SegWit Adoption Outpacing That of Bitcoin Cash, Claims BitMEX Report

According to a recent report by BitMEX, the number of Bitcoin transactions being processed using SegWit has been consistently higher than the number of Bitcoin Cash transactions processed. However, the total gap between the two is only around 20 percent.

SegWit Adoption Consistently Outpaces Bitcoin Cash

The figures have been compiled by the research division of the cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX. They were published earlier today on the company’s blog section of their website.

According to BitMEX’s research, there have been a total of 6.1 million SegWit transactions versus 4.88 million Bitcoin Cash transactions since the hardfork in Bitcoin last August. This equates to around 20 percent more transactions using SegWit than on the entire Bitcoin Cash blockchain.

The company were keen to highlight that Bitcoin Cash did have an additional month’s head start, however. When this is taken into account, BitMEX argues that the cumulative transaction volume is over 31 percent more for SegWit. However, it is also pointed out in the report that both of these numbers could be subject to manipulation.

Today’s report also states that there was a brief spike in the use of Bitcoin Cash when it was first launched. Meanwhile, the growth of SegWit adoption has been much more gradual with large industry players such as CoinBase taking several months to implement the upgrade.

It was in October when the number of transactions occurring using SegWit finally exceeded those on the Bitcoin Cash blockchain. This has remained the case ever since.

SegWit and Bitcoin Cash were both launched last August with SegWit taking around a month longer to become properly available to users. The Bitcoin community were so bitterly divided over how to scale the network that no compromise could be reached. Those who wanted larger blocks went with Bitcoin Cash and those who favoured second layer scaling techniques argued against a blocksize increase on the grounds of decentralisation.

According to BitMEX, SegWit makes the Bitcoin blockchain around 41 percent more efficient. This, they argue, should mean that even if no other users made the change to SegWit should result in a saving of 41 percent on fees. This number becomes even greater as more users make the transition and there becomes even more space in each block for transactions.

The BitMEX report concludes by stating:

“SegWit has begun to meaningfully impact system-wide capacity, potentially reducing fees and benefitting even users who choose not to upgrade to the new transaction format. However, the transaction fee market is still immature and, in our view, transaction prices are likely to remain volatile going forward.”

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A group of hackers are demanding payment in Bitcoin to unlock computer systems they were able infiltrate in Atlanta. Yesterday’s ransomware attack targeted computers in important government departments. Data stored on the affected systems has been digitally encrypted.

Another Case of Bitcoin Ransomware

The security breach was first reported via a statement by the city on Thursday morning. The following was later posted to Atlanta’s official Twitter account:

According to local news source 11 Alive, the hackers are demanding a ransom of $6,800 be paid for each affected computer system. A screen shot sent to the publication from an employee of the city shows that the entire cost will be $51,000. This is to be paid in Bitcoin. Andrew Green, a security expert and professor at Kennesaw State University, is reported to be analysing the document. If the hackers receive said bounty, they will apparently decrypt the data that has been compromised.

The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, made an official announcement regarding the hacking yesterday afternoon. She stated in an impromptu press conference that the full gravity of the attack was unknown at present. She also offered a warning to anyone who had business or consumer relationships with city departments. She said:

“We don’t know the extent or if anyone’s personal data or bank accounts will be compromised… All of us are subject to this attack.”

Despite the extent of the security breach being unknown at present, Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard Cox claimed that water, public safety, and airport operations were not affected. He continued:

“City payroll has not been affected and we have not determined that City Hall will need to be closed on Friday.”

There have been no further updates from government officials on the situation since.

According to 11 Alive, officials will be working with security experts from a variety of companies, as well as specialists from federal and local government departments to discover any evidence that might relate to the incident. These include the FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security, Cisco, and Microsoft. They hope that together they’ll be able to work out a solution or at least who is responsible for the attack.

Whilst Fortune are calling this hack “one of the boldest ransomware attacks to date”, it’s certainly not the first time computer systems have been frozen and payment demanded in Bitcoin to unlock them. Last year, we reported on the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack that affected computers across the planet. This was later connected to the North Korean government.

One of the first pieces of advice offered to budding cryptocurrency investors is usually “don’t invest more than you can afford to lose”. Such a warning seems perfectly reasonable in a market that can drop more than 60% in a matter of weeks. However, according to research done by The Student Loan Report, some students are using money that doesn’t even belong to them – their loans.

