Connecting the Luxury Fine Art Industry with the Modern Digital Economy

Connecting the Luxury Fine Art Industry with the Modern Digital Economy

Latest figures from the Tetaf art market report, released by the European Fine Art Foundation, show that in 2016 global art market sales amounted to an estimated $45 billion, up 1.7 percent from 2015. The U.S. remains the largest country in the world art market, with 29.5 percent of the market share, followed by the U.K. and China with 24 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Yet, while the industry remains a profitable one, it is slowly changing. One that is considered difficult to enter and resistant to change, a few sector players are aiming to bridge the modern digital world with the luxury arts sector.

Two art galleries are taking a blockchain and cryptocurrency approach. Eleesa Dadiani, is the founder and owner of Dadiani Fine Art in Mayfair, London. Marcelo Garcia Casil is the co-founder and CEO of Maecenas, a decentralized art gallery that aims to democratize access to fine art investment.

Dadiani & Partners

In July 2017, Dadiani’s modern fine art gallery became the first in the U.K. to accept seven different cryptocurrencies as payment: bitcoin, ethereum, ethereum classic, litecoin, ripple, dash and NEM.

Dadiani told Bitcoin Magazine that the decision to introduce cryptocurrencies wasn’t an instinctively demand-driven decision; rather, it stemmed from a desire to encourage demand and merge the two markets together.

“On a practical level, introducing cryptocurrency will broaden the market, bringing a new type of buyer to art and luxury,” she said.

Through her recently launched Dadiani & Partners — the U.K.’s first and only luxury asset and commodity exchange for cryptocurrencies — Dadiani is hoping to unlock the potential of the digital currency market for high net-worth (HNW) investors and consumers. Acting as an intermediary, Dadiani & Partners will enable HNWs a platform to purchase luxury goods in digital currency. Dadiani says that there has been an increase in demand with the number of people seeking the purchase of assets in cryptocurrency.

“Many bitcoin millionaires are unable to cash in their digital currency as the banks won’t convert large amounts of cryptocurrency for cash,” she added.

Passionate about cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain that underpins them, Dadiani believes that they will have a profound impact in every sphere of business and our everyday lives.

“The technology will allow us to reclaim power, paving the way for decentralized, peer-to-peer transactions without the intervention of an intermediary,” she added. “This is a revolution that goes far beyond the art market.”

Since introducing the acceptance of digital currencies the art gallery has sold a number of pieces. Going forward, all of the art, across all the exhibitions, will be available to purchase in the available digital currencies. Dadiani says that the artists are onboard and keen for their pieces to be sold this way.

“Any of the pieces we sell can still be purchased via conventional fiat currency, but purchasing via cryptocurrency enables buyers to purchase peer-to-peer, person-to-person, without the intervention of a centralized authority,” Dadiani said.

It’s hoped that by further globalizing the business and broadening their customer base, Dadiani Fine Art will appeal to bitcoin millionaires who are looking to purchase assets via cryptocurrencies.

“Digital currency is being embraced by people of all ages, creed and class, and as it’s happening in other sectors, there is no reason why the gap between the modern digital world with the luxury sector cannot be bridged.”

Maecenas

Investment in the art world can be an expensive proposition. Named after Gaius Maecenas, an ancient Roman patron of the arts, Maecenas, is attempting to remove this barrier by letting anyone buy shares of fine art. Through its blockchain-driven platform, Maecenas divides artwork ownership into fragments and connects art owners with investors where shares are bought and sold.

“By turning masterpieces into tokenized tradable assets, Maecenas democratizes access to fine art by letting a much wider audience invest in multi-million dollar artworks which would otherwise be out of reach,” Casil said to Bitcoin Magazine.

Buying access to the artwork’s investment value does not mean buying access to the actual artwork itself, however. According to Maecenas, art pieces are not put on display; rather, they are held in purpose-built art storage facilities, ensuring the work is safe and looked after. If there is a demand in the future, then they may introduce an art-leasing facility where art lovers can temporarily hold the piece of art for a fee. The fee would then be distributed among the shareholders as income.

By injecting liquidity and transparency into the fine art market, the platform claims to be adding aspects to the sector that have been missing. Determining a fair price of an illiquid asset is now made possible via the blockchain through the conversion of small and liquid tradable financial units, creating tamper-proof, digital certificates denoting ownership. These are similar to shares of a company and can be traded on an open exchange.

Through the implementation of a Dutch auction process, Maecenas permits investors to submit private bids stating how many shares of the artwork they want to own and what price they’re willing to pay for them.

“The Dutch auction smart contract then handles all the bids and uses a well-known algorithm to determine the optimal price for the artwork shares,” Casil added. “This process is transparent and discourages price manipulation.”

Maecenas’ ART utility token functions as a clearing and settlement mechanism for all transactions of artwork on the Maecenas ecosystem. Participating in Dutch auctions, leasing artwork or performing any other sensitive platform operation is handled via smart contracts that require ART tokens to operate, says Casil.

“In the case of the auctions themselves, the token represents the investor bid and commitment, and a dollar value equivalent of the tokens is escrowed in the contract for the duration of the auction.”

