Technology & Security Over the last couple of weeks, the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) community has been talking fervently about zero-confirmation transactions and a new pre-consensus mechanism called Avalanche. On Monday, Openbazaar developer Chris Pacia published a comprehensive description of the pre-consensus protocol that could theoretically bolster secure zero-confirmation BCH transactions. Also read: Onegold Customers Can Now Purchase Digital Bullion With Bitcoin A Pre-Consensus Concept Called Avalanche Could Bolster Zeroconf BCH Transactions Chris Pacia.Since the hard fork in November, BCH developers have been exploring an idea called Avalanche, a concept that could hypothetically add a double-spend protection mechanism to zero-confirmation transactions. These types of instant transactions are broadcast to the network before they are confirmed and some people believe there is still an open double-spend attack vector for unconfirmed transactions. Essentially, Chris Pacia’s recent post, called “Making Zeroconf Secure”, describes how the Avalanche protocol could protect unconfirmed transactions by having a group of participating nodes come to pre-consensus. “Avalanche is a new consensus protocol that was first introduced earlier this year — It provides a novel way for nodes on a network to choose between two conflicting transactions and come to a consensus about which one should be included in the next block,” explained Pacia. The Openbazaar developer continued: Using Avalanche in Bitcoin Cash for miner coordination provides a very elegant, decentralized coordination mechanism that can potentially prevent miners from accepting double spend bribes and when combined with double spend notifications, make zeroconf transactions very secure. Proof-of-Work: The Anti-Sybil Mechanism The developer further explained that each node participating in the pre-consensus method will query or poll each other in order to validate the transaction. However, rather than using nodes that can be easily ‘sybiled,’ the Avalanche system would use the pools of BCH miners already securing the network. In a sybil attack, nodes in a network are easily spoofed and the software is hijacked by a variety of manipulative phony nodes. “Proof-of-work is used as the anti-sybil mechanism. The miners of the last 100 blocks form the consensus group and participate in Avalanche. This is a rolling membership group. Each new block a new miner is added to the group and the miner who mined block n-100 gets booted,” Pacia detailed in his post. The Avalanche…
Finance Cryptocurrency banking provider Bitwala has started offering its banking service to cryptocurrency users in Germany, starting with 40,000 pre-registered customers. A spokesperson for the company has shared details with news.Bitcoin.com about this new service which will soon add support for additional countries and cryptocurrencies. Also read: Indian Supreme Court Moves Crypto Hearing, Community Calls for Positive Regulations New Banking Service for Crypto Users Bitwala announced on Wednesday, Dec. 12, that it has started offering banking service to cryptocurrency users. “New users along with the 40,000 pre-registered customers will be onboarded one after the other based on their waitlist place,” the announcement read. The bank accounts are hosted by Berlin-based Solarisbank. This Bitwala partner has a banking license, so it is supervised by Bafin and Bundesbank, Germany’s banking authorities. Roman Kessler, a spokesperson for Bitwala, told news.Bitcoin.com: For now, only German residents can go through the KYC [know-your-customer] process. Very soon, hopefully already in January, this will be extended to other jurisdictions inside of the EU. Account opening takes a few minutes, the company noted, adding that customers need an ID to open an account. They must also complete the KYC process which includes video verification. The company also explained that “As with any bank account in Germany, all euro deposits up to €100,000 [~$113,274] are protected by the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS).” Bank Account With Crypto Support With the new Bitwala bank accounts, users will receive an Iban and a contactless debit card which will allow them to buy and sell BTC and manage expenses. The Bitwala account comes with a bitcoin wallet. Users can manage both their BTC and euro deposits in one place, the announcement describes. A Bitwala debit card.“The new bank account offers users SEPA transactions, easy management of recurring payments, and comes with a debit card for on-the-go payments and ATM cash withdrawals,” Christoph Iwaniez, the company’s chief financial officer, commented. “For instance, customers will be able to use their Bitwala account to receive salary payments and pay their rent. And if you want to trade bitcoin, you can draw liquidity from the same current account.” Kessler further shared with news.Bitcoin.com: Only bitcoin [is supported] at the moment. You can access them through a multi-sig wallet to which only you have the private…
Cryptocurrency service providers will soon be required to obtain a license from the central bank of the Netherlands, major Dutch news outlet DeTelegraaf reports Dec. 11. The article explains that the measure has been undertaken hoping that it will “prevent such cryptocurrencies being used to launder money obtained through crime or to fund terrorism.” To qualify for a license, providers will reportedly need to know who their customers are and report unusual transactions. All of this data will be monitored by De Nederlandsche Bank, the Dutch central bank. After the implementation in April of similar laws in Japan obliging cryptocurrency exchanges to report dubious cryptocurrency transactions, a notable increase in the number of such reports was noted this winter. In August, an executive at the Dutch central bank stated that cryptocurrencies aren’t recognized as “real money,” but that the bank has no plans to ban them. Also in August, an advisor of the central bank claimed that Bitcoin’s (BTC) price changes coincide with Google searches for the cryptocurrency. As Cointelegraph reported in October, the Port of Rotterdam has partnered with both a major Dutch bank and Samsung to test blockchain use for shipping in Europe’s largest port. Also in Holland, the country’s largest supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, revealed in September that it is using blockchain to make the production of its orange juice more transparent.
