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  • Overstock Plots Global Expansion for Blockchain-Based Agritech Platform
    by Samuel Haig on March 29, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Medici Ventures announces partnership between Symbion and GrainChain to expand the blockchain-based agritech platform globally. Overstock’s blockchain accelerator, Medici Ventures, announced a global expansion of the distributed ledger technology (DLT)-powered agritech platform GrainChain.Medici Ventures published a press release on March 27 announcing that GrainChain’s expansion will be executed in collaboration with fintech company Symbiont — with GrainChain set to transition from HyperLedger Fabric to Symbiont’s enterprise blockchain platform, Assembly.Medici is a shareholder in both GrainChain and Symbiont.Medici Ventures plots global expansion of GrainChainGrainChain seeks to speed up and remove friction capital circulation in the agricultural market through the use of smart contracts. Farmers can also track their produce as it moves through the supply chain on a per-crate basis — reducing the risk of theft and corruption.Overstock CEO and Medici Ventures president, Jonathan Johnson, describes the partnership between Medici’s keiretsu companies as “working to eliminate middlemen, democratize capital, and re-humanize commerce through the use of blockchain technology.”14,000 farmers currently use GrainChainThe firm claims that roughly 14,000 farmers currently use its smart contacts — including nearly 1,300 U.S. based users, almost 900 in Mexico, and 12,000 in Honduras. GrainChain estimates that it has processed more than 2.6 million tons of produce on its platform.The firm’s migration to Assembly is expected to bolster the agritech platform's speed, privacy, and facilitate scaling. Medici hopes that GrainChain will launch in several new countries before 2021 — with Johnson eying South and Central America.“GrainChain’s goal is to continue to grow into new countries to help support farmers around the globe, and Symbiont’s blockchain platform is the solution that will help us reach that goal,” said GrainChain’s chief executive and founder, Luis Macias.Macias added that the funding will be used to “continue product development and expansion to meet market demands in more countries.”Medici Seeks to Invest in Blockchain-Based Nation-Building PlatformsMedici Ventures announced that it had acquired an additional $5 million of equity in GrainChain on March 6 after leading an $8.2 million funding round. The venture firm had previously invested $2.5 million in late-2018.Medici’s GrainChain invests align with the firm’s plan to develop a blockchain-based suite of national-building products and services for emerging economies.In 2018, analytics firm Markets and Markets predicted that the global blockchain-based agricultural market will be worth nearly $430 million by 2023. […]

  • Bitcoins on the Move — Is BTC Price Inversely Correlated to Mempool Size?
    by Tiago Vidal on March 29, 2020 at 1:18 am

    The relationship between Bitcoin price and its mempool size was negative in most scenarios where BTC lost more than 20%. After making a strong recovery from $3,775 to $6,450, Bitcoin’s (BTC) price has traded in a tight range which has seen the price struggle to push above resistance at $6,400 and $6,850. Despite the current pullback, technical indicators like the Stock-to-Flow model and the network’s consistent growth in hash rate show that investors have regained a small amount of confidence.Another factor worth considering is Bitcoin’s mempool size as it also can provide some insight into how buyers and sellers are reacting during these uncertain times.Cryptocurrency market weekly overview. Source: Coin360The mempool is where all the unconfirmed Bitcoin transactions wait until all confirmations are released to conclude each transaction. The higher the mempool size, the longer it takes for transactions to be confirmed since more blocks have to be confirmed (more power input).If a jam occurs in the memory pool due to an abnormal size of transaction waiting to be confirmed, the higher the probability to incur in a higher transaction fee to expedite it promptly.Bitcoin’s mempool size reached a record-high value at over 130MB/block during January 2018, days after Bitcoin price slightly crossed its all-time high at $20,000.Bitcoin Mempool size (in MB/Block) since June 2016-March 2020. Source: Blockchain.comThis could suggest a relationship between the number of transactions waiting to be confirmed and Bitcoin's price. If that is the case, the relationships would be inverse in times of corrections such as the one investors are facing now.2020 shows an inverse relationship in Bitcoin mempool size and priceConsidering a period from Feb. 19 until March 13, when Bitcoin lost 60%, we find that the correlation between the Bitcoin mempool size and its price is negative at -41.2%. This is a very high relationship considering that this correlation for the entire 2020 period available is almost non-significant at 2.34%.A correlation