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Digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ripple, and Ethereum have been soaring pretty high over the past few months. According to the latest estimates:

  • Bitcoin currently stands at $2588 per BTC
  • Ripple has hit the market cap of $10 billion
  • Ethereum has reached a total market cap of around $20 billion.

This incredible growth in value is the outcome of efforts put in by two countries – China and Japan.

CHINA:

China has been leading the Bitcoin market for the last couple of years. The Chinese mining pools are in charge of 60% of the Bitcoin network’s hash rate. Also, with a cheap electricity and access to proper hardware, China provides the ideal ground for digital mining.

However, in February 2017, three of China’s biggest Bitcoin exchanges suspended all withdrawals due to increased concerns over money laundering and capital flight. BTC China, Huobi, and OKCoin declared in separate statements that they will lift the suspension after the proper implementation of new guidelines set by the Central Bank.

Luckily, during June, there was an announcement that the self-imposed halt on withdrawals by Bitcoin exchanges was no more in place. The news took China by storm. The citizens responded with complete enthusiasm, assuring that they have complete confidence in digital currencies.

JAPAN:

While China was on a halt in the beginning of the year, Japan took Bitcoin to an entirely new level. Towards the start, Japan barely took up 1% of the total Bitcoin market in trading volume. However, that soon changed as Japan now holds at least 6% of trading volume at the moment.

Moreover, Japan has entirely eliminated the tax on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a move which will ultimately increase the trading activities within the Japanese exchange market. The main aim behind this move was to ensure that all transactions take place without having to deal with any external factors such as taxes. Now, Bitcoin traders and businesses can run smoothly and easily access cryptocurrencies in the country.

Furthermore, Large institutions in Japan have now begun to accept Bitcoin as a payment option. Japan’s largest exchange, bitFlyer, now has the backing of all of Japan’s megabanks: MUFJ, Mizuho, and SMBC. In addition, Bic Camera, a very popular retailer, has paired with bitFlyer to accept Bitcoin at all of its locations. As the acceptance of digital currencies by influential retailers increases, the Japanese have begun to trust digital currencies for daily transactions.

Both the Chinese and Japanese, are responsible for boosting Bitcoin’s value to new heights.

Acceptance by The Government:

The Japanese Government is determined to provide their business community with a proper secure environment, where they are able to easily access cryptocurrencies and conduct trading activities. They’ve already assured that all their retail stores are well-equipped with the right security systems to prevent money laundering and fraudulent transactions from happening.

Ultimately, both governments are driving the cryptocurrency’s growth off the charts, with China in plans of designing and launching its own currency and Japan legally classifying Bitcoin a form of payment.

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Digital currency under regulatory scrutiny- SEC

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Cryptocurrencies

After being spooked by the massive digital tokens crackdown, cryptocurrencies got another pushback by the feds recently. The Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S has decided to gun down all the cryptocurrencies, especially Ethereum under regulatory scrutiny to whether consider it as security or commodity. After a remarked high range in digital currency world, this bull to bearish reversal is the result of investor anxiety gushes over the squabble between Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

ethereum icos

The second most popular digital currency after Bitcoin in the charts, Ethereum is considered under the category of security will have hard consequences. Not only for Ethereum cryptocurrency, but all digital currencies crowdfunded through ICOs, that is Initial Coin Offerings.

Coming under increased regulatory scrutiny by the U.S government, all these cryptocurrencies are viewed as securities due to their speculative nature all around. Regulators have already declared bitcoin as security. But undermining the liquidity of this second popular cryptocurrency can prove out to be disastrous for it and also the cryptocurrency economy. Though the basic mechanism working behind these two digital currencies is not merely same, but they contribute majorly to the cryptocurrency world.

Initial coin offering

Until the mid-2017, selling transaction of these tokens was not much of an exhausting task. A team would emerge through these blockchains and present their purpose of tokens in a ‘white paper’. They would then arrange an Initial Coin Offering Service, ICOs where they would offer coins to nearly anyone who would exchange them for cash or Bitcoins.

The main idea or theory behind this ICO was to fund and support the construction of that newly emerging online service. But later in a few cases, these ICOs were proved to be scams. Absconding of these organizers created an upthrust, where SEC fired a warning claiming that tokens sold in ICO may be considered as securities and their declaration will be mandatory. SEC values Ethereum similar to any public Company who strives every act to value their stock.

