Bitcoin’s Next Big Software Upgrade 7485

Bitcoin may be hard to use even with consumer-friendly tools, while running its core infrastructure is even harder. However, this isn’t stopping efforts to change that. The global, volunteer developer group behind the most popular implementation of the software, Bitcoin Core, is soon to debut its 17th major software release, one which puts to code a number of highly-anticipated changes. Of particular emphasis is improving the software’s default wallet, where user’s bitcoin private keys are stored.

Perhaps the most interesting update is the debut of a new “language,” initially proposed by prominent bitcoin contributor Pieter Wuille, known for designing some of the most radical changes to bitcoin in recent years (including Segregated Witness, which helped chip away at bitcoin’s scalability problem last year).

The idea behind the new language is to add important extra information to keys. Or, as Bitcoin Core contributor Andrew Chow put it, it provides a “sane” alternative to the problematic “account” system that was recently ripped out of the software. Simply put, it allows users to name their different accounts. Like labeling one “donations” and another “savings.”

One other significant use case of the language is to make it easier to move keys from one wallet to another. As it stands, if a user tries to move a key from one wallet to another, they might lose some of the information about how the coins can be unlocked and sent to someone else.

That’s not a big problem for many transactions. After all, most transactions have pretty simple instructions: the owner must sign the transaction with a secret key, proving the coins are really theirs. But that’s not true for every transaction. For example, multi-signature transactions require more than one person to approve any spending.

Lightning transactions, a faster and more scalable type of payment that’s still in its infancy, are perhaps the most exciting example of this.

With this type of transaction becoming more common (lightning is thought to be the best way for the platform to scale to millions of users), the new language aims to ensure crucial information isn’t lost more regularly.

With this in mind, Wuille’s new language aims to tags each key in bitcoin (both public and private) with a “label” that describes what can unlock it, “changing the way we think about wallets,” Chaincode engineer John Newbery said in a talk describing the upcoming release.

To be clear, though, this release is just a small step, the first code change to put this into practice, Newbery said. But developers anticipate the language will weave its way through the codebase in future software releases.

Other changes in the latest release are iterative, first steps that developers hope will lead to something more.

Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions (PSBT) are another highly-anticipated change that fits the bill, coded up by Chow. (PSBT is a new format for transactions that are not fully signed yet that can be passed around until finally broadcast.)

This all sounds rather technical, but the thinking here is actually rather forward-looking, and could have an impact on a wide range of users.

Already, there are all sorts of hardware wallets on the market, small mechanical devices that are considered one of the safest ways of storing bitcoin, since it moves the keys that unlock them offline so they can’t be stolen by way of an internet connection.

But each hardware wallet – including Trezor, Ledger, and so forth – is kind of off in its own little world when it comes to how it engages with the software. In short, they aren’t compatible with all software wallets at once.

One of the easiest ways to use a hardware wallet is to leave it offline, but then connect it to a software wallet on a mobile device that makes it easy to actually make transactions.

It’s cool that this is possible – to get the security of hardware wallet but the convenience of a software wallet at the same time. The problem is that usually each hardware wallet only includes support for one or two software wallets. Trezor only supports the softwaare wallet Electrum, for instance. They can’t connect the Trezor to Bitcoin Core or whatever other software they want to connect to.

And users have long been complaining about how annoying this is. BIP 174 offers away around that. It’s a standard that every wallet can use.

Though, of course, it depends on whether wallets actually indeed choose to use it. The prospects are looking optimistic so far. Even though the code isn’t officially out yet, it’s attracted much enthusiasm, with one hardware wallet, coldcardwallet implementing the transaction signing method already.

As wallets pick up this standard, it will make Bitcoin Core in particular a bit easier to use because hardware wallets will easily be able to connect to the software.

“PSBT will enable Bitcoin Core to more easily support hardware wallets and have better offline, airgapped wallet setups. I’m actually working on hardware wallet support for Bitcoin Core by using PSBT,” Chow told CoinDesk, going as far as to argue that Bitcoin Core is a much safer way to use bitcoin than other software wallets.

“[SPV wallets] carry privacy and potentially security risks as they are trusting a third party to do the blockchain verification. Once Bitcoin Core supports hardware wallets, users can use Bitcoin Core instead, and because it is a full node, the user does not need to trust a third party that the everything has been verified correctly,” he said.

But the code change opens up a lot of options, even potentially boosting bitcoin smart contracts and privacy features. “PSBT also makes things like multisigs and CoinJoins easier to do,” Chow continued.