A Fifth of Students Have Bought Cryptocurrency with Their Loans

Student loans have a something of a history of being misused. After a fair portion of it has been spent on the course itself and somewhere to live, the rest is kept by the student to cover their day to day expenses. This usually entails a fair amount of partying and a hell of a lot of instant noodles.

It seems that today’s students are a little more financially savvy than those who went before them though. The Student Loan Report has taken a survey of 1,000 college students. The survey was taken by online polling specialists, Poll Fish.

Over a four day period starting on March 16, 2018, they asked participants the question: “Have you ever used student loan money to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?” Interestingly, the results state that over a fifth of those asked had done.

Whilst using money that you will one day have to pay back to invest in as volatile a market as cryptocurrencies might seem like absolute madness on paper, the survey doesn’t give any indication to what level the students had got involved, or whether in fact they had sold or continued to hold onto their investments.

The Boston Globe points out that the market has declined from its all-time highs, “making big losers of many who bought in late.” This seems harsh as there is nothing to suggest that any of the student investors have sold their holdings and therefore lost anything at all.

Unless the students buying into crypto were after a seriously quick buck, it would be folly for them to sell their holdings any time before they had to pay the loan itself back. For all the publication knows, those buying in could be making a long-term play and have only invested money that was in excess of their own living expenses. If this is the case, their decision makes great financial sense and is unlikely to have been taken with any serious life-changing amount of money.

Whilst some of the later 2017 buyers might well be sitting on bags at the moment, if they understand what they’ve bought into, they’ll be playing a longer game. Super bullish price predictions like those of Tommy Lee and John McAfee will no doubt make the waiting game much easier for them too.

A Prague-based cryptocurrency entrepreneur has come up with a novel way to offset the energy consumption of his crypto mining rigs. CNBC has published a report about Kamil Brejcha of digital currency exchange NakamotoX. He’s decided to extract the immense heat generated from his mining operation into usable energy for his tomato plants.

Making Crypto Mining That Little Bit Greener

The climate in the Czech Republic makes for a short growing season. This means that a lot of produce must be cultivated inside. Brejcha had the ingenious idea to pump the heat generated by his mining operation directly into his green house. This would allow him to grow his crops well into the winter.

The mining rigs use a lot of electricity and as with most appliances, they’re not 100% energy efficient. They produce a lot of heat that needs to be gotten rid of. Typically, this would be extracted away from the rigs to stop them overheating. To Brejcha, that seemed wasteful. He decided that he’d pipe the hot air directly into his greenhouse. This would allow him to continue producing tomatoes much later than he previously would have been able to.

The entrepreneur took to Twitter to show off the delicious looking produce that he calls “Cryptomatoes”:

Being from a country with as progressive drug laws like the Czech Republic, one Twitter user asked Brejcha why he hadn’t decided to grow cannabis instead of tomatoes. The green-fingered crypto enthusiast responded saying that it was too difficult to get a license to grow medicinal cannabis and so they had opted for “tomatoes and other vegetables instead.”

Others were interested in more details of the operation. However, Brejcha kept his answer secretive. He did, however, highlight that a large portion of the energy going into the mining operation had come from eco-friendly bio-waste:

“In brief, we are an agritechcture stealth start-up, creating an agriculture, energy and blockchain symbiotic solution.”

With stories about potential bans on cryptocurrency mining operations like the one we reported from Plattsburgh, NY earlier this month, it’s not surprising that creative types are looking for ways to reduce or offset the energy consumption of mining operations. One of the more popular arguments against proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, after all, is their environmental impact.

Fortunately, Brejcha isn’t alone with his idea of reusing the heat output of mining rigs for other purposes. In November, we reported of two Russian entrepreneurs who were doing similar. However, rather than heating a greenhouse and growing crops, the pair from Siberia were using the excess heat energy to cheaply heat homes in the typically icy part of the world.

Twitter and Square CEO, Jack Dorsey, makes no secret of his love for Bitcoin. The tech entrepreneur has recently launched Bitcoin buying and selling options on his company’s “Cash” application, invested personal money in the development of the Lightning Network, and now claims that one day in the not-too-distant-future, Bitcoin will be a single currency for the entire planet.

