Dub 14

Core Dev Maxwell: UASF ‘Does Not Measure Up To Standard’

· April 14, 2017 · 9:00 am

Bitcoin core developer Greg Maxwell has newly outlined why he “does not support” a user-activated soft fork (UASF) as it figures in BIP 148.


Maxwell: UASF ‘Guarantees Disruption’

In a circular to the Core mailing list Friday, Maxwell said that although he is not strictly against a soft fork, its incarnation in BIP 148’s UASF does not “really measure up to the standard set by segwit itself.”

The debate over whether to galvanize the entire Bitcoin ecosystem into Segwit activation via a UASF has gained considerable traction over the last month.

Proponents say it is the quickest way to move Bitcoin on from its current stalemate, yet detractors highlight its disruptive nature as a reason for caution. If a UASF occurred, for example, non-supportive miners would find their blocks invalid after the deadline, and would not receive rewards for their work.

Maxwell too notes that this “disruption” is a key difference between a UASF and segwit activation via miners.

“The primary flaw in BIP148 is that by forcing the activation of the existing (non-UASF segwit) nodes it almost guarantees at a minor level of disruption,” he continued. “Segwit was carefully engineered so that older unmodified miners could continue operating _completely_ [sic] without interruption after segwit activates.”

Time Still Not Of The Essence

Despite the increasingly slow and expensive nature of the Bitcoin network, Maxwell still advocates a measured approach without speed as a priority.

…The fastest support should not be our goal, as a community– there is always some reckless altcoin or centralized system that can support something faster than we can– trying to match that would only erode our distinguishing value in being well engineered and stable.

First do no harm.’ We should use the least disruptive mechanisms available, and the BIP148 proposal does not meet that test.

The developer has meanwhile found himself under fire lately from Bitcoin Unlimited proponents, notably Roger Ver, who released a dedicated presentation with quotes from Maxwell highlighting alleged errors.

“It’s important the users not be at the mercy of any one part of the ecosystem to the extent that we can avoid it– be it developers, exchanges, chat forums, or mining hardware makers,” Maxwell concluded.

Ultimately the rules of Bitcoin work because they’re enforced by the users collectively– that is what makes Bitcoin Bitcoin, it’s what makes it something people can count on: the rules aren’t easy to just change.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s recent price spike over $1,200 has been attributed by some to a sharp rise in the number of UASF-signaling nodes. Though this does not necessarily imply causation, the price has also dipped following the publication of Maxwell’s post.

What do you think about Greg Maxwell’s perspective on a UASF? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of uasf.org, twitter.com, shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Dub 13

Why National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Beat Bitcoin

· April 13, 2017 · 2:00 pm

National cryptocurrencies will never be able to compete with Bitcoin because no one will trust a system that requires advance permission from and which is controlled by a government to use it. 

[Note: This is an op-ed, edited by Allen Scott] 


National Cryptocurrencies Will Never Be Global

News is just in that the mint of a very important, historic sovereign nation has just hired a company in a separate nation to help it launch its own “Blockchain not Bitcoin” attempt to ride the Bitcoin wave. This is extraordinary in several ways, and allows a general principle to be explored.

First off, this mint doesn’t understand how Bitcoin works. That is clear. They’ve made the common error of believing what computer illiterates in well regarded newspapers mistakenly repeat verbatim about Bitcoin; that you can have “Blockchain without Bitcoin”. And this is only the first of their many errors in this project.

Even if their technical and economic assumptions were correct, there is no way that their private money system can beat the market. The Russians and the Chinese will never accept domination of a global e-money by a single foreign nation coded by a second party.

They will at a minimum, launch their own central bank altcoin, or more likely, settle on Bitcoin as the civilized global standard. These people have made the fundamental error of thinking that they can beat the market. It is the same error the Americans made thinking that everyone would use CDMA instead of GSM.

This new money will never be international. No one will trust a system that requires advance permission from and which is controlled by a government to use it, that can exclude any actor based on arbitrary rules of a hostile government when Bitcoin is available. There is no logical reason to trust anyone when Bitcoin exists; any system that is tainted by the requirement of trust is inferior to Bitcoin, and will make rational actors choose Bitcoin over those other, broken systems every time.

There are other problems with this new project, some of which will be of concern to the State. With a software simulation of money, the company providing the service is the mint, with absolute control over the money and its operation, not the mint.

In order to be the mint, you must directly control the levers of the machinery, you cannot outsource that control to other men, and certainly never to men from a foreign country; these foreigners de facto control everything if no one in the mint can understand how anything works. They seem to have forgotten what the word “Sovereign” means.

If you’re going to outsource the creation of a new e-money, and cede control over its development to foreigners, why not go all the way and give it to the global experts: Bitcoin Core?

You get all the benefits of the hundreds of developers working on Bitcoin, and access to the global Bitcoin network, its first mover advantage, huge ecosystem and its network effects. You are already willing to give up control, so you may as well give it up for something and not for nothing.

Outsourcing Sovereignty?

This is another example of the global Computer Literacy Crisis, where the ‘aparatchicks’ don’t understand how anything works, and are rendered helpless, delegating all responsibility to software developers who are now one of the top global powers on Earth as a class.

We saw this with government departments around the globe accepting Microsoft Windows as “the standard” for decades, with the late realization that this gives control (and back-door NSA espionage access) to a foreign company. Much better to use Linux that belongs to no one, is transparent and infinitely more secure and controllable. Just like Bitcoin.

