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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

Some Bitcoin Backers Are Defecting to Create a Rival Currency - New York Times


CNBC

Some Bitcoin Backers Are Defecting to Create a Rival Currency
New York Times
Bitcoin Cash could easily dissolve into irrelevance — the level of support for it is still unclear — but the concrete plans to move forward have underscored, once again, how hard it is to govern a decentralized, open-source technology like Bitcoin ...
Bitcoin slammed by more than 10% to below $2500; Ethereum down big tooCNBC
Bitcoin Price Slides 7% As Bitcoin Cash Emerges - Fork Fears?CoinTelegraph
What Every Bitcoiner Should Know About 'Bitcoin Cash'Bitcoin News (press release)
Motherboard -The Merkle -Finance Magnates -blog - Bitmain
all 20 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 4:56 pm

Emin Gun Sirer: SEC ICO Ruling is 'End of Beginning for Blockchains'

A Cornell professor who was at the center of last year's DAO hack has issued new comments on an SEC ruling on the project.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 4:00 pm

This is what it will take for bitcoin to become a legit currency - MarketWatch


MarketWatch

This is what it will take for bitcoin to become a legit currency
MarketWatch
As the debate rages on whether bitcoin is a legitimate currency or just imaginary money, one Wall Street analyst stripped down the argument to three simple parameters — safety, liquidity and return. These attributes are the hallmarks of reserve ...
Merrill Lynch Plots Bitcoin's Path to Global LegitimacyCoinTelegraph
BofA Says Bitcoin Needs Acceptance to Thrive But That's UnlikelyBloomberg
Bank of America Analyst: Bank Acceptance a 'Crucial Hurdle' for BitcoinCoinDesk
Crypto Insider (press release) (blog)
all 7 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 3:42 pm

Ether Prices Drop Below $200 Amid Wider Crypto Market Fall

Ether prices are down more than 11%, dropping below $200 amidst a wider market fall among the world's top cryptocurrencies.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 2:10 pm

Eleven Global Cities to Participate in Bitcoin Airdrop 2017

Eleven Global Cities Announce Participation in Bitcoin Airdrop 2017

The Blockchain Education Network (BEN), a global network of blockchain communities, has announced a global Bitcoin Airdrop powered by bitJob to begin this new school year. Fintech communities and universities in 11 regions have agreed to participate including McGill University and the Richard Ivey School of Business in Canada; UC Berkeley, Wake Forest University and St. Petersburg in the United States; University of Queensland in Australia; Trivandrum and Bangalore in India; St. Petersburg in Russia; and Puerto Rico and Colombia.

The first airdrop event begins on August 11 in Colombia, where Jorge Pérez, the director of BEN Colombia, is hosting a meeting at a restaurant. The airdrop then moves to St. Petersburg in Russia on August 16, where the giveaway is being held in unison with the ICO-Hypethon, an ICO-focused hackathon where blockchain developers will build infrastructure around ICOs to pitch to investors. The airdrop will continue on to other campuses and cities until the network has distributed the entire amount of donations.

Rodion Mikhalev, the director of BEN Russia and one of the organizers of the ICO-Hypethon, explained in a statement that “the Hypethon is a mix between a hackathon [and] an accelerator. It’s a 48-hour event hosted by Crypto Friends, where Eberhard Lindfordt will screen the top 20 projects out of hundreds of applicants. Teams chosen will receive help from experienced [b]lockchain experts which will help them finalize their business and lead them into successful ICO launches.

“There will also be ICO angels ready to invest their money into projects on the spot and whom will receive additional bonus coins if done so at the event. This is the perfect event in Russia to host the airdrop and to distribute bitcoins to the hundreds of innovators who will pass by in the 48-hour window, and we are excited to participate in it! This is a very rare and exciting opportunity which will attract some of Russia’s best talent and will pave the way to a better future worldwide.”

Alberto Jauregui, the director of growth of the Blockchain Education Network, said in a statement that he believes the “Bitcoin Airdrop serves as an engine to introduce students to the disruptive blockchain industry and incentivize them to band together to form new BEN chapters or regions.”

Last year, Jauregui hosted a small airdrop outside the main library at the University of South Florida and hid paper wallets throughout the campus. This year, he plans to coordinate an airdrop alongside a BitCrawl on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida. The date is to be announced. “Who doesn’t like free Bitcoin?” Jauregui added. BitCrawl is an event started in Montreal by the McGill Students Cryptocurrency Club and then continued by the Decentralized Tech Association at the University of Toronto, in which a main street agrees to accept bitcoin for an evening and a group of blockchain enthusiasts go between different venues.

High schools are also going to be giving away bitcoin at this airdrop. Sunrose Billing, the director of BEN’s high school network, said in a statement to Bitcoin Magazine that “blockchain [technology] and cryptocurrencies are really taking off and will absolutely continue to grow at a rapid pace. That’s clear when you see teenagers day trading, analyzing macro landscapes and taking the time to educate themselves about innovation in this space in their spare time.” Billing plans to airdrop bitcoin to his friends at University of Toronto School, a high school in Toronto, and he expects that many of his friends at other high schools will join this year’s event.

