Market Volatility, Illiquidity Can Be Quite Profitable for Bitcoin Traders

Market Volatility,
Illiquidity Can Be Quite Profitable
for Bitcoin Traders

Introduction to “spreads”

The cryptocurrency markets are often volatile and suffer from periods of limited liquidity. Combined, they increase the risk profile for Blockchain asset investors. But with increased risk, the potential for reward should increase as well. In this post we explore one method professional traders use to handle volatility and liquidity issues and explore ways to profit from these inefficiencies.

Introducing mean-reversion strategies

Volatility is driven by uncertainty. Some strategies, however, profit from volatility and even illiquidity. At the same time these strategies help mitigate market inefficiencies and should be rewarded for that. Mean-reversion is the assumption that a stock's price will tend to move toward its average price over time. In other words, deviations from the average price could be exploited for profit, based on the knowledge that the price should tend to revert to the mean in time.

A simple implementation of this strategy is to quote both a sell and a buy price, like a market maker. If the market is in fact mean reverting, then the strategy profits from the difference between the buy and sell price. The difference is also called the quoted spread. Mean-reversion strategies trade the market as if the market oscillates around a fair price for an asset. The swings are driven by the uncertainty of other market participants or illiquidity at different market levels. Mean-reversion strategies bridge the gap between buyers and sellers and can expect to generate a profit from that.

This strategy is most effective in markets that are both high in volatility and are mean reverting. Volatility measures the size of the market’s swings. With high volatility, market swings are large and the mean-reversion strategy has a high probability of generating a profit. In markets with low volatility only small spreads are possible and the strategy is less profitable. The best market scenario for mean-reversion is a sideways market with large volatility or market swings. This market scenario is damaging for trend-following strategies but profitable for market making or mean-reversion strategies.

Simple example

The figure below shows an example of a profitable trading day using a mean-reversion strategy. At the beginning of the day, both buy and sell orders are placed in the market. The day develops and volatility drives a random walk of the price. Throughout the day, the strategy buys one Bitcoin at $4377.70. At some point later during the day, you sell this Bitcoin at $4421.48 and generate a profit of 1%. From this profit, fees have to be added or deducted. Some exchanges charge as little as 2.5 basis points for providing liquidity using such passive strategies.

Implementing mean-reversion?

As we have already learned, mean-reversion strategies capitalize on the spread between buy and sell prices. These are usually placed around a mid price. The mid price incorporates all assumptions about the true price. For example, if the market exhibits large trends, these would be considered to adjust the mid price.

In general, buy and sell orders are determined by

Buy/Sell = Mid Price +/- Spread

The spread is determined largely by the market’s volatility and the skew of the its returns. The skew is determined by the probability of up or down moves of the market. Such moves are usually not equally probable and therefore the spread is adjusted. The volatility determines the size of the spread. With a high volatility, buy and sell orders are executed with a higher probability because the market shows larger price swings. On the other hand, if the volatility is small, the buy and sell might not be hit and the strategy keeps a long or short position, i.e. either ends up holding the underlying asset or holding cash and being short the asset.

The recursion is usually initiated with the variance over the first 10 days. λ determines the half-life of the EWMA system. The half-life is the time required for the system to forget half of its former value. With daily data, the half-life is usually set to 10 days and therefore λ set to 0.93. The figure below shows the annualized volatility for Bitcoin prices as estimated by the EWMA model. Bitcoin is fluctuating around an annualized volatility of 116%.

Strategy’s performance

To test the mean-reversion strategy we explored to quote buy and sell prices every day since the inception of Bitcoin through the end of September 2017.. All data is taken from Cryptocompare. Given a 116% average volatility, we chose the quoted spread as 1% between buy and sell prices. If returns would be normally distributed this spread would be hit with a probability of 99.6% over, for example, 10 days.

Of course, Bitcoin returns do not follow a normal distribution. So what is the likelihood that a trader could both buy and sell Bitcoin over the course of 10 days and earn 1% each day? Based on our data, this strategy would have been successful in 2297 out of 2615 days, or 87.84% of the time. For this backtest, we calculated the buy and sell orders on +/- 0.5% of the last closing price and compared this price with the highs and lows over the course of the next 10 days. Of course, this strategy would result in some large long or short positions in Bitcoin. In fact, for 189 of the days, the strategy would have sold Bitcoin, but not bought. And for 129 of the days, the strategy bought Bitcoin, but did not sell it. The main reason for this is the large upward trend in Bitcoin prices.

To account for the trend in Bitcoin prices, we use the moving average return as an estimate and arbitrarily chose the look-back as 60 days, based on a previously published strategy. We also tested other look-back periods which produced similar results, and the look-back of 60 days is in the range of general trend-following strategies.

