Bitmain’s AsicBoost Firmware Upgrade Leaves Bitcoin Mining Community Divided

Bitcoin enthusiasts will be familiar with the term AsicBoost. It is a technique developed by ASIC manufacturer Bitmain which can make mining more efficient. Surprisingly, the manufacturer has released a new firmware for some Antminer models to unlock this efficiency improvement.


Recapping the AsicBoost Debacle

The patent-pending AsicBoost technology by Bitmain has received a lot of criticism over the past few years. It allows users to mine Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash in a more efficient manner. Under ideal circumstances, a 20% increase in efficiency can be achieved. This “hidden” technology only became apparent after Greg Maxwell shared some interesting insights. His findings sparked a few rather heated discussions pertaining to Bitcoin mining.

The bigger problem with this technology is how it delayed Bitcoin’s activation of SegWit. More specifically, Bitmain’s technology and Segregated Witness are mutually exclusive. The Chinese manufacturer builds over half of Bitcoin’s ASIC mining units on the markets. It is in their best interest to ensure their technology can be used whenever needed. As such, Segregated Witness for Bitcoin was delayed by several months.

Ever since that time, no real discussions pertaining to this technology have occurred. That is coming to change fairly quickly. Bitmain is making their Overt AsicBoost firmware available for recent Antminer models. As such, owners of these devices can improve their mining revenue in a significant manner. An unexpected development, especially given the patent-pending nature of this technology.

Mining Pools Aren’t Amused

It never takes long for the community to respond to these developments. In the case of Slush Pool, they made it clear miners using this firmware upgrade are not welcome. Their infrastructure and code don’t support this feature at this time. The operators are working on a “fix”, albeit further specifics remain unclear for the time being.

For those willing to use this firmware, a few mining pools are available. Both BTC.com and Antpool are compatible with this upgrade. That is only normal, as both mining platforms are under Bitmain’s management. Other mining pool operators have yet to openly support or reject this upgrade. Such a decision needs to be weighed carefully first and foremost.

For Bitmain, the release of this firmware makes sense. The company wants to let miners benefit from a more efficient mining operation. If only two pools support it, miners will automatically switch to those offerings. In doing so, Bitmain can gain even more control over Bitcoin’s mining ecosystem. That is not a favorable outcome for a network which is supposed to be decentralized.

What is your opinion on Bitmain’s firmware update? Let us know in the comments.


Images courtesy of ShutterStock

The post Bitmain’s AsicBoost Firmware Upgrade Leaves Bitcoin Mining Community Divided appeared first on Live Bitcoin News.

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Global Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework Needed, Says Circle CEO Jimmy Allaire

Jeremy Allaire believes there is a need for a global standard for cryptocurrency regulations. The Circle CEO also wants more explicit definitions for token offerings and robust rules to combat market manipulation.


The Need for a Global Cryptocurrency Regulatory Paradigm

Speaking to Reuters in London, Allaire called for global rules to govern the emerging cryptocurrency industry. According to the CEO of the Goldman Sachs-backed cryptocurrency startup, Circle:

Ultimately there needs to be normalization at the G20 level of critical crypto-related regulatory matters.

Presently, the regulatory paradigm for cryptocurrency is dominated by discrete frameworks created by different countries. In some places like China, the government has made efforts to crack down on the market. In friendlier climes, the approach still hasn’t been universal.

Thus, there is a clear regulatory arbitrage as far as virtual currencies are concerned when viewed within a global context. With the market itself being of a worldwide nature, it is perhaps correct to say that standard rules and best practices are needed.

The Need for a Global Cryptocurrency Regulatory Paradigm

Proper Classification in the Emerging Industry

Recently, Live Bitcoin News reported on the decision of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to issue cryptocurrency regulatory guidelines in 2019. These guidelines focus on combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

While Allaire praises the efforts of the Paris-based FATF, the Circle CEO believes more needs to be done in other areas and that the framework should be broadened to encompass more aspects of the industry. Commenting on the matter, Alliare said:

When it comes to token offerings, how should they be treated? Which token offerings are securities, which are not?” he said. “The trading venues – are they like spot commodity markets that need to have rules in place around market manipulation?

