Category Archives: ecosystem

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Mastercard Secures Multi-Currency Blockchain Patent

Multinational financial services corporation Mastercard has won patent rights to a blockchain partitioning method that would make storing multiple forms of cryptocurrency on a singular blockchain possible.

Why is this so significant?

As explained in Mastercard’s application, all established blockchain systems require each block to maintain data of the same format, type, and sometimes size. This is what makes blockchains incapable of supporting different cryptocurrencies or combining permissioned and open access data on the same chain.

Operating multiple blockchains at once to manage this data uses what is described in the document as a ”significant” amount of resources and computing power.

Mastercard’s application

What Mastercard proposes in its patent filing, is a blockchain that can be divided into a plurality of separate sects that manage these opposing data sets, dubbed ”subnets”. The document notes that the transaction records of each of the subnets are capable of differing in format and allowing different cryptocurrencies to be transacted.

Each completed block would be stamped with a hash code that applies to all of the transactions. This new blockchain system is described by Mastercard as ”more robust” with a ”greater utility” than those currently being utilized.

Its implication

One of the issues pointed to in the debate over how to expand cryptocurrency users is the need to improve accessibility and ease of use. If different cryptocurrencies can be transacted on a singular blockchain, more investors may be encouraged to purchase a variety of tokens, as one specific token no longer requires as many areas in which it can be used.

The issue of this fragmented ecosystem has been discussed by the Vice President of Cobinhood, Hsuan Lee. With so many blockchains established with no protocol to communicate with each other, their overall effectiveness suffers. He framed the predicament in terms of social media: ”Can you imagine using Facebook if you only have five friends on the platform? It’s not very useful.”

The US Patent and Trademark Office published the approved application from Mastercard Tuesday. It was first filed in July 2016.

 

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Nigeria Crack Down On Crypto

Residents in Nigeria have been told to stop meddling with cryptocurrencies, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not approved the digital currency use.

This might come as a surprise to Nigerians as little more over than 12 months ago, the Nigerian government offered to support blockchain development.  The Cryptography Development Initiative of Nigeria (CDIN) had invited the Nigerian government for a close and unique partnership, and this was set to be the most significant blockchain event in West Africa, with the national electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) offering its support to CDIN. This is contained in a letter signed by the Chairman of NeFF, Dipo Fatokun.

“Please be informed that NeFF is willing to collaborate with CDIN and will assist with technical advice and/or speakers at the proposed 2017 conference on Blockchain. Also note that as the collaboration progresses, NeFF will also count on your support,” said Fatokun.

So what happened?

Recent events have seen several government agencies in Nigeria cautioning citizens on digital currency. At the Enugu International Trade Fair, the manager in charge of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Adikwu Igoche, stated that cryptocurrencies where not legal tender and not deposits or financial instrument authorized by the CBN.

Igoche went on to warn citizens that the government did not insure them and if anyone were to lose money trading, the person would do so at their own risk: “These forms of currencies are not backed by any physical commodity, such as gold or other precious stones. They do not belong to the category of currencies or coins issued by the CBN or the central bank of any other country.”.

Additionally, Igoche insisted that the NDIC would hold its stance and would not condone the security risks faced by the patrons of ponzi schemes and digital currencies.

The NDIC even went as far to open a 24-hour national help desk with a toll-free telephone number, insisting that residents of Nigeria must only bank at places displaying the NDIC sticker bearing the inscription ‘Insured by NDIC’, which can currently be found on banking hall entrances.

In other parts of Africa, Sierra Leone’s 27 March election – which had been postponed from 7 March – marks a monumental occasion as this will be the world’s first ever blockchain-powered presidential elections.

 

 

 

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Snowden Leaks Indicate NSA Spies on Blockchain

Leaked documents point towards a controversial move by the American NSA (National Security Agency) in monitoring blockchain activity, hinting at the importance placed by the government there on Bitcoin and other blockchain assets.

Snowden leaks have shown the blockchain community that surveillance remains at the top of US agenda. It hardly comes as a surprise to most, understanding that governments do and will always have a vested interest in monetary transactions and where that money ends up.

