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What is Bitcoin?

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

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Posted on 18 February 2018 | 4:13 pm

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies - New York Times


New York Times

Bitcoin Thieves Threaten Real Violence for Virtual Currencies
New York Times
In the beach resort of Phuket, Thailand, last month, the assailants pushed their victim, a young Russian man, into his apartment and kept him there, blindfolded, until he logged onto his computer and transferred about $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to an ...

and more »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 12:26 pm

Shark Tank's Herjavec Thinks Bitcoin And Blockchain Are 'Here To Stay' - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

Shark Tank's Herjavec Thinks Bitcoin And Blockchain Are 'Here To Stay'
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
He believes that cryptocurrencies should and will be regulated, and that as firm regulation becomes closer to reality, the price of Bitcoin will continue to speculate but then drop way down. Based on this idea, while maintaining that Bitcoin is around ...
Bitcoin Prices Will Double in 2018: 'Shark Tank' Star Robert HerjavecTheStreet.com

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 11:58 am

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort - The Guardian


The Guardian

Gambling tycoon builds $100m bitcoin-funded Antiguan resort
The Guardian
We look forward to working with Mr Ayre on this resort and the many other investments he has made in Antigua.” Ayre, 56, to whom Antigua and Barbuda has given the official title of “his excellency”, said: “This resort will attract a totally new market ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 9:54 am

Why Bitcoin Is Still Worth Investing In - Daily Beast


Daily Beast

Why Bitcoin Is Still Worth Investing In
Daily Beast
You may have heard more people recently both celebrate and bemoan the state of the cryptocurrency market, especially the explosive rise and fall (and most recently, rise again) of Bitcoin. Even if you only have a layman's knowledge of how the ...
This state may allow you to pay your income tax with bitcoin or LitecoinMotley Fool

all 12 news articles »

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 7:38 am

I have bought bitcoin in the past - Motley Fool


I have bought bitcoin in the past
Motley Fool
For investors, this makes bitcoin investing more fee-heavy than most mutual funds. Let's say, for example, that I want to speculate in bitcoin with a modest $200 investment. Buying this amount of bitcoin on Coinbase comes with a $2.99 exchange fee as ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:32 am

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin - Forbes


Forbes

Wall Street Has Solved A Big Problem For Bitcoin
Forbes
Wall Street has solved a big problem for Bitcoin: market volatility, paving the way for the people's currency to gain broad acceptance among merchants as a medium of exchange. That's a bullish development for the “people's currency.” Starbucks and ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:31 am

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle - CNET


CNET

How a $20 bitcoin buy led to a multiyear hassle
CNET
And I was one of the first US users of this newfangled kind of machine. A tiny bitcoin investment, made in pursuit of a story, kicked off a multi-year saga of forgetfulness, password frustration and the kind of jackpot that would make a hardened slots ...

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 6:00 am

Dogecoin Is Helping Ethereum Solve Its Biggest Issue

Years after it was written off as a joke, dogecoin continues to prove useful, this time factoring into a major ethereum test.

Posted on 18 February 2018 | 3:00 am

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom - Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)


Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)

64% Of Germans Aware Of Bitcoin, Says IT Association Bitkom
Cointelegraph (Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain News)
A survey published Feb. 15 by the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (Bitkom), found that almost two thirds of Germans are aware of Bitcoin (BTC). Awareness of the most popular cryptocurrency has ...

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 6:54 pm

In 10 Years We Won't Have Blockchains

Instead, we may have something that does what a blockchain does, only faster, cheaper and scalable. It'll look more like a graph than a linear chain.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 4:00 am

The CryptoKitties Competitors: 4 Ethereum Games That Are Catching Up

CryptoKitties may be the best-known ethereum app, but other games are fast winning users and registering notable volumes for expensive collectables.

Posted on 17 February 2018 | 3:00 am

FCC: Bitcoin Miner Interfered With T-Mobile Network

The Federal Communications Commission says a crypto mining rig has caused interference with T-Mobile's LTE network in Brooklyn, New York.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:15 pm

SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

SEC Suspends Trading of 3 Penny Stocks With Tenuous Ties to Cryptocurrency, Blockchain

Today, February 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a press release announcing trading suspension of three companies that acquired AAA-rated assets from “a subsidiary of a private equity investor in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, among other things.”

