Category Archives: wallet

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111,000 Bitcoin Wallet Becomes Active After 4 Years of Dormancy

A Bitcoin wallet with BTC 111,114, worth around USD 800 million at current exchange rates, had been lying dormant since 2014 but recently became active according to an analysis from a Reddit user. A whole range of theories as to who is behind this wallet is cropping up. Some people think it’s Satoshi, others say it’s a wallet connected to the Silk Road. It’s possible this wallet is connected to Mt Gox or perhaps it’s just an anonymous whale investor.

From this old mega wallet, a total of USD 115 million was sent to crypto exchanges. Clearly, whoever owns this wallet has decided to cash out some of these Bitcoins or might be starting to actively trade. At the time the wallet was created four years ago, the Bitcoins were worth USD 71.5 million.

It has been speculated that around 4 million Bitcoins have been lost forever, and that sort of analysis usually just looks to see if wallets have been dormant for many years. This makes it questionable how many Bitcoins are really lost, since all of the big dormant wallets could just be people laying low and waiting for the right time to sell.

There is some speculation that the sudden re-activation of this wallet could cause a market downturn. However, there are billions of dollars worth of Bitcoin trading volume every day worldwide, and even if the Bitcoins from this wallet were all sold in a day it wouldn’t have a dramatic impact on the market. In reality, these Bitcoins are being sold slowly and many of them are still being held, so this will have no noticeable impact on the market.

This is a good example of how robust the Bitcoin market is. The Bitcoin market can easily handle the sale of a billion dollars in Bitcoin since there is tremendous worldwide demand.

 

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Samsung Claims Smartphones Provide Best Security for Crypto

Multinational tech conglomerate Samsung has argued that smartphones can provide the best security for cryptocurrency holdings because of the combined efficiency of apps and the presence of the trusted execution environment (TEE).

Cryptocurrency wallet apps like Blockchain and Jaxx are a convenient and popular way to transfer, send and store assets on a smartphone. What Joel Snyder, a senior IT consultant and a contributor to Samsung Insights pointed out, is that the TEE under which the majority of smartphones operate offers a nearly impenetrable barrier for hackers.

Because the TEE is completely independent of an individual’s device with its own separate memory and storage, potential hackers and even operating systems such as Android cannot penetrate and alter or access the data. This prevents passwords and private keys of wallets from being accessed.

Laptops and such devices that utilize conventional data storage units such as an SSD are more vulnerable to risk due to their persistent nature that gives an opportunity for hackers to enter and steal data, cryptocurrency account information included.

Snyder for Samsung noted that while ”a naive wallet developer” might fail to employ the advantages of the TEE and store keys on the phone’s internal storage, the combination of the TEE and an effective wallet offer the most secure place for your cryptocurrency holdings.

What else the TEE can offer

A research effort conducted by Cornell University in December 2016 first offered the concept of Bitcoin scaling via the TEE. The team developed a technology called Teechan which they built on top several TEEs including the Software Guard Extensions of Intel.

The results were promising. Transactions were able to be processed off-chain, then fixed into larger transactions to be established on the blockchain. Significant progress has been seen, with over 2,480 transactions per second recorded as successfully processed.

 

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How to Properly Secure Bitcoin by Controlling the Private Key

Bitcoin’s popularity and use has grown astronomically since it was first released in 2009; now there is over USD 100 billion invested into Bitcoin with several billion USD of trading volume. However, most people do not take the proper steps to ensure that they fully control their Bitcoin by controlling the private key.

One of the key beneficial attributes of Bitcoin is that it gives control of money to its owner, as opposed to banks which can seize or freeze money at any time at their discretion. However, one does not fully control their Bitcoins unless they control their private key. This is an aspect of Bitcoin many users are unaware of, often resulting in mistakes and loss of funds.

Many new users buy Bitcoin on exchanges and just leave it there. This does not give them access to the private key, so they don’t control the Bitcoins at all. Bitcoin should be immediately withdrawn to a personal wallet after purchasing on an exchange. It is not good practice to leave Bitcoins on exchanges for extended periods of time even when trading, as exchanges can disappear or be hacked, losing user funds.

To ensure full control and safety of funds, it is crucial to use a Bitcoin wallet that gives the user sole access to the private key. This means that the private key is not available to anyone else or stored online in a server.

Most Bitcoin wallet services fail in these criteria. Even the most popular online or web-based wallets fail to give Bitcoin owners full exclusive control of their private keys if they store private keys on an online server. No matter how secure one makes these wallets, even with a strong password and 2-FA, the private key is vulnerable to hacking.