For 7 years I’ve been talking about the book “Good Money” by George Selgin:

If you are interested in Bitcoin and why “private Blockchain” is junk, you should read this book. What is fascinating about this news of a sovereign mint hiring a foreign company to create a system for them is that the private money vs State money is turned on its head in the Bitcoin era.

In the 1700s, button makers switched to minting coins for private use, because the Royal Mint couldn’t supply the demand for small change. Now, government mints are turning to bespoke “Blockchain not Bitcoin Tokens” while Bitcoin becomes the sovereign money of the world.

The picture is entirely reversed; the state is minting private money to fill an (imaginary) need while Bitcoin is the money everyone uses but has trouble getting a hold of. Azteco is a service that aims to solve that problem.

Like many projects with no hope of traction because they are fundamentally flawed, this new platform has put its software up on GitHub, hoping to attract developers to work on it for free. This will not happen.

Bitcoin Devs Won’t Waste Time With Other Blockchains

First of all, the number of developers with the skill to hack cryptocurrencies in C is extremely small, and all of them are working on Bitcoin. They’re all doing so mostly without compensation, for the good of society, just like Linux kernel developers do. There is no way you are going to persuade these ethical men to stop working on Bitcoin and to devote that time to a bogus “permissioned ledger” project run by a company on behalf of a nation state.

Bitcoin devs simply aren’t going to split their limited time between projects like Corda or any anti-Bitcoin project. And of course, Corda has conceded defeat and given up on “making blockchains programmable” and other fanciful hand-waving nonsense.

“GitHub Open Source” isn’t a magic wand that will cause men to flock to your repo and software to be written for you for nothing, and no, you can’t hire developers to do this work either; there are none available.

Developers at this skill, experience and knowledge level are an extremely rare breed, and they are all working on Bitcoin, and will never contract to work on unethical software, for any amount of money.

Every year the State wastes time on vanity projects they can’t even understand, Bitcoin grows, spreads and strengthens. The number of new, fundamental features coming to Bitcoin is not matched by any other project, and how these will synergise is anyone’s guess.

(From The Elements Project, new features coming to Bitcoin https://elementsproject.org/elements/ SegWit will activate, on Litecoin first and then Bitcoin. Then everything will change.)

Every software project has a use case. The developers are eager to make their case so they can gain users. When they won’t make the case clearly, something is very wrong. There is no use case for a sovereign nation to launch its own altcoin that is inferior to Bitcoin.

Its like launching a new mobile phone network standard; no manufacturer is going to incorporate another set of protocols, chips, transceiver and antennae into its phone to accommodate you, and yet, this is exactly what these people believe they can do with Bitcoin. All rational nation State actors are now running to embrace and profit from the inevitable domination by Bitcoin and not betting against it.

We can be sure of this. No “permissioned,” “BlockChain,” alt-coin reality denying project launched by a Nation State that has outsourced development of its software to a private company in a foreign land can ever hope to outperform Bitcoin on any level.

Incredibly, the lessons of the doomed and fundamentally flawed Canadian “Mint Chip” have not been learned yet. This is a good thing, believe it or not. The longer Bitcoin’s enemies think they can reinvent the wheel and beat Bitcoin, the better it is for Bitcoin. By the time they figure all of this out, it will be too late. In fact, it already is too late.

KYC/AML is Dying

There has been some very good news on the Bitcoin perception front. Another judge, this time in of all jurisdictions, New York, has ruled that Bitcoin is not Money.

[…] a federal judge in New York has recommended that money-laundering charges be dropped in a local case, based on his determination that Bitcoin doesn’t qualify as money. Instead, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott has opined that Bitcoin more closely resembles a commodity. While he noted that Bitcoin might one day become so acceptable that it could be considered as money, Scott suggested that it currently has more in common with collectibles – like trading cards and other novelty items.

I wrote about this several times previously.

Any business in Bitcoin, if it is run by competent men, should now destroy their “compliance” data and stop all KYC/AML work immediately. They can rely on these two judgements as pretext, and if any prosecutor or three letter agency wants to take them to court, they should accept the challenge, because they will win.

Coinbase, for example, has been asked for a database dump of all their customers who transferred Bitcoin from 2013 to 2015. They are going to fight this in court, and it may cost them millions to defend this outrageous attack.

Instead of going to court to defend handing over customer data, Coinbase should permanently destroy the data, and fight in court to prove Bitcoin is not money, and not subject to any law any more than Linden Labs “Linden Dollars” are.

Doing this, they will forever be unable to hand over data they don’t have, and will not be asked for it again. They will streamline their service, and increase their profitability. Or burn rate. Either way, the way out of their current problems is to embrace these two judgements and amplify them so that the entire industry is both protected and relieved of onerous administrative burdens simultaneously.

Stopping KYC/AML will increase on ramp speeds, increase profits, increase Bitcoin throughput and midwife “The Transformation”. You are already in a fight with the State, who are using your own data against you; data that you did not have to collect in the first place, that you volunteered to collect, expecting a pat on the head.

Doing this will also turn you from an unethical company into an ethical one. Its a no brainer.

For the Lulz

Finally, for some lulz. People love predicting the collapse of things. Its like a perverted spectator sport, where you’re betting on which gladiator is going to die first. Y2K hysteria Twitter and even the internet have been predicted to “collapse” and these predictions failed.

