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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.

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Posted on 19 February 2018 | 1:16 pm

HashChain Technology Acquires Blockchain Company NODE40

HashChain Mining Operation Acquires NODE40 Blockchain Technology Company

HashChain Technology Inc. (HashChain) has acquired the blockchain technology company NODE40 for $8 million USD and 3,144,134 common shares of stock in HashChain (TSXV: KASH) (OTCQB: HSSHF).

HashChain is a Canadian-based crypto-mining company that currently operates 100 Dash mining rigs and is in the process of setting up nearly 4,000 more to mine bitcoin. By locating in Canada, they are able to take advantage of both the very low electrical rates for power and the cool climate for data center cooling.

Having recently gone public on the TSX Venture Exchange, the company was looking to diversify their business beyond crypto-mining and have now acquired NODE40, a company that develops Software as a Service (SaaS) products related to cryptocurrency.

HashChain CEO and Founder Patrick Gray said, “The acquisition of the NODE40 Business is an important next step of creating a global blockchain technology company."

On the hardware and mining side, NODE40 runs a managed service for running your own Dash masternode. Masternodes get paid 45 percent of the monthly block reward as incentive for providing services to the network.

On the software side, NODE40 provides the SaaS product NODE40 Balance (Balance), which determines accurate valuations for each input/output involved in a user’s transaction by using cryptocurrency transaction history and analyzing the blockchain. Once a value is assigned to each transaction, then Balance will report the users’ current total asset value, income and any realized gains or loses.

"Cryptocurrency accounting and reporting for tax purposes is a major concern in the industry at the moment,” said Gray. “The recent Coinbase subpoena from the IRS highlights the significant need for the software developed by NODE40."

The acquisition was finalized on February 15, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 11:21 am

Long Blockchain Is At Risk for Exchange Removal Again

Long Blockchain announced it would appeal a notice by Nasdaq informing it that its stock was at risk of being delisted.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 11:20 am

Banks Buy Stakes in Blockchain Startup SETL

Citi joined Credit Agricole, Computershare, S2iEM and Deloitte as shareholders in the blockchain-based payment and settlements startup SETL.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 10:20 am

Op-ed: How Decentralized Protocols Are Threatening Traditional Business Models

Op-ed: How Decentralized Protocols Are Threatening Traditional Business Models

Corporates, suits and CEOs of traditional companies beware: decentralized protocols powered by blockchain technology are redefining your traditional business models, and you should be worried. Business models of the future are not created equal, and they certainly don’t play by the same rules. In the Venn Diagram of traditional business and decentralized protocols, there are a few overlaps and many differences.

Traditional Businesses vs. Decentralized Protocols

Boiled down to the most simple terms, all traditional businesses are organizations that charge customers a certain price (usually denoted in fiat currency) in exchange for a certain product or service. Starbucks charges $3.28 for a quad, grande, decaf Americano. Netflix charges a monthly $10.99 for unlimited Nicolas Cage streaming. Lover’s charges $20 to “spice things up” in the bedroom.

Ultimately, all traditional businesses –– no matter the product or service –– are driven by the quest for profit. Business owners are incentivized to reduce costs, increase efficiencies and scale carefully to maximize cash flows for shareholders.

The key stakeholders of traditional business are customers, business owners/employees and business financiers.

A decentralized protocol powered by blockchain technology is a network — a network framed by cryptography, distributed ledger technology, decentralization and consensus methods –– but a network nonetheless. The networks created by decentralized protocols aren’t structured like the networks created by any traditional business model.

Decentralized protocols aren’t driven by the need to create future cash flows for shareholders. Instead, they are programmed to facilitate commercial interactions between humans in a frictionless manner. A protocol’s incentives are aligned to benefit users and to achieve the smallest margins possible.

The key stakeholders of decentralized protocols are customers, protocol “community maintainers” and (occasionally) protocol financiers.

Customers

Customers benefit from the traditional business they choose to interact with. For a price specified by the business (in fiat currency), they are entitled to a product or service.

Similarly, customers benefit from the protocol they choose to interact with. For a price specified by the protocol, they are entitled to a product or service.

Generally, protocols are powered by utility tokens. For example, the fictional Planes Protocol facilitates coast-to-coast trips in a Tesla-of-the-skies (electric planes) for 1 PLN token. The PLN token is a medium-of-exchange. Nick, a businessman from Seattle, must pay 1 PLN token for a flight from Seattle to Miami. The plane operator is entitled to 99 percent of the PLN token fee and the Planes Protocol claims the other 1 percent.

Business Owners and Employees

Traditional business owners and employees must be compensated for their work. After all, there is a price to pay for food, water and shelter. Business owners pay themselves with portions of their revenue and pay their employees salaries for their work.

Because protocols are decentralized, the concept of “business owner” does not apply. Instead, protocols are cultivated by those designated as “community maintainers.” Whether the protocol founder is designated as the “community maintainer” is up to the community.

Protocols can facilitate commercial interactions between humans “at cost,” as long as they are generating enough in network fees to cover all required upkeep costs. For example, these can include a centralized unit to guarantee customer satisfaction and hiring of developers, project managers or anyone else necessary to keep the network alive and well. Therefore, a protocol’s margins can be much lower than that of a traditional business.

If a “greedy” protocol is programmed with transaction fees that are unreasonably high, anyone can “fork” the protocol (by using a modified copy of the original open-source code) and create a competing network with lower transaction fees. This will continue until price reaches a near-free equilibrium.