The three companies in question, PDX Partners, Inc., Victura Construction Group, and Cherubim Interests, Inc., had trading of their stocks suspended for 10 days by the SEC under the auspices of public interest and investor protection. Neither the SEC suspension orders, nor any of the announcements by the companies surrounding the acquisitions, however, seem to actually focus on blockchain or cryptocurrencies. The assets that were acquired were trust units (shares) in a management company for a private equity fund that invests in at least 12 disparate sectors, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

According to the orders of suspension by the SEC, the companies all set off alarm bells for the regulators when Victura Construction and PDX Partners issued press releases on January 4, 2018, related to the pending share acquisitions. Cherubim Interests issued a press release on January 3, 2018, to the same effect but was also cited by the SEC for its delinquency in filings with the SEC.

All three companies are helmed by CEO Patrick Johnson, former NFL journeyman wide receiver. All three companies are penny stocks with outdated financial information and unaudited or poor bookkeeping. These so-called “penny stocks” are typically a great concern for U.S. regulators as they are often the subject of attempted price manipulation or fraud.

All of the companies announced near the beginning of the year the acquisition of trust units from NVC Fund LLC, the trust manager of  NVC Fund Holding Trust, which commits private equity investments into everything from natural resources and entertainment to blockchain technology and “fintech cryptocurrency.” According to the NVC fund website, the trust manages assets valued at over $128 billion.

Investments made from all three companies were for sums that far outpaced any estimated market cap or gross profit of the companies. PDX Partners announced a purchase of $350 million in trust units, despite only having $29,000 in operating income at the end of 2016 and negative cash flow from operations.

Cherubim Interests announced a purchase of $250 million in trust units, despite having negative operating income and negative cash flow from operations for their 2016 year-end.

Victura Construction announced a purchase of $100 million in trust units, while they too had negative operating income and operating cash flow for the last year they reported financials in 2014. All told, Mr. Johnson’s companies would be taking on $700 million of investments in NVC Funds.

Instead of focusing on the questionable ability of these three companies to afford the price of these trust units, the underlying valuation of the assets themselves, or the fact that the companies all have limited transparency on their websites in public filings, the SEC devotes half of the press release to warning investors about investing in companies pivoting to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Michele Wein Layne, Director of the Los Angeles Regional Office, stated, “This is a reminder that investors should give heightened scrutiny to penny stock companies that have switched their focus to the latest business trend, such as cryptocurrency, blockchain technology or initial coin offerings”. It should be noted that the SEC states that Cherubim Interests executed a financing commitment to launch an ICO. This is the only reference in the suspension orders to the idea that any of the three companies dabbled in the cryptocurrency or blockchain space.

Of course, there may be more clarifying information the SEC has yet to disclose in future actions taken regarding the three companies that would clarify how the acquisitions were directed toward the blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects of NVC Fund’s investments. However, no press announcements by the companies seem to have specifically cited the two sectors, and no factors in the SEC suspension orders suggest that the companies were targeting the NVC Fund investments for those particular two categories.

The stated strategic focuses of PDX partners, Victura Construction and Cherubim Interests are: telecom, disaster recovery and restoration construction, and alternative construction projects, respectively.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:38 pm

Crypto Regulation? Not Anytime Soon, Says White House Official

The White House cybersecurity coordinator said crypto regulation is still far from becoming a reality.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 1:00 pm

Ellen DeGeneres on Bitcoin: It's 'Either Worth $20K or Nothing'

Ellen DeGeneres says she has learned about bitcoin...but only 'a bit.'

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 11:35 am

Prosecutors Accuse Chicago Trader of $2 Million Crypto Theft

A Chicago trader has been charged with fraud for allegedly misappropriating $2 million in cryptocurrencies from his employer.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 10:30 am

Swiss Finance Regulator to Treat Some ICO Tokens As Securities

Switzerland's financial regulator has released new guidelines indicating it will treat some initial coin offerings (ICOs) as securities.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 9:30 am

$10K Again for Bitcoin, But Other Cryptos Outperform

Another week, another spin of the markets. This time, litecoin came out on top with the world's fifth most valuable crypto posting big gains.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 8:45 am

SEC Suspends 3 Companies Claiming Crypto Connection

The SEC has temporarily halted trading of three companies after comments they made about cryptocurrency and blockchain-related business moves.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 7:54 am

