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Bitcoin is a digital crypto-currency with no single point of failure due to its decentralized peer-to-peer architecture. The source code is publicly available and changes to the reference Bitcoin client are made via concensus within the community. Advantages of Bitcoin include irreversible transactions (i.e. no possibility of chargebacks as with credit cards), pseudo-anonymous, limited and fixed inflation, near instant transactions, multi-platform, no double-spend and little to no barriers to entry and more. It was created by an anonymous person known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Find out more at WeUseCoins.com.

Bitcoin Latest News

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

Venezuela Launches “Petros” Cryptocurrency Amid Growing Skepticism

With crushing debt and a starving population, the Maduro government in Venezuela is launching what it says is the world's first sovereign cryptocurrency.

The cryptocurrency is designed to bypass U.S. government sanctions against the socialist regime. The “Petros” cryptocurrency will have an initial value tied to the price of a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil in mid-January, which was $60 per barrel, with a target of 100 million Petros to be sold.

The U.S. Treasury Department warned that the move may violate last year’s sanctions, while Venezuelan opposition leaders say the sale constitutes an illegal issuing of debt.

After the first day of trading, President Maduro claimed to have raised $735 million. State officials are claiming a 5x increase in traffic to the website, but some critics, including Venezuelan product designer and cryptocurrency writer Alejandro Machado, are skeptical.

In speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Machado commented that he was unable to find any transactions on the blockchain regarding Petros and, while the token was originally slated to be released on the Ethereum network, it since has transitioned to NEM.

“The government hasn't confirmed that this is the address, but they confirmed they're using NEM, and it's the only mosaic matching the Petro description,” Machado said. “The mosaic's metadata also uses similar phrasing to the white paper.”

Machado has been writing about the upcoming Petros since early December 2017, remarking, “Many think it’s yet another episode of empty propaganda, but I profoundly disagree: chavismo is facing the existential danger of running out of funds, and they’re betting heavily on the Petro.”

His skepticism about the plan runs deep: “No doubt aware of their terrible track record, the government is incentivizing participation in the private sale by offering a 60% discount. What company in the world would sell 38 million units of a product for less than half their market value? A company that doesn’t intend to ship you the product after you buy, of course.”

With $150 billion in foreign debt, quadruple-digit inflation, the collapse of their oil output, and crushing sanctions by the U.S. and the EU, the Venezuelan government has become increasingly creative in ways to generate revenue. Petros represent nothing more than a promise against the 300 million barrels of oil that Venezuela believes they can recover but have yet to pull from the ground. There is an additional problem that U.S.-based investors purchasing the Petros would be in violation of American sanctions and could find themselves in trouble with Uncle Sam.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 11:25 am

Lawmakers Renew Calls for US to Lead on Crypto Innovation

Following a U.S. Congressional hearing on cryptocurrency and blockchain, three lawmakers are renewing calls for the government to embrace innovation.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 11:20 am

Crypto Market In The Red Despite Bitcoin Transaction Fees Dropping, Dominance Rising - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Crypto Market In The Red Despite Bitcoin Transaction Fees Dropping, Dominance Rising
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
While Bitcoin (BTC) dominance is up and Bitcoin transaction fees are down, the crypto market is seeing an overall downturn by press time, Wednesday, Feb. 21, with all of the top 30 coins on CoinMarketCap in the red. Bitcoin dominance, or BTC's market ...
Bitcoin Fees Sink to 6 Month Low, Undermining Bitcoin CashBitcoinist

all 17 news articles »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:50 am

Bitcoin exchanges add tech to make transactions 20% cheaper - CNBC


CNBC

Bitcoin exchanges add tech to make transactions 20% cheaper
CNBC
Two of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges are aiming to make bitcoin transactions faster and cheaper with a new software update announced this week. Both Coinbase and Bitfinex said they are adopting a software called SegWit, which bitcoin bulls and ...
Bitcoin Price and Cryptocurrency Markets Shed GainsInvestopedia (blog)
Bitcoin Needs To Be Lightning FastSeeking Alpha
Coinbase is finally supporting SegWit, an update that could fix bitcoin's biggest problems. Here's what's happening.Business Insider
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News) -MarketWatch -Bitcoin Magazine -The Coinbase Blog
all 44 news articles »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:13 am

Iran Isn't So Keen on Bitcoin After All. But It May Have Other Cryptocurrency Plans. - Fortune


Fortune

Iran Isn't So Keen on Bitcoin After All. But It May Have Other Cryptocurrency Plans.
Fortune
Late last year, there were reports that the Iranian government was keen on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency as a way of bypassing economic sanctions. However, the government has now said this is not the case at all. According to the independent Iranian news ...