We all remember Clifford Stoll. No surprise then, when people pop up to predict that Bitcoin will have a “complete and total collapse” for no given reason whatsoever.

What we can see emerging is the fact that the vast majority of men have reached their intellectual limit in 2017. Most of the things are incomprehensible to them. Bitcoin is one of those most things. As time goes on, this problem is going to get much worse. Its like the familiar tale of Artificial Intelligence making new versions of itself that man has no capacity to understand.

The problem isn’t that people don’t understand new technology. This has always been true since man started forging steel, and of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The problem is that these ignorant people insist on forcing other people who do understand the new tools, to conform to their mistaken ideas of how they should work with them and present it to the market.

Bitcoin has been suffering this for a few years now, but with the recent court decisions, Japanese “Legitimization” (remember when everyone kept saying “legitimacy” is what Bitcoin needs? Now its “adoption” and “scale”) and increase market penetration through great services like Local Bitcoins, it is now clear that Bitcoin will win. No matter what you want.

Lastly…

Finally, some good news. Samson Mow, notorious milliner, Bitcoin thinker, expert analyst, conference organizer, East West bridger, Ubisoft expander, organizer of the “Scaling Bitcoin” event and meme manipulator extraordinary, has just been hired by Blockstream.

Normally hirings of this sort would not be worth comment, but this one is given what is under discussion in this piece. Some were calling for this very useful man to be fired over his very amusing tweets and totally accurate analysis. This is not good thinking.

Because people conflated Bitcoin with money, there is an underlying assumption that the men involved in Bitcoin must emulate the behavior of stuffy, stiff, humorless bankers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We know that Bitcoin is not money and in properly designed businesses, no one needs to be trusted; Bitcoin itself is the infallible guarantor. All the social signals that men used to use to assess trust (ties, logos, and all the trappings of banking) have been replaced with software. This leaves people behind the levers to “let it all hang out” and be totally honest, because the software is what you trust, not the men who wrote it. This is another benefit of Bitcoin, that is slowly starting to emerge.

The people stuck in the 20th Century are the same ones who never encrypted their email and think that Bitcoin is for buying Starbucks on chain. They’re the ones doing the speech policing, and calling internet culture “toxic.”

Samson Mow being hired is an explicit rejection of these wrong ideas; he is being hired because he merits the job, and nothing else. Bitcoin is not about illusions, it is about MATHEMATICAL FACTS.

[Full disclosure: The author of this piece is the founder of Azteco]

Do you agree with this assessment of Bitcoin? Share your thoughts below! 


Images courtesy of elementsproject.org, Twitter, Shutterstock 

Show comments

Share
Dub 12

‘The Blockchain and Us’: A New Documentary on Bitcoin Tech Changing the World

· April 12, 2017 · 7:00 am

A new documentary film called The Blockchain and Us was released last week exploring how Blockchain technology can change the world in a meaningful way.


Documentary: ‘The Blockchain and Us’

A documentary film dubbed “The Blockchain and Us” by Manuel Stagars has been released last week. The 8-part documentary focuses on what blockchain technology is and the social and economic impact it can have in the world, if its potential is successfully harnessed.

the-blockchain-and-us_still-airport-after-rain

The preview description reads:

Economist and filmmaker Manuel Stagars portrays this exciting technology in interviews with software developers, cryptologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, consultants, VCs, authors, politicians, and futurists from the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the UK, and Australia.

The 30-minute long documentary features cuts from several interviews with industry leaders like Christian Decker from Blockstream, Perianne Boring Founder & President at the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Taylor Gerring Co-Founder at Ethereum, Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, and many more.

The documentary does not focus on the technical aspects of blockchain technology and should not be viewed as an introductory video. Instead, the film seeks to give a high-level view of the blockchain “far from hype” and “starts a conversation about its wider implications” in several aspects of our society.

Chapter 1: First Contact With The Blockchain

In the first segment, the interviewees describe their first contact with blockchain technology. An experience that has changed many lives but usually starts off with a pinch of disbelief. Most people were quick to dismiss Bitcoin and the blockchain once they run into it for the first time, but many return to it after understanding how it works and the potential it has to change the world.

Matthew Roszak Co-Founder & Chairman of Bloq, shared his experience:

I did what most people do the first moment they are exposed to Bitcoin. I discounted it. I thought this was silly internet money, you could mine it, it’s like a golden goose and it took me about an year to really re-explore the technology…

Chapter 2: Blockchain Technology

Here, the documentary delves into a high-level explanation of what blockchain technology is and what makes it tick, and what we can do with it.

Image result for R. Jesse McWaters

R. Jesse McWaters Financial Innovation Lead at the World Economic Forum, explained:

You have the ability to create records that are indelible. You have the ability to transfer value by making updates to those records. And you have the ability to automate updates to the records through these things called smart contracts. That means potentially that you could transform the structure of financial services.

Chapter 3: Influence Of The Blockchain

This chapter focuses on how blockchain technology can influence various industries and aspects of our society like financial inclusion, identity, and IoT.

Image result for Rik Willard

Rik Willard, Founder & Managing Director at Agentic Group, said:

As the blockchain became more influential in our thinking we began to realize that it was a profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value and how it could be used to enfranchise and include people in global finance.

Chapter 4: New Business Opportunities

Chapter 4 talks about the infrastructure that is being built around blockchain technology, the business opportunities that arise from it and how traditional industries are dealing with and adapting to this disruptive new technology.

