The Future of Bitcoin Cash Hangs in the Balance: Will the Hard Fork Happen?

A hard fork is seeming more and more likely for Bitcoin Cash following the decision to implement a ‘pre-consensus’ protocol on November 15th.

Now, in plain English:

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The Bitcoin Cash network has scheduled a software upgrade. If there aren’t enough stakeholders who support the software upgrade, a separate blockchain (and a new cryptocurrency) could be formed. When this happens, it’s called a hard fork–a divergence that results in a split. A fork is just another way to say ‘software upgrade’; when a fork doesn’t result in the formation of two separate chains, it’s called a ‘soft fork.’ Bitcoin Cash has undergone at least one soft fork in the past.

This time around, the proposed fork involves a ‘pre-consensus’ protocol. The developer responsible for creating the upgrade, Amaury Sechet, describes this protocol as “a set of technologies allowing network participants to agree as much as possible on what the next block is going to look like.”

The pre-consensus protocol has been the subject of hot debate ever since Sechet posted plans describing the fork in July. Beijing-based mining giant Bitmain has said that it supports the fork, which many consider to be the ‘magic bullet’ to implement the software upgrade without the formation of a new chain.

What does this mean for the future of Bitcoin Cash?

Hot Debate Over the Future of BCH

A number of other prominent and controversial figures in the crypto community have spoken out vehemently against the proposed upgrade. Craig S. Wright, the self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto (creator of Bitcoin), has expressed major displeasure with Bitcoin ABC’s Wormhole Partnership with Bitmain. Bitcoin ABC is the group of developers responsible for creating Bitcoin Cash.

The Wormhole Partnership granted Bitmain the power to burn BCH tokens to create scarcity on the network, a practice that is supposed to maintain the value of the digital currency. Wright has spoken out against the partnership, and released his own whitepaper in response to the collaboration that proposes (among other things) a 128mb block size for BCH.

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Individuals on both sides of the debate have been accusing each other of conspiring. Bitmain founder Jihan Wu came after SBI Holdings, a financial services company group based in Tokyo, Japan:

A Hard Fork Could Negatively Impact Businesses Who Rely on the BCH Ledger

Of course, the company denied Wu’s accusations. However, Jerry Chan, Head of Department at SBI Crypto Solutions, pointed out that a split wouldn’t bode well for cryptocurrency as it pertains to use within businesses and institutions. SBI Crypto Solutions is the cryptocurrency department of SBI Holdings.

“As a main proponent of the business community which is involved in many blockchain development projects, the biggest risk in using a public blockchain is the ability of the ledger to split beyond the control of the users of the system to prevent,” Chan told Finance Magnates. “At the end of the day, the reason to honor the longest sustained proof of work chain is stemming from the desire to maintain just 1 BCH chain.”

The risk of a hard fork “makes using the blockchain for long term contracts untenable due to the fact that ledger splits will cause much legal issues for those who have contracts on the ledger. Therefore in order for businesses to use public ledgers for their applications (more than just simple payments) we require a modicum of assurance that the chain will not split permanently after we start using it as our public shared record of contracts and trades.”

Jerry Chan, SBI Crypto Solutions.

Therefore, Chan believes that the formation of a new chain is not in the best interest of the Bitcoin Cash community at large. “The only way this can be assured is if we as a community always and only support the chain with the longest and most sustained proof of work applied to it. (sustained as to exclude temporary chain re-organizations caused by proponents ‘buying’ or ‘borrowing’ hashpower from BTC mining in order to change the BCH chain. This will not be further necessary after BTC mining is a minority as compared to BCH).”

At the same time, however, Chan acknowledged that Bitcoin Cash is in need of changes that would make it more usable. “We believe Bitcoin Cash must scale to global payment levels in order to be successful,” he said. “We also believe that a crypto currency is meant to be USED and not just held, for the velocity of money is a big part of its value proposition.”

