Kvě 18

These 13 Bitcoin Lightning Network Upgrades Will Solve Its ‘Biggest’ Hurdles

The Bitcoin Lightning Network will overcome some of its “biggest hurdles to use” in the near future as new features roll out from developers.


From Experiment To Bitcoin Killer App

That was according to Guy Swann, the presenter of the Cryptoconomy podcast, who this week dedicated two episodes to introducing Lightning and analyzing its upcoming changes.

As Bitcoinist has frequently reported over the past year, Lightning represents the ‘next level’ of payments using Bitcoin, and is widely considered to be the way in which the largest cryptocurrency will scale up to meet the needs of billions of future users.

Readers can find more information on the protocol, which debuted on the Bitcoin mainnet at the start of 2018, here.

Looking forward, Swann presented a list of no fewer than thirteen upcoming improvements to Lightning which he says will boost its mainstream appeal.

The basis for the list came from a blog post by Bitcoin business Bitrefill, which offers a range of products and services payable using Lightning.

Top on the list for Swann was Atomic Multipath Payments (AMPs) – or breaking a single payment down into several smaller ones, and sending them over multiple Lightning channels.

“Payments become much more reliable, no longer limited to 1 channel capacity,” he summarized.

[AMP] Removes the biggest (in my opinion) hurdles to payment issues, single channel capacity & liquidity.

Swann is by no means alone in being concerned about those aspects of using the network. As Bitcoinist reported last year, despite its rapid growth, the vast majority of Lightning payments worth more than several US cents failed.

Not Just Lightning Atomic Swaps

Due mostly to its age, Lightning remains a highly-technical tool which lacks a user-friendly interface. Developers are still working on making its base layer suitably robust, themselves stressing the fledgling ecosystem is still an experiment.

Activity is gathering pace, however, and soon for example, Lightning will offer not just major efficiency gains for Bitcoin users, but those of other coins at the same time – via Atomic Swaps.

“Channels don’t have to only send (Bitcoin). Any blockchain… with (Lightning) can connect payments across blockchains. Useful for decentralized swapping of coins, & sending bitcoins to pay invoices in multiple cryptocurrencies,” Swann explained.

Other improvements focus on more specific weak areas in the current Lightning setup. The full list is as follows:

  • Atomic Multipath Payments (AMPs)
  • Atomic Swaps
  • Channel Factories
  • Dual-Funded Channels
  • Eltoo
  • Neutrino
  • Rendezvous Routing
  • Sphinx
  • Splicing
  • Submarine Swaps
  • Trampoline Payments
  • Turbo Channels
  • Watchtowers

As Bitcoinist reported, despite its technical level, Lightning gained significant publicity in 2019 thanks mainly to a public outreach project by Bitcoin user Hodlonaut.

A form of transaction relay, the project, Lightning Torch, raised money for the plight of Venezuela’s citizens using Bitcoin, ultimately seeing participation from well-known figures both within and outside the cryptocurrency industry.

What do you think about the Lightning Network? Let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock

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Dub 10

Full Blocks ‘Only Way’ For Bitcoin to Stay Trustless, Say Seoul Meetup Founder

Bitcoin blocks will ultimately fill up and fees will increase accordingly, another community figure has warned as a spike in volume continues.


Somsen: Make ‘Smarter Use’ Of Block Space

In a series of tweets April 10, Ruben Somsen, podcast host and long-time convenor of the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup, argued that despite fees increasing, they are part of Bitcoin’s overall transformation into a global payment system.

The impact, he argued, does not have to be a negative one.

“Blocks WILL be full sooner or later. We’re not making smart use of block space, so we’re likely to experience a bumpy fee ride until people adjust their behavior,” he wrote.

…It costs miners virtually nothing to add a transaction. Block space is given to the highest bidder – if nobody bids, it’s practically free. If you think mass replicated immutable blockchain data is at least worth something, then it logically follows that blocks WILL be full.

Bitcoin Transaction Fees Surpass $1 For First Time Ever

The topic of Bitcoin transaction fees has returned to the spotlight over the past week after Bitcoin price shot up to $5300 in a matter of days.

