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Cointelegraph covers everything Bitcoin, bringing you the latest news, prices, breakthroughs and analysis, with emphasis on expert opinion and commentary from the digital currency community.

Times Square Billboard Calls for Release of Silk Road Founder

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The ‘Free Ross’ movement has hired a billboard in New York’s Times Square as part of its campaign for the release of the Silk Road darknet market founder Ross Ulbricht.

According to the Twitter account ‘Clemency for Ross’ the billboard will display the message and image for several months. The account emphasized that the billboard was funded by “a generous supporter” and not from donations to the site.

Ulbricht is currently into his seventh year behind bars in a double life sentence. Without clemency he will never be released. 

‘Free Ross’ billboard sprouts in Times Square

Ulbricht, now 36 years old, was arrested and incarcerated in 2013 for establishing and operating the notorious darknet marketplace ‘Silk Road.’

Ulbricht was found guilty of seven charges including drug trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking, criminal enterprise, and aiding and abetting the distribution of narcotics over the internet, and sentenced to two life sentences with no parole.

Ulbricht proposes solution to encrypted child porn

Even from behind bars, and without access to the internet, Ulbricht has still been contributing to the cryptocurrency community via friends who publish his writings online.

On May 20, Ulbricht’s medium account posted an article proposing a solution to ‘the content problem’ on encrypted platforms — the challenge of removing harmful content in an automated fashion that doesn’t require manually sifting through such.

Ulbricht writes that many large platforms already deploy algorithms such as artificial neural networks (ANNs) to moderate content, recommending that the operators of encrypted platforms utilize zero-knowledge proofs in conjunction with ANNs to identify content depicting child abuse.

The former Silk Road operator recommends partnering with law enforcement to train the ‘ZKANN’ system to identify child pornography using seized media, before launching the system to the public.



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Enterprise Blockchain Market Will Hit $21.07 Billion By 2025, Says Fortune Business Insights

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A new study from Fortune Business Insights, a company offering market studies and consulting services, estimates the blockchain technology market will reach $21 Billion by 2025, according to GlobeNewswire’s report on May 12.  It stated that: 

“The blockchain technology market size stood at USD 1.64 billion in 2017, and is projected to reach USD 21.07 billion by the end of 2025 […] exhibiting a CAGR of 38.4% during 2018-2025.”

Reasons behind the expansion

The main reason for the growth of the global blockchain technology market, according to the Fortune Business Insights report, is that more enterprises worldwide are increasing their investment in blockchain research and development from within.

The research also expects that rising interest from public or government authorities for growing research and regulatory approvals of products in the market will also accelerate the expansion of the blockchain industry. 

Source: Fortune Business Insight 

Companies would generate the largest revenue in the coming years

The Report says IBM would be the dominant player in the enterprise blockchain field. Other key players also include companies such as the Linux Foundation, Chain Inc., Oracle Corporation, Fintech & Blockchain Software House, Deloitte, Consensus Systems, Microsoft Corporation, Schvey, Inc., Altoros, Bits, Inc., Altoros, and VironIT. 

The report examined various global industries, including government, healthcare, and banking, financial services, and insurance, or BFSI. It pointed out that:

“BFSI industry emerged as an early adopter of blockchain technology with the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009-10.”

As Cointelegraph reported previously, despite the current global markets recession and increasing unemployment rates, many blockchain jobs continue to rise due to the booming industry.

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Coin Telegraph Bitcoin/Blockchain News

Guide Highlights Patchwork of Crypto Tax Laws in Latin America

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Research from Latin American crypto exchange Buda has highlighted a patchwork of laws, confused regulations and unusual concepts governing crypto taxation in the region.

Buda has provided a series of tax guidelines outlining measures crypto traders should take into consideration when looking to comply with the authorities in Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina.

In various countries in the region, there are different interpretations and concepts regarding what type of good or asset is considered to be a cryptocurrency.

Crypto legal definitions in Latin America

Chile, for example, considers any crypto as “a digital or virtual asset”; Colombia as an “immaterial good”; Peru as a “movable asset,” while in Argentina, there is no official definition at the moment.

The guide highlights many doubts concerning when taxes should be paid for owning cryptos or trading them.

In Peru, the authorities expect that people pay taxes on crypto when they receive payments in cryptocurrencies as a product of the recipient’s profession.

When people should pay taxes for crypto?