For instance, if an investor wants to bid $50,000 for an artwork, and ART is worth $2, then 25,000 ART tokens must be submitted to the smart contract to reflect the bid.

To ensure the work is authentic, Maecenas has an internal team that checks the full provenance of the artwork including certificates of authenticity, condition reports, insurance policies, certificates of storage and valuation reports. Independent reputable experts will also assess and appraise the artwork. The documents produced during the due-diligence process are then protected and stored securely on the blockchain.

Maecenas recently completed their token crowdsale which raised 50,744 ETH. They are aiming to launch their platform in the first quarter of 2018.

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Chaincode Labs to Host a Second Run of Its Month-Long Bitcoin Coding Class

Chaincode Labs to Host a Second Run of Its Month-Long Bitcoin Coding Class

Chaincode Labs, the New York–based development company and major contributor to Bitcoin Core, is organizing a second edition of its Bitcoin residency program in the first months of 2018. The program intends to help developers overcome the steep learning curve associated with becoming a protocol-level contributor to projects like Bitcoin Core. In doing so, Chaincode Labs hopes to help expand Bitcoin’s development community.

“Last year was the first run,” Chaincode Labs developer John Newbery told Bitcoin Magazine. “We’ve now taken the good stuff from that and tried to make it even more focused and useful for residents this year.”

The Residency Program

Chaincode Labs, in collaboration with Matt Corallo — who worked at Blockstream last year but joined Chaincode Labs since — organized the residency program for the first time in September and October of 2016. The next edition will start on January 29, 2018, and will last until February 23.

Newbery himself was one of the attendees of this first residency program. He was later hired by Chaincode Labs and has since been one of the most prolific contributors to the Bitcoin Core project.

Now, he is coordinating the second of two legs of the new program.

“Chaincode Labs exists to strengthen Bitcoin,” said Newbery. “We mostly do that by contributing to Bitcoin Core, but each of us has a lot of freedom to do what we think is important. And the main purpose of this residency program is to try to strengthen the developer community.”

Specifically, courses will cover protocol design, adversarial thinking, threat models and security considerations, as well as address some of Bitcoin’s biggest challenges, like scaling, fungibility and privacy. Attendees will mostly learn by doing and could even start contributing to the Bitcoin Core project during the residency. Throughout the program they will be assisted by the entire Chaincode Labs team — Alex Morcos, Suhas Daftuar, Matt Corallo, John Newbery and Russ Yanofsky. There may also be guest speakers.

Two Blocks

Whereas the first edition of the residency program lasted four straight weeks for all attendees, this time the coding classes will be cut into two two-week phases. Candidates can either pick one of two legs or join both, with room for five or six attendees per session.

The first leg is coordinated by Corallo, who has been contributing to Bitcoin development since 2011.

“Session A is all about getting people to think about the security trade-offs and implications of the technical decisions we make,” Newbery explained. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into all the decisions that are made in Bitcoin, but that nuance is often lost. If we can help people to understand those trade-offs better and be able to communicate them, then perhaps we can raise the level of the conversations we have about Bitcoin.”

The second session will be more focused on the Bitcoin Core project itself, Newbery said.

“Session B is all about getting smart, talented people to start making useful contributions to Bitcoin Core. There’s a steep learning curve to becoming a contributor and if I can help people who want to contribute but have felt daunted or don’t know where to start, then I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded.”

Additionally, Chaincode Labs will organize a series of Wednesday night meetups ahead of the residency program. Contents of these meetups will be similar to the residency program, but these meetups are for participants who live in (or near) New York who can’t dedicate two or four full weeks to attending the residency program itself.

For more information on Chaincode Labs’ 2018 Bitcoin residency program and to find out how to apply, see the company’s announcement and the program website.

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Ether Price Analysis: Eve and Adam Could Be Turning Back the Bulls

Ether Price Analysis

Since bottoming out around $200, ether has spent several weeks bouncing back and forth inside an ascending channel:

Figure_1 (15).JPGFigure 1: ETH-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Ascending Channel

For the last month and a half, ether’s trend has been contained within the bounds of this ascending channel, where it has continued its bullish rally. However, today (as of the time of this article) it is starting to make moves to aggressively test the lower boundary. Specifically, as ether tests this channel, it is forming a potential reversal pattern called an Eve-and-Adam Double Top.

Figure_2 (12).JPGFigure 2: ETH-USD, 1-Hour Candles, Eve-and-Adam Double Top

At the time of this article, ether is attempting to break the neckline (the pink dashed line) of the massive reversal pattern. Should ether break this neckline, the measured move from this pattern is a $30 move downward, which would ultimately shove ether outside the bullish ascending channel it has been trending within. The price target of the Double Top breakout would bring the ETH-USD price into the upper $200s.

On a macro scale, ether has support along the following Fibonacci levels:

Figure_3 (12).JPGFigure 3: ETH-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Fibonacci Levels

Should the ascending channel break, the above Fibonacci levels will provide support and will need to be tested in order to prove a bearish continuation. As of the time of this article, the Double Top mentioned in Figure 2 is sitting right on the 23 percent retracement values where it is making attempts at breaking it. There is strong support at these values, so if ether can break and hold below $315, it will send a strong bearish signal to the market.

