Dub 05

Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin Clashes With Bitcoin-Basher ‘Dr. Doom’

Perennial Bitcoin basher and anti-cryptocurrency campaigner, Nouriel Roubini and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin had a heated debate at the second edition of the Deconomy blockchain event in Seoul, South Korea.


Broken Record: Roubini Has Nothing New to Say

Nouriel ‘Dr. Doom’ Roubini – a New York University economics professor regurgitated his old hits, calling cryptocurrency a bubble and saying that it was only useful to criminals and tax evaders looking to launder money with virtual currencies as the “New Swiss bank.”

However, having made the above assertions, Roubini then goes on to say:

I don’t think crypto payments for criminal activity is going be the future of it. They’re not anonymous and even for cryptos that try to be anonymous like Monero, kleptocratic governments will make sure your wallet is registered.

Dr. Doom also relived some other hits like price manipulation claims, pump and dump schemes, exchange hacks as well as ICO fraud as reasons why cryptocurrencies are worthless. Roubini debunked the assertion that virtual currencies represented an emerging financial system, instead, calling them an inefficient barter system that will never overcome the “trilemma of decentralization, security, and scalability.”

Dr. Doom v Vitalik Buterin Cryptocurrency Debate

In response, Buterin countered Roubini on many of his claims especially regarding the anonymity of cryptos providing cover for criminal activities. According to the Ethereum co-founder, any convenience  offered by cryptocurrencies as a payment means is enjoyed by all; whether for “unconventional activities” or otherwise.

Buterin: ‘There Are Definetely Some Real Concerns’

Buterin also chided Roubini’s skewered criticism which fails to take into account the many benefits of cryptocurrency adoption. The Ethereum co-founder pointed to the convenience of making international payments via virtual currency, as well as, the added benefit of cryptocurrencies being censorship-resistant.

As for the perceived inefficiencies in the technology, Buterin highlighted the continuous stream of technological advancements currently ongoing in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. Commenting on cryptocurrency trilemma, Buterin opined:

There are definitely some real concerns but they’re an artifact of the tech as it exists in 2019, rather than inherent. The trilemma didn’t come with mathematical proofs. It is not impossible to have scalability and decentralization and security.

Facts Trump Sentiments When It Comes to Cryptocurrency

Some of Roubini’s criticisms come from a lack of understanding of the technology

Nocoiners like Roubini present Bitcoin to be this shadowy construct that allows criminals to carry out illegal activities with ease. However, the facts say differently.

Japan’s National Police Agency earlier in the year revealed that 98.3 percent of all recorded money laundering cases in the country for 2018 didn’t involve cryptocurrency. Intelligence agencies still report that terrorists have trouble adopting cryptocurrency to fund jihadist activities.

Danske Bank

Meanwhile, major banks like Danske Bank get indicted for money laundering to the tune of $325 billion. As reported by Bitcoinist, anti-Bitcoin banks have paid more than $240 billion in fines for money laundering indictments since the financial crisis of 2008.

Warren Buffett is another Bitcoin basher who has previously called the top-ranked cryptocurrency “rat poison.” Never mind that Berkshire Hathaway (owned by Buffett) has a ten percent stake in Wells Fargo, a bank with 93 violations and more than $14 billion in penalty fines.

Do you still pay attention to the opinions of nocoiners like Roubini? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives, Twitter (@DecentralizedF and @inside_r3)

The Rundown

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Dub 02

Augur Prediction Market Platform May Have Design Flaws

An analysis of irregularities discovered in the Augur decentralized prediction market platform has identified a number of design flaws. Namely, it identified a potential attack vector based on discrepancies between a market’s expiry date and its outcome date.


How A Prediction Market Works

A prediction market would seem an ideal use-case for blockchain, harnessing the trustless nature and lack of centralized control. Augur uses the Ethereum blockchain, and allows an individual to create a prediction market based on any definable event.

The market creator defines the topic, end date, and potential outcomes, plus an adjudicator if so desired. Trading (denominated in ETH) continues until the event-end, at which point Augur token holders (or designated reporter) determines the outcome. Token holders stake their Reputation (REP) on the outcome and receive settlement fees.

Houston, We Have A Problem (or Two)

Aside from potentially-illegal markets, covering topics such as assassinations and terror attacks, there are some key fundamental issues.

Owing to its steep learning curve, many Augur users rely on various web interfaces, which offer non-standard features and are open to manipulation. In particular, many users gravitate towards markets which appear trustworthy to others. This creates a feeding-frenzy around the few markets with reported volume, which the market creator may well have manipulated.