Now the developers are concerned that due to the fact that Ethereum ICOs investors bought the tokens in hope that their value will increase in the near future, it could be classed as security. But the plethora of issues is not that straight and easy here.

Ethereum co-founder denies

The whole dilemma was observed and addressed by the co-founder of Ethereum, Joseph Lubin in a conference. He says that the scrutiny doesn’t upset him. According to him and the developers, this does not meet the requirements of security and doesn’t have to be regulated, therefore. There were no concerns about the potential issues about the cryptocurrency. he further said, he never considered and identified the system as security ever.

The Howey Test

A case resided between the SEC and WJ Howey Co in 1946. In this case, the foundation to determine the event to be a commodity or a security was set. It is now known as the Howey Test.

In simpler terms, Howey Co. sold a part of their citrus farm to some investors. Their idea behind it was to gain profits from the operations performed on the farm. It was considered as a securities contract by the judge explaining that the scheme focuses on the idea to obtain profits from the efforts and labor of others.

Basically, in simpler terms, this test helps to determine if a transaction or profit is obtained solely by the hard work and labor of one party and not by the other party, combined in an agreement. This Howey Test has been greatly talked and argued about in the regard of these cryptocurrencies and ICO. As the basic phenomena in Ethereum ICOs reside the same. The investor expects profits primarily from others hard work and efforts.

Securities classification arguments

According to wall street journals, the future of the cryptocurrencies is under debate, whether it would be identified as security or not. Commodities and securities under which the legislation falls are regulated by different authority bodies. They are regulated and operated in different markets and agencies. These differences will greatly affect the investors, sellers, and buyers in the cryptocurrency market.

Despite all the fuss and controversy about the issue, a lot of experts are very positive and hopeful about the future and growth of Ethereum cryptocurrencies. Many have come up suggesting that Ethereum and such cryptocurrencies may be considered as unregistered securities after a continues refusal by the founders of them being never entertained as security. The growing market capitalization of Ethereum cryptocurrency has shown that this is not going anywhere this soon!

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Risks involved in Bitcoin Mining

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Risks involved in Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining is a multi-billion industry, but with increasing number of blocks, the difficulty to mine bitcoins is growing as well.

The question that arises is whether one should invest in such phenomena or avoid it.

In this post, we’ll give you a few pointers on what are the risks involved in this particular venture.

Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining risk secures transactions that are recorded in the Bitcoin’s public ledger the blockchain. The blockchain confirms these transactions to the rest of the network while they’re taking place.

Miners

Miners play a vital role in the Bitcoin ecosystem by keeping the Bitcoin community in check. They perform complicated mathematical tasks with specialized mining hardware, in order to mine new bitcoins but bitcoin’s system adds a new block to the blockchain every 10 minutes to ensure the verification and security of unprocessed transactions so that there is no double spending. Miners earn bitcoins investment, as rewards for their effort and often even paid transaction fees by buyers.

Possible risks follow:

  • Susceptible to High Price Volatility:

The main issue that comes with bitcoin mining is the fluctuation of the virtual currency. The cryptocurrency tends to swing over short periods of time. Also, the price depends on the demand and supply, since there are only 21 million Bitcoins available and with two-thirds of it to be already mined, the demand of bitcoins increases with each passing day.

  • Competition due to the introduction of Ethereum:

The reward for mining bitcoins about every four years and its current value is at 12.5 bitcoins, with average block time as 10 minutes. Whereas Ethereum’s block time is 12 seconds. Faster block time means quicker confirmation of transactions. Ethereum reward miners work to earn Ethers, which is a kind of token that fuels the network. You earn 5 ethers given for each block. You can also use it to pay for transaction fee and services on the Ethereum network. Also, Ethereum has over 89,752,192 coins currently existing, unlike Bitcoin, if it reaches its limit, more investors would switch to Ethereum or other cryptocurrencies thus, leading to lesser or no transactions for miners to confirm and earn rewards.