A group of Russian members of parliament (MPs) has introduced a draft bill on blocking suspicious financial websites on Tuesday, Dec. 11. Russian crypto media outlet Forklog believes it can encompass “scam” Initial Coin Offerings (ICO). According to the document, the country’s central bank will be able to call to block websites as soon as they do not comply with the current legislation. Moreover, the state bank can apply to the court in order to block the page on the basis of pre-trial settlement. Websites that fake existing banks’ URLs, offer financial services without having a license, or promote “financial pyramids” are mentioned among those that fall under the newly introduced restrictions. The group of MPs working on the bill was headed by the chairman of the State Duma — a lower chamber of Russian Parliament — Vyacheslav Volodin. The document was developed in 2017 on the direct instructions from Russian president Vladimir Putin. Alexander Zhuravlev, an author of a blockchain-related education program supported by the Duma, told Forklog that the bill is likely to encompass the crypto area, and scam ICOs in particular: “The central bank has been struggling to to clean the market of pseudo-credit organizations and financial pyramids. If we apply this to future ICO projects that fail to comply with their obligations, then the central bank will also be entitled to request the blocking of their websites.” Russia’s State Duma is also working on a draft bill on crypto regulation, which had been pushed back to its first reading for significant edits in early December. The document had previously been heavily criticized, partly due to the lack of core crypto terms, such as “mining” and “cryptocurrencies” themselves. However, the deputy prime minister of Russia announced earlier this week that the authors of the draft crypto bill did not intend to make any changes.
SolarisBank and Stuttgart Exchange Group are jointly developing infrastructure for a cryptocurrency exchange, Cointelegraph Germany reports Dec. 12. The Stuttgart Exchange, founded in 1860, is the second-largest stock exchange in Germany and the ninth-largest in Europe. SolarisBank, on the other hand, is a German fintech company established in 2015 that holds a banking license and offers a “Banking as a Platform” service. This news goes along with the plans announced by the exchange in May to release a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading application. The two companies’ crypto exchange, “which is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019,” will have SolarisBank acting as the exchange’s banking platform. Roland Folz, the CEO of SolarisBank, declared that “a reliable and efficient trading platform is an elementary contribution to [their] vision of a hybrid financial world with both fiat and cryptocurrencies.” The press release notes that Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) will be available for trading on the exchange by both retail and institutional investors. As well, an ICO platform, which had been announced in August, is under development for the exchange. The tokens introduced on the platform will be tradeable on secondary markets as well. This project is part of SolarisBank’s “Blockchain Factory” initiative, which offers its customers specialized accounts meant for blockchain companies. As Cointelegraph reported in April, VPE WertpapierhandelsBank AG (VPE), a German securities trading bank, has also partnered with SolarisBank. The partnership’s objective is to launch a cryptocurrency trading service for institutional investors. Bitwala, a German crypto-banking startup operated by SolarisBank, also reported today that they have opened for business, with 40,000 preregistered customers who will gain access to Bitcoin and euro deposit accounts. Using SolarisBank’s banking license, euro funds will be protected up to an amount of 100,000 euros and will be supervised by Germany’s two banking regulators: BaFin and Bundesbank.