Protocol founders can reward themselves with a certain percentage of all tokens ever minted for creating the protocol; similarly, “community maintainers” are rewarded for their efforts via the protocol’s tokens on an ongoing, salary-style basis. These tokens usually have a related fiat value and can be redeemed on publicly traded exchanges.

Side note: Utility tokens are not a panacea. They face various problems such as publicly traded speculation and token velocity. A utopian, token-centric future will not happen overnight. There is much work to do.

Business Financiers

Many business owners or entrepreneurs traditionally rely on risk-tolerant financiers with capital. In the 1500s, enterprising trade voyagers relied on wealthy financiers to support their journeys. If trade voyagers were successful, financiers earned the lion’s share of the voyagers’ profits.

In 2018, Silicon Valley startup founders relinquish equity/control over their company to venture capitalists (modern day trade financiers) in exchange for seed funding. If startups are successful, venture capitalists earn a return proportional to their shares of the company.

It is important to note that capitalism and traditional business models work well. There are millions of happy customers across a variety of industries. But, in some cases, decentralized protocols provide cheaper access to products or services and better-aligned incentives for all stakeholders.

Founders of protocols have flexibility. Because they are creating a new network powered by utility tokens, they can afford to bypass traditional debt/equity financing.

While 16th century merchants and past Silicon Valley founders played by the rules of their financiers, founders of decentralized protocols are freed from this sort of pressure. Protocols can crowdfund capital by pre-selling their protocol’s utility tokens to accredited VCs and, in some cases, to the general public. Protocols can also give discounted tokens to developers for their skills.

Key Takeaway: Traditional businesses and protocols are not created equal. And decentralized protocols certainly don’t play by the same rules as traditional businesses.

Shifting the Value Paradigm

So, what might value creation in the future even look like? And how does a legacy business survive the decentralized future?

Corporate decision-makers must recognize and understand that:

  • This is a true instance of the often-overlooked “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Traditional business models cannot be confused with or compared to protocols of the future.
  • Decentralized protocols of the Web 3.0 will not automatically dethrone legacy businesses. And, in some cases, traditional business would not benefit from decentralization. Protocols will not gain the necessary network effects for widespread adoption unless their value proposition is an order of magnitude better than current business models.
  • If your corporation operates on the basis of artificial scarcity or “middlemen economics,” you’re ripe for disruption.

Most decentralized protocols still require certain aspects of centralization to guarantee customer satisfaction. Sorry, libertarians, but certain things must maintain a degree of centralization.

Practical Example: Uber vs. Ride, a Fictional, Decentralized Ride-Sharing Protocol.

In 2018, Uber has 3 key competitive advantages in the ride-sharing market:

  1. Legacy Network: ~ 40 million total monthly, active riders; ~ 1.5 million total drivers
  2. Customer Satisfaction Guarantee: a centralized company able to provide riders/drivers with personalized troubleshooting. For example, when a driver complains that a college student threw up in his Uber, the centralized Uber troubleshooting authority reprimands the rider in the form of a citation and makes the driver whole.
  3. Brand Name Recognition: Uber has achieved ultimate “verb” status. On par with “Googling” something.

However, in 5–20 years, Ride will inevitably come along and attempt to win over Uber’s users and drivers. Ride won’t be structured like Uber’s traditional business model. Its goal won’t be to create future cash flows for Ride shareholders. Instead, the protocol will focus on facilitating transactions between riders and drivers in a frictionless, decentralized manner. Ride’s incentives will be aligned to benefit riders and drivers.

Because Ride isn’t driven by the quest for profit, it doesn’t have to charge drivers ~20 percent for each ride. Instead, they can charge users/drivers fractional transaction fees (by means of the RIDE utility token) for interacting with the protocol. These transaction fees are used to maintain and secure the Ride protocol.

The Ride protocol will raise money by pre-selling their utility tokens via decentralized crowdfunding. The protocol will provide an order of magnitude improvement over Uber’s network, executed by the right team and the right investors. Because of this, Ride will amass a significant network effect, user base and brand name recognition. Of course, the Ride protocol will likely still have aspects of centralization to provide customer satisfaction.

So, How Can Companies Like Uber Survive in 2025?

There are two options:

  1. “Reverse ICO,” or create a decentralized protocol for the service you provide.
  2. Slowly go bankrupt as market share is taken away by your competitors, who are decentralized protocols.

Decentralization will be just one of many difficult topics to bring up at a board meeting. After all, artificial intelligence and automation are advancing every year. Shrinking margins, employee layoffs and re-trainings are also implicit with decentralization. (Maybe it’s best to recruit your interns to volunteer this information to the board, in case this inevitability isn’t well-received by your shareholders.)

Legacy companies are presented with an incredible opportunity to participate in the next evolution of business models and commercial interactions between people. Choose to embrace the future or fall as a victim to social darwinism: the choice is up to you.

This is an opinion piece by Erik Kuebler. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 10:03 am

Lithuania's Central Bank Probes 100 Million Euro ICO

Lithuania's central bank has said it is probing Bankera's initial coin offering after determining that the token offered counts as a security.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 9:00 am

Bitcoin is back over $11000 - BGR


BGR

Bitcoin is back over $11000
BGR
It took Bitcoin more than two weeks to recover the ground it lost in early February when the most popular cryptocurrency in the world plunged below $6,000 for the first time since November. Bitcoin is nowhere near its record highs from mid-December ...
Why Bitcoin Is Still Worth Investing InDaily Beast
White House Official: Bitcoin Regulation Won't Happen Anytime SoonBitcoinist
We're Not Even Close to Regulating Bitcoin: US Cybersecurity CzarCryptovest
The Daily Dot
all 25 news articles »

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 8:58 am

$850 Million Raised in ICO So Far, Says Telegram

Messaging app provider Telegram has raised an initial $850 million in its controversial initial coin offering (ICO), according to a public document.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 7:20 am

Sidechains: Why These Researchers Think They Solved a Key Piece of the Puzzle

Sidechains and Why These Researchers Think They Solved a Key Piece of the Puzzle

New blockchains are born all the time. Bitcoin was the lone blockchain for years, but now there are hundreds. The problem is, if you want to use the features offered on another blockchain, you have to buy the tokens for that other blockchain.