The Irony of Bitcoin Cash’s Origins

Bitcoin Cash itself came into being as the result of a hard fork from the Bitcoin blockchain. There was a serious debate in the Bitcoin community about Bitcoin’s functionality.

Those who believed that Bitcoin was a sort of ‘digital gold’ (meaning an investment to hold onto for longer periods of time) did not want to increase its scalability. Those who saw Bitcoin as ‘digital cash’ (meaning a tool for transacting quickly and regularly), well, did. There were still others who wanted to increase Bitcoin’s transaction capabilities, but disagreed with how the proposed software upgrade was going to do it.

In the end, there weren’t enough supporters of the software upgrade to implement it onto the existing Bitcoin network. Thus, Bitcoin Cash was formed. With it came a group of supporters who claimed it was ‘the real Bitcoin’, and confusion ensued–but that’s another story for another time.

Will a Hard Fork Actually Happen?

The irony that BCH may be facing a hard fork hasn’t been lost on the crypto community at large.

Roger Ver, the ‘Bitcoin Jesus’ turned ‘Bitcoin Judas’, was one of the loudest voices supporting the software upgrade that resulted in the creation of Bitcoin Cash. He is also one of the leaders of the ‘BCH is the real Bitcoin’ movement. For now, Ver still hasn’t announced which side of the camp he’s on–however, he has publicly stated that both sides of the community should respect the freedoms of their opponents, even if a hard fork does take place.

“If it wasn’t for those people willing to dissent with the minority hash rate, Bitcoin Cash would never exist,” he said on Bitcoin Cash News. He also told Bloomberg he doesn’t believe that the ideological split in the community is big enough to actually happen.

Joey King, software developer at Bitcoin.com, echoed Ver’s statements. Bitcoin.com isa company that provides Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash services; Ver is the company’s CEO. “I don’t think a split is likely,” King told Finance Magnates.” When you look at the run up to the original Bitcoin Cash fork in August of 2017, you see that both camps spent years negotiating and jockeying for position. When the fork finally happened, it came as a surprise even to industry veterans and insiders.”

Joey King, Bitcoin.com.

King added that the relatively high amount of media coverage on the fork may have allowed some preventative actions to be taken: “now we have multiple sides loudly proclaiming their intentions to fork. Noise about a split offers leverage. When the intention is to fork, secrecy prevails.”

The Show Must Go On

Even if a hard fork is ultimately unlikely, a growing number of companies are behaving as though it may happen. More and more cryptocurrency exchanges have published plans for a post-hard fork scenario; CoinEx posted an announcement that “Should [the hard fork] happen, all Bitcoin Cash holders will then receive BSV assets against a 1:1 ratio on your BCH assets.” BSV is the new currency that will form if the hard fork takes place.

Despite the fact that Bitcoin Cash has stayed within the top 10 in terms of coins with the largest market caps since its 2017 origin, it is still a young network–one that is bound for change. This is the first serious test of BCH’ mettle; the way that the network (and its community) handle the upcoming fork will determine its future forever.

Three Years Later, Ethereum’s Hottest DApps Are (Still) ICOs and Cats

With Ethereum’s launch in 2015 came a flurry of excitement over the future potential of smart contracts.

Utilizing a more flexible scripting language than Bitcoin, the platform’s decentralized applications (DApps) were touted by proponents as unlocking a plethora of formerly untapped use cases for the blockchain. From tokenized assets and blockchain-based legal contracts to healthcare records and supply chain tracking, DApps are going to remold traditional industries in their image, solve bottlenecks and revolutionize enterprise inefficiencies out of existence.

More than three years later, and we’re still waiting for the revolution.

The Hard Truth of Modern DApp Use

Taken in sum, Ethereum’s top 10 smart contract addresses account for just over 29 million transactions. Sounds substantial, as though the network is cracking on toward mainstream adoption, yeah?

The reality: this transaction volume went to DApps that are used for token sales, decentralized exchanges and trading digital kittens.