For Chile and Colombia, a concept called “alienate” is used, which basically means selling. The term is generally understood as being when the person no longer owns the crypto, whether they have sold, swapped, or carried out any other business with it.

Therefore, for both countries, people must pay taxes when they sell crypto.

Due to the lack of official definition by the Argentine government towards crypto, there are also no guidelines on when Argentines can pay taxes on crypto.

In the countries mentioned, local or foreign crypto exchanges are not the ones in charge of taxing on behalf of the client, since it is the responsibility of each taxpayer to declare their obligations to the local authorities.

The legal status of crypto across the region

Cointelegraph Spanish detailed at the beginning of 2020 the legal status of cryptocurrencies in various countries in Latin America.

In the case of Bolivia, for example, it is illegal to use Bitcoins or any other crypto for any transaction, since it is “a currency that is not issued and controlled by a government or authorized entity.”

Ecuador is another country in the region that banned digital assets in mid-2014. However, the laws in Ecuador do not appear to be strictly enforced towards crypto, so there are still Ecuadorians who are actively trading with Bitcoins.

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CZ: Charity and Stablecoins Drive Meaningful Crypto Adoption

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Speaking at Virtual Blockchain Week (VBW), Binance founder and chief executive Changpeng Zhao (CZ) argued that stablecoins and charity initiatives can drive meaningful cryptocurrency adoption.

CZ also discussed Binance Academy’s work with Chinese government institutions on blockchain projects and revealed that he hopes Binance can influence the shape of the country’s regulatory strategy 

Crypto charity programs drive adoption

During his ‘fireside chat’ with VBW’s hosts, CZ asserted that crypto-based charity programs are driving meaningful cryptocurrency adoption worldwide.

“If I’m going to give you some donation in crypto, you are more likely to go and get a wallet or register an account on an exchange to accept it,” he stated. “That type of adoption is a positive first-contact for a lot of people. So it does increase adoption.”

“We also see that it also helps the Binance reputation […] We have been much better received in a lot of […] countries due to the charity initiative. So there [is] some selfishness to it.”

Stablecoins drive adoption for merchants

Speaking with Cointelegraph afterwards, CZ said he believes that stablecoins will help to drive adoption among merchants and retailers.

“Before [stablecoins] it was like two extremes — you either stay in USD or Fiat, [or] you’re either BTC or Ethereum or BMB, and the price fluctuates against fiat,” he said, adding that crypto can be “really troublesome for a shop owner because their expenses are in fiat”.

CZ describes stablecoins as an “intermediate step,” asserting fiat-denominated tokens solve the problem for individuals and merchants who want to be in crypto but still need their expenses to be covered using fiat.

Binance looks to partner with Chinese government on DLT

When asked about Binance’s plans for its recently launched Blockchain Research Institute in Shanghai, CZ stated that the institute will focus on exploring applications for distributed ledger technologies (DLT) alongside China’s central government.

“There’s a very big push by Chinese government agencies to all learn about blockchain,” he said. “They are very smart in the sense that they said ‘Well if we’re going to understand this thing let’s understand it, let’s not be outsiders trying to regulate an expert area.”

“We are working closely with the governments there and they are very receptive,” he stated, emphasizing: “We want to be influential in that process.”

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Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales: "You Can’t Ban Blockchain. It’s Math!"

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Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales: "You Can’t Ban Blockchain. It’s Math!"

[ VIDEO POST ] Date: 2018-06-06 10:44:01 | Duration: 14:10 | Views: 22224 | Likes: 2056 | Dislikes: 3

We interviewed Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales at Blockshow Berlin about all things crypto.
Subscribe to Cointelegraph: https://goo.gl/JhmfdU

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Coin Telegraph Bitcoin/Blockchain News

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Kim Kardashian, NYSE crypto ecosystem and McDonald's MacCoin | Hodler's Digest

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Kim Kardashian, NYSE crypto ecosystem and McDonald's MacCoin | Hodler's Digest

[ VIDEO POST ] Date: 2018-08-05 22:56:06 | Duration: 9:23 | Views: 1396 | Likes: 111 | Dislikes: 5

Hodler’s Digest, July 29-August 5
Subscribe to Cointelegraph: https://goo.gl/JhmfdU

Kim Kardashian and the operator of the New York Stock Exchange both embrace Bitcoin, find out more in the Hodler’s Digest.

