Last Week on LTB Network: Factom’s Paul Snow Shares Thoughts on Bitcoin Cash

Last Week on LTB Network: Factom's Paul Snow Shares Thoughts on Bitcoin Cash

Some confusion still exists around Bitcoin Cash (or Bcash), the new token that resulted from a split in the Bitcoin network on August 1. Many bitcoin (BTC) holders are still wondering how to safely remove the new tokens (BCH) from exchanges (and wallets) without putting their BTC at risk.

In a recent episode of the Crypto Show, Paul Snow, the founder of the blockchain-based data management solution Factom, offered some suggestions. He also talked about the potential benefits of holding onto BCH a little while longer.

First, while some exchanges may be offering to extract BCH for some users, Snow firmly advises people not to hand over their private keys to exchanges. He thinks sharing private keys is a bad policy in general. “Don’t do it,” he said.

“It is kind of like, you don’t wear underwear on the outside of your pants; you don’t give people your private keys,” he said. But for those anxious to cash in on their BCH right away, he describes a safe way to do it.

Create New Addresses

Snow suggests users separate their BTC from their BCH first, as follows:

If you had any number of addresses holding BTC before August 1, then you will now have an equal amount of BCH on those same addresses.

Snow recommends you go into your BTC wallets and move the entire amounts of BTC in those addresses, (imagine three addresses we’ll call A, B, C) to three new addresses (D, E, F). Now, the second set of addresses (D, E, F) will have BTC in them, but no BCH because those addresses did not exist before August 1. The first set (A, B, C) will have BCH in them, but no BTC.

“To reiterate,” Snow said, “move your Bitcoin addresses from where they were on August 1 to new addresses. Step two, input those private keys into your Bitcoin Cash wallet. Step three, profit,” he said.


For more info on how to handle your BCH safely, read A Beginner’s Guide to Claiming Your Bitcoin Cash (and Selling It).


Neutral on Bcash

Bitcoin Cash has, in a sense, divided the community. Some like Bitcoin Cash because it raises the Bitcoin block size limit to 8MB, while others are appalled at how the new chain is attempting to usurp users and hashpower from the main Bitcoin network.

Snow maintains a neutral stance. “I’m not sure I have an opinion on any particular blockchain out there,” he said.

After all, Bitcoin is not the only game in town. He pointed out that right now there are nine cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin with a market cap of $1B or more. Those are the facts. “I don’t care whether you think Bitcoin should be the only blockchain or not. They [those other coins] exist,” he said

Moveover, he thinks Bitcoin Cash played fair and square in launching an alternative currency. Everyone who had BTC got their share of BCH in the airdrop. Nevertheless, nearly everyone he hears from is looking to reinvest that money back into BTC.

“I am seeing a lot of people who are going to cash out on the Bitcoin Cash as fast as they can and buy Bitcoin with it,” he said. 

“Hodling” Bcash

Of course, there is another option. People could hold onto (or “hodl”) their BCH just like they hold on to their BTC and see if the price goes up.

After all, Snow said the market for BCH won’t hit its stride until mid September when the mining difficulty on the new chain eases up to the point where Bitcoin miners consider it economically viable to redirect their hash power over to it.

“Right now, anyone mining on Bitcoin Cash now is effectively donating their power,” he said. “That [Bitcoin Cash] bandwagon doesn’t leave town until September 18th. Until then, it is just kind of puddling along and not quite getting anywhere.”

Dropping Anchor

But, say the Bitcoin Cash chain were to beat all odds and become super successful. If that were to happen, would Factom anchor onto the Bitcoin Cash chain instead of the Bitcoin chain?

To explain Snow’s business, Factom is a protocol that runs on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. By doing so, it allows any kind of data to be time-stamped and secured using the Bitcoin blockchain. So hashrate is essential to Factom’s security.

“We are anchoring into a chain for its proof of work,” Snow said. “But if proof of work is largely in Bitcoin Cash, then we will anchor onto Bitcoin Cash.”

He added that if the hashrate between the two chains were to split 60/40, Factom could anchor on both chains and still get 100 percent of the hashpower.

“We can anchor as many chains as we want,” he said, but added that he doesn’t think Bitcoin Cash will ever capture that much hashpower. With BCH currently only valued at less than one tenth of BTC, the economic rewards for miners just aren’t there.

But as Snow pointed out, all of this plays into Bitcoin’s security. “Bitcoin is designed so that it is very, very hard to split off and be successful,” Snow said.