To this end, one user tweeted: “Excited to see all the interesting ways BIP174 will be used.”

And more
These are a couple of the changes developers are most excited about, but there are dozens of other upgrades rolled into the release. One is a “dynamic wallet creation” feature.

“A few releases ago, we introduced the ability to use multiple wallets in Bitcoin Core. However that required starting Bitcoin Core configured for multiple wallets. Now, we can load, unload, and create wallets when the software is already running,” Chow said.

Meanwhile, you might have heard of Coin Selection, an improved way of plucking up the coins go into a transaction. It’s so much better than the old algorithm that it greatly improves bitcoin’s scalability as a whole, even cutting fees.

Though the main code for the new feature was already added about six months ago, the algorithm is getting a small privacy boost in the 17th release.

That still doesn’t cover everything. The rest of the changes are to be described in more detail in the final release notes, which will be released at the same time as the final, tested code.

These might seem like small changes. Especially since few people use bitcoin and even fewer use Bitcoin Core. And there’s no question why. Bitcoin’s software takes up nearly 200 GB, about the size of a laptop. Downloading it and using it is a far cry from downloading and setting up the Venmo app on a smartphone in matter of minutes.

But the goal with these major code changes is to eventually get the code to the point where it’s not such a pain to set up, so maybe one day anyone who wants to utilize the full advantages of bitcoin can do so.

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Sharing Economy International Invests to develop NFT Technology into ECrent to Open Up Digital Items Sharing 20596

Traditionally, when we talk about sharing economy, people would think about cars, bicycles, mobile rechargers, apartments, or may be even umbrella, toys, etc. All about sharing economy has been some solid tangible things which be shared out to the needed consumer through a rental arrangement. The sharing item will go and come back through physical transactions. But in the digital world, digital products such as digital arts, music, video games are more difficult to control and record the ownership and usage through a P2P sharing model.

As the pioneer in the sharing economy market, based on the Sharing Block engine which is the transaction engine based on blockchain technology that Sharing Economy International Inc. (OTCQB:SEII) has developed to handle the transactions of sharing items between people in ECrent today, SEII engineers and technology partners while revamping and improving the ECrent platform and applications, also decides to add NFT technology on top of the Sharing Block engine. NFT technology will allow users to share their digital products and assets to other people, either free of charge, or at a defined fee by the digital product owner.

“NFT gives a breakthrough to the sharing market which allows us not only to share our tangible items, but also any of the intangible digital items,” said Parkson Yip, SEII’s advisor on corporate development. “SEII is always looking for solutions which can improve the ways how people can share. Apart from drills, cars, bicycles, there is always a market need for the sharing of digital products, and ECrent being the platform in helping people to connect through sharing their resources, we must move fast into the digital product sharing market.”

“Blockchain technology fits very well with the development of sharing economy solutions. Its secured decentralised ledger concept can help us to develop a secure and trustful P2P sharing solution based on ECrent. With the development of NFT technology, we will be able to extend to facilitate the sharing of digital items between people as well. We can see that NFT will apply to a lot of digital items, as well other items, such as art works, which facilitate the tracing of ownership and transaction history of the items with a very trustful mechanism. While NFT is attaching directly with the products, the information would allow cross-platform support, so items can be shared through different platforms as well, as soon as we all follow the same protocol,” says Yip.

BIT Mining Limited Announces Trading of ADSs under New English Name and New Ticker Symbol 19712

BIT Mining Limited (NYSE: BTCM) (“BIT Mining Limited” or the “Company”), a leading cryptocurrency mining enterprise, formerly known as 500.com Limited (NYSE: WBAI), today announced that its American Depositary Shares (“ADSs”), each representing the right to receive ten (10) Class A ordinary shares with par value of US$0.00005 per share of the Company, began trading under the Company’s new English name, “BIT Mining Limited”, and its new ticker symbol, “BTCM”, effective at the opening of trading on the NYSE on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 (U.S. Eastern Daylight Time).

Historical trading data of the Company’s ADSs prior to April 20, 2021 may not yet be available on certain third-party websites and apps when searching for “BIT Mining Limited” and/or “BTCM”, in which case such data may temporarily be found under “500.com Limited” and/or “WBAI”.

