Showing posts with label Cryptocurrency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cryptocurrency. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

First Physical Item Purchased on Lightning Network

The cryptocurrency community is commemorating what may have been the first transaction on the Bitcoin Lightning Network’s (LN) mainnet. Additionally, the good news is that the Bitcoin payment operation was, “instantaneous and fee-free.”

Lightning Network Transactions Proves to be Cheap and Faster and
the cryptocurrency community is becoming more enthusiastic about the LN implementation because it promises to significantly lower Bitcoin’s transaction fees while making possible near-instant transactions.

The Social media is buzzing with news references to LN technology progress. And, when popular Reddit user btc_throwaway1337 announced that he had successfully used the LN mainnet to make a purchase, crypto enthusiasts rewarded the news with over one thousand five hundred upvotes.

User btc_throwaway1337 announced:

“I used Lightning Network’s mainnet (via lnd) to purchase an AR300M VPN Router through TorGuard, and it’s here! This may have been the first ever physical purchase on LN.”

He described the purchase experience as follows:

“It was all quick, easy, painless, and most importantly: instantaneous and fee-free!”

User btc_throwaway1337 also submitted proof of the purchase, shown here, indicating that the funding transaction for the channel cost about USD 2.40.

And, because TorGuard already has channels open with vendors and users, he was able to use the same channel for routing payments to/from others.

TorGuard is a provider of anonymous Virtual Private Network (VPN), proxy, and email services.

LN Nodes and Channels Propagation

The Bitcoin Lightning Network is a decentralized system where participants can implement trustless micropayment channels to execute one or multiple payment transactions off-blockchain.

The channels reside off the Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions occur between the channels. Upon completion, these transactions are broadcast, as a single transaction, to the blockchain. Once the payment channel is closed, transactions are transcribed onto the Bitcoin blockchain.

Consequently, regardless of the number of transactions performed, the blockchain is accessed only twice, at the opening of the channel and the closing of the channel.

The implementation of LN nodes is gaining momentum. As of this writing, LN boasts over 67 nodes and 128 channels running on the mainnet with a capacity of 133758803 satoshis, about USD 17,128.16. The graph below shows the impressive LN progress.

LN Nodes and Channels Propagation

Granted, Lightning Network technology is still an experiment. However, the growing number of nodes and channels already under testing predicts that the full LN implementation is coming soon.

Bitcoin’s outlook is looking brighter because Bitcoin LN, combined with Segwit, Schnorr Signatures, and other schemes are concrete optimizations that aim to solve Bitcoin’s most pressing problem: scalability.

How do you think the implementation of the Lightning Network will impact Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!
Read More

Alibaba CEO Says Counterfeiters Should Go To Jail

Founder and CEO of Alibaba-Jack Ma have defended himself in the position that he is an enthusiastic fighter of counterfeits and has repeatedly charged Beijing to take a tight line towards fakes, even going as far as to recommend throwing forgers in jail. However, if Ma’s advice were to be followed, he would also be on his way to the pits. As Alibaba has once again been ranked by the Office of the United States Trade Representatives as a “Notorious Market,” a label for the world’s biggest violators of IP, trademark, and copyright law, sitting on the list right next to

Craig Crosby of The Counterfeit Report –a consumer advocacy firm that is spearheading the fight in the USA against counterfeits — believes that Alibaba’s “notorious” title is well deserved and jested at the suitability of Jack Ma’s company being designated after the fable “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.”

“The counterfeits remain, consumers are deceived, and manufacturers and retailers are being harmed in a big way with little aid,” Crosby penned about Alibaba in a recent press release, claiming that the platform, “facilitate[s] and enable[s] circulation of counterfeits throughout the world. In fact, it’s Alibaba who can’t knock off the knockoffs, and enforcement action should be aimed at Ma.”

Alibaba boasted in 2016 that it took down 380 million products and closed 180,000 stores on for selling counterfeits and in 2017 the number of terminated stores rose to 240,0001.

“Alibaba indicates to be on a mission to fight the rampant counterfeiting problem on its platform and make it easier for brands to remove fakes, but that report is not true,” Crosby wrote. “Alibaba’s “AliProtect” counterfeit enforcement program presents a gauntlet of obstacles, obscure conflicting instructions, and ridiculous responses to rights holder’s notifications.”