During the course of the interview, Snow also discussed the mechanics of how Factom anchors onto the Bitcoin network and the third annual Texas Bitcoin Conference, which he founded and helps organize. The conference will take place from October 28-29.

Listen to the entire podcast here.

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Op Ed: Cryptocurrencies, ICOs and the Untapped “Family Office” Group

gpfamily.jpg

With cryptocurrency investing becoming increasingly mainstream, it’s important to understand the types of potential investors waiting on the sidelines. One largely untapped investment group would be a “family office” (FO), which is a private wealth manager of investments and trusts for ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs). In 2015, UHNWIs included almost 173,000 individuals whose wealth accounted for $20.8 trillion. FOs can represent a single-family office (SFO) or multi-family office (MFO), with the former being the largest group that represents one extremely wealthy single family.

The Family Office Databases reports that most FOs reside in the United States.

FO_breakdown.png

According to UBS and Global Wealth, the top three investments of an average FO portfolio are in the developed market, real estate, or venture capital and private equities.

UBS_investment_breakdown.png

Cryptocurrencies would be classified as a commodity, whereas initial coin offerings (ICOs) would represent venture capital. Furthermore, most ICOs are deemed securities based on the parameters of the Howey test. Cryptocurrencies themselves are still very new and highly complex, and innovation is happening every day. Few people understand them deeply due to the intense learning curve.

Being decentralized and transparent on a blockchain with low transaction fees means cryptocurrencies have attractive properties for UHNWIs. Cryptocurrencies provide FOs with diversification from traditional assets usually in an average portfolio. However, the risk of investing remains high, especially if there is a lack of understanding around how cryptocurrencies work or how to secure them properly.

The recent explosion of ICOs and ICO funding represents a growing percentage of investors backing the creation of software or companies that are building the technology and infrastructure. David Drake, managing partner of LDJ capital, whose focus is on compliance and underwriting for ICOs, said to Bitcoin Magazine, “These ICOs need to have a real team and business structure behind them before anyone is willing to invest.”

Drake added that many investors he speaks with “are afraid that they will not understand what is happening with cryptocurrencies, but this is changing very quickly as they become curious about the subject.”

Projects that will be able to cut through the noise and hype with a clear message and identifiable use cases will likely acquire more investors through an ICO. Two such examples of successful ICOs with straightforward use cases include Civic, a project focused on providing proof of identity, which raised $33 million; and Filecoin, a decentralized storage network, which raised $252 million.

Generally, ICOs accept funds through cryptocurrencies only, although this may change to bring in more investors. Kamil Przeorski, co-founder of Experty.io and ReactPoland, told Bitcoin Magazine that “many people I talk with are very interested in my project, but don’t always understand the process and would rather use USD.”

Ultimately, the better the cryptocurrency community can communicate and explain the complexities, intricacies and possibilities, the more potential investors will flock to this space.

This guest post is by Josh Olszewicz, an advisor to Experty.io. The views in this piece are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Media.

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Ethereum Classic Forges Its Own Identity With New Mantis Client

Ethereum Classic Mantis

A group of Ethereum Classic developers wants Ethereum Classic to be known as more than a “cut-and-paste” version of the Ethereum blockchain. So they spent seven months building Mantis, a unique Ethereum Classic client, from scratch.

And it is not hard to understand their motivation.

Since Ethereum Classic split away from Ethereum as a result of the DAO hard fork last summer, the two smart contract platforms have shared the same codebase, the same smart contract development tools and more.

In fact, aside from a few protocol changes, like defusing the difficulty bomb and capping the monetary policy on the Ethereum Classic chain, for all intents and purposes, the two networks have been nearly identical.

But now Ethereum Classic is striking out on its own in a move developers behind the effort hope will position the platform as a viable alternative to Ethereum. Earlier this week, Alan McSherry, Ethereum Classic developer and Mantis project lead, announced the beta version of the new Ethereum Classic client in a blog post.

Built in the functional programming language Scala, Mantis represents a serious effort by the Ethereum Classic community to gain recognition for having its own team of developers on par with those of Ethereum. Mantis also sets the foundation for future innovations in Ethereum Classic.

“This is a good starting point for our influence in the Ethereum Classic community,” said McSherry, in speaking with Bitcoin Magazine. “We are able to say we have built from the ground up a client in Scala. And, when it comes to the future direction of Ethereum Classic, we have a pretty good handle on what we are talking about.”