Allaire isn’t the only one sounding the call for robust global cryptocurrency regulations. Earlier in the year, undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), Sigal Mandelker clamored for more rules to checkmate the activities of cryptocurrency fraudsters. Mandelker also said that regulators in different countries needed to work together to make the industry safe for investors.

The EU has also tried to create a region-wide regulatory paradigm for virtual currencies. Recently, Bruegel, an EU-based think tank called for standard rules within the region to govern the emerging digital asset landscape.

Do you share Allaire’s sentiments about the need for a global standard for cryptocurrency regulations? Keep the conversation going in the comment section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, LBN Archives

The post Global Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework Needed, Says Circle CEO Jimmy Allaire appeared first on Live Bitcoin News.

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Ember Sword MMO Using Blockchain for True Player Ownership

The upcoming Ember Sword mmo will use blockchain technology to give players actual ownership of in-game land and items.


Online games generate a ton of revenue. Whether you’re playing World of Warcraft, Fortnite, or League of Legends, players are always striving for cool in-game items. Such items are normally found in loot boxes, which players usually spend a lot of money on, or sold in the game’s cash shop. However, ownership of said items is not absolute when it comes to players. Once you have an item, you really can’t sell it to another player. An upcoming mmo, Ember Sword, is looking to change that reality through the use of blockchain technology.

Using Blockchain to Enable Player Ownership

Ember Sword is an mmo that looks to do things a bit differently. Many massively multiplayer online games promise that players can impact the in-game world, but the reality is that they really do not. Ember Sword is taking a different tack by allowing players to purchase, own, and develop in-game land.

The game uses an in-game currency called PIXEL tokens. It is this virtual currency that players can use to buy land within the game, as well as other in-game items. The mmo is harnessing blockchain technology and giving players true ownership of their items. This means that land, costumes, weapons, etc. can be traded or sold for PIXEL tokens.

Mark Phillipe Laursen, founder of Couch Studios, says:

As avid MMORPG players, we grew tired of static ‘theme-park’ universes where we can engage with everything in the world, but never truly change or evolve it, much less own it and the items we’ve gathered within it.

A True Player-Based Economy

The fact that Ember Sword is using blockchain technology to enable player ownership means that the gamers will be fully running the in-game economy. A lot of online games promise this, but the use of loot boxes and lack of true ownership actually ensures that the game’s developers keep a tight rein on how the economy functions. In Ember Sword, all special items are non-fungible collectibles.

Laursen notes that this is a radically different model than the one used by today’s online games. He says:

Most free-to-play MMORPGs monetize through pay-to-win mechanics and non-transferable cosmetics in an attempt to increase revenue by locking down the cash shop economy. With Ember Sword, we’re putting players in charge of evolving the world and its economy instead, because to us, creating an engaging and fair universe is much more important than heavily monetizing players – opting instead for an optional monthly subscription and marketplace fees.

Blockchain

Ember Sword promises to feature classless combat and lots of player choices. Gamers can create new items, emotes, monsters, and skins that could appear in the game. The fact that players actually own their items and can dispose of them how they please could lead to a massive influx of players looking to express their creativity and be rewarded for it, not to mention monetizing their gameplay.

If Ember Sword is successful, it could be the next Second Life where people can actually make a living by being an active member of the game’s community. Envision a talented artist making and selling in-game artwork that is used to decorate players’ in-game homes. Then there’s the fact that land ownership allows players to develop the land and use it in multiple ways to generate PIXEL tokens.

Ember Sword uses the Ethereum blockchain for its foundation. PIXEL tokens are ERC-20 tokens, and they will be tradable on exchanges after the game launches. There is a PIXEL pre-sale in November. The free-to-play game will initially launch as a PC title (both browser and desktop client) but will eventually expand to mobile devices.