NSA Playbook

Using a protocol called “MonkeyRocket”  NSA analysts were able to find a vulnerability which enabled them to track down senders and receivers of Bitcoin. This all to aid their mission of looking at organized crime and cyber targets that utilize online e-currency services for illicit activities, despite Bitcoin providing users access to a certain degree of anonymity.

The Snowden leaks indicated that examining public transaction ledger (Blockchain) was just the tip of the iceberg, with the NSA obtaining and storing sensitive data, such as the users MAC addresses, users passwords, network ports, and timestamps.

The documents suggest that Bitcoin users were being targeted for mass surveillance, giving weight to the claim that the NSA was not just using their MonkeyRocket, but using the infamous XKeyScore system. The XKeyScore system is one of the most intrusive methods on the planet and covers the entire globe with the widest of reaches. NSA analysts require no prior authorization for the collection of online data.

Snowden stated in the Guardian:“I, sitting at my desk, could wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email… Analysts can also use XKeyscore and other NSA systems to obtain ongoing “real-time” interception of an individual’s internet activity.”

The NSA is adamant on suppressing Bitcoin users, as part of a counter-terrorism advance, monitoring their transactions, while subverting their privacy. The source of Bitcoin and Liberty Reserve monitoring, MonkeyRocket, has been governed by overseas surveillance authority known as “EXECUTIVE ORDER 12333”. The order was signed on 4 December 1981 by then-president Ronald Reagan; it was intended to extend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct leaders of the US and federal agencies to cooperate fully with CIA requests for information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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G20 Summit: No Global Regulation in Sight As Buenos Aires Bullish on Bitcoin

The G20 summit is well underway in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with financial leaders seemingly staying their hand on specific regulatory actions and a healthy rebound in the crypto market indicating that traders are viewing this development positively.

Financial leaders from across the world have yet to come to agreement on whether or not policies are the right thing to impose on the market right now. The G20 leaders have stated that cryptocurrency is not likely to see any global regulations any time soon.

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney made comments on the eve of the summit, stating that cryptocurrencies were not a pressing issue. Carney, who also holds the position as chairman of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), drew light on the fact that virtual assets counted for less than 1% of the global economic output at the late-2017 all-time highs.

Carney stated:

“As its work to fix the fault lines that caused the financial crisis draws to a close, the FSB is increasingly pivoting away from the design of new policy initiatives towards dynamic implementation and rigorous evaluation of the effects of the agreed G20 reforms.”

Carney also put forward the idea that, instead of regulations on cryptocurrencies, the financial system should adapt and adopt. He suggested a mutual understanding between financial leaders to prevent illicit behavior throughout the market, reducing the risk for investors, traders and big business conglomerates:

“Crypto-assets raise a host of issues around consumer and investor protection.”

Brazil not so confident

Following a recent publication in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazillian Central Bank President Ilan Goldfajn commented that this is a crucial time for blockchain technologies, where cryptocurrencies are still highly volatile and need to be a safe and legitimate store of value.

Goldfajn went on to say that he thought of cryptocurrencies as a store value, a crypto-asset rather than a modern-day currency: “ I don’t refer to them as money because money has to have stability in its value and be able to facilitate payments.

He did go on to state that Brazil and fellow countries were for blockchain technology adoption, but wanted to see it regulated and made secure, reiterating warnings that the technology could be used for disastrous misconduct worldwide.

Market rebound

After these announcements, the market responded accordingly

Ethereum gained a little traction, its price rising over USD 60 in under one hour. Bullish Bitcoin saw an equal spike, with its current price rising over USD 800 in the same hour, a 25% increase from its latest fall. Bitcoin looks to be breaking away from the current bear market and is likely to soon test the USD 9,000 target.

As Bitcoin trading volume has stayed at the monthly medium of around USD 6 billion, concerns remain, but any rise in trading volume will mean that Bitcoin is backed by strong hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overstock shares drop and doubts deepen due to SEC crypto probe

Overstock business shares have taken a beating, plummetting 16% because of a disclosed U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe in its initial coin offering (ICO).

Overstock.com Inc. may be concerned at the drop but this was a golden opportunity for short sellers to capitalize, having bet against the online retailer prior to its earnings reports.

Nearly 45% of the online retailer’s shares available to trade are currently held by short sellers. Overstock attracted an increasing number of this type of investor after releasing detailed plans focused on a digital token exchange. According to financial analytics firm S3 partners, that is up from 13% at the beginning of September.

