OTC Exchange Network Signs Up To FIX Group on Blockchain Standards

Trading institutions group OTC Exchange Network has become the latest organisation to sign up to the FIX consortium.

The FIX community is a not-for-profit body, pioneering standards and interoperability through new blockchain technologies. Run by and for the benefit of the investment community, the group is dedicated to developing around regulatory and compliance challenges for more efficient international markets.

OTCXN brings a wealth of blockchain experience to the group, including via the appointment of CEO Rosario M. Ingargiola to the Working Group, as it joins forces to push the boundaries of blockchain technology.

OTCXN operates a blockchain-based trading system, allowing for peer-to-peer electronic trading, effectively distributing access to the financial markets for a more democratic trading process.

Their connection with FIX effectively realises their shared aims in exploring greater standards for blockchain trading, which could help in developing the next generation of blockchain-based trading protocols.

Discussing the move, Ingargiola said that while the existing protocols were in place for an effective blockchain system, it will require further experimentation to circumvent both current and future anticipated hurdles.

“FIX has long been the standard messaging protocol for trading. However, trading related Blockchain, DLT, and digital asset initiatives are on the bleeding edge, and are seeking to define standards of interoperability. Although OTCXN is already capturing FIX message sequences and storing them on its proprietary Blockchain to drive capabilities like real-time trade match reporting with cryptographic guarantees, I believe that it will take some experimentation and an open dialog among early pioneers to identify and overcome perhaps yet unknown technical hurdles. We hope that we can bring some of our experiences and findings to the FIX Digital Currency & Blockchain Working Group for the benefit of all.”

The move comes at a time when companies across the financial sector, as well as wider industry, are ramping up collaboration efforts around the technology.

With 2017 so far a year of ongoing testing and development of blockchain systems, it is hoped that an increasing number of proofs-of-concept will be sufficiently viable for commercial rollouts in the months and years to come.

Clarity on Security, Bitcoin and Economics

Many people, who work within the information security industry hold a misconceived notion that information security is about technology and tools. Unfortunately, the same attitude has, wrongly, crept into Bitcoin.

Security is more about economics than it is about technical tools – no technical tool alone is effective. They all require management, maintenance and monitoring. Computer security is an oxymoron. It does not matter how good the encryption is if people do not implement it wisely and monitor its use.

The merger of Yahoo and Verizon was valued at over US$4.8 billion. This merger was nearly derailed following a series of data breaches that exposed customer information. We have recently seen black-market extortion schemes, hacking the hire and Internet piracy is as rampant as ever. This is not going to stop any time soon. Our entire model is broken. We move security into centralised systems that become more and more tempting to attackers. This is not a cyber flaw, it is a flaw in the economics of the model. Peer models do not make anything inherently secure. What they do is distribute the risk.

An attacker seeking to breach a credit card company can make massive gains attacking a single system and stealing a single database. Conversely, attacking a distributed database such as the one used by Bitcoin is infeasible. The reason for this is that none of the keys that control access to the ledger are stored within the Blockchain itself.
The cryptography involved in Bitcoin is not particularly special, EcDSA has been around a long time, and is widely implemented. It is the economics of the Bitcoin system that make it particularly special. And this is the aspect that most people don’t understand.

People believe that you need to validate your own transactions, this could not be further from the truth. It is not whether you have a valid transaction, it is whether the entire network recognises your transaction. In fact, even if you should find a discrepancy in your transaction, if it is accepted into the majority of the nodes that mine bitcoin, then your transaction will be accepted in the way that the miners agree. Any node votes on the acceptance of a transaction purely through mining. Any wallet that disagrees with this process is simply isolated. The matter how many wallets disagree, they can never form a consensus.

So, contrary to popular wisdom, there is absolutely no advantage in running a full node unless you are a merchant monitoring the double spends or a miner.

Because wallets failed to create blocks at all, they have no say on the network. At present, they are not needed for propagation of transactions and their removal would actually make the network more efficient. There is a reason that satiety called these non-mining wallets SPV wallets.