of 100% means that the Bitcoin price and the mempool size move completely in the same direction, while -100% correlation means they are inversely related. A correlation of 0% means that the variables are not related in any way.Current activity mirrors 2016In correction periods during 2016, where Bitcoin lost more than 20% in price, we find the same negative relationship between the mempool size and Bitcoin price, even though both have a high difference in values — one period is very inversely correlated (-83.1%) and the other period very slightly negative (-4.6%).In the six periods where a correction of up to a 20% decrease in price during 2017 and 2018, we find an inconclusive relationship across the correlations and this makes it impossible to reach a solid conclusion.Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size for different correction periods during 2017However, if we look closely at the two periods that occurred during the second half of 2017 when Bitcoin ended up reaching its record price, both periods show an inverse relationship between the mempool size and Bitcoin price.Between Nov. 8 and Nov. 12, this relationship was very negative (-85.9%), while between Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, the correlation is very small (-5.6%).Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2018 correction periodsPositive relationship in 2019During 2019, four out of the five correction periods identified showed a positive correlation between the Bitcoin mempool size and its price, except for the last periods, which showed a slight negative correlation.Correlation between Bitcoin price and its mempool size during 2019Positive correlation in full-year periods When considering the relationship during each year instead of only analyzing the corrective periods, we find a clear trend and a positive correlation between the mempool size and Bitcoin’s price. Moreover, a high correlation is seen in 2017 (80.8%) and 2018 (72.2%), despite not being able to draw a conclusive trend when analyzing the correction periods within those years. The positive trend, although small in magnitude, is also seen between both variables in 2016 (26.3%) and 2019 (9.5%). While in 2020, the relationship is practically non-existent (2.34%). “There is so much BTC in transit”Last week, there has been an increase in the mempool size even as Bitcoin’s price is going down. Looking forward, we may see the continuation of this inverse relationship contributes to the uncertainty of Bitcoin’s price in the short-term. As Cointelegraph markets analyst filbfilb recently pointed out:“I just can’t be long while I know there is so much BTC in transit.”The amount of Bitcoin possibly being moved into and out of exchanges in the last week’s raises further doubts about the inverse relationship between the mempool and Bitcoin price.Data for the mempool size drawn from Blockchain.com and prices from coinmarketcap.com. The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision. […]

  • Overview of Software Wallets, the Easy Way to Store Crypto
    by Elena Perez on March 29, 2020 at 1:00 am

    Having trouble finding the right crypto wallet? Here’s Cointelegraph’s list of software wallets and how they differ. Similar to a bank account for fiat currency, a crypto wallet is a personal interface for a cryptocurrency network that provides reliable storage and enables transactions. Whether a cryptocurrency is securely stored or not, much depends on the wallet, which is only as secure as its private keys.Wallets are generally either hot or cold. The funds in a hot wallet can be spent at any time, online. A cold wallet functions in contrast: not intended for regular cryptocurrency transactions, but funds can be received at any time. Wallets can also be divided into three groups: software, hardware and paper. Today, we will take a look at the most widespread group of crypto wallets ー software.What is a software wallet?Software wallets come in many forms, each with its own set of unique characteristics. Most are somehow connected to the internet and are hot in nature. Wallets are distinguished by a set of supported cryptocurrencies and software platforms such as Windows, Mac and other operating systems. Software wallets are available in three forms — desktop, mobile and online:Desktop wallets are computer programs that store cryptocurrencies on a PC so that its information is not accessible to anyone but the user, whose private keys are kept only on the desktop.Mobile wallets come in the form of a smartphone app and are easily accessible to their users at any time, considering most people don’t leave their homes without their phones. However, it is worth remembering that mobile devices are vulnerable to various malware and can be easily lost.Online wallets are web wallets that can be accessed from anywhere and any device, making them more convenient, but the private keys are stored by website owners rather than locally on user devices.So, the burning question on everyone’s mind is: Which of these software wallets do I choose?ExodusExodus is one