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  • theymos commented on pull request bitcoin-dot-org/, par theymos, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: theymos’s Activity :: RSS
    Apr 11, 2017 theymos commented on pull request bitcoin-dot-org/ The Trezor itself is a UASF-unaware device, I think, sort of like SPV wallets are unaware of such things. I'd guess that that tweet is merely (...) Read more theymos
  • Make CWallet::SyncTransactions() interface friendlier, par jnewbery, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Commits - bitcoin:master :: RSS
    Make CWallet::SyncTransactions() interface friendlier Read more jnewbery
  • Mirai, the infamous IoT botnet, now forces ‘smart’ appliances to mine Bitcoin, par Joel Hruska, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: ExtremeTech » Bitcoin :: RSS

    The Internet of Things is improving all the time. If you loved the IoT botnet Mirai that brought the Internet to its knees last year, you'll be ecstatic over the possibility of Mirai plus Bitcoin mining.
    The post Mirai, the infamous IoT botnet, now forces ‘smart’ appliances to mine Bitcoin appeared first on ExtremeTech. Read more Joel Hruska
  • Breaking Down Bitcoin's "AsicBoost Scandal", par Aaron van Wirdum, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Bitcoin Magazine :: RSS
    Understanding the AsicBoost Scandal
    Through a Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) draft sent to the Bitcoin development mailing list last week, long-time Bitcoin Core developer and Blockstream co-founder and CTO Gregory Maxwell revealed that a Bitcoin mining hardware producer implemented the patented “AsicBoost” technology in its chips. While the specific manufacturer was not named in the email, it was easy to surmise that Maxwell was alluding to the Chinese mining giant Bitmain — a suspicion confirmed through a press release issued by the company the next day.

    Rumors, clues and accusations have dominated social media, news sites, and chatrooms ever since, as a new dimension in Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate kicked tensions into high gear. Instead of the reasons given so far, some now believe that Bitmain and its mining pools have rejected the Segregated Witness soft fork (SegWit) because it is incompatible with the covert use of AsicBoost technology embedded in their chips.

    For anyone not “in the loop”: here’s an overview of what’s going on…


    In short, AsicBoost is a technology invented by former CoinTerra CTO Timo Hanke and RSK Chief Scientist Sergio Damián Lerner. When implemented in ASIC chips (chips specialized for Bitcoin mining), AsicBoost can take advantage of a quirk in the implementation of Bitcoin’s proof-of-work mining algorithm. This lets miners take a sort of a “shortcut” to finding a valid block.

    This shortcut can give miners up to a 30 percent efficiency advantage — though some 15 to 20 percent seems more likely. Since miners compete on small margins, even small efficiency gains can result in big profits. Maxwell estimated that a large miner can bank up to $100 million extra per year; a claim backed by calculations by the pseudonymous “praxeology_guy.” Though others, including the founder of now-defunct ASIC manufacturer KnCMiner Sam Cole, downplayed this figure. In the scheme of things — cost of electricity, ASIC design, and more — the added profit from AsicBoost alone could be much smaller. 
    Update: Former Spoondoolies-Tech CEO Guy Corem also estimates the added profits from AsicBoost would be significantly smaller; some $2 million extra per year.

    AsicBoost has been subject to some controversy before. Since the technology is patented, and patents are state-enforced, some worry that AsicBoost could skew Bitcoin’s mining competition by non-market factors. This could in a worst-case scenario lead to a centralized and perhaps even regulated mining landscape, providing reason enough for some developers to consider changing the Bitcoin protocol to counter AsicBoost. Others, however, see AsicBoost as an optimization like so many mining optimizations realized over the years, and argue that innovative miners should not be punished by a protocol change.

    In light of last week’s events, it is important to note that AsicBoost not only can be utilized overtly, in which case it is obvious that a miner is using it, but it can also be employed covertly, which is much harder to detect. And, as it now turns out, covert use of AsicBoost is largely incompatible with the current soft fork implementation of Segregated Witness, the protocol upgrade as proposed by the Bitcoin Core development team.

    The Admission

    While it was up in the air for a day or so, it is no longer a question whether Bitmain indeed implemented AsicBoost technology in its chips.

    In their press release, the company readily admitted that it did, stating:

    “Our ASIC chips, like those of some other manufacturers, have a circuit design that supports AsicBoost.”