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:08 am

Crypto Nodes Are One Step Closer to Legal Protection in Arizona

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill protecting blockchain node operators from local restrictions.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Ripple Papers Promise New Start for $40 Billion XRP Cryptocurrency

Ripple, the startup behind the world's third-largest cryptocurrency, has released two white papers that it hopes will move the technology forward.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 9:00 am

Everything you need to know about bitcoin and your taxes - CNBC


CNBC

Everything you need to know about bitcoin and your taxes
CNBC
Bitcoin had its coming-out party in 2017. With all the excitement and opportunities around cryptcurrency, it might be easy to forget about crypto taxation. Almost every bitcoin or other "altcoin" transaction — mining, spending, trading, exchanging ...
Sorry, America, but you have to pay taxes on your bitcoin — here's howMarketWatch

all 5 news articles »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 8:32 am

Ripple Adds 5 New Clients Across 4 Countries

Two banks and three money remittance firms across four different countries are turning to Ripple's blockchain networks for cross-border payments.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 8:05 am

R3 Pilots Blockchain Trade Finance Platform with Global Banks

Blockchain startup R3, trade finance tech provider TradeIX and major banks have moved their Marco Polo trade finance platform to the pilot stage.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 7:01 am

How To Transfer Bitcoin Without Triggering Taxes - Forbes


Forbes

How To Transfer Bitcoin Without Triggering Taxes
Forbes
Robert W. Wood , Contributor I focus on taxes and litigation. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. 2017 may have been the year of the crypto investor, and returns were beyond heady. But it's 2018 now, and interest in crypto remains ...

and more »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 6:48 am

A Token to Regulate All Tokens? Messari to Raise ICO

The entrepreneur behind Messari shares his vision for how the crypto industry could self-regulate ICOs and forestall a regulatory apocalypse.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 6:01 am

Building a Base? Crypto Market Hovers Around $500 billion

The market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is gyrating around the $500 billion mark – and possibly building a base for a step higher.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 5:05 am

Inside Uncle Sam's Secret Bitcoin Hoard - Fortune


Fortune

Inside Uncle Sam's Secret Bitcoin Hoard
Fortune
When Alexandre Cazes hanged himself in a Thai jail cell in July, the 25-year-old left behind the trappings of a big-league drug dealer: villas, Lamborghinis, a Porsche, bank accounts in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. But Cazes, who authorities allege ...

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 4:31 am

Customer Tries to Withdraw $20 Trillion in Crypto Exchange Glitch

A system error at a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange saw a user attempt to make off with a huge amount of bitcoin, according to reports.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 4:10 am

Bitcoin Looks to Test $12K After Overnight Sell-Off - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Bitcoin Looks to Test $12K After Overnight Sell-Off
CoinDesk
Bitcoin (BTC) has recovered 38 percent of an overnight sell-off and remains on track to test the long-term inflection point above $12,000, technical charts indicate. The cryptocurrency ran into offers above $11,700 yesterday, according to CoinDesk's ...

and more »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:12 am

Bitcoin Looks to Test $12K After Overnight Sell-Off

Bitcoin bulls remain in control, despite a sell-off overnight, and thus look set to test the long-term inflection point over $12,000.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Russia Is Leading the Push for Blockchain Democracy

Russia may not be known as a defender of democracy, but the capital city of Moscow is using an ethereum-based voting platform to change that.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Bitcoin and the Incredible Power of Fiction - Bloomberg


Bloomberg

Bitcoin and the Incredible Power of Fiction
Bloomberg
Meanwhile, the absolute gibberish that is Venezuela's cryptocurrency, the petro, which will somehow be a commodity currency and a fiat currency and a cryptocurrency, is launching today. And: "Bitcoin is becoming a 'nightmare' for divorce lawyers," not ...

and more »

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 12:01 am

Gibraltar Will Take Market-Driven Approach to ICO Rules

Top officials say Gibraltar will let the market determine what 'good' ICOs look like, and hinted that crypto investment fund regulation is to come.

