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State of Lightning: What’s the Path for Network Adoption in 2019?

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This is a visualization of the lightning community taken at 22:29 (UTC) on Friday.

Created by way of blockchain analytics startup 1ML, the snapshot represents all the nodes working lightning tool and developing public fee channels atop the bitcoin blockchain.

Looks complicated, proper? And consider it or now not, this community is getting steadily higher on a daily basis in keeping with 1ML.

In the previous 30 days on my own, the choice of lightning fee channels has greater by way of kind of 36 %, bringing to general to kind of 22,000 channels. Active lightning nodes have in a similar fashion shot up – over 16 % in contemporary days – and at the moment sit down at round 5,690 allotted nodes.

Launched in beta last March, the layer-2 bills era is actively maintained and advanced by way of over six other building groups unfold out around the globe.

These come with Eclair by way of Acinq, Lightning Network Daemon (LND) by way of Lightning Labs, c-lightning by way of Blockstream, ptarmigan by way of Nayuta, Rust-Lightning by way of Matt Corallo and Lit by way of MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative (DCI).

And even outdoor of those six, Pierre-Marie Padiou, co-founder and CEO of Acinq, predicts there are part a dozen extra out “in the wild.”

Highlighting that the codebase to construct lightning purchasers is open-source and to be had to any individual “without asking permission,” Padiou added {that a} record of 30 some-odd enhancements to the community have been agreed upon by way of builders throughout a summit in Adelaide, Australia November of closing yr.

“Now, after the summit, the work will continue to formalize the decisions taken during the summit, and implement them in the clients so that they can be deployed,” defined Christian Decker – core tech engineer at Blockstream – in a former interview with CoinDesk. 

Since November, one characteristic has already been launched by way of CTO of Lightning Labs Olaoluwa Osuntokun enabling “the ability to send a payment to a destination without first needing to have an invoice,” as detailed on GitHub.

Explaining that every shopper workforce “has their own favorite features,” Decker added that extra adjustments to the community can be launched in “incremental” steps rising piecemeal over coming weeks and months.

As such, lightning builders are constructive concerning the endured luck of the lightning community, anticipating expansion traits noticed in 2018 to proceed to upward thrust in 2019.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Padiou highlighted:

“We have been seeing tremendous activity during the past few months and are confident that this trend is going to amplify in 2019.”

Looking forward

According to blockchain analytics web site P2SH.data, the volume of bitcoin despatched via lightning channels since closing June has skyrocketed from not up to 25 BTC to 578 BTC.

State of the lightning community on bitcoin mainnet. Source: www.p2sh.info 

Speaking to bigger adoption figures in 2019, Decker advised CoinDesk that the important thing in the back of growing “a very active and engaged community … building and improving lightning” would come all the way down to its endured doable to “change how we do payments in the future.”

Indeed, the principle use case of the lightning community as described at the authentic webpage is “lighting-fast blockchain payments without worrying about block confirmation times.”

Transactions the use of the lightning networks takes seconds to finish, in comparison to the nine or so mins – on reasonable, no less than, with fluctuations in accordance with block variance and miner good fortune – for transactions at once at the bitcoin blockchain, in keeping with knowledge from bitinfocharts.com.

And whilst bills for items and services and products the use of a debit or bank card is finished with relative ease in maximum advanced economies, restrictions to such conventional banking services and products is a commonplace battle for marginalized populations inside of (and outdoor) first global nations.

According to a global map of the general public lightning channels unfold out around the globe, lots of the servers working at the lightning community are concentrated in North America and Europe.

World map of the lightning community. Source: https://explorer.acinq.co

Speaking to this consumer demographic, Padiou defined to CoinDesk that whilst bitcoin’s building group has “historically been stronger in North America and Europe,” the nodes being depicted at the map didn’t display the choice of cellular customers for lightning, who could also be “a bit more evenly distributed.”

He added:

“I consider that the language barrier is continuously underestimated, and tasks like [Reading Bitcoin] which offer translations to Chinese, Japanese and Korean [people] are very helpful.”

From Decker’s standpoint, the map of public lightning channels “matches pretty closely with the map of Internet users, or the map of deployed bitcoin nodes” which is “to be expected since those are the regions that are most likely to know about bitcoin, have some bitcoins, and [are] testing the software.”