Munich Security Conference: US government nowhere near ... - CNBC


CNBC

Munich Security Conference: US government nowhere near ...
CNBC
Rob Joyce emphasized the need to better understand the cryptocurrency's risks and benefits before embarking on any sort of regulatory regime.

and more »

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 7:03 am

Bitcoin Cash Hits $1.5K Amid Short-Term Bull Reversal

Bitcoin cash has rallied sharply from recent lows, but still remains trapped inside a bearish pattern, price charts indicate.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 5:00 am

Japan's Finance Watchdog to Inspect 15 Unlicensed Crypto Exchanges

The Japanese government said today that inspections will take place at 15 unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges in light of a recent major hack.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 4:10 am

Pullback on Hand? Bitcoin Shows Weakness Above $10K

Having found weak hands above the $10,200 mark in Asian hours, bitcoin has slipped back into four figures.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 3:00 am

Vitalik Hopes New Ethereum Fund Will Deliver on Hype

A group of notable ethereum startups are partnering to create a new financial fund designed to boost the blockchain's ecosystem.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 2:00 am

Spanish Government Eyes Tax Benefits for Crypto Companies

Spain's ruling political party is reportedly drafting legislation that it hopes will help woo cryptocurrency and blockchain companies to the country.

Posted on 16 February 2018 | 12:00 am

As Bitcoin Soars, So Do Coinbase Customer Complaints

In recent weeks, Coinbase users have voiced a litany of complaints about the U.S. mega-exchange: missing wires, unreleased bitcoin, disabled accounts.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 10:00 pm

'Hundreds' of Crypto Miners Said to Be Descending on Quebec

Hydro-Quebec may charge an industry-specific rate to crypto mining farms to deal with overwhelming demand for Quebec's cheap energy resources.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 8:40 pm

No, 'Litecoin Cash' Isn't Bitcoin Cash All Over Again

Litecoin cash, that's like bitcoin cash, right? As always in crypto, branding might be deceiving when it comes to a new upstart project.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 6:30 pm

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends Creation of Virtual Currency Subcommittee

CFTC Advisory Committee Recommends the Creation of a Virtual Currency Subcommittee

On Wednesday, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Committee’s (CFTC) Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) held a public meeting at its Washington, D.C., headquarters. During the meeting, members of the Bitcoin and cryptoasset industry shared information regarding this emerging market and offered guidance on how the CFTC may approach regulating the space in 2018.

Multiple participants in the public hearing made comments to differentiate between different types of cryptoassets and their associated technologies.

Potential regulation around cryptoasset exchanges was also discussed as a potential area for further regulation, as has been noted by regulators worldwide over the past few months.

By the end of the portion of the public hearing dedicated to virtual currencies, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a subcommittee for this new asset class.

Differentiating Between Different Types of Cryptoassets

One of the key points made by those who were invited to speak about the cryptoasset industry was that all of these tokens or coins should not necessarily be treated equally. For example, during his opening remarks, Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito discussed the differences between traditional cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

“Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are commodities, of course, as the SEC has previously [said].  Questions remain however about the borders [around] these categories and about how one can responsibly share tokens to future investors,” noted Brito.

Special Counsel Gary DeWaal of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP went on to discuss the often-mentioned Howey Test and how it helps determine which types of tokens are securities under U.S. law. In DeWaal’s view, the CFTC could offer assistance in differentiating between commodities and securities in the cryptoasset market.

“Ultimately there has to be some clarification. The distinction between a commodity, the distinction between a security, may seem (from a common sense perspective) clear, but there are very, very important issues around those that I think this committee could very much [help clarify],” said DeWaal.

Notably, DeWaal also pointed out that cryptoassets are “critical” to decentralized ledgers.

“They are the mechanism in proof-of-work blockchains where miners are rewarded: In proof-of-state blockchains where fees are paid, these are the ways you incentivize folks to keep the system together. If you’re only talking about centralized ledgers, sure, you don’t need to worry about coins,” DeWaal added.

Regulation of Cryptoasset Exchanges

RGM Advisors’ chief executive, Richard Gorelick, also made an appearance at the CFTC’s public hearing, and he focused on the market structure of cryptoassets during his brief opening presentation (PDF). Gorelick was one of the only people in the room who referred to the subject at hand in terms of “cryptoassets” rather than “cryptocurrencies” or “virtual currencies.”

