Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions

Bitcoin Cash supporters are all about spreading adoption, and many enthusiasts are relentlessly trying to get people to try BCH and merchants to accept the cryptocurrency for payments. Right now, there are three regions in the world with a significant number of BCH merchants: Slovenia, North Queensland, and Japan, areas which continue to add a slew of new brick n’ mortar stores every day.

Also read: Regulations Have Ruined the Physical Bitcoin Industry

Three Regions With Lots of Bitcoin Cash Accepting Merchants

Bitcoin cash merchant acceptance is growing. According to Marco Coino, there’s close to 1,000 retailers willing to accept BCH as a means of payment for goods and services. These merchants can be located all around the world and each country displays the number of retailers who accept BCH in the region. As BCH merchant adoption continues to grow, there are three specific regions in the world that have dense populations of retailers accepting the decentralized cryptocurrency.

Slovenia

At the moment, the Republic of Slovenia has the most merchants that accept bitcoin cash. According to geo-mapping application Marco Coino, the sovereign state located in southern Central Europe has 207 active BCH retailers who accept the cryptocurrency for payments. Slovenia has always been known for doing business as the country is in the middle of important European cultural and trade routes.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
Slovenia has 207 merchants according to Marco Coino.

The country has always been crypto friendly as well and most of the BCH merchants can be found in in the capital of Ljubljana, home to an area that is known as ‘Bitcoin City.’ BCH accepting merchants in Slovenia include the Asan Chill & Lounge Room, the Malibu Bar, AHZ Design, Venera Shop, the Blackout Bar, Potokar, Hot Horse, Soba’Room promenade bar, and Blockmaster.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
‘Bitcoin City’, Slovenia.

North Queensland

Many bitcoin cash fans are probably familiar with the name North Queensland because residents have posted so many many stories about the region’s BCH acceptance, it’s hard not to notice them. At the time of writing, this northern region of Australia is home to 56 BCH accepting merchants. North Queensland has a large Bitcoin Cash meetup, and the area also hosted the country’s first BCH-only automated teller machine.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
North Queensland has 56 merchants according to Marco Coino.

Right now BCH supporters can purchase meals, get their car fixed, and even get work done on their home by paying for the services in BCH. Merchants accepting BCH in the northern part of the Australian state include Bel Paese Pizzaria, Elements Studio, RJ’s Mechanical, Dawson Moving & Storage, FNQ Computers, and Toasted Bean Coffee. A denser area of North Queensland BCH-accepting retailers is located in the middle of Condon, Kelso, and the Townsville Conservation Park.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
North Queensland BCH supporters are extremely passionate about spreading bitcoin cash adoption.

Japan

Ever since Japan legalized cryptocurrency payments, the region has become a digital currency hub. Japan also has a ton of BCH merchants that accept the cryptocurrency for goods and services. According to the Marco Coino application, there are roughly 56 BCH accepting merchants in Japan.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
Japan has 56 merchants according to Marco Coino.

Retailers accepting the cryptocurrency here include the Village Hostel Namba, Hikari Clinic, Ruins Minakami, Good Heavens, Rakan, Yakitori Wine Bar, Ginza Secret, Organic Hair Salon, So Law Office, Cafe de Perle, Soul Food House and Two Dogs Taproom. The Tokyo BCH meetup is extremely large as well, as the group currently has 1,253 members. One member of the Japanese BCH community is Akane Yokoo, a passionate supporter who is responsible for spreading a lot of merchant adoption throughout Tokyo.

Bitcoin Cash Merchant Acceptance Is Thriving in These 3 Regions
Akane Yokoo is responsible for kickstarting a lot of merchant adoption throughout Tokyo

Spend & Replace: Kickstarting the Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash Evolution

Other global runners up that are densely populated with BCH-accepting retailers include the U.S., Colombia, Barcelona, Belarus, and London. Bitcoin cash merchant adoption continues to thrive and the many retailers listed on Marco Coino does not include the vast array of merchants using Bitpay and Coinbase merchant services. Many BCH supporters believe in the idea of “spend and replace” when it comes to using the decentralized cryptocurrencies. Supporters believe a deflationary currency can still be spent and replaced over time in order to kickstart its evolution as a solid means of exchange. At the moment Slovenia, Japan and North Queensland BCH supporters are taking the lead by continuously spreading more adoption and merchant acceptance.

What do you think about Slovenia, North Queensland, and Japan having the most BCH merchants today? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Marco Coino, Twitter, and r/btc.


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India’s Cybercrime Detection Center Has Cryptocurrency Threats on its Radar

India’s Cybercrime Detection Center Has Cryptocurrency Threats on its Radar

The National Cyber Forensic Lab has been created under the Union Home ministry’s Cyber Crime Coordination Center. The unit will focus its energy on cryptocurrency-related crimes to help police officers detect cyber fraud.