DApp Use

Source: SFOX 

This is according to research by SFOX, a cryptocurrency prime dealer for high net worth individuals with backing from the likes of the Digital Currency Group and Blockchain Capital. The data was compiled on behalf of SFOX’s clients, the firm told Bitcoin Magazine, as it “regularly reviews the usage of blockchains of the crypto assets [it] supports.” 

Using Jupyter Notebook to pull data from Google’s public dataset for Ethereum, the firm compiled a list of the most popular Ethereum smart contract addresses to see which DApps were gaining traction among the community.

DApp use

Source: SFOX

The results are in line with a common qualm amongst the community’s more discerning and critical voices, namely that DApps are used for little more than token speculation and exchange. Out of the 10 smart contracts that merited SFOX’s attention, only one was a tokenized use case that wasn’t either an exchange or an ICO contract.

In fact, the two most popular DApps were decentralized exchange (DEX) contracts for Ether Delta (now known as Forked Delta) and IDEX, respectively. As this data shows, the two DEXs are go-to hubs to trade ether and ERC-20 tokens, the most common token standard for minting assets on the Ethereum blockchain. Ether Delta has accounted for 10,354,398 transactions since its inception, while IDEX clocks in at 4,590,376.

In a show of irony, the third most popular smart contract was used to fund Ethereum’s leading competitor, EOS. Before launching its mainnet in June 2018, smart contract platform EOS held a continuous token sale, a year-long ICO that drew in billions in funding through 2,952,885 transactions. Two other Ethereum-based ICOs, Tron and OmiseGo, also made the list with 1,967,331 and 1,350,274 transactions, placing the cryptocurrency platforms at fifth and tenth, respectively.

The only smart contract on the list that doesn’t involve speculating or supporting exchange infrastructure comes in the form of what some have called “digital Beanie Babies.” Depending on the angle you take, even these could be considered a vessel for investment. CryptoKitties, a blockchain-based game for trading, breeding and collecting digital cats, has seen 2,568,983 transactions since it launched last November.

Built on the ERC-721 standard for non-fungible assets, each kitty is unique and sports its own distinct traits. The game grabbed headlines in the weeks following its release last year as enthusiasm for the pixilated felines drove prices for some of the rarer kitties to tens of thousands of dollars. This frenzied-demand clogged the Ethereum network, driving up transaction times and costs.

The Inroads of Speculation and Innovation

The only other notable smart contract that made SFOX’s list comes from Bitcoinereum, the self-proclaimed “first bitcoin mineable ERC-20 token,” ringing up 1,451,763 transactions by paying out mining rewards through the token’s smart contract. As for the rest, Bittrex’s and Poloniex’s wallet reserves for managing and trading ether and tokens account for more than 5 million shared transactions.

Of course, Ethereum DApps aren’t the only DApps in use today. EOS has emerged as a powerful rival, and, depending on the day, the platform surpasses Ethereum in transaction volume and users.

Still, the use cases on EOS are the same. If they’re not being used for exchange, EOS tokens are used to power smart contract-enabled games or gambling, two gaming applications it shares with its number one competitor Ethereum.

Even if they do feed gambling habits and fuel speculation, these gaming DApps are fine use cases in their own right. In correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, SFOX CEO Akbar Thobhani believes that “CryptoKitties is doing a great job, and it’s clear that they continue to have traction.”

But the technology is still very much in its infancy, and the smart contracts being used today are a far cry from the ones that optimistic futurists say will underwrite loans, settle legal contracts and tokenize anything from equities to personal data. As Thobhani put it, “It’s hard to say anything especially conclusive about broader DApp adoption” from the sample size, even if it did represent the most-used DApps to date.

These baby steps are the preliminary amblings of an ambitious technology that’s still learning to walk. But they are steps. Day to day, smart contracts and DApps are still functioning for their intended use cases, no matter how niche or inconsequential these uses may be. They’re laying a foundation for a future that may be a long time coming as the space grows up, as developers will have plenty of pain points to address, including smart contract security holes and scalability headaches, before smart contracts become consumer and enterprise grade for a mainstream audience.