But before getting into why the developers of the project chose to build a client in Scala, first, what is a client?

A Blockchain Client

In a distributed ledger, a client refers to the software that runs on a computer, or “node,” connected to the network. A blockchain client is responsible for downloading and keeping up to date an entire copy of the blockchain. In a sense, it also acts like a server in that it also serves the other nodes in the network by doing things like verifying blocks, checking that transactions include signatures and so on.  

In that respect, Mantis essentially represents a full end-to-end copy of Ethereum. It contains the mining verification algorithm, the consensus algorithm, all the network logic, the cryptography that allows users to spend their coins and the logic to verify smart contracts.

As a client, Mantis also provides interfaces for creating transactions. Still in beta, Mantis supports a command-line interface version of a wallet for making transactions. Users can also access the client from the Mist browser over HTTP.  

To be clear, Mantis is not the only client available to Ethereum Classic users. Other groups may be working on other clients, said McSherry. And the Ethereum Classic community maintains two other Ethereum clients: Geth, written in Go, and Parity, written in Rust. But McSherry explained that the hope is that Mantis will eventually become the flagship client for Ethereum Classic.

Functional Language

Mantis is different from existing Ethereum clients in that it was written in Scala, a functional programming language.

Scala is touted for benefits that include ease of testing and predictability, characteristics that allow developers to audit the code for bugs and security flaws more easily than other languages. “If you have more predictable code, that will leverage itself up to the overall quality of the product,” McSherry said.   

But there are levels of functional languages. Scala is more of a hybrid language that sits between heavyweight functional languages, like Haskell and OCaml, that draw the academic and science crowd and the user-friendly world of Java.

And this means that while Scala allows developers to write in a functional style, it still has a fairly easy learning curve, making it accessible to a broad community of developers who may want to contribute to the open-source code.

McSherry explained that because Scala is a functional language, it is also open to applying frameworks, such as Stainless, that use rigorous mathematical proofs to check that the code performs as intended. It is a theme that plays well in the Ethereum Classic community’s stance on immutability and the idea that if “code is law” then smart contracts need to run in a more secure environment.

“The ultimate goal is a much higher-quality code, and obviously, that means much higher security for the funds that are controlled,” McSherry said.

Moving Forward

In terms of a road map for Ethereum Classic, Mantis is a stepping stone to bigger things and perhaps a greater technical divergence from Ethereum.

For instance, plans are to eventually connect Mantis to IOHK’s cryptocurrency wallet platform Daedalus, giving Mantis a graphical interface. “That’s the next focus,” McSherry said.

But for now, Mantis is being made available to other developers who are willing to try out the code in a testnet environment and provide their feedback.

“We are delighted to have gotten to this stage where we have the functionality out the door,” says McSherry. “The next phase is to polish the functionality, look at the performance of it, go back and clean up, and make it a top, top client.”

He said he expects the next release of Mantis as soon as September.

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Who Created Ethereum?

Who Created Ethereum?

While working on a number of Bitcoin projects, a 19-year-old programmer from Toronto, Vitalik Buterin, conceived the idea for Ethereum. Ethereum was intended to be a robust platform that allows developers to build blockchain applications. Buterin was inspired by some of the shortcomings he faced when trying to build applications on the Bitcoin blockchain. He believed that the potential of blockchain technology was not limited to financial applications and quickly set out to create a blockchain that could support more common computations.

Vitalik Buterin was first introduced to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in 2011. That same year he co-founded Bitcoin Magazine and wrote many articles explaining his views on the digital currency’s future. He later worked on Mastercoin and some alternate coins based on the Bitcoin codebase. This work led him to believe the Bitcoin blockchain was limited in scope.

The Ethereum white paper was released in 2013, and it documented a new open-source protocol for creating decentralized applications.   

Ethereum was officially announced on the Bitcointalk forum in 2014. In addition to Buterin, Ethereum was co-founded by Mihai Alisie, Anthony Di Iorio and Charles Hoskinson. Buterin also announced that he was working with developer Dr. Gavin Wood and Joseph Lubin. Wood soon released the Ethereum yellow paper, which covered the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), the runtime environment that executes all of the smart contracts on the network. Lubin would go on to found ConsenSys, a venture studio focusing on decentralized applications.