It is relatively simple. As a wallet can only veto its own transactions and its own blocks, it has two options:

  1. Isolate itself from the network, or
  2. Accept the transaction and block.

In order to form consensus, the system requires a majority of mining nodes to accept a block. If you’re not creating a block through mining, you cannot engage in the consensus process. At best large well-connected wallets could interfere with propagation, but as the network is so densely connected, this matters little that all even for the largest connected wallets.

At worst, the wallet who decides to ignore the transaction rules that are agreed in consensus through the distribution of blocks is simply isolated. No transaction that they send outside of the ledger will have any use or meaning.

The benefits of Bitcoin include decentralising control of our money. Any individual can create a raw transaction and send it onto the network from any machine connected to any part of the Internet. If they can validly sign that transaction and it meets the consensus rules on the network, it does not matter if they created the transaction by hand.

The truest check of your transaction being accepted is other machines having accepted. Not your machine, the other machines on the network. It is not running a node that is important, it is ensuring that our transaction reaches a node. This requires highly interconnected mining systems that link to exchanges and online wallets. There are zero benefits in running your own wallet if you don’t mine.

The Economics

The most overlooked aspect of Bitcoin is the use of economic incentives. Many in the industry consider this the weakest part of the system, the reality is this is the true strength. Attackers are more rational than many others [1, 2]. As much as we like to deny this fact, cyber criminals and other economic criminals are generally more rational than the average person and exhibit a higher risk tolerance than a more law-abiding citizen. In [1], Wright expressed the economic truth;

  1. More security costs = higher costs to the consumer.
  2. Higher expected loss from risk = higher costs to the consumer.

It is scary that not enough people understand this. The notion that “Criminal groups act as profit seeking enterprises, and the ability to shift the economic returns away from this activity results in a lower amount of crime” [2] this is simple to understand when you think about it even though it seems counterintuitive at first.

Bitcoin works in the same manner. The more we delve into the system and truly understand it, the more we can start to see that this is a system created through economic incentives. It does not use the most modern cryptography, it doesn’t use the coolest security technologies, what it does is truly remarkable: It creates economic incentives.

These incentives are aligned to the securing of the network [5]. The larger the network grows, the more secure it becomes. This begs the question, why are people seeking to limit its growth. It is the on chain growth that makes bitcoin secure. It is the distributed consensus mechanism and the shared nature of the ledger, so the question is why are people trying to remove this key aspect of the protocol. Why are they trying to move to of chain solutions that mirror the traditional security models and require secure nodes and permissioned systems?

Do they not understand the benefits of economic controls or scarcity or is there something else at play here?

Problems of Software

There is no way to make any computer or software completely secure. More, not less, is better. What we need is a central protocol that all agree on. From this protocol, many versions of software can divulge. If we have many developers working on new front ends, new mining systems, new exchanges and new platforms, then the chances that any one of these will be compromised in a way that impacts a large number of users will be lowered: e.g a bug may impact, say, Microsoft Windows [3], but it would be unlikely to see these impacting a Linux or Mac.

The core of bitcoin is not cryptography, that is just a tool, the core of bitcoin is economic incentives.

There are many ways of attacking the Bitcoin (or any other) network. All of these involve trade-offs and all of these trade-offs are economic in nature. The issue is not whether a computer system can be attacked but whether it can be attacked efficiently. There is no such thing as perfect security and security is always an economic trade-off [4].

Any change of a protocol has an economic impact. Leaving the block has an economic impact as it limits the size of the network. This was discussed before; the security of the network is directly related to the investment in the network and the investment in the network is related to how many people use it. Not how many people run wallets acting as non-mining nodes, but how many people invest in creating mining systems to secure those transactions that we wish to run. Right now, we are artificially capping the growth of the network and the result is that we are limiting the security of the network.

We state very clearly this: the core of Bitcoin is not cryptography, the core of Bitcoin is economic incentives.