Do you plan on playing Ember Sword? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Ember Sword, Shutterstock, and YouTube/@So Couch Studios.

The post Ember Sword MMO Using Blockchain for True Player Ownership appeared first on Live Bitcoin News.

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Coinbase Adds Support for Circle Backed USDC Stablecoin

The largest US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced support for the dollar-pegged stablecoin issued by Circle – USD//Coin (USDC).


First Stablecoin Supported by Coinbase

In an official announcement, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase revealed that its users will be able to buy, sell, send, and receive USDC at its iOS and Android apps, and on Coinbase.com.

The advantage of a blockchain-based digital dollar like USDC is easier to program with, to send quickly, to use in dApps, and to store locally than traditional bank account-based dollars. That’s why we think of it as an important step towards a more open financial system. – reads the release.

This is the very first time the cryptocurrency exchange has supported a stablecoin. The post stated that each USDC is 1:1 backed by the US dollar, meaning that it is 100 percent collateralized.

It’s worth noting that Coinbase Wallet is already supporting the stablecoin while Coinbase Pro will follow “in the coming weeks.”

The move has been made possible by the new collaboration between Circle and Coinbase who came together to form the CENTRE Consortium. In an official blog post, Circle revealed that their joint venture is “aimed at establishing a standard for fiat on the internet and providing a governance framework and network for the global, mainstream adoption of fiat stablecoins.”

Stablecoins on the Rise

Stablecoins on the Rise

As for now, US customers outside of the state of New York can buy and sell USDC while customers throughout the world will be able to send and receive. However, the announcement also says that more geographies are going to be available in the future.

Earlier this week, Live Bitcoin News reported that another cryptocurrency exchange forayed into the field of stablecoins, issuing one on its own. Huobi introduced the so-called HUSD – an interchangeable stablecoin which is unlike any other existing solution.

Users will be able to purchase any of the supported stablecoins and they will appear on their Huobi balance as HUSD. Consequently, they can withdraw any amount in any of the supported stablecoins as well. These include Paxos Standard (PAX), True USD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), and Gemini Dollar (GUSD). Notably, Tether has been left out.

What do you think of Coinbase’s support for USDC? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

The post Coinbase Adds Support for Circle Backed USDC Stablecoin appeared first on Live Bitcoin News.

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HTC to Launch New Blockchain-Based Smartphone to Give Users Their Own Private Keys

HTC has unveiled its first blockchain-based smartphone, which, notably, can only be purchased with cryptocurrency.


Venturing into a New Market

Exodus 1 is the name of the new smartphone from the Taiwanese electronics company, reports CNBC. The company has also created its own crypto wallet, called Zion, to function as a hardware crypto wallet. It uses technology from SoftBank’s Arm Holdings to ensure a person’s crypto are kept safe.

The phone is currently available to pre-order and is expected to be shipped by December. For those who wish to pay in Bitcoin at 0.15 or 4.78 Ether tokens, which equates to around $960.

Phil Chen, HTC’s decentralized chief officer, discussed the phone with CNBC, saying:

Think of it as a micro OS that runs in parallel with Android. It basically is a wallet, but the wallet, what it does is hold your private keys.

HTC Exodus 1

According to Chen, using Google’s operating system (OS) is “fundamentally insecure with a centralized system.” As a result, putting the phone’s secure chip on the Android OS would make it vulnerable to hacks. This is the first blockchain-based smartphone from HTC, but the aim of the company is to ensure the security and privacy of users.

Chen added:

And the reason why you do a blockchain phone is … for everybody just to own their own keys. Everything starts there. When you start owning your own keys, then you can start owning your own digital identity, then you can start to own data.

It will also come with a Social Key Recovery function. This lets a user regain access to their funds if they lose or forget their private key. This is done through a select number of trusted contacts.

Crypto wallet

Bringing the Phone to the Blockchain Community

Chen states that the release of this HTC phone doesn’t mean they are excluding those outside of the crypto space. He goes on to say that they are targeting the audience who will use it: the blockchain community.