Nevertheless, Decker affirmed that builders are devoted in 2019 “to extend the reach of bitcoin and lightning globally.”

“I’m not aware of any specific plans to foster adoption in certain regions specifically [but] we’d definitely welcome any user from those regions, and do our best to support them,” stated Decker.

Since March of closing yr, the lightning community has noticed the choice of new fee channels develop from kind of 1,500 channels to over 20,000.

Growth of lighting fixtures community channels through the years. Source: https://bitcoinvisuals.com

New tendencies

For now, there aren’t particular numeric goals at the time table for lightning builders to achieve by way of the tip of 2019, even though as discussed there’s a lengthy record of options geared toward increasing community capability anticipated for roll-out in months to return.

Standing for “Basis of Lightning Technology,” BOLT 1.Zero is a commonplace, open-source repository of code that accommodates the entire important technical necessities or specs for customers to take part within the lightning community.

Not to be puzzled with BOLT – a lightning-inspired zcash implementation of the community launched August closing yr by way of Dr. Ayo Akinyele  – BOLT 1.1 is the envisioned improve to BOLT 1.Zero that may surround the brand new building paintings going into lightning.

Speaking to CoinDesk in a former interview, Osuntokun said that the precise roadmap for BOLT 1.1 was once “difficult to put estimates on … as it largely comes down to the prioritization of the various development team for each implementation.”

“[Clients] will implement features in parallel, according to their own prioritization and to the extent that suits them best … some implementations may choose to omit some of the features,” added Decker.

The 5 options that Osuntokun highlighted with CoinDesk as possessing the “biggest impact to the end-user” contains:

1. Splicing: Currently, every fee channel possesses a set capability simplest ready to ship the volume of bitcoin to start with staked on the outset of channel advent. However, within the tournament {that a} consumer wish to build up or lower channel capability, they require opening a completely new channel with the similar contributors. Requiring the same quantity of charges and affirmation wait time as a typical bitcoin transaction, splicing guarantees customers are ready to keep away from the preliminary ache of constructing a brand new channel by way of making changes to the capability of present ones.

2. AMP: Standing for “Atomic Multipath Payments,” AMP in keeping with Osuntokun items “a massive boost in usability” for the lightning community. Instead of bills being routed alongside a novel trail at the community, AMP permits customers to ship via fragments of bills via a couple of public channels within the community. Additionally, as identified by way of c-lightning developer Rusty Russell, AMP will also be leveraged by way of customers as a “bill splitting” characteristic when making lightning bills to a unmarried birthday celebration from a couple of other assets.


3. Wumbo Channels: Named after an episode in an American youngsters’s caricature display known as Spongebob Squarepants the place starfish personality Patrick makes use of the time period “wumbo” to indicate will increase in measurement, wumbo channels seek advice from an build up at the most choice of bitcoin that may be despatched inside of a lightning fee channel. Put in position by way of lightning builders for protection causes, the utmost capability of a channel at time of writing is 0.16 BTC or kind of $570.

4. Static Address for/to faraway outputs: Aimed at making improvements to “disaster-recovery scenarios” at the lightning community, Padiou explains that static addresses be certain simple fund restoration for customers. “This feature – the static information address – means that with only the seed to your lightning wallet you would be able to recover the main balance in your channel,” stated Padiou. The seed being a mnemonic restoration word connected to all lightning (and bitcoin) wallets, customers these days require each this data and channel-specific data to recuperate misplaced price range.

5. 2p-ECDSA: Perhaps the good improve within the eyes of Osuntokun, 2p-ECDSA would camouflage the transactions performed at the bitcoin blockchain to create lightning fee channels. At provide, transactions opening and shutting a fee channel are simply differentiable from transactions on-chain. This growth as soon as carried out would upload an additional stage of anonymity for customers by way of making lightning channel process tougher to differentiate from conventional bitcoin bills process.

Speaking to the entire expected adjustments to the BOLT repository, Padiou highlighted:

“We didn’t have to change very important, very low-level design decisions … It’s very good news because we could have made big mistakes and could have had to start over but it’s not the case. Going to 1.1 is just building upon the already working first version.”

Through the lens of the improvement time table set for 2019, the concern, then, in Padiou’s thoughts, is “reliability in all its aspects” to inspire endured adoption of the tech.