The title sponsor of the event is bitJob, a decentralized marketplace based on blockchain technology that connects students with part-time work. BitJob has already partnered with many of the blockchain clubs at the participating campuses of the airdrop, including McGill University and the Richard Ivey School of Business, that have agreed to seed the marketplace with the first students looking for work on projects that can help them become fully employed in the blockchain industry.

“It is a true honor to be sponsoring the 2017 Blockchain Education Network’s Global Bitcoin Airdrop across university campuses. BitJob shares a similar mandate with BEN to empower students and give them the necessary tools to compete in today’s marketplace. This year’s event is shaping up to be the largest ever as the popularity of Bitcoin and [b]lockchain [technology] continues to rise globally,” said Dror Medalion, co-founder and CEO of bitJob, in a statement to Bitcoin Magazine.

The airdrop is being supported by blockchain media firms Blockchain TV and BTC Media, digital identity startup DIID and blockchain consulting and development firm MLG Blockchain.

“I am very excited to be a sponsor in this year’s Blockchain Education Network’s global Bitcoin Airdrop 2017. BEN is a driving force behind empowering the youth of tomorrow, which makes for a great story to tell!” said James Gonzalez, co-founder and CEO of Blockchain TV, in a statement.


The post Eleven Global Cities to Participate in Bitcoin Airdrop 2017 appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 12:16 pm

Putin's Internet Advisor: 30% of Russian Computers Infected By Crypto Mining Malware

An advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that as many as a quarter of computers are infected with cryptocurrency mining malware.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 11:00 am

Infosys EdgeVerve Expands Blockchain Integration to Sales Platform

A subsidiary of Indian IT giant Infosys is pushing ahead with its plans for blockchain in a bid to create new revenue streams.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 9:00 am

American Express Brings Credit Card Buying to Bitcoin App Abra

Abra users can now buy bitcoin with American Express credit cards, a move that diversifies its available payment options.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 7:58 am

Bitcoin Virus 'Has Infected 30% Of Russian Devices': Putin Advisor - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin Virus 'Has Infected 30% Of Russian Devices': Putin Advisor
CoinTelegraph
Russia's chief presidential advisor on the Internet has stated a Bitcoin mining virus has infected up to 30 percent of Russian computers. Speaking in interviews with RNS and RBC, Herman Klimenko said that although infection rates varied by region and ...
A Strange Bitcoin-Mining Virus is Sweeping Through RussiaInverse

all 3 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 7:30 am

Months to Minutes: Enigma Launch Aims to Boost Crypto Hedge Fund Creation

MIT Media Lab-incubated startup Enigma is today revealing a product designed to simplify the set-up of crypto hedge funds.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 7:02 am

Automaker Renault Trials Blockchain in Bid to Secure Car Repair Data

French automaker Renault has unveiled a new digitized car maintenance log prototype built using blockchain.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 6:30 am

What's Left Before SegWit Goes Live? Bitcoin's Path to More Capacity

How far away is bitcoin from a capacity upgrade? While technical progress is being made, things are far from set in stone.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 5:31 am

GOLDMAN SACHS: Bitcoin may need 'another few swings' before making a run at record highs - Business Insider


Business Insider

GOLDMAN SACHS: Bitcoin may need 'another few swings' before making a run at record highs
Business Insider
According to Sheba Jafari, the head of technical strategy at Goldman Sachs, bitcoin "may need another few swings" before the trend continues. The cryprocurrency's inability to breakout above its June 13 high of $3,000 suggests it is forming a triangle ...
Bitcoin LIVE news: Cryptocurrency soars after fears of crash wobble marketExpress.co.uk

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 5:13 am

There's a strange new twist in bitcoin's “civil war”—and a way to bet on the outcome - Quartz


Quartz

There's a strange new twist in bitcoin's “civil war”—and a way to bet on the outcome
Quartz
Just as the bitcoin world thought it was safe, a new threat to the cryptocurrency's stability has emerged. Last week, the price of bitcoin rallied near all-time highs as a proposal to increase its transaction capacity was backed by over 97% of the ...
Bitcoin, Ethereum prices move lowerNasdaq
Suspension Lifted: Japanese Exchanges and Merchants Resume Bitcoin ServicesBitcoin News (press release)
August 1 – rise or fall for Bitcoin?Times of Malta

all 9 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 5:01 am

A Russian Airline Is Now Using Blockchain to Issue Tickets

A major Russian airline is reportedly using blockchain to issue tickets as part of a bid to streamline its back office processes.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 4:02 am

Bank of America Analyst: Bank Acceptance a 'Crucial Hurdle' for Bitcoin

A new report from US-based Bank of America Merrill Lynch argues that bitcoin will go mainstream once banks start accepting it.