Image result for Paul Meeusen

Paul Meeusen, Head Finance and Treasury Services at Swiss Re, stated:

We are all, also in the financial services industry trying to recognize that we don’t have to be defensive but we rather have to embrace not just this technology but this enabler that it brings us to access a vastly underutilized or undiscovered market that we have to do business with on an eye-to-eye level.

Chapter 5: The Blockchain and Banks

This segment explores how big financial institutions will implement blockchain technology through slow upgrade processes and how some of these institutions are reluctant to accept this technological shift, while others are actively researching and testing the technology to stay ahead of the curve.

Image result for Caitlin Long

Caitlin Long, Chairman of the Board & President at Symbiont.io, explained:

I know how big financial institutions work. They’re not going to do something reckless with technology. This is people’s money and livelihood they’re working with.These are slow upgrade processes. These systems, once they get implemented, will run in parallel with the old systems for a while before you have a switch over to the new one. That’s standard in technology upgrade.  knew this was going to take time. But there are antagonists, players who are threatened. It’s the AT&T/Verizon/Kodak analogy again. Their business model is threatened by this and they’re going to do things to slow down and water down the transformational networks. There is a game theory approach to how the technology is being rolled out in the markets, for sure.

Chapter 6: The Blockchain And Financial Inclusion

An estimated 74% of the world population (according to the World Bank) do not have access to basic financial services provided by Banks. Chapter 6 explores how Blockchain technology can drastically change the financial inclusion landscape and allow people to interact with the world economy in a much more meaningful way than micro-finance institutions and other alternatives.

Eric Van der Kleij, Founder OF Adeptra, London Tech City, Level39 and adviser to the UKGovernment expressed his opinion on the subject:

I don’t like to think that we’re creating so much prosperity for the less than one percent. I like to think of purpose-led businesses. By the way, that’s the trick, I think, for large corporations: to understand that the cost/efficiency of embracing this new technology will potentially widen their accessible markets at a cost, that’s reasonable. That in itself will create prosperity in different areas. Something that we should think about.

Chapter 7: The Real Revolution

Blockchain technology can be considered the fourth technological revolution. With it come the same concerns, which is the loss of jobs due to automation. Blockchain technology has the power to cut out institutions that act as intermediaries or “middlemen”, including banks themselves.

This chapter delves into this concern and how various people perceive it. Dolfi Müller, Mayor of the City of Zug stated:

It’s called the ‘fourth technological revolution’ and I think we are at the beginning of such a revolution just now. That’s why we don’t close our eyes. Some people say ‘There will be much trouble, people will lose their work,’ and so on. I’m sure it will happen but it’s better we face it than deny it.

Chapter 8: The Blockchain and Us

In the eighth and final chapter of the Blockchain and Us documentary, interviewees express their thoughts on how blockchain technology can be implemented on a larger scale and how it can affect our lives. From an idea to a full-scale revolution, blockchain technology is here to stay and has the potential to change the world in a meaningful way.

Guido Rudolphi, Founder of Cryptocash:

Everything will change. In my opinion, the possibilities are endless.

The documentary can be seen here.

Full interviews can be seen here.

Do you think Blockchain can truly change the world for the better? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Angel.co, Linkedin, Blockchain-newyork.com, Caitlin-long.com, Twitter, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Dub 08

Cambridge University: Cryptocurrency Use Seeing ‘Significant Growth’

· April 8, 2017 · 12:00 pm

A report by Cambridge University’s CCAF reveals that the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.


Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study

The Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) has recently published a research paper called Global Cryptocurrency Benchmarking Study, which examines several sectors of the global cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, wallets, payment providers, mining and more.

The study was led by Dr.Garrick Hileman, senior research associate at the CCAF and a researcher at the Centre for Macroeconomics. According to the CCAF, it’s the first global research of its kind to systematically investigate all key cryptocurrency industry sectors based on non-public “off-chain” data.

The paper makes several key findings that challenge some of the erroneous concepts that many have regarding the cryptocurrency space and shows that digital currencies are becoming an increasingly important part of our society. Dr.Garrick Hileman wrote:

Dr.Garrick Hileman

“The growing usage and range of capabilities we document in this study indicate that cryptocurrencies are taking on an ever more important role in the lives of a growing number of people (and machines” around the world. As we show in this study, the number of people using cryptocurrency today has seen significant growth and rivals the population of small countries.”

According to Dr. Hileman, a second paper by the CCAF focusing blockchain technology will also be launched in the following weeks. The paper is centered around the use of blockchain technology by more established industry players as well as at public sector institutions such as central banks.

What’s in it

The study collected data from nearly 150 cryptocurrency companies and individuals, covering 38 countries from five world regions, including names like Peter Smith from Blockchain.info, Roger Ver from Bitcoin.com and companies like Coinbase, Bitmain, BTCC, Unocoin, and others.

The CCAF carried out four online surveys from September 2016 to January 2017 and communicated with the companies and individuals involved in order to collect this data. For companies that did not contribute to the study, the dataset was supplemented with additional research and web scraping using commonly applied methods.

The 114-page report counts with four sections, each covering one of the aforementioned industry sectors: exchanges, wallets, payments and mining. There are also three appendixes; the first one is an introduction to cryptocurrencies, the second offers a more detailed intro to the cryptocurrency industry and the third covers the geographical dispersion of cryptocurrency users.