Should the Double Top complete, we can expect a test of the 38 percent retracement values following the break of the ascending channel. At this time, the 4-hour MACD is showing strong bearish momentum on a macro scale, and the market is picking up sell volume.

Summary:

  1. For weeks, ether has been trending within an ascending channel.

  2. Ether is currently in the process of making a strong test of the ascending channel via an Eve-and-Adam Double Top reversal pattern.

  3. If the Double Top breaks downward, we can expect a break of the multi-week bullish channel and a test of the 38 percent Fibonacci Retracement values.

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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Blockchain-Focused Presentations to Watch at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas

Blockchain-Focused Presentations to Watch at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas

Money 20/20 Las Vegas is only a few days away. The event, to be held on October 22–25, 2017, at the Venetian, will be packed with people from the top tiers of banking and finance looking to learn more about the future of money.

One thing is for sure, blockchain technology will play a key role in that future. Since 2014, the financial event, which will attract more than 11,000 visitors this year, has devoted an entire track to blockchain topics. Originally, the track was called “Bit(coin) World,” but that changed as conversations shifted to Bitcoin’s underlying ledger technology.  

For blockchain enthusiasts struggling to sort through the 450 presentations at Money 20/20, the following is a breakdown of the blockchain track and other blockchain-related talks at the event.

Blockchain Tuesday

Tuesday is the main day for blockchain programming at Money 20/20. Kicking off the blockchain track will be Adam Ludwin, CEO and co-founder of Chain, a company that provides blockchain solutions to banks. Ludwin’s talk will center on whether crypto-assets are in a sort of ‘90s bubble or if something real and substantial is happening beneath the hype.

To give a sense of how fast things are moving, bitcoin was around $650 at last year’s Money 20/20, when one panelist at the event, then Blockstream developer Eric Martindale, predicted bitcoin would increase 10x in value over the next 12 months. His prediction was nearly spot on. Bitcoin reached more than $5,800 just last week.

With crypto-assets hitting all time highs across the board, the new funding model known as initial coin offerings (ICOs) have raised $2.2 billion this year alone. Yet, amidst the enthusiasm, the threat of increased regulations hover like a dark cloud. Last month, the SEC brought the first charges against two so-called ICOs in what may be just the beginning of a long-anticipated crackdown.   

Four more panels on Tuesday will focus on issues like: What problems are private blockchains solving? Are ICOs here to stay or are they just a passing fad? What threats do regulatory agencies pose to ICOs? And, how will blockchain technology potentially transform stock exchanges? These panels will include experts from companies like Bloq, Kik, Fenbushi Capital, AngelList, Pantera, JP Morgan Chase, R3, Hyperledger, Nasdaq, and the London Stock Exchange Group. 

In between those, Arthur and Kathleen Breitman will talk about their new smart contract platform Tezos. The project raised $230 million in an ICO in July.

Tezos is a proof-of-stake cryptocurrency and smart contract platform built in the functional language OCaml. Eventually, Tezos’ goal is to compete with the likes of Ethereum and Cardano, another emerging platform. A primary feature of Tezos is its formal governance scheme, where coin holders get a say in how the protocol evolves.

It will be interesting to see how Tezos plans to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive landscape.

Finally, Bobby Lee, CEO and co-founder of BTCC, China’s longest running bitcoin exchange, will share war stories on what it has been like operating an exchange in the biggest payments market in the world.

He should have a good story to tell, given that China’s central bank recently cracked down on digital currency exchanges, causing BTCC to halt all China-facing trading last month.  

Other Talks

Two other blockchain-related talks will take place at Money 20/20 on Monday. Bridget van Kralingen, who leads a group called “Industry Platforms” at IBM will talk about how AI, blockchain and cloud computing are converging to create better customer experiences.  

Bill Barhydt, co-founder and CEO of Abra, a cryptocurrency wallet, will give a keynote announcement on Abra’s “next chapter.” Barhydt attracted some attention recently when he chose actress Gwyneth Paltrow as an advisor for Abra in “Planet of the Apps,” a kind of “Shark Tank” for iOS apps.  

Also on Tuesday, BitGive Foundation, a nonprofit that receives bitcoin donations for charitable causes, will be giving a presentation on GiveTrack, its blockchain-based system for tracking donations in real time.

The topic of blockchain applications is sure to come up in plenty of other talks and discussions at Money 20/20, such as this one on financial inclusion on Sunday and those centered around pressing issues like security (the event comes on the heels of the Equifax breach), identity and more.  

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GoldMint and the Future of the Gold Trade

GoldMint Header

As a
precious metal, gold is often associated with wealth, prestige and power. And
as a commodity it has long been considered a prized asset for scores of
investors throughout the world.

Beginning
with bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies have also seen their prominence rise due
to some of the qualities that they share with gold, the most prominent of which
is their scarcity.