Source

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 3:06 am

LedgerX Just Gave Us Another Way to Bet Against Bitcoin - Fortune


Fortune

LedgerX Just Gave Us Another Way to Bet Against Bitcoin
Fortune
The approval will also give buyers of Ethereum and Bitcoin several regulated ways to lower the risk on their existing cryptocurrency bets — which may be welcome or may increase their risk in the hopes of potentially outsized returns. That's possible ...
LedgerX Completes CFTC Process, Approved for Bitcoin OptionsCoinTelegraph
You may soon be able to trade options on bitcoin, ethereumCNBC
3 Must Read Stories: Bitcoin Options, Australia's LNG Mess, the Rise of China's Rich Kids,Barron's
Wall Street Journal (subscription) -Bloomberg -Bitcoin News (press release) -CFTC
all 39 news articles »

Posted on 25 July 2017 | 2:45 am

'Unrealistic': BIP 91 Creator James Hilliard Has Choice Words for Segwit2x

The creative coder behind a clever way to enact SegWit doesn't believe a new proposal for the network is in its best interest.

Source

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 3:35 pm

Mastercard and Cisco Join Enterprise Ethereum Alliance

Mastercard

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) was recently joined by 34 new members, including Mastercard, Cisco, Scotiabank and the Government of Andhra Pradesh, bringing the total membership of the consortium to over 150 organizations.

On July 18, 2017, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance published a press release claiming that — with the 34 new members and the total size of 150-plus participants — the EEA became “the world’s largest open-source blockchain initiative.” According to the consortium, which focuses on developments on the Ethereum blockchain, the newest members of EEA represent a “wide variety of business sectors, including technology, banking, government, healthcare, energy, pharmaceuticals, marketing, and insurance, as well as a number of fast-growing Ethereum startups.”

The main concept of the nonprofit is to “build, promote, and broadly support Ethereum-based technology best practices, open standards, and open source reference architectures.”

There was a bit of confusion in the Ethereum Reddit community since Mastercard was not listed among the new members in EEA’s press release. However, Andrew Keys, head of global business development at ConsenSys, cleared up the issue.

“Mastercard is indeed a new member of EEA. They asked not to be in the press release document but approved being on the EEA official website. They may be doing their own communications on this,” he wrote.

CEOs and representatives of many of the newly joined members of the EEA expressed their gratitude and commitment toward the project.

“As Fintech Valley Vizag in Andhra Pradesh aims to become a vital financial technology hub, it is working on adopting more robust systems that are cost-effective. With security issues all over the world, there is no doubt that blockchain technology is set to be the biggest disruptor not only in the financial world, but also [in] a number of online and offline sectors. We are keen on integrating blockchain technology into governance and look forward to our collaboration with Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and provide market access to the community,” J. A. Chowdary, special chief secretary and IT advisor to the chief minister at the Government of Andhra Pradesh (India), stated.

“OTP Bank keeps focusing on innovative technologies. Nowadays we think that the most valuable asset is the trust between the bank and the customers. Blockchain technology gives several advanced solutions in [the] security industry. OTP Bank has chosen Ethereum as a partner, because we consider it a state-of-the-art blockchain technology. Via joining the Ethereum community, OTP will be able [to] achieve its goals smoothly. Through the common standards and best practices evolving in Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, our IT systems will be more secure and highly developed,” László Popovics, head of IT innovations at OTP Bank — the leading bank in Hungary and one of the largest independent financial service providers in Central and Eastern Europe — wrote.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was formed in late February by a group of financial institutions, blockchain startups and innovators. The consortium — with J.P. Morgan and Intel as the most prominent names among the founding members — aims to standardize blockchain tech for enterprise settings. At the time of the EEA’s launch, the participants created a reference architecture for their project, called “EntEth 1.0,” which has a stronger focus on privacy.

Excluding Mastercard from the list, the newest members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance include:

2Advise; Amalto Technologies; Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK); Aquilon Energy Services, Inc.; ASSETH; BLOCKO Inc.; Bloq; Cisco Systems; Cybersoft Digital Services Corp.; Enter Corporation Co., Ltd.; Equities.com, Inc.; Finclusion Labs, Inc. (WeTrust.io); Government of Andhra Pradesh; HashCash Consultants; HEAL Alliance; iEx.ec; Lazarski University; Loyyal Corporation; MadHive; Mattr; NetObjex Inc.; OTP Bank Plc.; QIWI Blockchain Technologies LLC.; Revelry; RISKebiz; Scotiabank; Streami Inc.; Talkcrypto.org; Technical University of Munich; Texcent Asia Pte Ltd; TIS R&D Center, Inc.; TokenCard/Monolith; Ventured and Ypse IT Solutions.

The post Mastercard and Cisco Join Enterprise Ethereum Alliance appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 2:06 pm

Colony Moves Organizations, Companies onto the Ethereum Blockchain

Colony

London-based startup Colony is building an infrastructure based on the Ethereum blockchain that aims to revamp the way organizations and companies work and collaborate, promising to make human resources and project management more open, fair and efficient.

Think of Colony as the merger of Trello and Upwork, but running on a blockchain. Colony essentially brings the organization and human capital together onto a decentralized and transparent platform, and adds a monetary system that rewards freelancers and contributors alike based on their contributions to the success of the organization.

“Colony brings about a new ‘Nature of the Firm’ by significantly reducing both the transaction costs of the market exchange mechanism for labor, and trust required for people to work together,” Jack du Rose, co-founder of Colony, told Bitcoin Magazine.