Bitcoin: The One Coin to Rule Them All

Dorsey believes that within the decade Bitcoin will emerge as a globally accepted “single currency”. The Twitter executive told The Times on Wednesday:

“The world ultimately will have a single currency, the Internet will have a single currency. I personally believe that it will be Bitcoin.”

When pressed for a time frame with which this would happen, Dorsey responded with: “probably over ten years, but it could go faster.”

Although Dorsey recognises that the technology underpinning Bitcoin isn’t quite ready for such global usage, he does believe that sufficient improvements will be made to it to ensure that it can scale to world-wide use. Such innovations will allow for cheap, instant payments for small items such as the often cited example of buying a cup of coffee with Bitcoin. He told The Times:

“It’s slow and it’s costly, but as more and more people have it, those things go away. There are newer technologies that build off of blockchain and make it more approachable.”

Just last week, we reported that Dorsey had donated personal funds to the development of such improvements. The Twitter CEO was one of several parties who recently provided a $2.5 million investment in Lightning Labs to continue their work on the Bitcoin scaling proposal known as Lightning Network. The funding coincided with the first launch of the software upgrade that was suitable for use on the Bitcoin main net.

Dorsey’s other company, Square, are doing their part to promote the adoption of cryptocurrency too. Last November, they began the introduction of Bitcoin buying and selling options on their “Cash” app for a small section of their users. Since then, the global payments processing firm have rolled out the features for even more customers. In addition, they have added additional functionality to the software. Users can now transfer their Bitcoin off the application to more secure storage methods such as hardware or paper wallets. Such developments make it easier than ever before for the average person to get involved and gain experience in using cryptocurrency.

Time has discovered evidence to suggest that the Venezuelan oil-backed digital currency, “El Petro”, was helped into existence by Russian officials, bankers, and businessmen. It’s believed that Russia wants to use the currency as an experiment in dodging US sanctions placed against the Eastern power.

Digital Currency Cannot be Controlled Like Traditional Cash Can

The Russian involvement in the setting up of the Petro has been largely kept a secret until the Time exposé was published yesterday. However, various clues left by the Russian backers have led the publication to report on the connection.

During the ceremony in which the Petro was launched by the Socialist leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, two of the nation’s advisers on Moscow were sat in the front row. They were thanked for their role in helping the fight against American “imperialism”.

The two advisers have close ties to Russian billionaires, banking interests, and the Kremlin. However, Time report that even more senior Russians were involved in the launch of the currency. According to the article, an executive at one of Russia’s state banks said there were high-level advisers to the Kremlin involved and President Putin himself signed off on the proposal last year. The anonymous whistle blower told the publication of the Eastern power’s motives:

“People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions… This is how the whole thing started.”

The banker continued to tell the publication that Venezuela were encouraged by Russia to run the digital currency experiment themselves. With an economy already in ruins, the Latin American state had far less to lose than their Eastern ally and are themselves at the mercy of US sanctions against them.

Another factor that Time report as evidence of the Russian involvement in the experiment is that Maduro sent the Venezuelan finance minister, Simon Zerpa, to report to the Russian government about the launch of the Petro on February 21. The minister met with Russian officials in Moscow and posted images of the meeting on Twitter:

Whilst Time is convinced of the connection between the Russian elite and the Petro digital currency, their Finance Ministry explicitly denied any involvement of the nation’s financial authorities in the scheme. Neither the Kremlin themselves or Venezuelan government provided comment.

The case of the Petro isn’t the first time that a government have been accused of using digital currency to evade US sanctions against them. Previously, we reported of several hacker groups connected to the government of North Korea. Through various security compromises and malware attacks, it’s thought that the rogue state has been amassing cryptocurrency supplies to circumvent the trade embargoes against them. The lack of control any central authority can exert on cryptocurrency makes it ideal for such uses.

A team of German blockchain researchers have discovered images of child abuse on the Bitcoin blockchain. Since many network participants need to download a copy of the entire blockchain and it is entirely immutable, the legal implications of this might be damning for the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.

Indecent Content on the Blockchain Could Render it Illegal

The Bitcoin blockchain is a record of every transaction that has ever occurred on the network. One of its major value propositions is that it cannot be changed or amended by any party.

Other data can also be stored on the blockchain. Typically, this includes notes about certain transaction – perhaps what the payment was used for or other trivial information. As well as this harmless data, files and links can be uploaded to the blockchain. Unfortunately, it appears that some users have been using it to record highly illegal data. This includes indecent images of children.