  • The “hard fork” scenario: 

Bitcoin has become so popular that it isn’t able to manage the weight of all the transactions. With the currency growing exponentially along with the number of transactions, the 1MB block size limit is starting to be an issue thus, leading to delays in payment processing. This hard fork is splitting the network into two i.e. Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) and Segregated Witness (SegWit). Miners are in favor of BU as it gives them more control of the BTC network but BTC developers and enthusiasts choose to side with SegWit since they’re not in favor of letting miners be more in control of the network than they already are. The two obviously can’t co-exist side by side so they have to compete for legitimacy and users in order to function.

To conclude, bitcoin mining does have its pros and cons. Surely, as people become more aware of this cryptocurrency they would show more interest but for now, no one can predict the future of it.

Happy mining!

 

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What Is Bitcoin Hard Fork? The Most Heated Bitcoin Topic Explained!

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To begin with, Bitcoin has been the talk of every news channel, tabloid, website, etc. for a long while now. It’s increasing popularity might’ve caused a little problem for the network. Bitcoin is in a messy situation right now and something needs to be done. Fortunately, two possible solutions have been proposed as well, but only one can exist.

 

bitcoin hard fork

 

What’s The Issue?

In simple words, Bitcoin is unable to withstand the number of transactions taking place on the network.

The technical explanation is that the 1MB block size limit which is programmed into the system has become a problem and is causing delays in the processing of transactions. Basically, a purchase can take from a few minutes to hours to confirm.

Two techniques were proposed, which result in two different solutions: Bitcoin Unlimited, and Segregated Witness. They’re both proposed software updates to the Bitcoin network with the aim to completely change the way Bitcoin functions.

Obviously, the two can’t coexist, that would “fork” the Bitcoin network – splitting it into two different digital currencies.

A fork is known as a software update. Basically, updating a program from an old version to a new one.

Hard Fork:

It is a compulsory software update that is required in order for the program to function.  It can be implemented to fix bug errors or any security issues present in the older version of the software. Also, a hard fork is irreversible.

The “hard fork” will split the blockchain, leading to the introduction of a new chain of transactions branching from the original one.

Bitcoin Unlimited:

Starting off with Bitcoin Unlimited, this proposal is favored majorly by Bitcoin miners. To understand this, you must know the concept of Bitcoin mining. Bitcoin miners use specified powerful computers to solve complex mathematical algorithms in order to verify a transaction and be rewarded with newly issued bitcoins.

We are aware that there is a built-in block size limit of 1MB in the Bitcoin network, however, BU gives miners the permission to vote on increasing the block size whenever they want. This gives them control of the Bitcoin network, due to which they’re favored by miners.

Segregated Witness:

On the other hand, SegWit is being voted by many Bitcoin enthusiasts and developers. Their aim is to optimize the Bitcoin coding in a way that allows them to decrease the transaction size and increase the transaction volume, all while sticking to the 1MB block limit. They suggest the use of a soft fork.

A soft fork is a software update that lets the network to adapt to the new functionalities and features implemented. The update doesn’t interfere with the existing software and the older version will still be usable.

Who Will Be The Winner?

Aha! Too bad we can’t answer this question because half the community goes for SegWit and the other half for BU. There’s not really much we can do, just voice out our opinion and educate others with whatever we learn and maybe help them come up with opinions of their own.

We’ll just have to patiently wait and watch how this turns out.

I’d like to point out that I have a very limited technical knowledge and only know my way around a few technical terminologies. This post is a compilation of weeks of research that I’ve put together myself. So, if you do find any errors, do let me know in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to check back on them.

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What Should Be Considered in an ICO Whitepaper?

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As the popularity of ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings) is mounting along market’s instability and other cryptocurrencies fraud around the world, a debate has emerged about the appropriate regulatory policies for cryptocurrencies and ICOs. The most frequently asked questions include the proper division of authority amid the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission), whether authority of these commissions should reach the core of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as others are expecting that a whole new regulatory rule is required for cryptocurrency and token fundraisers. This blog illustrates the congressional testimony on cryptocurrencies, which aims to reflect the existing regulatory approach that is being used by the regulators to observe and manage ICOs and cryptocurrencies, and how more regulatory clarity can be achieved in such markets.

ICO whitepaper

US Securities laws disclosure system is the prime one, where promoters can easily share information related to their company and management, openly. With SEC, this information is filed later. By dissimilarity, most of the ICO disclosures are enabled via “whitepapers” which are unregulated at this time, focusing mainly on the current technology and on such technologies that are under-development.

