Microsoft Looks to Trusted Computing for Boosting Blockchain Security

Microsoft Looks to Trusted Computing for Boosting Blockchain Security

Two newly-published patent applications from Microsoft suggest that the software giant is looking at the use of trusted execution environments, or TEEs, within its blockchain offerings. But what exactly is a TEE? According to information gathered from two filings published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Thursday, a TEE is specified to store “a pre-determined type of blockchain or other security protocol code” in a “validation node.” With this kind of data, a “TEE attestation” is able to verify participants of the system who possess matching information held within the node. In blockchain, a node is simply a point of connection able to receive, store and send data within the network. And how all this might prove to be useful is explained in two ways. First, a TEE may assist in the establishment of a “consortium blockchain network.” By setting up the first node of the blockchain to store “a pre-determined membership list” among other pieces of information, a TEE attestation could be used to securely onboard members of the “consortium network.” Second, a TEE may also assist in verifying blockchain transactions on a similar network in which multiple pre-authorized entities must interact. For example, using this process of attestation through programmed TEEs once more, certain encrypted transactions on the network could be processed and confirmed “directly” to the official state of the blockchain without any need for decryption. The patent reads: “In some examples, the entire network accepts the transactions, including chaincode transactions, and blockchain states are directly updated. In some examples, there is no need for a copy of the transaction in order to confirm a block.” Aside from these two use cases, both applications also give mention to the process of TEE attestation in context of a “Confidential Consortium (COCO) Blockchain framework” which would potentially allow more complex systems of verification requiring the consensus of a multiplicity of validation nodes. While these filings were submitted by the licensing arm of the company as early back as June of last year, Microsoft has since began offering blockchain applications through its Azure platform. This month, it was announced Microsoft has updated additional features to the product specifically for clients working off of public blockchains such as ethereum. Tee image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news,…

Vietnamese Stop Importing Bitcoin Mining Rigs as Import Ban Looms

Vietnamese Stop Importing Bitcoin Mining Rigs as Import Ban Looms

Regulation Vietnamese businesses and individuals have stopped importing bitcoin mining equipment into the country since the beginning of July, according to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department. This follows the government’s efforts to pass a law banning the import of bitcoin mining rigs into Vietnam. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Mining Rig Imports Stop Business and individuals in Vietnam used to import a large number of crypto mining rigs into the country. Last year, the Customs Department of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) cleared more than 7,000 bitcoin and litecoin miners. Meanwhile, the Customs Department of Hanoi imported 190 bitcoin miners and 350 litecoin miners, Vietnam Biz reported Wednesday. According to the HCMC Customs Department, businesses and individuals imported 3,664 crypto miners from the beginning of this year to August 6, most of which were Antminers from China. The news outlet reiterated: According to information from the Customs Department of Ho Chi Minh City, from early July 2018 to now, organizations and individuals have stopped importing mining rigs. According to the publication, four enterprises imported more than 3,000 machines this year; the rest were imported by “individuals and organizations [that] do not have [a dedicated] import tax code.” Viet Nam News added that “according to data from the General Department of Customs, Vietnam imported about 15,600 mining machines from 2017 to April this year.” Mining Rig Import Ban Looming The lack of crypto mining rig imports follows the proposal by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Trade “to suspend the import of cryptocurrency mining machines in a move to improve the management of currency transactions in the country,” the publication detailed. The ministry has gained support from a few other government agencies and the country’s central bank, the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV). The ban was proposed because the country’s finance ministry became concerned that crypto mining rigs are “not on the list of goods banned from importation and are not subject to the list of specialised management or unsafe goods, so enterprises are easily allowed to complete the import procedures,” the publication explained, noting: The use of mining equipment for bitcoin, litecoin and other cryptocurrencies in the country is difficult for the authorities to manage. Thus it is easy…