A surge in network activity followed, with fees rising as blocks suddenly became fuller. As Bitcoinist reported, the change led to criticism of certain players, such as wallets which are not helping decrease network load. Somsen agreed.

“Wallets need to get smarter,” he continued.

Fee estimates aim for the next block by default. The result? A bidding war. Better to use Replace-By-Fee (RBF) + under-bidding and automated fee bumps to get a cheaper confirmation within a user-defined time limit. This smooths out the fees.

Off-Chain No Magic Bullet?

He added upcoming technological improvements, in the form of Schnorr signatures, Taproot, MAST, MuSig and SigAgg, would also help keep fees under control, but that the wholesale rollout of these tools was still a long way off.

On the topic of off-chain scaling, something many believe will ultimately avoid the need to pay significant network fees, Somsen also gave cautionary advice.

“…All off-chain solutions, whether it’s third party services or Lightning, do NOT make you immune to on-chain fees,” he countered. “When there are issues, people have to go back on-chain. If you can’t afford to pay the fee, you are stuck and won’t be able to exit from misbehavior.”

He concludes:

There’s simply no other way for Bitcoin to stay trustless. If you personally don’t need trustlessness, you can always transact cheaply off-chain via third parties. But if we sacrifice trustlessness on the base layer, it’ll be gone forever.

Lightning itself remains a technology in its infancy, despite mounting publicity from well-known figures from both within and beyond cryptocurrency.

Considered an experiment on a technical level, Lightning currently contains capacity for just under 1100 BTC ($5.79 million) in transactions, a figure which has nonetheless shot up 40 percent over the past month alone.

What do you think about Ruben Somsen’s prognosis? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of

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Dub 08

Bitcoin Goes Mainstream As Miss Universe Receives Lightning Torch

Bitcoin adoption took a step in a new direction this weekend after a former Miss Universe contestant joined the Lightning Torch transaction relay.


Rosa-Maria Ryyti HODLs Lightning Torch

In what appears to be an unexpected choice, Jeremias Kangas, founder of P2P trading platform Localbitcoins, opted to pass the Torch outside the cryptocurrency community – to Miss Universe Finland 2015, Rosa-Maria Ryyti.

Lightning Torch began in January this year as a stress test for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, a solution which will allow Bitcoin to scale up to meet the needs of mass adoption.

While Lightning itself has only existed on the Bitcoin mainnet for around 15 months, the Torch has demonstrated the network’s resilience, with various high-profile figures becoming involved.

The relay works by nodes on the network accepting, adding the Torch transaction and adding a nominal amount of bitcoin, currently 10,000 satoshis, before passing it forward.

So far, the Torch has had around 275 owners, with Ryyti opting to hand it to Colombian Bitcoin guru BTC Andres. In total, there will only be enough ownership spots for the sum of the transaction to reach 5 million satoshis.

“I was honored to receive the torch from pioneer Jeremias Kangas and now there are only 8 places left,” she told her 35,000 Instagram followers.

The funds raised will be donated to Bitcoin Venezuela.

Ryyti also set up an account on Tippin.me, the Lightning-enabled tips service used in Lightning Torch.

Bigger And Bigger

Ryyti’s advocacy of Bitcoin predictably struck a chord with the cryptocurrency community. On social media, the model gained considerable acclaim, despite a conspicuous lack of feedback from non-crypto followers from Instagram.

The event is not the first time the Torch has ventured outside of crypto, with perhaps its other outing also becoming its best-known when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey took over in February.

Jack Dorsey Joe Rogan Podcast JRE

As Bitcoinist reported, his custody was more than a token gesture, Dorsey subsequently pledging to integrate Lightning in both Twitter and his payments startup Square. The latter is currently hiring developers for its dedicated venture, dubbed Square Crypto.

BTC Andres meanwhile held the Torch for only a short time before passing it elsewhere among the South American Bitcoin community.

Currently, the invoice lies with DJ Booth, creator of Lightning-enabled Bitcoin crowdfunding platform Tallycoin, where Torch creator Hodlonaut is currently raising funds for the plight of Venezuelans.