Technology for Cryptocurrency Analysis

As per The Hindu publication of February 19, 2019, Rajnath Singh, the country’s Union Home Minister, inaugurated the National Cyber Forensic Lab (NCFL) to enable the state to up its game against cybercrime.

The center will have a particular unit dedicated to cryptocurrency crime, following numerous rip-offs that have emerged involving digital assets. Saying the police force will call for cyber experts to train their officers, New Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik added:    

“We are now equipped with technology to recover data from damaged hard disks, cryptocurrency analysis, malware forensic and data can be retrieved from 33,000 kinds of mobile models available in the market.”

A Welcome Announcement

The announcement is welcome news to a country where there has been snail-paced progress on creating systems that could separate criminal activity from the legitimate use of cryptocurrencies.

The country’s police have had to deal with increasing crypto-related scams that make the headlines regularly, pitting them against the domestic crypto community. The latter believe the draconian stance taken by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has only contributed to making a bad situation worse.

The RBI enacted a blanket ban that kept banks from serving crypto-related businesses in July 2018. The decision was challenged at the country’s Supreme Court, and a ruling is yet to be made.

A government research panel suggested early in February that it was concerned on the impact of cryptocurrency on the stability of the Rupee, the country’s official and only recognized legal tender.  

$17 Million Crypto Fraud

The formation of the new unit comes amidst the backdrop of the latest action by crime busters who apprehended a gang that had allegedly swindled unsuspecting users of $17 million in a crypto fraud traversing some states.

As per the local reports, the group created a digital asset called “CashCoin” over one year ago, which they sold to investors promising to double their investments. The report said:  

“The accused held meetings in Mumbai, Surat and other parts of Gujarat, and lured people into investing their hard-earned money by promising to double it in two months […] initially; the gang repaid a few investors to lure more people in and then defaulted.”

The Cyber Forensic Lab will include other units like Memory Forensics Labs, Network Forensics Lab, Image Enhancement Lab, Malware Forensics Lab, Damaged Hard Disk Cryptocurrency Forensics Lab, and Advanced Mobile Forensics Lab. This, according to Delhi Police Commissioner, is the first time the country is setting up a dedicated cyber lab.

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No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio

In an age where governments are trigger happy at censoring or shutting down networks, it is reassuring to know that Bitcoin can operate sans internet. Network censorship, after all, is not some dystopian storyline but a power exercised by many democratic governments across the world. Thankfully, there are solutions that enable people to send and receive bitcoin even in a worst case scenario. For an advanced technology, it turns out that cryptocurrency can get surprisingly low-tech.

Also read: Bitcoin and Weak Frequency Signals: Bypassing Network Censorship With Radio

Send Bitcoin by Radio and Circumvent Network Censorship

Imagine waking up one morning to find that the internet is down. Not because the wifi’s been disconnected: instead, your government has pulled the plug . You’ve no idea when it’ll be back online, and in the meantime, you’re cut off from life as you know it, ranging from contact with loved ones abroad to paying for anything by card. Since society isn’t big on keeping cash these days, and ATMs stock up on only so much paper money at a time, chances are you’ll have to sidestep – or engage in – a few fistfights if you’re to put a meal on the table.

Since bitcoin is, itself, a form of digital currency, it takes a good amount of preplanning to set up a transaction, but in theory, it could still operate even when conventional options are forcefully removed from the equation.

While most of us will hopefully never experience a dystopian world of intermittent internet, the productivity sages remind us that a failure to plan is planning to fail. Knowing how to transact with cryptocurrency in a chaotic world is the sort of knowledge that might just come in handy one day, and in the meantime will make you the most interesting guest at the dinner party.

Depending on the political stability of your geographic location, learning how to send bitcoin without internet could be nothing more than a fun Saturday afternoon science project. Then again, it could provide the way out of a tight spot one day, whether it’s transferring funds to a buddy stuck in the middle of the ocean or bribing a zombie to feast on the coins stored in your brain wallet instead of devouring your brain.

Bitcoin Over Airwaves

2014 saw the earliest mentions of bitcoin being sent via the airwaves. Hamradiocoin was one of the early vanity altcoins, geared at the ham radio industry. While it wasn’t entirely clear why said niche industry needed a dedicated currency, its current $794 market cap – unchanged since May 2017 – adds to crypto’s rich historical arsenal of questionable coins.

