Led 01

Bluewallet Lets You Send Bitcoin Lightning Payments from Your iPhone

Bluewallet appears to be setting the bar for the next generation of Bitcoin wallets. Available for both Android and iOS, it is the first to integrate the Lightning Network (LN) for super-quick and “unfairly cheap” transactions.


First Bitcoin Lightning Wallet on iOS

It should be mentioned that this review is largely aimed at users who are either not tech-savvy enough or don’t have have the time or both (like me) to set up their own Lightning nodes.

I’ve used a few iOS Bitcoin wallet apps over the years and all of these have their pros and cons. However, as far as simplicity, ease-of-use, and security are concerned, I can confidently say that Bluewallet is the best iOS Bitcoin wallet app I ever used. 

It combines the latest Bitcoin technology (SegWit, LN, Replace-by-fee etc.) with some nifty security features (plausible deniability) alongside the simplest user experience to date.

Note: Bluewallet did not pay me for this review and never contacted me.

I recently found out about this app, which was launched in early December, on Twitter. The wallet caught my attention since this is the first open-source Bitcoin wallet for iOS that supports Lightning Network so I decided to check it out.

As far as I can tell, it is the first wallet that allows you to:

  • Refill the LN wallet with an on-chain transaction without closing/opening a new one
  • Backup (export) the LN wallet with a QR code/URL
  • Use the same LN wallet across multiple devices

It should also be mentioned that while you control the BTC wallet’s private keys, the LN part is custodial by default running Bluewallet’s LNHUB+LND. But, if you already have your own LND node, you can run LNHUB software yourself (it’s open-source) by entering your URL in the Lightning wallet settings.

Not Many Options for iOS

Just like many other people, my first ever Bitcoin wallet experience was with Blockchain wallet in 2014. It was one of the first Bitcoin wallets available for both Android and iOS mobile platforms.

Currently, I’ve been using Edge wallet (formerly known as Airbitz) for the sole reasons that it is ‘secure’ (you control the private keys) and one of the few that supports SegWit (cheaper transactions) along with many altcoins like Monero and Ethereum.

While I believe Edge is one of the best wallets available for iOS today, I miss the watch-only address feature that Blockchain wallet always had — so there were always tradeoffs.

Watch-only addresses let you — as the name implies — only see the balance of your cold-storage wallets. So even if your Ledger Nano S is buried in a nuclear bunker, you could still safely monitor its balance from afar.

However, security should be paramount to every Bitcoin user. Thus, controlling your own private keys is a must and since there weren’t a lot of options for iOS – Edge wallet it was. (I’ve also tried the popular BRD wallet but I wasn’t a fan).

Blown Away By Simplicity

Setting up a wallet in Bluewallet took less than 20 seconds and you have a choice between a regular HD (hierarchical deterministic) wallet or SegWit. You can also import an existing wallet using your seed.

Done. Creating the Lightning wallet is just as quick.

You then have an option to encrypt (recommended) your wallet’s privet keys with a single password. This makes the experience similar to signing up for a new Gmail account — which makes the entire process very easy and familiar, particularly for those new to Bitcoin.

There’s also a genius feature against $5 wrench attacks called Plausible Deniability.

Next, you’ll need some coin to play with. So refill your Bluewallet by sending an on-chain transaction with some BTC from another wallet. If you don’t have any — it’s possible to buy bitcoin (from Changelly) right from the Options menu.

The whole interface is the cleanest and most intuitive I’ve used to date. The wallet also lets you set a custom transaction fee when sending bitcoin.

Replace-by-fee is another useful feature. If you ever set a fee that is too low — you now have the option to set a higher fee (after you already clicked ‘send’) and speed up the transaction. 

Lightning Network Works But…

So I sent about $4 to my new BTC wallet. About 20 minutes lates after all the confirmations (at least 2), I sent about a few bucks in bitcoin to ‘refill’ my new Lightning address.

Bluewallet notes that your LN wallet is intended for day-to-day transactions because they’re faster and “unfairly cheap.”

After about five confirmations, the LN wallet had satoshis in it and was ready to strike. However, since only one LN wallet can be set up in the app (for now), it was impossible for me to try sending sats back and forth within the app.

So I told my friend to try it. Unfortunately, the LN wallet doesn’t yet support receiving (invoicing) lightning payments yet, so we were unable to send any Satoshis between each other.