An In-Depth Look at the Cryptocurrency Economy’s ‘Stablecoin’ Trend

An In-Depth Look at the Cryptocurrency Economy’s ‘Stablecoin’ Trend

Finance Back in the early days, cryptocurrency enthusiasts used to laugh at the thought of a stable cryptocurrency pegged to a specific fiat currency like the US dollar. Although nowadays things have changed and the digital currency tether (USDT) captures more cryptocurrency trade volume than most of the leading nation-state issued fiat currencies like the USD and JPY. Moreover, the past year or so more ‘stablecoins’ have been entering the crypto-economy, and some individuals think stablecoins are necessary elements for the future of this technology. Also Read: Wormhole Mainnet and Developers’ Guide Launched The ‘Second Bitcoin White Paper’ Written by JR Willett Unleashes the ‘Stablecoin’ Idea in 2012 ‘Stablecoins’ — whether you hate them or love them they have become extremely popular over the last two years, and tether (USDT) a digital currency that’s issued over the Omni Layer protocol has become a puzzling phenomenon. Asset­-pegged cryptocurrencies started being heavily discussed and written about in 2012 in J.R. Willet’s Mastercoin white paper, and around 2014 the concept really started gaining steam. There have been many attempts to create stable coins that failed miserably at pegging. The cryptocurrency, nubits (USNBT), was supposed to stay valued at one US dollar. Nubits stuck to around a dollar since it launched up until June 9, 2016, and then sunk below that point until September 6, 2016. Again the currency kept stable for a while all the way until March 21, and it hasn’t been able to keep the 1:1 ratio ever since then.     Tether the King of All Crypto-Dollars In November of 2014, Reeve Collins revealed the project ‘Tether’ a blockchain based coin that’s issued using the Bitcoin Core (BTC) network utilizing the Omni Layer protocol. The Omni network can grant and revoke tokens created by metadata embedded in the BTC chain and the project’s prodigal son is USDT. Every USDT issued is allegedly backed by one US dollar and the creators claim all the funds are held in reserves by Tether Limited’s bank. This particular claim is extremely controversial and USDT has been the center of a lot of attention. Nevertheless, tethers have been consistently stable ever since its price was first recorded on Coinmarketcap in February of 2015. The use of tether has become a popular vehicle for…

Stablecoins Gaining Popularity in India to Minimize Central Bank’s Impact

Stablecoins Gaining Popularity in India to Minimize Central Bank’s Impact

News A growing number of cryptocurrency exchanges in India are adding stablecoins such as trueusd (TUSD) and tether (USDT) to their platforms. They are part of the solutions exchanges have come up with in order to minimize the impact of the crypto banking ban imposed by the country’s central bank. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Unocoin Adds TUSD Unocoin, one of India’s largest crypto exchanges, announced on Wednesday the addition of TUSD to its crypto-to-crypto platform, Unodax. An ERC-20 token built on the Trusttoken platform, each TUSD is said to be backed by one USD held in reserve which can be redeemed. Unodax currently offers 23 TUSD trading pairs including BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, and XRP. “The decision [to add TUSD] has been taken to minimise the RBI circular’s impact on cryptocurrency investors and traders,” Inc42 reported. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the country’s central bank, issued the circular banning banks from providing services to crypto companies on April 6. The publication quoted the exchange’s CEO and co-founder, Sathvik Vishwanath, commenting on the addition: After the RBI banned bank transfers for crypto trading and investments, we were looking for the plausible solutions to help our users continue to hodl, without any disruptions and hassles. “With trueusd, we are excited to present our users with a long-awaited stable trading plan for crypto-assets traders on our Unodax exchange,” he continued. “Crypto enthusiasts may use this stable coin as a medium of exchange for other crypto-assets and minimise their risks in a volatile market.” Zebpay Slashes Withdrawal Fee for TUSD Another major crypto exchange in India, Zebpay, added TUSD to its platform earlier this week, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported. The exchange also slashed withdrawal fees for multiple currencies. For TUSD, “withdrawal fees are zero till 31st August 2018.” Zebpay wrote: You can now buy, sell and trade TUSD in two trading pairs: TUSD-INR and BTC-TUSD. Wazirx Uses USDT in P2P, Adds TUSD Crypto exchange Wazirx launched an escrowed “P2P” service on July 10 that uses tether to enable users to deposit and withdraw INR in an effort to bypass RBI’s ban. Issued on the Bitcoin blockchain via the Omni Layer protocol, each USDT is backed by one USD that Tether Limited claims is held…