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Cointelegraph covers everything Bitcoin, bringing you the latest news, prices, breakthroughs, and analysis, with emphasis on expert opinion and commentary from the digital currency community.

Kim Kardashian’s first Bitcoin, NYSE crypto platform and MacCoin | Hodler’s Digest

Coin Telegraph Bitcoin/Blockchain News

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Mark Cuban Owns Bitcoin But Prefers Bananas

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In a recent appearance on Anthony Pompliano’s The Pomp Podcast, billionaire investor and owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, discussed his qualms with Bitcoin (BTC).

Despite arguing that Bitcoin is hampered by a lack of understanding among the general public and poor fungibility for goods without fiat conversion, Cuban offers that Bitcoin may find success if economic crises accelerate and “everything goes into the shitter.”

Mark Cuban is bearish on BTC until your grandma can use it

When asked what it would take to change his position of skepticism regarding Bitcoin, Cuban stated: “It would have to be so easy to use it’s a no brainer.”

“It’d have to be completely friction-free and understandable by everybody first, and then you can say it’s an alternative to gold as a store of value,” he added.

“You’re going to have to make it friction-free so grandma can do it, adding “the fact that we are arguing so much about it, and you have so many stands about Bitcoin — that just proves the point, that it’s difficult.”

Bananas comprise easier means of payment than Bitcoin

Cuban argued that Bitcoin comprises a cumbersome means of exchange through lacking fungibility for goods and services without converting into fiat currencies.

“Right now, you still have to convert it for anything that you want,” he stated, adding: “[A]s long as you have to convert it, you are still dependent on fiat, no matter what you say.”

“I can trade bananas easier as a commodity than I can trade Bitcoin, and I can still eat that banana before it goes bad, and get all my potassium for my workout.”

Cuban recounts briefly supporting payments in Bitcoin on the Mavericks’ online store four years ago, stating “no one bought anything.”

After reintroducing support for merch and ticket purchases in BTC in August 2019, Cuban estimates that the payment method has brought in $130 dollars, adding: “that’s all of the Bitcoin that I own right now.”

Mark Cuban: Bitcoin may benefit if ‘everything goes into the shitter’

While Cuban acknowledges blockchain can offer great opportunities, he asserts that “we haven’t really seen blockchain applications really take off. I get all of the arguments, I’ve seen all of the charts, I understand all of the potential problems with fiat,” he states, adding:

“It’s to Bitcoin’s potential benefit if everything goes into the shitter because we’re printing so much money and there’s global implications. […] And if we don’t, Bitcoin ain’t got nothing.”

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TOP 5 People in Blockchain

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TOP 5 People in Blockchain

[ VIDEO POST ] Date: 2018-03-06 20:44:25 | Duration: 1:51 | Views: 2439 | Likes: 64 | Dislikes: 1

People love cryptocurrency but more still are catching on to the power of blockchain. Who are the five most influential voices you should be following?

Read the full article about the greatest fintech enthusiasts here:
https://top.cointelegraph.com

Watch the video to find out. Subscribe to our channel for even more videos!

Vitalik Buterin
Co-founder of Ethereum
@VitalikButerin

Andreas M. Antonopoulos
Bitcoin Evangelist & Author of ‘Mastering Bitcoin’
@aantonop

Don Tapscott
Author of ‘Blockchain Revolution’
@dtapscott

Erik Voorhees
CEO of ShapeShift.io
@ErikVoorhees

Charlie Lee
Creator of Litecoin
@SatoshiLite

OUR CHANNEL https://www.youtube.com/user/cointelegraph

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Coin Telegraph Bitcoin/Blockchain News

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Ethereum Developers Roll Up Their Sleeves in Hunt for Scalability Cure

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The Ethereum team has been trying to solve the blockchain scalability problem since 2014. During that time, solutions such as Raiden, Plasma, zk-SNARKs, sharding and rollups appeared in the developers’ tool kit. However, the implementation of some of them was constantly delayed, while others proved to be of limited efficacy.

This was the issue until Ethereum’s Istanbul hard fork was implemented in December 2019, which gave hope that the network can finally become suitable for corporate use. Cointelegraph attempted to figure out whether the situation with the second-largest cryptocurrency’s scalability has changed and why not all the solutions have cut the mustard.

Why should Ethereum scale?