So until that future comes, token-curated craps shooting and packs of digital cats will have to do for now.

CMC Markets Expands Cryptocurrency Offering to include BCH, LTC and XRP

CMC Markets, one of the big players in the retail trading space, announced on Monday that it has expanded its cryptocurrency spread betting and contracts for difference (CFD) offering. Now, traders have access to three more coins – bitcoin cash, litecoin and ripple.

Clients of the broker can now take a position on the three virtual currencies paired against the US dollar. The additional coins build upon CMC Market’s existing cryptocurrency offering, which at launch, consisted of bitcoin and ethereum.

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CMC Markets remains committed to virtual currencies

Back in March this year, the UK-based broker launched its cryptocurrency offering, joining the ranks of foreign exchange and CFD brokers to add virtual currencies to its repertoire. Originally, the firm only offered this new asset class to its institutional clients.

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However, in June, Finance Magnates reported that CMC Markets had extended its cryptocurrency spread bet and CFD offering to its retail clients. This meant retail investors could also take a position on bitcoin and ethereum paired against the US dollar.

David Fineberg, CMC Markets
David Fineberg, CMC Markets

Commenting on the expansion, David Fineberg, Group Commercial Director, said: “since the successful launch of our cryptocurrency offering in March, and subsequent extension to retail clients in July, our clients have expressed interest in extending their trading options beyond bitcoin and ethereum. We are pleased to offer them the chance to take a position on bitcoin cash, litecoin and ripple, three altcoins which continue to generate much speculation among traders.

“Spread bets and CFDs offer a way to trade on cryptocurrencies as clients can take a position on market movements without owning the asset. By trading with an established provider, funds can be deposited and withdrawn with ease, avoiding the risks of purchasing cryptocurrencies directly through an exchange. However, like all other financial instruments we offer, we always recommend clients understand the risks and conduct thorough research before trading.”

MinerGate is going to support Monero (XMR) hard fork

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MinerGate is going to support Monero (XMR) hard fork

Dear miners,

MinerGate team is glad to inform you that we intend to support the upcoming hard fork of the Monero (XMR) network. Scheduled on the block height of 1685555, the approximate date of the network update is October 18, 2018.

There are three major changes in the Monero protocol:

  1. A new form of range proofs, called Bulletproof, replacing old Borromean range proofs and significantly reducing both transactions size and fees (by approximately 80%);
  2. A PoW tweak to be implemented to curb any potential threat of ASICs and further preserve ASIC resistance;
  3. The minimum ring size of the ring signature is increased to 11 and will be static/fixed from now on.

The MinerGate team is ready to support these changes, like it was with the previous Monero (XMR) hard fork in April 2018. To continue mining XMR with MinerGate Monero mining pool on the newly updated blockchain, you will need to update your stable version of the mining software (not xFast Beta yet). The goal of our team is to provide users with a solid working solution to continue mining Monero after the fork, and the new XMR mining will be supported on the xFast versions soon.

Top-4 blockchain trends in 2018

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For a long time blockchain was considered only to be a driving technology behind cryptocurrency. However, the modern approach to the blockchain is constantly widening for the last several years and covers more and more enterprise fields. Current blockchain development trends are some of the most promising for IT and FinTech industries that provide them with much attention from the major businesses.

The uniting characteristic of many modern IT development trends is that they are actively implementing new technological concepts on top of blockchain-based networks for modern corporate purposes. Due to the mentioned movement, blockchain becomes more and more popular among major businesses all over the world. However, constant growth of blockchain and cryptocurrency sector gathers not only the attention of business and entrepreneurs but also the attention of government authorities and remains under the pressure of becoming a target of the strict regulatory framework.

In this article, we will cover some of the most prominent trends that stand out in modern development movements of the blockchain industry.