According to monitoring resource 1ML.com, Bitcoin mainnet Lightning currently has 7876 nodes, over 39,000 channels and a total capacity of 1080 BTC. The figures represent monthly growth of 9.8 percent, 14.7 percent, and 40 percent, respectively.

Last week, a dedicated exchange appeared in the form of Bolt, which aims to allow Lightning-based trades between Litecoin and Bitcoin using a technology known as cross-chain atomic swaps

What do you think about Miss Universe Finland 2015 participating in the Lightning Torch? Let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives, Instagram

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Bře 31

Making ATM Bitcoin Payments via Lightning Network Is Becoming a Reality

Developer and researcher Felix Weis successfully executed, as a proof-of-concept, the world’s first ATM Bitcoin transaction on the Lightning Network.


World’s First Lightning-enabled Bitcoin ATM ‘Worked Fine’

On March 31, 2019, Weis publicly demonstrated a transaction via Lightning Network at a bitcoin ATM, during the Lightning Hackday, in Hong Kong, as shown in the video below.

Later, Weis described the transaction as:

Just a proof of concept ‘top up your existing channel.’ Lots of bugs but two different mobile wallets worked fine.

Bitcoin Lightning Network Capacity Rises Over 1,000 BTC

The crypto industry is becoming increasingly enthusiastic about the Lightning Network because it offers to drastically lower BTC’s transaction fees while making it possible to execute near-instant transactions.

Moreover, the demonstration of making ATM Bitcoin payments over the Lightning Network comes when Weiss Crypto Ratings has just upgraded Bitcoin from a “C-” to a “B-” (good) because its technology had dramatically improved.

Weiss highlighted these conclusions in a comprehensive report on the crypto market entitled “Dark Shadows with a Bright Future, ” published in March 2019.

Specifically, the Weiss evaluation considered four factors: adoption rate, technology, risk, and reward. And, it highlighted the effect of the advent of the Lightning Network in the upgrade, as follows,

Bitcoin has been upgraded with the roll-out of its Lightning Network and is the best positioned to become a popular store of value for savers and investors.

The Lightning Network is a decentralized system where participants can implement trustless micropayment channels to perform one or multiple payment transactions off-blockchain.

These channels reside off the Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions occur between these channels. Upon completion, transactions are transmitted, as a single transaction, to the blockchain. Then, the payment channel is closed, and transactions are transcribed onto the blockchain.

Therefore, regardless of the number of transactions performed, the BTC blockchain is accessed twice, at the opening of the channel and the closing of the channel.

The implementation of Lightning Network nodes continues to gain momentum. As of this writing, according to 1ML, a Lightning Network monitoring website, the network now boasts 7,744 nodes and 39,129 channels. And the network capacity reaches over 1,059 BTC.

Will Bitcoin ATMs use Lightning Network to cut costs in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  via Twitter/@bitcoinorghk, Weiss Crypto Ratings, Shutterstock

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Bře 08

Amazon Shares Drop 2.6 Percent As Centralization Alienates Suppliers

Amazon suppliers received a lesson in centralization on March 7 after the e-commerce giant abruptly began canceling huge numbers of orders in a profits push. 


Amazon: We ‘Saw Opportunity’

As Bloomberg reported, quoting a statement from Amazon, the company wants to increase returns at the heart of its e-commerce operations. This has involved fundamentally altering the supply line, forcing even long-time sellers to sell products directly on its marketplace instead of using Amazon as a middleman.

This, reports say, results in reduced costs, as suppliers themselves foot the bill for issues such as storage and shipping. Amazon also takes a commission from each transaction.

“We regularly review our selling partner relationships and may make changes when we see an opportunity to provide customers with improved selection, value and convenience,” the statement reads.

The knock-on effect for suppliers, perhaps predictably, has already touched a nerve. As Bloomberg notes, given purchase orders agreed months in advance, seismic changes from Amazon can easily trigger chaos.

“If you’re heavily reliant on Amazon, which a lot of these vendors are, you’re in a lot of trouble. If this goes on, it can put people out of business,” the publication quoted Dan Brownsher, CEO of a consultancy counting around 50 Amazon vendors among its clients, as saying.

