Showing posts with label Blockchain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blockchain. Show all posts

December 14, 2017

What is a Smart Contract?

Smart Contracts - Part 1: What is a Smart Contract?

  • A great video explaining Smart Contracts at the level of detail/abstraction a novice could understand.

By Kevin Healy - August 10, 2017 (

An introduction to smart contracts in ethereum. What accounts are in a simpler currency only blockchain, how ethereum introduces a second type of account: a code controlled account (aka smart contract). This type of account does not have a private key but instead is controlled by code. It can store ether, just like user accounts, or it can keep a balance of 0 and be used to deliver some other function within the context of an application. Also, examples of how you can use smart contracts.

Part 2:

Why some claim Ripple isn’t a 'Real' Cryptocurrency

By Joe Liebkind - December 14, 2017 (

  • founders of Ripple recommend not using their creation as a currency for speculation

  • ReRipple has no mining and transactions are powered through a “centralized” blockchain to make it more reliable and fast

  • Ripple may be the dividing line that separates two distinct products of cryptocurrencies : assets and solutions

There are many cryptocurrencies out there, each of which gained inspiration from bitcoin, the ancestor to them all. Bitcoin was humanity’s first definition of what it means to be a cryptocurrency, but it is a complicated creature that relies on many special functions and components. For instance, bitcoin has a decentralized blockchain ledger, on which its millions of participants organize and save a record of their transactions. It also has cryptographic hashing, so that traders can use a system of public and private keys to safeguard their identities.

Bitcoin’s transactions are processed by miners, a supportive and incentivized community that keep everything running smoothly. Relevantly, it also has a finite supply. These characteristics have made it easy to transact safely, store value, and even speculate.

Should a cryptocurrency exhibit each of bitcoin’s traits or can any kind of digital money be labeled as such? These are logical questions, but ones that haven’t often been asked, largely because most of bitcoin’s peers have generally stuck to their collective predecessor’s model.

Ripple is a currency gaining popularity after years of living in bitcoin’s shadow, bereft of interest from traders due to its traditional infrastructure that makes a greater compromise between crypto and fiat money. Some in the community have refused to consider Ripple a real cryptocurrency because it’s so different. Are they correct? (See more: Ripple Is Back: Here's Why.)

Ripple: The Strange Hybrid

Ripple wasn’t designed to be a coin, or a normal cryptocurrency by the standard definition. While bitcoin and comparable cryptocurrencies give the value of the coin equal priority with network security, speed, and applicability, Ripple does away with the idea of XRP as any kind of investment asset and instead focuses on making the blockchain as strong as possible. This is primarily for the good of the institutional entities that Ripple serves, like American Express or Santander Bank. To achieve this goal, the Ripple Foundation created XRP but tweaked each traditional component of cryptocurrency into an almost unrecognizable state.

Miners Be Gone

Ripple has no mining or miners whatsoever. Instead, transactions are powered through a “centralized” blockchain to make it more reliable and fast. Mining is a core tenet of most other cryptocurrencies, and each uses their own system to determine how much power the miners have. Some, like bitcoin, use Proof-of-Work, but there is also Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Importance.

In cryptocurrency, miners are incentivized to process network transactions with the currency itself, but this has created some issues that Ripple deems untenable. In a solution built for big banks, there should be no separate group with its own special motivations for running the network.

While this idea has helped other cryptocurrencies to remain decentralized, it has also slowed them down: a problem Ripple cannot afford. This lack of mining affects other aspects of Ripple as well, taking it further from the standard.

Plug in the Printing Press

Besides processing transactions, miners are also rewarded with cryptocurrency. This is essentially how it’s created. Ripple’s exclusion of miners naturally throws a wrench into the machinery in this regard. Ripple is not finite, and can be “printed” on-demand, which makes it much more reliable for payment processing, money exchange, and other institutional activities. When it’s used, it’s simply destroyed.

The Ripple Foundation already created the 100 billion XRP currently in circulation, giving it a stable, non-volatile character perfect for its biggest clients. However, this also removes one of the biggest factors in any true cryptocurrency: the ability to accumulate and store value as only a deflationary asset can.

A Centralized Blockchain?

Ripple does have a wallet, but getting access to the blockchain is tough. Retail participants aren’t supposed to have access because it introduces risky, strange elements into an otherwise sterile environment. The Ripple blockchain isn’t open like those of other cryptocurrencies. XRP can be safely stored and kept, and uses cryptography to protect participants, but the nodes it’s protecting aren’t individuals but “trusted” operators registered in the Ripple network. This allows the currency to use the advantages of the blockchain ledger, but in a closed ecosystem that makes it more efficient.

While bitcoin claims to be “trustless,” it’s just created a precarious house of cards whereby everyone has some incentive not to let it topple. Miners can still shut off their computers and freeze the network if they wanted to, but not with Ripple.