One of the key areas of focus for Gorelick during his presentation was the problems associated with current cryptoasset exchanges. More specifically, Gorelick discussed the issues associated with connectivity of liquidity between global exchanges.

“Generally speaking, I think trading on these [exchanges] can be challenging, particularly if your goal is to trade across multiple spot exchanges. It’s difficult to weave liquidity across exchanges and jurisdictions due to a number of factors,” noted Gorelick.

Some of the factors limiting the movement of funds between various exchanges pointed out by Gorelick include:

  • Technology
  • Concerns about deceptive trading
  • Lack of standard best practices
  • The fickle nature of banking relationships
  • Capital inefficiency
  • Security and transparency
  • The slow speed at which money and assets can move in and out

In the face of these issues found on cryptoasset exchanges, Gorelick hit on the large scale of the over-the-counter (OTC) markets.

Representatives from LedgerX and CME also provided updates on the state of the Bitcoin futures market later in the public hearing.

After gathering information from representatives of the cryptoasset industry and asking questions, the TAC voted unanimously to recommend that the CFTC create a new subcommittee focused on virtual currencies.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 15 February 2018 | 2:32 pm

Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Space Decentral: Using Blockchain Tech to Democratize Space

Renowned scientist Stephen Hawking recently called for a concerted effort to launch humans into space saying:

To leave Earth demands a concerted global approach, everyone should join in. We need to rekindle the excitement of the early days of space travel in the ‘60s.”

While NASA and Tesla are already well established in the game, Space Decentral, founded by international Space Cooperative, is staking its claim in outer space and all that’s in it. Using the latest blockchain technology to launch a social network, they’re on a mission to democratize space by crowdsourcing information and crowdfunding citizen-powered space travel.

As interest in space travel grows worldwide, an international group of scientists, engineers, architects, futurists, artists and software developers including former and current NASA employees is working collaboratively to share the latest scientific research and help crowdfund projects that lack government funding.

According to Space Decentral advisor Dr. Paolo Tasca, Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies at University College London (UCL):

“It's a global space research lab where individuals and organizations can contribute knowledge and pool intellectual property in an open manner and where revenue can be fairly shared among contributors."

"This is a massive project that will require the presence of hundreds of scientists, engineers and innovators,” he adds.

Space Decentral hopes to leverage some of the current development work under way in the Ethereum community to produce an open-source toolbox to collaboratively design space missions.

"Space technology and Earth technology go hand in hand we need to utilize systems thinking to solve problems in parallel,” said Yalda Mousavinia, Space Decentral co-founder, referring to blockchain technology and distributed engineering.

Faster Than Light: A Utility Coin?

Offering their Faster Than Light coin (FTLcoin), Space Decentral is planning an ICO to raise at least $10 million with a maximum goal of $35 million, as soon as the membership has approved its final white paper (due at the end of February 2018).

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Mousavinia acknowledges that this first ICO will only fund the initial setup and there will need to be subsequent ICOs as projects are approved. She notes:

“The goal is to fund the technological infrastructure, such as decentralized collaboration tools and smart contracts that will make the process for operating a space DAO more efficient.”

They hope to sell internationally and within the U.S., where they will write the SEC to ask that their FTLcoin be considered a utility coin and not a security.

“We are in the process of writing a letter to the SEC that makes our case for why we believe it is a utility token. What we are really trying to do here is create a community where people want to purchase the token to actually have a voice on humanity's future in space this isn't a pump-and-dump ICO,” says Mousavinia.

Building an Aragon DApp

Space Decentral’s governance and operations will be mediated by smart contracts, using Aragon, an organization that builds DApps on the Ethereum blockchain to help new startups securely manage their organization and governance.

“We’re building our organization on top of Aragon’s governance and decision-making infrastructure. Aragon's refactored DApp goes live on testnet this month and it’ll be rigorously tested,” says Mousavinia.

“We are looking into using Giveth's minime smart contract for the token sale. This smart contract has been used by both Aragon and Status and has had several security audits. Additionally, we are thinking about using the Gnosis multisig as the initial wallet.”

Evolving Into a DAO

The founding team is currently managing and directing Space Decentral, but their goal is to be replaced by a decentralized voting process and regular community meetings of all their members.