Key Findings

The CCAF highlights the following findings as the key points of the paper:

  • The current number of unique active users of cryptocurrency wallets is estimated to be between 2.9 million and 5.8 million. (The majority of which are located in North America and Europe)

Cryptocurrency wallet users donut chart

  • The lines between the different cryptocurrency industry sectors are increasingly blurred: 31 percent of cryptocurrency companies surveyed are operating across two cryptocurrency industry sectors or more, giving rise to an increasing number of universal cryptocurrency companies.
  • At least 1,876 people are working full- time in the cryptocurrency industry and the actual total figure is likely well above two thousand when large mining organizations and other organizations that did not provide headcount figures are added.
  • Average security headcount and costs for payment companies and exchanges as a percentage of total headcount/operating expenses are similar but significantly higher for wallets.

Exchanges

  • The exchanges sector has the highest number of operating entities and employs more people than any other industry sector covered in the study; a significant geographical dispersion of exchanges is observed.
  • 52% of the small exchanges hold a formal government license compared to only 35% of large exchanges.
  • On average, security headcount corresponds to 13% of total employees and 17% of the budget is spend on security.

Cryptocurrency exchanges chart

Wallets

  • The lines between wallets and exchanges are increasingly blurred; 52% of wallets surveyed provide an integrated currency exchange features, of which 80% offer a national-to-cryptocurrency exchange service. In contrast with exchanges, the majority of wallets do not control access to user keys.

Payments

  • While 79% of payment companies have existing relationships with banking institutions and payment networks, the difficulty of obtaining and maintaining these relationships is cited as this sector’s biggest challenges.
  • On average, national-to-cryptocurrency payments constitute two-thirds of total payment company transaction volume, whereas national-to-national currency transfers and cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency payments account for 27% and 6% respectively.

National-to-cryptocurrency transactions vs other transactions

Mining

  • 70% of large miners rate their influence on protocol development as high or very high, compared to 51% of small miners.
  • The cryptocurrency mining map shows that publicly known mining facilities are dispersed, but a significant concentration can be observed in certain Chinese provinces.

Cryptocurrency mining by country

Do you think cryptocurrency use is growing? Have you seen indicators of increased mainstream adoption? Let us know in the comments below!


Images Courtesy of CCAF, AdobeStock

Show comments

Share
Dub 04

Bitstashers: Should You Upgrade from a Paper Wallet to Metal?

· April 4, 2017 · 6:00 am

Bitcoinist spoke with Jon Boroughs of Bitstashers, a provider of metal-etched Bitcoin wallets that are designed to withstand an apocalyptic event unlike a fragile paper wallet. These are also not limited to cold storage as they can also be custom made for colored coin asset addresses as well. 


Metal-Etched Bitcoin Wallets

Metal wallets are quickly becoming a thing in the crypto space with a few options available such as Cryptosteel and Bitkee, which start at $40 USD. However, Bitstashers provides custom metal etched wallets at a much lower price point, starting from $15, and includes multiple form factors such as dog tags and bottle openers.

ss-dogtags

Boroughs reveals to Bitcoinist the idea behind metal wallets, why they’re better than paper, and how privacy is preserved during the manufacturing process with BIP38 encryption.


Bitcoinist: Where did you get the idea to create metal etched wallets?

Jon Boroughs (JB): Honestly, we saw another company trying to do this with sub-standard materials and at a higher price and we thought we could do it better and cheaper. We also pride ourselves on our design abilities and thought we could offer customers a wide variety of great designs for their wallets as well as possibly letting them submit their own ideas.

Bitcoinist: Why is metal better than a paper wallet that costs zero?

JB: Metal wallets are great for long term storage. Paper wallets can deteriorate over time, but the Bitstashers wallet is made to last until the day you die. They are even fire-proof. The stainless steel wallets can withstand temperatures of up to 1,300­­ degrees Fahrenheit.

Each of our wallets are etched using quality materials and they’re so durable we’ve even filed our fingernails with the design and it comes out looking like nothing happened. The design withstands any normal wear that it may come across. You can’t expect that with paper.

Bitcoinist: What is Heliopay and what kind of supporting role does play in relation to Bitstashers?

JB: Heliopay handles Bitcoin ATMs mainly. They describe themselves as “Bitcoin ATM’s, point of sale, services and supplies, digital infrastructure, payment management solutions and more! Industry leading equipment, the UK’s widest range of bitcoin merchandise for resale (now including the UK’s largest range of physical bitcoins), consultancy, technology integration, excellent training, we help our customers at all stages of the adoption process, helping them to prepare for the new wave of digital payment services, software and infrastructures required.”

We usually work with Heliopay when we need wallet addresses as they have a superb, secure, offline air-gapped computer that generates secure wallet addresses. We also have done production work in the past for them such as designing wallets and other products.

stasg

Bitcoinist: How much does this type of wallet cost for aluminum and steel? Does it depend on type?

JB: It depends on the material. Stainless steel costs more for materials than the aluminum type. Aluminum card wallets are priced at $18 each, bottle openers are $18 each, and dog tags are $15 each. Stainless steel card wallets are $25 each, bottle openers are $25 each, and dog tags are $18 each.

We are also experimenting currently with other materials so as to broaden our product offerings. Keep an eye out for those in the future.

Bitcoinist: Do you also etch both keys – the public and private keys?