Putting a Title on Ripple

Much like the many questions surrounding bitcoin cash, even the founders of Ripple recommend not using their creation as a currency for speculation because it isn’t one. Ripple resembles a fintech platform more than anything else and has simply combined the best elements of fiat money and blockchain cryptocurrency.

Not a “true” cryptocurrency by the standard definition, Ripple may be the dividing line that separates two distinct products to emerge from the cryptocurrency revolution: assets and solutions. While assets can serve as investments placing faith in a decentralized community and the deflationary properties of mining, solutions will dispense with the speculation and instead create platforms that are “technically” cryptocurrency, but not traditionally viewed as such.

The Bitcoin bubble – how we know it will burst

December 07, 2017 (

Ready to pop? Adam Dachis/flickr, CC BY

In the last year, the price of Bitcoin has increased from less than US$800 to more than US$12,000. This huge spike in value has many asking if it is a bubble or if the high price today is here to stay.

Finance defines a bubble as a situation where the price of an asset diverges systematically from its fundamentals. Investment mogul Jack Bogle says there is nothing to support Bitcoin, and the head of JP MorganChase, Jamie Dimon has called it a fraud “worse than tulip bulbs”.

Like any asset, Bitcoin has some fundamental value, even if only a hope value, or a value arising from scarcity. So there are reasons to hold it. But our research does show that it is experiencing a bubble right now.

Together with Shaen Corbet at Dublin City University, we took as the fundamentals of Bitcoin elements of the technology that underpins it (and other cryptocurrencies). We looked at measures, which represent the key theoretical and computational components of how cyrptocurrencies are priced.

New Bitcoin is created by a process of mining units called blocks. Bitcoin is built on blockchain technology – a digital ledger of transactions – which enables the currency to be traded independently from any central banking system, without risk of fake or duplicate Bitcoins being used. Instead of having a bank verify pending transactions (a “block”), miners check them and, if approved, the block is cryptographically added to the ever-expanding ledger.

So the first measure we examined relates to mining difficulty. It calculates how difficult it is to find a new block relative to the past. As per the Bitcoin Protocol, the number of Bitcoin is capped at 21m (there are currently 16.7m in circulation). This means that as more people mine for Bitcoin and more blocks are created, each block is, all things being equal, worth less than the previous block.

Bitcoin mining affects the cryptocurrency’s values.

The second measure we looked at relates to the “hash rate”. This is the speed at which a computer operates when mining. To successfully mine Bitcoin, you must come up with a 64-digit hexadecimal number (called a “hash”), which is less than or equal to the target hash. The faster you can do this, the better chance you have of finding the next block and receiving payment.

The third measurement was “block size”. This relates to how large the chain is at any given time, with larger chains taking longer to mine than shorter ones.

And lastly we looked at the volume of transactions conducted. Any asset, in particular any currency, which is more widely used will be more valuable than one which is used less frequently.

In our study, we examined data from Bitcoin’s early days – from July 2010 to November 2017. The price of one Bitcoin did not rise above US$1 until April 16, 2011, then to US$10 on June 3, 2011 and US$100 on April 2, 2013. Since then the price rise has clearly been exceptional.

Price of Bitcoin

Source: Data:

We then applied an accepted method that is used to detect and date stamp bubbles after they burst. In essence, this involves identifying the existence of an explosive component in a series. As the series, here the price of bitcoin, “explodes”, it runs the risk, like any explosion, of flying apart.

A possibly counter-intuitive result of this approach is that if a fundamental driver and the price of an asset both show an explosive component, we might not conclude a bubble is present. A bubble is when something deviates from its fundamental value. If the fundamental value is itself growing explosively then the price would also.

Think of dividends on a stock. If, somehow, these were to grow at an explosive rate we might expect to see the price do the same. While unsustainable, this is not technically a bubble. To overcome this, we then date stamp a bubble as being present when the price shows an explosive component and the underlying fundamentals do not.

Here are the results of the analysis:

The Bitcoin Bubbles. Authors own calculations

The orange lines denote when the price is showing explosive behaviour. We also see a period where the hash rate was growing explosively – the blue columns in late 2013 and early 2014. This is also an indication of a price bubble, which went on to burst.

So there are clear points where bubbles are visible – including now. The price of Bitcoin at present shows explosive behaviour in the absence of anything similar in its fundamentals. We see the price moving upwards in a manner that is not related to the technical underpinnings. It is a clear bubble.

A weakness of these tests and indeed all bubble identification tests is that they take place after the bubble has burst. Even this test, which can be redone as swiftly as new data arrives, is such. Bubbles by their nature grow in a compound manner – so even a day or two delay in addressing the situation can make a bubble significantly worse.

What is not yet available is an accurate advanced warning bubble indicator. In its absence, this approach may be the best. Unfortunately, we cannot use this approach to determine the extent of the bubble. There is no well-accepted model that suggests a “fair” value for Bitcoin. But whatever that level is, it is almost certain that, at present, it is well below where we are now.