Posted on 21 February 2018 | 12:00 am

Venezuela Claims $735 Million Raised in First Cryptocurrency Sale

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro claimed Tuesday that a presale for the country's national cryptocurrency netted $735 million on its first day.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:15 pm

Tesla's Cloud Hit By Crypto Mining Malware Attack

Tesla has become the latest victim of crypto mining hacking attack, according to a report from cybersecurity software firm RedLock.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 8:00 pm

Dutch Bank ING Says Crypto Exchange Bitfinex Is An Account Holder

Troubled cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has reportedly secured a banking relationship, according to reports by Bloomberg and Reuters.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 4:00 pm

What We've Learned About Venezuela's Cryptocurrency

Venezuela revealed a new website for its petro token, releasing its technical white paper and telling potential customers how to purchase the coin.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 2:30 pm

Report: Japanese Crypto Exchanges Unite to Form Self-Regulatory Group

A group of Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges is reportedly uniting to form a new self-regulatory body in the wake of the recent Coincheck hack.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 12:45 pm

Lisk Relaunches Blockchain Project With 'Accessibility' in Mind

Lisk a decentralized application platform will relaunch today with aspirations of blockchain accessibility front and center.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 11:45 am

EU Regulators to Discuss Crypto Regulation Next Week

A group of European Union regulators will meet next week to discuss the regulation of cryptocurrencies.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 11:00 am

Game Over: Crypto Vigilante Shuts Down Twitter's Favorite Dapp

Only a week. That's how long Crypto All Stars, an ethereum-based collectable game modeled off CryptoKitties, lasted once founder in-fighting started.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 10:00 am

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

Wyoming House Unanimously Approves Two Pro-Blockchain Bills

In a watershed moment for United States blockchain and cryptocurrency law, Wyoming’s House of Representatives unanimously voted “aye” to pass two blockchain bills – HB 70 the “utility token bill” and HB 19 the “bitcoin bill” –  sending them to the State Senate for consideration. HB 70 defines utility tokens as neither traditional money nor securities; HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the 2003 Wyoming Money Transmitter Act (passed in the state before Bitcoin’s invention in 2008).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Wyoming Blockchain Coalition co-founder, and 22-year Wall Street veteran, Caitlin Long, attributed much of the bills’ successes so far to teamwork between Wyoming banking and security regulators and the efforts of House of Representatives member Tyler Lindholm, who is a co-sponsor and advocate of all five blockchain-related bills.

Wyoming aims to set the standard for blockchain-friendly regulation in the U.S. and to become a hub for blockchain-based innovation with these two bills. Long explained, “There are already bitcoin miners setting up shop because of [Wyoming’s] cheap electricity, no income tax and no franchise tax.”

HB 70: Utility Token Definition

The Wyoming HB 70 defines a utility token, or “open blockchain token,” as neither traditional money nor a security if it meets the following conditions:

  1. The token has not been marketed by the protocol developers as an investment opportunity.
  2. The token is exchangeable for goods or services. (This implies that protocols must offer a working product or service before tokens are issued, similar to Switzerland’s recent ICO framework.)
  3. The protocol developer has not entered into a repurchase agreement of any kind or entered into an agreement to locate buyers for the token.

Similarly, people who facilitate the exchange of an “open blockchain token” are not deemed traditional broker-dealers of securities.

HB 19: Cryptocurrency Exemption

HB 19 exempts cryptocurrency from the Wyoming Money Transmitter Act. A 2015 interpretation of this act by the Wyoming Division of Banking made it impractical for cryptocurrency exchanges to operate in the state. As a result, Coinbase suspended operations in Wyoming indefinitely in June 2015.

The passage of HB 19 moves Wyoming one step closer to cryptocurrency-friendly exchange regulation. Should the bill receive a majority vote in the Senate, exchanges such as Coinbase could resume operation in Wyoming.

