CryptoKitties Ran Wild on Ethereum First. Now Tether Is Clogging the Digital Ledger
The digital ledger behind the supposed better version of Bitcoin is running out of capacity. That was the warning last week from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who noted that the cost of processing transactions done in the digital token Ether on the underlying blockchain may get too expensive for some users. Ether’s network utilization has spiked into the 90% level, according to tracker Etherscan. As utilization increases, transactions costs could follow suit, possibly making potential corporate users hesitate to use Ethereum, Buterin said. Almost two years ago, Ethereum was getting clogged up as the digital game CryptoKitties took off. Then thousands of initial coin offerings, which turned out to be mostly scams, took up space on the network. More recently, though, as a majority of the ICOs went bust, a new tenant is taking over Ethereum: The controversial coin known as Tether. In the last 30 days, Tether paid computers which process transactions on Ethereum’s digital ledger $260,000 in fees, according to data researcher Ethgasstation. That’s about 17.5 times more than CryptoKitties and six times more than the world’s largest distributed exchange, IDEX. Tether’s use has been growing, as more of the coin has been issued. Its market capitalization recently passed $4 billion, up from $2.7 billion a year ago, according to CoinMarketCap. And at least 40% of all Tether runs on the Ethereum network, John Griffin, a finance professor at University of Texas at Austin, estimated in July. Tether was used in 40% and 80% of all transactions on two of the world’s top crypto exchanges, Binance and Huobi, respectively, Coin Metrics said recently. As Tether takes up more capacity, that leaves less for other developers. Ethereum was touted by enthusiasts when it was created as a better Bitcoin—one with extra features that would let people automate tasks and even set up so-called autonomous corporations, ones that run themselves via software. But most of the most popular so-called dapps—apps designed for such networks—currently run on competing digital ledgers, according to tracker DappRadar. Some developers are staying away from Ethereum for now, waiting for it to tweak its technology to increase network capacity, said Jeff Dorman, chief investment officer at Arca, a Los Angeles-based asset manager that invests in cryptocurrencies and other digital tokens. “So the biggest implication today is simply that developers may be incentivized to wait until this transition happens before fully committing to build on Ethereum,” Dorman said. “Tether isn’t helping.” Ethereum is still working to figure out how to get to its ambitious vision of Ethereum 2.0—requiring a major overhaul of its technology that some worry may not even work. While Ethereum currently employs computers called miners to verify transactions—a setup Bitcoin uses as well—it’s moving to so-called staking, a completely different way of verifying transactions. Techniques such as sharding, in which certain groups of computers keeping track of only certain transactions versus all transactions on the network—should help as well. But this technological transition “is not a guarantee and is still on the horizon,” Dorman said. “The Ethereum blockchain has been ‘almost full for years,”’ Buterin said in an email to Bloomberg. “I think it’s still good to develop apps, but anything substantial should be developed with scalability techniques in mind, so that it can survive higher transaction fees that would come with further growing demand for Ethereum. In the longer term, Ethereum 2.0’s sharding will of course fix these issues.” The number of Ethereum transactions is actually down from their peak in January 2018, according to Etherscan. Average Ethereum transaction fees are still many times lower than Bitcoin’s, but they’ve been volatile, according to BitInfoCharts. Tether was introduced in 2015 as a way to provide liquidity to exchanges because lingering concerns about illegal uses have made it difficult for them to secure banking services. New York’s attorney general in April accused the companies behind Tether of engaging in a cover-up to hide losses and co-mingling client and corporate funds.
Cryptocurrencies on pace to close volatile trading week positive following Ethereum Classic addition to Coinbase Index Fund and the launch of the BOLT privacy overlay for Zcash on the lightning network
Developments in Financial Services
Binance is launching a JV with Liechtenstein Cryptoassets Exchange (LCX) to launch a fiat to cryptocurrency exchange, Binnace LCX. The exchange/platforming will be based in Liechtenstein and offer trading between Swiss Francs (CHF) and euros (EUR) against major digital currencies pairs with the potential for new trading pairs in the future.
bloXroute Labs, along with a partnership with a team of student at Northwestern University, are experimenting with a trustless scheme to address the scalability limitations of Bitcoin’s P2P platform. At the moment, with the Lightning Network, Bitcoin transactions capacity is capped at 82 BTC. According to Sarit Markovich, professor of strategy at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, the bloXroute solution is scaling at 100x better and are targeting 1,000x.
BOLT, a privacy overlay for the lighting network that will be applied to zcash, was formally launched on Github today. BOLT will obscure transaction, balances and sendereceiver identities. The BOLT upgrade to the zcash protocol is considered a soft fork.
Coinbase, according to CEO and co-Founder Brian Armstrong in an interview with Bloomberg, is adding 50k new users a day. Assuming this run-rate, it implies Coinbase will add 350k new users a year.