Adding the moving average to shift the spread increases the number of days the mean-reversion strategies buys Bitcoins and reduces the number of days that it only sells Bitcoins. Therefore the strategy ends up with a long position in Bitcoin rather than a short position. In total, this strategy would have made 1% profit on 2288 days out of 2615. On 327 days, the strategy either only sold Bitcoin or only bought Bitcoin. Adjusting the mid-price for trend resulted in more days that the strategy only bought Bitcoin and therefore accumulated Bitcoin over time. As an additional rule, the strategy could sell the additional Bitcoin at the end of each month or even keep them as a market position.

A trader can improve this strategy by considering the volatility estimate and adjusting the spread. With higher volatility estimates, the strategy would aim to profit from a larger spread and vice versa. Other models use more sophisticated supervised learning algorithms to predict market movements. While some search for trading signals in order books, others use market news as an input to make directional predictions (Li et al., 2014; Kanagal et al., 2017). When trading a mean-reversion strategy, the liquidity of the market has to be considered. Here we did not consider any limitations to the ability to trade at the quoted prices. Obviously, that is not always the case and largely depends on the deployed capital.

Broader market benefits

Trading a mean-reversion strategy also plays a crucial role to establish efficient market mechanisms. While efficiency has already improved dramatically over the recent years, cryptocurrency markets still face fundamental issues that are typical for any new market. Illiquidity, matching inefficiencies and unstable spreads are frequent symptoms that can be observed across all currently available exchanges. Mean-reversion strategies provide additional liquidity to the market and therefore resolve these frictions. They bridge the liquidity gap, for which they get paid.

Market making strategies extend mean-reversion strategies, in that they trade on the spread many times a day with relatively large volumes on both sides of the trade. Market making strategies provide the liquidity that is essential for any well-functioning financial system. Abrupt spikes of demand or supply, like when traders either buy or sell large volumes, are absorbed by market makers. Any successful Bitcoin buy order requires a seller who is willing to take the opposite side and sell the particular volume of coins to the quoted price. The exchange (broker) matches both parties to make the trade happen.

This frequently leads to order delays and varying fulfilment prices, at the cost of traders. By placing orders at each side of the trade, market makers have the capacity to make more trades happen and thereby eliminate fulfillment delays. Bitcoin markets still observe very unstable spreads, which are absorbed by the market makers. By fixing bid and ask prices for other traders, market makers profit from keeping spreads low and stable. The more liquidity they provide, the narrower and more stable the spread becomes.

Conclusion

Mean-reversion strategies are very profitable in high volatility markets and can be adjusted for trends. This strategy can be easily applied to Bitcoin trading and improve the performance of a buy-and-hold strategy. The mean-reversion strategy would post buy and sell quotes around the current market level and earn the spread.

Since the strategy is independent of the market level, it can add an independent performance to a buy-and-hold strategy. As an example, the strategy could use 1% of the portfolio assets and then aim to earn an additional 1% per day on this part of the portfolio. Historically, this strategy would have added 24% per year to the portfolio performance.

Mean-reversion strategies are providing liquidity to the market. On the other hand, these strategies might end up long or short the asset, if the market does not revert to the mean. In that case they are taking a market position. On the other hand, providing liquidity should earn these strategies a potential profit that rewards the trader for his risk. Market making strategies extend mean-reversion strategies by quoting bid-ask spreads more frequently.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.
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Here’s What Gold Bugs Miss About Bitcoin’s ‘Intrinsic Value’

Here's What Gold Bugs Miss About Bitcoin's 'Intrinsic Value'

Gold bars are pictured at the German central Bank Bundesbank,

in Frankfurt, Germany (BORIS ROESSLER/AFP/Getty Images).While bitcoin would appear to be a libertarian’s monetary dream at first glance, the reality is that many of the longtime gold bugs have yet to go all the way down the cryptocurrency rabbit hole. For those most part, these gold bugs do not believe in the long-term viability of bitcoin due to its lack of “intrinsic value”.

Peter Schiff is one such gold bug who is a noted critic of bitcoin. I recently dissected some of the arguments he made against bitcoin on The Joe Rogan Experience in another post. Indeed, I also followed this line of thinking when I first found out about bitcoin. One of the first questions I had about this new digital commodity was why it was not backed by a physical commodity such as gold.

However, that was back in 2011. And I eventually learned that the lack of physical backing behind bitcoin is a feature, not a bug. Without physical backing, bitcoin is able to act as the world’s first digital bearer asset, which can be stored and transacted without interference from a third party custodian or government. Like many others who have researched bitcoin thoroughly over the years, my understanding of money and intrinsic value has been flipped on its head by Satoshi Nakamoto’s financial innovation.

Bitcoin’s Intrinsic Value

So how does bitcoin have any value at all? How can you go from zero to one? In the early days, bitcoin was nothing more than a collectible to most people who were looking into the new technology. This is in contrast to the “cryptocurrency” and “digital currency” monikers that would eventually be placed on it. In an early thread on the Bitcointalk.org forum regarding how bitcoin should be defined, Nakamoto stated, “Bitcoins have no dividend or potential future dividend, therefore not like a stock. More like a collectible or commodity.”