Investors and buyers of ICO tokens that are looking for a good return or technology users that are looking forward to contribute and support in an advanced product would have to expect certain disclosures for making a purchase in a conversant way. Some of the disclosures that have been identified by the entrepreneurs themselves are specifically relevant to ICOs transition.

Location of Promotors

According to a study, in 32% of ICOs, it is literally impossible to identify the promoter’s origin. From an investor’s point of view, this is a serious information asymmetry. It won’t be possible to identify what legal protections and rules are. without this information. Moreover, there are few ways through which investor can interact with related public authorities especially in case of fraud, like; loss or theft. So, ICO whitepaper should set out a comprehensive report of where the issuer and its key management are placed.

Issues

If we talk about the history of US Securities law, there was no such information important for investors than the financial statements of the issuer. Investors could easily evaluate the past performance of the company by scrutinizing income statements, cash flow and balance sheets, and by doing so, they could make well-versed guesses about the future performance of the company as well as its profitability.  A whole ecosystem of third-party auditors, credit rating agencies, and accountants, were settled due to the criticality of financial statements in securities offerings, to make sure the accuracy of financial statements.

ICOs serves for a different purpose as compared to most of the traditional IPOs (Initial Public Offerings). Rather than funding trading companies, ICOs involve products industrialized by startups identifying technology-based issues and offering the sale of solutions based on technology.

It’s not the past performance of the company or financial statements for most of the offerings, but it’s the venture’s technology plan. Therefore, guaranteeing that investors/retail buyers comprehend the crucial contours of the fundamental technology solution is ultimate as ICOs turn out to be a more and more popular way of fundraising.

Moreover, further technical chunks of the ICO whitepaper would be a perfect subject to a system of third-party authentication, especially for larger fundraises. Also, when describing the solution, hyperbole should be avoided by the promoters which are an endemic problem in whitepapers. Plus, investors should be required to identify an objective base for all the upcoming statements as well.

Blockchain

Investors should be well-versed about how the secondary infrastructure works, and how it is going to affect the governance of the token. Also, the consensus method for a virtual currency’s Blockchain should also be revealed as well, along with a summary of how the governance decisions, plus other decisions affect the network, such as; software upgrades, which will be synchronized amid the several investors such as designers, miners, and users.

Token’s Description

This is obvious that tokens can have a number of different economic and qualitative features, like; currency, utility, or securities. The disclosures would have to elucidate what it means to a typical holder, if the tokens are created in a technological format, complying with firm guidelines, like; ERC20 standard.

Likewise, if some efforts will be made for listing a token, for example, to list a securities token on an ATS (alternative trading system), or if there are trading limitations on the security, then such facts have to be disclosed in a way that is clear to the owner of the token. The description of token should specify the envisioned use of the coins that are issued in the offering, their quantity, plus whether the advisors will keep the reserve coins, and if they do, then how they’d liquidate them. Promoters should be required to reveal their intellectual ownership of the company’s protocol.

Technical Team Qualification

Common disclosure requirement in registered offerings is the information about the business experience of executive officers as the investors are given a sense of the quality of management and are probably the success of the company once it goes public. In ICOs, companies have restricted histories and the problem may be exceptional, if same information about the offering’s technical team could be evaluated. At the same time, coders have diverging backgrounds, as some are more qualified and experienced than others. Also, to provide investors with an intellect as to the proficiency and reliability of the white paper, many founders should provide all info linked to key engineering experience, skills, qualifications and other relevant features. Plus, it should also be mandatory for developers to provide links to their previous work.

Risks

ICOs should involve disclosures regarding the most substantial risk aspects affecting token holders in the offering document. Even though many investors will probably understand that even successful ventures can be later disintermediated by more effectual nonentities. A token holder may get astonished to discover that the product doesn’t function as it’s intended or might develop a purpose all-in-all contingent on the progress of the technology, possibly even less in all likelihood, the requirements of the contributors in the ecosystem. Shareholders should comprehend as well that the greater sectoral risks, including variations in the trade that could demote some designs of blockchain into further parts of the sector, making many tokens worthless. Buyers had to be completely aware of their latent susceptibility to hacking, disruption, and data-loss, also authorized subjects like privacy concerns and information transportability across borders.

No doubt, there are other imperative disclosures as well that should be operationalized in means that are way too much effective.

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