December 01, 2017

Russia Developing Global ICO Ratings Standard With 30 Countries

By Kevin Helms - December 01, 2017 (

The Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency has partnered with representatives of 30 countries to develop a global ratings standard for initial coin offerings (ICOs). The association is also in talks with the Russian central bank to impose limits on ICO investments.

Russia Developing Global ICO Ratings Standard

The Russian Association of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (RACIB) has announced that they will be developing a uniform ratings standard for ICOs, Izvestia newspaper reported this week.

The association was established with the participation of Herman Klimenko, the adviser to the President of the Russian Federation on Internet development. Its goal is to unite blockchain participants as well as owners, miners, and investors of cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

The director of the association, Arseny Shchetsin, told the news outlet that this development “will become the first in the world standard of ratings in the field of ICO,” noting that it will be applicable to not only Russian companies but also foreign ones. Currently, the industry operates on a self-regulation basis with each ratings agency adopting its own ratings system. RACIB decided to develop a standard because there is “a large number of scammers who manipulate the ratings” in the ICO market, using “unknown methodology and for a fee to raise the score,” he explained.

To develop this global standard, RACIB entered into partnership agreements with 30 organizations, which it considers “the largest players in the industry from different countries,” the publication conveyed, adding that:

"The association cooperates with representatives of Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Singapore, India, Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Ireland, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Latvia, Indonesia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Estonia, etc. The requirements of the Russian standard are planned to be coordinated with the international community".

Restrictions on ICO Investments

Also this week, Vladimir Putin’s advisor on Internet development, Herman Klimenko, said that the association is discussing ICO investment restrictions with the central bank, Rambler News Service reported. According to him, an investment ceiling as low as $1,000 per project and $10,000 per year are being discussed.

“Collecting an amount of $2-5 million with such restrictions is very easy. The state, naturally, will not legalize the crowdfunding projects in the amount of $200-300 million for one project,” he elaborated. “But some reasonable limitations for medium-sized businesses, I think, are quite realistic for them,” he emphasized and was quoted saying:

"What we are now talking about with the central bank is a certain restriction on the maximum amount of attracting, for example, from a person, and restrictions in general per person per year".

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and RACIB.

November 30, 2017

NYU Plans to launch an Undergraduate Course in Cryptocurrencies

By Avi Mizrahi - December 01, 2017 (

This year’s incredible bitcoin rally has raised a lot of interest in the cryptocurrency and created huge demand from people to learn everything they can about the phenomena. One academic institution which tries to answer this call is New York University (NYU).

Bitcoin 101 at NYU

The Stern School of Business at NYU was the first major US academic institution to offer a course in cryptocurrencies to its graduate students back in 2014. Now the school plans to offer a new option for undergraduates to learn about the field as well, NYU professor David Yermack told the Financial Times.

This new course is likely to be a highly sought one among NYU undergrads. Starting out with just a few dozen students, the graduate course accommodated 100 this year with many more applying to get in, and is expected to reach about 300 graduate students next year. “We are moving it to our largest auditorium, with capacity for 350 students,” the professor exclaimed.


Universities that wish to offer classes about bitcoin, blockchain and other cryptocurrency related material face two problematic issues at the moment.

First, as anyone who follows the news can tell you, these subjects are changing at an incredible speed and if you were to write a textbook about the latest developments it will be out of date by the time it is printed. As Prof Yermack said: “Year over year we’ll change well over half the course material. It keeps you young to be reading half the night just to keep up with the latest innovations.”

Secondly and more importunately, the field is suffering from an acute talent shortage. With a teeming market full of new projects raising funds via ICOs, established companies exploring how to harness blockchain technology for their needs, and Wall Street heavyweights racing to start bitcoin trading, the competition for knowledgeable individuals is fierce. “Our biggest challenge is finding enough people to teach the courses,” explained Prof Yermack.

If you are looking to learn about bitcoin, but can’t make it to NYU, there is no reason to worry. All of the material needed can be found freely on the internet. And if you desire an Ivy League seal of approval, Princeton offers a ‘Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies’ course on Coursera.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

November 28, 2017

This new scaling layer could make payment channels ten times more effective

By Michiel Mulders - November 27, 2017 (

There is no disputing the fact that the Bitcoin network has scalability problems. Micropayment channels are a solution to increase the transaction rate and speed. Yet, this is not the golden solution. This micropayments solution needs a fixed amount of funds to be locked into each channel’s multisignature wallet and requires a transaction for each channel creation and closure. This hinders the Blockchain network from upscaling to a global payment system because Bitcoin’s capacity is limited.

A recently published research paper by a university in Zurich suggests implementing a new layer in between the blockchain and payment channels that enables off-blockchain channel funding to reduce stress on the Bitcoin blockchain.

What Are Micropayment Channels?

The paper mentions two challenges: “Micropayment channel networks create new problems, which have not been solved in the original papers. We identify two main challenges — the blockchain capacity and locked-in funds.”

