Verge hard forks for stealth transactions

With over 1,500 cryptocurrencies and tokens currently out there those that succeed need to be a cut above the rest. Anonymity and stealth transactions are in high demand as banks and governments strive to clampdown and gather identities of traders. One altcoin that has taken another step towards this is Verge which hard forked this week.

The Verge team announced the success of the fork in its Twitter feed and stated that stealth transactions are now being processed. The fork occurred at block 1,824,15o a few hours ago and systems are operating within normal parameters.

No new chain

The fork does not affect existing XVG tokens and there is no second version of Verge. It has been an upgrade to the existing blockchain to improve the technology and facilitate anonymous transfers. Verge is unique in that it gives the user the choice of having the transaction on the public ledger or private. This is achieved by the Wraith protocol which has due to be released at New Year but missed a few deadlines.

Crypto traders are fickle and many will act on the word of a shill or social media FUD so a selloff started. The price of XVG fell from an all-time high of $0.26 on December 24 to $0.06 during the crash last week. It is still down trending for the month as are most cryptos but could rebound on news that Wraith is finally underway and working. Over the past three months Verge has risen 1700% to its level today according to Livecoinwatch.com.

Hide and seek

Anonymous cryptos are becoming more popular in the wake of banks and governments seeking more transparency from exchanges. Their reasoning is to prevent money laundering and terrorism but collecting taxes is probably closer to the truth. Other altcoins offering anonymity include Monero, Zcoin, Zcash, and PivX. One common misconception among new users is that Bitcoin is anonymous however you still need a named account to use it and transactions are visible on the blockchain.

Being able to choose whether to remain anonymous or not will be a big appeal to those wanting peer-to-peer crypto transfers. This is essentially what they were originally intended for and huge profit driven exchanges have battered some of this ethos. The roadmap for Verge includes privacy based smart contract capability called Rootstock and an online store. The future could be bright for this altcoin.


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All the forking around in recent months has caused a lot of confusion, not to mention some unhealthy chart spikes for Bitcoin. However, according to the project’s official website, the controversial SegWit2x hard fork will go ahead on December 28. Months of infighting and debate were the result of SegWit2x which was originally planned to fork from BTC in November but was cancelled at the last minute.

Project leader, Jaap Terlouw, now says it will fork off at block 501451, which is due tomorrow at some stage. Confirmation that the hard fork will go ahead this time can be found on the project roadmap and on the website;

“Commission and transaction speed within the Bitcoin network has reached extraordinary values. It is almost impossible to use it as a means of payment. Our team will carry out the Bitcoin hard fork, which was planned for mid-November. At the same time, trading of its futures has been carried out on some exchanges for a long time.”

Traders tend to jump on the digital train in hope of getting the extra coin when the blockchain splits. It is likely to happen again this time with the founder promising that in addition to the common practice of crediting BTC holders with equivalent balances of the new coin, B2X, they would also receive;

a proportional number of Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoins as a reward for their commitment to progress.”

In reality, it is down to the exchanges to honour this pledge and not all of them will. The project’s roadmap includes a number of upgrades and features such as Lightning Network support, smart contracts, and anonymous transactions.

The most successful fork in recent months has been Bitcoin Cash which advocates claim to be the real Bitcoin. Its epic rise in price has bolstered this view as it is now the third most popular cryptocurrency market capacity with just over $50 billion. BCH has climbed 900% since mid-October and is currently trading around $3,000.

Forks have been plentiful in the past couple of months and there is now Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Bitcoin God, and Bitcoin Plus. There could be a lot more to come adding to the Bitcoin bewilderment such as; Bitcoin Silver, Bitcoin Uranium, Bitcoin Platinum, Bitcoin Cash Plus, Lightning Bitcoin, and Super Bitcoin. Is it any wonder that many of us are getting a little forked off!

As if Bitcoin miners didn’t have enough forks on their plate another one is coming up on Christmas day of all things. In addition to an already heavily forked cryptocurrency that consists of Bitcoin Classic, the now-defunct Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Cash, and Bitcoin Gold, they will soon be joined by Bitcoin God.

Yes, you heard it right; Bitcoin God is due to be forked off on Christmas day by Chinese blockchain investor Chandler Guo who has announced he will release his own version of the cryptocurrency.

This will effectively create another network snapshot clone of Bitcoin. This results in the new chain sharing exactly the same history as the legacy blockchain up until a certain block height. From then on the new chain records its own transactions and miners who have adopted it add new blocks going forward.