“We envision Space Decentral as a vehicle for humanity’s interest in space exploration, and recognize that it must be fully autonomous in order for it to truly serve that purpose,” Mousavinia said.

Mousavinia recognizes that the transition will be challenging as the team has so far set priorities and has already developed proposed space missions like Martian Spring and Lunar Odyssey.

The goal is to connect multiple organizations while making it easy and transparent for individuals to collaborate without any organizational affiliation and incentivize involvement by rewarding contributors adequately and giving them a voice. 

Space Decentral is laying out a roadmap to give potential investors assurances that the team is in it for the long haul.

Mousavinia explained:

“We plan on creating milestone-based smart contracts, such that there will be separate tranches of funding that are activated once different aspects of the technical roadmap or community development is accomplished. These full details are still being worked out and will be described more in the full white paper.

She added that the team is determining a timeline which will give the DAO ultimate approval on the yearly budget. “A mutual understanding will be developed on the best way to monitor funds that provides transparency in addition to room for experimentation as needed.”

"We all need to take the long view and work together to create the system that sustainably makes humans a true spacefaring species,” said Space Decentral co-founder and former NASA engineer, Dr. Marc M. Cohen, a member of the core team that is designing the DAO.

“We may not complete the effort in our lifetime, but we have an obligation to humanity to begin.” 


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 13 February 2018 | 7:53 am

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server promises a resource-efficient, secure and private way to use bitcoin with hardware and software wallets, connected to full nodes. Developed by open-source programmer Christian Belcher, best known for his contributions to JoinMarket, the Electrum Personal Server directly addresses vulnerabilities with the popular Electrum Bitcoin wallet, while sparing users the significant resource usage of an Electrum server.

According to Belcher, connecting Electrum with the Electrum Personal Server is the most resource-efficient, secure and private way to use a hardware or software wallet connected to a full node. It is important for all users to connect their wallets to full nodes for the Bitcoin network to maintain long-term security, he maintains.

“If bitcoin is digital gold, then a full node wallet is your own personal goldsmith who checks for you that received payments are genuine,” explained Belcher in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine.

Full Nodes vs. Thin Clients Refresher

In the Bitcoin blockchain, full nodes are programs that validate transactions and blocks on the network. Full nodes assist the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating them and sharing them with other full nodes. Essentially, full nodes are the referees of the Bitcoin blockchain –– they check to see that chains are following the rules of the network and ignore chains who break them. As an example, Belcher noted that “[transactions] printing infinite money would be rejected by [full nodes] as if they never existed.” In this way, Bitcoin can ensure that no more than 21 million coins are ever minted.

While full nodes are the most secure, they are are also more resource-intensive. A full node takes up around 156 GB of disk space (a number which is growing by more than 50 GB per year), can take days to sync when used for the first time, requires significant amount of bandwidth each month, and takes up CPU power validating all transactions and blocks on the network.

Thin clients (also known as lightweight clients), however, do not download the entire Bitcoin blockchain. Instead, they only download a copy of all the headers for the blocks in the blockchain. Thin clients are able to achieve increased efficiency and speed by receiving notifications when a transaction affects their wallet specifically. But this does mean that thin clients must tell a third party which addresses belong to them, which is bad for privacy. Additionally, thin clients trade full validation and security for efficiency, placing their trust in full nodes to verify that rules are being followed on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Electrum

Since 2011, the Electrum wallet –– a light client –– has been among the community favorites. It features a pleasant user interface, hardware wallet connectivity, “forgiving” seed recovery phrases, cold storage solutions, decentralized servers to prevent downtimes, and multi-sig permissions. However, similar to other thin clients, the Electrum wallet’s lightweight connection with the Bitcoin blockchain comes at the cost of privacy, validity and scalability.

By default, the Electrum wallet sends all its bitcoin addresses to an Electrum server, which sends back a user’s history and balance. According to Belcher, “This means that the Electrum server knows all the user’s bitcoin addresses and could spy on them, essentially seeing everything a user does.” Users should note that anytime their bitcoin addresses are stored on a thin-client server, their transactions can be monitored.

Like other thin clients, if Electrum servers do not properly verify the rules of the Bitcoin blockchain, wallets can be deceived. For example, a compromised Electrum server could lead the Electrum wallet to accept a fake transaction for USD $1000 worth of bitcoin that would not have been validated by a full node.