Before we go any further into this proposed solution, it is essential to understand the concept of micropayment channels. Bitcoin’s blockchain network doesn’t allow you to send many micropayments of tiny amounts of bitcoin. Bitcoin’s block weight limit caps this at less than 10 transactions per second, on average.

Payment channels let users lock up a fixed amount of funds in a multisignature wallet controlled by the client and receiver. A channel can be opened by sending a transaction to the blockchain. Next, an unlimited amount of payments can be made between the client and receiver. These payments are performed off-chain and only exist between both participants.

Once a channel is closed, a final transaction containing end balances will be sent out to the Bitcoin network. This is the base implementation of micropayment channels; a more evolved implementation is the lightning network, which allows bidirectional payment channels.

Reducing many hundreds, thousands or even more transactions to just two transactions per channel are a drastic improvement. Still, it is not enough for bringing the Bitcoin network to the level of a world-wide payment system. A channel can only exist between two participants. So, if each person in a group of 20 wants to open five channels, this will require a lot of transactions — 200 to be exact. Besides that, there is no solution for when the amount of locked funds is exceeded for a specific channel.

Proposed Solution

The paper tells us about a new layer: “We introduce a new layer between the blockchain and the payment network, giving a three layered system. The new second layer consists of multi-party micropayment channels we call channel factories, which can quickly fund regular two party channels.”

The paper suggest a three-layered system in which the first and third layers already exist. The first layer locks the funds, and the third layer performs the actual transfers of currencies. The new second layer can be seen as a channel factory. It is responsible for creating multi-party micropayment channels and quickly refunding wallets when they are almost depleted. The paper calculated a savings of up to 90 percent for a group of 20 nodes with 100 channels in between them.

Instead of sending a blockchain transaction for each channel creation or closure, the paper suggests a system where just one transaction is needed to open multiple channels without further blockchain contact. Funds are locked into a shared wallet between a group of nodes instead of a specific channel. Furthermore, funds can be moved between groups with just an attached message with further details such as a receiver address. All of this happens off-blockchain.

The only addressed risk is that a user within a group can close the channel factory: the second layer. This induces a higher mining fee because more blockchain space is used. While this is not a big risk — a user won’t gain personal advantage by doing so — it does limit the usefulness of large groups.

Next, it is possible that the receiver doesn’t sign a transaction. The paper introduces the use of either timelocks or punishments for dishonest parties. They will focus on timelocks because they think it performs much better. After a timelock has elapsed, the current status of the channel will be broadcasted to the blockchain and the channel will be closed; no punishment is applied.

There is no risk in securing the funds. The multisignature wallet has a many-to-many constraint containing all signatures of the involved actors. Funds can only be spent when all actors have signed the transaction, so no one can be deprived of funds without signing for it themselves.

November 27, 2017

United Arab Emirates Fund CEO throws shade at JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon

By C. Edward Kelso - November 27, 2017 (

شركة مبادلة (Mubadala Development Company PJSC), an Abu Dhabi-based state holding company, appears receptive to the global phenomenon sweeping through professional finance circles that is bitcoin. Its CEO, when asked about Jamie Dimon’s comments calling the decentralized currency a “fraud” that will “blow up,” answered that it was too soon to dismiss Satoshi’s creation. 

Jamie Dimon Dismissal Dismissed

“I have still have not formed a clear view on this,” Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO and Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi company, began with regard to the technology undergirding bitcoin. “We’re still getting educated on this. The area I would have concern on, still, is the regulatory side. How is this going to be regulated?” he asked rhetorically.

Mubadala is an Abu Dhabi state holding company operating within a joint-stock scheme with assets well above 100 billion USD. The fund is proposed as “a pioneering global investor, deploying capital with integrity and ingenuity to accelerate economic growth for the long-term benefit of Abu Dhabi,” according to its website.

“Because I think blockchain,” Mr. Al Mubarak continued, “its growth, let’s say, from single digits to double digits to astronomical growth, will really depend on how fast you can execute, and will you be able to execute under a regulatory environment that is acceptable. I think if they’re able to crack that, I think it’s going to be an incredible story. But, to date, I’d say I am still on the fence.”

The CNBC interviewer then asked in follow-up: “What about bitcoin, because Jamie Dimon is calling it a fraud. Do you agree?”

“No. I wouldn’t agree in calling it a fraud,” Mr. Al Mubarak answered quickly. “I would say time will tell. It could well be and it could as well not be. I think one has to be open-minded.”

Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

Within the emirate, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak is a gadfly. He’s on hand for every important world-leader reception taken by Abu Dhabi’s President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, from Bill Gates to bilateral talks with France.

Educated in the United States and young at 41, Mr. Al Mubarak spreads himself among many boards and directorships in and around Abu Dhabi. His willingness to at least entertain bitcoin and distributed ledger technology is an encouraging sign for those who wish for greater crypto adoption in the region.