Luckily, I did manage to send an LN payment of six cents to read a full article on Yalls.org. This went through instantly and without a problem as clicking ‘check payment’ on Yalls immediately showed that the payment has been sent.

A Glimpse into the Future of LN Payments

Using this wallet gives a glimpse into the future of paying with Bitcoin as LN grows and all the software issues are ironed out. Once LN payments will become seamless, using it should become second nature as transactions are literally instant at almost zero cost.

This should provide a great solution for merchants and in-store payments (e.g. Starbucks) as it eliminates the problem of having to wait for on-chain confirmations – a common criticism of using Bitcoin at brick-n-mortar locations.

Moreover, legacy digital payments (credit cards, Venmo etc.) are already instant and ‘cheap’ for users so the breakthrough will not come from speed. However, LN is not only “unfairly cheap” but also allows sending less than a satoshi – the smallest unit in Bitcoin. This means users are already sending tiny fractions of a penny, as recently reported by Bitcoinist.

Therefore, I believe, this technology will create new opportunities for online micro-payments and monetization of digital content, which could be a game-changer in the Information Age. In the meantime, however, this wallet will make it possible to ride a Lightning scooter.

Or maybe a Lightning beer?

Shortfalls

There are admittedly some shortfalls with Bluewallet. Though most of these gaps are expected to be filled later.

For example, the biggest problem right now is the inability to receive LN payments and make withdrawals from the LN wallet back to the BTC wallet. Therefore, you should only test the LN wallet with a small sum since you will not be able to get the satoshis back to your on-chain Bitcoin wallet (for now).

Software developer Irek Zielinski explains that upcoming versions of Bluewallet will support invoicing, which means bidirectional LN transactions.

Another issue is the lack of PIN or Touch-ID/Face-ID support. Though understandably, a lack of PIN code make it easier to use for the average joe, I’d like to at least have the option to set up a PIN code for accessing the app or some kind of 2-factor authentication for extra security.

Other features in the pipeline include:

  • Batch TX – the ability to pay multiple addresses with a single transaction, saving on fees and optimizing blockspace usage.
  • MultiSig TX – enhanced security as each transaction requires M of N signatures (with keys stored on different physical devices with BlueWallet).
  • Plugging in your Bitcoin Core node for “maximum sovereignty.”

These additions should make Bluewallet, hand down, the best wallet for both iOS and Android users and Bitcoin businesses, in particular. In whole, this is a great wallet if you’re looking to have the latest security features, ease-of-use, Lightning payments, and tired of waiting for Samourai Wallet to be released for iOS.

Have you tried Bluewallet? Share your experience below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Říj 31

Why Did Bitmain’s Antpool ‘Stop Mining’ SegWit Blocks?

Antpool, the Bitcoin mining pool owned by hardware manufacturer Bitmain, has stopped mining Segregated Witness (‘SegWit’) blocks.


A Question Of ‘Charity’?

In a move which has sparked suspicion among cryptocurrency figures, data from the past seven days of block mining shows Bitmain mining blocks of under 1 megabyte – smaller than SegWit blocks mined by other pools.

“AntPool no longer includes SegWit txs in Bitcoin (BTC) blocks,” one Twitter account confirmed October 30.

If there are enough non-SW transactions to fill up Core’s 1MB base blocks and they pay higher fees than the SW transactions, why should (it) be charitable?

The curious statistics contrast with Bitmain’s desire to increase the Bitcoin block size limit as an alternative to the off-chain scaling options favored by SegWit proponents.

The apparent conflict was not lost on the industry, the research team of Hong Kong-based trading platform BitMEX also highlighting the sub-megabyte blocks on Twitter.

“Despite Bitmain’s strong support for larger blocks, Antpool has recently been producing smaller blocks (below 1MB), while other pools produce larger blocks,” staff commented.

Worst Of Both Worlds

Reactions to BitMEX included claims Bitmain, through excluding SegWit, could continue to use the highly-controversial Covert ASICBoost mining technique it had previously claimed was “not practical.”

Last month, the company began rolling out Overt ASICBoost for its Antminer hardware family, a move which similarly drew suspicion from commentators.

Bitmain 135 Watt Data Center

In a further nuance meanwhile, Blockstream’s Warren Togami noted that despite non-SegWit blocks ostensibly having a higher fee attached, the blocks Antpool had chosen to mine in fact contained less in fees than the SegWit blocks it was avoiding.