Enterprise acceptance

Enterprise acceptance

For several years, the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry were developing on their own. Some businesses declared their interest but were not really involved in cooperation with IT startups that were building blockchain-based solutions and had no such departments of their own. However, 2018 is a year that definitively established a strong intention of major businesses to gather all the possible profit that blockchain technologies can offer. Companies of every field from banking to retail are developing a way to implement it in their business processes. Mastercard, IBM, Auchan, Walmart, Amazon, Bank of America – all these companies are introducing or developing blockchain-based technologies, and the list goes on.

Blockchain has already found its place in financial interactions, loyalty programs, supply chain management, data management and is gradually integrated with the other fields. There are some cases that have already shown that distributed immutable ledger can sufficiently upgrade the efficiency of companies and it leads to more and more attention from big companies.  

Internet of things

Internet of things

Internet of things (IOT) is a concept of a network that connects many physical deviсes, such as smart houses, vehicles and other objects that are powered by some type of software. The connection between them allows to collect data, reduce human involvement and optimize supply chains. Fast ongoing integration of the various types of software into the existing devices makes IOT one of the most active IT development fields and a big part of the development is an integration of IoT solutions into the blockchain networks.

Blockchain helps IOT-based systems with the establishment of sustainable data storage. IOT is already actively integrating products of the modern blockchain industry, including technologies like smart contracts and blockchain notarization. Cryptocurrency-powered transactions between machines in IOT can become a cheaper and faster alternative to the classic fiat transactions. However, IOT sets some challenges to the blockchain developers because, in order to be effective, machine communication needs to be performed within one blockchain or several very well connected networks.  

Smart contracts

Smart contracts

Smart contracts are protocols that enforce the performance of an agreement by including the terms of the deal into the code of a program executing it. Smart contracts became especially popular after their implementation in Ethereum and were later included in lots of other blockchain networks like Lisk, NEO, EOS and others. Smart contracts are a great tool for the improvement of logistics, financial interactions and other important enterprise fields as they allow no place for unpaid products and work.

Smart contracts also help with an automation of the business processes with being included in the machine-to-machine interaction to perform transactions of information and funds.  Various processes such as, for example, loading, shipping and payment for the products can become much faster and more efficient with the implementation of smart contracts. For a lot of blockchain ventures smart contracts development becomes one of the main fields of work. Multiple dapps, enterprise products and research concepts are centred around this technology.

Increase of the government regulations

Increase of government regulation

Growing amount of interactions between major businesses, blockchain-based companies and cryptocurrency ventures naturally attracts a lot of attention from the government regulators. Cryptocurrencies were already a subject of some regulations but the size of the legislative framework built around the blockchain industry is constantly growing. 2018 brought us an update of EU AML/KYC protocols that tightened the rules considering cryptocurrency exchange, multiple ICO investigations in countries like Switzerland and South Korea, and major attention from international regulatory entities.

However, some countries are embracing blockchain along with issuing regulations of it or even softening them. Both Malta and Switzerland, for example, established a very comfortable climate for the blockchain ventures. Iran, that previously totally banned crypto is planning to issue one of its own.

What to expect?

It’s probably fair to say that blockchain development is still on its early stages. Nevertheless, it is obviously one of the most significant technologies of the modern era. Nobody can say for sure if it will take the position of the most important informational technology as the internet did, but the growing amount of use cases indicates a positive trend for blockchain.

Blockchain.com launches Ethereum (ETH) block explorer

Blockchain.com today announced the addition of an Ethereum block explorer, which puts ETH data right at users fingertips. The company also announced it is giving their explorer a fresh new look and streamlining the way users interact with the data.

Whether a wallet user wants to find more information about addresses and transactions, a researcher looking for data on the health of the networks, or a crypto enthusiast who wants to make informed trading and transaction decisions… It is now possible to view top network statistics, watch real-time incoming transactions, search for blocks, addresses, or transactions, and more all from one place.

The Blockchain.com team said, “As more protocols and assets emerge, we’ll be expanding the Explorer functionality to support the growing ecosystem.”

