago was a very specific reaction to a looming block size limit increase hard fork — then put forth by Bitcoin XT — this wasn’t necessarily the motivation behind Breaking Bitcoin. Yet, once again, a controversial hard fork is looming on the horizon. This time imbedded in the BTC1 implementation developed by Bloq co-founder Jeff Garzik, the New York Agreement’s SegWit2x is scheduled to increase Bitcoin’s “base block size limit” to two megabytes by November — an incompatible protocol change that could split the Bitcoin network in two.

And it did not take much to recognize how unpopular the proposal was in Paris. Perhaps most vividly, Italian Bitcoin startup ChainSide led a protest campaign by distributing NO2X stickers; the Twitter hashtag was proudly added as a piece of flair to the by now well-known Make Bitcoin Great Again and UASF hats. And voices critical of the project — like Voegtlin and his call for replay protection — could consistently count on rounds of applause. From a technical perspective, the proposal is often considered — quite frankly — to be reckless.

“Unfortunately, SegWit2x […] was designed to effectively be as disruptive to the minority chain,” MyRig engineer and BIP91 author James Hilliard said on stage during the miner panel.

SegWit2x: The Arguments

Arguments against the 2x hard fork are diverse.

Perhaps its biggest problem, SegWit2x currently lacks basic safety measures to prevent unsuspecting users from losing funds. This includes, most importantly, the aforementioned replay protection, but a new address format would be similarly helpful.

Additionally, the three-month lead time for this specific hard fork is considered extremely short — assuming the goal is to prevent a chain-split in the first place. “If you ask any of the developers, they will typically want to see 18 months or two years lead time, for something with as wide an impact on all the software and hardware out there as a hard fork,” Blockstream co-founder and Hashcash inventor Dr. Adam Back noted during a Q&A session.

And if the chain does split into different networks and currencies — one following the current Bitcoin protocol and one adopting the hard fork — the question becomes which of the two gets to use the name “Bitcoin.” So far, proponents of the SegWit2x hard fork have shown no willingness to pick a new name.

This branding issue, Bitcoin Core contributor and Ciphrex co-founder Eric Lombrozo pointed out, provides yet another point of controversy.

“My personal opinion is that whomever is proposing the change, the onus is on them to demonstrate widespread support,” Lombrozo said during his talk on protocol changes. “The people that want to keep status quo don’t need to show anything. It’s the people who want to change the stuff that actually need to demonstrate there is widespread support.”

And for now, not everyone is convinced that SegWit2x does indeed have this level of support — or anything close to it. While several large mining pools, as well as a significant number of companies, have signed on to the New York Agreement, this agreement was itself drafted without any feedback from Bitcoin’s technical community nor — even more important — a reliable gauge of user sentiment.

And while some Bitcoin companies claim to represent their customers, this is — once again — not taken for granted by everyone.

“One debate I want to draw attention to,” venture capitalist Alyse Killeen pointed out, “is the debate whether businesses speak for their users. I think this is probably a debate you would only see now in this space because it’s pretty well established that businesses outside of this space do not speak for users, but it’s a debate we still have in our community. Of course they don’t.”

NO2X

If Breaking Bitcoin in Paris can be considered at all representative of SegWit2x’s community support — which, it should be noted, is not necessarily the case — the proposal will face an uphill battle to be widely accepted in November.

Indeed, some signatories of the agreement are not so sure about the hard fork anymore: Bitwala and F2Pool have publicly backed out of the agreement. And, during a mining panel in Paris, Bitfury CIO Alex Petrov ever so slightly opened the door to potentially withdrawing support as well, if both the original and the 2x chain manage to survive.

In fact, it’s not just that contentious hard forks are considered a threat to be defended against by Bitcoin’s technical community. It goes beyond that.

In the words of Bitcoin developer Jimmy Song, at the conclusion of his opening talk of the event:

“What doesn’t kill Bitcoin makes it stronger. And conferences like this prove that we’re getting better at this. We’re getting immunized to all these hard forks, and it’s creating a better Bitcoin as a result, and that’s a very good thing. We’re securing against a lot of these attacks, and figuring out ways to mitigate these threats.”

Image courtesy of Federico Tenga

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