Bitmain continues to hold a monopoly on Bitcoin mining through control of Antpool and BTC.com, the latter regularly mining the most blocks on a given day.

The proportion of transactions using SegWit had continued to climb in recent months, reaching an all-time high of 48 percent in early October before dropping.

What do you think about Antpool’s mining behavior? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Čvn 13

Factors That Will Push Bitcoin’s Price Higher Are Gathering Steam

· June 12, 2018 · 10:30 pm

The hacking of exchanges and relentless attacks from financial powers have, in the short run, adversely affected the price of Bitcoin. However, once the news about these adverse effects fades, investors will be able to turn their focus to several bright ongoing developments.


What Doesn’t Kill Bitcoin Makes It Stronger

The recent spate of crypto exchange hacks, ongoing regulatory issues, and reports of an investigation into possible price manipulation have sent the price of Bitcoin – and nearly every other cryptocurrency – tumbling. Despite these setbacks, the growing consensus is that, given Bitcoin’s inherent resiliency, developments taking place in both technical and financial arenas will enable Bitcoin’s value to retake its ascending trajectory with even greater intensity.

For example, frequent exposure to hacking will eventually make Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies immune to such attacks. As Forbes put it, hacking may be adversely affecting Bitcoin in the short term, but in the future, the cryptocurrency will rise stronger as a result. In this regard, Christian Ferri, President and CEO of BlockStar, declared:

As in every technology, hacking will be painful for some in the short term; but it will be a major driver in strengthening the crypto ecosystem, making it more secure, which is key for mass adoption.

Moreover, giant financial actors, including exchanges and big banks, are investing heavily and hiring talent to build Bitcoin trading capabilities.

For example, NASDAQ is planning to launch a futures market for cryptocurrencies. In fact, the stock exchange has already joined forces with Gemini, a digital asset exchange, to improve market surveillance to detect market manipulation and fraudulent trades. Additionally, a NASDAQ-powered cryptocurrency exchange platform – DX.Exchange – will be launched sometime this month.

In parallel, The New York Times reports that ICE, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is working on its own online trading platform that will allow large Wall Street investors to trade cryptocurrencies.

Goldman Sachs is already ahead of the curve, having begun offering clients the ability to trade Bitcoin futures via one of its New York desks last month. According to The New York Times:

Goldman will begin using its own money to trade Bitcoin futures contracts on behalf of clients. It will also create its own, more flexible version of a future, known as a non-deliverable forward, which it will offer to clients.

Bitcoin Transactions Becoming Cheaper and Faster

Bitcoin Transactions Becoming Cheaper and Faster

On the technical side, Bitcoin has already advanced significantly in solving a key issue – scalability. Technological improvements that include SegWit, Lightning Network, and Atomic Multi-Path Payments over Lightning, and now Bitcoin Core 0.16.0, are already solving the issue of scalability and transaction fees costs.

Recently, Bitcoin enthusiasts celebrated the launch of Bitcoin Core 0.16.0, which among novel features, introduced full support for SegWit. Prominent Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase and Bitfinex immediately started to implement SegWit and, as a result, transaction fees are now lower and faster, thus facilitating near-instantaneous low-value Bitcoin payments. At the present time, nearly 40% of all Bitcoin transactions are processed using SegWit.

In addition to SegWit, many exchanges are using a new technique to increase efficiency – batching transactions. Batching further increases the efficiency of Bitcoin transactions by over 75 percent by clustering multiple outputs into a single transaction.

For a digital currency that has “died” 300 times and counting, Bitcoin’s future is looking pretty bright, indeed. Innovative techniques are making Bitcoin transactions more efficient, and its exposure to hacking attempts will make it stronger. Lastly, major financial institutions are becoming increasingly interested in trading Bitcoin. These are crucial factors that are amalgamating to drive Bitcoin’s value to new highs.

What do you think are the main factors that will eventually drive Bitcoin’s value higher? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Led 12

New Data Shows Coinbase May Be Spamming the Bitcoin Network

· January 12, 2018 · 7:30 am

US exchange and wallet provider Coinbase is facing fresh criticism from both users and Bitcoin industry figures over its delayed SegWit adoption.


‘You Alone Are Spamming The Network’

As the company continues to suffer technical outages due to high demand, its effect on the Bitcoin mempool has become the source of renewed calls for SegWit as a priority.