But the idea of marrying Marconi and Satoshi was bound to lead to more useful experiments. A step in the right direction saw Finnish company Vertaisvaluutta.fi propose the creation of a P2P half-duplex CB/HAM radio cryptocurrency. Also in Finland, Kryptoradio partnered with a national broadcaster to pilot a cryptocurrency data transmission system that broadcasts bitcoin transactions, blocks, and currency exchange data via national DVB-T television networks in real time. The project failed to launch its commercial phase, with founder Joel Lehtonen explaining:

The project raised huge audience and there has been some serious commercial interest but nothing I am really interested in because they would destroy the original idea of Kryptoradio – distributing the Bitcoin ledger autonomously without internet connectivity.

Come 2018, there was a new experiment in town. Ingredients: Brooklyn-based gotenna, a mobile, long-range, off-grid consumer mesh network, and bitcoin privacy wallet Samourai Wallet. A New Zealand developer transported crypto from a distance of 12.6km away, entirely offline, using only a network-disconnected Android phone and four portable antennas. Though as his Twitter recount acknowledges, it took one heck of a prep, including setting up relay stations.

Fast forward to this year, and in perhaps the most simplistic effort yet, Coinkite founder Rodolfo Novak managed to move BTC some 600km away from Toronto, Canada to Openbazaar co-founder Sam Patterson in Michigan, USA. And in that moment, Bitcoin-by-sky went international.

Advocates for Bitcoin by Air

In 2017, computer scientist Nick Szabo and PhD researcher Elaine Ou delved into the topic at Stanford’s Scaling Bitcoin conference, introducing a research project that proposed tethering bitcoin to radio broadcast to secure consensus proofs using weak signal radio propagation. (View their talk, a copy of the presentation, and our coverage of the event for further information.)

With Novak and Patterson’s latest feat, crypto Twitter went wild. Szabo, showing that he’s still a firm proponent of taking bitcoin skyward, chimed in to congratulate the duo for a successful sendoff that not even a snowstorm could stop.

How to Send Bitcoin by Radio

As Novak and Patterson have illustrated, you don’t need to overload on gear or make space for satellite storage in your backyard to send bitcoin by air. Accompanying an SDR ham on this quest was nothing more than a 40m 7Mhz antenna and the JS8call application.

While the setup seems simple enough (Google “ham radio for beginners” for a primer), in practice this is probably not something you’ll dive into unless you’re just messing around or, in real life, shit gets real.

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio
Gearing up is as easy as H-A-M

In truth, there are restrictions aplenty when it comes to sending bitcoin by radio.

First off, legalities. To stay on the right side of the law, some countries require you to be a licensed ham operator, and even then you’re unable to send any encrypted messages or use the airwaves for commercial purposes unless so licensed. At this point, it’s not yet clear which governmental task force will join the SEC and co in clamping down on illegal apocalyptic bitcoin-via-radio transactions.

Since legal restriction is the mother of all invention, Novak and Patterson circumvented this by broadcasting their experimental, non-commercial wallet encryption sendoff via public cypher.

Then there’s prepping it all. For this to be a viable – albeit last resort – solution in an actual nail-bite situation, sender and receiver would have to set it all up in advance. Novak and Patterson were able to execute their experiment by communicating and collaborating in lieu of the transfer, using a brain wallet. (The brainwallet, which is simply storing your mnemonic recovery phrase in your brain, is not to be confused with the recent more nefarious version – the deathwallet popularized by CEO Gerald Cotten who took the keys to Quadriga’s crypto kingdom to his grave.)

Thus, if you’re going to use this as a backup plan for when stuff hits the fan, you’d better secure a right-hand wo/man and a fool-proof project management blueprint while things are still web-friendly. If this process seems as though it walked off the pages of a James Bond novel, yes. It’s decidedly more involved than a mere intra-wallet send-off.

However, if you’re gung-ho on testing out alternative bitcoin transports, don’t let the naysayers stop you. Yours might well be the next proof of concept the interweb is waiting for. The blog Better Off Bitcoin, for one, offers a run-through protocol tutorial.

Scalability Is a Big Bottleneck

Clearly, scaling is a non-issue here. For the foreseeable future, sending bitcoin by radio happening unless it absolutely has to.

According to Australian crypto trader Boss Cole, “As Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are moving into the future, it is an interesting concept to think about what would happen if we instead went into the past. It is possible and easy to transfer Bitcoin without an internet connection, but it is not convenient. There are a number of projects working on this with satellites or their own infrastructure, however at the time of this writing they are not “popular” simply because there is no real demand.” He continues:

In the case of government censorship, the infrastructure would change rapidly. If we were dealing with serious problems, the infrastructure would follow. Because it is possible. If we went into the dark ages, the main way to transfer Bitcoin would be transferring private keys between individuals. This would be simple, but not convenient.