    Additionally, Bitmain said that it “has tested AsicBoost on [Bitcoin’s] Testnet,” while also explaining that the company can legally use the technology:

    “Bitmain holds the AsicBoost patent in China. We can legally use it in our own mining farms in China to profit from it and sell the cloud mining contracts to the public.”

    Furthermore, Bitmain said that AsicBoost wouldn't be bad for the company’s business model, writing:

    “Bitcoin mining equipment depreciates rapidly. Bitmain has constantly been introducing newer more efficient miner models for all. As such the statement that the deployment of AsicBoost, which can lead to a 20% difference in power efficiency, is some kind of negative development for Bitmain’s business model is false.”

    And on top of that, the ASIC producer rejects that AsicBoost is something detrimental in itself. Instead, it argues that widespread use of the technology would benefit the Bitcoin network:

    “If all mining equipment could use AsicBoost, it will lower the J/GH cost and the total network hash rate will increase, making the Bitcoin network even stronger. So, the AsicBoost method is not a ‘covert attack’ on the Bitcoin [proof of work] function. It is an engineering optimization.”

    So, in summary, Bitmain admits it implemented AsicBoost technology in its chips, acknowledges testing it, explains that using it in China is legal, says that it is not a negative for the company, and also says it's not a negative (an attack) in itself — but rather something positive: an optimization.

    The Denial

    Even though Bitmain argues that AsicBoost is a positive on all fronts, the company maintains that “the AsicBoost method has not been used by us on the mainnet.”

    As well as:

    “[Using AsicBoost], however profitable, is not something we would do for the greater good of Bitcoin.”

    These claims may be true.

    While the denial seems oddly inconsistent with with the statements that there is nothing wrong with AsicBoost, it has so far not been conclusively proven that Bitmain did, in fact, use AsicBoost on Bitcoin’s main net. And this may be hard to prove conclusively, as covert use of AsicBoost can, indeed, be done covertly.

    That said, covert use of AsicBoost could in some cases be noticeable after all. Specifically, using AsicBoost could result in odd transaction ordering in blocks, or even in the mining of (near) empty blocks. Efforts to further analyze blocks are ongoing.

    So far, it does appear that Bitmain’s main mining pool, AntPool, has both mined blocks with odd transaction ordering, as well as nearly empty blocks. And while both of these may be explained by spy mining, buggy mining pool software, or perhaps other reasons we don’t yet know of, the timing and structure of some of some of the (near) empty blocks is at least suspicious.

    Moreover, AntPool’s mining of (near) empty blocks has always been notable, since Bitmain’s co-CEO, Jihan Wu, is one of the most prominent proponents of a block size limit increase: If Bitcoin needs to process more transactions, mining empty blocks doesn’t help.

    And when asked about the empty blocks last year, no reason was given by Wu at all. In fact, there is little indication Wu had “the greater good of Bitcoin” in mind at that time:

    And then, AntPool seems to also have stratum commands for overt use of AsicBoost on their servers. This basically means that all of the infrastructure to utilize AsicBoost is there — though it’s not clear if this can be used covertly as well. (And Bitmain definitely hasn’t used AsicBoost overtly.)

    All in all, there is substantial circumstantial evidence that Bitmain (and AntPool) has been using AsicBoost on Bitcoin’s main net. But as per the nature of covert use of the technology, conclusive evidence is hard to find, and may even be impossible to come by.

    On the other side of the debate, there is one main argument for why Bitmain may not have used AsicBoost on Bitcoin’s main net. If, instead of the $100 million figure, the more conservative estimates are correct, and AsicBoost for example “only” adds a couple of million extra profit per year, perhaps it’s not worth the hassle. Setting up an operation of the size of Bitmain to utilize AsicBoost does require a lot of complex work, and from a cost/benefit-analysis, some suggest it may be better to skip it.

    Segregated Witness

    As mentioned, using AsicBoost is controversial; doing so covertly, even more so. And if Bitmain sold machines to customers without the technology enabled, while itself taking in the extra AsicBoost profit, it would be worse.

    But this, in itself, is not really at the heart of the “AsicBoost scandal.”

    Rather, the (perceived) scandal is that Bitmain may have been blocking and stalling a widely popular upgrade to the Bitcoin protocol under a false pretence. The incompatibility between (covert use of) AsicBoost and Segregated Witness could explain why Bitmain remains one of the very few companies in the Bitcoin industry to so staunchly oppose the soft fork.