“We see Colony as infrastructure for the organizations of the future. We believe infrastructure should be reliable and impartial; one organization should not be reliant on the existence or permission of another to operate.”

Instead of being managed by fallible individuals, “colonies” running on the platform harness the wisdom of the crowd to make sure that things get done by the right people and at the right time.

Each colony has its own token that represents a share of the ownership of the organization. Smart contracts are programmed to distribute ownership tokens according to the value each individual contributes. Contributors can later trade their tokens on the open market for cash.

Colony also comes with a reputation system that allows people to review and grade others’ contributed work. This system allows companies to choose the best candidates while enabling freelancers and experts to build influence and demonstrate their skills.

Colony: The “People Layer for the Decentralized Protocol Stack”

While Colony is building a reference client for its platform, the team very much thinks of the Colony protocol as infrastructure upon which other developers will build applications.

The Colony protocol, which is built as open-source smart contracts on the Ethereum network, is designed to enable developers to integrate decentralized and self-regulating division of labor, decision-making and financial management into their applications.

Du Rose described it as “the people layer for the decentralized protocol stack” and said he expects many companies and products to be built based on the software.

In the future, he hopes to see the protocol being integrated into a variety of applications. It can be used, for instance, to form the basis of a decentralized ride-sharing service, to handle claims in an insurance decentralized app or to provide the framework by which a merchants' guild coordinates in a virtual world, he said.

Moving forward

Colony released its beta in February of this year. The Colony Beta allows teams to create their own “collaboration network” and combines task management with payments and tracking features.

These features include automated cryptocurrency payments; USD, GBP and EUR payments with Stripe; integrations with popular tools including Slack, Xero and GitHub; a reputation system and a voting system.

Du Rose said that the team’s immediate focus is to continue to build out the network and client library, and “get them in the hands of as many people as possible.”

He said that an ongoing part of Colony’s medium- and long-term goals is focused on polishing the platform and improving the software in order to increase blockchain adoption, “not just for developers building on top of the Colony Protocol, but for the Ethereum developer community as a whole.”

He continued, “We see many challenges to usability in [the] blockchain space, and we don’t believe we’re going to achieve mainstream adoption of blockchain technology until we are able to offer the same quality of experience as centralized services provide.”

Companies and organizations around the world are beginning to explore the use of blockchain technology in project management. Russian government–owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) is reportedly looking to launch a prototype for such a platform.

Speaking to Sputnik at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May, the bank's chairman, Sergey Gorkov, said:

“When we started to think about how to manage projects efficiently, we realized that there is no platform. Everything that we had became obsolete. We realized that the blockchain is a good fundamental and qualitative platform for the future. [...] We have established a qualification center and a pilot project was launched. We are launching the first prototype in terms of project management this fall.”

The post Colony Moves Organizations, Companies onto the Ethereum Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 2:00 pm

The Stage Is Set in Stanford for the Next Scaling Bitcoin Workshops

Scaling Bitcoin Stanford

The Scaling Bitcoin Workshops will land in Stanford come November.

Scaling Bitcoin, the conference where innovations like Segregated Witness and TumbleBit made their public “debut,” has quickly grown to become a central stage for Bitcoin’s global academic and engineering communities. After editions in Montreal, Hong Kong and Milan, Stanford University will host the fourth edition of the Scaling Bitcoin Workshops on the 4th and 5th of November of this year.

“We want to aid the technical consensus-building process, in a domain where performance and security are crucial trade-offs,” Ferdinando M. Ametrano, a Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology professor at Politecnico di Milano and Scaling Bitcoin Planning Committee member, told Bitcoin Magazine.

Born out of the early days of Bitcoin’s very public scaling debate, the first two Scaling Bitcoin conferences or “workshops” were organized shortly after one another in Montreal and Hong Kong in the second half of 2015. It was here that many developers actually met face to face for the first time, and the workshops resulted in the well-known scaling roadmap supported by the Bitcoin Core development team.

A third edition of Scaling Bitcoin was organised in Milan in October 2016. That time around, the workshops increased in scope from scaling-only to also include privacy and fungibility improvements, as well as broader technical development.

This line will be continued in Stanford, where the theme of the event has been dubbed “Scaling the Edge.” While the exact agenda is yet to be established by a dedicated committee, overlapping topics for the Stanford edition should once again include fungibility, and there should also be increased focus on simulations and tests.

Plus, as a relatively new topic of interest, Scaling Bitcoin Stanford will expand its scope once again: this time to also include game theory and governance of the technology.

“This has never gotten much of the spotlight at previous editions of Scaling Bitcoin. But recent events like BIP148, BIP91, user activated soft forks are proving that we are learning more and discovering how Bitcoin’s economic incentives are aligned,” Ametrano said. “Moving forward, we’d like to discuss what might be the process for protocol evolution.”

Notably, with the event taking place in early November, it looks like Scaling Bitcoin Stanford will once again take place against the backdrop of a looming contentious hard fork. Where the first two events were a direct response to Bitcoin XT and its hard fork proposal, BTC1 is scheduled to hard fork an increase in Bitcoin’s block weight limit by late November.

It, therefore, seems likely that this potential hard fork will be part of the discussion in Stanford in one way or another, Ametrano acknowledged.