Images courtesy of: Pixabay, Blogger, Wiki Commons. 

November 24, 2017

European Insurance Sector adopting Blockchain to protect data

By Jon Buck - November 11, 2017 (

It seems that Blockchain technology is becoming ubiquitous among financial and technology spaces these days. With a huge adoption curve, the new technology space is quickly finding use cases in a number of industries.

The latest addition to the Blockchain revolution is insurance, as a group of fourteen European insurance providers have partnered together with Deloitte and other firms to provide a simple system for insurers to comply with the Hamon Law, with requires insurers to provide simple transfers for clients who wish to change companies during the first year.

Data protection is paramount

The system will allow for highly secure information storage for customer data. The newest regulations from the EU, called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will take effect in 2018, and could impose massive fines on companies that aren’t particularly protective of consumer data. The Blockchain technology platform will do what other technologies cannot in data protection.

The platform specifically relies on the Proof of Process technology in order to secure user data through a shared data repository. The system will limit data release to the absolute minimum for processing transactions. With increasing need for security, Blockchain is bringing substantial change for the insurance sector.

Adam Perlow Founder and CEO of Zen Protocol, said:

“If the insurer sets some money in a smart contract, and the contract pays out based on the occurrence of an event as determined by an objective actuary/oracle, then there is no need for novel incentive schemes, the insurer simply cannot avoid the payout. In the long run, as one insurance company uses smart contracts to gain the public trust, others will be forced to follow suit.”

How the blockchain will radically transform the economy

By Bettina Warburg

Say hello to the decentralized economy -- the blockchain is about to change everything. In this lucid explainer of the complex (and confusing) technology, Bettina Warburg describes how the blockchain will eliminate the need for centralized institutions like banks or governments to facilitate trade, evolving age-old models of commerce and finance into something far more interesting: a distributed, transparent, autonomous system for exchanging value.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.

November 23, 2017

The Top 9 Counterparty Projects, By consensus

By Jon Southurst - July 26, 2016 (

For everyone confused by the drama surrounding certain blockchain projects this week, it might be time to take a break and look at some alternative platforms – starting with Counterparty.

As examples of what the platform can do, asked Trevor Altpeter and other members of the Counterparty Foundation to name their favorite projects built using Counterparty or using its tokens. The top not-quite-ten list is below.

An Explanation

First, some explanation of Counterparty and the way its tokens work is necessary, as it works differently to other blockchain projects.

Counterparty was started as a means to create new digital assets and other decentralized financial while using the Bitcoin blockchain. Counterparty also has its own blockchain, which receives instructions from bitcoin’s chain via a process known as “embedded consensus.”

It interacts via its native “currency” XCP, which is not a competitor to bitcoin – and cannot exist without it. XCP value was created in January-February 2014 by sending bitcoins to unspendable addresses.

This “proof of burn” method was intended to avoid pre-mines and token sales, which are often used to raise funds for other projects, but remain controversial with some users and could raise regulators’ eyebrows.

A total 2100 BTC was “burned” in that period and the resulting amount of XCP was permanently fixed. XCP itself is burned as fuel for smart contracts, and the amount required is continually adjusted so it cannot reach zero.

Custom Tokens

Any Counterparty wallet holding XCP can be used to create a custom token (i.e. a new cryptocurrency). The user chooses the amount (in XCP) to spend, the total number of tokens and the name. These tokens can then be sent and received using Counterparty-compatible wallets (more about those below) and if popular, even traded on some exchanges.

Counterparty addresses look the same as Bitcoin addresses and transaction information is encoded on the Bitcoin blockchain. The tokens can be used in games, for voting and crowdfunding, authentication, decentralized applications, or simply for vanity or fun.

Top 9 Projects

1. Storj
Storj is a decentralized cloud storage technology. Storj created a cryptocurrency known as SJCX that exists as a Counterparty asset. Storj is working with Counterparty developers to implement payment channel technology to enable Storj micropayments to participants on the Storj network. Storj is one of the most successful cryptocurrency projects in terms of enterprise interest – it is now a part of Microsoft Azure and generating consistent interest from corporate entities.  

2. Spells of Genesis
Spells of Genesis is a mobile game developed by Moonga and a leading innovator in the concept of in-game assets. Using Counterparty, Spells of Genesis has created an in-game medium of exchange known as BitCrystals. Spells of Genesis also makes use of in-game items in the form of trading cards (also launched via Counterparty). A full list of SOG assets can be viewed here.

3. IndieSquare Wallet
IndieSquare is a mobile Bitcoin and Counterparty wallet with “a great interface and a number of unique features.” IndieSquare Wallet facilitates uses of the Counterparty Decentralized Exchange (DEx) allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin, XCP, and Counterparty assets with no middleman. Users can also create and manage assets/tokens directly from the IndieSquare Wallet, assuming they have XCP and BTC stored there.