Disputed outcomes go to a voting procedure, with users staking REP, and receiving rewards if they choose the winning outcome. This incentivises users to vote for the most popular outcome, regardless of whether it is the true outcome. On top of this, the validity bond, which is lost if a market is deemed invalid, remains fixed, so bad actors can continual create bogus markets.

Potential Attack Vector

A recent example of how this system can be manipulated, was based on the ‘general price of Ethereum’ at the end of the day on March 31st (UTC). The market expired at 01:59 on April 1st (UTC+8), which is before the outcome date, which could cause this contract to be deemed invalid.

By creating multiple outcomes, one of which was unrealistic (ETH over $1000), and one seemingly easy to achieve (ETH between $100 and $1000), it just required a bit of wash-trading to lure punters in.

The attacker would then send a limit sell order for the ‘easy’ outcome, for a quote which is above the reward for an invalid result, but below that of a supposed ‘good deal’. Thus users will fill the order, unknowingly being potentially stuck in an invalid market.

An invalid market results in an equal amount of ETH going to shares of each outcome. In a three outcome market (the final outcome being ETH < $100), each outcome would be marked at 1/3 value. With the majority of participants backing the ‘easy’ outcome, a disproportion return would go to the ‘unrealistic’ backers.

Fixing A Hole Where The Rain Comes In

Whilst Augur has already identified several of the concerns, there has been no official announcement of improvement implementation. Meanwhile, users are still exposed to this kind of attack.

Indeed, the same creator has already made a new market with the same flaw called ‘Ethereum Price at End of April’. There are also copycat markets springing up to catch users unawares.

Until these flaws are fixed, users should probable consider Augur, ‘buyer beware’.

Will blockchain-based predictions markets realize their potential? Share your thoughts below!


Images via Shutterstock

The Rundown

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Bře 09

US Regulators Should Give Bitcoin Some Breathing Space

The voices of a growing number of influential politicians and innovators are more loudly proclaiming the importance of preserving the United States’ supposed lead in the cryptocurrency industry. 


‘The US Cannot Afford to Lose Its Place as the Front-Runner in Crypto’

The importance of maintaining world technological supremacy is gaining momentum. In the United States, defenders of innovation and job creation are pushing for giving Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies some breathing space.

In this regard, Thomas W. Hodge, Senior Associate Attorney at Brock & Scott PLLC and founder of Crypto and Policy, argues that the US has always nurtured the growth of new technologies entering the market. “We foster its growth rather than stifle it with burdensome regulations,” he said, adding:

Today there are many new technologies on the horizon: artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and perhaps most importantly, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, which will change the way we conduct our lives — from banking to voting […] Simply put, the United States cannot afford to lose its place as the front-runner in crypto.

To this end, Hodge joins the congressman for Minnesota, Tom Emmer, in asking to not stifle free market competition and have government regulatory bodies to provide transparency on their regulatory intentions.

Hodge hopes for renewed leadership in the Congressional Blockchain Caucus and changes at the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). According to Hodge, these developments will encourage cryptocurrency companies “to continue to drive innovations in ‘fintech’ around the world.”

‘The SEC Must Open Its Doors to Innovation’

At the SEC, key officials are moving towards improving the treatment of crypto technologies. For some time, Commissioner Hester Peirce has been proposing to open the SEC to innovation and free enterprise. She complains:

[W]e regulate an industry that is a key gatekeeper for progress and productivity in the rest of the economy.

Specifically, Pierce calls for an innovative and improved regulatory framework that is more adaptable to the cryptocurrency industry.

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, crypto enthusiasts are eager to spot Bitcoin-friendly candidates and to know how their policies will foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Already, one candidate has declared he will be accepting campaign donations in cryptocurrencies. Andrew Yang is a presidential candidate and proponent of a universal basic income. He recently announced that he accepts donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and any other cryptocurrency complying with the ERC20 standard, as well as Venmo payments.

Do you think the US government should foster the growth of the crypto industry to maintain technological supremacy? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of  Twitter/@RepTomEmmer, Shutterstock.

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Led 15

XRP Overtakes Ethereum Despite Looming ‘Constantinople’ Upgrade

XRP has reclaimed the position of the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap from ETH just days before Ethereum’s ‘Constantinople’ hard-fork upgrade. 