Bears for Crypto, Bulls for ICOs: 2018 Market Positive Statistics

Bears for Crypto, Bulls for ICOs: 2018 Market Positive Statistics

Disclaimer: This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision. The market data is provided by ICObazaar. With the first half of 2018 now past, it is poignant to look back at the last seven months of data on the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market — an important facet of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Some predicted that the explosion of ICOs last year — with many failures and even more scams — would lead to a collapse in this area, but the statistics tell a different story. The ICO phenomenon has followed an interesting path since its real boom, starting around May 2017. There has been growth, there has been regulation — as well as changing of sentiment. 2018 has been significantly bigger for ICOs than 2017, with the most successful month coming in March. The data over the last seven months indicates that ICOs continue raising huge sums of money, despite many thinking of them as scams. Additionally, the number of projects launching month by month are pretty steady, even showing growth. Moreover, the stats suggest that the ICOs in 2018 are aiming for big numbers, with the most popular goals being set between $1 million to $10 million, as well as a significant portion at over $50 million. Understanding the ICO ecosystem’s progression Statistics show a definite spike in ICOs from April 2017, when $218 million was raised in that month alone. The rest of 2017 — until November, that is — ebbed and flowed, as 584 ICOs were raising $2.52 billion. The ICO ecosystem — along with the underlying blockchain technology and digital currency tokens — makes up an important facet of the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. ICOs are walking their own path in relation to regulation and public sentiment. But they are also affected by positives and negatives in the cryptocurrency markets. Thus, when the SEC ruled that a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) was a security, and when China decided to ban ICOs on Sept. 4, 2017 — many other state regulators started to take note of the financial risks associated with this form of capital raising. When in December the fever pitch was reached by the…

US Government to “Aggressively Pursue” Unregulated Services Around the World

US Government to “Aggressively Pursue” Unregulated Services Around the World

Regulation Two common complaints among crypto traders are that platforms which didn’t before are now demanding identification documents and that more venues close their doors to residents of some countries. While users naturally lash out at the companies, it is important to remember that this is often done under coercion or threat by regulators. The US government, for example, doesn’t consider itself bound by national borders in pursuing unregulated services. Also Read: The Weekly: Coinbase Increases Limits, Shapeshift Acquires Bitfract, Okex Launches Coinall The Long Arm of the Law Kenneth A. Blanco, Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau in the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, has spoken about his agency’s approach to cryptocurrency on Thursday. The main takeaway from his speech to the industry is that the US government will act against anyone it thinks somehow operates within its domain, regardless of jurisdiction. The director explained that all services involved with “money transmitting” must comply with some level of AML/KYC standards and that regulations cover both transactions where the parties are exchanging fiat and crypto, but also transactions from one cryptocurrency to another. To comply with these obligations, companies are required to register with FinCEN, maintain an AML program, and establish recordkeeping and reporting measures. He emphasized, “It is important to understand that these requirements apply equally to domestic and foreign-located convertible virtual currency money transmitters, even if the foreign located entity has no physical presence in the United States, as long as it does business in whole or substantial part within the United States.” Blanco also shared a couple of interesting figures about the authorities’ work. He revealed that FinCEN and the IRS have examined over 30% of all registered exchangers and administrators since 2014, and that they now receive over 1,500 reports describing “suspicious activity” involving cryptocurrency per month. ICOs and Mixers in the Crosshairs While during most of his speech the FinCEN director referred to all crypto businesses engaged in “money transmission”, he also zeroed in on a few specific segments. Regarding mixers, he noted that “businesses providing anonymizing services (commonly called ‘mixers’ or ‘tumblers’), which seek to conceal the source of the transmission of virtual currency, are money transmitters …and, therefore, have regulatory obligations.”…