One
of the big issues that has continued to hamper gold as a physical asset is that
it can often be difficult to transfer from one place to another. Moreover, the
managing and handling of gold can be quite logistically challenging and
laborious.

With
the emergence of today’s digital age, a startup called
GoldMint is seeking to alter this trend with a new means of
exchange for physical gold, with transactions occurring over a blockchain-based
platform.

This
gold-based venture aims to assist
investors and traders in managing volatility risks and gaining competitive
commissions on commodities sold via GoldMint to financial institutions, pawn
shops, and other business and individual stakeholders.

GoldMint’s
platform will leverage the private and individual gold trading market,
including potentially the management of larger physical stocks such as those in
central banks. It will also deliver an electronic payment solution tethered to
physical gold, as well as a gold-backed peer-to-peer lending system.

The
GoldMint ecosystem is fueled by two types of tokens,
GOLD and MNT.

The GOLD cryptoasset is an investment
tool that is 100 percent backed by physical gold and/or an exchange-traded fund
(ETF). One GOLD token represents one ounce of gold on the London Bullion Market
Association (LBMA).

MNT  is GoldMint’s native cryptocurrency,
which is used to confirm GOLD cryptoasset transactions. For GoldMint miners,
the amount of MNTs reflects how many assignments, or transaction blocks, they
can accept.

Fostering
Digital Gold Trading

There are two options for trading GOLD for fiat or cryptocurrencies. First,
there is a method for seeking a GoldMint-guaranteed buyback. And second, a loan
can be requested. For either option, the process is as follows:

      Through the use of a special app which is
not yet available, GOLD can be transferred as collateral to a designated
GoldMint account.

     
GoldMint utilizes
the current price of gold, as set by the
LBMA,
to fix the rate of a loan.

     
GoldMint requires
the customer to undergo its know-your-customer (KYC)
process as well as consent to GoldMint’s loan terms to receive the loan.
Various repayment options for the loan amount and the means of repaying it are
then offered.

     
If a customer
defaults on repayment, their GOLD cryptoassets are transferred to GoldMint.

GoldMint also has a process for
converting gold into GOLD tokens and reconverting these tokens into gold for
cross-border passages. This is designed to alleviate the hassles associated
with carrying gold from one country to another, often resulting in untold
expense and aggravation. By converting gold into GOLD, this hassle can not only
be avoided, but a person can retrieve 100 percent of the value of their
gold at the end of their travels.

“Custody Bot” is GoldMint’s decentralized
storage unit, which computationally identifies and stores gold jewelry, small
ingots (up to 100 grams) and coins. In this case, it functions as a
DApp, a decentralized application that runs
rapidly and efficiently without the need for a third-party intermediary to
control it. Through the use of cutting-edge technology, Custody Bot inspects
and assesses the value of incoming gold to ensure its purity and quality.

GoldMint ICO Accelerates Ahead

On
September 20,
GoldMint launched its initial coin offering (ICO), allowing users to send
bitcoin or ether and receive MNTP (MNT pre-launch) tokens, issued on the
Ethereum blockchain at a price of $7 per token.

The
value of these tokens is expected to grow, because MNT is limited in its supply
and is used in the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Participation in
the GoldMint crowdsale involves more than the purchase of cryptocurrencies. It
involves a stake in the consensus algorithm that will be utilized by the
GoldMint blockchain post-launch.

Owning
MNT allows users to achieve 75 percent from commissions earned when
transactions are validated through the GoldMint blockchain. The number of MNT
tokens owned determines the number of transactions that can be validated.

 

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Scaling Bitcoin Releases This Year’s Program and a New Developer Bootcamp

Scaling Bitcoin Just Released This Year’s Program and a New Developer Bootcamp

Today, Scaling Bitcoin, the international engineering conference focused on Bitcoin and blockchain research, released its program for the 2017 edition. The conference, to be held in Stanford, California, in the first weekend of November, will also introduce a new side event this year: Bitcoin Edge, a bootcamp for starting Bitcoin developers.

“The program is extremely interesting because it delivers cutting edge research on different blockchain scalability approaches, fungibility, consensus, data propagation, alternative techniques for handling blockchains and many other topics,” said Anton Yemelyanov, chair of the Scaling Bitcoin Planning Committee.

Scaling Bitcoin Stanford

After events in Montreal, Hong Kong and Milan, the fourth edition of the Scaling Bitcoin conference is taking place at Stanford University on November 4 and 5 of this year.

Where the first two editions of Scaling Bitcoin were mainly focused on scaling and scalability, the third edition broadened the scope of the conference to include a more diverse set of topics. This trend will continue in Stanford, where talks will range from highly technical topics concerning privacy and fungibility, to fee markets and fee estimation, censorship resistance and more.

“Bitcoin is the origin of all distributed ledger technology,” said Yemelyanov. “Scaling Bitcoin has been fortunate to act as a vehicle for bringing the audience technologies such as Segregated Witness and MimbleWimble, all of which have been adopted or incorporated into various blockchain projects. We hope that other material presented by our participants will be of similar value and help the industry advance the research and development of blockchains.”