But all that may soon change. One developing technology called sidechains promises to make it easier to move tokens across blockchains and, as a result, open the doors to a world of possibilities, including building bridges to the legacy financial systems of banks.

In October 2017, Aggelos Kiayias, professor at the University of Edinburgh and chief scientist at blockchain research and development company IOHK; Andrew Miller, professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Dionysis Zindros, researcher at the University of Athens, released the paper “Non-Interactive Proofs of Proof-of-Work” (NiPoPoW), introducing a critical piece to the sidechains puzzle that had been missing for three years. This is the story of how they got there.

But, first, what exactly is a sidechain?    

Same Coin, Different Blockchain

A sidechain is a technology that allows you to move your tokens from one blockchain to another, use them on that other blockchain and then move them back at a later point in time, without the need for a third party.  

In the past, the parent blockchain has typically been Bitcoin, but a parent chain could be any blockchain. Also, when a token moves to another blockchain, it should maintain its same value. In other words, a bitcoin on an Ethereum sidechain would remain a bitcoin.  

The biggest advantage of sidechains is that they would allow users to access a host of new services. For instance, you could move bitcoin to another blockchain to take advantage of privacy features, faster transaction speeds and smart contracts.  

Sidechains have other uses, too. A sidechain could offer a more secure way to upgrade a protocol, or it could serve as a type of security firewall, so that in the event of a catastrophic disaster on a sidechain, the main chain would remain unaffected. “It is a kind of limited liability,” said Zindros in a video explaining how the technology works.

Finally, if banks were to create their own private blockchain networks, sidechains could enable communications with those networks, allowing users to issue and track shares, bonds and other assets.

Early Conversations

Early dialogue about sidechains first appeared in Bitcoin chat rooms around 2012, when Bitcoin Core developers were thinking of ways to safely upgrade the Bitcoin protocol.

One idea was for a “one-way peg,” where users could move bitcoin to a separate blockchain to test out a new client; however, once those assets were moved, they could not be moved back to the main chain.  

“I was thinking of this as a software engineering tool that could be used to make widespread changes,” Adam Back, now CEO at blockchain development company Blockstream, said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine. “You could say, we are going to make a new version [of Bitcoin], and we think it will be ready in a year, but in the meantime, you can opt in early and test it.”

According to Back, sometime in the following year, on the Bitcoin IRC channel, Bitcoin Core developer Greg Maxwell suggested an idea for a “two-way peg,” where value could be transferred to the alternative chain and then back to Bitcoin at a later point.

A two-way peg addressed another growing concern at the time. Alternative coins, like Litecoin and Namecoin, were becoming increasingly popular. The fear was these “altcoins” would dilute the value of bitcoin. It made sense, Bitcoin Core developers thought, to keep bitcoin as a type of reserve currency, and relegate new features to sidechains. That way, “if you wanted to use a different feature, you wouldn’t have to buy a speculative asset,” said Back.

To turn the concept of sidechains into a reality, Back along with Maxwell and a few other Bitcoin Core developers formed Blockstream in 2014. In October that year, the group released “Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains,” a paper describing sidechains at a high level. Miller appears as a co-author on that paper as well.

How Sidechains Work

One important component of sidechains is a simplified payment verification (SPV) proof that shows that tokens have been locked up on one chain so validators can safely unlock an equivalent value on the alternative chain. But to work for sidechains, an SPV proof has to be small enough to fit into a single coinbase transaction, the transaction that rewards a miner with new coins. (Not to be confused with the company Coinbase.)

At the time the Blockstream researchers released their paper, they knew they needed a compressed SPV proof to get sidechains to work, but they had not yet developed the cryptography behind it. So they outlined general, high-level ideas.

The Blockstream paper describes two types of two-way pegs: a symmetric two-way peg, where both chains are independent with their own mining; and an asymmetric two-way peg, where sidechain miners are full validators of the parent chain.

In a symmetric two-way peg, a user sends her bitcoins to a special address. Doing so locks up the funds on the Bitcoin blockchain. That output remains locked for a contest period of maybe six blocks (one hour) to confirm the transaction has gone through, and then an SPV proof is created to send to the sidechain.

At that point, a corresponding transaction appears on the sidechain with the SPV proof, verifying that money has been locked up on the Bitcoin blockchain, and then coins with the same value of account are unlocked on the sidechain.

Coins are spent and change hands and, at a later point, are sent back to the main chain. When the coins are returned to the main chain, the process repeats. They are sent to a locked output on the sidechain, a waiting period goes by, and an SPV proof is created and sent back to the main blockchain to unlock coins on the main chain.  

In an asymmetric two-way peg, the process is slightly different. The transfer from the parent chain to the sidechain does not require an SPV proof, because validators on the sidechain are also aware of the state of the parent chain. An SPV proof is still needed, however, when the coins are returned to the parent chain.