    Moreover, it would explain why the Chinese mining giant has been so persistent in its demand for a hard fork. Covert use of AsicBoost would be compatible with Bitcoin Unlimited, an alternative protocol implementation supported by Wu. Similarly, a recent Segregated Witness hard fork as proposed by Lerner (the same Lerner that patented AsicBoost) could be made compatible with covert use of AsicBoost, too.

    And, the incompatibility between (covert use of) AsicBoost and Segregated Witness could explain why Wu was supportive of extension blocks, a recent proposal that appears to have little (if any) benefit over SegWit… except that extension blocks don’t break covert use of AsicBoost.

    Additionally, it could explain why this recent proposal was designed to be incompatible with Segregated Witness. While the two solutions do not need to exclude each other in any way, an unnecessary design choice in extension blocks made sure they are.

    And if the reason for Bitmain’s rejection of the Segregated Witness soft fork is not AsicBoost, there seems to be only one alternative explanation left. Miner activation of the protocol upgrade could be used as a sort of bargaining chip, where the mining giant is only willing to activate the soft fork if it’s guaranteed to be followed up by a hard fork.

    Indeed, this is what Wu told Bitcoin Magazine last year, and it is what the company maintains in its press release published last week:

    “SegWit is not running in production because the conditions made clear in the Hong Kong agreement have not been met, in which we foresee a non-witness block size increase coming together with SegWit.”
    For more (details) on AsicBoost, see this explanation by Jeremy Rubin, or this ELI5 (Explain Like I’m Five) by Jimmy Song, or this blog post on the relation between SegWit and AsicBoost by Lerner, or the original white paper by Hanke. For more on the Bitcoin Roundtable Consensus (“Hong Kong agreement”) see “The Status of the ‘Hong Kong Hard Fork’: An Update.”

    The post Breaking Down Bitcoin's "AsicBoost Scandal" appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine. Read more Aaron van Wirdum
  • Market Extra: Bitcoin touches 3-week high as Russia mulls recognizing it as a currency, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: - bitcoin :: RSS
    Investors also optimistic that a debate that threatened to split the network appears to be resolved The price of a single bitcoin on Tuesday climbed to a three-week high following reports that Russian authorities might recognize the world’s most popular digital currency as a legitimate financial instrument some time next year. Read more
  • Defending World Champion Cubs Don Gold for Wrigley Field Opening Night, par gsbtc, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: GoldSilverBitcoin :: RSS
    (GoldSilverBitcoin) Anthony Rizzo is a baseball star. He is possibly the face of Major League Baseball thanks to his role in ending the Chicago Cub’s 108 year drought and role as team star. So, it’s only fitting that on the night the Cubs raised the 2016 World Series Championship banner, Rizzo delivered his first RBI of the season to walk-off against the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Monday night.
    Said Rizzo: “I’ll remember this day for as long as I play baseball.”
    Related: How a Bitcoin Accepting Securities Lawyer Profited from Cubs Game 7 Win
    Before the nailbiter of a game, the banner raising ceremony was delayed for nearly two hours due to inclement weather. The Wrigley Field video scoreboard replayed Game 6-clinching NLCS win over the Dodgers.
    As the final out of Game 6 was recorded, it poured. The videoboard showed former Cubs catcher and member of 2016 championship team David Ross take the dance floor for Week 3’s competition on “Dancing with the Stars.”