Malta Tops Exchange-Based Crypto Trade, Russia Leads in OTC Volume

Malta Tops Exchange-Based Crypto Trade, Russia Leads in OTC Volume

Economy & Regulation Jurisdictions with crypto-friendly legislation or comprehensive regulations in place are leading in terms of exchange-based cryptocurrency trading. According to a new study, however, over the counter and P2P exchange is much more popular in developing nations and countries where non-cash payments are still not widely spread. Also read: Crypto Funds Number 466 Despite Trends, Uncertainty Exchange Trade vs OTC Trading The report produced by financial services provider Worldcore covers data from the months of June and July and uses statistics from a Morgan Stanley study conducted earlier this year to compare two lists of countries – one with the top destinations by volume traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, and a second one with those that lead in terms of over the counter (OTC) and peer-to-peer (P2P) trading volumes. The new study confirms that jurisdictions offering favorable business climate through crypto-friendly legislation as well as those with well-established regulatory frameworks account for a large portion of the exchange-based crypto trade. Malta ($1.2 billion), Belize and Seychelles ($700 million each) are topping the chart with over 2.6 Billion USD of daily trading volume. Following are nations that have already adopted some comprehensive crypto regulations, including South Korea, the Untitled States, and Hong Kong. Russia is 13th in this group with a 24-hour volume of less than 50 million USD on trading platforms. The researchers at Worldcore have specifically compared exchange and non-exchange volumes for the week of July 14 – July 21, 2018, using data from the popular P2P exchange Localbitcoins. The results turned out to be quite opposite to what the Morgan Stanley figures show, as Kommersant reports. This time, Russia is the pronounced leader, having registered a weekly trading volume of 2,000 BTC, while the US has 1,000 BTC. They are followed by China and Nigeria with 600 BTC traded by the residents of each country. Next are Venezuela, Great Britain, and the EU member states. Reasons, Explanations, and Predictions The authors of the study cite some good reasons for the notable divergence. “Crypto exchanges are most often registered in countries with preferential taxation, and many over-the-counter trades occur in nations with low financial culture or strict tax legislation,” commented Worldcore CEO, Alexei Nasonov, who is also leading the research team. The analysts further explain…

Cryptos See Widespread Green, But Total Market Cap Remains Close to 3-Month Low

Cryptos See Widespread Green, But Total Market Cap Remains Close to 3-Month Low

August 12: Crypto markets are seeing solid gains today in a fresh attempt at recovery following recent losses. Bitcoin (BTC) dominance –– or the percentage of total crypto market cap that is Bitcoin’s –– is continuing to see a 2018 record-high percentage, at close to 50.9 percent. After the leading coin decoupled from the wider market yesterday –– holding its gains while other cryptos floundered –– healthy growth has today been distributed across virtually all of the major cryptocurrencies, as Coin360 data shows. Market visualization from Coin360 Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at around $6,310 at press time, up a strong 3.45 percent on the day, according to Cointelegraph’s Bitcoin price index. The top coin has seen a 24-hour high of $6,455, but has failed to break through $6,500 resistance, trading sideways within the $6,300-400 range for most of today. Having dipped briefly down to a low around $6,209, Bitcoin has recovered in the couple of hours before press time to hold just above the $6,300 price point. Weekly losses remain at about 10 percent, while on the month Bitcoin is up around 1.42  percent. Bitcoin’s 24-hour price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index Ethereum (ETH) is currently trading around $322, up  a solid 5.31 percent on the day. After plummeting as low as $306 in evening trading hours yesterday, the altcoin saw a strong push upwards to test the $330 mark. These fleeting attempts to break to a higher price point failed to hold, and the altcoin has since retraced towards the $320 mark. Ethereum’s losses on its weekly chart are at a little over 20 percent, with monthly losses heftier still, at almost 25 percent. Ethereum’s 24-hour price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index On CoinMarketCap’s listings, all of the top 25 crypto assets by market cap are seeing a healthy flush of green, with gains on the day pushing as high as around 5-6 percent. Among the top ten coins by market cap, Stellar (XLM) and  Litecoin (LTC) are up the most, both seeing almost 6 percent growth on the day. Although a Facebook spokesperson yesterday denied  rumors that the social media giant had been considering a potential partnership to build a Facebook variant of a Stellar blockchain, the asset is nonetheless riding…