Search for a Compact Proof

In a sidechain, a compact SPV proof needs to contain a compressed version of all the block headers in the chain where funds are locked up from the genesis block through the contest period, as well as transaction data and some other data. In this way, an SPV proof can also be thought of as a “proof of proof-of-work” for a particular output.

Inspiration for the compact SPV proof comes from a linked-list-like structure known as a “skip list” developed 25 years ago. In applying this structure to a compact SPV proof, the trick was in finding a way to skip block headers while still maintaining a high level of security so that an adversary would not be able to fake a proof.

In working through the problem, Blockstream showed an early draft of its sidechains paper to Miller, who had been mulling over compact SPVs for a few years already.

In August 2012, in a post on a BitcoinTalk forum titled “The High-Value-Hash Highway,” Miller described an idea for a “merkle skip list” that a Bitcoin light client could use to quickly determine the longest chain and begin using it. In that post, he described the significance of the data structure as “absolutely staggering.”

When Miller read through the Blockstream draft, he spotted a vulnerability in the compact SPV proof described in the paper. Discussions ensued, but they “couldn’t find a way to solve that problem without compromising efficiency,” Miller said.

Miller’s non-trivial contributions to the Blockstream paper ended up being a few paragraphs in Appendix B that describe the challenges in creating a compact SPV proof.

It should “be possible to greatly compress a list of headers while still proving the same amount of work,” the section reads, but “optimising these tradeoffs and formalising the security guarantees is out of scope for this paper and the topic of ongoing work.”

That ongoing work remained stuck for three years.

Making It Non-interactive

During that ensuing time, researchers at IOHK began taking a more serious interest in sidechains. Plans were taking shape for Cardano, a new proof-of-stake blockchain that IOHK had been contracted to build.

Cardano would consist of two layers: a settlement layer, launched in September 2017, where the money supply would be kept, and a smart contract layer. Those two layers would be two sidechain-enabled blockchains. In this way, the settlement could remain simple and secure from any attacks that might occur on the smart contract layer. But if IOHK was to get Cardano to work as intended, it needed to solve sidechains.

In February 2016, Kiayias, then a professor at the University of Athens, and two of his students, Nikolaos Lamprou and Aikaterini-Panagiota Stouka, released “Proofs of Proofs of Work with Sublinear Complexity” (PoPoW).

The paper was the first to formally address a compact SPV proof. Only, the proof described in the paper was interactive; whereas, to work for sidechains, it needed to be non-interactive.

In an interactive proof, the prover and the verifier enter into a back-and-forth conversation, meaning there could be more than one round of messaging. In contrast, a non-interactive proof would be a simple, short string of text that would fit neatly into a single transaction on the blockchain.

The PoPoW paper was presented at BITCOIN’16, a workshop affiliated with the International Financial Cryptography Association’s (IFCA) Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference. Miller, who was at the conference, approached Kiayias and shared an idea for making the protocol non-interactive.

It was a “nice observation,” Kiayias told Bitcoin Magazine, but making the proof secure was “not obvious at all” and would require significant work.

Zindros, who had just started working on his PhD under Kiayias, was also at the conference, and he needed a topic for his thesis. Kiayias saw a good fit, “so we pressed on, the three of us, and adapted the PoPoW protocol and its proof of security to the non-interactive setting,” Kiayias said.

In October 2016, Kiayias officially joined IOHK, and a year later, Kiayias, Miller and Zindros released “Non-Interactive Proofs of Proof-of-Work,” introducing a compact SPV proof five years after sidechains had first been talked about on Bitcoin forums.

“If it were interactive, I don’t know if it would have worked; with a non-interactive proof, it is really smooth,” Zindros told Bitcoin Magazine.

More Work to Be Done

Even with NiPoPoW, sidechains are still not fully specified. Several questions remain, including, how small can the proofs be made? After a transaction is locked up on one chain, how much time needs to pass before it can be spent on the other? And, will it be possible to move a token from a sidechain directly to another sidechain?

“A lot of theory still needs to be defined,” IOHK CEO Charles Hoskinson said in speaking to Bitcoin Magazine.

Also, while NiPoPoW is designed to work for proof-of-work blockchains, some believe that if blockchains are to take their place in the world on a grand scale, the future rests in proof-of-stake protocols like Ouroboros, Algorand or Snow White, which promise to be more energy-efficient than Bitcoin.

In particular, if Cardano, which is based on Ouroboros, is to work according to plan, IOHK researchers still need to discover a non-interactive proof of proof-of-stake (NiPoPoS).

Hoskinson is confident. “We can definitely do that,” he said. “We can definitely have a NiPoPoS. The question is how many megabytes or kilobytes is it going to be? Can we bring it down to 100 KB? That is really the question.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 7:12 am

Record Retest? ETC Looks Poised on Double-Digit Climb

A prominent alternative to the ethereum blockchain is showing signs of building a higher base amid a period of strong market activity.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 6:45 am

Coinbase. Ripple. Uphold? Investor Greg Kidd Defends Bold Bet

Exuberant investor Gregg Kidd outlines his plans for Uphold, a profitable crypto startup that's largely flown under the radar until now.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin Breaks $11k As New Support Forms And Analysts Turn Bullish - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Bitcoin Breaks $11k As New Support Forms And Analysts Turn Bullish
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
Monday, Feb. 19: the Bitcoin price has surpassed $11,000 twice since Sunday as bullish sentiment returns to markets and new support begins to form. Data from Cointelegraph's price index shows a BTC/USD journey to a high of $11,190.10 Feb. 18, followed ...
Bitcoin takes fresh aim at $11000MarketWatch
Bitcoin Price: Will Bullish 'Flip' Finally Clear $11K Hurdle?Bitcoinist

all 19 news articles »