DGE, a South Korean blockchain developer, who launched its native cryptocurrency TMTG a few weeks ago that is linked to value of gold is attempting to partner with global gold exchanges (after agreements with the Korea Gold Exchange and Vau Diamond Exchange) to create a stable ecosystem for TMTG. In the opinion of DGE, many cryptocurrency developers do not consider the stability of their coins and its impact to the ecosystem these cryptocurrencies support.
Ethereum Classic is +18% this morning after crypto’s inclusion into the Coinbase index fund after being added to the Coinbase Pro trading platform. At the moment, Ethereum Classic has a 0.91% allocation in the fund.
Huobi, the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange (and third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world), has announced partnerships with Yatai International Holding Group, Vnesheconombank, Chi Fu Group, Asia International Finance Holdings, and Dbank Group to create cryptocurrency trading exchanges/platforms in the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Canada. The five companies will use Huobi’s Cloud service which will provide the different platforms with the tools they need to open their exchanges on a proven framework.
LINE, a Japanese social messaging app, announced that is forming a USD$10mm blockchain venture capital fund. The company believes the decision to create a blockchain venture fund will make LINE one of the first publicly traded companies to formalize token investments through a corporate fund structure.
Pantera Capital announces it has raised USD$71mm for a third cryptocurrency fund. Calling it Venture Fund III, Pantera has already begun to make investments following an allocation to cryptocurrency trading platform Bakkt (that has a JV with ICE).
Ripple Labs continues to focus on expansion plans, even in the face of recent lawsuits from the District Court of California. The lawsuits content that Ripple’s native cryptocurrency, XRP, should be considered a security which the company flatly rejects. In spite of these issues, Ripple Labs remains focused on its overseas expansions plans in Asia and the Middle East.
Ripple Labs has endorsed three cryptocurrency exchanges, Bittrex, Bitso, and Coins.ph as its preferred partners for transactions with Ripple’s xRapid payments system. Management at Ripple Labs is encouraging users in the US, Mexico and the Philippines to use these exchanges while transacting with xRapid. XRapid is a solution for Ripple’s blockchain-based real-time gross settlement system and is meant to facilitate international fiat transfers between financial institutions.
Square announces that customers will be able to buy/sell Bitcoin via its Cash App across all 50 states in the United States.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) is publicly expressing concerns about the acquisition of Beat Holdings, listed on the TSE, by Noah Ark Technologies, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency frim. The TSE concerns are related to management’s bias to stay away from the cryptocurrency sector.
The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is exploring using a distributed ledger technology (DLT) in place of its current clearing house electronic sub-register system. According to Dominic Steves, Managing Director and CEO of the ASX, shifting to a DLT system would save the exchange as much as USD$23bn. A DLT would permit customers to use nodes instead of sending messages and connect to the whole database instead of having to communicate with several different databases and should help eliminate errors.
Bitmain’s upcoming IPO is coming under scrutiny as investors continue to worry about its long-term viability. Specifically, there seem to be concerns about Bitmain’s reserve of Bitcoin Cash which is considered an illiquid position given the daily turnover in current Bitcoin Cash markets. Bitmain’s IPO is currently being valued at USD$18bn.
Bloomberg is reporting that a Bitcoin-based ETN that is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm will begin targeting US investors. The ETN, Bitcoin Tracker One, is listed and traded in Sweden but is now being quoted in USD$. Traders will buy the ETN in a similar way that they buy ADRs where transactions are in USD$ but settlement, clearing and custody will be done in SEK.
Alexander Petersons, product director of cloud mining service Hashtoro.com and self-proclaimed crypto-enthusiast, believes the cryptocoin industry will begin shifting to cleaner and smart mining by taking advantage of local climates to help reduce electricity consumption. While cryptocurrency critics cite costs of crypto mining as an impediment that will limit widescale adoption of digital currencies, Petersons and the team at Hashtoro.com believe the use of clean energy will help address the challenges of scalability.
Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver has hinted the online cryptocurrency news publisher may consider an ICO in the future. The topic was brought up during a conversation with one of Bitcoin.com’s lead developers about developing tokens on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain - - Bitcoin.com published a new tool helping aspiring developers to build tokens on the Bitcoin Cash protocol.
A group of researchers/hackers have claimed to have hacked John Mcafee-backed hardware wallet Bitfi. According to its advertising, Bitfi claims to be unhackable. The researchers/hackers claim to have had complete access to a Bitfi wallet for the past two weeks, tracking data being sent out of the wallet while still being connected to the Bitfi servers.
According to a research report by Citrix, 59% of UK companies have been affected by cryptojacking malware. Cryptojacking malware employs its victim’s computational resources without their permission in order to mine cryptocurrencies for the attacker and leads to a wasteful increase in electric power consumption and the slowing down of affected devices. According to Citrix’s research, 80% of the cryptojacking cases took place in the last six months.