Crosby goes even further, alleging that he was refused refunds for test purchases of validated counterfeit products and declared that Alibaba “doesn’t even have telephone customer or intellectual property violation support Calls to U.S. Corporate Headquarters … go unanswered, are disconnected, or direct that a message should be left. Alibaba emails that demand information or documents states that “Please do not reply to this email/message. This mailbox is not watched, and you will not get a response” and users are then directed to an Alibaba web-form that won’t affirm document files.”

Crosby can confidently back up his bold statements with direct experience, as his firm has identified and extracted over 18 million infringing items on Alibaba’s websites on behalf of rights holders. He addresses counterfeits as a law enforcement agent would, processing, cataloging, and archiving them to be employed in court.

“Every item we purchase is bagged and tagged as evidence, every transaction is captured, every screenshot is captured,” Crosby explained to me in an interview. “Just a monumental accomplishment to support the allegations that are in the press releases.”

While Jack Ma insists that the sellers of counterfeits should be jailed, he continues to directly profit off of them. In March of 2017, he wrote a statement to China’s parliamentary delegates which stated that “The majority of counterfeiters are not held legally responsible for their actions.” This is something that Ma should know better than anyone else.

According to an OECD report, over 60% of the world’s knockoffs originate from China, and in 2015 the Beijing-mouthpiece Xinhua news agency reported that 40% of China’s domestic e-commerce sites were made up of counterfeit goods.

However, the counterfeit problem is not reserved to China, as Chinese-made counterfeits are finding their ways onto American e-commerce platforms en masse. According to Payoneer, 62% of China’s online vendors are now on Amazon, with 91% of them selling to the United States. According to research by Marketplace Pulse, Chinese sellers now makeup 25% of the merchants selling on Amazon USA and potentially a quarter of Amazon’s global marketplace.

Counterfeits have become one of the biggest economic issues of this era. By 2022, the value of counterfeit and pirated goods is predicted to grow to $2.8 trillion and cost 5.4 million jobs. Meanwhile, the reputations of legitimate brands are being destroyed, and consumer confidence in e-commerce is becoming tarnished. The legal systems of most countries are just not equipped to deal with cross-border e-commerce, as the violators of their IP, trademark, and copyright laws remain outside their jurisdiction, and the e-commerce platforms where these goods are sold cannot yet be held legally accountable. For the unscrupulous, the cross-border counterfeit loophole is an incredibly easy and relatively safe way to make massive amounts of money.

However, if the Office of the United States Trade Representative finds Alibaba to be a “Notorious Market,” they may want to take a look in their backyard. If they were to do so, they’d more than likely find a certain company run by the current richest man in the world who is perhaps one of the most blatant traffickers of counterfeit goods that have ever been known, where massive quantities of Alibaba fakes end up being directly sold and drop-shipped with impunity.
Read More

The US and China Use Blockchain to Trade Soybeans

A cargo of soybeans sailing from the US to China has set to become the premier fully-fledged agricultural trade to utilize the blockchain feature.

Blockchain Extends Its Newfound Authority

A report found in The Business Times shows that the parties involved in the trade comprised of Shandong Bohi Industry Co, Louis Dreyfus Co, Societe Generale, ING and ABN Amro. The companies decided to take advantage of blockchain to digitalize the letter of credit, sales contract and certificates using the Easy Trading Connect (ETC) platform.

As we all know that Blockchain is a distributed record of transactions that is controlled by a network of computers on the internet which first surfaced with the birth of Bitcoin.

As we all know that this is not the first time blockchain has been employed in the trading of goods, as the technology has been successfully used to trade in other markets such as oil.

Robert Serpollet, who is the global head of operations at Louis Dreyfus expressed excitement regarding the trade stating, “We noticed very significant efficiency gains… far exceeding what we expected.” Efficiency gains, he added, were a result of less time consumed in processing the documents and data.

Louis Dreyfus Co served as the dealer in the transaction, while Bohi acted as the customer. The exchange also included teams from both parties participating on the blockchain, while banks issued and confirmed the letter of credit.

Blue Water Shipping and Russell Marine Group also contributed to the complex transaction by allotting all required certificates. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave counsel and rendered insight on how to incorporate phytosanitary licenses in the process.