The discovery was made by blockchain specialists at the RWTH Aachen University in Germany. They managed to find over 1,600 files that exist on the Bitcoin blockchain. According to reports in The Guardian, at least eight of these were of sexual content. One of these examples is thought to be depicting a victim of child abuse. Another two contain links to dark web repositories of child pornography. Finally, 142 of files link to other illegal services on the dark web.

This poses a very real issue for Bitcoin. Since miners and validation nodes need to store the entire blockchain on their computer systems, they are essentially in possession of illegal content. In a recent paper, the researchers explained the implications that the storage of such content on the blockchain could pose for Bitcoin in the future:

“Although court rulings do not yet exist, legislative texts from countries such as Germany, the UK, or the USA suggest that illegal content such as [child abuse imagery] can make the blockchain illegal to possess for all users.”

The idea of storing harmful material on the blockchain isn’t new. Back in 2015, a group of internet security specialists identified the risk of harmful software being uploaded to the Bitcoin blockchain. The fear then was that those downloading the chain would also install malware that could then be used to weaken the security of centralised entities such as cryptocurrency exchanges.

However, the research reported today does represent the first proof that the blockchain is being used in such a nefarious way. It seems that mass possession of child pornography would be a worthy enough reason for governments of the world to come down hard on Bitcoin and the technology behind it. The efficacy of such a course of action, remains to be seen though.



It can be difficult to explain cryptocurrency to some people. You get the inevitable question: “Yeah, but what is Bitcoin actually backed by?” When you answer “code and mathematics” you’re almost certainly met with a blank expression. Perhaps if you could answer “the world’s best whisky” instead, you’d get a more favourable response.

CaskCoin: The Crypto Backed by Single Malt

CaskCoin is hoping to provide exactly that – a cryptocurrency backed by some of the planet’s finest single malts. Using the blockchain, the project seeks to keep track of the ownership of high end casks of whisky. The company have built up an impressive portfolio featuring drops from some the most popular distilleries in Scotland. Big names like Macallan, Dalmore, Bowmore, and Glenlivet currently comprise the collection.

The £40 million portfolio isn’t complete yet though. The current casks will eventually be sold off for a profit. The revenue generated will then be used to buy other whiskies, thus further increasing the value of an investment in CaskCoin. Founder Ricky Christie explained:

“CaskCoin’s foundation will be self-perpetuating when casks will be bottled and sold, the proceeds will be invested in more exciting Scotch whiskies, growing the value and volume of the fund – which will also be reflected in the future value of CaskCoin. Further acquisitions and distilling are also very much on the radar.”

Each CaskCoin owned, represents a share of the entire CaskCoin collection. There are 5.2 million tokens that have been created on the Ethereum blockchain. At present, they cost £8.15 each.

Unfortunately, this investment opportunity is reserved for serious buyers only. The minimum purchase is £30,000 paid in either Bitcoin or Ether. To pay for the initial casks, the company are running an ICO. They hope to raise all £40 million through it.

CaskCoin was launched on March 12th. The team behind it told Forbes that subscriptions were coming in “thick and fast”. The company hope to have a truly global reach and have press release documents available in both Russian and Chinese already. However, they’re holding off on a US launch as apparently they have large plans for that market coming later in 2018.

The idea behind CaskCoin is to make the act of investing in fine whisky easier, no matter where in the world you’re based. It allows speculators the chance to own fine Scotch without the need of moving large casks and bottles around the planet. It also removes the temptation of sneaking into the whisky cellar late at night and quaffing a seriously expensive bottle!

The diminishing supply of great, aged Scotch whisky and the growing demand for it means that the price of each cask should continue to increase over time. This makes it a worthy and growing investment vehicle.


One of the top executive’s at global payments processing company Visa has absolutely slammed cryptocurrency and its users. Speaking with the Financial Times, Vasant Prabhu sees Bitcoin and other digital currencies as a tool used by “every crook and dirty politician” around.

Talking Sense, or Talking Scared?

Prabhu told the publication that he’s getting asked more and more about cryptocurrency. This to him signals that the whole space is nothing more than a giant speculative bubble. The Visa executive spoke of his interactions with various retail-investors. He said they were “a real shock” to him:

“The people asking me are the ones who scare the hell out of me… You know, guys like the limo driver to the airport . . . They have no idea what they are doing.”