of the most popular software wallets for storing Bitcoin (BTC) and supports over 110 other cryptocurrencies. Launched in 2015 and based in Nebraska, the service is supported by all major software platforms.The Exodus code is partially open-source. Private keys are controlled by the users and do not leave the device where the wallet is installed. The service’s philosophy implies the absence of any personal identification and interaction with banks. Exodus uses the instant digital asset exchange ShapeShift for its wallet’s exchange function, although fiat money exchanges are not supported.Exodus is a free service, while its transaction fees are paid only to miners and determined automatically using the Bitcoin fee service. The size of a transaction in the wallet is determined by the number of inputs and outputs. The more input, the more expensive the transaction becomes. The wallet charges a portion of the commission for facilitating transactions made within the system.Electrum Bitcoin WalletThe Electrum Bitcoin Wallet is a reliable service that has been around since 2011. It is a so-called “thin” cold wallet, where the entire blockchain is not downloaded to the user’s device but is rather stored on the network servers. In this case, private keys are stored on the user’s computer in an encrypted form and are never sent to the server.Versions of the Electrum Bitcoin Wallet can be automatically synchronized on different computers. If users want to use another client program or an online service in the future, they can easily export their keys there or import keys into a cold wallet.This crypto wallet can sign transactions on a device disconnected from the network by saving a new transaction onto a USB flash drive and then loading it onto a device connected to the internet, where the new transaction can be imported onto the network. The wallet is functionally an analog of a hardware wallet, albeit with a slightly more complex chain of actions, and also uses two-level encryption.Jaxx LibertyBased in Canada, Jaxx was launched in 2016 by Anthony Di Iorio, CEO and founder of Decentral as well as a co-founder of Ethereum. Jaxx is available on most popular operating systems: Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, IOS and also as an extension in the Google Chrome web browser.Over 80 cryptocurrencies are available as the ShapeShift exchange is also integrated into the Jaxx wallet for easy and fast transactions. The Jaxx platform does not support fiat money exchange operations or multi-signature. It is a free service, and its transaction fees are paid to miners and differ by currency. When transferring BTC, users choose from three options for fees, depending on the urgency of the transfer.All of Jaxx’s code is open-source except for the user interface. Private keys are controlled by users and do not leave devices that have had wallets installed on them. To verify transactions, centralized validation technology is used. The intuitive controls render this wallet user-friendly and convenient to use.However, the company has had its rough times. In 2017, Jaxx was hacked, and more than $400,000 in various cryptocurrencies was stolen. However, Jaxx Chief Technical Officer Nilang Vyas said in a Reddit post that, unlike hardware wallets, Jaxx is not designed for long-term storage of crypto assets and that users should store only small amounts of funds in their Jaxx wallets.Atomic WalletFounded in 2017, Atomic Wallet is a desktop app that provides users with full control over their cryptocurrency savings, as the private keys and transactional data for this service are stored on users’ computers rather than on the provider’s servers.Atomic Wallet is compatible with all known operating systems and currently supports more than 300 cryptocurrencies, including the most common ones, alongside most ERC-20 tokens and its own Atomic Wallet Coin (AWC). The app can be downloaded for free, but it does contain certain paid services:Purchasing cryptocurrency with a credit card (a 2% commission and minimum commission of $10).Currency transactions within the wallet, such as peer-to-peer.Transactions conducted through ShapeShift.As a solution that lacks servers, Atomic Wallet does not require registration from its users. Therefore, the wallet does not store any confidential personal information and does not utilize the services of intermediaries to conduct transactions.All data transferred is encrypted, as users receive a unique “backup phrase” comprising 12 randomly generated words to recover access to their wallets to serve as a backup should other forms of verification fail, or in case a mobile phone is lost.Bitcoin CoreBitcoin Core was created in 2009 and is based on the wallet program code that was published along with Bitcoin’s project software, thereby ensuring streamlined functionality along the network. In 2012, the Bitcoin Foundation began developing applications based on the original Bitcoin project code. The main focus was on the wallet as a dominant app that met the primary needs of the network: storage and money transfer.Bitcoin Core