    <script>// <![CDATA[
    (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
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    The Cubs watched from the dugout.
    The Cubs sported their gold-trim Cubs jersey, which has become a new baseball trend. The 2014 World Champion Giants, 2015 World Champion Royals and now the 2017 Chicago Cubs all wore gold-trimmed uniforms in their first homestand after a World Series victory.
    Ben Zobrist missed out on wearing the Royal’s 2016 gold-trim jersey, though the Kansas City organization did send him one. He underscored the honor of wearing these jerseys and what the championship has done for the City of Chicago.
    The “thank yous” are non-stop. “Recently I had a guy cry on my shoulder,” Zobrist said. “An officer from the city here.”
    “Everyone needs to realize the significance of it, what it means for the organization and personally as we look back on that jersey,” Zobrist said. “We get to keep a lot of jerseys over the years, but that will be one of my favorites.”
    The gold-trim jersey, which feature a gold border around the front logo, a world series commemorative patch on the right arm and a gold number and name on the back, were on sale in the Cub’s official team store for $198.
    After the rain delay, the Cubs banner raising ceremony got under way. After 108 years, the former “Loveable Losers” were Champions of the World. All of the Dodgers were bundled up as lineups were announced, except for one: Clayton Kershaw. He wore just his short-sleeved gray jersey, just the same as he wore when he was rocked in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series when the Cubs beat the Dodgers 5-0.
    After the defending World Champion Cubs had lined up one-by-one alongside the third base dugout, they made their way towards the center field brick wall to the roar of the crowd.
    Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg raised the banner commemorating the 1907 championship. Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins raised the 1908 banner. Billy Williams raised the 2016 National League Pennant as the crowd awaited the final banner.
    Then, the Chicago Cubs raised the 2016 “Champions of the World” banner. The members of the 2016 team pulled on it one-by-one. The banner had to be knocked up against the top of the flagpole a few times to fully unravel blow in the wind.
    “I love banner-raising,” Cubs eccentric manager Joe Maddon said before the ceremony. “Rings are wonderful, but I love banner-raising. That’s symbolically there all the time. Every time a kid shows up at the park, he sees that banner.”
    The Cubs entered the field through the center field wall. Rizzo, the organization’s longest standing MLB player, held the World Series Trophy high above his head. The Wrigley Field PA played “It’s a Long Way to the Top” by AC/DC.
    “A lot of emotions seeing that video and raising the flag,” Rizzo told press after the game. “The fans deserve that. Ive been a little emotional lately for some reason thinking about all this, when they told me that, emotions ran and what an honor that is. “
    Rizzo said that at one point during the night he was “fighting back tears.”
    He noted: “I wasn’t expecting to get hit with that many emotions. It was amazing.”
    Laura, Todd and Tom Ricketts, whose family own the Chicago Cubs, then threw out three first pitches.
    The ESPN broadcast then cut to an interview with Maddon, who discussed the importance of bringing the widow of a mentor of his, as well as former Cubs manager, Don Zimmer. Zimmer’s wife, Soot, was in attendance, Maddon told ESPN viewers, by his request. He told her her late husband would be there – albeit in spirit – and so she should be, too.
    The field was ready for the game. On the edge of the bases, gold plates with the World Series Champions logo shone for the camera. For one World Series hero in particular, this was the moment he’d been waiting for.
    Kyle Schwarber missed most of the 2016 season – he did not record a hit during the regular season – due to a knee injury. Miraculously, doctors cleared him to be the Designated Hitter in the World Series and he played a key role in his team’s victory.
    “I haven’t really got to play at home in a year so it’s really going to be special when I walk out to left and see people in the bleachers,” Schwarber said. “It’s going to be a bit of a family reunion, I guess.”
    The temperature sank towards 40 degrees as the game wore on. The crowd, perhaps a bit grumpy after a long day, booed Cubs bullpen pitchers – Carl Edwards, Jr. and Justin Grimm – late in the game when they had trouble finding the strike zone.
    Today the celebration continues in Chicago. Kris Bryant made took batting practice mid-day Tuesday – an off-day for the Dodgers and Cubs who resume series on Wednesday – in a Red Bull stunt.
    Javier Baez, Cubs second basemen and only Puerto Rican on the 2016 championship squad, will be honored with the street “Javier ‘Javy’ Baez way” in Chicago’s Puerto Rico neighborhood.
    The Cubs will wear the gold jerseys one more time, Wednesday, after they receive their Championship rings, which are said to feature 108 diamonds.
    “The best part of last year is we all got to be part of something bigger than ourselves,” said Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. “[We] feel connected to each other and the fans and the organization and the city.”
    Images: USA Today, WBEZ, AP, ABC
    The post Defending World Champion Cubs Don Gold for Wrigley Field Opening Night appeared first on Be well. Read more gsbtc
  • Facebook adds group payments to Messenger, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    Since 2015, you could send and receive money on Messenger, but until now, these person-to-person pay... Read more
  • A beginner’s guide to Litecoin, par Linda Xie, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Coinbase Blog :: RSS
    What is Litecoin?
    According to the Litecoin website, “Litecoin is a peer-to-peer Internet currency that enables instant, near-zero cost payments to anyone in the world.” If you’re familiar with the digital currency Bitcoin, the above definition might sound similar. That’s because Litecoin is based on Bitcoin’s open source codebase, but with a few technological differences. Litecoin was never intended to replace Bitcoin but to complement it like the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. This beginner’s guide should help those who are new to Litecoin to understand the high level differences between these two digital currencies.