Yemelyanov added that another key goal for Scaling Bitcoin conferences is to bring engineers and other technical minds together in a physical space where they can discuss their work in person.

“It is through collaboration where a lot of ideas are born and have potential of becoming reality,” he said.

Bitcoin Edge Dev++

In addition to the conference itself, Scaling Bitcoin is also introducing a two-day technical bootcamp for experienced developers getting into Bitcoin: Bitcoin Edge.

This nonprofit initiative is an effort to help scale the development capacity of the industry, Yemelyanov explained:

“One of the approaches of helping the industry scale is to scale the much needed development capacity of the industry. There is a clear talent deficit and we are trying to help all industry participants by running a nonprofit workshop that will allow developers to gain complete understanding of primitives that comprise Bitcoin and blockchains in general and be able to start working in this field.”

Bitcoin Edge will be led by well-known Bitcoin developers and academics Anditto Heristyo, Ethan Heilman, John Newbery, Karl-Johan Alm, Nicolas Dorier, Thaddeus Dryja and Jimmy Song. They’ll introduce participants to a range of technical Bitcoin-related topics, including Elliptic Curve cryptography, transaction structures, difficulty calculation and adjustments, and much more.

This workshop will take place on the November 2 and 3. For more information on the Bitcoin Edge initiative, visit bitcoinedge.org.

See here for the full Scaling Bitcoin Stanford program.

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Yes, Bitcoin Can Do Smart Contracts and Particl Demonstrates How

Particl Thumb 3

The Bitcoin blockchain is not
known for its ability to enable smart contracts. In fact, most developers
creating smart contracts use a different blockchain, like Ethereum.

 

But the truth is that the
Bitcoin protocol can be used to create smart contracts.
Particl.io, the blockchain eCommerce platform, is doing just
that by using Bitcoin-based smart contracts to manage funds in their trustless
escrow: Mutually Assured Destruction
(MAD) escrow.

 

For Particl, Bitcoin provides
the ideal mix of smart contract functionality — enough to make smart contracts
easy to implement but without the security and privacy risks of a more
complicated platform like Ethereum.

Smart Contracts Overview

A smart contract is an
agreement that can be enforced through a blockchain. Rather than relying on
trust or a legal framework to ensure that each party that enters into a
contract will adhere to its terms, you can use the blockchain to create a
contract that is automatically enforced, between two people, in a decentralized
fashion.

 

Ethereum has become the most
popular blockchain for creating smart contracts. One of the major design goals
of the Ethereum platform was to support smart contracts. From the start, this
set Ethereum apart from Bitcoin, which was created first and foremost as a
digital currency platform.

Smart Contracts on Bitcoin Codebase

As the Bitcoin protocol has
evolved, it has gained support for smart contracts. Smart contract
functionality is not as programmable and extensible on Bitcoin as it is on
Ethereum. However, using features added to Bitcoin through improvement
proposals, certain smart contract functionality can be achieved through Bitcoin
scripting.

 

For Particl, the most
important smart contract feature in Bitcoin is the
OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY opcode, which was introduced by Peter Todd as Bitcoin
Improvement Proposal (BIP) 65. The opcode makes it possible to write scripts
that prevent funds in a multi-signature wallet from being spent until a certain
signature pattern is implemented or a certain amount of time passes.

Particl, Smart Contracts and MAD Escrow

MAD escrow is a technique
that effectively prevents fraud in a transaction without requiring the
oversight of a third party. In a MAD escrow contract, a buyer and seller both
place funds into escrow. The seller starts by depositing an amount they want
the buyer to match to symbolize a virtual handshake. This could be between 0
and 100 percent of the item’s purchase price. The buyer then deposits an amount
equal to the handshake amount plus the price of the item they are buying. The
escrowed funds are not released to anyone until both parties confirm that the
transaction has been completed satisfactorily. The technique prevents either
party from profiting through cheating in a transaction.

 

Particl uses the BIP 65
opcode to enable MAD escrow contracts by locking funds in a multi-signature
wallet until all of the parties sign off on the transaction. With this
approach, buyers and sellers on Particl’s ecommerce platform can operate
without worrying about fraud or paying unnecessary fees.

 

They also don’t have to
sacrifice privacy because no third party is involved in the transaction.
Furthermore, and perhaps most significantly, because there is only basic
scripting involved, security concerns are minimal.

 

Particl’s approach to MAD
escrow smart contracts is arguably better than building smart contracts on a
platform like Ethereum. While Ethereum provides more extensible support for
smart contracts, that flexibility comes with a higher risk of security and
privacy threats. The more code that goes into a smart contract, the greater the
risk of introducing a vulnerability that could enable an intrusion.

 

Ethereum might be a strong
foundation for writing very complex smart contracts, or ones in which security
and privacy are not priorities, but Bitcoin provides a simpler and more
reliable scripting framework for the private escrows that Particl requires.

Contributing to Bitcoin’s Future

 

Particl’s choice of Bitcoin
as the backbone for its smart contracts is also a reflection of the team’s efforts
to build a completely private platform on top of the Bitcoin codebase, arguably
the most secure, battle tested and contributed to protocol on the market.