JB: Yes, we can etch both keys. The purchaser can choose to have both keys on one side or have the private key on one side and the public key on the other. Or another way it can be done is by using something like our dog tags. You can wear the public key and then hide away your private.

Bitcoinist: Where, how, and by whom are the keys generated?

JB: The keys are either generated by the purchaser of the wallet or by Heliopay.com on a secure, air-gapped address generating system.

Bitcoinist: Can you explain your stance on BIP38 encryption?

JB: We think that BIP38 encryption is the best way to feel at ease when handing your keys over to someone like us so we can put them on products. When you generate a Bitcoin wallet address you’ll get a public key and a private key. The industry standard is to never hand over you private key. That’s good advice. But with BIP38 you take that private key and encrypt it with a password you make up in your head.

The best way to input that password when you do BIP38 encryption is to enter it on an on-screen keyboard as we all know that keyloggers are an issue now-a-days. At that point you can hand your encrypted key to a place like us and we can engrave it. With a BIP38 encrypted key someone would have to be able to read minds to get the password you used.

bottleopener-400x400

Bitcoinist: How is the private key protected or shielded from prying eyes or cameras, for example?

JB: The wallet is considered more like a “savings account” rather than a spendable “hot wallet”.  It is intended to be a safe have to store your cryptocurrencies without the fear of hackers stealing your funds.

Since these addresses are etched in metal, is it a concern for users who are often advised to not reuse the same addresses when transaction from a security standpoint?

No, since our wallets are not intended to be used as a “hot wallet.”  Our wallets are intended to be similar to a saving account (minus the interest) for the cryptocurrency world.

Would you use a metal etched wallet? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitstashers, Shutterstock, openbazaar

Show comments

Share
Bře 31

Adam Back to Jihan Wu: SegWit Not ‘Complicated,’ Fixes Satoshi’s Bug

· March 31, 2017 · 8:00 am

3,425 views

Hashcash inventor Adam Back has said Segregated Witness (SegWit) “fixes” an original bug in Bitcoin from creator Satoshi Nakamoto.


Back: SegWit ‘Fixes Satoshi Bug’

As part of a Twitter exchange Friday, Back rebuffed criticism from Bitcoin Unlimited proponent Jihan Wu, demonstrating how SegWit is beneficial to the virtual currency’s core protocol.

Wu, who is a co-founder of mining conglomerate Bitmain, had said that the technology would make the network “more complicated.”

adam-back

“SegWit is not more complicated,” Back wrote.

“It fixes Satoshi’s bug that txid=H(tx,sig) to txid=H(tx) this is not complicated, and it is necessary to fix.”

What’s more, if implemented, SegWit can can actually help reduce the so-called “technical debt” burden of complicated code albeit having its own tradeoffs, which are assessed here.

The segwit code has been heavily reviewed, which helps resist the introduction of technical debt at both a code and design level…Segwit has multiple independent reimplementations, which helps discover any unnecessary complexity and technical debt at the point that it can still be avoided.

SegWit: Complicated & Straightforward

Wu’s stance echoes a broader opinion from the Chinese community in particular that SegWit creates unnecessary complexity within Bitcoin.

In an interview with Bitcoinist this month, for example, Leon Liu, CEO of P2P trading service Bitkan, said that this was a reason why the technology “is not the best solution for Bitcoin scaling.”

“Segwit will not be the best solution for Bitcoin scaling, it will make the Bitcoin network more complicated,” he stated.

At the same time, efforts have been made to allay such fears, Blocktrail CTO Ruben De Vries commenting last year that SegWit “is not very complicated if you already know the ins and outs of the Bitcoin protocol.”

segregated-witness

Back meanwhile has praised attempts at educating the wider community on the nature of scaling solutions without resorting to ‘political’ siding.

An explainer on SegWit by Andreas Antonopoulos garnered considerable praise, Back describing it as “the best he’d seen on the topic.”

On its benefits, Antonopoulos wrote in the blog post, which originally came out in August last year:

“Firstly, segregated witness reduces the overall cost of transactions by discounting witness data and increasing the capacity of the bitcoin blockchain.

“Secondly, segregated witness’ discount on witness data corrects a misalignment of incentives that may have inadvertently created more bloat in the UTXO set.”

Litecoin Bounce on SegWit Rumors?

SegWit is traditionally considered ‘complicated’ compared to merely increasing the Bitcoin block size, despite the latter requiring a hard fork of the virtual currency.

Currently, the proposal is still behind Bitcoin Unlimited though both need at least 95% to activate.

12121212

Outside the Bitcoin debate, rumors surfacing that Litecoin is to activate SegWit may have led to a surprise expansion in value of the altcoin by around 30%.

What do you think about the contrasting opinions on SegWit? Will it add complexity to Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

Show comments

Share
Bře 22

Roger Ver Confirms He’ll Sell His Bitcoin: 130K BTU Trade a ‘Great Deal’

· March 22, 2017 · 5:00 am

Roger Ver has received a pre-hard fork trade offer worth “up to” 130,000 bitcoins in a bargain receiving heavy publicity.


Ver: Up To 130k Trade ‘Sounds Like Great Deal’

According to a post of the Bitcointalk forum, a Bitcoin bagholder known as “Loaded” signed a message from a wallet containing 40,000 BTC.

In the message, Loaded challenges Ver to a one-to-one BTC/BTU trade in the event of a hard fork occurring.