Chandler Tweeted that:

“Bitcoin God (GOD) will be forked off the main bitcoin chain at the block height of 501225, which will happen on December 25th to be symbolic of me giving candy to all bitcoin holders. The total amount will be 21 million. No pre-mine. Everyone can claim their GOD from major exchanges all over the world. The profit from POS mining will be distributed to all Bitcoin users.”

Bitcoin God will not be the only forking thing to happen in December as there are much more afoot. A Github repository referring to something called Bcash stated: “Bcash is a new cryptocurrency that uses the existing Bitcoin ledger combined with Zcash privacy technology,”. The developer who remains anonymous claims that Bcash is not associated with Bitcoin Cash and the project is an entirely different network in the making. They urged traders to be wary of scams going under the Bcash name.

Bitcoin Diamond forked at block 495866, may also make an entrance around the same time with futures already listed on Coinmarketcap trading at around $45. The drive for new clones is to attract investors by offering them a free equivalent of whatever they old in the original chain. The BCD team stated:

“Our primary objective is to lower the cost of participation thresholds by reducing the transaction fees and the cost of participation.”

Unlike the public BTC ledger, Bitcoin Diamond would encrypt the amount and balance, which will provide greater privacy to users of the new coin.

According to the BTC Twitter page upcoming Bitcoin hard forks include Super Bitcoin (Block 498888), Bitcoin Platinum (Block 500000), Bitcoin Uranium (unknown), Bitcoin Cash Plus (Block 501407), and Bitcoin Silver (TBD).

It seems like a forking busy Christmas in crypto-land is on the cards.

Once again Bitcoin has taken all of the fame as the week starts by hurtling almost relentlessly towards the big $10k. However smaller sibling Litecoin also recorded an all-time high of just over $90 today. Often likened to the silver to Bitcoin’s gold, Litecoin has been slow to gain momentum since its previous peak at the end of August. It has been languishing around the $55 mark for roughly two months until it broke resistance around ten days ago and has been marching upwards ever since.

Trade volumes have broken $400 million in the past 24 hours and market cap is rapidly approaching $5 billion. This puts it a number six in the crypto chart for market capacity.

The spike in interest has been caused by atomic swaps which seek to bring interoperability between altcoins and the original bitcoin. Litecoin is often viewed as a major component in the push toward atomic cross-chain transactions. Every major cryptocurrency can be traded for Litecoin on the open market.

Breaking things down further the Litecoin Rich List, a website analyzing the number of addresses and amounts held indicates that the majority of holders have less than 100 coins. With less than 3% of the wallets holding more than 100 coins. Only 69 addresses hold almost 38% of the total supply, the richest one having 1.4 million coins, currently valued at $130 million.

Litecoin is often viewed as being more stable than its bigger brother Bitcoin which has had a wild ride in the past six months. It has rapidly emerged as one of the fastest and most affordable transaction units on the market. Investors looking for innovative solutions can expect a lot from Litecoin as its popularity grows. It still remains highly affordable, unlike Bitcoin which will soon be over $10,000.

GDAX has dominated the exchanges in terms of LTC trading volume, however, South Korean Bithumb, where up to a quarter of global Litecoin trade is made, could easily take the top spot. Coinbase also lists LTC available to purchase directly with fiat, and the more exchanges listing it will result in the coin becoming more mainstream like its bigger brother.

Many altcoins have taken a beating at the expense of Bitcoin but Litecoin, and recently Ethereum, have shown strong gains and continue to trend upwards. $100 per LTC is not that far away now and 2018 could be very productive for Bitcoin’s silver.

The big news of last night was how Tether allegedly got hacked. In a statement issued by the company, they explain how almost 31m USDT were removed from the Treasury. This incident occurred on November 19th, and the money was sent to an unauthorized address. None of the stolen tokens will be redeemed, but the company hopes to recover the money regardless. For now, the money still appears to be in a Bitcoin address. It is unclear how this money will be spent, assuming that is even the objective.

This whole Tether issue is pretty worrisome, to say the very least. We have reported on this company’s odd behavior for some time now. Whether or not there is a malicious intent behind this attack, remains to be determined. The company did not explain how the money was moved from the Treasury exactly. That is always a bit worrisome, as companies should be transparent regarding what is happening. The stolen tokens have effectively been flagged and won’t be redeemable for USD.