This speculative view of bitcoin as a sort of collectible for crypto-anarchists and other like-minded individuals is where bitcoin first attained any value at all. The fact that there was a limited supply of bitcoins meant you had to convince someone else to send you theirs (or put in work as a miner) if you wanted to have any.

The Collectible Use Case Bootstraps More Value

Once bitcoin gained a price in other assets, it could then be used to transmit value over the internet in a censorship-resistant manner. “If it somehow acquired any value at all for whatever reason, then anyone wanting to transfer wealth over a long distance could buy some, transmit it, and have the recipient sell it,” Nakamoto wrote back in 2010.

One Bitcointalk.org user famously traded 10,000 bitcoins for a couple of pizzas, but the best illustration of bitcoin’s use as a censorship-resistant medium of exchange likely came in the form of darknet marketplace Silk Road. The bearer nature of bitcoin made it the perfect option for illicit commerce on the internet.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
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‘A Real Bubble’: Billionaire Warren Buffett Doubles Down on Bitcoin Doubt

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has joined the ranks

of those who believe the market for bitcoin is in bubble territory. According to MarketWatch, Buffett touched on the subject during an annual question-and-answer session held in Omaha earlier this month. While Buffett focused on a range of topics, he honed in on the cryptocurrency market during his remarks. "People get excited from big price movements, and Wall Street accommodates," he was quoted as saying. Describing bitcoin as a "real bubble," according to the publication, Buffett also criticized the idea of applying a value to bitcoin.

He told attendees:

"You can’t value bitcoin because it’s not a value-producing asset."

Buffett's comments came amidst a significant month for bitcoin's price, according to CoinDesk data. After fluctuating around $4,300 at the beginning of October, the price surged to more than $6,100 less than a week ago. That Buffett would take a harsh stance toward bitcoin is perhaps unsurprising, given that, in 2014, he advocated that investors stay away from bitcoin entirely.

"It's a mirage basically," he was quoted as saying at the time. Nor is Buffett the only market observer to issue remarks around the market's recent developments. Earlier this week, Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal said that he expects bitcoin to fail. Others, however, have adopted a different approach. On Oct. 24, New York University's "Dean of Valuation," Aswath Damodaran, argued that bitcoin is a true currency and not a fraud in a new blog post.

Chuck Reynolds


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With BTCChina Ready to Stop Withdrawals, China Bitcoin Gates are Closing

With BTCChina Ready to Stop Withdrawals, China Bitcoin Gates are Closing

BTCChina, the largest Bitcoin trading platform in China

On Oct. 23, BTCChina, the largest Bitcoin trading platform in China, has updated an announcement that it will shut down the exchange business and stop providing withdrawal services on Oct. 30. For speeding up its shutdown, BTCChina is going to adjust the withdrawal transaction fee to remind and urge users to withdraw as soon as possible.

Until Oct. 25, the platform will remain with the previous withdrawal transaction fee standards:

  • Withdrawal transaction fee for BTC: 0.0015 BTC;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for LTC: 0.001 LTC;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for ETH: 0.01 ETH;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for BCC: 0.0005 BCC.

Start on Oct. 25, new withdrawal transaction fee standards will be activated:

  • Withdrawal transaction fee for BTC: 0.0045 BTC;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for LTC: 0.003 LTC;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for ETH: 0.03 ETH;
  • Withdrawal transaction fee for BCC: 0.0015 BCC.

After Oct. 30, the platform is very likely to stop the service of online withdrawals. By announcing the increase in withdrawal transaction fees beforehand, BTCChina wants to check out and return all money on time. With the final date coming, the largest Bitcoin trading platform is to say goodbye to its users and the market. The job of checking on and returning funds is the last step of BTCChina’s shut down. On Sep. 27, the platform stopped accepting CNY and Digital Asset deposits. On Sep. 30, it stopped accepting fiat and cryptocurrencies and shut down all trading functionality on BTCChina Exchange. Besides BTCChina, other Bitcoin Chinese trading platforms like OKCoin and Huobi have also announced that they will close CNY trading market based on the “Seven Regulatory Bodies” Announcement issued before by the regulators.

Hopes

However, though the Chinese government currently bans Bitcoin trading, the government didn't consider it absolutely illegal. Some scholars believe that this means that Chinese government might free Bitcoin trading under certain circumstances in the future. When the regulation system is complete, the Chinese government might reopen the gate for Bitcoin. Additionally, both Huobi and OKCoin stated that they would keep communicating with regulators and try to recover CNY trading market in the future.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.
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Hong Kong and Singapore Will Launch Blockchain-Based Project to Link Their Trade Finance Platforms

Hong Kong and Singapore Will Launch Blockchain-Based Project to Link Their Trade Finance Platforms

 Hong Kong and Singapore announced that they are going to cooperate

on a cross-border trade project based on Blockchain technology by linking their trade finance platforms. The announcement from Hong Kong Monetary Authority reads: “The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) signed and exchanged a Co-operation Agreement (“Agreement”) in Hong Kong today (25 Oct. 2017) to strengthen co-operation on fintech, with a view to bolster ties between the two cities and fostering fintech development within the region.” Last year, HKMA with banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered worked on building a trade finance platform by using Blockchain technology to digitize and share trade documents, automate processes and reduce the risk of fraud.