Of course with a phone that is priced similar to that of iPhone’s XS model and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, it remains to be seen what impact, if any, the HTC blockchain phone will have. It’s a tough market out there for the smartphone industry. However, given the importance of owning your own private keys, maybe this phone will help to answer the needs of many.

Will you be buying the new HTC blockchain phone? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of CNBC and Shutterstock.

The post HTC to Launch New Blockchain-Based Smartphone to Give Users Their Own Private Keys appeared first on Live Bitcoin News.

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Population Projection for ND

So an ongoing project that is taking a significant amount of my time (and thus taking time away from blogging) is executing a full population projection for North Dakota for the next 50 years. There seem to be some special issues when looking at the state level, for a small population state. 

One of the major problems is simply data availability. There are many suppression flags when looking at a state like North Dakota, especially when you try to look at, or in my case derive, age-specific rates. I get why they are suppressed, so that is not really a complaint, it is that there is often not enough information to make meaningful interpolations. 

One of the big issue for me is estimation of the key demographic forces. As an example consider the migration specification:

m^{ij}_{t} = beta_{0} + beta_{1}m^{ij}_{t-1} + sum_{k=1}^{n}beta_{k+1}left(frac{R^{k}_{i,t-1}}{R^{k}_{j,t-1}}right)+epsilon_{t}

where I model migration as a function of previous migration and relative economic performance. I really like the specification and think that it is helpful for at least the major sectors at the state level for North Dakota. However, deriving migration at the age level is a real issue in this case. 

Essentially I am estimating an age specific pattern for migration and then seeing how stable it is over time, and then how correlated any changes are with specific economic activity in North Dakota. After that the goal is to take any future total migration estimates and attempt to apply the same pattern to it. It is net migration but there is not much else that can be done with the available data. 

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Crypto Market to Be Worth $1.40 Billion by 2024: New Report

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golden bitcoin, calculator, rising graph in diary and month calendar. Learning to invest in crypto currency, income, high efficiency, return on capital, profitability. Source: shutterstock.com

Growth in the cryptocurrency market will be realized at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.18 percent as it reaches a valuation of $1.40 billion by 2024. A new report by MarketsandMarkets shows that the cryptocurrency market will be driven by stronger distributed ledger technology, which improves the transparency of its systems, along with growing international remittances in the developing world. Uncertain regulatory pressures could keep the growth slower.

Growing Crypto Hardware Market

In its new report titled “Cryptocurrency Market by Offering (Hardware: GPU, FPGA, ASIC, & Wallet, and Software), Process (Mining and Transaction), Type, Application (Trading, Remittance, Payment: Peer-to-Peer Payment, Ecommerce, and Retail), and Geography – Global Forecast to 2024,” MarketsandMarkets suggests that the hardware market for digital currencies will have the largest market till 2024.

As cryptocurrencies start becoming more mainstream, the need to run and validate a larger volume of transactions will push the demand for crypto mining hardware. Mining hardware is now being offered by several mainstream hardware vendors like Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA, which signals growth in the sector. Some mining-specific start-ups like GateHub, Bitfury, and Bitmine are also emerging on the scene.

Apart from hardware, peer-to-peer payments in cryptocurrencies will also grow significantly during the study period. As the value of cryptocurrencies surges over time, peer-to-peer payments will grow at the highest CAGR till 2024, especially when considering payments for smaller contracts, donations, and salaries.

APAC Will Lead the Way for the World

As pointed out in previous MarketsandMarkets reports, the APAC region will be key to the cryptocurrency sector’s growth. It will be holding the largest share of the cryptocurrency market between 2019 and 2024. China’s low electricity costs and Japan’s early adoption boost will help in strengthening the region’s position in the market.

China will be the largest market shareholder among the APAC countries, growing into one of the most significant markets for digital currencies. The presence of the world’s top crypto mining companies like Bitmain, Canaan, and Ebang Communications, apart from low power costs, good weather, and easier availability of venture capital will help it retain its status in the region.