The Plot Thickens for Tether

For the time being, the Tether back-end wallet service is suspended. This is part of the ongoing investigation to determine what caused this problem. Secondly, the Tether “chain” went through a hard fork to ensure the stolen funds can’t be moved. Considering how USDT is issued on Omni, new builds are being provided to Omni Core to make this happen. All individual users and integrators need to update their client as soon as possible. This is similar to how Ethereum bailed out The DAO investors when a similar issue occurred.

This new software will also cause a consensus change. It is a temporary hard fork to the Omni Layer. Any tokens belonging to the flagged bunch will not be accepted. This should prevent the attacker from successfully moving the USDT balance to an exchange. Otherwise, they could easily convert it to BTC or different altcoins and cash out that way. It is possible this may still happen, depending on how fast all integrators upgrade their clients. It is a very worrisome turn of events, to say the very least.

Some sources claim this was not a hack at all. Instead, they are fearful Tether is working toward a major exit scam. Their rapid issuance of new tokens, previous issues with converting back to USD, and now this certainly makes for a strange year for Tether. Whether or not the company can recover from this incident, remains to be determined, though. The company confirms all other assets are still backed by US Dollars in reserve. For now, everyone will have to believe that story. It may be the truth, though, but no one knows for sure at this point.

The price of a single Bitcoin exceeded its previous all-time high again today. Seemingly shrugging off doubt over its position as top-dog in the cryptocurrency world, the going rate of each unit of the digital currency reached an unprecedented £7,794 according to market price watch website, Coinmarketcap. This puts it ever-closer to the next major psychological milestone of $8,000.

Bitcoin has had a turbulent month thus far. Its previous run up in price was brought to a sudden end following the news that the planned hard fork to introduce larger blocks to the main chain would not go ahead. Many believed that the fear and uncertainty created during the confusion over the planned upgrade known as Segwit2x meant that we’d seen this year’s all-time high for the currency last week and it would struggle to surpass this level again in 2017. However, as is often the case with Bitcoin, the doubt was short-lived. The price rebounded fast from its monthly low point on Sunday of around $5,580 back to record-breaking highs in just four days.

As Bitcoin’s loss over the weekend was undoubtedly Bitcoin Cash’s gain, the reverse has been the case since. Money has poured back out of BCH and into BTC, driving the price per unit on the original chain to all-time highs, and the price of Bitcoin Cash down much closer to its pre-hard fork shenanigans price of near $600. On Sunday, the alternate version of Bitcoin reached its own all-time high point of almost $2,500. It sits at just over $1,000 at the time of writing.

Forbes report managing director of Crypto Asset Management, Tim Enneking’s interpretation of the events of the weekend. For him, the failed hard fork provided greater appeal for the August hard fork version of Bitcoin thanks to it already having much larger blocks and therefore supposedly greater transaction speed and lower network fees in general.

As you’d expect, the all-time highs in price coincide with an all-time high in interest in the digital currency. Google Trends shows that online searches for the term “Bitcoin” follows the price chart rather closely with spikes in interest this year at the end of May, beginning and middle of August, mid-September, and of course, throughout October and into November. Meanwhile, a look at which regions are searching the most for the term “Bitcoin” probably invites more questions than it answers. The top five areas that searched for the term “Bitcoin” from highest downwards goes as follows: Nigeria, South African, Bolivia, Slovenia, and Ghana.

With the bull run continuing and increased institutional money on the way thanks to the CME Group Futures market which should be online in mid-December, even today’s all-time high might not be the last of 2017. Only time will tell just how high the price can reach this year and beyond.

 

Image: Pixabay

 

There’s rarely a dull moment in the cryptocurrency space but recent months have been about as dramatic as they come. The forking saga that began in August of this year with Bitcoin Cash attempting to keep a version of Bitcoin without second layer scaling solution Segwit has continued and this month reached unprecedented levels of bewilderment, surprise, and intrigue. On November 8, the main supporters of a controversial second hard fork that was scheduled for later in the month declared that they had called off their plan. They had sought to fork the Bitcoin blockchain to increase the block size from 1MB to 2MB. However, they announced that a lack of support had caused them to abandon the project.

As with any big news in cryptocurrency, the calling off of Segwit2x, as the proposal had come to be referred to as, led to a lot of volatility in the markets. Firstly, the price of Bitcoin soared to all-time highs before topping out and starting to decline. Many alt-coins had a brief pump as money started to flood out of Bitcoin’s market cap. However, the biggest gainer from the chaos that ensued was undoubtedly Bitcoin Cash. From it’s price point of between $600 and $650 at the news of the Segwit2x fork being called off, it had surged to an alt-time high of over $2,300 on the early hours of Sunday morning. It has since settled to just over $1,000 at the time of writing.