No Internet, No Problem: How to Send Bitcoin by Amateur Radio
Not even extreme weather conditions can deter the determined from sending bitcoin via radio waves

So while it’s theoretically possible to take to the skies and send crypto wallets around the world and all the way into space, DIY bitcoin ionosphere amateurs won’t soon be sending satoshis to the dark side of the moon any time soon.

Why Radio Wave Transmission Might Be Necessary

We tend to associate worst-case scenarios in which the main character has nothing but a walkie talkie and an old ham lying around with Hollywood’s portrayal of doomsday.

Yet for unstable regimes like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, internet blackouts were how 2019 got its start. In reality, network censorship is an all-too-common control tool for many governments around the world.

India leads the pack with 288 shutdowns between 2012 and 2019, with 134 instances in 2018 alone. The Middle East and Africa aren’t strangers to forcing citizens into offline mode, either.

Under the Communications Act 2003 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004, the U.K. has an internet kill switch, which could be enforced in light of a serious threat such as a significant cyber attack. The U.S. has had, for the past 85 years, the power to kill electronic communications under the Communications Act of 1934. And with talks of Russia considering a test run to decouple from the global internet, we risk taking a rude awakening if we assume the world’s 72,558 Google searches every second to be an unquestionable given.

Bitcoin for Every Situation

It might have taken a mini-library worth of code to get NASA astronauts to the moon, but sending bitcoin there won’t be nearly as hard. All you need is a radio. Okay, that and a moon rocket. But the point is, this new technology can be just as comfortable – or accessible – even when when the tech you’re using is decidely old school.

Bitcoin might have been invented on the internet for the internet, but it can straddle both the digital and analog worlds. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin walk the line between money under the mattress and cash in the bank. As these trailblazers show, bitcoin can straddle those worlds not only functionally, but also technically. Thanks to the efforts of the pioneers profiled here, crypto has shown it can survive in even the most challenging environments.

Sending bitcoin by radio isn’t quite carrier pigeon, but in tech terms it might as well be. Which, says crypto developer John Villar, is “probably the most low end you can get before smoke-signaling a brain wallet.”

Can you envision a situation in which you might have to send bitcoin by ham radio? What other ways could you picture cryptocurrency being transferred without the internet? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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Bitcoin and Ethereum Futures Volume Way Up, High Confidence in Longs

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Bitcoin and Ethereum Futures Volume Way Up, High Confidence in Longs

bitcoin-and-ethereum-futures-volume-way-up-high-confidence-in-longs

Bitcoin derivative futures contracts have reached their highest trading volumes of the year on many exchanges, according to data from Skew, a cryptoasset derivatives analytics website.

The huge trading volumes come amid two consecutive days of market rallies, with all leading cryptoassets painting large gains on the board, and Bitcoin lingering around the $4,000 price mark – up about 10% in two days. Today’s rallies mark the second broad leg up of February, with initial gains on the 8th setting the uptrend in motion.

Data from Skew also show that all Bitcoin perpetual swap funding on tracked futures exchanges – BitMEX, Deribit, OKEx, and Cryptofacilies – having positive funding rates. This means that confidence in longs is high and they must therefore pay a premium, whereas short sellers are paid for funding.

Despite this, data from Tradingview.com show that Bitcoin long contracts on the Bitfinex exchange have fallen precipitously since yesterday – more than 25% – presumably as traders take profit on their successful trades.

bfxlongs.png(source: TradingView.com)

Bullish Ethereum?

Things look similarly rosy for Ethereum (ETH) derivatives. Skew data show that Ether futures are also in positive funding, likewise indicating long confidence.

ethfuture18feb.png(source: Sk3w.co)

Furthermore, according to crypto (and general financial) analyst Alex Krüger, Ethereum’s coming (rescheduled) Constantinople update could be cause for confidence; and so could its falling inflation rate.

Krüger noted that Ethereum futures trading on BitMEX had reached all time highs two consecutive days in a row, since the contracts began trading last August.

ethvol19feb.png(source: TradingView.com)

CryptoGlobe reported recentyl however, abou tconcerns surrounding a feature in the Constantinople update, that would allow interactions with “addresses that do not exist yet on-chain but can be relied on to only possibly eventually contain code.”

Bitcoin Price Yet To Bottom Out, Says Crypto Hedge Fund Manager

Alex Sunnarborg of Tetras Capital says that Bitcoin has bottomed out yet. The hedge fund manager also believes that the cryptocurrency industry needs a comprehensive cleanup to remove ‘bad actors’ and enhance mainstream investor confidence in the fledgling market.


Bitcoin Price Yet to Bottom Out

Since falling from an all-time high of $19,700 in mid-December 2017, to $6,000 at the start of February 2018, establishing a long-term bottom for Bitcoin price continues to be a prominent topic of discussion. For Sunnarborg, BTC isn’t quite there yet.