References

[1] Wright C.S., Zia T.A. (2011) “Rationally Opting for the Insecure Alternative: Negative Externalities and the Selection of Security Controls”. In: Herrero Á., Corchado E. (eds) Computational Intelligence in Security for Information Systems. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 6694. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-21323-6_26

[2] Wright, Craig S, (2012). “Criminal Specialization as a Corollary of Rational Choice,” International Conference on Electronics, Information and Communication Engineering (EICE 2012), Garry Lee, ASME, New York, 6 pp. http://ebooks.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/content.aspx?bookid=408&sectionid=38787998

[3] Ari Takanen, Jared D. Demott, Charles Miller (2008) “Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality Assurance” Artech House information security and privacy series, IT Pro, Artech House, 2008 ISBN 1596932155, 9781596932159

[4] Andreas Gregoriades, Jae-Eun Shin, Alistair Sutcliffe (2004) “Human-Centred Requirements Engineering” In 12th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, pp. 154-163, doi:10.1109/re.2004.28

Clarity on Security, Bitcoin and Economics

Many people, who work within the information security industry hold a misconceived notion that information security is about technology and tools. Unfortunately, the same attitude has, wrongly, crept into Bitcoin.

Security is more about economics than it is about technical tools – no technical tool alone is effective. They all require management, maintenance and monitoring. Computer security is an oxymoron. It does not matter how good the encryption is if people do not implement it wisely and monitor its use.

The merger of Yahoo and Verizon was valued at over US$4.8 billion. This merger was nearly derailed following a series of data breaches that exposed customer information. We have recently seen black-market extortion schemes, hacking the hire and Internet piracy is as rampant as ever. This is not going to stop any time soon. Our entire model is broken. We move security into centralised systems that become more and more tempting to attackers. This is not a cyber flaw, it is a flaw in the economics of the model. Peer models do not make anything inherently secure. What they do is distribute the risk.

An attacker seeking to breach a credit card company can make massive gains attacking a single system and stealing a single database. Conversely, attacking a distributed database such as the one used by Bitcoin is infeasible. The reason for this is that none of the keys that control access to the ledger are stored within the Blockchain itself.
The cryptography involved in Bitcoin is not particularly special, EcDSA has been around a long time, and is widely implemented. It is the economics of the Bitcoin system that make it particularly special. And this is the aspect that most people don’t understand.

People believe that you need to validate your own transactions, this could not be further from the truth. It is not whether you have a valid transaction, it is whether the entire network recognises your transaction. In fact, even if you should find a discrepancy in your transaction, if it is accepted into the majority of the nodes that mine bitcoin, then your transaction will be accepted in the way that the miners agree. Any node votes on the acceptance of a transaction purely through mining. Any wallet that disagrees with this process is simply isolated. The matter how many wallets disagree, they can never form a consensus.

So, contrary to popular wisdom, there is absolutely no advantage in running a full node unless you are a merchant monitoring the double spends or a miner.

Because wallets failed to create blocks at all, they have no say on the network. At present, they are not needed for propagation of transactions and their removal would actually make the network more efficient. There is a reason that satiety called these non-mining wallets SPV wallets.

It is relatively simple. As a wallet can only veto its own transactions and its own blocks, it has two options:

  1. Isolate itself from the network, or
  2. Accept the transaction and block.

In order to form consensus, the system requires a majority of mining nodes to accept a block. If you’re not creating a block through mining, you cannot engage in the consensus process. At best large well-connected wallets could interfere with propagation, but as the network is so densely connected, this matters little that all even for the largest connected wallets.

At worst, the wallet who decides to ignore the transaction rules that are agreed in consensus through the distribution of blocks is simply isolated. No transaction that they send outside of the ledger will have any use or meaning.

The benefits of Bitcoin include decentralising control of our money. Any individual can create a raw transaction and send it onto the network from any machine connected to any part of the Internet. If they can validly sign that transaction and it meets the consensus rules on the network, it does not matter if they created the transaction by hand.

The truest check of your transaction being accepted is other machines having accepted. Not your machine, the other machines on the network. It is not running a node that is important, it is ensuring that our transaction reaches a node. This requires highly interconnected mining systems that link to exchanges and online wallets. There are zero benefits in running your own wallet if you don’t mine.