Some are claiming it as a massive success story for Bitcoin Cash. However, it’s hard to tell how high the market cap of the original chain would be if the scaling debate had long been solved through consensus. It’s therefore impossible to tell how much money would have entered or left various markets in the months since the BCH fork had it not taken place at all.

Many seem keen to have a pop at stealing Bitcoin’s thunder by way of hard fork. Thanks to the decentralised, open source nature of the network, literally anyone can use the code and create their own version of Bitcoin. Whether it retains any value following the fork is another matter. There are now planned forks for Bitcoin Diamond that’s due to occur at block number 495,866, Bitcoin Silver with plans for greater decentralisation via a new PoW algorithm at some point in December, Bitcoin Unlimited claiming to be “a voice to all stakeholders in the Bitcoin ecosystem”, and Super Bitcoin who are planning on adding smart contracts to their fork of the chain from early 2018. It’s unclear how successful these projects will be, and whether they are even intended to be anything more than a quick money grab from developers hoping to cash in on the Bitcoin brand name.

It appears that software engineer and crypto analyst Jimmy Song was correct with his thesis that 2018 would be the year of the hard fork. Although, just how fractured Bitcoin will become remains to be seen. Will one coin snatch the community’s approval from the currently dominant BTC chain? Or, will the new offshoots dwindle into insignificance with less hype around each one as forks become the norm, and efforts receive little community attention? For now, we have to wait and see.

 

Image: PixaBay

Highly regarded Bitcoin Core developer and cryptocurrency consultant Peter Todd has criticized the cancellation of the SegWit2x hard fork and the “waste” of resources used throughout the development of the software.

Cancellation of SegWit2x

On November 8, the development and deployment of the SegWit2x hard fork were officially terminated, with the release of an official statement from BitGo CEO Mike Belshe to the SegWit2x Mailing List. The statement was co-signed by leading businesses within the bitcoin industry which participated in the original NYA or SegWit2x agreement, which included ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees, Blockchain CEO Peter Smith, Xapo CEO Wences Casares, and SegWit2x lead developer Jeff Garzik.

The statement read:

“Our goal has always been a smooth upgrade for Bitcoin. Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger block size, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together. Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x.”

As explained by Belshe, the initial objective of the SegWit2x team and its supporting companies was to carry out an upgrade on the Bitcoin protocol, without pursuing a contentious fork that could lead to the creation of a new cryptocurrency, like the Bitcoin Cash hard fork in August. However, over time, as the community continued to reject the SegWit2x software, the lack of consensus amongst businesses, developers, users, and miners within the bitcoin sector made it virtually impossible to carry out a smooth upgrade.

Criticism of Bitcoin Core Developer Peter Todd

Immediately after the cancellation of the SegWit2x hard fork was confirmed by ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees and BitGo engineer Jameson Lopp, Todd criticized the amount of resources and capital that were allocated to develop the SegWit2x software. He said:

“The 2X cancellation email was signed by Mike Belshe, Wences Casares, Jihan Wu, Jeff Garzik, Peter Smith, and Erik Voorhees, in case you were wondering who to send the bill for the millions of dollars worth of engineering time wasted on this mess.”

Whether the resources that were allocated into the development SegWit2x was a waste will be proven in the upcoming months. If SegWit2x has led the community to re-evaluate the necessity of onchain scaling given the high fees of the Bitcoin network at the moment, developers and businesses behind SegWit2x could consider the movement as a success.

In the meantime, businesses will likely move on to adopt and integrate SegWit, to allow users to experience reduced transaction fees SegWit provides. ShapeShift has already integrated SegWit, which was an important step for bitcoin considering that ShapeShift solely accounts for around 3 percent of the Bitcoin network’s transactions.

In the upcoming months, major companies like Bitfinex and Blockchain will likely integrate SegWit. Bitfinex has stated that SegWit integration is in progress.

It is highly likely that the bitcoin price will surpass the $8,000 mark by the end of 2017, as SegWit2x has been called off by it supporting businesses and developers.

Earlier today, BitGo CEO Mike Belshe released an official statement in regards to the termination of SegWit2x due to a lack of consensus to pursue the SegWit2x hard fork on November 16. A statement co-released by ShapeShift CEO Erik Voorhees, Blockchain CEO Peter Smith, Xapo CEO Wences Casares, and SegWit2x lead developer Jeff Garzik read:

“Our goal has always been a smooth upgrade for Bitcoin. Although we strongly believe in the need for a larger block size, there is something we believe is even more important: keeping the community together. Unfortunately, it is clear that we have not built sufficient consensus for a clean blocksize upgrade at this time. Continuing on the current path could divide the community and be a setback to Bitcoin’s growth. This was never the goal of Segwit2x.”