IndieSquare looks to offer easy-to-use APIs for web and mobile services in the near future, allowing third party devs to develop powerful and creative Counterparty token integrated services beyond financial applications – such as gaming and content creation.

4. GetGems
GetGems is a messaging app and wallet built on top of Telegram that has created a cryptocurrency on Counterparty known as GEMZ. GetGems’ biggest technological innovation to date is a patented keyboard payment solution known as “Paykey.”

5. Let’s Talk Bitcoin/LTBcoin
Let’s Talk Bitcoin is one of cryptocurrency’s oldest and most popular podcasts, and for many provided an initial Bitcoin education. Hosts Adam B. Levine, Andreas Antonopoulos and Stephanie Murphy have been regulars for over three years. LTBcoin, created as a reward for podcast listeners and content creators, is the asset with the most transactions on the Counterparty network to date.

6. CoinDaddy
CoinDaddy is a site created and run by Counterparty community director Jeremy Johnson (J-Dog). It is an all-purpose Counterparty enhancement site – a cryptocurrency version of CoinDaddy and Tokenly are expected to be increasingly important as Counterparty gains popularity and utility.

7. Tokenly
Tokenly is created by former Counterparty community director Devon Weller and Adam B. Levine. The goal of Tokenly is to add tools that make use of Counterparty technology. Two highly successful tools offered by Tokenly are the Tokenly swapbot and token-controlled access using Counterparty tokens.

8. FoldingCoin
FoldingCoin is a rewards program that distributes tokens called FLDC to participants to the global Folding@home network. Folding@home is a program developed by Stanford University that “donates” users’ computer power to help find cures for diseases. Several projects that have launched on the Counterparty network have used merged folding as a fair distribution method.

9. Topcoin
Topcoin is a reward system focused on domain registrars and online service providers such as VPS (virtual private server) companies. Topcoin has been functioning for quite a while under the radar, and users can spend Topcoin on today with ChunkHost – other domain registrars are expected to be added in future.

Note: the above list is as suggested by the Counterparty Foundation, and is not an official review or endorsement by of the projects included. The writer of this article does not currently hold any XCP.

Images courtesy of,

Jon Southurst

Jon Southurst has been interested in bitcoin since reading Neal Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon' in 2012. A long-time tech writer, he has been a regular contributor at CoinDesk and has written for, DeepDotWeb and ancient print publications. He lives on an artificial island in Tokyo.

November 22, 2017

Rare Pepe Blockchain Cards have produced more value than most ICOs

By Jamie Redman - November 23, 2017 (

Over the course of 2017, there’s been a lot of blockchain projects, and the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) craze has been off the charts. One thing is for sure: a great majority of these ERC-20 tokens and some of the aspiring distributed ledger efforts have produced very little value, minus the gains and losses captured from speculative markets. However, there is one blockchain project created a year ago that has created a robust ecosystem based on a popular internet meme — Pepe the Frog.

Preserving the Rareness of Pepe the Frog

It’s been over a year since the Rare Pepe blockchain trading card economy was created bringing the dankest, most rarest pepes to the cryptocurrency environment. reported on the launch of the first few series of Rare Pepe cards traded as counterparty (XCP) assets over the bitcoin blockchain. 

Rare Pepe cards are basically assets designed utilizing the Counterparty blockchain similarly to the popular card game Spells of Genesis. Counterparty assets are held within the Bitcoin blockchain inside traditional BTC transactions. These tokens or assets are different than the technology used in Colored Coins, as they are not tethered to a specific BTC address or balance. This allows people to transfer bitcoin without affecting underlying assets like Rare Pepes. In addition to the technology behind these collectible cards, pepes are traded on the decentralized Counterparty-based exchange called DEx. Utilizing the DEx exchange, users can purchase and exchange extremely rare pepes in XCP-denominations. Pepes can also be collected using the Rare Pepe Wallet which supports XCP, BTC, Pepecash, and gift cards.

Due to the frog’s extreme popularity, the Rare Pepe blockchain scene has a robust community, foundation, a wallet, and a trading card directory. Since then the community has grown significantly, and certain cards have been exchanged for thousands of dollars this year. As far as laughter and immutable Pepes that are always available on the blockchain go, this grassroots community has produced far more value than most ICOs in 2017.

“For years people have been trying to preserve the rarest of pepes from being stolen — Thanks to bitcoin and counterparty we can associate these Rare Pepes with tokens to make them truly rare,” explains the Rare Pepe blockchain trading card’s directory page.   

"Now Pepes can preserve their rareness and actually be traded on the market".

The Rare Pepe Blockchain Economy Grows in 2017

Blockchain-based Rare Pepes are actively traded on the market alongside the community’s native token Pepe Cash. Back in 2016 Pepe Cash was trading at less than $0.000087 per token and these days it trades for $0.02. Further, as far as the collectible pepes are concerned, some cards have traded for thousands of dollars. For instance, the very rare card ‘Lord Kek’ (only 10 made) traded for 1600 XCP or $22,720 at today’s spot prices. The first series ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ card (300 in circulation) has traded for $200.  