This article has been updated to reflect comments from Ran Neuner on his involvement in the project. The man behind the “Blockchain Terminal” (BCT) Initial Coin Offering (ICO) has been ousted as a financial criminal who concealed his former identity from employees and investors alike. An investigation into the circumstances were published Dec. 11 on news outlet The Block Crypto The BCT project and its affiliated firm, CG Blockchain, are alleged to have raised as much as $31 million in an ICO to launch a crypto-focused version of the ubiquitous “Bloomberg Terminal” — a highly-successful financial data and trading tool for the traditional financial sector. According to the report, BCT’s glossy “institutional-grade” tool for crypto “trading professionals” had at its helm a man who operated as “Shaun MacDonald,” but was in reality a convicted fraudster, Boaz Manor, who had received a four-year prison sentence in Canada in 2012 for siphoning $106 million from a Toronto-based hedge fund he co-founded. The Canadian fund reportedly had $800 million in assets under management at its peak from 26,000 investors: Manor was also found guilty of using investors’ money to purchase $8.8 million worth of diamonds that later disappeared. Having agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry, Manor-turned-MacDonald withheld his conviction and identity from his colleagues at BCT, reportedly “growing a beard and [dying] his hair red.” While formally assigning the company’s presidency to Bob Bonomo — former chief information officer at $500 billion asset management firm AllianceBernstein — MacDonald was reportedly the primary driver behind the BCT venture. Although it marketed its $999 “Blockchain Terminal” to crypto hedge funds — a 32-inch “HD Terminal” with a hardware private key — the company is alleged to have raised most of its funds via a lucrative $31 million ICO for its native BCT token, which launched in September 2017. One of the project’s purported investors is the high-profile crypto analyst and host of CNBC’s show Cryptotrader Ran Neuner, who tweeted his endorsement of the Blockchain Terminal in June, and is alleged to have invested as much as $1.3 million in the company’s ICO, according to two unnamed sources. Neuner yesterday stated he had “lost a ton” of his own cash investing in the BCT “fraud,” but accused The…
The most-used ethereum software client has published code that includes an activation time for Constantinople, a proposed upgrade that, if enacted by users, would bring additional features and enhancements to the network. Go-ethereum (Geth) v1.8.20, released on Tuesday, sets the Constantinople hard fork on the ethereum mainnet, the principal version of the platform, for block 7,080,000. Together with Parity, Geth is one of two softwares used by a majority of the participants in ethereum’s network. As such, the move is the latest sign Constantinople is moving ahead on schedule. The hard fork’s activation block was proposed to earlier this month during a developer call, setting the stage for the upcoming release. Should users adopt the new code – by design, such upgrades are subject to acceptance by the network’s userbase – Constantinople could go live between January 14 and 18. Prior to that, Constantinople would activate on the Rinkeby testnet at block 3,660,663. Developers had previously proposed to activate the Constantinople hard fork in November 2018, but issues identified during testing led developers to opt to delay that launch in an effort to squash the bugs. Constantinople seeks to bring an array of design changes, with the broader goal of streamlining the platform’s overall code. Notably, it would reduce the per-block mining reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH, and also push ahead the so-called “difficulty bomb” – a code element designed to promote frequent upgrades – by another 18 months. Once launched, Constantinople will mark the end of an upgrade process for ethereum formerly dubbed Metropolis. Looking ahead, developers are already working to build what could constitute the next phases of ethereum’s development, dubbed ethereum 1x and ethereum 2.0. Cogs meshing image via Shutterstock
Calgary, a city in the Canadian province of Alberta, has launched its own digital currency. The Calgary Dollar will allow holders to pay for services and goods at local shops, Canadian major media outlet Global News reports Friday, Dec. 7. According to HuffPost Canada, the Calgary dollar was initially launched in 1996, with citizens and businesses offering goods and services in exchange for the local currency alongside the Canadian dollar. This new move in 2018 allows citizens to download an app and store the digital currency on their devices. Calgary is reportedly the first city in Canada to launch its own coin. According to Global News, Alberta’s government supports the initiative. The officials expect that the Calgary dollar could support small businesses and nonprofits by keeping funds within the city. Calgary dollars work through a smartphone app that lists shops and restaurants that participate in the program. Citizens can spend their Canadian dollars to pay for lunch, make a donation to some of Calgary’s nonprofits or buy inner transport tickets. One way to obtain the currency is by posting ads for goods and services that users want to sell in the app or on project’s website for Calgary dollars, receiving a small amount of the digital currency in exchange for posting the ad. Recommending Calgary dollars to a friend also brings profit. Moreover, the Victoria Park, an events and culture district of Calgary, is reportedly offering cash back to shoppers who use the local digital currency. Local entrepreneurs, in their turn, can pay up to half of their business licenses with Calgary dollars. As Cointelegraph has often reported, many countries are considering launching local digital currencies. In Mongolia, the country’s largest mobile telecoms operator plans to issue an e-currency, dubbed “Candy.” Meanwhile, in Dubai, consumers will soon be able to use digital currency to pay for goods, services and utilities following a new government partnership with a blockchain payment provider. As well, the Bank of Thailand has plans to develop a wholesale central bank digital currency that will use blockchain consortium R3’s Corda platform.