“@RogerVer lets make a deal, 1 for 1 trade. At least 60k, possibly up to 130k, my BTU for your BTC,” the message reads.

“The offer is open to Jihan Wu as well,” Loaded continued in a further post.

Consider it primarily as a vote of no confidence in the Bitcoin Unlimited software and development team as it currently stands. I’ll add the contingency that the deal is null and void if there are major changes to either.

Responding to the offer, Ver seemed enthusiastic.

Roger Ver Bitcoin Uncensored block size

“This sounds like a great deal for both of us.  I look forward to ironing out the exact details and terms,” he said, adding he was too busy to confirm for the next two days.

Ver to Dump BTC Stash as Foreboding Grips Bitcoin

While the trade cannot go ahead unless or until Bitcoin Unlimited becomes a separate chain, Ver has already signaled his own vote of no confidence in Core, stating in an interview with MadBitcoins at the weekend that he would dump his BTC holdings.

Rumored to have a total of around 300,000 coins, the trade would produce significant downward pressure on the price of BTC, though it seems that some “whales” will be ready to scoop up Ver’s coins in no time.

Uncertainty over the future and its consequences is meanwhile filtering through the rest of Bitcoin’s best-known names.

Rhetoric first over the so-called UASF, then later changing Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm, is now increasingly concerned with value protection.

vinny-lingham-640

In his latest blog post titled “For the Love of Bitcoin,” entrepreneur and veteran commentator Vinny Lingham cited the “old adage” in investment that “markets will stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid.”

“Roger Ver confirmed exactly what I wrote in [a previous post] ‘A Fork in the Road’ — that he will be dumping his BTC. That will send the market spinning, for sure,” he added.

Bitcoin Unlimited meanwhile suffered another denial of service attack Tuesday, with its node count plummeting in minutes due to a bug occurring “just six lines above” the previous one, which halved node numbers last week.

coin-dance-unlimitednodes

Also predicting the forked future is Bitfinex, which is currently offering BTU futures at a rate of $351 per coin at press time. BTC futures, with the ticker BCC, are trading at $720.

What do you think about Roger Ver’s trade? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock, Coin.dance

Show comments

Share
Bře 21

Reckless or Doable? Bitcoin Algorithm Change Sparks Backlash

· March 21, 2017 · 6:00 am

The latest turn for the Bitcoin scaling debate has seen rumors abound of potential support for changing the virtual currency’s proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm.


PoW Algorithm Change: ‘Doable’ or ‘Reckless’?

A flurry of social media activity Monday accompanied confusion as to which parties from Bitcoin Core supported the concept, which would place mining back in the hands of small-scale individuals.

“A soft fork change of Bitcoin’s proof of work algorithm is entirely doable,” Bittorrent creator Bram Cohen tweeted introducing a post he wrote on the topic.

Cohen added in the post itself:

It’s possible to switch PoW algorithms with a soft fork rather than a hard fork. You make it so that there are two different PoWs, the old one and the new one, and each old-style block has to reference a new-style block and contain the exact same transactions.

An admonishment came in the form of noting the use of “many PoWs” would be a “bad idea that generally gets the worst of everything rather than the best.”

Voorhees: ‘It’s Not Legit’

Cohen’s comments contrast strongly with those of ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees, who called the idea of altering PoW “the most absurd and reckless thing I’ve heard in the scaling debate.”

Erik-Voorhees-Bitcoinist

“It is not a legit option,” he added. “It’s the height of foolishness and desperation, the last bastion of a tribe unwilling to put egos down.”

Core developer Peter Todd meanwhile initially contended a PoW change would be “a good backup plan” but later tempered the statement.

“Having said that, _actually_ [sic] changing the PoW is a high-risk move; IMO [sic] best to only do that if an attack actually happens,” he wrote.

Voorhees’ tweet attracted considerable debate, the difficulty of reaching consensus on the topic of scaling Bitcoin immediately becoming evident among supporters of different solutions.

Todd also hit out at BitFury CEO George Kikvadze, who appeared to threaten legal action against proponents of a PoW change.

“Discussions (or even speculation) of PoW change are super irresponsible! And even in the remote 0,01 prc chance it may happen […] those responsible, we will spare no resources, get best lawyers and prosecutors to go after you wherever you will be in the world!” he wrote in a series of tweets Sunday.

What’s your position on a proof-of-work change? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Bře 18

Could This Be The End For Bitcoin Unlimited?

· March 17, 2017 · 11:30 pm

1,550 views

20 Bitcoin Exchanges have agreed to list Bitcoin Unlimited (BTU/XBU) as an altcoin, if a hard fork should occur.


BTC & BTU

In the midst of a heated discussion on the scalability and future of Bitcoin, a group of 20 Bitcoin exchanges, including major eastern and western ones, have announced that should a hard fork occur, they will list BTC (Bitcoin Core) and BTU (Bitcoin Unlimited) as two separate currencies.

This decision, backed by BitFinex, BitStamp, Kraken, BTCC, BTCChina, ShapeShift, BitSquare, QuadrigaCX, and other exchanges, was announced in a joint statement.

This announcement reads:

Since it appears likely we may see a hardfork initiated by the Bitcoin Unlimited project, we have decided to designate the Bitcoin Unlimited fork as BTU (or XBU). The Bitcoin Core implementation will continue to trade as BTC (or XBT) and all exchanges will process deposits and withdrawals in BTC even if the BTU chain has more hashing power.