Other Bills in the Pipeline

The Wyoming House of Representatives is also reviewing bills HB 101 and HB 126 in the House and SF 111 in the Senate.

HB 101, the “blockchain filings bill,” promises to update Wyoming’s Business Corporations Act to authorize the creation and use of blockchains to store records, the use of a network address to identify a corporation's shareholder and the acceptance of shareholder votes signed by network signatures.

At a high level, HB 101 specifies requirements for all corporations using electronic network or (blockchain) databases. HB 101 has passed the first reading in the House.

HB 126, the “series LLC bill” allows for the creation of “series LLCs.” This type of LLC structure is favorable towards decentralized protocols, as it enables LLCs to establish a compartmentalized series of members/managers, transferable interests or assets, and distributions to members.

HB 126 has also passed the first reading in the House.

SF 111, the “crypto property tax exemption bill,” has already been approved in the House, and its goal is to exempt cryptocurrency from Wyoming state property taxes. The bill is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

Nothing Is Carved in Stone

While HB 70 and HB 19 have both passed in the House by a vote of 60–0, they must also pass in the Senate to be recognized as official acts.

Long expressed her optimism, while acknowledging the difficulties that lie ahead:

I don’t want to sugar-coat that it won’t be difficult. The Senate is a more uncertain chamber. But, we have incredible momentum, and all we need [for the bills to become acts] is a majority vote in the Senate.

Should the bill pass in the Senate and become an act in Wyoming, federal regulation and the SEC Howey Test could still nullify all of the advocates’ blood, sweat and tears. However, Long believes that Federal Law with regards to utility hasn’t been established yet — and, that there are people in the blockchain/cryptocurrency industry “flush with cash, interested in litigating this issue.”

Long and other Wyoming blockchain proponents hope for a final Senate outcome on HB 70, the “utility token bill,” and HB 19, the “Bitcoin bill,” as early as the middle next week.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 20 February 2018 | 9:42 am

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bitcoin Tests Pivotal Resistance Levels Following Strong Rally

Bitcoin Price Analysis

After a strong rally from the $6,000s, bitcoin ultimately saw a near 100% growth in market value as it now sits atop its rally in the low $11,000s. Currently, the market is testing well-known, strong resistance levels and is seeing quite turbulent shakeouts and rallies as it decides what the next market move will be. On a macro view, we can see that bitcoin is testing the strength of the daily 50 EMA:

fig1Figure 1: BTC-USD, Daily Candles, Macro Trend

The red square at the top of the trend represents a macro distribution trading range that ultimately led to the decline in value of the last couple months. At the time of this article, we are currently testing the lower boundary of this trading range:

fig2Figure 2: BTC-USD, 4-Hour Candles, Retest of Distribution Trading Range

In a typical markdown phase of a market cycle, it is quite common for a distribution trading range to break down through the bottom, see a strong drop in price, and then see a rally that leads to a retest of the lower limits of the prior distribution trading range.

The markdown from the top of the market cycle has been well defined by the red, dotted channel sloping downward in the image above. This current rally has the price pushing beyond the limits of the channel and shows a break of the current downward trend.

One thing that should be noted however is that a breakdown of a downward trend doesn’t necessarily mean that it will become an uptrend. It’s entirely possible that a break from the downward trend could lead into a consolidation period that yields a new downward trend — we’ve seen this time and time again.

At the time of this article we are currently seeing turbulent swings in price as the market decides what its next move will be. At the top of this rally from $6,000 to the $11,000s, we see a trading range starting to form:

fig3Figure 3: BTC-USD, 30min Candles, Possible Trading Range

A bullish case for this trading range could be considered if we manage to break above it and find support on the top of the trading range. This sign of support would be a bullish signal to the market that we are no longer interested in lower values and that the market is ready to continue its markup campaign.

However, if we break above this trading range and fall back inside the trading range, it would be a very bearish sign that the we are actually forming another distribution trading range, indicating that the top of the current rally is over. At that point we could expect to begin a new markdown campaign in the following days and weeks.

Thus, this current resistance level is pivotal and will serve to mark either the end of the uptrend or the beginning of an even stronger move to higher values.