At press time, Amazon’s share price was down by close to three percent on the day.

amazon

Can Decentralization Tackle Monopolies?

As Amazon has grown to achieve a practically worldwide monopoly, the perils of relying on a giant centralized partner will ring true for those businesses which have adopted an alternative ethos.

Nonetheless, decentralized marketplaces have yet to achieve widespread popularity. Efforts to take on the e-commerce giants have so far seen little progress, with highly-anticipated offerings such as OpenBazaar failing to dent consumer habits.

“You should be able to buy and sell using cryptocurrency… if you get crypto, you should be able to spend it… you and buy whatever you need for your daily activity,” the platform’s founder, Washington Sanchez, told cryptocurrency advocate Tatiana Moroz’s podcast the Tatiana Show in January.

Sanchez is overseeing a diversification of OpenBazaar’s core offering, branching out into related software as part of parent company OB1.io.

What do you think about Amazon’s change of strategy? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Bře 04

Bitcoin Can’t Be Stopped By Politics – Lightning ‘Torch’ Goes From Iran to Israel

The Lightning Network ‘torch’ payment has reached Israel after it was sent by an Iranian in a symbolic gesture of peace between the two nations. The historic occasion proves that Bitcoin is truly an apolitical and borderless money technology.


#LNTrustChain Keeps Growing

As reported previously by Bitcoinist, concerns over censorship didn’t stop the #LNTrutChain, otherwise known as the ‘Lightning Torch,’ from being sent to a user based in Iran.

Ziya Sadr, a Coinex executive, gained support from the community to receive the torch after Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati claimed political factors prevented him from involving him.

Sadr then passed the Lightning Network (LN) payment to another Iranian and founder of Bushido Labs, Sam Abassi, who took advantage of the opportunity to showcase Bitcoin’s political neutrality and censorship-resistance.

Now, the 229th recipient of the torch becomes the Tel Aviv-based Bitcoin Embassy in Israel, who commented:

We received the #LNTrustChain torch!  The torch went from Iran to @samabbassi, an Iranian living abroad, and then to us in Tel Aviv! We’re very proud to be a part of this historic moment  Reply with your invoices and let’s get this torch on the move again!

Bitcoin is Borderless: Palestine Next?

The so-called ‘Lightning Torch’ involves Bitcoin users passing around a transaction on the Lightning Network, adding funds and sending it forward. The current amount has grown to about 3,730,000 satoshis or about $144 USD.

The initiative, started by Twitter user @Hodlonaut, has gained significant interest since it began its journey in January. It has been relayed by such notable entities as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Fidelity Investments.

Online commentators meanwhile celebrated the occasion praising the apolitical and borderless money technology that is Bitcoin.

“Bitcoin cannot be stopped by sanctions or bureaucrats,” commented Atlantic Financial CEO, Bruce Fenton, on Twitter, adding:

Users drive Bitcoin, not central authorities. The future is here.

User Fontaine also added:

Bitcoin unites us all and that is the best thing about it! Would be great to see @BitcoinemBassy send the torch to a Palestinian

Lightning Network is Growing Rapidly

The milestone comes as Bitcoin’s second-layer Lightning Network has been growing exponentially, particularly in the past few months. Data from monitoring resource 1ML.com shows that overall capacity increased almost 20 percent last month alone, while the number of nodes is nearing 7,000.

The instant and near-zero fee transactions over the Lightning Network also go far beyond simply payments.

Last week, Blockstream had used its Lightning Satellite setup to broadcast the world’s first ‘space meme.’ While other use-cases include everything from online roulettes to a remote chicken feeder. In fact, many new Lighting Applications or ‘LApps’ have started to emerge for such as for online tipping and buying pizza, a payment that can be sent for a fee of less than one cent.

Yesterday, Bitcoinist reported that major US retailer Kroger is now also considering accepting Lightning Network payments after abandoning Visa credit cards due to high merchant fees.

While a long shot, LN has actually been found to be a few seconds slower than the best (centralized) digital payment solutions on the market such as Apple Pay, according to a recent study. What’s more, it is actually “days faster” when it comes to onboarding merchants, according to researcher JP Thor.