Speaking to Forbes’ Jeff Kauflin, the Tetras Capital managing partner commented on the question of Bitcoin bottoming out, saying:

I don’t think so, and I think calling that is very difficult […] One way to think about the bottom is that it happens when all the bad news gets washed out. At that point the only thing to do is go up, and you can’t really talk about any negative catalysts anymore, because they’ve all happened.

According to Sunnarborg, BTC price is close to establishing a long-term bottom. However, the hedge fund manager says the market requires some degree of clarity, either way, to speed up the bottoming process.

During the interview, Sunnarborg identified the VanEck/SolidX Bitcoin ETF proposal as something that could have accelerated the bottoming process if it had been rejected. For Sunnarborg, there are too many variables up in the air including potential launches (Fidelity, Bakkt) and ETF approvals, which could be catalysts for the actual Bitcoin bottom.

In late January 2019, Fidelity announced that its custody platform would launch in March 2019. Bakkt is still awaiting approval from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) but the company says it is going ahead with all the necessary preparations.

Crypto Industry Needs a Cleanup

Commenting on the industry as a whole, Sunnaborg opined that the market needed a cleanup to become more appealing to mainstream investors and the need for trusted trading data.

Recently, Nasdaq partnered with Brave New Coin (BNC) to include Bitcoin and Ethereum price indices developed by BNC in the former’s trading index catalog. Sunnarborg says crypto data needs to become more trustworthy to combat instances of price manipulation.

Speaking on the issue of an industry-wide cleanup, Sunnaborg stated:

I would love to see the SEC come down on people really hard. One of the biggest problems in this space is there are so many bad actors, and so many were related to ICOs. The SEC just has such a massive task ahead of them.

The hedge fund manager also weighed in on the failure of many cryptocurrency projects especially those launched via ICOs. According to Sunnaborg, projects that embody the ‘Bitcoin ethos’ of creating a genesis block and mining rather than introducing phony tokens for illegal securities offerings have the potential to contribute to a value-based digital economy.

Do you think Bitcoin price has established a long-term bottom? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Twitter (@JeffKauflin), Shutterstock

Elon Musk: Bitcoin Has ‘Quite Brilliant’ Structure, Paper Money is Going Away

Technology entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Bitcoin’s (BTC) structure is “quite brilliant” and that digital currency is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.” Musk made his remarks during an interview on advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast on Feb. 19.

In response to a question about whether Bitcoin becomes the only native cryptocurrency of the Internet, Musk said that “the Bitcoin structure was quite brilliant,” and that he thinks that “one of the downsides of crypto is that computationally it is quite energy intensive. So there have to be some kind of constraints on the creation of crypto. But it’s very energy intensive to create the incremental Bitcoin at this point.”

On this note, Musk stressed that “it would not be a good use of Tesla resources to get involved in crypto. We’re just really trying to accelerate the advance of sustainable energy.”

Musk continued saying that cryptocurrency “bypasses currency controls […] paper money is going away, and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper, that’s for sure.”

Last February, Musk tweeted that he only owned 0.25 BTC. He noted in the same tweet that apart from the 0.25 BTC a friend had given to him “many years ago”, he “literally own[s] zero cryptocurrency.”

Previously, major industry players also argued that Bitcoin occupies a unique place as a store of value or “digital gold.” Mike Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that “Bitcoin is going to be digital gold, a place where you have sovereign money, it’s not U.S. money, it’s not Chinese money, it’s sovereign. Sovereignty costs a lot, it should.”

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey — who is well known for his conviction that Bitcoin will become the “native currency of the Internet” — said earlier this month that “[Bitcoin] feels it’s the one that wants to be currency the most, versus others that are doing more general purpose things or distributed computing […] I think [the altcoin space] has generated some really amazing ideas, but I’m focused on currency and the transactional aspect.”

BCH Devs Lock in Code for the Chain’s Next Upgrade: Schnorr and Segwit Recovery

BCH Devs Lock in Code for the Chain’s Next Upgrade: Schnorr and Segwit Recovery

On Feb. 14, a group of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) developers sat down and discussed the featured items for the scheduled upgrade this coming May. According to the programmers, two specific features will be ready for the upgrade: Schnorr signatures and Segwit recovery. The developers also detailed that certain features like nullfail and the 100-byte transaction size will not be ready for the May hard fork.