Evidently, these would-be crypto investors don’t really know what they’re doing. Why anyone would take investment advice from the chief financial officer of a company who has the most to lose from a successful cryptocurrency revolution  is unclear.

It kind of feels similar to asking a turkey what they think of Christmas, or a horse breeder in the 1890s if they’d heard about these “motor cars” everyone’s talking about.

Visa current operates at the centre of the global payments network. They profit greatly from the system. Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is a direct threat to the status quo of the planet’s financial services industry. We therefore shouldn’t be surprised when the likes of Prabhu spout anti-cryptocurrency sentiment at every available opportunity.

The Visa executive hadn’t finished lambasting cryptocurrency just yet though. He recounted hearing non-financial people talking about investing in Bitcoin. This to him was a telling sign of things to come:

“This is the ultimate thing that you hear about when you have a bubble, when the guy shining your shoes tells you what stock to buy.”

What Vasant Prabhu, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of their legacy payment industry chums fail to recognise is that historical paradigm shifts frequently begin with a speculative mania. Cryptocurrency seems to be following that trend perfectly too.

Such transformative technologies begin with everyone but the enlightened core claiming they’re dangerous or stupid. Like how people said the internet would only be used for child porn and other nefarious uses back in 1994. Eventually the narrative changes and the masses get excited. This leads to a speculative bubble that inevitably bursts – just like the dot-com bubble around the turn of the century.

Eventually, all the ridiculous and over-hyped projects crash to zero. This leaves the truly revolutionary ideas standing, gaining value through their utility rather than simply wild speculation. Examples like Amazon, eBay, and Facebook highlight this. We don’t need to tell you that these companies are some of the largest financial powerhouses on the planet today.

One of the NBA’s latest prospects is Jontay Porter. The 18-year-old has high hopes for the future. Firstly, of course, he’s wanting to be picked in June’s draft. Secondly, he’d love to help his team, the Missouri Tigers, win the NCAA Tournament that they’re competing in. Finally, he’s hoping for a big rebound off the court – in the cryptocurrency market.

An Enterprising Young Mind

In a recent interview with the Kansas City Star, the young NBA hopeful spoke of his interest in cryptocurrency and how he himself was invested in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Tron. He told the publication about how he approached putting together his diverse crypto portfolio:

“I did my own research, obviously; that’s what you should always do if you’re investing… I’m obviously not going to put all of my money in cryptocurrency.”

He started by buying $300 worth of Bitcoin. This was followed by smaller purchases of more crypto assets using his student-athlete allowance.

Unfortunately, the Tigers’ leading rebounder was forced to cash out some of his investment. He explained to the Star how he had been bought a used SUV by his parents. Owing them the money back and with no way to pay it yet, he was forced to sell half of his crypto assets. He was, however, careful to keep some skin in the game as he’s optimistic of a rebound in the markets:

“I was kind of sad, because [the market] was about to bounce back. But my mom needed it right away.”

Missouri Tigers’ assistant coach and father of the budding basketball star turned investor, Michael Porter Sr., told the publication about his son’s inquisitive mind. He said, “he’s  always been a thinker.” Meanwhile, Lisa Porter, the teenage athlete’s mother added:

“He had the gumption to just do it… All my other kids would really debate over it.”

From a young age, Jontay had an inquisitive mind and sought ways to turn that into financial gain. In the Sixth Grade, he started dismantling, repairing, and jail-breaking his iPhones. This transformed into something of a business. He’d advertise his repair services for cracked screens and the like on CraigsList. He always made sure to undercut the local businesses offering the same services in his town.

Of course, Jontay Porter isn’t the first athlete to embrace cryptocurrency. The US Winter Olympic luge team famously declared that they’d accept Bitcoin donations for their medal challenge this year. Unfortunately, Olympic rules prohibited the team from wearing any Bitcoin branding on their official uniforms. This is a real shame too as the event was held in crypto-loving South Korea and had the whole world’s eyes upon it.

All of us at here NewsBTC are hoping that Jontay Porter is successful in his bid to make the big time as an NBA star. He’ll certainly become one of the higher-profile proponents of Bitcoin if he does. Hopefully, he won’t be shy about plugging his investment interests in his post-match press conferences too!