However, APAC will not grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The rest of the world (RoW) will grow at the highest growth rate. RoW will grow at highest CAGR, but it will grow without proper regulations, which means that the government’s actions could take a huge toll on the businesses. The major factors that would restrain the growth of the market are uncertain regulatory status, lack of awareness, and technical understanding regarding cryptocurrency.

Crypto Market to Be Worth $1.40 Billion by 2024: New Report was originally found on [blokt] – Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

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Binance Receives Funding From Government-Backed Vertex Ventures in Singapore

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KYRENIA, CYPRUS - SEPTEMBER 21, 2018 Binance mobile app on running on smartphone. Binance is a leading cryptocurrency exchange founded by Changpeng Zhao in august 2017. Source: shutterstock.com

The venture capital arm of Temasek Holdings, Vertex Ventures, announced an investment in the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world — Binance. The amount of the investment is unknown, but the government-backed firm suggests that it would be dedicated to building a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Singapore.

State Investment Firm’s Interests

Singapore’s state investment firm is keen on cryptocurrencies, helping Binance create a platform where digital coins can be traded for Singapore dollars. Vertex is one of the oldest venture capital firms in Southeast Asia. Its foray into the crypto market, which is still in its nascent stages of development, suggests a strong positive stance on the future of digital coins.

The funding is a joint investment between Vertex Ventures China and Vertex Ventures Southeast Asia & India. According to a statement, it will also focus on supporting other fiat-to-crypto platforms and services in the Southeast Asian region.

Vertex is a subsidiary of government-owned investment company Temasek Holdings, which manages assets worth over $223 billion. Its portfolio extends to China and India, as well as to Israel and the US. Vertex holds $2.5 billion under management.

Another Win for Binance

Binance, which primarily facilitates crypto-to-crypto trades, is now moving into the fiat-to-crypto territory. With Singapore’s rising interest in this sector, despite warnings by some policymakers, it is evident that the city-state would go on to become a hub for crypto activities in Asia.

The one-year-old crypto exchange Binance has already started a fiat-to-crypto exchange in Uganda, where investors can transfer Ugandan shillings and trade. With the new Singaporean exchange, it will allow trades for cryptocurrencies in Singaporean dollars. The cryptocurrency market is slowly expanding and maturing, allowing entities from outside of the core community to invest and experiment.

Several top names from the mainstream finance business are now interested in digital currencies. Galaxy Digital Ventures recently invested in cryptocurrency custodian start-up BitGo Holdings Inc., along with Goldman Sachs Group. Fidelity Investments also announced the establishment of a new company that would provide cryptocurrency custodial services. These steps are helping institutional investors take a second look at the crypto market and find secure and trusted ways to invest.

Binance Receives Funding From Government-Backed Vertex Ventures in Singapore was originally found on [blokt] – Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

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Genmega ATMs Will Now Offer Crypto Purchases to Customers

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Golden bitcoin coin symbol of bitcoin crytocurrency from blockchain technology with background of autometic teller machine or atm. Source; shutterstock.com

Consumers who use Genmega ATMs will now get access to Bitcoin as well. The company has partnered with LibertyX to start selling Bitcoins via its ATMs. There will be zero upfront costs and hardware adjustments, and the process could be completed at 100,000 automatic teller machines across the US with a simple update process.

Debit Card Purchases for Bitcoin

Users can buy Bitcoin on Genmega ATMs using their debit cards, making it the first such service in the US. The facility will be available at over 100,000 locations across the country. LibertyX will enable Bitcoin purchases on all locations. Its co-founder and CEO, Chris Yim, talked about debit card Bitcoin buying saying:

“We has been working tirelessly to make it easier to buy cryptocurrencies for the last five years and now are bringing simplicity, convenience and trust to the cryptocurrency purchasing experience through the timeless ATM.”