Pre-Fork Drop

On January 16th, Ethereum is scheduled to undergo a network-wide system update called ‘Constantinople’. Among other things, the implementation of the upgrade will reduce the block reward from 3 ETH/block to 2 ETH/block.

Days before the event, however, Ethereum’s (ETH) 00 price experienced a notable decline.

In a matter of minutes, ETH price dropped by about 8 percent.

The movement caused ETH to fall behind Ripple (XRP), which reclaimed its spot as the second largest cryptocurrency by means of market capitalization, less than two weeks after Ethereum regained the number two spot from XRP.

In fact, the two have been neck and neck over the past few months in cryptocurrency market cap rankings.

XRP 00 also experienced a decrease around the same time, but the cryptocurrency experienced a relatively smaller loss of 2.5 percent against the USD.

Ethereum’s ‘Constantinople’

Constantinople is a system upgrade scheduled for implementation at block 7,080,000. Given the current average block time, the event should take place on January 16th, 2019.

One of the most discussed changes that the upgrade will cause is the reduction of block reward from the current 3 ETH/block to 2 ETH/block. This is also referred to as the “thirdening.” It’s the second time Ethereum’s block rewards have been reduced.

The first one was called “Byzantium” and it took place on October 16th, 2017. Back then, ETH surged by about 6 percent during the day, followed by the cryptocurrency’s late 2017 rally to an all-time high of about $1,400.

In total, the upgrade will integrate 5 Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), which are geared toward tackling cost, speed, functionality, and mining issues.

Support For ‘Constantinople’

Several cryptocurrency exchanges have announced their support for the upcoming network upgrade.

Binance, HitBTC, Huobi, Bittrex, OKEx, CEX.IO, Cryptopia, and Poloniex, have all announced that they will support the Constantinople hard-fork.

Most of them advise users to give sufficient time for their deposits to be processed prior to the upgrade.

At the time of writing this, Gemini, Coinbase, and Bitfinex, haven’t yet declared their support for the upgrade.

What do you think about Constantinople and its impact on Ethereum? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock; TradingView

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Lis 29

Simplicity Language to Give Bitcoin Ethereum-Like Smart Contract Capabilities

Simplicity, a combinator-based, typed, and functional language for blockchain applications can reportedly enable Bitcoin’s Script language to handle more complex yet reliable smart contracts.


Bitcoin Script Language is Limited, For Now

According to a new research from Blockstream on Simplicity – a blockchain applications language – distributed ledgers pose a range of unique challenges, which make traditional programming languages unfit.

What’s more, Bitcoin’s Script language is limited to certain combinations of signature checks, hashlocks, and timelocks. Second layer solutions, on the other hand, such as the Lightning Network, for example, have been built on these primitives and, hence, lack the necessary expressiveness for more complicated smart contracts.

The paper also cites a recent upgrade failure of Ethereum’s EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machince), caused by a disagreement of implementations on the results of a certain computation, resulting in lost funds.

When Smart Contracts Act Stupid: Is Your ICO Smart Contract Safe & Secure?

Simplicity: Complex Bitcoin Smart Contracts

According to the research, Simplicity is capable of providing the necessary flexibility for a wide range of computations, while, at the same time, allowing users to verify the security, costs, and safety of smart contracts.

Furthermore, the low-level programing language is also purportedly capable of solving certain previously required tradeoffs between reliability and expressiveness.

As it stands now, developers are either able to build a complex yet unreliable smart contract (think The DAO) or they are able to build a basic but reliable one. Thus, Simplicity would make make it easier to write complex smart contracts that are more reliable.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first project which aims to enable effective smart contracts for Bitcoin’s network.

The potential solution has already caught the attention of Bitcoin investor Trace Mayer who said the Simplicity language “can help take things to a whole new level.”

You can check out the technical detailed report on Simplicity here.

Earlier in May, Bitcoinist reported that the RSK project, which intends to build Turing-complete smart-contract capabilities for Bitcoin. RSK has partnered up with iExec in order to deliver off-chain computing and to enable dApps to access on-demand cloud computing resources.  

What do you think of Simplicity’s ability to enable complex smart contracts on Bitcoin’s network? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Lis 15

Ripple (XRP) Overtakes Ethereum as Second Biggest Crypto By Market Cap

Ripple (XRP) has once again overtaken Ethereum by market cap amid ongoing cryptocurrency market turbulence and bearish sentiment.