At the same time, Singapore planned to build a similar platform as well. The cooperation between Hong Kong and Singapore on this project will “enhance the trade finance corridor between the two financial centers,” according to Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS. What’s more, the platform could significantly increase the efficiency of trade finance in the future. It will replace humans to do time-consuming paperwork. HKMA and MAS stated that linking the two platforms is just a part of a broader plan between their future collaboration on the Blockchain and other fintech projects. Details about the cooperation will be announced by the two authorities next month.

Threat of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Distant But Inevitable, Says Moody’s

Threat of Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Distant But Inevitable, Says Moody's

Moody’s Investors Service analyst Stephen Sohn and his team have reassured the US payments sector that the threat of Blockchain technology and digital currencies is still distant, but businesses will eventually adopt the technology. The team claimed that Blockchain is a disruptive technology and may compete against the payments sector in the long-term. In their report “Consumer Digital Payments – US,” Sohn and his team also highlighted several “tech-enabled entrants” that are revolutionizing the electronic payments market in the US.

Part of the report reads:

“Providers that are considering adopting Blockchain technology, which was originally created as a platform for the Bitcoin ‘cryptocurrency,’ may pose another potential threat to all of the current payment constituents. Blockchain is a chain of blocks of encrypted information that form a database or ‘ledger,’ which may eventually lessen the need for the intermediary platforms that currently approve, clear, and settle payments.”

Blockchain benefits financial services industry

Meanwhile, Moody’s associate managing director, Sean Jones and his team also released a separate report in April claiming that Blockchain has several possible applications and benefits beyond the leading digital currency Bitcoin. They said that the technology can revolutionize the clearing and settlement sector and it can also “promote transaction transparency, improve data security, and lessen the risk of a single point of failure.”

However, Jones and his team cited several obstacles that should be resolved before the economics of investments in the technology can be realized. Among these hurdles are the technical issues related to interoperability and scalability, as well as disagreements on industry standards and terms of collaboration. The report also highlighted the generally supportive stance shown by financial services regulators on Blockchain, but cited the lack of definitive view on how the technology will eventually be treated.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
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SPECTRE Creators Seek VC Backing for Blockchain-Free Cryptocurrency

A veteran researcher behind two influential papers in the emerging field

of crypto-economics is gearing up to launch a new cryptocurrency. Revealed in an exclusive interview with CoinDesk, Yonatan Sompolinsky, author of the GHOST protocol and co-author of the SPECTRE protocol, intends to release the as-yet unnamed project in late 2018. Based on his body of work, the project aims to solve one of the industry's biggest challenges: the speed at which transactions are disseminated and recorded by distributed ledger systems.

Founders of the project include SPECTRE co-author Yoad Lewenberg, and researcher Ethan Hileman, who worked with the team behind bitcoin privacy project TumbleBit. However, the team is not only equipped with developers, but also business experts – including Guy Corem, the former CEO of Israeli-based bitcoin mining firm Spondoolies-Tech, which raised more than $12 million in venture funding before shuttering operations.

Together, the team has founded a new startup called DAGlabs, which is said to be raising $15 million as part of a Series A round. Yet, it's the vision for the project that is perhaps most notable, given how it intends to achieve its goal. Rather than using a blockchain system, the public cryptocurrency will be among the first to operate via a system called a direct acyclic graph (DAG) – technology that Sompolinsky framed as a way to finally create a viable payments rail with distributed ledger concepts.

Sompolinsky told CoinDesk:

"We want to change blockchain into blockDAG. Whether you buy coins or not, you should think about this technology as the next step, releasing the blockchain from the naivety of the chain structure. You will feel this is the natural step towards using a real system."

For all the innovation, however, also notable is what the new cryptocurrency will share with bitcoin, today the largest and most valuable blockchain system, but one that is seen as increasingly less relevant for payments. According to the DAGlabs team, the new cryptocurrency will use a proof-of-work mining algorithm in which anyone who purchases hardware can compete for its rewards. That said, Sompolinsky doesn't see bitcoin and other proof-of-work-based cryptocurrencies as competitors, so to speak. "I'm not competing with this entire plethora of new blockchains. We have a very boutique and niche and specific one and a well-defined one. We want to scale up layer one," he said.