“A payment network needs to ‘just work.’ It only has value if it allows you to send and receive money when you need it,” Padiou contended, including:

“The more reliable it gets, the more companies with large user base will be ready to support it.”

Lightning hurricane symbol by way of Shutterstock

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Crypto exchange BTCNEXT seeking Japan license

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BTCNEXT, an Asian based cryptocurrency exchange, earlier this month announced it received notification from the Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA) that it must suspend services for Japanese residents.

As part of Noah Ark Technologies Ltd., BTCNEXT operates with a Virtual Currency Exchange license issued by the Cagayan special economic zone and Freeport Philippines.

The BTCNEXT team says that its legal department is currently working with the FSA in regards to getting a Japanese license and will take necessary steps to ensure full compliance with all FSA requests.

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NEO Price Prediction: Long-term (NEO) Value Forecast – June 2

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  • The long-term outlook is in a bullish trend.
  • The 1.618 in the fibs at $19.17 is the bulls target in the long-term.

NEO/USD Long-term Trend: Bullish

Supply zone: $20.00, $30.00, $40.00
Demand zone: $2.00, $1.00, $0.50

NEO continues in the uptrend in its long-term outlook. The strong pressure on the cryptocurrency by the bulls’ comeback at the 61.8 on 18th May has kept price up with new high each week. $12.59 and $15.04 in the supply area were the highs on 20th and 30th May respectively.

The new week is started on a bullish note with today’s opening candle at $13.72 higher than last week opening price at $11.45, an indication that the bulls are more in the market.

Price is above the two EMAs that are fanned apart which suggest strength in the trend and in this case the uptrend.

The journey to 1.618 of the fib extension with price at $19.17 in the supply area is the bulls target in the long-term as the bullish momentum increase and more bullish candle open and closed above the two EMAS.

The views and opinion as expressed here do not reflect that of BitcoinExchangeGuide.com and do not constitute financial advice. Always do your own research.

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Why Bitcoin’s ‘Culture War’ Matters

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Michael J. Casey is the chairman of CoinDesk’s advisory board and a senior advisor for blockchain research at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative.


Let’s talk about bitcoin, toxicity and inclusiveness.

(Boy, my Twitter feed is going to have fun over the next few days.)

To start with, let me take a position: I stand with those people, especially women, who’ve lately been calling out maltreatment from members of the bitcoin community and citing rude and abusive behavior as proof of that community’s lack of inclusiveness. These are people who believe in cryptocurrency technology’s potential but feel discouraged to believe that they belong to the community’s dominant white-male subculture. If this technology is to fulfill its global potential, the community associated with it must confront this problem.

But the real point of this column is not to just defend these critics. It’s to debunk one of the more common positions adopted by those who take issue with their complaints, particularly on Twitter. In doing so, I hope to emphasize just how important the concepts of “community” and “culture” are to the healthy development of crypto technology and the ecosystem growing around it.

Hammer culture?

The line that’s most often thrown back at those calling out incivility is that bitcoin is nothing more than a technology, a tool, and that it’s meaningless to attach to it value judgments relating to human behavior. Bitcoin is amoral, apolitical and a-cultural, the argument goes, and like any technology it is used by good and bad people alike.

These pundits, warning of a political correctness-based threat to free speech, will then advise the injured party to take issue directly with the bad actors but refrain from agitating for community-wide change.

A perfect example of the genre came from outspoken lawyer Preston Byrne.

Clever, yes. But it’s extremely unhelpful, because the examples given do not share equivalent terms of reference.

Byrne’s “hammer” refers solely to the steel implement that tradesmen use. By contrast, people complaining about “bitcoin” are clearly using the word in a much wider context than in merely a reference to the code, to the ones and zeros that comprise the bitcoin protocol. They are inherently talking about the wider ecosystem and community gathered around the idea of bitcoin.

So, let’s equalize the terms, shall we? We can turn each of these nouns into a modifier of the word “community.”

While it might sound silly to talk about a “hammer community,” there may well be groups of hammer-obsessed souls who debate questions of design and ease of use at meetups and in chat rooms. If so, I’m going to guess that that community would probably also be predominantly male.

But the real issue is that such a hammer community is going to be far less important to the future design and evolution of hammer technology than bitcoin’s community is to its. I’m no expert, but I don’t see a great deal of change in hammer technology having occurred over the centuries and I’m not sure people expect much in the future. As such, we don’t see much jockeying among users to ensure that proposals for hammer upgrades are implemented and standardized to their preferred design.