The Ethereum Foundation held an ether crowdsale in July 2014 during which they sold 60 million tokens. 12 million ether (ETH) tokens were created so the Ethereum Foundation could expand its development and marketing efforts. The Frontier was the first release of the Ethereum network. It was released a year after the crowdsale and provided a bare-bones mechanism for developers to interact with and build apps on the network.  

Both the Ethereum network and community have grown substantially over the last year. The Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, an initiative working to connect the world’s largest companies to the Ethereum network, recently announced 86 new partners including Microsoft, Intel and BP. Similarly, a multitude of new blockchain projects leveraging the Ethereum blockchain have gained attention and capital.

Ethereum broke into the mainstream in early 2017 when the price of ETH increased by 1000 percent over the course of a couple months. This led to a similar rise in the price of alternative blockchain tokens, dubbed “altcoins.” A slew of new investors quickly entered the space as Ethereum was covered by large media outlets including CNBC, Reuters and Quartz. Investors and developers are awaiting the release of Metropolis, the next update to the Ethereum network promising to abstract a lot of functions and pave the way for user-friendly application designs.

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What Is an ICO?

An Initial Coin Offering, also commonly referred to as an ICO, is a fundraising mechanism in which new projects sell their underlying crypto tokens in exchange for bitcoin and ether. It’s somewhat similar to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in which investors purchase shares of a company.

ICOs are a relatively new phenomenon but have quickly become a dominant topic of discussion within the blockchain community. Many view ICO projects as unregulated securities that allow founders to raise an unjustified amount of capital, while others argue it is an innovation in the traditional venture-funding model. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has recently reached a decision regarding the status of tokens issued in the infamous DAO ICO which has forced many projects and investors to re-examine the funding models of many ICOs. The most important criteria to consider is whether or not the token passes the Howey test. If it does, it must be treated as a security and is subject to certain restrictions imposed by the SEC.

ICOs are easy to structure because of technologies like the ERC20 Token Standard, which abstracts a lot of the development process necessary to create a new cryptographic asset. Most ICOs work by having investors send funds (usually bitcoin or ether) to a smart contract that stores the funds and distributes an equivalent value in the new token at a later point in time.

There are few, if any, restrictions on who can participate in an ICO, assuming that the token is not, in fact, a security. And since you’re taking money from a global pool of investors, the sums raised in ICOs can be astronomical. A fundamental issue with ICOs is the fact that most of them raise money pre-product. This makes the investment extremely speculative and risky. The counter argument is that this fundraising style is particularly useful (even necessary) in order to incentivize protocol development.

Before we get into a discussion over the merits of ICOs, it is important to have some historical context for how the trend started.

History of ICOs

Several projects used a crowdsale model to try and fund their development work in 2013. Ripple pre-mined 1 billion XRP tokens and sold them to willing investors in exchange for fiat currencies or bitcoin. Ethereum raised a little over $18 million in early 2014 — the largest ICO ever completed at that time.

The DAO was the first attempt at fundraising for a new token on Ethereum. It promised to create a decentralized organization that would fund other blockchain projects, but it was unique in that governance decisions would be made by the token holders themselves. While the DAO was successful in terms of raising money — over $150 million — an unknown attacker was able to drain millions from the organization because of technical vulnerabilities. The Ethereum Foundation decided the best course of action was to move forward with a hard fork, allowing them to claw back the stolen funds.

Although the first attempt to fund a token safely on the Ethereum platform failed, blockchain developers realized that using Ethereum to launch a token was still much easier than pursuing seed rounds through the usual venture capital model. Specifically, the ERC20 standard makes it easy for developers to create their own cryptographic tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.

Some argue that crowdfunding projects might be Ethereum’s “killer application” given the sheer size and frequency of ICOs. Never before have pre-product startups been able to raise this much money and in this little time. Aragon raised around $25 million in just 15 minutes, Basic Attention Token raised $35 million in only 30 seconds, and Status.im raised $270 million in a few hours. With few regulations and such ease of use, this ICO climate has come under scrutiny from many in the community as well as various regulatory bodies around the world.

Are ICOs Legal?

The short answer is maybe. Legally, ICOs have existed in an extremely gray area because arguments can be made both for and against the fact that they’re just new, unregulated financial assets. The SEC’s recent decision, however, has since managed to clear up some of that gray area. In some cases, the token is simply a utility token, meaning it gives the owner access to a specific protocol or network; thus it may not be classified as a financial security. On the other hand, if the token is an equity token, meaning that it’s only purpose is to appreciate in value, then it looks a lot more like a security.