Record of science

As told by Sompolinsky, the project is also a critique on the current state of blockchain development, which he views as having been held back by in-fighting. In particular, he cited his experience with arguments about capacity levels on bitcoin, in which developers have often tried to push solutions to scalability in a way that did not change or update the first layer of the system – the blockchain itself. Referring to last year's Satoshi Roundtable summit, an invite-only event in Cancun, Mexico, he recalled an experience where he was shocked by the state of the conversation.

"Cancun was an eye-opener for me. In Cancun, everyone was fighting about 1 MB to 2 MB … no one was talking about increasing on-chain scalability," he said. Sompolinsky framed the new cryptocurrency as a "vehicle" to enable researchers to take the next step in evaluating this line of exploration, one he argued will benefit from being tested under open market conditions. But given the slate of open-source projects utilizing the initial coin offering (ICO) model as a way to solicit market funding, often for untested concepts, he was also keen to differentiate his project as one based on years of accumulated research.

"There are not 800 projects that implement a concept like DAG. Very, very few, maybe less than five that I know of, try to scale up the layer one. There are not 800 projects that say we should abandon the concept of the chain in favor of a graph of blocks," he said. Among those that do are IOTA and bytecoin, the former being one of the few cryptocurrencies yet to garner a total market capitalization of more than $1 billion.

When complete, the final network should appeal to anyone who wants to use a cryptocurrency with "very fast confirmation and low fees," although that's not to say the concept has been perfected. According to Sompolinsky, there are still plenty of items up for debate. For example, he is still open-minded about how he will structure any issuance, stating he is most strongly considering the model used by Zcash Company – the creators of the zcash protocol – wherein accredited investors are given tokens in stages for their support.

How it works

Still, even those experienced in the field of cryptocurrency may find the concept odd. After all, after the hype around cryptocurrency faded, the so-called "underlying blockchain technology" was often touted as the real secret sauce. That notable researchers would stake a counter-thesis then, is of interest, though it's arguably been a development that has simply received less attention over the years.

Explored by Sompolinsky since his earliest work, the idea is that the process of ordering transactions into blocks, then selecting one to add to the chain, could be better optimized. In the SPECTRE concept, blocks are created at the rate of about 10 per second (as opposed to, say, ethereum where one block is created every 12 seconds). All of these blocks are referenced in a DAG, and multiple, interwoven threads of blocks are created. Then, the most valid transaction history is "voted" in by miners selecting the most inter-referential block graph.

And because this allows for such a high quantity of transactions to be performed on the network, the transaction history won't be permanently stored. Instead, transaction history will only be stored for a limited amount of time, and once it has been validated, will be removed. Other barriers, including backbone congestions and bandwidth, could lie ahead, though. The team intends to address these potential issues by building incentives into the protocol that encourage participating agents to behave correctly.

Still, if the concept on the whole sounds familiar, you've likely come across it when reading about ethereum, which incorporated some of these ideas in how it rewards so-called "uncle blocks" – those that are not selected for inclusion in the ethereum blockchain, but still include useful work. Although uncles aren't considered ultimately valid, they're still profitable to mine, and still get referenced in the blockchain ledger itself.

Indeed, what might be most notable about the SPECTRE project is that Sompolinsky's ideas have often proved to be of influence. For example, Casper, ethereum's hotly debated proof-of-stake protocol, derives its name from the GHOST protocol (a play on the "Casper the Friendly Ghost" cartoon series).

What's left

While the bones of the project are in place, there's still a few questions that need to be fleshed out before the cryptocurrency can be taken to market. Currently under development, the final protocol will be introduced in an upcoming white paper called SPECTRE2. The tech will then begin testing in autumn next year, and by winter, the new cryptocurrency will be launched. Ongoing updates will then continue apace.

For one, DAGlabs has been working on combining the SPECTRE cryptocurrency with MimbleWimble, the natively private cryptocurrency that has been the cause of much excitement in the community. Further down the line, the platform also wants to allow DAG-based smart contracts to be written into the platform.

But the final step that DAGlabs is pivoting towards is perhaps as ambitious as the cryptocurrency itself. Once the team has established a functioning cryptocurrency, they intend to allow the DAG infrastructure to facilitate something along the lines of "merged mining," which is when the underlying hardware can be used to support a number of cryptocurrencies simultaneously. Still, it's the manner in which Sompolinsky will launch the project that he ultimately wants to call attention to – calling the years of research and engagement with the open-source community, a "respectable" path to market.

He concluded:

"The easy path for me was to do an ICO; way easier than what I'm doing now. I'm going for the more respectable path of an equity."

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
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Bitcoin Gold: What to Know About the Blockchain’s Next Split

Anyone who owns bitcoin will soon be able to receive a new cryptocurrency.

As of block 491,407 on the bitcoin blockchain, another alternative version of the protocol will be launched, resulting in a variant that's being branded bitcoin gold (BTG). The project, which seeks to improve bitcoin's technology by changing how its competition for rewards is conducted, is the second to launch since August via an increasingly common process called a "hard fork." Readers may remember the term from the launch of bitcoin cash, the alternative version of the bitcoin protocol that spurred global headlines for unexpectedly creating billions of dollars in value, seemingly out of thin air. Looking ahead, many industry observers are expecting the same results this time around, though there may be reasons for enthusiasm to be tempered.