Electrum servers also store records of every address ever used on the Bitcoin network, which, as user-base increases, poses a hindrance to scalability.

In the Electrum ecosystem, the only way for a user to avoid these vulnerabilities inherent to the Electrum thin client is to run their own Electrum server and connect it to their wallet. This fix is more resource-intensive than running a Bitcoin full node; it requires the unpruned Bitcoin blockchain, the full transaction index and extra address index. Electrum Servers are also more RAM and CPU intensive than full nodes, and are not made to be turned on and off efficiently.

Electrum Personal Server Solution

The Electrum Personal Server provides bitcoin users with increased efficiency, security and privacy. In this implementation of the Electrum server protocol, users seeking a full node connection can interact with all traditional Electrum wallet features while running a Bitcoin full node, instead of downloading an Electrum server.

Efficiency

From an efficiency perspective, connecting an Electrum wallet to a full node allows users to take advantage of resource-saving Bitcoin Core features such as pruning, disabled txindex and blocksonly. These features are not available to an Electrum server.

Users also benefit from the traditional Electrum wallet user experience/user interface and functionality such as hardware wallet integration, offline signing, recovery phrases and multi-signature wallets.

Security and Privacy

Because users are connected to a full node, they aren’t prone to any of the aforementioned privacy and security threats posed to thin clients.

There is a caveat –– users lose the popular “instant-on” feature of the Electrum wallet when using a full node such as the Electrum Personal Server. The full node must synchronize first, before displaying a wallet’s bitcoin balance. Depending on connection speeds and time since last connectivity, this process could take a few minutes or hours.

For users seeking to connect their wallet to an Electrum Personal Server, the process is fairly straightforward. According to Belcher’s blog post, users must:

  1. Download the alpha version;
  2. Configure the Electrum Personal server with their master public key. Those addresses are then imported into Bitcoin Core as watch-only;
  3. Rescan the wallet if it contains historical transactions. There is no need to rescan, however, if a new, empty wallet is created.

Why Should the Average Bitcoin User Care?

Belcher outlined that since the inception of the Bitcoin network, the basic security model has relied on most of the economy using full node wallets, not thin clients that are vulnerable to manipulation. This way, legitimate Bitcoin transactions are always accurately verified, nefarious transactions are always rejected, and the hard limit of 21 million bitcoins (which are really just bits and bytes) is enforced.

Belcher believes that “bitcoin is dead in the long term” if most of the Bitcoin economy does not use full node wallets.

He hopes that the Electrum Personal Server can serve as a framework for other lightweight Bitcoin wallets to connect to full nodes run by users, rather than (centralized) servers. For instance, a Samourai Wallet or Breadwallet can utilize a script similar to the Electrum Personal Server to connect to a full node.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 3:21 pm

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Vermont Lawyer Warns of Legal Complications Ahead for Cryptocurrency Miners

Are miners — the nodes on a blockchain that process transactions — partners in a company? And, if they are deemed partners, and a cryptocurrency project collapses leaving coin holders holding the bag, what legal construct is in place to protect miners from lawsuits? One Vermont lawyer sees a “nightmare” unfolding.

Stepping back a few steps, last month, several news sites ran stories about proposed legislation (S.269) in Vermont put forth by Senator Alison Clarkson on January 3, 2018. Most focused on the tax element — blockchain projects based in the state would have to pay $0.01 per token mined, traded or transferred — but missed the main point of the legislation, which was to set Vermont up as a safe haven for cryptocurrency projects.

The legislation seeks to establish a so-called “digital currency limited liability corporation” (LLC) in Vermont. An LLC is a type of corporate structure where individuals cannot be held personally liable in case the company is sued. Right now, blockchain companies operate in a fuzzy gray area in terms of business structure. If push comes to shove, they could be classified as statutory partnerships, leaving miners and others who contributed to the project with no liability shield.

“Legally, it is not only plausible; it is the most probable outcome,” said Vermont lawyer Oliver Goodenough in speaking to Bitcoin Magazine. Goodenough is co-director at the Center for Legal Innovation of Vermont Law School, the body that produced the report  behind the Vermont legislation.  

Goodenough is not alone in thinking about setting up a subcategory LLC for blockchain projects. Carla Reyes, assistant law professor at Stetson University, also touches on the idea of blockchain LLCs in her working paper “If Rockefeller Were a Coder.”