Also read: Cryptocurrency Can Now Be Purchased at 10,000 French Tobacco Shops

Two New Features Make the Cut for the Upcoming Bitcoin Cash Hard Fork

On Valentine’s Day, cryptocurrency developers Mark Lundeberg, Antony Zegers, Amaury Séchet, Jason B. Cox, Andrea Suisani, and Matias Garcia discussed the upcoming May upgrade with the meeting’s host David Allen. The fourth meeting was published to Youtube so BCH participants can listen in on what’s going on with development. At the moment the developers say that two improvements are ready for the May upgrade while a few others will have to wait until the next fork.

“Schnorr signatures and Segwit recovery will be ready for the May upgrade,” the video explains. “Other items such as nullfail, minimal data push, and amending the 100-byte transaction size limit will not be ready for this upgrade.”

BCH Devs Lock in Code for the Chain’s Next Upgrade: Schnorr and Segwit Recovery

The team of developers also discussed the testing and planning for the upgrades prior to the hard fork commitment. Examples include setting up a common source for shared information, deciding on common parameters, the concept of a persistent node with mining pool, and other test plans.

“There are a number of items that we had looked at over the last few months that were in consideration for the May hard fork — So far it looks like only a couple of the upgrade features will make it, like Schnorr,” explains developer Jason B. Cox. “That [feature] is looking pretty good so far and it’s gotten a lot of code review. There’s the Segwit recovery which I believe is also going to make it.”

“Yeah I don’t think there are going to be any more items added, but Schnorr has like one patch to go to make it work,” Bitcoin ABC’s lead developer Amaury Séchet replied to Cox.

Mark Lundeberg further explained the Segwit recovery feature, seeing how it wasn’t discussed during the last meeting and not many people know what it is, in comparison with the Schnorr feature. Lundeberg detailed that there is a specifications page up now up at the Bitcoin Cash repository which explains and shows the code to the Segwit recovery concept. Essentially, when BCH is sent to a Segwit address it can no longer be accepted on the BCH chain due to the clean stack rule. Lundeberg explains this feature will make Segwit addresses exempt from the clean stack rule and the coins will be recoverable.

BCH Devs Lock in Code for the Chain’s Next Upgrade: Schnorr and Segwit Recovery

Schnorr Likely to Be Added to the Bitcoin Cash Chain First

At the moment, the two new features are “frozen” into the BCH protocol so developers can begin experimenting on the testnet. Overall, the BCH programmers seem confident in the two featured upgrades for May and it seems Schnorr signatures may be implemented on BCH well before BTC developers get to it. However, Bitcoin Core developers are currently in the midst of working on Schnorr signatures as well and Blockstream just published a new standard for multi-signature transactions called MU-Sig. The protocol purportedly helps bolster the Schnorr implementation. In fact, Core developer Greg Maxwell boasted about the new MU-Sig protocol on the r/btc forum and made some dubious claims.

“Sounds like Bitcoin ABC is rushing ahead to deploy our signature scheme proposal (bip-schnorr),” Maxwell stated.

However, many BCH supporters didn’t care for Maxwell’s trolling commentary and explained that he and Blockstream developers “did not invent the Schnorr concept.” Mark Lundeberg said that he was aware of the MU-Sig protocol and explained that “BCH can use this too — it’s something purely on the wallet side; the nodes continue to verify the Schnorr Signatures the exact same way regardless.”

Overall, BCH enthusiasts on Reddit and social media seem positive about the upcoming upgrades and many supporters wholeheartedly believe that Schnorr will be implemented before the BTC camp plans to upgrade.

What do you think about the two features locked in for the scheduled BCH hard fork this May? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Youtube, and Bitcoin.com 


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Jamie Redman is a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open source code, and decentralized applications. Redman has written thousands of articles for news.Bitcoin.com about the disruptive protocols emerging today.

Bitcoin Veteran Peter Todd: Reducing Bitcoin’s Block Size to 300KB Is a “Dumb Idea”

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Bitcoin Veteran Peter Todd: Reducing Bitcoin’s Block Size to 300KB Is a “Dumb Idea”

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Peter Todd is a Bitcoin veteran. Describing himself as an Applied Cryptography Consultant, Peter has been interested in digital money ever since he read Adam Back’s seminal Hashcash paper as a teenager. Having spent a lot of time himself thinking about how to create a digital currency – when the bitcoin paper was released in 2009, Peter realized that the solution had been found.

Formerly a Bitcoin Core developer, Peter has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the space, regularly providing a more technically-based commentary to the changing winds of the crypto scene.

Short, sharp and to the point, Peter answered a few of my questions about bitcoin, crypto more broadly, and what the future holds for the industry.

Avi Rosten: How did you get into crypto?

Peter Todd: Via the Freenet Project, back in highschool. Like any good civics/democracy minded high schooler would be, I believed in freedom of speech and Freenet was an obvious way to promote that.

AR: What are some of the developments in the crypto space in the past couple of years that you find most interesting?