Summary:

  1. Bitcoin has seen a strong rally since it bottomed out around $6,000.
  2. Currently, it is finding turbulent market activity as it tests well-known and established resistance levels.
  3. If we manage to find support on the trading range outlined in Figure 3, this will be a strong indication of a continuation to higher highs. However, if pushing upward we don’t find support on the top of the trading range and manage to fall back inside the trading range, this is a strong bearish signal that a potential markdown in price is in store in the next few days and weeks.

Trading and investing in digital assets like bitcoin and ether is highly speculative and comes with many risks. This analysis is for informational purposes and should not be considered investment advice. Statements and financial information on Bitcoin Magazine and BTC Media related sites do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BTC Media and should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation to buy, sell or hold. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 3:20 pm

HashChain Technology Acquires Blockchain Company NODE40

HashChain Mining Operation Acquires NODE40 Blockchain Technology Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The acquisition was finalized on February 15, 2018.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 11:21 am

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

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

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

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

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

But, first, what exactly is a sidechain?    

Same Coin, Different Blockchain

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

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

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

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

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

Early Conversations

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Sidechains Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Search for a Compact Proof

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That ongoing work remained stuck for three years.

Making It Non-interactive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Work to Be Done

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

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

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

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

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

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 February 2018 | 7:12 am

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs

On February 16, 2018, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA put the world on notice by being the first major economy to set out clear guidelines on initial coin offerings (ICOs). In an announcement, the Swiss regulator addressed plans to apply financial market legislation to different tokens as well as lay out how ICO organizers can get proper input from FINMA when planning or launching their initial coin offerings.


The guidelines, offered as a downloadable PDF, show market participants what information is needed to help the Swiss regulator adequately address all issues presented in inquiries to the regulator, as well as how FINMA intends for current financial market legislation to be applied to ICOs. The published guidelines are intended to complement FINMA Guidance 04/2017, which in September 2017 addressed regulatory treatment of initial coin offerings.  

Important to note is FINMA’s concern over creating transparency. According to the regulator, “Creating transparency at this time is important given the dynamic market and high level of demand.”

FINMA also cited an increase in the number of inquiries corresponding with a sharp increase in the quantity of planned and executed ICOs in the country as a motivating factor for the move.

The regulator’s concern over transparency is clearly illustrated when they state in the guidelines that “ICOs raise a variety of legal issues for which there is no relevant case law and no consistent legal doctrine. Given the wide variety of types of token and ICO set-ups, it is not possible to generalise. Circumstances must be considered holistically in each individual case.”

The press release on the guidelines also provides useful information. The Swiss regulator highlighted that they would focus “on the underlying purpose of the tokens” and that the tokens were “tradeable and transferable.”

The release also showed how FINMA categorizes the tokens into three types — payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens (allowing for tokens to possibly take on aspects of more than one group) — and ascribes definitions for organizers to better understand their tokens’ potential assessment.  

Another major emphasis in the press release was on the guidelines’ role in displaying how FINMA will handle ICO inquiries regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and securities regulations compliance. In the release, they referred market participants to the diagram on page 8 of the guidelines (as shown below), which distinguishes the regulator’s stance based on which of the three categories the tokens are put in.

Swiss Regulator Gives Clear Guidelines for Launching ICOs chart

While the press release does finish with a note to investors about the risks associated with investing in ICOs, the most important part of the announcement is the portion where FINMA highlights the “innovative potential” of blockchain technology. In it, FINMA CEO Mark Branson stated:

The application of blockchain technology has innovative potential within and far beyond the financial markets. However, blockchain-based projects conducted analogously to regulated activities cannot simply circumvent the tried and tested regulatory framework. Our balanced approach to handling ICO projects and enquiries allows legitimate innovators to navigate the regulatory landscape and so launch their projects in a way consistent with our laws protecting investors and the integrity of the financial system.

While regulations on ICOs are either ambiguously evolving or demonstrating outright hostility in other countries, FINMA has given a clear signal that it wants to provide transparency, open communication and certainty (where possible) to those launching ICO projects within the Swiss Confederation.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 4:20 pm

Bitcoin tops $10,000 milestone

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Bitcoin price climbs over $4,000

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CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

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Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

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Steam accepts Bitcoin

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Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

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Mozilla accepting Bitcoin

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Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

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airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

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February 21, 2018 -
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