    The great thing about open source software projects such as Bitcoin is that anyone in the world can fork the original codebase to include new features they want. The value assigned to each digital currency is determined by the community of adopters that decide to hold and use it. While Bitcoin is currently the largest digital currency by market capitalization, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for other digital currencies to coexist or to serve a specific use case or community.
    Litecoin founder Charlie Lee wanted to modify Bitcoin’s rules in ways he considered beneficial. Specifically Charlie wanted to reduce the amount of time required to confirm a new transaction as well as change the Bitcoin mining algorithm (the way new coins are generated) to ensure anyone could participate in the network. Bitcoin’s transaction confirmation time is 10 minutes while Litecoin’s is only 2.5 minutes. Litecoin is able to process a higher volume of transactions due to the faster transaction confirmation time.
    Bitcoin mining uses the algorithm SHA-256 which is processor intensive while Litecoin mining uses scrypt which is more memory intensive. Early on Bitcoin was able to be mined using regular computers (CPUs) and later on more powerful gaming computers (GPUs). Now due to the increase in mining difficulty created by competition within the network the only way mining is profitable after accounting for electricity and mining equipment costs is through the use of Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners. These are expensive machines built specifically for mining and won’t be able to be used for anything else. Since only some people have the resources to buy and operate ASICs, Charlie did not want Litecoin mining to be dominated by ASICs. Therefore he created Litecoin with a more memory intensive mining algorithm to make mining Litecoin less efficient for ASICs and was more accessible to everyone.
    One important aspect of Litecoin is that its creator, Charlie Lee, is publicly known and actively participates in the cryptocurrency community. The anonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, who has since disappeared, isn’t available to provide guidance and leadership over the technical direction of Bitcoin. Having the founder available is important when it comes to helping others understand and rally behind Litecoin’s vision.
    Currently, Charlie is pushing the community to support adding an upgrade to Litecoin called Segregated Witness (SegWit) that he and others believe will set the foundation for implementing future innovations. SegWit is essentially a change to the transaction data format that requires less storage space. This upgrade would allow for adding additional scaling innovations like Lightning Networks (LN) where transactions can quickly settle off blockchain meaning not all transactions will have to go through the public ledger. This upgrade is applicable to both Bitcoin and Litecoin. However Bitcoin requires 95% of miners to signal they are ready to support SegWit for activation to occur while Litecoin only requires 75%. This lower consensus threshold in addition to an active founder means that it will be easier for Litecoin to push forward this change.
    Charlie wrote a letter to the Litecoin mining community to convince them to support SegWit. The benefits of having decentralized currencies is the creator can’t just implement things on their own. However, there are benefits to having a vocal leader to guide technological progress within a community, especially during a time when it is clear there needs to be a change or there is a major disagreement. The exciting part is that Litecoin can serve as a way for Bitcoin to see how these changes go.
    Litecoin has existed for almost as long as Bitcoin. There is already established infrastructure for Litecoin and exciting news that there might be major new developments on it soon. Below are some links that may help you understand Litecoin further and keep up with the development.
    Understanding Litecoin
    Keeping up with Litecoin
    Thank you to Will Warren and many Coinbase employees especially Charlie Lee and Jordan Clifford.

    A beginner’s guide to Litecoin was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. Read more Linda Xie
  • Bitcoin is spiking, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Alltop RSS :: RSS
    Bitcoin is up 1.3% at $ 1,227 a coin as traders move into the cryptocurrency amid a scramble for safety. Tuesday’s bid comes following rising political tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula which caused a steep sell off in risk assets. While those assets have clawed back their losses, bitcoin and other plays like the yen are holding onto their gains.  Tuesday’s advance has the cryptocurrency trading at its best level since March 16, the… Read more
  • Bitcoin is spiking, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Alltop - bitcoin :: RSS
    Bitcoin is up 1.3% at $ 1,227 a coin as traders move into the cryptocurrency amid a scramble for safety. Tuesday’s bid comes following rising political tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula which caused a steep sell off in risk assets. While those assets have clawed back their losses, bitcoin and other plays like the yen are holding onto their gains.  Tuesday’s advance has the cryptocurrency trading at its best level since March 16, the… Read more
  • Can Trump Pull a Rabbit Out of a Hat or is the US Economy Doomed? – Charles Hugh Smith Interview, par Stefan B, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: FSN » bitcoin :: RSS
    from FutureMoneyTrends