The Economics

The most overlooked aspect of Bitcoin is the use of economic incentives. Many in the industry consider this the weakest part of the system, the reality is this is the true strength. Attackers are more rational than many others [1, 2]. As much as we like to deny this fact, cyber criminals and other economic criminals are generally more rational than the average person and exhibit a higher risk tolerance than a more law-abiding citizen. In [1], Wright expressed the economic truth;

  1. More security costs = higher costs to the consumer.
  2. Higher expected loss from risk = higher costs to the consumer.

It is scary that not enough people understand this. The notion that “Criminal groups act as profit seeking enterprises, and the ability to shift the economic returns away from this activity results in a lower amount of crime” [2] this is simple to understand when you think about it even though it seems counterintuitive at first.

Bitcoin works in the same manner. The more we delve into the system and truly understand it, the more we can start to see that this is a system created through economic incentives. It does not use the most modern cryptography, it doesn’t use the coolest security technologies, what it does is truly remarkable: It creates economic incentives.

These incentives are aligned to the securing of the network [5]. The larger the network grows, the more secure it becomes. This begs the question, why are people seeking to limit its growth. It is the on chain growth that makes bitcoin secure. It is the distributed consensus mechanism and the shared nature of the ledger, so the question is why are people trying to remove this key aspect of the protocol. Why are they trying to move to of chain solutions that mirror the traditional security models and require secure nodes and permissioned systems?

Do they not understand the benefits of economic controls or scarcity or is there something else at play here?

Problems of Software

There is no way to make any computer or software completely secure. More, not less, is better. What we need is a central protocol that all agree on. From this protocol, many versions of software can divulge. If we have many developers working on new front ends, new mining systems, new exchanges and new platforms, then the chances that any one of these will be compromised in a way that impacts a large number of users will be lowered: e.g a bug may impact, say, Microsoft Windows [3], but it would be unlikely to see these impacting a Linux or Mac.

The core of bitcoin is not cryptography, that is just a tool, the core of bitcoin is economic incentives.

There are many ways of attacking the Bitcoin (or any other) network. All of these involve trade-offs and all of these trade-offs are economic in nature. The issue is not whether a computer system can be attacked but whether it can be attacked efficiently. There is no such thing as perfect security and security is always an economic trade-off [4].

Any change of a protocol has an economic impact. Leaving the block has an economic impact as it limits the size of the network. This was discussed before; the security of the network is directly related to the investment in the network and the investment in the network is related to how many people use it. Not how many people run wallets acting as non-mining nodes, but how many people invest in creating mining systems to secure those transactions that we wish to run. Right now, we are artificially capping the growth of the network and the result is that we are limiting the security of the network.

We state very clearly this: the core of Bitcoin is not cryptography, the core of Bitcoin is economic incentives.

References

[1] Wright C.S., Zia T.A. (2011) “Rationally Opting for the Insecure Alternative: Negative Externalities and the Selection of Security Controls”. In: Herrero Á., Corchado E. (eds) Computational Intelligence in Security for Information Systems. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 6694. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-21323-6_26

[2] Wright, Craig S, (2012). “Criminal Specialization as a Corollary of Rational Choice,” International Conference on Electronics, Information and Communication Engineering (EICE 2012), Garry Lee, ASME, New York, 6 pp. http://ebooks.asmedigitalcollection.asme.org/content.aspx?bookid=408&sectionid=38787998

[3] Ari Takanen, Jared D. Demott, Charles Miller (2008) “Fuzzing for Software Security Testing and Quality Assurance” Artech House information security and privacy series, IT Pro, Artech House, 2008 ISBN 1596932155, 9781596932159

[4] Andreas Gregoriades, Jae-Eun Shin, Alistair Sutcliffe (2004) “Human-Centred Requirements Engineering” In 12th IEEE International Requirements Engineering Conference, pp. 154-163, doi:10.1109/re.2004.28

What Real Leadership Looks Like

When developers build an open source community project that ends up being backed by millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars, there comes a shift in responsibility. A developer of any major crypto-currency becomes entrusted to lead the way, to improve, to enhance, and to galvanize the support of those invested.