About BIT Mining Limited

BIT Mining Limited (NYSE: BTCM) is a leading cryptocurrency mining enterprise, with a long-term strategy to create value across the cryptocurrency industry. Since announcing its entry into the industry in December 2020, the Company has: (i) purchased and deployed bitcoin mining machines with a theoretical hash rate capacity of approximately 1,031.5 PH/s; (ii) acquired three hydroelectric cryptocurrency mines with combined electric power capacity of 435MW, by purchasing a controlling stake in Loto Interactive Limited (HKEX:08198); and (iii) acquired the entire mining pool business of Bitdeer Technologies Holding Company operated under BTC.com, including the domain name and the cryptocurrency wallet of BTC.com. The Company has also entered into a definitive agreement with Bee Computing (HK) Limited, a 7-nanometer cryptocurrency mining machine manufacturer, in order to help sustain the Company’s continued growth.

Safe Harbor Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and as defined in the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will”, “expects”, “anticipates”, “future”, “intends”, “plans”, “believes”, “estimates”, “target”, “going forward”, “outlook” and similar statements. Such statements are based upon management’s current expectations and current market and operating conditions and relate to events that involve known or unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond the Company’s control, which may cause the Company’s actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. Further information regarding these and other risks, uncertainties or factors is included in the Company’s filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under law.

As Digital Currencies Gain Popularity, FPA and RIA Digital Assets Council Announce Education-Focused Partnership 21466

According to the RIA Digital Assets Council, 80% of financial advisers receive questions from clients about bitcoin, but only 8% can adequately explain digital assets. As cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream, now is the time for financial planners to build competency in this asset class. To support financial planners, the Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) and RIA Digital Assets Council (RIADAC), a digital assets educational source for financial planners, announced a strategic partnership to provide education on the application of blockchain and digital assets.

“I’m pleased FPA has this opportunity to work with RIADAC to build our members’ competency in digital assets, which will allow them to augment their knowledge and better serve clients,” says Patrick D. Mahoney, FPA chief executive officer. “As the leading membership association for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, we need to be on the cutting edge of supporting our members as they look to sharpen their knowledge and build their competencies. This partnership with RIADAC is consistent with that objective.”

FPA and RIADAC will provide educational programming and a wide range of content to help FPA members understand the complexities of cryptocurriencies and provide expert advice on how this transformational asset class can impact their clients’ financial plans. As an FPA partner, RIADAC’s educational content and thought leadership will be available to FPA members through a variety of channels:

  • RIA Digital Assets Council Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets: FPA members will receive a 50% discount when enrolling in RIADAC’s certificate program that provides financial planners practical literacy on blockchain and digital assets and introduces available options for a firm’s investment management strategy. The inaugural class debuts on Apr. 30, 2021.
  • FPA Blockchain & Digital Assets Community: FPA members will engage with dynamic guests and thought leaders from RIADAC in virtual, interactive discussions and exchange ideas with peers in the FPA Connect Blockchain & Digital Assets community.
  • Journal of Financial Planning: RIADAC will regularly contribute thought leadership content to help financial planners understand blockchain and digital assets in FPA’s flagship publication, the Journal of Financial Planning.
  • FPA Annual ConferenceRic Edelman, founder of RIADAC, will present an informative session on blockchain and digital assets at the FPA Annual Conference in Columbus, OhioSept. 22-24, 2021.

“Gaining vital knowledge about this new asset class will help financial planners attract more clients and serve them better,” said RIADAC Founder Ric Edelman. “We’re honored to be partnering with FPA to help financial planners who are committed to serving their clients’ best interests.”

Ric Edelman is known and recognized throughout financial services and his work to bring blockchain and digital assets education and awareness to the financial advisory community is commendable. I am pleased FPA members will have this opportunity to learn from Ric and his team at RIADAC,” says 2021 FPA President Skip Schweiss, CFP®, AIF®.

Over the coming months, FPA and RIADAC will explore additional educational initiatives and thought leadership programs that can benefit FPA members, their clients and the broader financial planning community.

Bitcoin Association launches Introduction to Bitcoin Development online course at Bitcoin SV Academy 20051

Bitcoin Association, the Switzerland-based global industry organisation that works to advance business with the Bitcoin SV blockchain, today announces the official launch of the Introduction to Bitcoin Development course at Bitcoin SV Academy. The course is available free of charge and can be accessed from today at http://bitcoinsv.academy.

Introduction to Bitcoin Development is part of the Bitcoin Development stream of Bitcoin SV Academy and has been designed to equip application developers with the skills, tools and techniques required to build applications on the Bitcoin SV network. The course covers Bitcoin as a data protocol – including reading, writing and advanced functionalities with the Bitcoin ledger, payment protocols, token protocols and smart contracts. At the conclusion of the course, participants will be tested on their knowledge through an online examination, with a course certificate available upon successful completion for those who have demonstrated proficiency and understanding of the subject matter.