While many individuals purchase tokens to access the underlying platform at some future point in time, it’s difficult to refute the idea that most token purchases are for speculative investment purposes. This is easy to ascertain given the valuation figures for many projects that have yet to release a commercial product.

The SEC decision may have provided some clarity to the status of utility vs security tokens; however, there are still plenty of room for testing the boundaries of legalities. For now, and until further regulatory limits are imposed, entrepreneurs will continue to take advantage of this new phenomenon.

ICO Resources

Research:

Communities:

Calendars:

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Bitcoin and Taxes

Bitcoin taxes 101

Tax season can be confusing enough with complicated rules about what types of income are taxable and which are not; what can be written off and what can’t; and which assets need to be listed and which do not. Add to that the confusion around digital currency and its status in the eyes of governments, and there are bound to be questions about how Bitcoin relates to taxes.

In the United States, for example, “taxable income” encompasses anything received as payment for goods and services. There is no reason that this would exclude payment in bitcoin. Bitcoin received from another person in the exchange counts as gross income, which is subject to income tax. Bitcoin earned through trade or by running a bitcoin exchange could fall under the “capital gains” category, like gold, and will be taxed. Bitcoins that are mined are counted as income received from the act of mining and are taxable with the expenses accrued (such as computing power) being deductible. When miners sell their bitcoins, they are taxed on any increase to the value of the bitcoins between when they were mined and when they were sold.

The Internal Revenue Service of the U.S. drafted a 2014 notice on “virtual currency” providing some guidance on its views of bitcoin as capital assets that are subject to taxes. However, users will have to look into the tax requirements for whichever country they are paying taxes in and sort out how their home countries classify cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

To prepare for tax season, it’s important that bitcoin holders make a note of how much the digital asset is worth in relation to their local fiat currency. It is also advised to keep a detailed Bitcoin expense report and record the value of bitcoin when it was spent, in case any of these expenses can be written off.

Hiring an experienced accountant is a great way to ensure your Bitcoin-related tax filings are accurate. Several services exist to help users figure out how to pay their Bitcoin taxes, including CoinReporting and Bitcoin Taxes.

While nobody is promising that it will be fun, accurately recording and reporting Bitcoin income is a crucial aspect of the digital currency economy.

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Ether Price Analysis: All Signs Point Onward and Upward

Ether Price Analysis

In case you hadn’t noticed, ETH-USD markets have been on a very strong bull run for the past week. In a matter of five days, ETH-USD managed to increase by $100 — nearly a 50 percent market value increase — with very little pullback or consolidation. After ETH-USD’s multi-week-long bear run from $420 to the $130s, ETH spent over a month consolidating and forming a very solid support level before ultimately launching into its most recent bull run. Let’s take a look at some support and resistance levels, and see where ETH is likely heading in the next few days.

Looking at the macro view of this trend, we can see significant levels of support and resistance that have proven time and time again to be especially relevant throughout the life of the market:

Figure_1 (4).JPGFigure 1: ETH-USD, 12-hr Candles, Bitfinex, Macro Trend

After consolidating between the 50 percent and 61 percent retracement values, ETH-USD managed to gather enough of a foundation to break out and climb in a very strong bull run. The trend was so strong, in fact, that throughout the run, it traced the upper Bollinger Bands for several days.

Zooming in a little closer to our current candles within this trend, we can see a couple signs of slight market exhaustion that could lead to some minor pullback or possible consolidation:

Figure_2 (4).JPG
Figure 2: ETH-USD, 12-hr Candles, Bitfinex, Closer View of Current Trend

Although not a guarantee of market trend reversal, the doji candle is a sign of market uncertainty as the bearish and bullish traders attempt to gain dominance over the market. Essentially, dojis represent an opportunity for market reversal as the price movement becomes stalemated between buyers and sellers. Whether the market will actually reverse requires the confirmation of the next candle in the market. Currently, we are forming the confirmation candle to decide if we will actually reverse the 12-hour candle trend.

Zooming in even further, we can see very clear support and resistance lines not only on the macro Fibonacci Retracements shown above, but also on the Fibonacci Retracements for the current bullish breakout:

Figure_3 (5).JPGFigure 3: ETH-USD, 1-hr Candles, Bitfinex, View of Current Breakout

This breakout has managed to find support along all the major Fib lines. Currently, there is strong support between $275 (the macro 38 percent line) and $268 (the micro 50 percent line). Should a further retracement occur in this market, I would highly expect it to be short-lived and most likely rally off the 50 percent micro Fib line, ultimately making new ETH-USD highs in this bullish market. Currently, there are two things in this market that are catching my eye:

  1. During highly bullish markets, it is really common to retrace to the 38 percent line and bounce to a continuation of the bullish trend. Currently, we are in the process of bouncing off the 38 percent bullish trendline.