Crypto Trading 101: Simple Charting Patterns Explained

Crypto Trading 101: Simple Charting Patterns Explained

In the world of crypto trading, recognizing patterns can yield more than insights. In fact, this skill is what traders use to determine the strength of a current trend during key market movements and to assess opportunities for entries and exits. In short, patterns can be useful in determining which direction price is likely to go. Further, they can help distinguish between what is real and what is false when a break occurs, by using certain formations to dismiss particular price movements. However, you should dedicate a decent amount of time in getting to know particular patterns that form during different time frames around the particular asset you are interested in. The better you become at spotting these patterns, the more accurate your trades develop, with the added ability to dismiss false breakouts as they appear. Below are three examples to help you along your journey to mastering the charts: 1. Head and Shoulders The infamous head-and-shoulders pattern is a bearish reversal pattern that signals to traders that there’s been a particular change in the current trend. Identified by its three peaks (with the highest peak as the “head” and the other two peaks representing the “shoulders”) the pattern also features a “neckline” or “trendline” that is drawn between the two shoulders (at the top of their respective peaks) showing the key support level you should look out for in case of breakdown. If prices pass below the neckline and continues to fall, it is likely you are staring at a head-and-shoulders pattern completing its formation and bucking any current bullish trend. Generally, the price is likely to break down further, once the pattern has been completed. The head-and-shoulders pattern usually provides the strongest confirmation on the daily or intraday 4-hour charts as smaller time frames offer up less conviction. 2. Cup and Handle The cup-and-handle pattern is a bullish continuation sign identified by a “bowl” or “half round” cup that forms the basis of the pattern with relatively equal highs on either side of the edges. The handle should resemble a bull flag, in which the price appears to be heading in the opposite direction of the current trend. This is usually followed by continuation and a breakout from the bottom of the handle. While cup-and-handle pattern formations are…

Which Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet is Best for You?

Which Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet is Best for You?

Wallets The number of hardware wallets has proliferated with the number of cryptocurrencies in recent years. Today, consumers enjoy an unprecedented choice of hardware devices on which to store their bitcoin and altcoins, though market-leaders Ledger and Trezor still dominate. For anyone agonizing over the best device for their needs, the following models are worthy of consideration. Also read: Bitcoin’s Return to Innovation: Changing the World Through Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash Best Portable Wallet: Coolwallet S While all of the devices featured here are small enough to be portable, only the Coolwallet S is small enough to slip into your wallet alongside your credit cards. A marvel of engineering, its wafer-thin design and e-paper display enables you to check your balance and send and receive BTC, BCH, ETH, LTC, and XRP on the go. The device connects to the Coolbitx mobile app via Bluetooth, obviating the need for a desktop computer altogether. Its slender profile and mobile-friendliness make the Coolwallet S the best of the major hardware devices for choosing and using in everyday life. Coolwallet S Best Multi-Currency Wallet: Ledger Nano S No other hardware wallet can match Ledger’s trusty Nano S for multi-currency compatibility. The French manufacturer is constantly adding new coins, with the latest additions now earmarked for release on the first Tuesday of every month. The inaugural edition of #FirstTuesdayCrypto saw PoA, Icon, Vechain, Wanchain, Ontology, Kowala, Particl and RSK added. In addition to supporting ERC20 tokens, Ledger’s Nano S has support for an ever-growing list of cryptocurrencies. If you carry a diverse portfolio of coins and desire the convenience of storing them on one device, the Nano S is your best bet. Despite some grumbles with its Chrome software and Ledger Live desktop software, the Nano S remains a highly regarded device. Just some of the coins Ledger supports Best No-Nonsense Wallet: Keepkey Keepkey’s hardware wallet is no nonsense in that it works straight out the box, and is robust enough to handle most things life may throw at it. Its angular design makes it less pleasing to behold than the Coolwallet, and its basic features mean it’s less elaborate than the Ledger Nano S. There’s strength in simplicity though, and while the Nano S is prone to connectivity issues, depending on…