The Rare Pepe Directory shows the card assets now have a total of 30 series with roughly 20 cards per set. The compendium of Rare Pepe blockchain assets now includes cards like Marty Pepfly, Pepe Punchout, Games of Trump, Pepe Soup, the Dark Pepe, Playboy Pepe and so many more. Scrolling through the entire directory of blockchain based pepes can take hours and even days to review, as the library is not only dank but vast.

The Rare Pepe Community Isn’t Going Away, It’s Immutable

These days the community’s Telegram group has over 1500 active members sharing and discussing their very favorite pepe cards. Alongside this is the Rare Pepe Foundation which has acted as the great protector from those trying to infiltrate the internet frog trading card ecosystem. For instance, the foundation claims it is preparing a 29-day Rare Pepe Training Conference that will give out truly rare certificates to the event’s participants.

“The Rare Pepe Blockchain Training Conference is a new kind of conference,” explains the foundation’s website.

"Not only will the event be the first 29-day Rare Pepe blockchain training event ever, but it will be the first one where attendees can walk away with real Rare certifications in the field, as well as continuing education credits for professional Rare credentials".

Green Frogs and DLTs

Further, the foundation details that Rare Pepe blockchain technology is being actively researched by financial incumbents, tech giants, and venture capitalists. Just a few hours of research will tell anyone this particular distributed ledger tech (DLT) based on green frogs just might transform society for the better.

So if you’re sick of hearing about blockchain projects that pretend to be backed by real-estate and diamonds, then the pepe blockchain space may interest you. ICOs that raise millions worth of ether and do nothing with it but party continue to come and go, but these dank trading cards will be cemented in time forever.

Images via Shutterstock, The Rare Pepe Blockchain Community, Foundation, and Directory.

Jamie Redman

Jamie Redman is a financial tech journalist living in Florida. Redman has been an active member of the cryptocurrency community since 2011. He has a passion for Bitcoin, open source code, and decentralized applications. Redman has written hundreds of articles about the disruptive protocols emerging today.

Switzerland - the cradle of ICO

By Margaret Nail - November 22, 2017 (

Swiss projects accounted for more than 20% of the funds raised out of 324 ICOs. What jurisdictions and what legal status are chosen by projects that launch ICO, read in the article by Bitnewstoday.


According to, Switzerland-based projects accounted for at least 21.52% of all the funds raised with ICO, Hong Kong - 5.38%, Australia - 1.75%, Singapore - 1.01%, the Cayman Islands - 0.55%, the United Kingdom - 0.48%.

Pic. 1 Structure of funds raised with ICO by jurisdiction

Source: Calculations of

Viewed in quantitative terms, 18 out of 324 projects were registered in Switzerland, 5 projects - in the Cayman Islands, the UK and Singapore.

Legal Status

As for the legal status, projects registered in the form of corporations account for 16% of the funds raised, foundations - 12%, 2% of the funds come from projects that decided to become limited liability companies.

Pic. 2 Structure of the funds raised with ICO by legal status

Source: Calculations of

In the course of the analysis, it was revealed that most of the projects that had already raised funds with ICO tend to issue tokens on the Ethereum platform. So 68% of the previous ICOs chose ETH tokens (ERC 20), 6% - WAVES, 3.3% - New Blockchain.

November 20, 2017

Stanford’s Applied Cryptography Group aims to Bulletproof Bitcoin

By C. Edward Kelso - November 20, 2017 (

Stanford University’s Applied Cryptography Group (ACG) is proposing Bulletproofs, a way to drastically reduce blockchain data, roughly ten-fold. The ACG team argues how using aggregation for transaction proofs and reducing block size will result in two goals long sought in Bitcoin, confidentiality and speed. 

Bitcoin’s Bulletproofs

Bulletproofs: Efficient Range Proofs for Confidential Transactions is a working publication from Stanford University’s Applied Cryptography Group. The project is overseen by professor Dan Boneh, and it involves PhD students and researchers from Stanford, University College London, and Blockstream. “Bulletproofs are designed to enable efficient confidential transactions in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” a background abstract begins.

A common misconception is transacting in bitcoin is somehow anonymous, confidential. The press often touts it as such, especially in the service of crime.

The irony of payment systems in the digital age is how public they are. Entire industries have been built up around gathering payment information, habits. Bitcoin is a step, for sure, toward thwarting institutional electronic payments’ invasiveness, but it is a long way from the anonymity of cash, for example.

“Confidential transactions hide the amount that is transferred in the transaction,” the paper continues, “Every confidential transaction contains a cryptographic proof that the transaction is valid. Bulletproofs shrink the size of the cryptographic proof from over 10kB to less than 1kB,” they claim.

Could Bulletproofs Ease the Scaling Debate?