By contrast, the open-source technology behind bitcoin is in a constant state of evolution. It is, by definition, under development, which is why we talk about the engineers who work on it as “developers,” not “custodians.” As such, there is a constant battle of interests over who gets to modify the code. Exhibit A: the block-size debate.

Counter-arguing that those who don’t like the process can just fork the code, as the large-blockers did, and set up their own new community, doesn’t cut it for me. Bitcoin is the brand that matters. Any newcomer will struggle to achieve the same network effects. Secession just isn’t viable for anyone who likes its current design but doesn’t like how its future is being defined.

Also, is there a “hammer ecosystem?” Maybe. But beyond producers of nails, and perhaps steel and rubber or wood suppliers, you can hardly call it a complex ecosystem.

Bitcoin, by contrast, which purports to reinvent the global system of money, has attracted an inherently vast array of different technology providers, all of whom have competing interests in how it is designed, managed and marketed to the world. I’m not just talking about businesses applications built on top of it, but also the developers of related encryption, payment channel, smart contract and other vitally important technologies, all of which are themselves in a constant state of flux.

(I’m guessing that the exhibition halls at hammer conventions don’t have quite the same spread of offerings as cryptocurrency events such as Consensus.)

Saying that bitcoin is nothing but a tool, is like saying that music is nothing but a system for ordering different audible tones.

Money = community

When Paul Vigna and I wrote The Age of Cryptocurrency, we spent a lot of time chronicling the emergence of the community that had formed around bitcoin, which we saw as fundamental to its success. It struck us that the notion of a bitcoin community was so prominent — the “c” word was always being bandied about — because bitcoin embodied a profound and sweeping social idea. It offered nothing less than a reinvention of money, a revolution in the entire system for coordinating human value exchange.

Money only works to the extent that there is widespread belief in it, that people buy into its core myth. Money, Felix Martin says, is a social technology, by which he means that its functionality and usability depend far less on the physical qualities of the token that represents it than on the collective agreement among large communities of people that their token captures, represents and communicates transferable value. This is true whether we’re talking about gold, dollar bills, entries in a bank account, or cryptocurrency.

By extension, then, for any form of money to succeed, it must sustain a vibrant, growing community.

Communities = culture

The thing about communities is that they inevitably develop cultures. In self-defining their boundaries of belonging, they develop shared ways of seeing and language — akin to a kind of social protocol – that regulate (in a very unofficial, and quite subconscious way) their members’ behavior.

As they evolve, cultures can become more or less open, more or less inclusive, more or less abrasive in their treatment of outsiders. And inevitably, these cultural features will either encourage or impede the growth of the community.

All this should hardly be a revelation. Anthropology, the study of culture, is a globally widespread and influential field (one that is now appropriately turning its attention to cryptocurrency communities.)

Studies of U.S. culture, from Alexis de Tocqueville down, have rightly pointed to the inclusiveness of the founding fathers’ ideas as a key driver of its economic expansion. In fact, American culture is arguably its most important ingredient for success, a social manifestation of Joseph Nye’s notion of the United States’ “soft power.”

So, yes, bitcoin culture really, really matters. If the compelling ideas behind permissionless, peer-to-peer exchange and censorship-resistant money that attract people of all stripes to it are to retain those people’s interest and grow in influence, the bitcoin community needs to evolve a more inclusive culture.

The only way to do that is to spur the kind of open debates that have always driven the progress of human culture — those which shifted norms and mores to the point that it became unacceptable to own slaves, to spit in public, or to jump a queue.

So, listen up, bitcoin. It’s time to confront your toxicity.

Hazard drums image via Shutterstock

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Holiday Spending up 14.6% as E-Commerce Beats Brick-and-Mortar

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E-commerce sales hit record highs this year as Americans continue to move their holiday shopping online.

According to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse report, online retail grew 18.8% over last year’s holiday season. That’s enough to make online sales a record 14.6% of holiday shoppers total spend, the report says.

Online consumers this year spent 17% more on apparel, 8.8% more on jewelry, 10.7% more on electronics, and 6.9% more at department stores. 

Overall, holiday spending jumped 3.4% compared to 2018.

The strong numbers came in spite of 2019’s unusually short holiday season, commonly defined as the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Shoppers had six days fewer than they had in 2018.