Only $100k Separates Ripple and Ethereum

As data from Coinmarketcap confirms, Ripple’s XRP token is now the largest altcoin, losing less than Ethereum in the past 24 hours. As a result, ETH is now in the third-largest cryptocurrency, repeating what has become a pattern in 2018.

As Bitcoinist previously reported, XRP last overtook ETH fairly recently on the back of rumored expansion of the token’s usage.

While not directly affecting Ethereum, the Bitcoin Cash hard fork appeared to hit the asset particularly hard, ETH/USD 00 losing almost 15 percent versus Bitcoin’s 11 percent.

XRP/USD 00 fell 9.2 percent, the difference in market cap between the two altcoins now just $100,000.

No Cause To Celebrate

The short-term success of XRP contrasts with the continued publicity battle Ripple has seen in recent months.

As Ethereum developers forge ahead with major technical developments many have championed, Ripple appears mired in criticism of both its products and senior executives, who have delivered contradictory statements about the company.

In October, CEO Brad Garlinghouse hit back at accusations the network was overly centralized.

“I as the CEO of the company can’t control the XRP ledger. I can’t change a transaction,” he told Cheddar.

“…I think there are a lot of people out there who are waging holy wars, they’re spreading misinformation – and they’re spreading misinformation because they have an economic interest in that.”

Nonetheless, third-party interest in the token remains with news this week surfacing that Japan’s biggest bank wishes to use it as the basis for a cross-border remittance service to Brazil.

Multiple financial institutions are currently considering the concept of Ripple-based remittances, with the company’s xRapid payment network also debuting with XRP as its means of exchange.

What do you think about Ripple overtaking Ethereum? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives

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Lis 04

Bitly Blocks 200 Links From Andreas Antonopoulos’ ‘Mastering Ethereum’

Bitly (bit.ly) has come under fire from cryptocurrency circles after the business appeared to block all the links from Andreas Antonopoulos’ new book.


Bitly Silent On Surprise Block

Antonopoulos, who is weeks away from publishing his latest guide, ‘Mastering Ethereum,’ publicly took issue with the URL shortening service and link management platform on social media after a tip-off about it preventing around 200 of the book’s links from opening.

“I’m about to publish my 4th book and it has about 200 http://bit.ly links in it,” he wrote on Twitter November 3.

“If you are going to block links, I will need to remove all 200 and replace them with a competitor[.]”

Bitly has existed since 2008 and currently sees monthly traffic of around 600 million link shortenings.

As of press time, officials had not responded to Antonopoulos’ tweet, and the cause and future status of the block remains unknown.

‘Not Your Shortener, Not Your Link’?

In the absence of an explanation from Bitly, Twitter users were swift to call for a “decentralized” alternative to private link shorteners, identifying them as a bottleneck.

“Don’t rely on bitly or ANY shortener service. They are all a single point of failure,” one response read.

Not your keys, not your bitcoin? Not your shortner (sic), not your link.

The tone echoes recent calls among some cryptocurrency figures to abandon the traditional stalwarts of the online ecosystem, Bitcoinist previously reporting on an increasing distaste for Twitter itself in favor of decentralized open source alternative Mastodon.

Antonopoulos Bitcoinist

The Bitly episode is the latest headache for Antonopoulos on the road to publishing Mastering Ethereum, the celebrated educator previously defending his choice of subject material in the face of fans who appeared confused about a refocusing away from Bitcoin 00 to altcoins.

Mastering Ethereum is due for publication within the next four weeks, Antonopoulos further confirmed.

What do you think about Bitly blocking links from ‘Mastering Ethereum’? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Říj 24

Bitcoin Price Has Maximum $22K Potential By End Of 2018, Says Tom Lee

Bitcoin could end 2018 at $22,000, Fundstrat Global Investors analyst Tom Lee repeated in new predictions about the end of the cryptocurrency bear market October 19.


Lee: 200-day MA ‘Very Important’

Speaking during an interview with social media blog Crypto Tips, Lee, who is known for his bullish stance on Bitcoin in particular, highlighted the 200-day moving average price trend as a key factor in determining its future performance.

“When Bitcoin’s below its 200-day, it only goes up 50 percent of the time in the next sixth months, but when it’s above its 200-day, it’s up 80 percent of the time,” he said referring to analysis produced by Fundstrat last week.

“The 200-day and the trend that’s implied by that is obviously very important.

Ethereum ‘Capitulated’?

Far from a continuation of this year’s price downturn, Lee added he thinks it is “more likely” that Bitcoin 00 would put in an unexpected climb.