“Block size proposals are included as topics of interest for Stanford. And of course a potential hard fork will be, implicitly or explicitly, part of the conference debate,” he said. “Looking ahead, many — probably most — agree some on-chain scaling will have to happen. But how and when requires unanimous agreement. Which brings us back to the topic of game theory and governance.”

Scaling Bitcoin is currently accepting technical proposals for improving Bitcoin performance including designs, experimental results and comparisons against other proposals. Submissions must be in by September 25th. Click here for more information.

The post The Stage Is Set in Stanford for the Next Scaling Bitcoin Workshops appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 1:53 pm

Winklevoss Backed Gemini Exchange to Begin Daily Ether Auctions

Digital currency exchange Gemini is set to begin hosting daily ether auctions on Friday.

Source

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 12:06 pm

New Hampshire's Bitcoin MSB Exemption Law Takes Effect Next Week

A regulatory exemption for digital currency traders in New Hampshire is set to take effect next week.

Source

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 10:36 am

US Government Funds Blockchain Key Management Tool With $794k Grant

A blockchain startup has received new funding from the US government to develop blockchain key management solutions.

Source

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 9:30 am

Belarus Central Bank Approves Blockchain Use For Bank Guarantees

The central bank of Belarus has cleared the way for domestic banks to use blockchain as part of their processes of transmitting bank guarantees.

Source

Posted on 24 July 2017 | 8:35 am

Op Ed: No Governance for Old Men: Coordinating Protocol Upgrades in the Future

Jon Matonis OP ED

Make no mistake. We are witnessing a high-stakes protocol standards battle play out in real time. And it is just as important as last century’s battle for the internet’s TCP standard. 

Current capacity constraints on the Bitcoin blockchain have brought us to this impasse.

The Bitcoin protocol, as the dominant value transfer “network effect” leader, battles against upstart cryptocurrency protocols like Ethereum and Monero. But it also battles with itself as divergent forces push for either on-chain scaling or off-chain scaling, hard fork or soft fork, SegWit transaction format or original transaction format.

The so-called nuclear option is a prolonged, contested hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain because it risks splitting the network into two competing chains, which is to no one’s benefit. Therefore, it should be reserved as a planned formality or a last resort for extreme situations rather than a perpetual form of “live” dispute resolution.

With so much individual and institutional wealth essentially stored on the Bitcoin blockchain, it can be extremely disconcerting when others try to “fork” around with your money. Chronic forking is not synonymous with wealth management and prudent capital accumulation, which require stability and predictability. Importantly, smart contracts and non-monetary applications will also rely upon relative stability since the same native digital token also facilitates the proof-of-work security model.

This article will examine how open-source governance was designed to work within the Bitcoin protocol and how users, miners and developers are locked in a symbiotic dance when it comes to potential forks to the immutable consensus. Solutions will be proposed and analyzed that maintain the decentralized nature of the resulting code and the blockchain consensus, while still permitting sensible protocol upgrades. Governance is not only about the particular method of change-control management, but also about how the very method itself is subject to change.

kaboomLet’s not deploy the nuclear option for every protocol upgrade.

Open-Source Protocols and Bitcoin

Generally referred to as FOSS, or free and open-source software, this source code is openly shared so that people are encouraged to use the software and to voluntarily improve its design, resulting in decreasing software costs; increasing security and stability, and flexibility over hardware choice; and better privacy protection.

Open-source governance models, such as Linux and BitTorrent, are not new and they existed prior to the emergence of Bitcoin in early 2009; however, they have never before been so tightly intertwined with money itself. Indeed, as the largest distributed computing project in the world with self-adjusting computational power, Bitcoin may be the first crude instance of A.I. on the internet.

In “Who Controls the Blockchain?” Patrick Murck confirms that Bitcoin is functioning as designed:

As a blockchain community grows, it becomes increasingly more difficult for stakeholders to reach a consensus on changing network rules. This is by design, and reinforces the original principles of the blockchain’s creators. To change the rules is to split the network, creating a new blockchain and a new community. Blockchain networks resist political governance because they are governed by everyone who [participates] in them, and by no one in particular.

Murck continues:

Bitcoin’s ability to resist such populist campaigns demonstrates the success of the blockchain’s governance structure and shows that the ‘governance crisis’ is a false narrative.

Of course it’s a false narrative, and Murck is correct on this point. Bitcoin’s lack of political governance is Bitcoin’s governance model, and forking is a natural intended component of that. “Governance” may be the wrong word for it because we are actually talking about minimizing potential disruption.

Where Bitcoin differs from other open-source protocols is that two levels of forking exist. One level forks the open-source code (code fork), and another level forks the blockchain consensus (chain fork). Since there can only be one consensus per native digital token, chain splits are the natural result of this. The only way to avoid potential chain splits in the future is to restrict the change-control process to a single implementation, which is not very safe nor realistic.

“Collaborate or fork” has become the rallying cry for Bitcoin Core supporters. L.M. Goodman, author of “Tezos: A Self-Amending Crypto-Ledger Position Paper,” writes:

Core development teams are a potentially dangerous source of centralization.