According to advisors at tZero, the blockchain subsidiary heading Overstock’s ICO:

“The investigation could result in a delay of the tZero security token offering, negative publicity for tZero or us, and may have a material adverse effect on us or on the current and future business ventures of tZero.”

On 1 March, the SEC probe was initially disclosed as a response to a request the information to be given voluntarily. This involved anything related to the plan to offer tZero tokens. Since then the stocks plummeted and lost a quarter of its value.

CEO Patrick Byrne made a statement referring to the company’s competitors: “We have already turned on the jets, and will demonstrate this year that our growth engine is far more efficient.”

He also gained attention on Thursday when he announced a “classic internet” model of growth he pledged to pursue. Overstock reported revenues of $456 million in the past fourth quarter, a drop of 13% to the same period last year.

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Blockchain technologies fueling video games and consoles that can create profit for players

PlayTable from Blok.Party is the world’s first Blockchain gaming console that looks close to an all-in-one tabletop gaming console with the capacity to play a diverse array of video games on its system.

It’s an Android touchscreen console, powered by the Ethereum blockchain and utilizes the toys-to-life genre to significant effect.

Toys-to-life is a genre where players use real-life figurines to do battle (see Skylanders or Disney Infinity). PlayTable combines this with traditional tabletop games such as Magic the Gathering to create an interactive gaming system that boasts the potential to have profitable returns for the player.

The radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on the bottom of the figurines have unique identifiers which are tracked via the Blockchain.

Using the transparent public ledger, a digital collectable can be tracked across different platforms and will not require a third-party server to authenticate the ownership. Players could quite easily create a new chip, invalidate the old one and ship it worldwide;  in effect, players can now buy and sell high-level or valuable RFID-equipped figurines.

Another exciting application of the Ethereum blockchain is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) called Ethercraft. It’s a game in which players make their way through dungeons, slaying enemies, gathering loot and crafting items.

The twist is that players can trade items with other users or sell them for real-world Ethereum (ETH). Interestingly the in-game gold currency is an ERC20 token itself (XGP), its value is tied to that of ETH and can be earnt completing challenges and in-game objectives; XGP can be exchanged for ETH at any time using the Ethercraft Smart Contract, which is a pretty nifty feature.

Monetizing the Video Game experience has primarily been a benefit passed to developers and publishers; the industry is raking in staggering market revenue figures across all available platforms, but it seems that gamers are spending more money than ever on games and aren’t quite getting much in return.

Players on PC and Mobile platforms are spending heavily on in-game content that come in either physical and digital forms. Whether you’re playing a game you’ve already paid for, or one that is Free-To-Play, you can now purchase weapons, character skins, in-game currency, perishable items and so on.

Blockchain technologies are perhaps going to bring an end to the money vacuum that modern players are being suckered into. Unique resilient economies within a platform or a game could generate new creative innovations that further the rewards the players and enhances the gaming experience beyond that of just financial gains, but create a new sense of consumer ownership over their products, be they physical or digital.

 

 

 

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Brandon Glier – Why You Should Care About Bitcoin

Brandon Glier – Why You Should Care About Bitcoin:

Brandon Glier’s post on Bitcoin became a Medium.com Editors Pick.  Excerpts:

“To really understand the power of Bitcoin, you need to think about it as 3 things: (1) a protocol, (2) a commodity, and (3) an ecosystem.”

“Bitcoin has taken a very hard problem — how do you facilitate and record transactions online — and solved it for anyone to leverage for free. This capability may have profound implications that are not yet well-understood […]”

“It’s important to keep in mind that it takes time for the true market use case of a commodity to be developed.  […] Like oil, Bitcoin can be refined and put to use in novel and yet-to-be imagined ways.”

“According to the GSMA 1.7 billion people have a mobile phone and no alternative to the cash economy. As digital cash, Bitcoin appeals directly to consumers as an accessible payment alternative without the risk and fees associated with existing credit and debit networks.”

“For the first time in Internet history, settling transactions between multiple parties can be dictated and applied directly through open-source software and not through (largely) for-profit 3rd party institutions.”

 – http://medium.com/editors-picks/1a812f8fa7cd
 – http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=303567.0

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