Bitcoin Core is the original Bitcoin wallet and is fully self-sufficient, it is not dependent on any online server to operate since it downloads the entire blockchain into a user’s computer and connects with the actual Bitcoin network. It gives Bitcoin users full control of private keys and doesn’t store those private keys anywhere else. As extra security, a Bitcoin Core user should encrypt the wallet with a strong password that they won’t forget.

A downside of Bitcoin Core is it can take a long time to download since the blockchain is over 170 GB of data, and growing. However, it is definitely worth the wait to ensure Bitcoin safety. A big upside is that Bitcoin Core is a full node, so any user that is running it is running 1 of about 10,000 Bitcoin nodes in the entire world, helping secure the network.

If a computer running Bitcoin Core is destroyed then the Bitcoins would be lost, so as extra safety it is prudent to make a copy of the private key. Do not store this private key on a computer or device connected to the internet. If storing the private key digitally, it is best to put it into a USB memory stick and put a password on the file containing the private key, and then to keep that USB memory stick in a safe place.

Physically recording the private key is a good option too, which can simply be done with a pen and paper, but one must be extremely careful to get it completely right since missing a letter would make it useless. A polaroid camera that instantly prints out photos but does not store the photos is also a great option to record private keys. Any physical record of the private key must be kept absolutely safe, since if someone finds it they would have full access to the Bitcoins.

Electrum is another Bitcoin wallet that gives full control of the private key to the user, and is a lot faster to download than Bitcoin Core since it doesn’t download the whole blockchain. However, if Electrum’s servers aren’t working for whatever reason then a user would have to import their private key to another wallet service to gain access to their funds.

In any case, as long as the wallet only gives the user sole control of private keys, it is the first step to securing your Bitcoin and being in full control of your funds.

 

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Richest Bitcoin Wallets Hold Over 1 Billion USD Each

The top two richest Bitcoin wallets have over 1 billion USD. As of this writing, the Bitfinex cold wallet holds 172,236 bitcoins worth 1.27 billion USD and Binance, about 158,779 bitcoins worth 1.17 billion USD. Binance is the most active cryptocurrency exchange in the world with well over 1 billion USD in volumes per day, while Bitfinex is the largest USD to Bitcoin exchange.

In 3rd place is Bittrex’s cold wallet with 117,203 bitcoins worth 860 million USD, Huobi is in 4th place with 98,042 bitcoins worth 719 million USD, and Bitstamp’s cold wallet is close behind at 97,848 bitcoins worth 718 million USD. As the data show, the top 5 richest Bitcoin wallets are held by the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

Beyond the top 5 are Bitcoin wallets whose ownership is unidentified, with tens of thousands of bitcoins in each wallet worth hundreds of millions of USD.  According to the available information, there are at 115 wallets that have more than 10,000 bitcoins.

The huge volumes of cryptocurrency, concentrated in few wallets has raised some concerns about the possibility of Bitcoin whales manipulating cryptocurrency prices. While this may be true for small-cap altcoins and low volume cryptocurrency exchanges, big cryptocurrency exchanges combinedly transact tens of thousands of Bitcoin on any given day. So, a whale wouldn’t have much influence over Bitcoin’s global price.

In total there are roughly 1,650 wallets (0.01% of all Bitcoin wallets) with more than 1,000 bitcoins, and these control 6.75 million bitcoins which is 40% of all the bitcoins in existence. This makes the ownership of Bitcoin in the world somewhat centralized, but the same can be said for any asset or currency. For example, the richest 1% of United States citizens control 40% of the nation’s wealth.

Only 3.2% of all Bitcoin addresses in existence have more than 1 Bitcoin, and addresses with more than 1 Bitcoin control 96% of all bitcoins in existence. 50% of all Bitcoin addresses have less than 0.001 Bitcoin, less than 10 USD, and probably a lot of these addresses simply have nothing in them. Bitcoin addresses are often thrown out since it is easy to create a new one, and it’s good practice to constantly change Bitcoin addresses to preserve anonymity and prevent hacking.

It is speculated that Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, owns more than 1 million bitcoins which would make him the richest Bitcoiner by far. However due to the partly anonymous nature of Bitcoin, it is difficult if not impossible to trace his bitcoins, and the same goes for any other Bitcoin whale that wants to keep their bitcoins hidden. Therefore, the Bitcoin rich list is not a proven way to know who really holds the most bitcoins in the world.

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Over 25 Million Blockchain.info Bitcoin Wallets Created

Blockchain.info has hit a milestone this past week with users of the online Bitcoin wallet service having created more than 25 million wallets. This is by far the most out of any online Bitcoin wallet service; Coinbase, a major Bitcoin exchange based in the United States, has 13 million in comparison.