When it comes to Bitcoin Core, the publicly shared code repository hosts the current reference implementation, and a small group of code committers (or maintainers) regulate any merges to the code. Even though other projects may be more open to criticism and newcomers, this general structure reminds me of a presiding council of elders.

Making hazy claims of a peer-review process or saying that committers are just passive maintainers merely creates the facade of decentralized code. The real peer-review process takes place on multiple community and technical forums, some of which are not even frequented by the developers and Bitcoin Core committers. 

The BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) process is sufficient and it’s working for those who choose to collaborate on Bitcoin Core. Similar to the RFC (Request for Comments) process at the IETF, BIP debates about a proposed implementation can provide technical documentation useful to developers. However, it is not working for many involved in Bitcoin protocol development due to the advantages of incumbency and the false appeal to authority with core developers. If Bitcoin Core no longer maintains the leading reference implementation for the Bitcoin protocol, it will be 100 percent due to this intransigence.

Sensitive to the criticisms of glorifying Bitcoin Core, Adam Back of Blockstream recently proposed an option to freeze the base-layer protocol, but at the moment that will only move all of the politics and game-playing to what exactly the base-layer freeze should look like. It is a nice idea for separating the protocol standard from a single reference implementation and for transitioning the Bitcoin protocol to an IETF-like structure, although it’s extremely premature for now. 

Therefore, by default, that leaves us with several alternative Bitcoin implementations in an environment of continual forking.

Even Satoshi Nakamoto was critical of multiple consensus implementations in 2010:

I don’t believe a second, compatible implementation of Bitcoin will ever be a good idea. So much of the design depends on all nodes getting exactly identical results in lockstep that a second implementation would be a menace to the network.

That prevailing standpoint, however, may be changing, which Aaron van Wirdum addresses in “The Long History and Disputed Desirability of Alternative Bitcoin Implementations.” Wirdum cites Eric Voskuil of libbitcoin, who argues that there should not be one particular implementation to define the Bitcoin protocol:

“All code that impacts consensus is part of consensus,” Voskuil told Bitcoin Magazine. “But when part of this code stops the network or does something not nice, it’s called a bug needing a fix, but that fix is a change to consensus. Since bugs are consensus, fixes are forks. As such, a single implementation gives far too much power to its developers. Shutting down the network while some star chamber works out a new consensus is downright authoritarian.”

Multiple alternative implementations of the Bitcoin protocol strengthen the network and help to prevent code centralization.

Politics of Blockchain Forking (or How UASF BIP 148 Will Fail)

Contentious hard forks and soft forks all come down to hashing power. You can phrase it differently and you can make believe that two-day zero-balance nodes have a fundamental say in the outcome, but you cannot alter that basic reality.

BIP 148 fork will undoubtedly need mining hash power to succeed or even to result in a minority chain. However, if Segregated Witness (SegWit) had sufficient miner support in the first place, the BIP 148 UASF itself would be unnecessary. So, in that respect, it will now proceed like a game of chicken waiting to see if miners support the fork attempt.

Mirroring aspects of mob rule, if the UASF approach works as a way to bring miners around to adopting SegWit, then the emboldened mob will deploy the tactic for numerous other protocol upgrades in the future. Consensus rules should not be easy to change and they should not be able to change through simple majority rule on nodes, economic or not. Eventually, these attempts will run headfirst into the wall of Nakamoto consensus

As far as the network is concerned, it’s like turning off the power to your node.

There is no room for majority rule in Bitcoin. Those who endorse the UASF approach and cleverly insert UASF tags in their social media handles are endorsing majority rule in Bitcoin. They are providing a stage for any random user group to push their warped agenda via tyranny of the nodes.

The prolific Jimmy Song says that having real skin in the game is what matters:

Bitcoin doesn’t care if you post arguments on Reddit. Bitcoin doesn’t care if you put something clever in your Twitter name. Bitcoin doesn’t care if you educate people, write articles, or make clever Twitter insults. Bitcoin doesn’t care about your wishes, your feelings or your arguments.

Let’s keep “majority rule” antics out of Bitcoin. There is no protocol condition that activates “if we are all united” and that is a good thing.

With enough hashing power, the mob-induced UASF BIP 148 will lead to a temporary chain split. However, the probability of a Bitcoin minority chain surviving for very long is extremely low due to the lengthy difficulty re-targeting period of 2,016 blocks. Unlike the Ethereum/Ethereum Classic fork, that is a long time for miners to invest in a chain of uncertainty.

Responding to a Reddit post for newbies who are scared of losing money around the 1st of August due to UASF, ArmchairCryptologist explains:

Your advice is sound, but realistically, the most likely scenario is that the UASF either wins or dies. If it gets less than ~12% of the hashrate, it will not be able to activate Segwit in time, and it will almost certainly die. If it gets less than ~20% I also wouldn’t be surprised to see active interference with orphaning to prevent transactions from being processed.

If on the other hand it gets more than ~40% of the hashrate, the chance for a reorg on the other chain is large enough that most miners will likely jump ship, and it will almost certainly win. At over ~20% block orphaning attacks won’t be effective, as it would split the majority chain hashrate and risk tipping the scale. Which means that the only situation where you will realistically have two working chains for an extended period is if you get between ~20% and ~40% of the hashrate for the UASF.