    Subscribe to our Free Financial Newsletter:
    After enjoying his posts on ZeroHedge for so long we’re very glad to have Charles Hugh Smith from ‘Of Two Minds’ to discuss the structure of the American economy and believe us in many of ways it is not good. He even thinks Trump will be the fall guy for all the problems compounding at this moment (unemloyment, national debt, etc.). We also talk digital currency & robots.
    01:15 US Economy in 2016: Trump to be Fall Guy
    02:45 Current Capitalism optimized for Post WW2
    03:35 Can Trump really bring new jobs to America?
    05:15 Robots replacing low skill labor
    06:45 How both Young & Old can survive this Economy
    09:30 Could Technology save us from gov failure?
    11:35 Another cryptocurrency will overtake Bitcoin
    14:30 Bitcoin can survive even if slow & awkward
    16:10 Dash is another currency better than Bitcoin
    17:20 Smart money is betting on banks adopting blockchain
    19:20 Where to invest today to prosper in economy Read more Stefan B
  • tests: Fix test_runner return value in case of skipped test, par laanwj, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Commits - bitcoin:master :: RSS
    tests: Fix test_runner return value in case of skipped test Currently test_runner reports an error if a test case is skipped. This is not how it should be, only failed tests should cause it to fail. Read more laanwj
  • The Art of Building Bridges to Cross-Border Payments, par Michael Scott, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Bitcoin Magazine :: RSS
    The Art of Building Bridges to Cross-Border Payments
    For many, sending money to a family member or business in a different geographical locale is a common practice. These peer-to-peer transfers — known as remittances or cross-border payments — are frequently sent by wire, mail or online transfer. Unfortunately, these monetary transfers can take days to complete as well as result in fees and hidden costs that can add up quickly.