General Partners by Default

What are blockchain companies if they are not partnerships? In the U.S., the default association of two or more persons who carry on as co-owners of a for-profit business is a general partnership, whether or not that is what those individuals intended.

In a general partnership, liability is not simply limited to the assets of the business, but individual assets as well. That means, if a cryptocurrency crash occurs, and coin holders suffer losses because a token’s value has dropped to nothing, plaintiffs’ attorneys could argue a blockchain constitutes a statutory partnership and hold miners personally liable.

“Miners are running a mutual network from which they profit mutually and for which they have rules for the division of that profit, and that is quite plausibly a partnership,” said Goodenough who thinks it could spell disaster for blockchain entities. “Miners wake up one morning and suddenly, in this nightmare land, they are all partners,” he said.

The idea is not so far fetched when you realize some cryptocurrency projects are already being hit by lawsuits. After ruling that some virtual tokens, including the DAO token, qualify as securities and are subject to federal securities laws, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stopped short of filing charges against the DAO.

But that did not stop the securities plaintiffs’ bar from taking aim at ICOs. In fact, currently, at least four class-action suits have been levied against the organizers of Tezos, a project that raised $232 million in an ICO in July 2017. Who is to say cryptocurrency miners would not face similar class-action suits?

Move to Vermont

The point of the Vermont bill is to roll out the welcome mat for blockchain businesses. Setting up a subcategory LLC means that cryptocurrency projects will be able to specify how the company designates the participants within the system.

In addition to outlining a business structure, Goodenough says a digital currency LLC would also allow projects to legally define who has the authority, and under what conditions, to initiate a hard fork to change the protocol or roll back a large transaction, such as when Ethereum initiated a blockchain hard fork to roll back the DAO funds.

“Essentially, Vermont is saying, ‘Come set your business up here, we have a law, you pay us a little tax, and it will all be fine,’” Goodenough said, adding “It was meant to provide an opportunity for folks.”

If the bill passes, cryptocurrency projects wanting to set up digital currency LLC, would have to maintain a physical presence or conduct some of their activities in the state. As mentioned, they would also have to pay a minor tax on any token produced or transacted, but, overall, it may not be a bad deal for blockchain projects.  

“They could form an LLC in Vermont,” said Goodenough. “They would be legitimate and get the benefit of all these rules for a crypto LLC. We’ve got it all defined. We are enabling them to give themselves a structure to protect themselves.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 12 February 2018 | 10:38 am

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Hong Kong Regulators Send Warnings to Non-Compliant Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Regulators in Hong Kong have issued a strict warning to exchanges doing business with Chinese customers about trading tokens deemed as securities.

In an announcement today, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said it has sent letters to seven Hong Kong exchanges and firms attempting to fundraise through initial coin offerings (ICOs), warning them about the legalities of selling digital tokens with the characteristics of securities. Most of those receiving the letter confirmed compliance with the SFC's regulatory regime or delisted tokens in question.

The agency said it had been receiving complaints from Chinese citizens about market manipulation on exchanges. Some said they were unable to withdraw funds and reported significant losses due to “technical breakdowns” on exchanges.

"We will continue to police the market and enforce when necessary," SFC CEO Ashley Alder said in a statement. "But we are also urging market professionals to do proper gatekeeping to prevent frauds or dubious fundraising and to assist us in ensuring compliance with the law."

The agency also cautioned investors about the risks involved in trading cryptocurrencies, including price volatility, theft and fraud, and the difficulty of recovering losses.

"If investors cannot fully understand the risks of cryptocurrencies and ICOs or they are not prepared for a significant loss, they should not invest," said Julia Leung, executive director of intermediaries at SFC. "Investors who store their fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies with unregulated cryptocurrency exchanges should be aware of the risks of hacking and misappropriation of assets."

The SFC issued two prior warnings to exchanges, one in September and other in December, about selling bitcoin futures.

Today’s statement follows a denial by Hong Kong–based exchange Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, that it had been hacked after it suspended trading on Thursday. The company blamed the suspension on a prolonged system upgrade.

Regulators in Europe and in the U.S. are coming down on fraud in the space. Earlier this week, representatives of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) spoke before the Senate Banking Committee about future cryptocurrency regulations. And recently, several U.S. banks banned customers from using credit cards to buy digital currencies on exchanges.  

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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February 18, 2018 -
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