The Blockchain.info wallet service can easily be used on any computer or phone, and can be secured with a pin code and 2-FA to ensure Bitcoins won’t be stolen. It is seen as a good lightweight option since a wallet can be created, secured, and used in minutes, as opposed to Bitcoin Core which can be time-consuming as it requires downloading the entire Bitcoin blockchain.

Serious Bitcoin users, however, will still prefer offline wallets that let users control their own private keys and that are not at risk of an online wallet’s server being hacked or shut down without warning. Full clients like Bitcoin Core also allows users to act as nodes that help secure the Bitcoin network.

Of Bitcoin wallets created, there are currently only 22,057,779 Bitcoin addresses with a positive balance and 20,812,887 unique Bitcoin wallets with a positive balance, accounting for multiple addresses in a Bitcoin wallet. This means that many millions of wallets on the Blockchain.info service are empty, considering that there are lots of other Bitcoin wallet providers and programs included in this count of positive balances. Such a large amount of wallets with zero balance is due to people abandoning wallets. Often, people just use a wallet once and forget about it – this is also the recommended usage of addresses to protect privacy.

Blockchain.info was founded in the United Kingdom and was launched in August 2011, and has been one of the biggest Bitcoin websites ever since with an Alexa rank of 860 out of all the websites in the world. It provides wallet services, a block explorer, Bitcoin network statistics such as transaction volume and hash power, and an integrated Bitcoin exchange service. Apparently, Blockchain.info provided a mechanism for buying and selling Bitcoin in the United Kingdom since near its inception but has only recently begun exchange services for United States customers. This puts Blockchain.info in direct competition with Coinbase.

There have been positive developments for Blockchain.info, such as over USD 70 million of funding raised in recent years. It also hired Peter Wilson from Facebook and Google as VP of engineering, Breanne Madigan from Goldman Sachs as head of institutional sales, and Garrick Hileman from Bank of America and Allianz as head of research.

With its popularity, reputation, experience, and funding, it is likely that Blockchain.info will continue to grow in the long term and continue to be a leading online Bitcoin wallet service provider.

 

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Jon Southurst – PSA: Protect Your Wallets

Jon Southurst – PSA: Protect Your Wallets:

Jon Southurst (@SouthTopia) provides in a post on CoinDesk some examples of how with Bitcoin is not just 9/10ths of the law, it is the law.  Bitcoin is a bearer instrument — meaning if a payment gets sent to the wrong party, or a thief gains control of a wallet, the funds can be spent.  Excerpts:

“A simple concentration lapse can see exponentially more bitcoin leave your wallet than you’d intended, never to be seen again.”

“The difference between bitcoin and cash, though, is that much larger amounts may be at stake. Cash transactions tend to be smaller, while (reputedly safer) credit cards and bank transfers handle larger ones. Bitcoin allows you not only to transfer a million dollars in a heartbeat, it gives you a chance to send it to the wrong place. Or nowhere at all.”

“Mike Hearn, developer at the Bitcoin Foundation, says most loss-causing errors are the result of users not backing up locally-stored wallet files at the right time, and by misusing paper wallets.”

“The bitcoin development team also hopes to add human-memorable address aliases and a messaging function to transactions. Messaging would allow users to include a refund address with transactions.”

 – http://www.coindesk.com/dumb-mistakes-costly-bitcoin-losses

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Emily Spaven – Kipochi Links Bitcoin With M-PESA

Emily Spaven – Kipochi Links Bitcoin With M-PESA:

Finance author Emily Spaven (@EmilySpaven) describes the launch of Kipochi (@KipochiPay), a Bitcoin wallet that provides interchange to and from M-PESA.  Excerpts:

“Kipochi has launched a product that allows people in Africa to send and receive bitcoins, plus convert them to and from the Kenyan currency M-Pesa.”

“Kipochi works on all mobile phones as it has SMS, USSD and HTML5 frontends, so there is no requirement for users to have the most up-to-date handsets.”

“Pelle Braendgaard, co-founder of Kipochi [said that] M-Pesa has been around in Kenya for years now, so mobile money is a part of everyday life in the country, which means it will be easy for Kenyans to accept digital currency as the choice for international payments.”

“Kipochi’s goal is to make it easier for people in these [communities of expatriates from Kenya and foreigners living and working in Kenya] to send and receive funds through the bitcoin network.”

“LocalBitcoins.com has also recently turned its attention to M-Pesa, making this option available to traders in Kenya and Tanzania.”

“‘The [tens of thousands of] M-Pesa agents are the target market of LocalBitcoins.com as well,’” [explained  founder Jeremias Kangas].”

 – http://bit.ly/15bcWnr
 – http://www.Kipochi.com
 – http://bit.ly/132zNi5 (Further discussion of Kipochi)

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