    At present, there are only two primary methods of moving money: the traditional route of transferring from bank account to bank account or through remittance networks such as Western Union. Both of these processes are expensive, as confirmed by a 2016 World Bank report which found that the average cost of sending a remittance just out of the U.S. stood at around 6.01 percent.
    The top remittance-receiving countries, according to another World Bank study, include Mexico, China, India and the Philippines. The first of these countries continues to capture the bulk of media attention with remittances to Mexico totalling $26.97 billion in 2016, up nearly 9 percent from 2015. This was the highest ever according to figures from the Mexican central bank dating back to 1995.
    A New Solution
    Because of the high costs and long wait times associated with money transfers, the global remittance space has long been talked about as a target for disruption. Now, a U.S. based startup called bridge21 believes it can create a new strategic advantage in international transfers over banks and money transmitters, beginning with Mexico.
    Headquartered in Denver, bridge21 is a web- and mobile-based service that allows money to be sent and stored in any currency. It was founded with the objective of fueling a new model of  “money without borders.”  Utilizing bitcoin as a means of settlement transaction, bridge21 facilitates transfers to FDIC insured bank accounts that are licensed and compliant in other countries.
    The company originally started as a Bitcoin brokerage service before discovering a larger opportunity around the utilization of Bitcoin for remittance. Today, bridge21 is delivering what they believe will be a high demand service serving as the intersection between the purchase and sale of bitcoin for every transaction, without either the sender or receiver ever engaging with bitcoin. And all without the associated volatility and custodial concerns.
    For a customer, the prospect of having a faster and safer mechanism for executing bank-to-bank transfers with significantly lower exchange rates is appealing. There is no denying that remittances are expensive, with the poorest people having fewer options and often being charged the highest fees. While other companies will claim their hold on this space, bridge21, which launched in beta in January, is poised to become the first globally to provide an end-to-end, “real-time” tool through the use of Bitcoin.
    From a business commerce perspective, while global trade has grown significantly since the 1970s, the cross-border payment model has changed very little. It’s here where businesses hope to capitalize as well through bridge21’s lower payment processing costs, settlement times, and risk exposure leading to lower pre-funding expenses and exchange rate risks.
    The Use of Bitcoin as a Payment Rail
    It is well established that Bitcoin can be sent throughout the world without the need for a third-party intermediary such as bridge21. The problem, however, is in how it is accessed by those on the receiving end once it arrives.
    Here’s how it works: bridge21 provides a means for any user possessing a U.S. bank account to send money to a Mexican bank account. Money is withdrawn from the sender’s account and used to purchase bitcoins, which bridge21 references as “digital cash.” bridge21 then sends the bitcoins to Mexico where they are sold for pesos and then deposited into the recipient’s bank account.
    The process is fast and occurs after a simple confirmation on the Bitcoin network. And because the use of Bitcoin is not readily apparent to the customer, they view it as they would any other traditional bank-to-bank transaction.
    bridge21 is currently live from the U.S. to Mexico. This week, the team announced a new feature involving a major price reduction for U.S.-to-Mexico transfers, with the ability to send money to Mexico for 2 percent or even 5 percent less than standard pricing from the two countries. This Bridge Rate is tied to the true cost of purchasing and selling bitcoins in two countries, including the network fees.
    These developments come amid major media attention on Mexico tied to U.S. President Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric and threats to construct a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants. The president has even said that he wants to confiscate a percentage of Mexicans' remittances to pay for his border wall, a move that may be gaining traction. The Mexican government has said it will continue to support the free flow of remittances into the country.
    bridge21 contends that the majority of money movement between the U.S. and Mexico isn’t the $25 billion or so sent from U.S. workers sending money to their families in Mexico; rather it’s roughly $500 billion sent bilaterally among businesses and very wealthy people conducting business trades largely through bank transfers.
    According to bridge21, taxing individual remittances will concentrate the cost on just 5 percent of the cross-border money flow, which would include the poorest people who can least afford it. This could have two effects. First, it could drive money transfers toward informal money transfer networks (i.e. the black market). Second, it could lower the already tepid standard of living of the poor. Neither of these reflect a good outcome.
    Founder and CEO Will Madden spent a good portion of his career at Western Union building and running payments and remittance products. He first learned about Bitcoin in late 2010 and began to envision the potential of this technology to transform cross-border payments.
    Madden says that bridge21 is focused on continuing to improve the ease with which individuals and businesses in the U.S. can send funds to Mexico. He notes though that the company has ambitious goals for 2017, including expansion into several additional corridors to fulfill its mission of providing access to money without borders.
    “We’re not stopping with Mexico,” said Madden, “We see much potential to expand to additional corridors such as the EU, U.K. and India which see heavy traffic of businesses and individuals sending funds outbound from the U.S.”  
    The post The Art of Building Bridges to Cross-Border Payments appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine. Read more Michael Scott
  • Bitcoin is spiking, par Jonathan Garber, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Business Insider: Bitcoin :: RSS
    Bitcoin is up 1.3% at $1,227 a coin as traders move into the cryptocurrency amid a scramble for safety. Tuesday's bid comes following rising political tensions in the Middle East and on the Korean Peninsula which caused a steep sell off in risk assets. While those assets have clawed back their losses, bitcoin and other plays like the yen are holding onto their gains. 
    Tuesday's advance has the cryptocurrency trading at its best level since March 16, the day before worries resurfaced that bitcoin's developers could set up a "hard fork," splitting it in two.
    That was the beginning of a quick 25% plunge that concluded when the US Securities and Exchange Commission rejected a second bitcoin exchange traded fund. Earlier in the month, the SEC shot down the Winklevoss twins' plans for their own ETF.  
    However, not all of the news surrounding bitcoin has been bad as of late. On April 3, Japan ruled that the cryptocurrency is a legal payment method
    Bitcoin has been the t0p-performing currency every year since 2010, except for 2014, and is up 29% so far in 2017.
    Join the conversation about this story »
    NOW WATCH: SCOTT GALLOWAY: I believe every time Amazon reports a profit a manager gets yelled at Read more Jonathan Garber
  • Asset Manager Fidelity to Join Blockchain Group IC3, par Alex Lielacher, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Bitcoin Magazine :: RSS
    Asset Manager Fidelity to Join Blockchain Group IC3
    U.S. asset management giant Fidelity Investments Inc. is the first financial institution to join The Initiative for CryptoCurrencies & Contracts (IC3), a blockchain technology development group composed of leading academic institutions and tech companies.