The Ethereum (ETH) blockchain has become a software for thousands of projects over the past couple of years. Its easy-to-use smart contract model allows for the creation of almost any application and a release of the project’s own cryptocurrency. As a result, the number of active decentralized applications, or DApps, has reached 1,895 on the network as of April 2020, with 77,000 daily transactions performed by its users. Not to mention hundreds of thousands of daily transactions made by users to buy or sell ETH.

At the same time, Ethereum network’s throughput didn’t exceed 15–20 transactions per second in 2019, and was considered insufficient for making the blockchain suitable for large-scale use. The crux of the matter is that the quick operation of DApps can only be possible if the scalability condition is met. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin previously stated that many large organizations are interested in joining the Ethereum ecosystem, but have refrained from switching to the network due to its insufficient bandwidth.

In recent years, some new projects have overtaken Ethereum in terms of bandwidth. For instance, the EOS blockchain can process up to 4,000 TPS, NEO can process 10,000 TPS, and the latest offering from Solana claims it can process up to 50,000 TPS. As a result, the reputation of the ETH platform began to decline, with a number of critics growing. It seems that some Ethereum developers themselves were losing faith that the network will someday be able to really solve its scalability issues. Buterin said regarding the notion:

“I have been getting more and more pessimistic about off-chain-data L2s over time. Vlad Zamfir is right; they’re just hard to build, require too much application-layer reasoning about incentives, and hard to generalize.”

That was before the launch of the Istanbul hard fork last December, which has finally brought hope for a solution to the Ethereum scalability problem. But could Istanbul dispel the general belief that Ethereum is too slow?

Istanbul hard fork: Faster, but still not the world computer

This is, perhaps, the only Ethereum scalability solution that has been successfully implemented as part of the network’s transition from a proof-of-work protocol to proof-of-stake. According to Vitalik Buterin, post-Istanbul blockchain capacity now has the potential to reach 3,000 TPS, while scalability solutions developer StarkWare claimed that Ethereum is now able to handle 9,000 TPS when executing smart contracts on decentralized exchanges and 18,000 TPS when processing online payments.

In fact, it’s still difficult to assess the actual bandwidth of Ethereum. Judging by Blockchair charts, the second-largest cryptocurrency network currently processes no more than 9.5 TPS.

Sharding: Increasing Ethereum’s scalability by 100 times?

By the start of 2019, the Ethereum community started focusing mainly on sharding, considering it their preferred option for solving the blockchain scalability issue. The growing popularity of sharding is based on the fact that splitting a single network into segments and processing transactions only within these segments increases the transaction processing speed.

Besides, processing transactions by parallel segments may lead to a linear increase in network bandwidth — the more segments there are, the more transactions can be distributed among them. Thus, according to the developers, the network will be supposedly scaled by adding new segments to it.

So, the question is: How will transactions between segments be carried out? Indeed, without solving the problem of inter-shard interactions, parallel processing of transactions by segment becomes impossible, which turns the panacea of ​​sharding into a meaningless undertaking.

Judging by the recent statement by Buterin, the timing for the implementation of sharding remains abstract. What is known though is that sharding will be implemented in the Ethereum blockchain in Phase 1, while Phase 0 will be implemented within two years.

Raiden: Reaching scalability by sacrificing security?

This standalone Ethereum network scaling solution is similar to Bitcoin’s Lightning Network. Simply put, Raiden’s main task is to store part of the data outside the main blockchain, which significantly increases throughput. Processing data off-chain allows the Ethereum network to be used only for larger or more important transactions, while daily payments can be handled inside the Raiden network.

However, processing transactions outside the blockchain has its own risks, the main one being security. The fact is that in this model, tokens are stored in smart contracts that can be hacked, while off-chain solutions are more centralized, according to some critics.

While Raiden features are well-suited to deal with micropayments, this scalability solution may not always be reliable for large transactions and, therefore, puts the potential large-scale use of Ethereum into question. This may be the reason why many important iterations set in the Raiden roadmap are still in the works, while its ready-to-use version is used only by individual projects.

At the end of 2017, the so-called “micro-Raiden” appeared on the Ethereum network, which was positioned as a stripped-down version of the original Raiden. However, the success of micro-Raiden in the field of micropayments is still unknown, as is the level of adoption of another alpha version of Raiden called Red Eyes.

Plasma: Abandoned technology

The Plasma project was first announced by Vitalik Buterin in August 2017 as a protocol designed to save the Ethereum blockchain from processing unnecessary data by creating a second layer on top of the main blockchain.