“You need to batch your outgoing transactions,” Twitter user Civ Ekonom wrote in response to Coinbase’s latest reported system breakdown.

You are ALONE spamming the network. If you would use segwit and batch all outgoing transactions the mempool would be EMPTY.

Citing analysis of the mempool as “clear evidence,” the mempool size appears to drop significantly when Coinbase recently suspended sending Bitcoin. This has added fuel to existing community anger that the exchange has failed to implement SegWit, which would significantly reduce the cost of Bitcoin transactions it handles.

New GM: Performance ‘Totally Unacceptable’

CEO Brian Armstrong has also borne the brunt of accusations regarding his exchange’s performance and roadmap. Last year, he claimed SegWit was not a high priority on Coinbase customers’ wishlists.

In a different response to the outage, Blockchain real estate personality Ragnar Lifthrasir went as far as to suggest firing Armstrong would serve to improve Coinbase’s reliability.

New Evidence Emerges, Points to Possible Insider Trading at Coinbase

Earlier this week, Bitcoinist reported on a user-filed petition on Change.org to force a SegWit upgrade as a priority. That petition has now accrued over 8000 signatures.

In its latest official correspondence Thursday, Coinbase focused on “improving customer experience” via its new general manager Dan Romero.

Romero had previously announced SegWit as engineering priority number three in 2018.

“Dan’s first priority as GM will be improving the Coinbase customer experience,” Armstrong explained.

…Dan will provide an update on what we are doing to improve the experience and I will continue to post about all of the major activities at the company.

Romero meanwhile called the past technical performance throughout 2017 “totally unacceptable.”

What do you think about Coinbase’s SegWit situation? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Twitter, Shutterstock

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Pro 15

WikiLeaks Now Supports Bitcoin SegWit Addresses for Donations

· December 15, 2017 · 3:00 am

WikiLeaks has long relied upon donations in order to keep exposing government and corporate secrets and corruption. Now another avenue of support is open as Julian Assange announces that WikiLeaks now supports Bitcoin SegWit addresses.


WikiLeaks has tirelessly worked to analyze and publish restricted and censored data that exposes corruption and other organizational secrets. In its 10 years of existence, it has amassed a database of over 10 million documents that shed light on things that governments and other entities would prefer to remain in the shadows. WikiLeaks supports a number of donation methods, and the latest one is Bitcoin SegWit addresses.

Donating to Illuminate the Dark

WikiLeaks has expanded its donation base as Julian Assange notes that the group now supports Bitcoin SegWit addresses. He notes that transaction fees from SegWit-enabled wallets are minimized, which might help encourage more donations to keep WikiLeaks up and running.

Those looking to donate can use WikiLeaks’ main address or generate a one-time private address if they choose to do so. WikiLeaks takes multiple cryptocurrencies as donations, including ZCash, Litecoin, and Monero.

Made for Each Other

Cryptocurrency and WikiLeaks are really made for each other. The non-profit organization relies upon anonymous individuals handing over documents that they feel should see the light of day. Both virtual currency and WikiLeaks exist outside the system and offer a means of promoting change while expanding the exercise of individual freedom.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do have a long association with Bitcoin. Just two months ago, Assange tweeted that the organization was pushed into investing into the cryptocurrency due to the US government forcing payment companies (Mastercard, Visa, etc.) to carry out “an illegal banking blockade” against WikiLeaks.

But it seems that WikiLeaks and Assange has had the last laugh. He says that the group began investing in bitcoins back in 2010 and are now enjoying an extremely healthy return of over 50,000%.

While WikiLeaks has reaped the benefits of government sanctions, thanks to Bitcoin and its phenomenal rise in value, Julian Assange is still stuck in the London embassy for Ecuador. He fled to the embassy in 2012 to escape extradition attempts from Sweden for an alleged rape, but Sweden eventually dropped the charges against him. However, the UK police still have a warrant for his arrest for breaking his bail conditions when he moved into the embassy. There he sits, but he and his organization are still proving themselves to be a thorn in the sides of the extremely powerful.

It seems fitting for WikiLeaks to support Bitcoin SegWit addresses as many governments are working to restrict cryptocurrency. Now crypto enthusiasts can donate and help stick it to The Man.

What do you think about WikiLeaks now supporting Bitcoin SegWit addresses? Have you ever donated to WikiLeaks? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Twitter/@JulianAssange and Wikimedia Commons.

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