The move by Genmega will help several new customers adopt Bitcoin. The crypto buying process is similar to that of withdrawing cash. The users will feed their debit card to the machine and buy Bitcoin instantly. The familiarity of an ATM will be helpful in shortening the learning curve for newly christened users. For crypto enthusiasts, it could be yet another opportunity to buy Bitcoin quickly and easily.

Big Win for LibertyX

LibertyX helps merchants and ATM operators generate more revenue by offering digital currencies to their users. This partnership with Genmega can help them expand their reach to thousands of customers in the US and spearhead Bitcoin adoption.

The Boston-based company is the largest retail Bitcoin exchange in the US and also provides a mobile app for buying cryptocurrencies instantly at local stores. It launched the first cash-to-Bitcoin ATM in the US in 2014. With the new Genmega partnership, the company could create a stronger network for people who want to buy Bitcoin right in the vicinity of their homes.

Wes Dunn, SVP of sales at Genmega, talked about the partnership and said:

“ATM operators are always looking for ways to grow volume and transactions. We are excited to work with LibertyX on this new initiative that will drive additional foot-traffic to merchant locations and provide added revenue to our operator’s ‒ ensuring they stay ahead of the market and bring added value to consumers.”

Genmega ATMs Will Now Offer Crypto Purchases to Customers was originally found on [blokt] – Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

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Tron’s Director of Public Chain Shares His Views on the Delay in Constantinople Upgrade for Ethereum

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Future technology block chain cryptocurrency Tron red touchscreen interface. Blockchain financial virtual money wallet screen concept. 3d rendering illustration. Source: shutterstock.com

The planned testing of Ethereum’s Constantinople hard fork, scheduled for Oct. 14 was not successful. The testnet became unusable because of a consensus issue in the blockchain. Not only has this caused a stir within the Ethereum community, but the wider audience of the crypto and blockchain space also reacted to the event. Among them is Tron’s director of public chain, Marcus, who talked about the issue in detail.

Explaining the Consensus Issue in Ethereum

Marcus pointed out that the Constantinople upgrade testing was done on the Ropsten testnet and said that the consensus issue was due to inconsistencies in the EIP implementation by Ethereum clients. He explained further:

“From what we know now, the reasons could be either Parity hasn’t fully implemented EIP-1283, or there were bugs in the implementation. The Parity team has been working on fixing the issue, and they have released the 2.1.3 beta version.”

The delay also means that Metropolis, the third phase of Ethereum’s development, will not be implemented on time. However, Ethereum has not made any public announcements about the delay in the mainnet upgrade yet. Marcus suggests that only a few developers are talking about not seeing Constantinople in action in 2018. He believes that the community should wait for the official announcement and suggested that based on Ethereum’s efficiency, a mainnet upgrade would not be available until the testnet upgrade is completed successfully.

He said that he is following up the progress at Ethereum and they are working hard to solve the problems that caused the upgrade to fail.

Ethereum’s Congestion Problem Will Stay

A delay in the mainnet deployment of the next Ethereum upgrade could mean further congestion issues for Ethereum and public projects based on the blockchain. Marcus said that the upgrade would “lay a foundation for the subsequent sharding mechanism that Ethereum would like to achieve. If delayed, the congestion problem will remain.”

The problem is that the Constantinople upgrade has been delayed time and again. The upgrade contains several new features for both users and developers, including EIP1283, which will be helpful in reducing costs. Another feature is EIP1234, which will help in postponing the difficulty bomb of the blockchain. Marcus suggests that if the delay to these important features continues, Ethereum could lose users as they start feeling disappointed with the development team.

Marcus also commented on future development of public chain:

“The development of public chain is still in the early stage. In the future, on top of basic value delivery, stability, performance, and scalability will be very important for the public chain; realizing these three features allows more users and developers to participate and the whole ecosystem to grow.”

Tron’s Director of Public Chain Shares His Views on the Delay in Constantinople Upgrade for Ethereum was originally found on [blokt] – Blockchain, Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

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