Steve Sadove, an advisor for MasterCard, said in a press release that retailers adapted to the shortened season. 

“Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices.”

Interestingly – or ominously – retailers who accepted crypto or managed crypto payments were slow to respond when we asked them how their holiday shopping season went. eGifter, a gift card trading service, noted that it had not yet “crunched the numbers” on holiday sales but that “We saw growth in overall crypto sales,” said Bill Egan, the site’s VP of Marketing.

“We saw more gifting with crypto in 2019, compared to buy-for-self use cases in prior years,” he said.

Payment processor BitPay found the holidays quite inspiring as well.

“We saw twice our daily averages of processed volume leading up to the holiday,” said BitPay’s CMO, Bill Zielke.

It will be interesting to see what kind of statistics surface over the next few seasons as e-commerce becomes king and crypto payments come to the fore.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Crypto Custodians Grapple With Germany’s New Rules

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Crypto firms in Germany are getting ready to exist under a new regime. 

Under a law going into effect Jan. 1 requiring digital asset custodians to be licensed, each company that currently custodies crypto and targets German clients must announce to Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) its intention to get a license before April 1 and submit an application before Nov. 1.  

A clause allows current crypto custodians to keep serving German customers without being penalized if they declare their intent to apply, but those same companies are waiting on BaFin to release final regulations around the law.

“As long as the legislation is not in place, BaFin is not going to think about how to cope or how to deal with the legislation,” said BaFin press officer Norbert Pieper. The regulator declined further comment and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Finance did not respond to request for comment by press time.

Pieper added: “There is no date foreseeable [yet] by which we’ll be able to communicate the results of our assessment. We will certainly communicate that on our website.” 

While the final regulations haven’t been set yet, the new license requirement may not produce the same kind of exodus of crypto firms that New York saw after the BitLicense requirement, said Miha Grčar, head of business development at Bitstamp.

London-based Bitstamp, one of Europe’s largest crypto exchanges, plans to continue operating in Germany but declined to say whether it would apply for a license, said Grčar. Crypto firms could also use a white-labeled custody service to operate in Germany. 

Because the law is an “updated version of the existing banking regulation,” banks will likely have the most to gain from it, Grčar added. Companies that get the license will be German financial institutions, but not classified as banks.

The law also means that German regulators now see crypto as a “legitimate” industry, he said. 

Ulli Spankowski, chief digital officer and managing director of the crypto custody subsidiary of German stock exchange Boerse Stuttgart, called Blocknox, sees the license as a step forward for “the professionalism of the industry.” The subsidiary has already advised BaFin that it plans to apply.  

“There are other countries that won’t go for a full-fledged license,” he said. “If you want to get traditional, established players from the banking side, you need to give them this environment to feel safe.” 

DLC group is taking advantage of the new regulatory framework by offering consulting services for firms interested in applying, and its own white-labeled crypto custody service. 

Sven Hildebrandt, head of Distributed Ledger Consulting Group, is concerned some exchanges won’t understand the nuances of the new law.

“The law is only in German and no English translation of the law is out there,” he said. “What’s going to happen to exchanges? [Operating without a licence] is actually a felony and not a misdemeanor so that’s jail time.”

Hildebrandt predicts the costs of licensing will be similar to other German financial services licenses where firms will need two managing directors, an established German entity and 125,000 euros of starting capital. He also estimates installation will cost 250,000 to 350,000 euros and recurring yearly costs will be 350,000 euros. 

Switzerland-based Crypto Storage AG, a subsidiary of Crypto Finance AG, is opening a branch in Germany to offer crypto custody to banks and then financial technology startups. 

“Large banking houses will do custody business in the future,” Stijn Vander Straeten, CEO of Crypto Storage AG, said. “They are moving slowly, though. We’ll build it up now for a premium.” 

Berlin-based solarisBank this month opened a subsidiary called solaris Digital Assets to offer crypto custody as a service. So far, the bank has a handful of customers testing the service with more than 40 companies in the pipeline, said Alexis Hamel, managing director of solaris Digital Assets.

In addition to waiting for details from BaFin, crypto firms are also waiting to see if the law can be passported to other European Union states. 

“Germany is definitely at the forefront with the clearer regulation,” Hamel said. “We still need to see how other European countries level up.”

Disclosure Read More

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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