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 5:39 am

Australian Watchdog Received 1,200 Crypto Scam Complaints in 2017

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission reportedly received over 1,200 complaints about cryptocurrency scams last year.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 4:45 am

Bitcoin broke through $11000 for the first time since January - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin broke through $11000 for the first time since January
CNBC
Bitcoin broke through the $11,000 mark over the weekend for the first time since the end of January as its price continues to slowly rise following a violent sell-off at the start of the month. The price of the cryptocurrency went as high as $11,279.18 ...
Bitcoin price could hit 'near-zero', co-founder of rival cryptocurrency Ethereum warnsMetro
Bitcoin price broke through $11000 for first time since JanuaryKHOU

all 36 news articles »

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 4:06 am

Bottom Confirmed? Bitcoin at 20-Day High Near $11K - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bottom Confirmed? Bitcoin at 20-Day High Near $11K
CoinDesk
Over the weekend, CoinDesk's Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) rose to $11,279.18, its highest level since Jan. 29. As of writing, the BPI is seen at $10,800 - up 1.59 percent in the last 24 hours. However, a bout of profit taking seems to have pushed the ...

and more »

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 3:34 am

Bottom Confirmed? Bitcoin at 20-Day High Near $11K

Bitcoin seems to have found a bottom below $6,000, although a long-term bull revival is still not certain, according to the price charts.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 3:15 am

Bancor Bounce Back? ICO Is Winning Adoption

Despite early skepticism on its tech amid a record-setting ICO, millions of dollars is now being traded each week by blockchain project Bancor.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 2:00 am

The Real Problem With Nocoiners

What makes a nocoiner a nocoiner is not simply the absence of cryptocurrency from his investment portfolio, but his sanctimonious attitude about it.

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 8:35 pm

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies - New York Times


New York Times

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies
New York Times
In the beach resort of Phuket, Thailand, last month, the assailants pushed their victim, a young Russian man, into his apartment and kept him there, blindfolded, until he logged onto his computer and transferred about $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an ...
Wild, wild world of bitcoin: Armed thieves target digital currency holdersWRAL Tech Wire
Hard to catch bitcoin thieves who threaten real violence for virtual currenciesThe Straits Times

all 5 news articles »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 12:26 pm

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin - Forbes


Forbes

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin
Forbes
Wall Street has solved a big problem for Bitcoin: market volatility, paving the way for the people's currency to gain broad acceptance among merchants as a medium of exchange. That's a bullish development for the “people's currency.” Starbucks and ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:31 am

Doge Is Helping Ethereum Solve Its Biggest Issue

Years after it was written off as a joke, dogecoin continues to prove useful, this time factoring into a major ethereum test.

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 3:00 am

In 10 Years We Won't Have Blockchains

Instead, we may have something that does what a blockchain does, only faster, cheaper and scalable. It'll look more like a graph than a linear chain.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 4:00 am

Ethereum Game CryptoKitties Now Has Some Serious Rivals

CryptoKitties may be the best-known ethereum app, but other games are fast winning users and registering notable volumes for expensive collectables.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 3:00 am

FCC: Bitcoin Miner Interfered With T-Mobile Network

The Federal Communications Commission says a crypto mining rig has caused interference with T-Mobile's LTE network in Brooklyn, New York.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:15 pm

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SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

Today, February 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release announcing trading suspension of three companies that acquired AAA-rated assets from “a subsidiary of a private equity investor in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, among other things.”

The three companies in question, PDX Partners, Inc., Victura Construction Group, and Cherubim Interests, Inc., had trading of their stocks suspended for 10 days by the SEC under the auspices of public interest and investor protection. Neither the SEC suspension orders, nor any of the announcements by the companies surrounding the acquisitions, however, seem to actually focus on blockchain or cryptocurrencies. The assets that were acquired were trust units (shares) in a management company for a private equity fund that invests in at least 12 disparate sectors, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

According to the orders of suspension by the SEC, the companies all set off alarm bells for the regulators when Victura Construction and PDX Partners issued press releases on January 4, 2018, related to the pending share acquisitions. Cherubim Interests issued a press release on January 3, 2018, to the same effect but was also cited by the SEC for its delinquency in filings with the SEC.

All three companies are helmed by CEO Patrick Johnson, former NFL journeyman wide receiver. All three companies are penny stocks with outdated financial information and unaudited or poor bookkeeping. These so-called “penny stocks” are typically a great concern for U.S. regulators as they are often the subject of attempted price manipulation or fraud.

All of the companies announced near the beginning of the year the acquisition of trust units from NVC Fund LLC, the trust manager of  NVC Fund Holding Trust, which commits private equity investments into everything from natural resources and entertainment to blockchain technology and “fintech cryptocurrency.” According to the NVC fund website, the trust manages assets valued at over $128 billion.

Investments made from all three companies were for sums that far outpaced any estimated market cap or gross profit of the companies. PDX Partners announced a purchase of $350 million in trust units, despite only having $29,000 in operating income at the end of 2016 and negative cash flow from operations.

Cherubim Interests announced a purchase of $250 million in trust units, despite having negative operating income and negative cash flow from operations for their 2016 year-end.

Victura Construction announced a purchase of $100 million in trust units, while they too had negative operating income and operating cash flow for the last year they reported financials in 2014. All told, Mr. Johnson’s companies would be taking on $700 million of investments in NVC Funds.