Do you want the LN torch to go to Palestine next? Let us know below!!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Bře 03

Major US Retailer Ditches Visa – Now Considering Bitcoin’s Lightning Network

US retail giant, Kroger, is no longer accepting Visa credit cards at its chain of Smith’s food and drug stores. So Anthony Pompliano tweeted an offer to hook them up with Bitcoin’s Lightning Network nationwide.


Fees-a Not Accepted Here

It all started on Friday when Kroger announced the move to no longer accept Visa credit cards, citing excessive fees. The Smith’s chain comprises 134 food and drug stores across 7 states, employing 20,000 staff.

Card fees charged by Visa are higher at Smith’s than any other credit card brand, explained Kroger CFO, Mike Schlotman:

Visa has been misusing its position and charging retailers excessive fees for a long time.

Visa is actually due to increase fees for the banks processing card payments on behalf of merchants in April.

Pomp And Circumstance

In the circumstances, it seemed only natural for somebody to suggest a crypto alternative, and Pompliano rose to the occasion. “Who knows someone on the leadership team there?” he tweeted.

The Morgan Creek Digital team will fly to meet them and get them hooked up with the Lightning Network nationwide.

A couple of hours later a product manager from Kroger Digital tweeted a response and set up a conversation.

Obviously, the Ripple army dove right onto this, questioning Lightning Network’s readiness, and suggesting XRP as a better alternative. More interestingly, someone suggested selling Smith’s gift-cards on BitRefill, which would certainly make a zero effort stop-gap solution.

The Tip Of The Iceberg

But this is a very big deal. Smith’s is the second Kroger brand to stop accepting Visa credit cards, after Foods Co. supermarkets in California. Successful implementation of a Lightning Network payment solution at the retailer could lead to a wider roll-out across Kroger brands.

kroger

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain by revenue and the third largest employer in the United States, along with the third largest retailer in the world. As of December 2018, it operated 2,765 supermarkets and multi-department stores, either directly or through subsidiaries.

Ripple army excepted, I’m sure there is a high level of confidence in Pompliano and Morgan Creek Digital to make this work.

And Visa… you only have yourself to blame!

Will major retailers like Kroger accept Bitcoin and Lightning Network payments? Share your thoughts! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 25

‘Very Sad’: Lightning Torch Creator Laments Exclusion of Iranian Bitcoin User

The Lightning Network (LN) faced unusual censorship allegations this weekend after it emerged a participant in the Lightning Torch event refused to include a member from Iran.


Sending Transaction To Iran ‘Very Difficult’

In a debacle which continues to unfold on social media, Coinex executive Ziya Sadr confirmed Peach Inc. senior software engineer Vijay Boyapati declined his request to be involved.

Lightning Torch is a transaction relay in which users join or use LN to receive and contribute to a single Bitcoin (BTC) payment.

Similar to the Olympic Flame, the Torch has gained considerable publicity since it began in January, involving the likes of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Blockstream CEO Adam Back.

iran

As a US resident, however, Boyapati expressed concern that ‘sending’ the Torch – which in reality involves sending a payment – to Sadr would draw the attention of authorities. Iran is currently subject to a host of new US economic sanctions.

“I really really REALLY wanted to send it to (Sadr) but US law makes it very risky for me as a citizen,” he claimed.

Very sad that two peaceful people cannot transact with each other across the world because of the state.

Bitcoin Doesn’t Care?

Sadr responded by avoiding calls to label Boyapati a “moron” for his decision, only confirming the legitimacy of the events.

The Twitter user known as hodlonaut, who started Lightning Torch, described Sadr’s predicament as “very sad.”

The Torch currently resides with Adam Back as of press time Monday. He joined the list of holders behind Charlie Shrem and major US broker Fidelity, which accepted it last week.

Lightning itself continues to grow, with momentum building to take the network’s overall capacity to an all-time high of almost 725 BTC ($2.74 million). The size of the Lightning Torch transaction, by contrast, is 3.6 million satoshis ($137.13).