It’s no easy feat. The level of responsibility that developers take on, and the burden they carry, can sometimes be overwhelming. It is therefore not a job for the faint of heart, but let me also stress it is certainly not a job for those who simply lack good leadership skills.

Ethereum’s market share recently passed 50% of Bitcoin’s total and it should be noted that Ethereum has also recently become more profitable to mine than Bitcoin. This change in dominance, and the move in network effect, has been termed as the “flippening”.

It never needed to happen.

With solid leadership, Bitcoin could have been everything it is today and much more. To be a part of a lead development team for a multi-billion dollar community project means that you need to have skills that extend far beyond mere coding. This means listening and taking feedback from users, businesses, investors, economists, and the greater eco-system. Forging relationships can build integrity. Perhaps one of the most important attributes, however, is trust. Without establishing trust, like in any structure requiring some leadership, there is no direction, and hence no progress.

So we find ourselves in limbo on the Bitcoin front. We are eternally trapped at an artificial 1MB blocksize, which doesn’t appear set to increase any time soon. Segwit and Lightning Networks seem even further away. No matter the direction of Bitcoin, one thing for certain is that Core have failed to unite and galvanize the community.

Although Bitcoin is heavily losing its marketshare, the true extent of the fallout has yet to be realized. And it won’t be pretty.

Ironically, Ethereum’s leadership has had its share of challenges. It wasn’t too long ago when “The DAO” smart contract was deployed and then revoked with all funds restored to investors through a hardfork deployed by the Ethereum Foundation. The ‘refund’ hardfork was initiated after it was discovered an ‘attacker’ started siphoning investor’s money after identifying a loophole in the programming of the contract. The “Code is Law” catchphrase was now suddenly in question. Ethereum was no longer immutable it seemed, and “Ethereum Classic” was suddenly born from a minority forked chain. While it was a community decision to enact the hardfork, questions remain over the approach, and the default option on the client which was preselected to hardfork.

So what does real leadership look like?

That answer landed on my lap a week ago, when Monero developer Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni, posted a full disclosure of a major bug discovered in Monero’s software. I wasn’t so much impressed with the disclosure of this bug, but moreso, as to how it was handled, and particularly with the efforts and communications undertaken with the wider crypto community.

It was in February earlier this year in fact that a member of Monero Research Lab discovered an exploit which affects all CryptoNote-based currencies which allows for the creation of an unlimited number of coins in a way that is undetectable to an observer. The Monero team immediately took the appropriate steps and scanned the blockchain to see if it was compromised – thankfully it wasn’t. A vulnerability quickly then patched along with a host of other changes which did well to conceal its criticality. The patch was rushed out under the guise of preventing a DoS attack (in order to urge miners and exchanges to upgrade). Once Monero’s network was updated, Monero’s dev team took charge of the issue and notified dev teams of all affected coins – that is, all cryptos based on the cryptonote protocol. These dev teams were given a one month timeline to upgrade their software, and last week Monero devs disclosed all the details of these events.

What Real Leadership Looks Like
Figure 1 – The Fix

This was a large vulnerability which could have compromised the Monero blockchain, as well as the integrity of every other Cryptonote coin out there – which no doubt would have sent investors panicking. Monero Core’s measured response, however, kept the entire drama under cover, did not raise suspicion, ensured no damage was done, and furthermore went on to make sure that other competing coins were also not affected. At the end of it all, a full disclosure was made by Riccardo Spagni on Monero’s official blog.

It is this sort of behavior which yields trust, and confidence. And as I mentioned “trust” is pivotal in leadership.

There need to be no “secret meetings”, back-door deals, uncompromising positions on roadmaps, and scalability efforts.

Sadly, with the current Bitcoin Core dev team, cries for change, or compromise in scaling, fall on deaf ears. Recently CEO of BitPay Stephen Pair tweeted “a typical #bitcoin transaction costs $1.80 now, >200k unconfirmed transactions, time for a hard fork to larger blocks … 8mb please”.