Instead of focusing on the questionable ability of these three companies to afford the price of these trust units, the underlying valuation of the assets themselves, or the fact that the companies all have limited transparency on their websites in public filings, the SEC devotes half of the press release to warning investors about investing in companies pivoting to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Michele Wein Layne, Director of the Los Angeles Regional Office, stated, “This is a reminder that investors should give heightened scrutiny to penny stock companies that have switched their focus to the latest business trend, such as cryptocurrency, blockchain technology or initial coin offerings”. It should be noted that the SEC states that Cherubim Interests executed a financing commitment to launch an ICO. This is the only reference in the suspension orders to the idea that any of the three companies dabbled in the cryptocurrency or blockchain space.

Of course, there may be more clarifying information the SEC has yet to disclose in future actions taken regarding the three companies that would clarify how the acquisitions were directed toward the blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects of NVC Fund’s investments. However, no press announcements by the companies seem to have specifically cited the two sectors, and no factors in the SEC suspension orders suggest that the companies were targeting the NVC Fund investments for those particular two categories.

The stated strategic focuses of PDX partners, Victura Construction and Cherubim Interests are: telecom, disaster recovery and restoration construction, and alternative construction projects, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:38 pm

Crypto Regulation? Not Anytime Soon, Says White House Official

The White House cybersecurity coordinator said crypto regulation is still far from becoming a reality.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 1:00 pm

Prosecutors Accuse Chicago Trader of $2 Million Crypto Theft

A Chicago trader has been charged with fraud for allegedly misappropriating $2 million in cryptocurrencies from his employer.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 10:30 am

Swiss Finance Regulator to Treat Some ICO Tokens As Securities

Switzerland's financial regulator has released new guidelines indicating it will treat some initial coin offerings (ICOs) as securities.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 9:30 am

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends Creation of Virtual Currency Subcommittee

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends the Creation of a Virtual Currency Subcommittee

On Wednesday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Committee’s (CFTC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held a public meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. During the meeting, members of the Bitcoin and cryptoasset industry shared information regarding this emerging market and offered guidance on how the CFTC may approach regulating the space in 2018.

Multiple participants in the public hearing made comments to differentiate between different types of cryptoassets and their associated technologies.

Potential regulation around cryptoasset exchanges was also discussed as a potential area for further regulation, as has been noted by regulators worldwide over the past few months.

By the end of the portion of the public hearing dedicated to virtual currencies, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a subcommittee for this new asset class.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Cryptoassets

One of the key points made by those who were invited to speak about the cryptoasset industry was that all of these tokens or coins should not necessarily be treated equally. For example, during his opening remarks, Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito discussed the differences between traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are commodities, of course, as the SEC has previously [said].  Questions remain however about the borders [around] these categories and about how one can responsibly share tokens to future investors,” noted Brito.

Special Counsel Gary DeWaal of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP went on to discuss the often-mentioned Howey Test and how it helps determine which types of tokens are securities under U.S. law. In DeWaal’s view, the CFTC could offer assistance in differentiating between commodities and securities in the cryptoasset market.

“Ultimately there has to be some clarification. The distinction between a commodity, the distinction between a security, may seem (from a common sense perspective) clear, but there are very, very important issues around those that I think this committee could very much [help clarify],” said DeWaal.

Notably, DeWaal also pointed out that cryptoassets are “critical” to decentralized ledgers.

“They are the mechanism in proof-of-work blockchains where miners are rewarded: In proof-of-state blockchains where fees are paid, these are the ways you incentivize folks to keep the system together. If you’re only talking about centralized ledgers, sure, you don’t need to worry about coins,” DeWaal added.

Regulation of Cryptoasset Exchanges

RGM Advisors’ chief executive, Richard Gorelick, also made an appearance at the CFTC’s public hearing, and he focused on the market structure of cryptoassets during his brief opening presentation (PDF). Gorelick was one of the only people in the room who referred to the subject at hand in terms of “cryptoassets” rather than “cryptocurrencies” or “virtual currencies.”

One of the key areas of focus for Gorelick during his presentation was the problems associated with current cryptoasset exchanges. More specifically, Gorelick discussed the issues associated with connectivity of liquidity between global exchanges.

“Generally speaking, I think trading on these [exchanges] can be challenging, particularly if your goal is to trade across multiple spot exchanges. It’s difficult to weave liquidity across exchanges and jurisdictions due to a number of factors,” noted Gorelick.

Some of the factors limiting the movement of funds between various exchanges pointed out by Gorelick include:

  • Technology
  • Concerns about deceptive trading
  • Lack of standard best practices
  • The fickle nature of banking relationships
  • Capital inefficiency
  • Security and transparency
  • The slow speed at which money and assets can move in and out

In the face of these issues found on cryptoasset exchanges, Gorelick hit on the large scale of the over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

Representatives from LedgerX and CME also provided updates on the state of the Bitcoin futures market later in the public hearing.

After gathering information from representatives of the cryptoasset industry and asking questions, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a new subcommittee focused on virtual currencies.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 2:32 pm

Blockchain Startup Po.et Nabs Former Washington Post VP as Its New CEO

Blockchain Startup Po.et Nabs Former Washington Post VP as Its New CEO

Po.et, a blockchain startup that allows content creators to create time-stamped titles for their written, visual and audio work, has announced Jarrod Dicker, who has held positions at the Washington Post, Time Inc. and Huffington Post, as its new CEO.

It may be the perfect match. Po.et wants to change the way content creators manage their work and Dicker has a history of ushering traditional news outlets into the digital age, so they are not solely reliant on advertising and subscriptions.

Dicker left his position as VP of innovation and commercial strategy at the Washington Post to join Po.et.  