Bitcoin SV Academy is an online education platform for Bitcoin which offers academia-quality, university-style courses and learning materials in three distinct streams, Bitcoin Theory, Bitcoin Development and Bitcoin Infrastructure. Developed and run by Bitcoin Association, Bitcoin SV Academy has been created to make learning about Bitcoin – the way creator Satoshi Nakamoto designed it – accessible, accurate and understandable.

The launch of Introduction to Bitcoin Development today follows the successful rollout of Introduction to Bitcoin Theory – the first course to be launched on Bitcoin SV Academy – in December 2020. Later this year, the first module in the Bitcoin Infrastructure stream Introduction to Bitcoin Infrastructure is due to launch, followed by intermediate and advanced level courses across the three streams.

NexChange Group and Marita Group Co-Host Africa Blockchain Week Virtual Summit to Showcase Continent’s Technological Leapfrog 20865

NexChange Group, a blockchain ecosystem and venture builder and MARITA Group, an African conglomerate will combine forces to co-host this Virtual Summit. The event will feature key industry players and decision-makers contributing to regulation, application, investment and education across many African countries.

Juwan Lee, Chairman of NexChange Group: “Africa is the next big move for blockchain. We see not just opportunities in the payment space and financial inclusion, but we see significant institutional involvement.”

The new reality has proven technology to be a bridge to a better future. Strong ties between African countries, like the cooperation South-South, encouraged by HRH Mohammed VI go beyond just politics. New economic bridges ensure that Africa is able to bypass certain steps on a technological stair, positioning itself ahead of the global curve. Described by the World Bank and called leapfrogging, it relies strongly on enhanced technologies including blockchain.

Rahhal Boulgoute, Chairman of Marita Group: “Blockchain will revolutionize Africa and provide opportunities for financial inclusion. It is important that we expose blockchain technology in Africa.”

The impact is seen on Africa’s financial map. Over the last years, digital banking and mobile payments have proven to be a real-life case study for millions of users, making people’s financial lives better, ensuring inclusion, and changing the game for the unbanked. Banks, enterprises, and entrepreneurs are changing the continent’s destiny, shaping the investment landscape.

This event backs the efforts of the African regulators to adopt the required regulations to embrace blockchain and become a main global player in the technologies shaping the future. The ambition of the Co-hosts is to make Africa Blockchain Week the key platform for dialogue and networking between all stakeholders in blockchain to transform it into a reality in Africa.

NexChange Group is a venture builder and media platform specializing in Blockchain, FinTech, HealthTech, AI, and Smart Cities.

Marita Group Holding is a global company focused on:

  • turnkey solutions in real estate development, theme parks, smart cities
  • Renewable energy and waste recovery, hydrogen production, electric mobility
  • sustainable agriculture and sustainable development
  • local mining development of natural resources
  • health, medical products, equipment and supplies

River Financial raises $12M Series A to continue explosive growth of its Bitcoin financial services for traditional investors 19566

San Francisco-based Bitcoin financial services provider River Financial closed a $12 million Series A equity financing round to continue growing its financial service offerings for traditional investors. The investment round was led by Goldcrest Capital with participation from Craft Ventures, Polychain Capital, M13, Castle Island, Slow Ventures, and The Kraft Group.

River Financial previously announced a $5.7 million seed round in June 2020. In the nine months since the company’s seed round announcement, River’s client base has grown by almost 600%, and order volumes have increased by 3,500%. River’s recent iOS app has accelerated the company’s growth, already accounting for over 30% of all River’s order volume within five weeks of launch. River Financial continues to experience exponential growth in new customers and order volume month-over-month as global interest in Bitcoin continues to grow rapidly. Social unrest, inflation fears, and recent elections are driving droves of traditional investors to Bitcoin and River.

River is investing heavily in team growth and product development. According to Co-Founder and CEO Alex Leishman, “Bitcoin is on a trajectory to becoming a global reserve asset, and we are building the financial services that our clients will need for that future.” River’s focus on premium client services and traditional financial tooling, including tax lot tracking and account statements, is attracting increasing numbers of high-end clients who find incumbent solutions intimidating and confusing.

The majority of volume on River is driven by clients over the age of 50, but Co-Founder and COO Andrew Benson believes there is still a large underserved segment of the population, “River’s mission is to bring Bitcoin to investors around the world. Even as global interest in Bitcoin grows rapidly, most Americans over the age of 45 who want Bitcoin still don’t own any. River is helping to fix that by creating familiar, high-end financial solutions for investors who are new to Bitcoin.”