Officials Foresee More Widespread Blockchain Adoption

The results include streamlining cost and overall time the transaction takes, which is a benefit for any business.

Mr. van Vilet, a representative for ING, said, “This [cost saving feature] is key as we operate in a business that holds high volumes and shallow margins.”

“If not months, then in a year or two maximum, I think the world in this space will look considerably different,” he continued, alluding to the recent interest in blockchain and the potential the technology has for widespread adoption.

News headlines have been swarming with stories concerning financial institutions attempting their hand at investing in cryptocurrencies and other projects, and it appears that we are getting closer to embracing the technology into our everyday lives. If businesses and this new technology can sync and work in harmony, the world will experience a new age of efficiency and be able to designate resources more efficiently.
Read More

Friday, June 21, 2019

Hong Kong Bitcoin Trader Robbed of USD180,000

A man in Hong Kong was the victim of a Bitcoin robbery as thieves stole USD 180,000 in cash which he was planning to buy bitcoin with.

Which makes us wonder what it is about the presumption of making money by buying and selling cryptocurrency that makes some people lose the use of their common sense? The latest example of this phenomenon took place in Hong Kong. A man looking to buy bitcoins was lured into an ambush by criminals, in which he had HK$1.4 million (approximately USD 180,000) stolen from him in a Bitcoin robbery.

The Set Up

The victim is a Bitcoin trader by the surname of Lee. The criminals contacted him through his WeChat account, and a deal was arranged for him to purchase a total of five bitcoins.

The details of the agreement were that he would get the cryptocurrency at a five percent discount off the current market price. The kicker was that the deal had to be in cash.

The victim then headed to the rendezvous point, which took place at a Starbucks on Hennessy Road, Wan Chai at 4:30 pm. At the time, Lee was carrying HK$450,000 (just over USD 57,500). He was engaged by two men, who told him that they were willing to trade more bitcoins, so another “business meeting” was arranged at 9:30 pm later in the same day. No trade occurred during this first meeting.

The Execution

Lee then loaded a bag with HK$1.4 million (USD 180,000) and headed out to McDonalds on King’s Road, North Point for the second meeting. However, the two “sellers” did not show up.

At around 10 pm, one of the “sellers” contacted Lee on his phone, saying that they had lost their bearing. He was asked to meet them outside the State Theatre Building that’s located at about 100 meters away from the McDonalds on Kings’s road.

As Lee headed towards his new destination, he was jumped from behind by three masked men. One of them pushed him down while the other two seized his bag and mobile phone. The robbers then escaped the scene on foot.

As for Lee, he sustained minor injuries to both his hands and legs, but he did not require any hospitalization. Police combed the area but found nothing, but they are still looking for the five criminals (or perhaps just three) criminals who took part in the Bitcoin heist.

The victim was lucky in that he didn’t suffer any major injury. Criminals as we know, are quite willing to kill for that amount of money. Still, one would think that carrying large sums of cash to clandestine meetings with total strangers would serve as a significant red flag.

In his effort to save a measly five percent, Lee lost USD 180,000. If you meet someone that trades bitcoins or anything, start off by buying a small amount of what he sells. If all goes well, then you can raise your purchasing power.

It’s evident that the crooks were sizing Lee up, discerning if he had the money on him by the first meeting. Once they knew he had the means, and inclination, to buy more bitcoins, they then enticed him into a second session at night while he was alone.

Common sense should tell you that you don’t meet total strangers while carrying a bag full of money. You should also have a friend or two with you at the very least. Preferably, such buddies should be ex-Navy Seals or something like that. The overall point is; don’t let your greed cloud your sense of judgment.

What do you think about this Bitcoin robbery? Have you ever bought cryptocurrency from a stranger by using cash? Let us know in the comments below.
Read More

Tokyo Crypto Exchange BitFlyer Approved for Europe

Authorities across the world are either opening their doors to crypto or shutting them. Exchanges want to keep up with this fast-paced ecosystem and seek out favorable nations and markets. Japan is a known haven for crypto and Tokyo exchange BitFlyerhas recently obtained approval to operate in Europe.