According to the developers, in using Plasma, the Ethereum blockchain will still be able to process smart contracts, but it will only publish them on the blockchain after the completion of the contract. This will significantly reduce the amount of computing power used by the blockchain to confirm transactions, saving a lot of memory. The Plasma protocol also attempted to speed up the transaction processing time, which would allow the network to host DApps without slowing down the system.

However, positive announcements in 2019 were replaced by news that the Ethereum community began exploring a new class of layer-two solutions named “rollups,” followed by the termination of Plasma Group’s work. On Jan. 27, Dragonfly Research revealed the death of Plasma, explaining that the Ethereum team is converging on Optimistic Rollup.

Zero-knowledge technology: Zero proofs of technology success

Zk-SNARKs implementation is supposed to solve the problem of Ethereum scalability through the use of smart contracts. This model has already been implemented in the Zcash (ZEC) blockchain project. However, the latter reported on the critical vulnerability of zk-SNARKs soon after implementation. The bug was said to allow an attacker to counterfeit an infinite amount of coins.

In the meantime, all publications regarding the zero-knowledge proof protocol and zk-SNARK based on it (which encrypts transactions by making them anonymous), are still just a part of the Ethereum team’s theoretical research.

Other solutions

Before the final transition of Ethereum to the proof-of-stake consensus model, the resources of other platforms that successfully operate in the market and offer low transaction fees can be used to scale the network, according to Buterin.

The Bitcoin Cash (BCH) network, for instance, may become a potential partner of the ETH blockchain, as suggested by Buterin. According to him, this project is well-suited for scaling the network due to its low transaction fees and high throughput capabilities. As of 2019, the BCH network was able to process more than 53 kilobytes of data per second, compared to Ethereum’s 8 kilobytes.

In addition to Bitcoin Cash, Vitalik Buterin suggested the use of the Ethereum Classic (ETC) network, pointing to its great potential and interoperability with other platforms. Other proposals for scaling the network include using the Litecoin (LTC) and STEEM platforms, but the team has not sent any offers of cooperation to its competitors as of yet.

An optimistic forecast for rollups

The latest innovation among the scalability solutions that have emerged from the zk-SNARKs described above is so-called rollups, which, according to Buterin, are being developed now. A rollup involves storing transaction data in blockchain in a compressed form, with the computation process taking place outside the chain. Instead of validating computations, such as sign-up verification and execution of a contract directly in the chain, it suggests using zk-SNARK as part of zk-Rollup and a fraud-proof scheme as part of Ethereum’s Optimistic Rollup.

The first solution, named zk-Rollups, uses zero-knowledge proofs to validate the correctness of all the transactions on the sidechain. Still, the solutions saw some drawbacks caused by the computationally intensive cryptographic process and the impossibility of using smart contracts.

The second variant, Optimistic Rollup, attempts to remove the need for zero-knowledge proofs by changing the consensus principle. In essence, instead of verifying each transaction, the network assumes that all of them are correct, making users intervene only if they see an incorrect transaction by submitting a “fraud proof.”

Related: Vitalik Buterin Reveals Ethereum 2.0 Roadmap to Cointelegraph

Buterin called both of these solutions amazing, noting that this is not just scaling payments, but scaling something equivalent to the Ethereum virtual machine. Optimism and Arbitrum are the two autonomous teams that make sufficient progress in making the Optimistic Rollups happen, according to Buterin.

Meanwhile, other projects have already integrated the concept into working solutions. For example, Loopring recently launched the ZK-Rollup exchange, which can theoretically reach a throughput of 2,500 TPS. In addition, the Ethereum team is optimistic with regard to the future efficiency of its rollup projects, as they are expected to increase blockchain throughput to 2,500—3,000 TPS, and to 2,000—10,000 TPS if combined with sharding.

What will all this lead to?

So far, the Ethereum team’s discussions on sharding, rollups and zk-SNARKs sound like a string of words from a magic spell. This may be partly because these terms are unclear to an everyday user, or that no one has ever seen the solutions at work.

Much will depend on this year’s releases that may show how realistic the proposals for scaling Ethereum are. In particular, it is expected that Ethereum 2.0 — tentatively scheduled for July this year — will be much faster and more scalable.

For reaching the full bandwidth, Ethereum can also require the simultaneous implementation of all of the above solutions. Statements from developers like Kevin Ho from Optimism, a company working on Optimistic Rollup, seem to confirm this hypothesis.



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