“At Po.et, we are constructing what this industry needs  —  a new environment where creators are paid for what they can do instead of what is required of them by an old and broken paradigm,” he wrote in a blog post announcing the move. He explained that he left his former position at the Post because “I believe in that future.”

Dicker’s role at Po.et will be to oversee strategy and engineering and product development on the Po.et platform. He will also oversee Frost, an API and set of development tools that Po.et launched last week for content creators and bloggers.

In a statement, Dicker said he plans to leverage his experience “across media, education and corporate America to elevate this platform as the standard for digital content ownership rights.”

After joining the Washington Post, Dicker helped form the RED team, which stands for research, experimentation and development. Prior to that he worked at RebelMouse, a company founded by the core Huffington Post technology team, where he helped build the company’s future content management system. He also worked at Time Inc., taking the lead on emerging products, and at Huffington Post, originating native advertising.  

“Jarrod’s unique vision enables him to drive creative, scalable products and evangelize innovation,” said Tyler Evans, board member of the Po.et Foundation in a statement. “We look forward to his enthusiasm for media and track record of building cutting-edge technology for publishers to Po.et.”

Po.et. provides tools to publishers and content creators who want to automate the licensing process without involving third parties. All content licensing terms are enforced by smart contracts. Contract details, as well as ownership rights and other descriptions are then hashed and cryptographically registered on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Po.et, which held a token sale on August 8, 2017, now boasts an online community of more than 40,000 developers and creators on social media platforms, such as Telegram, Reddit and Twitter.

In addition to his role as CEO at Po.et, Dicker sits on the board of advisors for Rutgers University Center for Innovation Education and MOGUL Inc., a technology platform that enables women to share ideas and access content based on their personal interests. Dicker also supports a Carnegie Mellon University program on the value of social advertising in publishing. 


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 10:34 am

Cryptocurrency Exchange’s $170 Million Nano Coin Loss Sparks Outrage

Cryptocurrency Exchange’s $170 Million Nano Coin Loss Sparks Outrage

On Friday, February 9, 2018, Italian cryptocurrency exchange BitGrail announced that “internal checks revealed unauthorized transactions which led to a 17 million Nano [XRB] shortfall, an amount forming part of the wallet managed by BitGrail.” The shortfall when reported was allegedly worth $170 million and has presumably rendered BitGrail insolvent, despite the fact that the other wallets and currencies that the exchange has were purportedly untouched.

The 9:30 p.m. UTC announcement by the Florence-based exchange gives some cause for circumspection. The founder of the exchange, Francesco “The Bomber” Firano, fired off salvos on Twitter in defense of the loss. His defense rang hollow for BitGrail customers, however, as Firano had noted the problem a day prior but withheld disclosure to authorities, users and the public while trying to work through the issue with the Nano team.

The “Hack”?

When news of the lost coins broke, BitGrail released a statement citing “unauthorized transactions” that were later confirmed by Firano to be the result of a hack. However, it appears many users have taken to Twitter to accuse Firano and BitGrail of committing fraud, with some positing that withdrawals have been severely limited on the exchange for months across multiple coins while transaction fees had increased. The coins lost represent approximately 14 percent of the total outstanding value of Nano mined.

However, there is some dispute (discussed below) on what actually caused the loss of coins. Whether it was an error in the BitGrail system, a planned exit scam or a hack from outsiders, taking or keeping the ill-gotten tokens seems ill-advised. The percentage of coins taken represents five times the current daily trading volume of Nano and would require careful offloading to avoid driving the price down by selling the coins.

Any scenario in which those lost coins could be dumped prior to the Nano coin gaining greater stability and trading volume forecasts a tumultuous time for the Nano team.

Nano Coin

The Nano coin, previously known as RaiBlocks, is a coin with a low level of liquidity that only trades on a few exchanges, (previously) including BitGrail. At the time of this writing, CoinMarketCap lists the volume for the coin at $34 million over the trailing 24 hours. The XRB coin has spiked as high as $31.14 on January 2, 2018, and currently sits at $9.75. Nano hosted its first Meetup on February 6, 2018, and launched its iOS wallet in beta on February 5, 2018.

BitGrail vs. Nano

Relations between the coin and the exchange disintegrated over the weekend with Firano accusing the Nano team of libel and threatening to call the police “for irresponsible behavior,” while Nano retaliated in a “tell all” Medium post. In a de-evolution of relations, Nano core team member Zack Shapiro (in a deleted tweet to user @jsmoove08) defended BitGrail a day prior to the exchange’s announcement.

nano twitter

The Nano team issued this announcement in response to the news. The team started with:

From our own preliminary investigation, no double spending was detected on the ledger and we have no reason to believe the loss was due to an issue in the Nano protocol. The problems appear to be related to BitGrail’s software. We had no knowledge of BitGrail’s insolvency prior to February 8th.

It concluded with this accusation:

We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.

Reactions from Firano were expectedly harsh, including one tweet where he stated:  

In the wake of the unfounded accusations made against me by the dev team and of the dissemination of private conversations that compromise police investigations, BitGrail s.r.l. is forced to contact the police in order to protect its rights and users.

It should be noted that the Nano team relayed through its Medium post that they would “not be responding to individual posts or accusations by Firano regarding this situation.”

As BitGrail was one of the few exchanges that had been accepting Nano, the coin is now facing trading volume declines, down from the $50 million reported by the Wall Street Journal on February 10, 2018.