PT: Lightning is probably the biggest one. Monero and Zcash second, although remember that “interesting” doesn’t necessarily mean “good”.

AR: What do you think about recent talk by some Bitcoin Core developers around reducing Bitcoin’s block size?

PT:  Some? I think you mean basically just one, Luke. I think it’s a dumb idea that’s a mere tweak at high cost.

(Peter explained a little more expansively in this interview for the WhatBitcoinDid Podcast why he doesn’t like small block sizes: “I think his technical arguments for that are good, but I think he doesn’t understand the social side of that, which essentially makes it impossible.”)

AR: When the bitcoin block reward eventually goes to 0, will mining fees act as enough of an incentive?

PT: Maybe? Maybe not? It’d certainly have been less risky to have some small perpetual inflation, or at least a Monero-like “tail emission”

AR: What do you think of the Lightning network? Will it enable bitcoin to become a widely-used medium of exchange?

PT: How widely used is widely used? Bitcoin is already a fairly widely-used medium of exchange amongst use-cases that need it – lots of services and people at risk of censorship use it, from Patreon alternatives to file hosting sites.

If you’re talking about replacing credit cards and the like, it’ll probably never happen.

AR: Do you think Bitcoin should incorporate some privacy features or do you think it would make Bitcoin less useful as financial regulators might then treat it as a privacy coin e.g. Japan’s FSA’s order to exchanges not to deal with privacy coins?

PT: From a purely technical perspective most of what people think of as “privacy features” are risky to implement, with a high chance of a bug leading to the destruction of the entire system. Monero has already had one inflation bug, and Zcash has had two (including the one caught just prior to initial release).

On the other hand, Bitcoin already has many onchain privacy features, ranging  from the UTXO model to various technical things that make Lightning possible. And on the second layer, having at least some level of privacy isn’t just a feature, it’s mandatory: without decent privacy you can’t get scaling, as to scale you have to make transaction data less widely distributed.

AR: What do you think of the two most recent implementations of the MimbleWimble protocol (Beam and Grin)? If the community decided that Bitcoin needed to have these privacy features, what do you think would be the best way to implement them?

PT: I just don’t see that happening for another 5-10 years. These protocols are just too new to trust for something as valuable as the entire Bitcoin system. Better to adopt them as additional layers, as Liquid has done.

AR: If you wanted to work with smart contracts, which of the existing platforms would you use? Ethereum, EOS, TRON, Rootstock (RSK) …?

PT: They’re all bad. Their idea of smart contracts doesn’t make much sense for most applications. Lightning is currently the best example of a smart contract system in production, and the on-chain scripts it uses are trivial.

There’s very little reason to have complex on-chain smart contract schemes.

AR: What’s your biggest criticism of Ethereum?

PT: See the previous question.

It’s just not a model that makes much sense.

AR: How do you think crypto news and media could improve?

I’d say get more competent journalists and give them more time and resources to write articles. But realistically, where’s the money to do that going to come from?

Crypto Markets Continue Climbing as Bitcoin and XRP Transaction Volumes Surge

The crypto markets have continued to climb higher after seeing two days of large and widespread gains across nearly all major cryptocurrencies. Today’s price climb has led many investors and analysts to believe that the markets have already established a long-term bottom.

Despite there being a bullish sentiment that is currently spreading through most cryptocurrency communities, analysts are now pointing to the importance of transaction volumes as an indicator of where the markets are heading next.

Bitcoin and XRP See Sustained Rise in Transaction Volume

Although there may not be a fundamental reason behind the recent crypto market surge, one factor that may be contributing is an increasing amount of transaction volume that may have an impact on various cryptocurrencies prices.

Naeem Aslam, the chief market analyst at Think Markets U.K., recently told MarketWatch that he believes that Bitcoin will see increased fundamental strength in the coming months, which could help contribute to positive price action.

“The cryptocurrency king is on track to secure its first positive month since July 2018… With the wind of change blowing, the fundamentals are likely to improve in the coming months for the cryptocurrency space. The hopes are pinned on the improvement of the transaction volume for on-chain transactions. This will attract growth because of a larger number of industries becoming part of this infrastructure,” he said.

Mati Greenspan, the senior market analyst at eToro, shared a similar sentiment to Aslam, and also noted that Bitcoin’s recent price ascent occurred at the same time its transaction volume began to increase.

“We can see this period of low transaction rate in the purple rectangle below… The green line is $BTC,” Greenspan noted while referencing a chart that shows the volatility BTC saw during a period of low transaction volume.

Greenspan also noted that XRP has seen an influx of transactions in late-January after XRP’s transactions dropped off a cliff on December 11th, which is about the time that XRP fell back towards its 2018 lows in the mid-$0.20 region.