Blockchain.com launches Ethereum (ETH) block explorer

Blockchain.com launches Ethereum (ETH) block explorer
The Original Blockchain.com Bitcoin Explorer circa October 2011

MinerGate releases GUI miner to support upcoming Monero hardfork

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MinerGate releases GUI miner to support upcoming Monero hardfork

Our Monero (XMR) mining pool is already set up to support the upcoming Monero hardfork with our recently released GUI miner for Windows. Please update your software to continue mining Monero. In the meantime, we will be testing other versions to make sure you get the smoothest and safest XMR mining experience.

We are very grateful for your patience and support, and to thank you for that we have decided to cancel all pool fees for the next week. You can enjoy commission-free mining for 7 days, starting from the 18th of October, on all coins mineable within our pool.

The Minergate team will inform you of the software update as soon as it becomes available. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit to keep up with the latest and most important news.

Thank you for your support,
MinerGate team.

OpenNode lightning network bitcoin payment processor releases public beta

OpenNode, the world’s first multi-layered bitcoin payment processor for merchants today announced that the public beta release is now available in English for businesses around the world.

This release enables a broad user base to start accepting bitcoin both on-chain and via the lightning network.

Users can take advantage of instant settlements, low fees, and new micropayment models using the OpenNode WooCommerce / PrestaShop plugins and API.

The OpenNode team created pricing support for 6 different currencies on the platform (BTC into USD, EUR, GBP, BRL, MXN, and AUD instantly) and have bitcoin — fiat exchange support for 25 countries.

OpenNode lightning network bitcoin payment processor releases public betaAs the full live launch approaches, OpenNode stated it wants to continue learning from beta testers. They encourage all to give feedback and tell them about your experience and what they can to do to make the processer better. Feedback is vital in making sure the company will continue to deliver a product that people love. Reach the team at support@opennode.co with any questions or concerns.

Moving forward, OpenNode will begin to onboard businesses and will continue to drive towards its objectives, ensuring that the tools they are building will create a better payments infrastructure that is accessible to everyone.

Metaps subsidiary company opens new secure cryptocurrency exchange, UpXide

Upside, a subsidiary of Korea’s Metaps Plus, the mobile fintech and blockchain company, announced today that it has officially opened a new secure cryptocurrency exchange called UpXide.

UpXide is preparing ISO27001 certification, an AML (anti-money laundering) system, maintenance of user assets in cold wallets, internal network separation, internal control DRM solution, and dynamic security for hacking source blocking (server/app security solution).

The UpXide exchange is the first in Korea to operate a market for the Metaps Plus Coin. Various benefits for opening users include zero and reduced fees.

“The newly opened UpXide Exchange will eliminate doubts about the security and will provide the Exchange service by strengthening security system operation, customer information protection, and security level. As well as convenient tradings, communication with customers will be the first priority, and will be a trustworthy exchange.”

Upside CEO Seongcheol Baek
Metaps subsidiary company opens new secure cryptocurrency exchange, UpXide
The exchange has enabled an Android app, with iOS to be launched in the near future.

Critical bug found in the XMRig miner

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Critical bug found in the XMRig miner

One of the most popular third-party mining solutions among MinerGate’s users – XMRig – appeared to have a critical bug in its codebase, making the mining of the updated Monero (XMR) within MinerGate XMR mining pool impossible.

UPD: XMRig released the 2.8.3 version of the miner with this unfortunate bug fixed. Many thanks to the developers’ team of XMRig for their rapid response. 

As of XMRig’s GitHub, if users start implementing the domain name containing “minergate.com”, they receive shares on the CryptoNight v7 algorithm, while the Monero blockchain experienced a network and protocol update to CryptoNight v8 earlier today. However, the connection with IP address works properly, as far as the code-mistake is domain-specific.

It is very important for the MinerGate team to maintain good relations with developers of the third-party mining software. We have a high hope that this issue will be fixed shortly. Meanwhile, XMR could be mined using MinerGate xFast Miner with up to 20%* higher hashrate compared to XMRig.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram to stay tuned about the upcoming updates.

* based on the internal benchmark for Nvidia GeForce GTX960