That hypothesis runs counter to assumptions shared by many other analysts within the cryptocurrency industry, who have endorsed an idea BTC/USD must first ‘bottom’ as low as $3000 before finally challenging its all-time highs.

For Lee, $6000 is the “floor.”

“Where can the surprise take place? I know a lot of people think Bitcoin’s price will collapse to $3000; I think what’s more probable a surprise is that we have a very explosive increase in price,” he continued.

For Ethereum (ETH) 00 meanwhile, Lee also saw support returning to markets. The largest altcoin by market cap had fallen more precipitously than Bitcoin, at one point trading as low as $170 in recent months, its worst performance since May 2017.

“…Ethereum is already trading like it’s capitulated,” he said.

In 2018, a combination of factors including the EOS ICO, ICOs in general, BitMEX’s ETH futures and media “hitjobs” had created a “negative” story around the asset.

What do you think about Tom Lee’s predictions? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitcoinist archives

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Říj 09

Ether September Price Lows Could Signal End of Bitcoin Bear Market: Analyst

Ether (ETH) prices “capitulating” in September was “significant” to ending the 2018 cryptocurrency bear market, according to a new theory from one cryptocurrency analyst. 


Thies: ‘We Were Looking In The Wrong Place’

In a series of tweets, UTR Equity’s crypto market commentator Eric Thies postulated that Bitcoin’s run to all-time price highs in December 2017 came as a result of Ether investment during the ICO phenomenon.

When interest slowed, so too did prices begin to freefall — Bitcoin reaching lows below $5900 in February this year and Ether below $170 in September.

“(Bitcoin’s) run in the end of 2017 was fueled by a MASSIVE ICO (ERC20) bubble and therefore indirectly fueled via ETH. Meaning that ETH capitulating in early Sept was significant to ending the bear market,” he wrote, noting the concept was a “theory.”

“We were all looking in the wrong place, expecting (Bitcoin) to do it.”

The ‘When Moon?’ Question

Commentators across the cryptocurrency industry and beyond have long sought a narrative to accompany the continued ‘slow bleed’ performance of most assets this year.

As Bitcoinist reported, talk of institutional investors entering to prop up prices continues to contrast with technical analyses suggesting price declines have not yet finished.

While most sources agree that a decisive U-turn cannot be far off, disagreements remain as to the real impact of institutional money or other factors on the industry, should these appear in the short term.

BTC

For Thies meanwhile, funds flowing in via exchanges, stablecoin Tether (USDT)’s token issuance, and other factors support the bear market culmination.

“…Capitulation really may have been $12k-$6k in early Feb, and everything thereafter has been the ecosystem stabilizing itself after a MASSIVE run up,” he concluded about Bitcoin’s performance.

Bitcoin prices have experienced several months of broad stability, at press time falling within 4 percent of values against the USD seen on the same date in July, August and September. 

What do you think about Eric Thies’ market theory? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, CoinMarketCap.

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Říj 05

$30 Million New York Condo Tokenized on Ethereum Blockchain

The future of real estate and the mortgage business are set to be revolutionized by tokenized properties.


Now Everyone Gets a Slice

A $30 million Manhattan building has become New York City’s first luxury property to be tokenized on blockchain. The building is located in East Village and contains twelve 1,700 square foot condos. The entire property is now represented by an unconfirmed number of tokens on a public blockchain, and each token stands for a fractional value of each property.

Tokenizing the property now allows people with a small amount of money to invest in real estate and this could be a game changer for those living in expensive cities with sky-high property prices. Ryan Serhant, the celebrity star of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York brokered the deal. Serhant explained to Forbes that tokenized property and financing could:

[…] remove the unruly pressure of traditional bank financing, which is much healthier for the project and all of the stakeholders.

Manhattan, NYC

Blockchain Will Bring a Real Estate Revolution

This new method of digitally representing ownership of tangible assets on blockchain has already taken hold in the world of fine arts — a Warhol painting recently auctioned for $5.6 million via Ethereum blockchain.

The sale of the New York property was the result of a partnership between blockchain tokenization experts Fluidity and Propellr, the latter of which is a digital assets firm. Propellr CEO Todd Lippiatt believes that blockchain technology and tokenized assets will revolutionize the real estate and securities market as “traditional securities structures and issuance frameworks haven’t evolved in a long time.”

Do you think tokenized properties level the playing field for all investors? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives, Shutterstock.

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