“Transactions in XRP went quiet from December 11th but came back with a vengeance on January 26th,” he said.

Crypto Markets May Not be Out of the Woods Yet

Although the recent market surge that has sent many cryptocurrencies up 10% or more is certainly positive for investors and traders alike, Greenspan warns that a tight correlation between major cryptos and Bitcoin could signal that bear market is not yet over.

“Despite recent optimism, crypto correlations remain strong… Major coins still bearing a positive correlation to $BTC of about 0.8, which is very high… Yet another sign the [bear] market might not be over just yet,” he warned.

At the time of writing virtually all major cryptocurrencies are trading up, with Ethereum, XRP, EOS, trading up 1.2%, 3.2%, and 5.1%, respectively.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Bitmex Takes Big Hit as Bitcoin Futures Volume Drops

New data provided by cryptocurrency market aggregator CryptoCompare, as part of its latest monthly Exchange Review, reveals that a January decline in Futures trading saw BitMEX’s daily volumes drop away heavily compared to the speculative instruments in general. 

Futures trading claimed 24% ($54.6 billion) of a cryptocurrency trading sector that receded as a whole during January, experiencing a volume drop of around 16% in a fall back from around $268 billion to $223 billion in combined Spot Trading and Futures trading volumes. December’s figures showed Futures holding an increased 28% share of the total ($76.3), buoyed by the rather more animated price action seen at the end of 2018.

Monthly Spot v Future comparison

 

BitMEX seeing a decline

Perhaps the most glaring statistic revealed by the 29 pages of research done by the company, however, is the startling decline of Bitcoin-based Futures business going through the books of the Seychelles-based high-leverage marketplace BitMEX. 

Perhaps due to feeling the bite of recent increased pressure from American authorities, and its subsequent moves to stop US-based traders using its services in breach of US regulations, BitMEX’s total volume for XBTUSD Perpetual Swaps (XBT being BitMEX’s ticker code for Bitcoin, the Swaps its daily settled, never-ending Futures instrument) took a fairly hefty 41% turn southwards during January.

Recent reports in the South China Morning Post cited sources describing US-based customers as something like 15% of BitMEX’s user base, and linked the US Securities Exchange Commission’s recent action against 1Broker and warning that any Exchange offering its services to US residents as needing to be registered with heightened moves by the platform to shut down accounts operating in breach of its T&Cs, which outlaw American traders.

While the somewhat becalmed nature of the Bitcoin price, which traded in the mid-$3,000 range for the vast majority of January would also have taken its toll on BitMEX’s volumes, it seems clear that the precipitous nature of the drop is link to the newly found dilligence in blocking trade from North America. Reports have also, for example, noted that Quebec-based customers are now unable to use the site in the wake of new rules coming in to force there. 

Whatever the reason, that large percentage fall took its daily volume back below the $1 billion dollar mark – to $665 million per day, down from $1.13bn in December. It also meant that BitMEX’s share of the total USD-based Bitcoin Futures market fell below 90%, compared to the 95%+ slice it took back in November. 

The US-legal Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Futures stepped in to claim a bigger share of the reduced pie, showing a trend-bucking monthly increase in daily volume from $66.5 million to $79.9 million. That equated to it taking a 10%+ share of the total USD-based Futures market, the first time it has even come close to that kind of number. 

Daily XBT to USD Volumes

The other US-regulated Futures option, offered by The Chicago Board of Exchange (CBoE), fell back from daily volume of $10.65 in December to just $8.1 million in January. In percentage terms, that drop is less than the 29.9% seen by the USD Futures market as a whole over the month, but leaves CBoE with little more than 1% of the entire market.

The two regulated options – which appear to have picked up at least some of the US-based business lost by BitMEX, despite being very different instruments – now account for combined 11.7% share of the dollar-based Bitcoin Futures market, a marked increase – but still trailing well behind the crypto-centric incumbents, BitMEX and the Japan-based BitFlyer. .  

Indeed, the amount of futures trading by BitMEX is now dwarfed by the XBTJPY volume seen on BitFlyer, which – despite the view of the majority of the Western crypto press, that often characterises BitMEX as the major player in terms of  Futures in the sector – has been easily biggest Exchange for such instruments since CryptoCompare has been publishing its figures. After conversion, its daily volumes still exceeded $1bn during January – though they did recede from the 1.4bn range of December to around the $1.1bn mark.  Regulated Exchanges v Crypto Exchanges

The same sources that explained BitMEX’s worries regarding the SEC were keen to point out that Asian traders were still the backbone of its business. However, it appears that the loss of a significant amount of North American trade, coupled with the continued rise in BitFlyer’s popularity in the Far East and the ravages of the extended bull market is taking its toll.