 

There are many dozens of
Bitcoin-based blockchain projects out there, but most are simply building
cryptocurrencies forked from Bitcoin. They’re not taking advantage of Bitcoin’s
potential to create the foundation for a completely decentralized platform that
supports a multitude of DApps and programmable functionality.

 

In this
sense, Particl is helping to ensure that Bitcoin’s future will evolve more than
just creating another cryptocurrency. Privacy enhancements Particl has already
implemented onto the latest Bitcoin codebase such as Confidential Transactions
and RingCT can just as easily be one day adopted upstream to further harden
Bitcoin.

 

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A Bitcoin Beginner’s Guide to Surviving the Bgold and SegWit2x Forks

coin-split2xgold.jpg

This is an updated version of A Bitcoin Beginner’s Guide to Surviving a Coin-Split specifically addressing issues associated with the upcoming Bitcoin Gold and SegWit2x forks.

It looks as if Bitcoin will experience at least two more “coin-splits” soon, which (more accurately) will result in the creation of new coins. On October 25, Bitcoin Gold (Bgold) will split off from Bitcoin to create an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency. A few weeks later, a significant group of Bitcoin companies wants to hard fork according to the SegWit2x plan as defined in the “New York Agreement” (NYA), which will probably result in yet another new coin.

If this all plays out, there could be three distinct blockchains and three types of tokens within about a month of publication of this article. One blockchain would follow the current Bitcoin protocol; for the purpose of this article, that token will be referred to as “BTC.” The second blockchain will follow the Bgold protocol; in this article, that token will be referred to as “BTG.” The third blockchain will follow the SegWit2x protocol; that token will be referred to as “B2X.”

The good news is that each BTC token will effectively be copied onto both the Bgold and the SegWit2x blockchains. If you hold Bitcoin private keys at the time of the forks, you should be able to access your BTG and B2X tokens as well.

The bad news is that such forks can be somewhat messy and risky. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to lose your BTC or B2X, and maybe your BTG.

This guide will provide you with the basics to keep your funds safe during the upcoming forks and help to ensure you make it to the end of next month with your BTC, BTG and B2X intact.

Author’s note: If you want to play the markets as soon as possible and you are fine with taking risks, and/or you really know what you are doing, this article is probably not for you. If you mostly just want to make sure not to lose any coins, read on …

Before the Forks (That’s Now)

First of all, be aware that coin-splits can be somewhat risky — especially controversial ones like the SegWit2x fork. While it seems unlikely for now, there is a chance some kind of cyber-battle will break out, perhaps even escalating to the point where all exchange rates drop sharply. If you want to make sure not to be caught in any crossfire, it’s best to not hold more value in bitcoin than you are willing to lose.

If you do decide to hold on to your bitcoin, make sure you are prepared before October 25, and preferably sooner. This is the day the BTG equivalent will be distributed to all BTC balances. B2X will follow a couple of weeks later, around mid-November (the exact date is not yet known).

If you are storing your bitcoins on an exchange, in a custodial service like Coinbase, Circle or Xapo, or on any other service that holds your private keys for you, you may or may not eventually receive BTC, BTG and B2X. This is not yet very clear yet, and if you want to keep storing your coins on such services, you should at least see if your exchange or custodial service of choice has published a blog post on the forks. If not, contact them to ask.

That said, if you want to be absolutely sure to be able to access your BTC, BTG and B2X, you should really control your private keys yourself. That way you don’t need to rely on any third party.

If you’re currently using a custodial service to store your bitcoins, you need to create your own wallet instead. Send or withdraw your bitcoins from the custodial service to this new wallet; this wallet then holds your private keys.

What kind of wallet you want to use is up to you. For this specific purpose it’s best to use a wallet that lets you easily access your private keys directly. (Some wallets make this easier for you than others.) But technically, any wallet that lets you control your private keys should be fine.

With that in mind, here are some basic solutions:

If you don’t care about transacting with BTC, BTG or B2X anytime soon, and really just want to keep all of them as long-term investments, a paper wallet is a good option. It should be noted, however, that this option is only really secure if you follow strict security precautions, which you can find here.

Regular wallets are about as secure as your computer (or phone). Since most computers and phones are not all that secure, these are not ideal for large amounts. With that in mind, all mobile and desktop wallets listed on bitcoin.org will store your private keys. Electrum is a good pick if you want easy access to your private keys directly.

A full-node wallet like Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Knots is also a good pick, as it’s not too hard to access your private keys with these wallets either. As a bonus, these wallets give you a little extra security (shortly) after the SegWit2X fork, as you’ll see below. However, these types of wallets are more resource-intensive to use, compared to most other wallets.

Another option is to get a hardware wallet. Any of the hardware wallets listed on bitcoin.org will keep your private keys secure. However, these wallets typically don’t let you easily access your private keys directly. It’s not clear that all these wallets will let you access BTG in particular, and not all of them have given a guarantee for B2X either. So while these wallets will safely store your private keys, it could be a bit more tricky (but probably not impossible) to get ahold of all three coins later.