What is bitcoin gold?

In short, bitcoin gold aims to achieve two goals:

  • First, bitcoin gold wants to change how mining works by making it so the most powerful mining machines (called ASICs) can no longer be used.
  • Second, by attracting more people to this system over time, it hopes to free the bitcoin network from the large companies that offer these products, and it argues, command undue influence on the network.

Instead of scaling bitcoin to support more users, bitcoin gold tweaks bitcoin in an effort to "make bitcoin decentralized again." This, proponents argue, will make the network, designed to offer an egalitarian way to send payments digitally around the globe, more accessible to users. And while created via the same mechanism, bitcoin gold differs from bitcoin cash in a few ways, most notably in its distribution.

Differences include:

  • The bitcoin gold cryptocurrency is set to be created in advance (prior to the code being open-sourced to the public).
  • About 1 percent of the total cryptocurrency tokens mined before the blockchain goes public will be used to pay the bitcoin gold development team.
  • Once this distribution is over, the team claims it will launch the cryptocurrency so that users can redeem their coins.

Of course, while it aims to become the de-facto version of bitcoin, others might consider bitcoin gold an "altcoin" – the term has long been used to denote any cryptocurrency launched using bitcoin’s existing code, but that has an alternative market or use case.

Do I have bitcoin gold?

All bitcoin owners will receive the cryptocurrency at a rate of 1 BTC to 1 BTG, setting the stage for possible market activity. But, that's not to say it's totally intuitive to retrieve. One quirk is that it'll be easier to redeem the funds from wallets or exchanges that recognize the cryptocurrency. The easiest way, then, to retrieve the bitcoin gold is to move bitcoin to a wallet or exchange that supports bitcoin gold, or to hold bitcoin in a wallet where you own your private keys (rather than holding them with an exchange).

To date, 20 exchanges and wallets promise to support bitcoin gold once it launches, according to the project's website. Although one of the most popular U.S.-based exchanges, Coinbase stated on October 20 that it does not support bitcoin gold due to skepticism about how developers have made project information available to others.

"At this time, Coinbase cannot support bitcoin gold because its developers have not made the code available to the public for review. This is a major security risk,” the post reads. This is perhaps something to keep an eye on as the project progresses. Although the project will officially fork on Monday night, it's not yet open to anyone and everyone, and there’s still plenty left on the developers' to-do list.

Who is behind bitcoin gold?

The team behind the hard fork appears to be a relatively small group. Hong Kong-based LightningAsic CEO Jack Liao, who's an outspoken critic of the state of bitcoin mining, first broached the idea of bitcoin gold back in July. His company LightningAsic sells mining equipment, including GPUs, the type of computing hardware bitcoin gold is supposed to rely on.

Since first introduced earlier this summer, the team has expanded to include pseudonymous lead developer h4x3rotab, as well as a team of five other volunteers who are now working on developing and promoting the cryptocurrency in their spare time. The project can be tracked on Github and on the community Slack group.

How do people feel about bitcoin gold?

All that said, for those interested in exploring or using bitcoin gold, it's worth noting that it has generated its share of controversy. Satoshi Labs CEO Marek Palatinus, who launched bitcoin's first ever mining pool, is skeptical the project will actually work to decentralize mining as planned. And he's not the only one to throw shade at the new project.

Bitcoin developer Rhett Creighton is working on alternative bitcoin gold "protest fork" software that seeks to pursue the same idea but without setting aside some of the new cryptocurrency for development. If more than 51% of miners choose to use his software, the so-called pre-distribution to developers will be erased, he told CoinDesk. "It's up to the miners to decide what they want," he added.

All in all, it's unclear if business and mining groups will ultimately support the project, and if they do, how much value the alternative blockchain could create. For example, while a list of roughly 50 businesses and miners support the so-called Segwit2x fork, similar support hasn't been seen for bitcoin gold. Likewise, though bitcoin cash began with support from vocal miners and exchanges, bitcoin gold has arguably yet to benefit from such early activity.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
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Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.
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North Korea could be secretly mining cryptocurrency on your computer

North Korea could be secretly mining cryptocurrency on your computer

North Korea has a cryptocurrency infatuation.

Its government has been accused of unleashing a global ransomware attack to raise bitcoin, mining the cryptocurrency within its borders, and hacking South Korean bitcoin exchanges. Now, research firm Recorded Future says there’s a strong chance Kim Jong-un’s regime is experimenting with malware that secretly mines currency using other people’s computers.

Malware crypto-mining is a new global trend among hackers, says a new report (pdf) from Recorded Future, which monitors discussions among “the criminal underground” on the so-called dark web. Starting this year, hackers seem to be shifting away from high-intensity, widespread ransomware attacks, towards “long-term, low velocity” crypto-mining in the background.