SolarisBank and Stuttgart Exchange Group are jointly developing infrastructure for a cryptocurrency exchange, Cointelegraph Germany reports Dec. 12. The Stuttgart Exchange, founded in 1860, is the second largest stock exchange in Germany and the ninth largest in Europe. SolarisBank, on the other hand, is a German fintech company established in 2015 that holds a banking license and offers a “Banking as a Platform” service. This news goes along with the plans announced by the exchange in May to release a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading application. The two companies’ crypto exchange, “which is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019,” will have SolarisBank acting as the exchange’s banking platform. Roland Folz, the CEO of SolarisBank, declared that “a reliable and efficient trading platform is an elementary contribution to [their] vision of a hybrid financial world with both fiat and cryptocurrencies.” The press release notes that Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) will be available for trading on the exchange by both retail and institutional investors. As well, an ICO platform, which had been announced in August, is under development for the exchange. The tokens introduced on the platform will be tradeable on secondary markets as well. This project is part of SolarisBank’s “Blockchain Factory” initiative, which offers its customers specialized accounts meant for blockchain companies. As Cointelegraph reported in April, VPE WertpapierhandelsBank AG (VPE), a German securities trading bank, has partnered with SolarisBank as well. The partnership’s objective is to launch a cryptocurrency trading service for institutional investors. Bitwala, a German crypto-banking startup operated by Solaris Bank, also reported today that they have opened for business with 40,000 pre-registered customers that will get access to Bitcoin and euro deposit accounts. Using Solaris Bank’s banking license, euro funds will be protected up to an amount of 100,000 euros, and will be supervised by Germany’s two banking regulators — BaFin and Bundesbank.
The CEO of Allianz Global Investors (GI), an investment management firm with €524 billion ($595 billion) in assets under management, has called for crypto assets to be “outlawed,” Reuters reported Dec. 11. Allianz GI CEO Andreas Utermann is said to have made his remarks during a panel in London on Tuesday, seated alongside the head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey. In light of the recent crypto market crash, Utterman said he was “personally surprised that regulators haven’t stepped in harder,” urging them to “outlaw” the asset class. Bailey countered Utterman, saying “that’s quite strong actually!,” although he allegedly continued to underscore crypto assets’ lack of “intrinsic value.” The FCA head added that the British watchdog was “watching” crypto assets “very closely,” as well as keeping Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) under surveillance. As reported last month, the crypto market decline is in fact said to eased pressure on the U.K.’s regulators to introduce hasty new rules for the sector, with government officials and FCA representatives indicating that the reduced “heat” will allow them to take more time to fine-tune the balance between protecting investors and fostering financial innovation. That same month, a top official confirmed the FCA was considering a ban on crypto contracts-for-difference (CFDs), voicing concerns over “complex, volatile and often leveraged derivatives products based on exchange tokens with underlying market integrity issues.” While crypto derivatives fall within the FCA’s regulatory perimeter, crypto spot market activities notably do not. In late October, the U.K. government’s Cryptoassets Taskforce — which includes representatives from the FCA, the U.K. Treasury and the Bank of England — published a report proposing a new three-fold classification for crypto assets, depending on their use cases.