Nano also linked a pdf of a private conversation between Firano and Nano core team members Shapiro and Colin LeMahieu. The chat shows Firano’s insistence that the loss of Nano was due to an issue with corrupted time/date stamps of the errant transactions and suggested the fault lay with Nano as non-Nano wallets remained intact. Shapiro and LeMahieu disputed this claim. Firano also asked if the stolen coins could be forked in order to recover the “stolen” Nano from the burned address. The dev team refused to acknowledge a fork as a possible solution.

Firano stated in the chat that he first noticed the bug eight hours prior to the conversation with Shapiro and LeMahieu. Shapiro challenged Firano’s timeline, asking, “If withdrawals have been closed for the last month, how did you not notice this? Someone with[sic] allegedly withdrawing for weeks according to you via this ‘hack.’”

Social Media Reacts

Users on social media seem to have sided with Nano on events, accepting the narrative that a bug in the javascript for the client-side interface allowed for wallets to withdrawal more coins than they had on the exchange. Others, though, were just as furious with the Nano dev team for supporting BitGrail in the weeks leading up to the loss of funds.

Regardless of fault, the turmoil caused by the loss of $170 million worth of Nano on the BitGrail exchange has left both the exchange and the dev team faced with accusations, angry customers and little recourse for those affected.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 7:58 am

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Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking recently called for a concerted effort to launch humans into space saying:

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the ‘60s.”

While NASA and Tesla are already well established in the game, Space Decentral, founded by international Space Cooperative, is staking its claim in outer space and all that’s in it. Using the latest blockchain technology to launch a social network, they’re on a mission to democratize space by crowdsourcing information and crowdfunding citizen-powered space travel.

As interest in space travel grows worldwide, an international group of scientists, engineers, architects, futurists, artists and software developers including former and current NASA employees is working collaboratively to share the latest scientific research and help crowdfund projects that lack government funding.

According to Space Decentral advisor Dr. Paolo Tasca, Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London (UCL):

“It's a global space research lab where individuals and organizations can contribute knowledge and pool intellectual property in an open manner and where revenue can be fairly shared among contributors."

"This is a massive project that will require the presence of hundreds of scientists, engineers and innovators,” he adds.

Space Decentral hopes to leverage some of the current development work under way in the Ethereum community to produce an open-source toolbox to collaboratively design space missions.

"Space technology and Earth technology go hand in hand we need to utilize systems thinking to solve problems in parallel,” said Yalda Mousavinia, Space Decentral co-founder, referring to blockchain technology and distributed engineering.

Faster Than Light: A Utility Coin?

Offering their Faster Than Light coin (FTLcoin), Space Decentral is planning an ICO to raise at least $10 million with a maximum goal of $35 million, as soon as the membership has approved its final white paper (due at the end of February 2018).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Mousavinia acknowledges that this first ICO will only fund the initial setup and there will need to be subsequent ICOs as projects are approved. She notes:

“The goal is to fund the technological infrastructure, such as decentralized collaboration tools and smart contracts that will make the process for operating a space DAO more efficient.”

They hope to sell internationally and within the U.S., where they will write the SEC to ask that their FTLcoin be considered a utility coin and not a security.

“We are in the process of writing a letter to the SEC that makes our case for why we believe it is a utility token. What we are really trying to do here is create a community where people want to purchase the token to actually have a voice on humanity's future in space this isn't a pump-and-dump ICO,” says Mousavinia.

Building an Aragon DApp

Space Decentral’s governance and operations will be mediated by smart contracts, using Aragon, an organization that builds DApps on the Ethereum blockchain to help new startups securely manage their organization and governance.

“We’re building our organization on top of Aragon’s governance and decision-making infrastructure. Aragon's refactored DApp goes live on testnet this month and it’ll be rigorously tested,” says Mousavinia.

“We are looking into using Giveth's minime smart contract for the token sale. This smart contract has been used by both Aragon and Status and has had several security audits. Additionally, we are thinking about using the Gnosis multisig as the initial wallet.”

Evolving Into a DAO

The founding team is currently managing and directing Space Decentral, but their goal is to be replaced by a decentralized voting process and regular community meetings of all their members.

“We envision Space Decentral as a vehicle for humanity’s interest in space exploration, and recognize that it must be fully autonomous in order for it to truly serve that purpose,” Mousavinia said.

Mousavinia recognizes that the transition will be challenging as the team has so far set priorities and has already developed proposed space missions like Martian Spring and Lunar Odyssey.

The goal is to connect multiple organizations while making it easy and transparent for individuals to collaborate without any organizational affiliation and incentivize involvement by rewarding contributors adequately and giving them a voice. 

Space Decentral is laying out a roadmap to give potential investors assurances that the team is in it for the long haul.

Mousavinia explained:

“We plan on creating milestone-based smart contracts, such that there will be separate tranches of funding that are activated once different aspects of the technical roadmap or community development is accomplished. These full details are still being worked out and will be described more in the full white paper.

She added that the team is determining a timeline which will give the DAO ultimate approval on the yearly budget. “A mutual understanding will be developed on the best way to monitor funds that provides transparency in addition to room for experimentation as needed.”

"We all need to take the long view and work together to create the system that sustainably makes humans a true spacefaring species,” said Space Decentral co-founder and former NASA engineer, Dr. Marc M. Cohen, a member of the core team that is designing the DAO.

“We may not complete the effort in our lifetime, but we have an obligation to humanity to begin.” 


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 7:53 am

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

Posted on 29 November 2017 | 2:30 am

Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

Posted on 14 August 2017 | 1:16 am

Bitcoin reaches new all-time high: $3,000

Posted on 12 June 2017 | 1:06 am

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

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 »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 1:55 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

February 19, 2018 -
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