The collectivist UASF BIP 148 strategy will ultimately fail and that’s a good thing. It is driven primarily by those with very little at stake expecting the miners to stake everything by supporting a minority chain. Pretty soon, you run out of other people’s money. This commenter on Reddit understands:

The entire premise was that it was very cheap to switch, but very expensive to stay. That’s when I realized the folly of it all; [it’s] only cheap because they’re not staking anything. But someone has to stake something.

And that’s what is going to cause it to fail. That and the lack of replay protection. People like this guy flip it around and genuinely believe the mining problem will be solved by massively increased value. If they do somehow put enough pressure on exchanges that list UASF, despite the lack of replay protection, and if we take his logic a step further, UASFers are going to be pushing everyone to “buy, buy, buy” UASF and “sell, sell, sell” Legacy Coin. But without replay protection, they’re going to be obliterated by a few smart people who realize there are huge gains to be had.

Alphonse Pace has an excellent paper describing chain splits and their resolution. He walks us through compatible, incompatible and semi-compatible hard forks, arguing that users do have power if they truly reject a soft-fork rule change:

… users do have power — by invoking an incompatible hard fork. In this case, users will force the chain to split by introducing a new ruleset (which may include a proof-of-work change, but does not require one). This ensures users always have an escape from a miner-imposed ruleset that they reject. This way, if the economy and users truly reject a soft fork rule change, they always have the power to break away and reclaim the rules they wish. It may be inconvenient, but the same is true by any attack by the miners on users.

The Future of Coordinating Protocol Upgrades

What group determines the big decisions in Bitcoin’s direction? Ilogy doubts that it is the developers:

Theymos almost completely foresaw what is happening today. Why? Because Theymos has a deep understanding of Bitcoin and he was able to connect the dots and recognize that the logic of the system leads inevitably to this conclusion. Once we add to the equation the fact that restricting on-chain scaling was always going to be perceived by the ‘generators’ as something that ‘reduces profit,’ it should be clear that the logic of the system was intrinsically going to bring us to the point we find ourselves today.

Years later these two juggernauts of Bitcoin would find themselves on opposite ends of the debate. But what is interesting, what they both recognized, was that ultimately big decisions in Bitcoin’s direction would be determined by the powerful actors in the space, not by the average user and, more importantly, not by the developers. 

The developer role can be thought of as proposing a variety of software menu choices for the users, merchants and miners to accept and run. If a software upgrade or patch is deemed unacceptable, then developers must go back to work and adjust the BIP menu offering. Otherwise, mutiny becomes the only option for dissatisfied miners. 

In “Who Controls Bitcoin?” Daniel Krawisz says that the investors wield the most power, and because of that, miners follow investors. Therefore, the protocol upgrades likely to get adopted will be the ones that increase Bitcoin’s value as an investment, such as anonymity improvements being favored over attempts at making Bitcoin easier to regulate.

In the future, miner coordination via a Bitcoin DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) on the blockchain could be the key to smooth and uneventful forking. Self-governing ratification would allow diverse stakeholders to coordinate protocol upgrades on-chain, reducing the likelihood of software propagation battles that perpetually fork the codebase.

Attorney Adam Vaziri of Diacle supports a system of DAO voting by Bitcoin miners to remove the uncertainty around protocol upgrades. He readily admits that he has been inspired by Tezos and Decred.

Prediction markets have also been proposed as a method to gauge user and miner preferences through public forecasting, the theory being that these prediction markets would yield the fairest overall consensus for protocol upgrades prior to the actual fork.

The question remains: Is coin-based voting based on allocated hash power superior to the informal signaling method utilized today? Are prediction markets or futures markets a viable method to gauge consensus and determine critical protocol upgrades?

I’m not optimistic. On-chain voting and “intent” signaling are both non-binding expressions while prediction and futures markets can be easily gamed. Therefore, while Tezos and Decred represent admirable efforts in the quest for complete resilient decentralization, I do not think Bitcoin protocol upgrades of the future will be managed in this way.

The Bitcoin ecosystem doesn’t need to achieve a social consensus prior to making changes to the protocol. What has clearly emerged from the events of this summer is that Bitcoin has demonstrated an even stronger degree of immutability.

Bitcoin has shown every indication that it wants a degree of immutability beyond what any of us expected.

Btw Bitcoin is an AI, not a mkt https://t.co/OcQ9ID3aL6

— Pierre Rochard (@pierre_rochard) July 16, 2017

There is no failure of governance and there is no failure of the market. The non-authoritarian forces at play here are functioning exactly as they should. Protocol upgrades in a decentralized environment are an evolutionary process, and that process has matured to the current six stages of Bitcoin protocol upgrading, with some optional variances for BIP 91:

(a) BIP menu choices competing for mindshare, strategic appropriateness and technical rigor;

(b) Informal intent signaling based on miners inserting text into the coinbase for each block mined;

(c) Block signaling period where miners formally signal a designated “bit” trigger for BIP lock-in, based on “x” percent over a “y” number of blocks period;

(d) Block activation period after BIP lock-in, which sets a secondary period of “x” percent over a “y” number of blocks for activation;

(e) Primary difficulty adjustment period (2,016 blocks) where “x” percent of miners must signal for the upgrade to lock in;

(f) Secondary difficulty adjustment period (2,016 blocks) required for the protocol upgrade to activate on the network.