What do you think about Vijay Boyapati’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Úno 22

Cluck the Banks: Bitcoin Lightning Network Powers Remote Chicken Feeder

A new and decidedly niche consumer product for Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has launched, allowing anyone to use the payment protocol… to feed chickens.


A Different Breed Of Blockchain Supply Chain

Currently circulating on social media, Pollofeed.com facilitates automated feeding of the birds, powered by Bitcoin Lightning Network payments.

“Pollo Feed is a automated chicken feeder powered by bitcoin lighting payments,” the service’s description reads.

Users use the website to generate a payment invoice and send funds. After, Pollo Feed automatically dispenses a small amount of feed to a chicken in an enclosure in a hitherto unknown location.

The chicken is visible via a stream from within the enclosure, and developers promise that each successful payment will result in video evidence of receipt.

There is as yet no data concerning how many times the chickens have profited from Bitcoiners’ generosity, or exactly how automated the setup is.

Doing More With Lightning

Despite its relatively small appeal as a tool, the reaction to Pollo Feed further demonstrates the rapidly increasing mainstream popularity of Lightning, which just months ago remained all but unknown beyond technical circles and enthusiasts.

As Bitcoinist reported, multiple new services designed to make using the network easy and attractive for the lay consumer have launched this year alone.

In February, these included Lightning Pizza, delivering Domino’s to any US resident and soon elsewhere, and Tippin.me expanding Bitcoin micropayments to Twitter users.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, further stated that it was a case of “not ‘if’ but ‘when’” regarding Bitcoin Lightning implementation in his own payment network Square.

Lightning continues growing hit new records on a daily basis, with currently capacity topping 715 BTC ($2.8 million) according to monitoring resource 1ML.com.

What do you think about Pollo Feed? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, pollofeed.com

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Úno 20

Google Registers Bitcoin.dev as New Domain TLD Goes Public

Bitcoin.dev is no longer available on the Google .dev domain registry. This news comes amid the public rollout of the .dev top-level domain (TLD).


$12,500 for Bitcoin.dev

If you were eyeing ownership of bitcoin.dev while waiting for Google to release the new TLD officially, that chance is long gone. A redditor with the name “salsa-system” posted a couple of hours ago that Google has registered both the bitcoin.dev and blockchain.dev domains on Tuesday (February 19, 2019).

bitcoin.dev

This news means that someone splashed $12,500 to lock down the .dev domain for the top-ranked cryptocurrency. That’s $25,000 in total if the same entity also acquired blockchain.dev.

As at press time, a quick check on the registry shows that ethereum.dev is unavailable but addresses like satoshi.dev and btc.dev haven’t been claimed yet. Like in other business segments, prime domain names are also highly sought after in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

.dev TLD Now Available

The news comes as Google, the owners of the .dev domain announced the public release of the new TLD in a blog post published on Tuesday. According to the statement, individuals and companies alike can utilize the early access program to acquire their preferred .dev domain names.

An excerpt from the announcement reads:

We hope .dev will be a new home for you to build your communities, learn the latest tech and showcase your projects-all with a perfect domain name.

Entities who chose to register their domains names on the day of the launch paid $12,500 in total fees. Those electing to do so today, Wednesday (January 20, 2019) will pay $3,500. By the end of February, getting a .dev domain will cost $20.

Making .dev Public Again

Currently, platforms and organizations like GitHub, Salesforce, and JetBrains are already using the new TLD. According to Google, the .dev domain is for developers and coders.

This admission by the company might in some way be an attempt to appease developers. In 2015, Google’s acquisition of the .dev TLD caused an uproar from stakeholders in the industry.

At the time, developers used the domain for their internal website testing protocols. This situation became even further exacerbated when a couple of years later, the company took the domain private, causing test webpages to stop working.

In any case, it seems like Google is starting to dip its toes into Bitcoin. Just yesterday, Bitcoinist reported that Google has introduced the Bitcoin symbol (₿) into its iOS keyboard.

Who do you think paid $22,000 to lock down bitcoin.dev and blockchain.dev domain names? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Google (.dev registry), Shutterstock

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