Deviant coin releases its whitepaper ahead of the launch of its hybrid decentralized exchange and its open-source hardware wallet. The novelty of Deviant is that it proposed to create rewards within its ecosystems without the typical centralized control of node operators. The Deviant network offers improved speed with stealth addresses for complete anonymity, encrypted messaging for secure communication, low transaction fees, lower confirmation time, and a limited total supply.
The Ethereum community continues to struggle with DApps topping the number of downloads on the blockchain network that are promising investments with high returns that turn out to be fraudulent. As an example, Team JUST, the anonymous development team behind the gambling DApp FOMO 3D is warning that an indentical version of its game is eating up 1/3 of the Ethereum network’s total computational power and raising USD$7mm over the past week.
Genesis Mining, an Iceland-basd hashpower hosting service, is forcing customers to upgrade their Bitcoin mining contracts following this year’s drop in cryptocurrency valuations. The company is discounting the upgrade price of its Radiant service per 1 TH/s to USD$180 from USD$285. In 60 days, Genesis announced it will terminate open-ended contracts that mine less than the daily maintenance fee.
Hash House, a crypto-themed café and workshare space in the city of Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province in China, has recently launched. Among its many features, Hash House will provide visitors with learnings materials on cryptocurrencies and will hose seminars and meetups on different crypto topics.
China News reports that the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School has received a USD$20mm research grant to investigate the security capabilities of electronic payment systems. Partnering with University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), and the City University of Hong Kong (CityU), the HKUST-led research initiative will focus on artificial intelligence, network security and blockchain technologies.
During an unofficial discussion with Quartz India, unnamed state official in the Indian government, which is examining the impact of the virtual currency ecosystem.
IBM files updates to a pending patent for managing a databases management system (DBMS) using a blockchain database. The patent was initially filed in December 2017 and covers the idea of connecting a blockchain databases with a traditional central database.
Joe Lubin, the co-founder of Ethereum and ConsenSys, does not see the recent sell-off in cryptocurrencies constraining growth of the crypto ecosystem. In an interview with Bloomberg, Lubin suggested the recent run-up in cryptocurrency valuations is similar the previous six bubbles with each bubble more pronounced than the previous.
Joe Lubin, the co-founder of the Ethereum Foundation, during an interview with Bloomberg, claims Ripple is not a blockchain technology and is not a competitor for Ethereum. In Lubin’s mind, Ripple is a payment system, not a blockchain technology. In the case of EOS, Lubin cautions against its decision-making framework and doesn’t believe it is should be treated as layer-one technology yet.
Users can now be paid to participate on the lightning network nodes. The average fee on the lightning network currently is about 1 satoshi. In comparison, the montly income of using the lightning network has been estimated to be closer to USD$2 for a prominent application developer.
Microsoft recent patent applications suggests the company is looking to use trusted execution environments (TEEs) within its blockchain technology. TEEs are pre-determined types of blockchain or other security protocols in validation nodes. TEEs will help assist in the implementation of consortium blockchain networks and will also assist in verifying blockchain transactions on networks where multiple pre-authorized entities must interact.
Saudi Arabia officials warn citizens in a formal joint statement from the Ministry of Trade & Investment, Ministry of Information and Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency that trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are illegal in The Kingdom. This press release is in contrast to The Kingdom’s positive disposition to blockchain technology.
Taproot, a protocol overlay for Bitcoin pushed by one of Bitcoin’s most well-known developers Greg Maxwell, will offer a privacy layer which will address Bitcoin critics who believe the benchmark cryptocurrency’s privacy is awful. Taproot, supported by other popular Bitcoin developers, will require the Schnorr upgrade which is still not ready to be implemented. The power of Taproot will be the ability to make smart contract transactions look like any regular Bitcoin transaction, offering anonymity for senders and receivers.
The national government of Vietnam has decided to ban imports of cryptocurrency mining equipment. According to the Ho Chi Minh City Customs Department, 3,664 ASIC devices were imported into the city in C1H2018. The ban of cryptocurrency mining equipment is related to a government investigation into a ICO-fraud that scammed USD$660mm from 32,000 domestic investors. At the moment, cryptocurrencies are outlawed as payments in Vietnam after the Vietnamese Central Bank refused to accept cryptocurrencies as a recognizable form of non-cash payments.
During an interview with Crypto Congressman Jason Hsu, Vitalik Buterin, the co-Founder of the Ethereum Foundation, highlighted his worries about the lack of sustainable applications on the Ethereum blockchain. Buterin is working on a proof-of-stake and charting protocols to help address the current bottlenecks that are preventing widescale adoption of Ethereum. In his opion, privacy concerns remain the biggest hurdle for widespread adoption of Ethereum in the financial sector.
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