In any case: Be sure to make backups of your keys! Most wallets require you to do this when installing; don’t skip this step.

Shortly After the Bitcoin Gold Fork (and Before the SegWit2x Fork)

The Bitcoin Gold fork is sometimes referred to as a “friendly fork.” This is mainly because it has no intention of claiming to be the “real” Bitcoin, and it plans to implement strong replay protection.

In short, this replay protection means that you won’t accidentally send your BTG when you mean to send BTC (or the other way around). Your BTG will be accessible with your private keys if you insert them in a Bgold wallet anytime after October 25th. So even after you’ve spent your BTC, you can still access your BTG.

If you want to transact with your BTC before the SegWit2x fork, it could come in handy later to write down which of your Bitcoin addresses and/or private keys had BTG attributed to them — in other words, which of your Bitcoin addresses had any BTC on them at the time of the Bgold fork on October 25th.

But there’s no rush to actually access your BTG. In fact, it will probably take at least a week before this is even possible, and maybe longer. It’s therefore probably best to ignore this fork until after the SegWit2x fork. That way you’ll only need to go through the process of claiming all your new coins once.

After the SegWit2x Fork

Unfortunately, the SegWit2x fork could play out a bit more messily.

For one, it currently seems SegWit2x will fork without strong replay protection. This means that post-fork, BTC transactions and B2X transactions will look identical and could both be valid on both blockchains.

Therefore, spending coins on the BTC blockchain could make you accidentally spend the “equivalent” B2X on the SegWit2x blockchain, and the other way around. Instead of paying someone only BTC, you may unintentionally send B2X as well — or vice versa. The BTCs and B2Xs are initially “stuck together.”

The best way to prevent replay attacks is simple: Do not send any BTC or B2X transactions, at least not until it is clearer to everyone what the post-fork situation looks like.

Additionally, some light wallets will display whichever blockchain has more hash power attributed to it. This means that the balance on your screen could be a BTC balance or a B2X balance, and there will be no way to tell the difference. (Even if the wallet says it’s a BTC balance).

As such, to be on the safe side, you should probably not accept any payments with these kinds of wallets at all, since you could receive B2X when you’re expecting BTC, or the other way around. At the very least, you should make absolutely sure that your wallet displays what you think it displays. (Wallets like Electrum and GreenAddress should display BTC as BTC regardless of hashpower distribution.)

Alternatively, if you use a full-node wallet like Bitcoin Core or Bitcoin Knots and you want to accept BTC, that should still be fine. (Someone who didn’t read this article may accidentally send you the equivalent in B2X, though.)

Depending on how much hash power is dedicated to each chain, it is possible that transactions will confirm (significantly) slower than usual for some time and will require higher fees to confirm at all.

Claiming Your Coins

If all three chains survive, and you control your private keys, you should be able to access BTC, BTG and B2X tokens.

Claiming your BTG should be relatively easy, assuming there are wallets available for it. Most likely, you’d simply need to insert your private keys (or private key seed) into such a wallet.

However, there are some security and privacy risks in doing so. It’s too soon to tell exactly what these risks will look like as it’s unclear which wallets will support BTG. (It’s not even certain that any wallets will.) But in general, you’ll first want to move your BTC (and B2X) to new addresses or whole new wallets before accessing your BTG.

Since there’s no need to rush, it’s probably best just to wait on claiming your BTG until there is more clarity. By that time, Bitcoin Magazine will publish a follow-up article explaining how to do this.

Securely accessing and using your B2X (and BTC) might prove a bit more tricky, mostly because of the risk of replay attacks. This requires that the BTC and B2X are split from each other, which will be possible but could prove a bit complex.

Some exchanges will likely set up coin-splitting services and take care of most of this complexity behind the screens, however. You’d then just need to send your BTC or B2X to an exchange, and the exchange will credit your account with both BTC and B2X. (They should even replay the transaction for you to make sure they indeed receive both your coins and can split them for you.)

There may also be other solutions to split your coins, perhaps even trustless solutions. But that remains to be seen.

At this point, there will probably also be dedicated wallets for both BTC and B2X. Of course, you may need to upgrade your existing wallet or download a new wallet. This also remains to be seen.

Further specifics on what to do after the forks will be announced on Bitcoin Magazine once the forks have occurred and we have a better understanding of the post-fork situation.

So, to Recap …

1. It’s best to control your private keys yourself before October 25.

2. To be on the safe side, avoid any transactions shortly after the forks, especially after the SegWit2x fork.

3. As the dust settles after the SegWit2x fork, access and split your coins. (How to do this will be explained on Bitcoin Magazine once there is more clarity.)

This article will be updated as the news develops.

The post A Bitcoin Beginner’s Guide to Surviving the Bgold and SegWit2x Forks appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rally Shows Strength for Continued Growth

Bitcoin Price Analysis

Today, bitcoin reached a new all time high as it rose by $500 in just a few short hours. At the time of this article, bitcoin is sitting in the $5300s as it looks ready, once again, to spring for a new all time high:

Figure_1 (14).JPGFigure 1: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, GDAX, Macro Trend

On a macro level, BTC is showing signs of upward strength as the RSI and MACD are showing bullish strength. There are no clear signs of bearish divergence yet and the market is starting to pick up in volume as the price climbs, thus indicating that a healthy bullish continuation is likely. Looking at the 50 and 200 EMAs, we can see the slope is pointing upward and the market is trending well above both EMAs, showing us that the market is pushing upward in a sustainable manner.