  2. If we zoom in to the 15-minute candles, we see a potential ascending wedge forming — a bearish continuation pattern.

Figure_4 (1).JPGFigure 4: ETH-USD, 15-min Candles, Bitfinex, Ascending Wedge

If this ascending wedge breaks to the bottom with high volume, we can expect a price target of approximately the 50 percent retracement line — the $270s. A retracement to the 50 percent values would be a very healthy event and would most likely see a pretty substantial bounce and subsequent rally leading to new highs. To further support the thesis of an ascending wedge, we can see clear MACD divergence paired with decreasing volume as the price continues to climb.

Overall, our current ETH-USD seems to be strongly bullish and doesn’t appear to show any signs of macro bullish momentum loss. Right now, it is doing healthy retracements that commonly lead to trend continuations. If you’re investing in ether, this is exactly what you want to see in a healthy bull market.

Summary:

  1. ETH-USD is showing healthy signs of bullish continuation for this rally.

  2. Although there may be some retracement along the way, overall ETH-USD looks on track to continue the bull market.

  3. Keep an eye out in the immediate future for a break to the bottom of the ascending wedge — a possible test of the 50 percent values (the $270 range) may be possible before continuing onward and upward!

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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NEO Completes Rebranding; Announces Blockchain Partnerships

NEO rebrand part 2

On June 22, Bitcoin Magazine reported that Antshares was embarking on a new rebranding strategy as part of its effort to lead blockchain development in China and around the world.

Now, on August 8, NEO Blockchain, China’s first original public chain project, has announced the completion of rebranding efforts from its former Antshares identity. Furthermore, NEO has upgraded its blockchain nodes, technical documents, social media, official site and exchange name worldwide, representing the transition from Antshares 1.0 to the NEO smart contract system 2.0.

NEO now is the top 10 cryptocurrency in terms of market value. It hopes to capitalize on its Chinese connections by calling to mind the success stories of other Chinese behemoths like Alibaba and Tencent. Whereas a month ago NEO may have been trying to “steal the spotlight from Ethereum,” it now seems to be trying to carve its own path forward.

Compared with Ethereum, NEO claims its smart contracts perform better in terms of determinism, high scalability and compatibility. The developers of smart contracts can use JAVA, C/C# and GO to write smart contracts without the need to learn new languages like Solidity, making it attractive to the global developer community.

Powered by the Community

In the press conference held on June 22, Antshares announced its rebranding of “NEO” with an emphasis on upgrading itself to a smart economy platform with an integration of digital assets, digital identity and smart contracts. It has also introduced notable new features like a cross-chain protocol, quantum-resistant cryptography, a distributed storage protocol and a secure communication protocol.

Other new additions include PC web and mobile apps, as well as an introductory video about the project.

Da Hongfei, the founder of NEO, told Bitcoin Magazine:

“NEO’s development hinges on two important teams: one is the Shanghai-based development and management team, while the other is an international team called “City of Zion,” purely supported by the community, thanks to a huge number of volunteers for NEO.

“The community just volunteered to translate the video and other materials into multiple languages. Furthermore, the technical white paper has also been translated by the community into English, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. We are especially grateful to the community, which will remain the core of NEO’s development in the future.”

New Partnerships Underway

SInce its successful upgrade, NEO has added full smart contract support, attracting a range of blockchain startups to work with its platform. Bancor, Coindash and Agrello are among some of the first to have reached agreements for technical cooperation with NEO.

Meanwhile, Red Pulse and other projects have announced that they will join the NEO ecosystem and adopt its smart contracts.

Red Pulse, an event-driven Chinese market research company, will build a research sharing platform built on the NEO 2.0 smart contract platform. It will allow readers to guide market research and to use digital currency to reward analysts and contributors directly and fairly, disrupting the current financial research market models. The project will also release a new token, $RPX, powered by the NEO platform.

Elastos, launched by Rong Chen, Jihan Wu and Feng Han, is a new blockchain-powered operating system. According to an announcement made in July of 2017, in cooperation with NEO, Elastos will “explore the technological values and applications of blockchains in the new internet operating systems to further the development of a Smart Economy.” Elastos plans to become an “OS for the blockchain,” while NEO will enable developers to create blockchain applications quickly and easily.