was one of the first wallets to support SegWit technology and serves as a reference cold wallet for BTC. No other currencies are supported. The wallet can be downloaded as a desktop application on Windows, Linux and Mac.The main advantage of Bitcoin Core is its security. All information is stored on the user’s PC, independent of third parties and other entities’ servers. A file with private keys is generated and stored by the user — no one else can access it.With Bitcoin Core, the user can be guaranteed complete anonymity, including anonymized payments. Bitcoin Core uses an address rotation system, making it practically impossible to track the sender and the recipient addresses — provided that different addresses are used for each transaction.Among the wallet’s shortcomings is low mobility, which may be unappealing for many potential users. Bitcoin Core lacks a mobile version, and this is likely to remain the case, as mobile use contradicts the wallet’s foundational principles of operation and security. Installing a wallet on another computer or even on a reinstalled OS will also not help to recover the funds, as the entire synchronization process (i.e., data downloading and verifying validity) would need to be repeated.BitGoBitGo is a blockchain company founded in 2013 and headquartered in Palo Alto, California. While originally a BTC wallet, BitGo has added support for other popular cryptocurrencies over the years. The BitGo wallet is a web wallet that can be connected through a desktop computer, laptop or other devices. The mobile version of the wallet allows storing keys on user devices. Additionally, keys can be transferred to other devices.The company has developed two versions of its wallet for either individual or business use.In addition to being an online wallet, BitGo offers a service providing reliable storage of digital assets for institutional investors through its partnership with Kingdom Trust. In the spring of 2018, the wallet began supporting the ERC-20 standard, expanding the list of supported digital currencies to 90. However, this is of little use to ordinary investors, as all ERC-20 tokens on BitGo are available only to institutional investors.Each BitGo wallet has three keys: One is stored on BitGo, the second on the user’s device and the third through the Key Recovery Service software. To avoid third-party involvement, just two signatures are required to complete transactions. Access to the wallet is protected by two-factor authentication, and users must confirm their IP every time they log in to their wallets. BitGo charges a fee of 0.25% on all withdrawals up to 1 BTC alongside the usual mining fees.Like Jaxx Liberty, the BitGo wallet has been at the center of a scandal. In 2015, BitGo and Bitfinex announced their collaboration to create a multi-signature wallet system. The companies decided to put user funds into a mixed storage, in which some were stored on large, offline wallets and the rest online. As a result, each user had three keys, two of which were stored by Bitfinex and the third by BitGo.However, in August 2016, Bitfinex discovered that more than $60 million in BTC had been withdrawn from its users’ hot wallets. To this day, no explanation has been offered as to how the attackers managed to pull this off other than BitGo confirming on its official Twitter page that its servers had not been breached.Crypto wallets going forwardCryptocurrency wallets are an integral part of using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They are a fundamental element of the crypto infrastructure that allows funds to transfer across blockchain networks. Each wallet has its own advantages and disadvantages, so understanding how they work and what kind of activities they facilitate is essential before moving on to using them.In any case, software wallets are becoming increasingly popular, and according to Atomic Wallet’s PR manager, Kristina Khachatryan, they are becoming more accessible and attractive every day:“The software wallets are getting to be more and more accessible for a larger number of people, more multifunctional and filled with cool features at the same time losing nothing in the performance or the security issue. Moreover, the possibility of the decentralized staking is the central opening of this year. That’s why we see high potentials in this field of the software wallets and believe that the market will be surely driven to grow by the increased popularity of this product.”Exodus’s communications manager, Davey Zelaya, is confident that the software market will develop at a faster pace as more cryptocurrency and blockchain solutions continue to be launched:“We expect the market to continue to demand user-friendly software to interact with the increasing number of blockchain products and applications. In short, we want to make crypto easy for everyone. Right now, decentralized apps are still bulky and sometimes difficult to navigate. We want to change that.&rdquo […]

  • Will China Launch its Blockchain Service Network Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?