Recorded Future has not detected specific instances of North Korean malware mining, but believes that the regime has the knowhow, motive, and interest in cryptocurrencies to execute similar attacks. “North Korean threat actors have prior experience in assembling and managing botnets, bitcoin mining, and cryptocurrency theft, as well as in custom altering publicly available malware; three elements that would be key to effectively creating and managing a network of covert cryptocurrency miners,” Recorded Future’s report reads.

Recorded Future says hackers are shifting to malware mining because ransomware attacks became too egregious, attracting law enforcement’s attention instead of generating the steady stream of income attackers had grown to expect since the method became fashionable in 2015. “Outrageous attacks on healthcare facilities and municipal transit systems culminated in the unprecedented WannaCry and NotPetya campaigns,” according to Recorded Future’s report. “Overnight, ransomware was recognized as an act of cyberterrorism.”

With ransomware a hot potato, hackers turned to installing hidden crypto-miners on others’ machines. This has turned out to be a relatively stable, low-fuss way of getting cash, according to Recorded Future. One hacker on a Russian-language forum expressed surprise at how easy it was to create a network of secret cryptominers: “I’ve used ‘bots’ already under my control to upload 110 miners before going to sleep. By the time I woke up 108 were still alive, which took me by surprise. I expected half would be dead by then.“

The cryptocurrencies most popularly mined in secret are monero, and zcash, says Andrei Barysevich, an author of the Recorded Future report. These cryptocurrencies require less computational resources to mine profitably compared to something like bitcoin. However, one malware mining example obtained by the firm hijacked a computer’s graphics card to mine ethereum.

There’s no blanket way to detect a malware miner on your computer right now because the method is new, and the software keeps changing, Barysevich says. But a noticeable slowdown in a computer’s performance could suggest that it it’s surreptitiously churning out a cryptocurrency—possibly destined for a North Korean digital wallet.

North Korea may be mining bitcoin in addition to hacking it

That amazing feeling when you find a new block.

Last month, North Korea was banned from exporting coal to China, its biggest buyer. The rogue regime may have found a new use for these idle coal supplies: powering bitcoin mines. That’s according to research by Recorded Future, an information security firm that counts the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm among its investors, and security non-profit Team Cymru. The research identified activity that the firms believe is bitcoin mining in North Korea starting on May 17. The analysts don’t know if the mining is ongoing, but the activity was present in the last data point Recorded Future collected, from July 6, the firm told Quartz.

Bitcoin mining consumes large amounts of electricity to feed the vast computational power necessary for miners to release new supplies of bitcoin. The bitcoin network releases 12.5 bitcoins (about $50,000 worth, at the current bitcoin price) every 10 minutes to a miner as an incentive for checking bitcoin transactions and adding them to the cryptocurrency’s immutable, distributed ledger, known as the blockchain.

Bitcoin mines are generally large server farms containing thousands of machines specifically designed to mine the cryptocurrency. One of the world’s largest bitcoin mines, in Inner Mongolia, runs an electricity bill of $39,000 a day. North Korea is among the top 10 net exporters of coal globally, according to the International Energy Agency (pdf, p.17). Since the country can no longer earn revenue from coal exports, it makes sense that it might put some coal to use generating electricity for a bitcoin mine.

Recorded Future also found that North Korean elites, who have unrestricted access to the internet, were using virtual private networks (VPNs) to make online purchases with bitcoin. These North Korean VPN users were also checking their Gmail accounts, logging into Twitter, buying expensive sneakers, and watching porn. The firm was able to track the activity because the VPNs and other traffic-masking techniques were used incorrectly, it said.

The researchers couldn’t tell how much processing power North Korea’s suspected bitcoin mines possess. But they believe it’s just one part of a larger strategy to generate revenue for the increasingly isolated regime. Previously FireEye, another security firm, found evidence that North Korean hackers were targeting South Korean bitcoin exchanges to steal their crypto funds. North Korea is also believed to be behind the global ransomware attack WannaCry, which froze computer systems and demanded a bitcoin payment to unlock them.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions. Call me 559-474-4614

Jeff Garzik Startup Bloq to Launch Cross-Blockchain Cryptocurrency

"'Tis what it 'tis."

Call it a statement on the times, but Bloq CEO Jeff Garzik isn't exactly expecting a warm reception from some circles to the news his startup is launching a new token. Long a controversial figure at the center of the debate on how best to scale the public bitcoin blockchain, Garzik's company is today announcing what it believes will be a solution to the infighting he perceives as keeping money out of the established cryptocurrency market.

Revealed at Money2020 in Las Vegas, Bloq is unveiling metronome, a cryptocurrency that seeks to claim a series of firsts in crypto-economics, including offering users the ability to switch the same token back and forth between blockchains as desired. "It's sort of a best-of-all-worlds cryptocurrency," Garzik said, describing it as a "boxcar" that could ride on top of any compatible blockchain.