    The IC3 group is based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York and includes academics from Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, Technion, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as partners from the IT sector, such as IBM and Intel.
    IC3 was founded to pursue the development of blockchain technology applications by collating world-class expertise in cryptography, distributed systems, computer programming, and systems security and making it available to partners in the industry. The blockchain development group focuses mainly on the implementation of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and distributed ledger technology into the financial system. IC3 collaborates with industry experts in finance and banking, tech entrepreneurs, regulators and open source software communities to turn today’s blockchain-based ideas into tomorrow’s reliable and efficient systems that the financial industry will run on.
    Boston-based Fidelity has joined the blockchain initiative through its innovation arm Fidelity Labs with the aim to make financial systems more efficient and transparent as well as increase transaction speeds and set higher confidentiality and security standards.
    Fidelity Labs stated on its blog that together with IC3 it “will explore a rich spectrum of new financial instruments and business tools that could someday improve the Fidelity customer experience, working alongside some of the best researchers, faculty, and students in the space.”
    The financial institution expects the outcome of the collaboration to include new blockchain and smart contract technologies that will meet the financial industry’s needs.
    Fidelity is one of many financial institutions joining blockchain consortia and development initiatives as the financial industry acknowledges the role that blockchain technology will play in the future of finance. From streamlining KYC onboarding processes to lowering the cost of cross-border payments and to improving the efficiency of securities settlement and clearing, blockchain technology is widely expected to become an integral part of the financial sector in the not-so-distant future.
    Having said that, actual live implementations of blockchain technology and the use of smart contracts has so far been very limited in the financial industry. Several hurdles, such as regulatory uncertainty, compatibility with legacy banking systems and scalability, need to be overcome first before blockchain technology can be implemented in the financial system on a global scale.

    The post Asset Manager Fidelity to Join Blockchain Group IC3 appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine. Read more Alex Lielacher
  • gmaxwell commented on pull request bitcoin/bitcoin#10185, par gmaxwell, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: gmaxwell’s Activity :: RSS
    Apr 11, 2017 gmaxwell commented on pull request bitcoin/bitcoin#10185 The defaults were resulting in >1200 MB peak w/ mempool sharing. Might want to specifically name "such as systems with 1GB or less memory". Read more gmaxwell
  • Facebook adds group payments to Messenger, par Ken Yeung, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: VentureBeat » payments :: RSS

    Facebook is moving beyond peer-to-peer payments in Messenger with the addition of group payments. Now you don’t have to pay your friends individually, just tap on the plus sign in the bottom left-hand corner of a group conversation, select the payments icon, enter the amount per person or the total sum to be divided evenly, and that’s it.
    Payment support first arrived on the popular chat app in 2015, but it only let you do one-on-one transactions, which is good for lunch meetings, purchasing tickets, and more. Now Facebook has extended its existing infrastructure to accommodate groups.
    Facebook isn’t the first to facilitate money exchanges  — you can also do so through PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash, among others. But as people are already conversing within Facebook Messenger, some may prefer to keep the entire history of record for their friendship in the app.

    Above: Using group payments in Facebook Messenger.
    Image Credit: Facebook

    We’ve all been in group situations where it’s difficult to figure out how much everyone owes, be it at a restaurant where we’re splitting the bill or when we’re purchasing a birthday present, buying tickets to an event, or sharing transportation.
    What’s interesting about Facebook’s solution is it lets you see who has paid within a group conversation — and you can always request details in full screen.
    At this time, the company doesn’t plan on opening up payments to developers, and you can’t currently pay businesses through the app.
    How much has been transacted through Messenger in more than two years has also not been revealed, but this isn’t the only update Facebook has made. Previously it has enabled bots to accept payments and added a chat assist feature to intelligently predict when you might want to send someone money within a conversation.
    Group payments is only available for those in the U.S. at this time.
    snapchat IPO bannerforjordan
    Read more Ken Yeung
  • Dovetail appoints Mark Wilson head, Emea sales, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    Dovetail, the provider of best-in-class payments and liquidity management solutions, today announces... Read more
  • Hellenic Bank launches API public beta, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    In a short period of time, Hellenic Bank has managed to establish a reputation for its innovation-or... Read more
  • After Apple Pay loss, Westpac turns to Samsung Pay, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    Having lost its bitter Apple Pay battle, Australia's Westpac has signed up to support a rival NFC mo... Read more
  • Enabling anywhere, anytime banking with an API-driven architecture, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    Maurizio Canton, CTO EMEA, TIBCO Software As PSD2 drives the compulsory introduction of open APIs in... Read more
  • Enabling anywhere, anytime banking with an API-driven architecture, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Online banking channel :: RSS
    Maurizio Canton, CTO EMEA, TIBCO Software As PSD2 drives the compulsory introduction of open APIs in... Read more
  • AddToWalletIfInvolvingMe should test pIndex, not posInBlock, par jnewbery, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Commits - bitcoin:master :: RSS
    AddToWalletIfInvolvingMe should test pIndex, not posInBlock Read more jnewbery
  • Ixaris launches B2B payments innovation challenge, 11 April 2017

    Tuesday 11 April 2017 :: Finextra Research Payments channel :: RSS
    OPC Live! Innovation Challenge launches today at the Innovate Finance Global Summit in London in a b... Read more
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