On a micro level, there are slight signs of bullish exhaustion that may indicate the need to either consolidate sideways or pull back slightly before continuing upward:

Figure_2 (11).JPGFigure 2: BTC-USD, 30-Minute Candles, GDAX, Micro Trend

The MACD and RSI are showing clear signs of bearish divergence on the smaller timescales (shown via the red arrows on the indicators). Also, the current growth is decreasing in volume which usually indicates a lack of buyer interest at the current price levels as the trend continues upward. It’s important to note that the trend can remain healthy on a macro scale, while simultaneously remaining divergent on a smaller timescale. The divergence doesn’t imply a macro reversal — it simply means the current trend is lacking momentum to continue upward in the immediate future and likely needs to cool off before continuing any further.

On the higher timescales, bitcoin appears to be adhering to the ascending channel shown below:

Figure_3 (11).JPGFigure 3: BTC-USD, 1 Day Candles, GDAX, Ascending Channel

Since the beginning of the year, bitcoin has adhered to very nicely to this channel where it routinely tests the top, then tests the bottom, then tests the top, and so on and so forth. If we continue this pattern we can expect to see bitcoin test the $6000s before we see any major correction. However, it is important to note that, compared to Bitcoin’s last bull run to the $5000s, the volume is considerably lower. This may affect bitcoin’s ability to push toward the upper bounds of the channel. On the other hand, the indicators discussed in Figure 1 are showing healthy bullish signals, so we will have to see how the market responds to tests of new highs.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin found new all time highs in the $5300s after having a sudden $500 rally.

  2. The macro momentum indicators are showing signs of bullish continuation which may push further new all time highs.

  3. The smaller time frames are showing signs of bullish exhaustion so we may see some consolidation before any bullish continuation is seen.

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.

The post Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Rally Shows Strength for Continued Growth appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Op Ed: European Blockchain Business is Booming, Even Among Regulatory Concerns

gpEuropeCrypto.jpg

As cryptocurrencies become increasingly mainstream, governments worldwide are exploring methods for regulating blockchain projects and their methods of funding. While China and South Korea have recently cracked down on ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges, some nations in the European Economic Area (EEA) have become among the world’s most progressive in embracing this nascent technology. Still, the lack of standards in regulation will prove to be a challenge as blockchain startups seek to develop and mature.Since consensus is easier to realize with a smaller representative body, smaller autonomous territories are more fit to effect rapid change in promoting the establishment of crypto and blockchain companies in their legal jurisdictions. For example, the cantonal laws in Switzerland allow for increased agility when introducing amendments, disclosure and transparency.

Switzerland has emerged as a European hub for cryptocurrency and blockchain development. These efforts have been led by the Crypto Valley Association, a nonprofit dedicated to the research and development of blockchain technologies, has also started to develop an ICO Code of Conduct in light of China’s recent ban. This would establish a clear set of guidelines for companies planning token crowdsales and provide clear, yet versatile, rules surrounding their legality. Anchored by the city of Zug, which has been nicknamed “Crypto Valley” after the numerous blockchain startups based there, Switzerland has remained a friendly environment for burgeoning blockchain and digital currency companies.

Estonia has also proven to be open to blockchain development; it recently expressed interest in creating a national cryptocurrency to be used within its borders. If this materialized, it would rank among the most significant milestones for cryptocurrency to date. In addition, members of Finland’s central bank wrote a paper discussing the outstanding characteristics of Bitcoin.

While Bitcoin is the largest cryptocurrency by trading volume, its leading position among digital currencies does not behave like a traditional monopoly in economic terms. In fact, these economists argue that there’s no need for governments to regulate Bitcoin due to its decentralized infrastructure. This is an interesting stance in comparison to other European nations that have expressed their support for the development of government policies surrounding digital currencies.

In contrast, other countries may either feel that the blockchain space is still too underdeveloped to regulate in earnest or that an appropriate level of research has not been provided on the topic. Despite this, blockchain adoption will continue to become more mainstream than one might expect. Deloitte has reported more than 90 central banks are engaged in discussions about blockchain technology, and that 80 percent of those banks are expected to commence digital ledger projects by the end of the year. The International Monetary Fund has even expressed positive sentiment about the potential applications of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Their willingness to explore this technology means that regulations in the jurisdictions they serve are likely in the near future.

The EEA’s interest in considering blockchain regulation promises that the future will be bright for startups hoping to do business in these countries. However, gathering consensus around a technology that’s still not widely used or applied will prove difficult. It will require these nations to adopt policies that feature the needed flexibility for the long term. Despite these challenges, the countries that are able to do so will reap significant economic rewards.

This is a guest post by David Henderson. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: European Blockchain Business is Booming, Even Among Regulatory Concerns appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

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