Nothing in the paper overtly refers to the ongoing scaling debate, other than Bulletproofs assisting in scaling as a general idea. Those championing large block sizes have done so under the criticism of slow transaction times and higher fees. Meanwhile, status-quo arguments revolve around a bitcoin not reserved for micropayments, more for a settlement standard and store of value.

“If all Bitcoin transactions were confidential and used Bulletproofs, then the total size of the blockchain would be only 17 GB, compared to 160 GB with the currently used proofs,” authors Benedikt Bünz, Jonathan Bootle, Dan Boneh, Andrew Poelstra, Pieter Wiulle, Greg Maxwell insist.

Professor Dan Boneh
zkSNARKs, popularized in ZCash, are precursors to Bulletproofs. However, “Bulletproofs are short non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs that require no trusted setup,” which is the case with SNARKs.

“A Bulletproof can be used to convince a verifier that an encrypted plaintext is well formed. For example, prove that an encrypted number is in a given range, without revealing anything else about the number,” the ACG team asserts. The tradeoff in using Bulletproofs is in verification, as it is “more time consuming than verifying a SNARK proof.”

Block efficiency usage means the ACG proposal can “have many other applications in cryptographic protocols,” they write, “such as shortening proofs of solvency, short verifiable shuffles, confidential smart contracts, and as a general drop-in replacement for Sigma-protocols.”

Images courtesy of: Pixabay, Remington, Twitter. 

C. Edward Kelso

C. Edward Kelso is a long-time fintech journalist, passionately covering the cryptocurrency space since 2014.

How Blockchain can help creators and consumers monetize data

By Jon Buck - September 25, 2017 (

Data is rapidly becoming the most valuable commodity around. Enterprise-level companies have embraced data analytics for sales, market analysis and customer retention, among other things.

But with the rush to big data, a deeper philosophical question arises. Who owns the data that companies access and use for monetizing industries? Do the consumers who create the data own the data or do the platforms used for the data own the data?

Data creators like photographers, writers and 3D image developers are seeking new and helpful ways to monetize data. At the same time, consumers want some control over what data is made public and getting a stake in what their public data is selling for.

Blockchain for creators

Blockchain technology is a distributed ledger database, meaning that information can be placed on the database and stored or distributed to all those within the database as well.

This distributed system contains a series of profound benefits for the financial security, as well as for data sharing. Some companies have felt the underlying push by creators to be able to share and sell their content to other users freely, without the control of centralized hubs.

Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google take the work that is uploaded to them and use it to increase membership, and therefore increase profit. Creators are left with a pittance, only able to monetize content through ad schemes on the respective sites, or through difficult data channels.

However, Blockchain technology creates a system where creators of content are able to sell that content directly to buyers without the intervention of a centralized corporation. Rather than hubs taking the bulk of the funds because of the service they provide, the creator is able to receive the full value of their content. Effectively, the managerial hub is being outsourced to Blockchain technology.

The power of this system should be evident. Companies like Cappasity, for example, are able to create databases of 3D images useful for VR and online retailers. Rather than having to pay Google or a corporate conglomerate who set their own prices and can refuse certain users, platform members are free to set prices and sell to whomever they like.

While the opportunity to monetize creative content has generally been out of the reach of creators, the distributed ledger system of Blockchain technology brings just such a system into the mainstream.

Blockchain for consumers

Beyond simply data for creators, Blockchain is also providing new and intriguing ways to monetize content for consumers. Data is incredibly valuable to businesses who are seeking to attract new customers or keep old ones.

The data that users produce every day, from social media to Internet of Things (IoT), and even data from wearable devices all have value. In fact, some analysts argue that the .7GB of data you potentially produce every day has value in the hundreds of dollars.  

Of course, there is absolutely no way to monetize that data on traditional platforms, since the centralized corporations are already seeking to monetize the content for their own bottom line.

However, Blockchain technology allows both consumers and buyers to interact over personal data in a monetized way. The peer-to-peer network system of Blockchain technology provides a platform where data can be sold and bought privately.

Many companies are already building this style of data control mechanism, creating a system where users can funnel all personal data into a single decentralized ledger, and from there, choose which data to sell to data buyers within the platform. Roger Haenni, cofounder and CEO at Datum, a personal data marketplace, said:

“Blockchain technology allows for secure storage of data in a trustless and decentralized manner, where individuals own the keys to their own data, outside the control of any large entity…this allows, for the first time, to create a decentralized data storage network that allows anyone to monetize their data without being controlled by one single actor.”

While at first glance, this would seem to run contrary to demand among buyers, it is important to remember that buyers are already paying for data - and paying a lot. Platforms like this would allow them to continue to buy, but to do so with consumers directly, and probably for far less overall.

Just a foot in the door

While these solutions seem cutting edge, the reality is that we have only just begun to learn about ways that the genius of Blockchain technology can be put to use for data control and monetization. Unquestionably, new applications and systems will continue to arise, creating more and better ways for individuals to take control of the data they create and produce.