Garzik told CoinDesk:

"You can run it on the etheruem, ethereum classic, quantum. That's one of the key ways that this is self-governing, for the first time, you're not tied to a single blockchain, you can run metronome contracts on any EVM compatible blockchain."

As for how it will impact the Bloq business model, today focused on enterprise services, Garzik and co-founder Matt Roszak indicated they believe the project is consistent with the firm's "multi-token, multi-network" vision for blockchain development.

Launched in 2016 with the goal of bringing Red Hat-inspired services to bitcoin, Garzik echoed a familiar refrain in an interview, voicing his belief bitcoin is still destined to form the "root of an Internet of blockchains," others of which may have different use cases and attributes. In this light, Garzik framed metronome as seeking to offer a utility to those who want a more reliable store of value and foundation for distributed applications.

"We feel that there is a consistent demand for a cross-chain option. I point to the major uncertainty of proof-of-stake and proof-of-work, where the proof-of-stake system is going to change the money supply, but [ethereum] hasn't stated how much it will change," he said. That said, Garzik said metronome isn't exactly a bid to replace the prevailing public blockchains available on the market, so much as to tailor them to a different audience. "You can expect the bitcoin maximalists' from the ethereum maximalists' reactions, but it's building on the strength of existing blockchains, it's not trying to elbow them aside," he said.

No 'existential risks'

But if some of the more acrimonious debates in the cryptocurrency world seem besides the point, Garzik's involvement appears to have left him with inspiration for his latest work. As outlined in the metronome white paper, one of the chief selling points of the token is that it boasts "zero founder control" after its launch, and as such, is resistant "to the whims of individual or community discord" by functioning as a series of smart contracts.

All told, metronome is comprised of four types of smart contracts, which allocate the distribution of new tokens, regulate supply and liquidity and move funds between accounts. Praised as a feature by the Bloq team, Roszak believes this sophisticated automation will encourage large investors who have yet to put money into public cryptocurrencies for fear of the seemingly erratic decision-making by developer groups to do so.

"When they analyze cryptocurrency, the analysts engineers and economists sitting at the committee, they're saying they pick the top two – bitcoin and ether. Then they say, well there's forks, 'civil wars,' 'proof of Vitalik,'" Roszak posited. "They're cryptographically secure but these components create surprise and risk." In contrast, Roszak framed the Metronome token as "fixed and locked in stone," attributes he suggested should counter these concerns.

However, Roszak seemed to shirk the idea that the nascent state of blockchain technology could pose problems given the fixed nature of the distribution system of the cryptocurrency. Rather, he sought to stress that while the monetary network is set, flexibility will be provided in the ability of the token to port the system between blockchains. "Having that rigidity of knowing exactly what the token does and behaves, that certainty, seeing that mintage curve, is not available in any other cryptocurrency," he said.

Monetary network

Equally unique, however, is how the token will seek to operate on launch. As described in its announcement materials, metronome is opening with an initial auction of 10 million MTN, with 8 million MTN being made available to the public and 2 million being set aside for Bloq as the principal development team. Any proceeds of the sale will be sent to smart contracts that will manage the distribution of the funds, which Garzik said will distribute the proceeds "over decades" to metronome users.

As an example, there will be a stable allocation of new metronome tokens daily, with about 2,880 MTN created during the first 40 years. Here, too, Garzik sees metronome as offering an innovation in a market where most cryptocurrencies are scheduled to reduce their supplies to zero. "That's one of the worries about the bitcoin-type supply curves, and it's assumed and hoped that that will pay to sustain the system. But, that's just a hope," Garzik said.

Still, it's here where metronome perhaps could run into issues similar to the ones it's seeking to avoid in its design. Noted in the white paper is how certain groups could take steps to alter the supply rate. "A consortium could agree to fork the MTN supply with a new MTN contract on the same or different chains, by exporting funds they control to the new fork," the white paper reads. That such decisions could also form the subject of infighting is not addressed in the paper.

Sale details

Armed with this roadmap, Bloq is moving ahead on the launch of the token, setting a date for the first week of December for its token sale. According to Roszak, the Metronome code has undergone three audits since it was first written, from Ethereum Foundation member Gustav Simonson; Demian Brenner, CEO of smart contract review services provider Zeppelin; and Martin Swende, security lead at the Ethereum Foundation.

On release to the public, Bloq will aim to use a descending price auction model by which tokens become less expensive to purchase as the sale progresses. Yet, it was the current state of the code that was perhaps the biggest selling point of a sale. "Today, you can raise money with a good idea, but as some of these things get pressure-tested, you'll have to launch with code, then you'll have to launch with users," Roszak said.

He concluded:

"We're launching with code that's ready."

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.
Interested or have Questions. Call me 559-474-4614

Big money stays away from booming bitcoin

Big money stays away from booming bitcoin