    by Samuel Haig on March 28, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    Chinese media has been quiet about the launch of their Blockchain Service Network since the outbreak of COVID-19. Numerous cryptocurrency media outlets have published recent reports asserting that China’s Blockchain Service Network will launch in April 2020.However, these predictions appear to be based on local reports published prior to China’s first official fatality resulting from COVID-19.China’s Blockchain Service Network commences testing in October 2019On October 15, 2019, Chinese state-operated media outlet, Xinhua news, reported that the country’s Blockchain Service Network, or BSN, had commenced testing. The project’s six-month internal testing phase was initially scheduled to finish at the end of March 2020.The development of the network’s core technologies was then nearing completion, and more than 50 public nodes had been deployed in 31 provinces and municipalities across the country.In early January, just as COVID-19 was first being identified as a unique virus and not a recurrence of SARS, Tang Sisi, the deputy head of the Smart City Development Research Center of SIC, announced that the BSN would launch during April after the trial had completed.Roughly one week later, China announced its first official COVID-19 fatality.Coronavirus pandemic may disrupt the launch of China’s BSNWhile the platform had reportedly processed nearly $12.7 billion in transactions for 44 banks and almost 1,900 companies throughout trials in Shenzhen alone by mid-January, news regarding the BSN appears to have dried up as the coronavirus pandemic began to take shape in China.The most recent official mention of the project appears to be a March 9 report published by Chinese state-owned media outlet, Global Times. While the article announces that the People’s Bank of China had secured $4.7 million in research funding for the BSN over three years, the report contains no mention of an upcoming launch for the BSN.China deploys blockchain to fight COVID-19Despite the spread of coronavirus beginning to slow in China, the recent near-total devotion of the Chinese state apparatus to fighting COVID-19 may mean that an April launch for BSN is unlikely.However, the pandemic has proved a good testing ground for many of blockchain’s applications — with China deploying distributed ledger technologies to track and record medical supplies, charity donations, and the spread of the virus.The BSN was first revealed in Shenzhen during September 2018, with the network intended to bolster China’s digital economy and underpin the construction of ‘smart cities.’The blockchain network has been developed through collaboration between the state-run telecom provider, China Mobile, the government-support payment processor, China UnionPay, the State Information Center (SIC), and several other state institutions. […]

  • Do Video Games Subconsciously Teach Users Crypto Economics?
    by Benjamin Pirus on March 28, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    YouTuber Ivan on Tech recently explained how the video game RuneScape prepared him for crypto trading. The underlying premise of many video games might actually give people a core understanding of economics, especially in the crypto space.“As a kid, I played a lot of RuneScape,” crypto YouTuber and programmer Ivan on Tech said in a March 28 video.RuneScape is a medieval era fantasy game in which players interact with other live players, completing journeys, buying, selling, and trading various tools and materials, as well as battling.“A part of RuneScape is that it has its own economy,” Ivan said. “There’s actually a lot of experience you get from playing games as a kid,” he also noted. “I learned my first market mechanics in this game.”RuneScape helped Ivan on Tech learn to flip crypto assetsLooking over a list of various fake, digital items within RuneScape, Ivan showed that players can sell and trade thousands of items, such as gold, water, steel, grapes and a plethora of other supplies.Clicking on each item brings up a stock-like chart showing the asset’s price journey over time within the game. Some of said items even showed volatility reminiscent of cryptocurrencies.“Oak logs, they had a bull market up until December of 2019, and, since then, they entered a bear market in RuneScape,” Ivan explained.Ivan found out about pump and dumps from the gameThe YouTuber said RuneScape even taught him about pump-and-dumps — a less than moral method of pumping an asset’s price through deception, only to dump on hopeful buyers later, crashing prices in the process.Ivan explained that RuneScape helped him see which assets were going through pump-and-dumps in crypto. “I got my first experience being dumped upon in RuneScape,” he said.This recognition can help investors and traders stay away from, or navigate, potentially risky trades.Other games also teach similar market familiarityRuneScape is not the only game housing a framework similar to real-world economics. A virtual world game called Second Life employs Linden Dollars — simulated online money players can buy with USD.World of Warcraft also holds an internal economy similar to that of RuneScape. Some players even try to sell items for real world cash.Additionally, ties between video games and real life economics have only increased with time. Cryptocurrency and blockchain pave the way for sending in-game currency into the real world for sale and trade, as well as ability to transfer items between users.On a similar note, blockchain-based virtual reality platforms are on the rise, selling digital real estate for crypto assets such at Ethereum (ETH). […]