Conclusion

This would not be the first fork in Bitcoin and it won’t be the last. If we believe in the power of Nakamoto consensus and probabilistic security, then the secret to uneventful protocol upgrades is smoother and more reliable signaling by miners.

July has been a tough month for Bitcoin, but it has also been pivotal. Even though I doubt the probability of success for UASF BIP 148, some may say that the threat of the reckless UASF on August 1 played a role in the rapid timeline for SegWit2x/BIP 91, and I agree with that. Game theory is alive and well in Bitcoin.

The design of Nakamoto consensus provides the ultimate method for decentralized dispute resolution by placing that decision with the hashing power and the built-in incentives against 51 percent attacks. In fact, Tom Harding considers miners to be the only failsafe in Bitcoin:

Miners are the only failsafe when the fiat and altcoin incentives corrupt the dev machine.

— Tom Harding (@dgenr818) April 13, 2017

Nakamoto consensus for the win. See you in November.

The views expressed in this op ed are those of its author, Jon Matonis, and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine or BTC Media.

The post Op Ed: No Governance for Old Men: Coordinating Protocol Upgrades in the Future appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 July 2017 | 6:43 am

BIP 91 Has Locked In. Here’s What That Means (and What It Does Not)

BIP91.jpg

It looks as if Bitcoin is getting Segregated Witness.

Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 91 (BIP 91) just locked in. Up to 90 percent of all hash power signaled support for this soft fork, which implies miners intend, in turn, to trigger Segregated Witness (SegWit) activation. By extension, this should make BIP 148 obsolete and August 1 a non-event.

But SegWit is not certain. In fact, on a technical level, SegWit is not any closer to activation at all.

BIP 91

Segregated Witness, defined by BIP 141, locks in if at least 95 percent of miners (by hash power) signal support for the upgrade within a two-week difficulty period. To do so, miners need to embed a piece of data called “bit 1” in the blocks they mine.

Importantly, this is technically the only way for SegWit to activate right now. And this threshold has not yet been met.

But there are alternative strategies to try and trigger this threshold “indirectly” — like BIP 91.

BIP 91 is a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal proposed by Bitmain Warranty engineer James Hilliard. It is compatible with the New York Agreement and backed by a number of Bitcoin companies and mining pools. It is also compatible with BIP 148, another strategy to trigger the BIP 141 threshold indirectly.

Miners have been signaling support for BIP 91 over the past couple of days through another piece of data, “bit 4.” Once 269 blocks within a 336-block window included bit 4, this BIP 91 soft fork locks in. This threshold was just met.

This means that after another 336 blocks, a little over two days from now, all BIP 91–compatible nodes will reject any block that doesn’t include bit 1.

As long as a majority of hash power enforces BIP 91, this majority should eventually control the longest valid chain according to all Bitcoin nodes. And as this chain consists of bit 1 SegWit-signaling blocks only, it would in turn lock in SegWit on all SegWit-ready nodes by mid-August. SegWit itself should then be live on the Bitcoin network after a two-week “grace period” by the end of that month.

If all goes well …

What Could Go Wrong?

Although well over 80 percent of hash power has signaled bit 4 for BIP 91 lock in, this doesn’t actually guarantee anything. Most importantly, it doesn’t in itself mean that these miners will signal bit 1 for SegWit.

Indeed, so far, most miners don’t. Currently, the proportion of miners signaling bit 1 is still far lower than BIP 91 activation would suggest. It is even lower than 50 percent.

Moreover, BIP 91 will probably be enforced by hardly any economically relevant nodes; that is, nodes operated by users that accept bitcoins as payment. Almost no Bitcoin users on the network recognize BIP 91 or its bit 4 signaling at all, and will therefore continue to accept blocks with or without bit 1.

BIP 91 will, instead, be enforced by hash power alone. This in turn means that a majority of miners (by hash power) could back out of BIP 91 with little more than reputational damage. They could continue to mine blocks that do not signal bit 1, even after BIP 91 activates in a few days. As long as these miners are in a majority, they will still control the longest valid chain: valid according to most miners, and valid to most users.

Furthermore, any minority of miners and the few nodes that do enforce the BIP 91 soft fork would then be forked off the Bitcoin network. In a few days from now, these miners would mine (on top of) blocks that almost only they themselves would care for, while most of the rest of the entire Bitcoin network would completely ignore them.

With this week’s bit 4 signaling, a majority of miners have effectively made a statement that they intend to start to activate the SegWit soft fork within a couple of days. But for now, that’s really all it is: a very public, blockchain-based statement of intent.

Actual SegWit activation should start next week, if miners stick to their stated intent.

The post BIP 91 Has Locked In. Here’s What That Means (and What It Does Not) appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 July 2017 | 7:20 pm

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CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

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Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

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PayPal and Virtual Currency

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Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

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Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

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Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

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July 25, 2017 -
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