The SegWit2x team and its supporting businesses further emphasized that without SegWit2x, the Bitcoin Core development team will have to come up with an on-chain scaling solution in the short-term to cope with the rapid increase in the user base and transaction capacity of bitcoin.

“As fees rise on the blockchain, we believe it will eventually become obvious that on-chain capacity increases are necessary. When that happens, we hope the community will come together and find a solution, possibly with a blocksize increase. Until then, we are suspending our plans for the upcoming 2MB upgrade,” Belshe added.

New All-Time High, Bullish For Bitcoin Price Trend

Upon the release of Belshe’s statement on the SegWit2x Mailing List, the bitcoin price surged abruptly, achieving a new all-time high at $7,800. However, shortly thereafter, the price of bitcoin endured a major correction from $7,800 to $7,200.

The $600 decline in bitcoin price can be attributed to the movement of investors from bitcoin to altcoins. Last week, several analysts including Willy Woo stated that a major correction would likely occur after the fork as altcoin investors who have moved their funds from altcoins to bitcoin with the sole intent of obtaining B2X reallocate their funds back to bitcoin.

The Bitcoin market has already endured the major correction and in the upcoming days, the bitcoin price would likely rise at a consistent rate.

$8,000 By the End of 2017

Some of the most highly respected financial analysts including Max Keiser have reaffirmed their $10,000 interim price target for bitcoin. It is likely that the price of bitcoin would reach $8,000 by the end of 2017, given that billions of dollars from institutional investors and retail traders will be allocated into bitcoin through CME, CBOE, and LedgerX’s bitcoin futures exchanges in the upcoming months.

With the bitcoin price already recovering from its major correction and no hard fork in sight, bitcoin is at a bullish scenario to achieve new highs and regain momentum.

Star Xu, the CEO of OKCoin, the largest bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in China, has publicly condemned SegWit2x, describing it as a “shitcoin.”

Xu stated:

“Personal advice is B2X should not be listed. It’s a shitcoin but remove replay attacks protection.”

Charlie Lee, the creator of Litecoin and former Coinbase executive, agreed with the statement of Xu, criticizing its lack of strong replay protection and the contentious nature of the SegWit2x hard fork.

SegWit2x and its Contentious Nature

Describing SegWit2x and its native cryptocurrency B2X a “shitcoin” is an extreme way of portraying its contentious nature. But, experts and business executives like Xu have publicly condemned SegWit2x because it has been branded as a network upgrade. Based on the initial NYA agreement and the SegWit2x hard fork proposal, it has been made clear that SegWit2x is not an upgrade proposal but a fork specifically structured to lead to a chain split, and the creation of another cryptocurrency.

Despite the decline in support from the bitcoin community, mining industry, and businesses, the SegWit2x development team will pursue the hard fork on November 16. Several executives such as Bitso’s Daniel Vogel expressed his concerns over such lack of consensus in the SegWit2x hard fork, as he stated:

“Given this is a technical mailing list, I would urge everyone to rethink the S2X code from a technical perspective. The code base was written as an upgrade to Bitcoin. I believe there is enough hard data out there to make it clear that S2X is no longer an upgrade. F2Pool backed down Slush Pool was never in ViaBTC said none of their customers are requesting S2X BTC.top said they will just mine whatever is more profitable When do we stop and rethink? When we get to less than 50% hashing power?”

Why is Xu’s Statement Notable?

Some of the major supporters of the SegWit2x hard fork are based in China, such as Bitmain’s Antpool, ViaBTC, BTC.com, and BTC.TOP, which represent around 60 percent of bitcoin’s global hash rate. Xu is the second executive of a leading Chinese cryptocurrency company to publicly oppose the SegWit2x hard fork, apart from Wang Chun of F2Pool.

Whether F2Pool and OKCoin’s criticism of the SegWit2x hard fork in November will trigger the Chinese mining community to stall or reject the Segwit2x hard fork remains uncertain. At this phase of development, it is highly likely that the SegWit2x hard fork will continue as planned, given the support from the four major mining pools and large-scale bitcoin businesses including Coinbase and Blockchain.

However, it is also important to acknowledge that some of the most influential figures within the Chinese bitcoin market have started to speak out against the SegWit2x hard fork.