These exchanges have pledged to only add Bitcoin Unlimited (BTU) as an altcoin only if both chains can be run without any conflicts, something that currently is a concern due to the risk of transaction replays.

bitcoin-unlimited

A few hours after this announcement, Poloniex and BitMEX joined in as well, both supporting the plan released by the other exchanges. BitMEX in particular stated:

BU will not be listed or used as a deposit/withdrawal currency until replay protection is implemented and BU is not at risk of a blockchain reorganization if the Core chain becomes longer.

Transaction Replays & Hard Forks

This isn’t the first time a major cryptocurrency has come under danger of hard forking; in fact, Ethereum experienced a similar situation last year. However, this wasn’t without mishaps; Ethereum experienced a number of replay attacks after the fork.

A replay attack is where a transaction carried out on one chain is broadcasted on the other chain. For example, Bob may want to send BTU to Alice. However, this transaction could be rebroadcast on the BTC chain, meaning that Bob would lose both his BTU and BTC.

The announcement states that the exchanges will only list Bitcoin Unlimited if the replay attack vector is eliminated, such as by changing address formats or moving coins to new addresses.

“[N]one of the undersigned can list BTU unless we can run both [blockchains] independently without incident. Consequently, we insist that the Bitcoin Unlimited community (or any other consensus breaking implementation) build in strong two-way replay protection,” the group said. “Failure to do so will impede our ability to preserve BTU for customers and will either delay or outright preclude the listing of BTU.”

The End of the Road for Bitcoin Unlimited?

This new decision could be a devastating blow to Bitcoin Unlimited’s (BU) approach in what has been a tough week for BU. Earlier this week, a critical bug was discovered and later patched, but not before taking half the network’s nodes offline and leading many in the community, including Andreas Antonopoulos, to question BU’s code QA (quality assurance) process.

Additionally, according to coin.dance, a large majority of the companies and services in the Bitcoin Space prefer SegWit over Bitcoin Unlimited by a wide margin.

SegWit Bitcoin Unlimited Support

Furthermore, a majority of miners also support Bitcoin Core. However, if Bitcoin were to fork off into Bitcoin and Bitcoin Unlimited, the loss of a large amount of hashpower could still be detrimental to Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Core Bitcoin Unlimited Pie Chart

Many users and prominent community members have also voiced out against Bitcoin Unlimited, believing that it is a rash and unprofessional attempt to scale bitcoin or even an “attempted robbery.” Some have even gone as far as to suggest a User Activated Soft Fork (UASF), a type of fork where nodes actively reject blocks that don’t signal for SegWit activation.

However, this might not even be necessary, seeing that many exchanges will now only see Bitcoin Unlimited’s approach as an attempt to create an altcoin.

Do you think that Bitcoin Unlimited will try to hard fork the network? If so, do you think that their chain will survive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Coin Dance, AdobeStock, Shutterstock

Show comments

Share
Bře 07

Roger Ver Will Reward Miners 110% for Supporting Bitcoin Unlimited

· March 7, 2017 · 3:00 am

Roger Ver has launched a Bitcoin mining pool from his own Bitcoin.com brand which offers miners a 110% block reward.


10% Premium for Mining Bitcoin Unlimited

The entrepreneur and staunch Bitcoin Unlimited supporter unveiled the Bitcoin.com Mining Pool on Twitter Monday.

Described as “the world’s highest paying mining pool,” Bitcoin.com incentivizes miners to maintain Bitcoin Unlimited with a 10% premium – effectively turning Bitcoin into a proof-of-stake system. The pool currently comprises about 2.49% of the global hashrate. 

Replies to Ver’s Twitter announcement were predictably charged with the internal politics constantly following the Bitcoin scaling debate.

Disparaging reactions included accusations of Ver “centralizing” Bitcoin, as well as a vow to make miners stay away from pools championing Bitcoin Unlimited over Segregated Witness (SegWit).

More Harm Than Good?

Ver himself has created an increasingly controversial persona in recent months through his advocacy of Bitcoin Unlimited, which has been noted for its comparatively emotional style compared to other commentators.

His position has frequently been met with criticism and even ridicule, not only from lay consumers but well-known figures in the cryptocurrency industry.

Most recently, Tone Vays uploaded a list of altcoins Ver had “diversified into for better privacy & cheaper transaction costs.”

Spotlight USAF

The weekend meanwhile saw increasing debate over the idea of an alternative way of implemented SegWit. Despite the scaling solution receiving its equal rap of criticism, it is being suggested that a so-called user-activated soft fork (UASF) may be the safest and most popular way to provide an end to the deadlock.

“This is a true market solution where users (validating nodes and wallets) pick an activation date in the future and begin relaying segwit transactions,” an explainer from the Bitcoin & Markets podcast said last week.

“Since these are valid transaction to older clients (backwards compatible) there’s no issue with validating the transaction.”

Former BTCC COO Samson Mow even took to Twitter announcing a bounty of 1 BTC to the party able to generate code for a “safe UASF.”

The latest data from Coin Dance shows 25.9% of the Bitcoin mining network in support of SegWit, while Bitcoin Unlimited is slightly behind at 22.7%.

12

Bitcoin’s mempool, the size of unprocessed transactions waiting in a queue, meanwhile continues to hover near all-time high levels.

What do you think about Roger Ver’s new mining pool? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Coin.dance, Shutterstock, alchetron.com

Show comments

Share