Furthermore, the Nest Smart Fund, based on NEO smart contracts, will be a brand-new form of investment fund that will eliminate (as much as possible) the high thresholds, high risks, inefficiencies and moral hazards often associated with traditional fund intermediaries. Backed by blockchain technology, Nest will allow anyone to participate transparently and easily in the Nest fund.

As NEO Council Secretary General Tony Tao told Bitcoin Magazine:

“The core of the platform-level blockchain lies in the establishment of the ecosystem. For the next step, we will launch the NEO Seed Project, hoping to inspire the global community and to encourage traditional technology developers to use the NEO Smart Contract platform.”

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The Point of No Return: Segregated Witness Will Lock In on Bitcoin

The Point of No Return: Segregated Witness Will Lock In on Bitcoin

Segregated Witness (SegWit), the highly anticipated protocol upgrade proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team, just reached the point of no return for lock in. This means that SegWit will be live on the Bitcoin network in a little more than two weeks from now.

“It’s been a long and hard process, but we’ve learned tremendously along the way. I look forward to the next generation of use cases and applications this will enable and to watching the ecosystem mature”, said Eric Lombrozo, Ciphrex CEO, Bitcoin Core contributor, and one of the authors and main advocates of Segregated Witness.

Lock In

Segregated Witness, defined by Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 141 (BIP141), was deployed using an activation mechanism (BIP9) that requires 95 percent of all miners (by hash power) to signal support for the upgrade within the span of a two-week difficulty period. That’s at least 1916 blocks within 2016 blocks, to be exact.

This threshold has just been reached. While the current difficulty period will not end until tomorrow, all blocks in this difficulty period are signaling support for the upgrade so far. This now totals over 1916 of them.

It took a while to achieve this threshold, largely in part because bigger mining pools on the Bitcoin network were refusing to adopt the upgrade, regardless of their technical readiness.

“In hindsight, it’s become clear that miner activation of soft forks cannot be relied upon when there exists a divergence of interests between miners and users. In the cooperative case, it is a tried and tested mechanism which, if done correctly, is known to work smoothly. However, in the adversarial case it simply does not work,” Lombrozo wrote in an article about SegWit activation.

This is why SegWit was eventually adopted through a couple of slightly complex “kludges.”

Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 91 (BIP91), a (mostly) miner-enforced soft fork, had already activated a little over two weeks ago. This soft fork requires all blocks to signal Segregated Witness support for an entire difficulty period, triggering the lock-in on SegWit-ready nodes — all blocks that do not should be rejected by the network. So far, this has indeed been the case.

On top of that, BIP148, an activation mechanism enforced by users, started rejecting all blocks not signaling support for Segregated Witness over a week ago, on August 1st.

SegWit

A viable way to deploy Segregated Witness on Bitcoin via a soft fork was discussed in the Bitcoin development IRC chats and subsequently presented by Blockstream engineer and Bitcoin Core contributor Dr. Pieter Wuille in late 2015 at the Scaling Bitcoin workshops in Hong Kong. It was subsequently adopted as a centrepiece in the scaling roadmap endorsed by the Bitcoin Core development team. The technology was implemented and officially released in Bitcoin Core 0.13.1 in October of 2016.

In short, this upgrade allows for the separation of transaction data and signature data within Bitcoin blocks. This solves the long-standing “malleability bug” in the Bitcoin protocol, which in turn allows for more flexibility when programming new features on top of Bitcoin and offers additional benefits like a modest block-size limit increase.

“Most importantly, SegWit means a drastic simplification in how we can design protocols that can work atop Bitcoin without having to change consensus rules,” Lombrozo noted. “But it also affords the introduction of new features at the consensus layer to support better cryptography and more sophisticated smart contracts.“

Lombrozo added:

“And, of course, it also increases raw capacity by allowing for bigger blocks and making future block size increases more feasible.”

It will now take another two-week difficulty period for the soft fork to actually activate. At that point, all SegWit-enforcing Bitcoin nodes, which almost certainly represents the majority of the Bitcoin ecosystem, will start rejecting any transactions and blocks that do not follow the new rules. As a backwards-compatible soft fork, however, this should not affect non-upgraded nodes much: These will continue to function as normal.

The post The Point of No Return: Segregated Witness Will Lock In on Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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