According to Coinmarketcap, BitFlyer is the world’s fourteenth largest exchange with a 24-hour volume in the region of $300 million. Significantly, it conducts 80% of the Bitcoin trading volume in Japan which is one of the globe’s largest crypto markets. BitFlyer offers to trade directly with fiat but only carries Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. The UK’s Daily Mail has reported this week that the exchange has been given the green light for a European launch.

Branching Out

The exchange has been granted a payment institution (PI) license from the Luxembourg regulator for the European Union, building on its regulatory approval in Japan. According to the report, BitFlyer is the only licensed exchange in Europe giving traders access to one of the world’s largest crypto markets – Japan. Founder and chief executive Yuzo Kano told media:

“When I set up BitFlyer in 2014, I did so with global aspirations and the belief that approved regulatory status is fundamental to the long-term future of Bitcoin and the virtual currency industry. I am happy that we are now the most compliant virtual currency exchange in the world; this coveted regulatory status gives our customers, our company, and the virtual currency industry as a whole a very positive outlook for the future.”

An estimated amount of 10 billion Euro ($12 billion) of Bitcoin is traded worldwide per month, which makes the currency the third largest Bitcoin market after the Japanese Yen and the US dollar.

Exchange Expansion

The move has been welcomed with open arms by industry professionals and investors. Cedric Jeanson, CEO of BitSpread, one of the world’s largest digital currency market makers, said;

“We’re pleased to see BitFlyer landing in Europe. As virtual currency trading becomes mainstream and institutional investors get involved, there is a gap in Europe for a platform which specifically caters to the professional market.”

According to the Financial Times, BitFlyer will only offer to trade Bitcoin/Euro pairs but says it plans to feature other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin and Ethereum and more fiat currencies in the coming months. The move is a positive one especially in a month of negative news regarding crypto exchanges and general media FUD.

Will Japanese exchanges in Europe bring in more investment? Share your thoughts below.
Read More

KFC Canada Is Now Accepting Bitcoin for Fried Chicken

KFC Canada is accepting bitcoin – for a limited time and a cryptocurrency-themed bucket of chicken.The restrained-time marketing move sees the Canada-based chain advertising “The Bitcoin Bucket” complete with a Facebook-based live-tracker of the standing price for the product, which works out to roughly 20 Canadian dollars depending on the exchange rate with bitcoin.

That said, you can’t just walk into a KFC location in Canada and pay with crypto at the cash register.

Instead, the company is accepting Bitcoin via BitPay as one of the options through an online checkout page. The Bitcoin Bucket will be delivered directly to the customer’s address (the product also carries a $5 fee), according to the check-out process on its website.

KFC Canada doesn’t seem to be holding back with the tongue-in-cheek presentation, especially through its social channels.

If Satoshi reveals his true identity, his bucket is on us. #BitcoinBucket

— KFC Canada (@kfc_canada) January 11, 2018

Indeed, the company appears to be jumping on the publicity bandwagon surrounding cryptocurrencies. However, unlike some public-traded firms that have seen their stock prices soar after announcing some tie-in with the tech, the move doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect on the price for Yum! Brands, KFC’s parent company.

In one post on Twitter, the rep managing the KFC Canada account suggested that the company may accept other cryptocurrencies as well.
Read More

Microsoft Resumes Bitcoin Payments After Halt Over Uncertainty

Microsoft has once more began receiving bitcoin payments from its customers on their online store.

News coming from Bleeping Computer claims that the Tech giant temporarily suspended bitcoin transactions last week, with the company sources citing the “unstable” state of the coin caused mostly by its current high volatility and fees, the tech news source added.

An unnamed spokeswoman from Microsoft has now confirmed that bitcoin payments feature is now back online.

She affirmed by saying:

“We’ve revived bitcoin as a payment option in our store after meeting with our provider to ensure that lower bitcoin amounts can be redeemable by customers.”

Also, online gaming platform Steam withdrew its bitcoin payments feature in early December, quoting chronic problems with the bitcoin’s high transaction fees and volatile price.

Just a month ago, bitcoin’s price had soared to All-Time Highs of about $20,000. Prices have fluctuated since then following a general move downwards.

Microsoft first added bitcoin payment feature for digital products in 2014, enabling U.S. customers to use the digital currency to purchase apps, games, and videos from its Windows Phone and Xbox platforms.
Read More