In today’s modern age, leaders cannot be dictators. Leaders need to listen, sometimes compromise, adapt to changing conditions, and ultimately unite a community. Monero dev’s approach is truly an example to the greater crypto-community. One that we hope can be learnt from.

Eli Afram M.IT
Developer/Analyst
@justicemate

What Real Leadership Looks Like

When developers build an open source community project that ends up being backed by millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars, there comes a shift in responsibility. A developer of any major crypto-currency becomes entrusted to lead the way, to improve, to enhance, and to galvanize the support of those invested.

It’s no easy feat. The level of responsibility that developers take on, and the burden they carry, can sometimes be overwhelming. It is therefore not a job for the faint of heart, but let me also stress it is certainly not a job for those who simply lack good leadership skills.

Ethereum’s market share recently passed 50% of Bitcoin’s total and it should be noted that Ethereum has also recently become more profitable to mine than Bitcoin. This change in dominance, and the move in network effect, has been termed as the “flippening”.

It never needed to happen.

With solid leadership, Bitcoin could have been everything it is today and much more. To be a part of a lead development team for a multi-billion dollar community project means that you need to have skills that extend far beyond mere coding. This means listening and taking feedback from users, businesses, investors, economists, and the greater eco-system. Forging relationships can build integrity. Perhaps one of the most important attributes, however, is trust. Without establishing trust, like in any structure requiring some leadership, there is no direction, and hence no progress.

So we find ourselves in limbo on the Bitcoin front. We are eternally trapped at an artificial 1MB blocksize, which doesn’t appear set to increase any time soon. Segwit and Lightning Networks seem even further away. No matter the direction of Bitcoin, one thing for certain is that Core have failed to unite and galvanize the community.

Although Bitcoin is heavily losing its marketshare, the true extent of the fallout has yet to be realized. And it won’t be pretty.

Ironically, Ethereum’s leadership has had its share of challenges. It wasn’t too long ago when “The DAO” smart contract was deployed and then revoked with all funds restored to investors through a hardfork deployed by the Ethereum Foundation. The ‘refund’ hardfork was initiated after it was discovered an ‘attacker’ started siphoning investor’s money after identifying a loophole in the programming of the contract. The “Code is Law” catchphrase was now suddenly in question. Ethereum was no longer immutable it seemed, and “Ethereum Classic” was suddenly born from a minority forked chain. While it was a community decision to enact the hardfork, questions remain over the approach, and the default option on the client which was preselected to hardfork.

So what does real leadership look like?

That answer landed on my lap a week ago, when Monero developer Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni, posted a full disclosure of a major bug discovered in Monero’s software. I wasn’t so much impressed with the disclosure of this bug, but moreso, as to how it was handled, and particularly with the efforts and communications undertaken with the wider crypto community.

It was in February earlier this year in fact that a member of Monero Research Lab discovered an exploit which affects all CryptoNote-based currencies which allows for the creation of an unlimited number of coins in a way that is undetectable to an observer. The Monero team immediately took the appropriate steps and scanned the blockchain to see if it was compromised – thankfully it wasn’t. A vulnerability quickly then patched along with a host of other changes which did well to conceal its criticality. The patch was rushed out under the guise of preventing a DoS attack (in order to urge miners and exchanges to upgrade). Once Monero’s network was updated, Monero’s dev team took charge of the issue and notified dev teams of all affected coins – that is, all cryptos based on the cryptonote protocol. These dev teams were given a one month timeline to upgrade their software, and last week Monero devs disclosed all the details of these events.

What Real Leadership Looks Like
Figure 1 – The Fix

This was a large vulnerability which could have compromised the Monero blockchain, as well as the integrity of every other Cryptonote coin out there – which no doubt would have sent investors panicking. Monero Core’s measured response, however, kept the entire drama under cover, did not raise suspicion, ensured no damage was done, and furthermore went on to make sure that other competing coins were also not affected. At the end of it all, a full disclosure was made by Riccardo Spagni on Monero’s official blog.

It is this sort of behavior which yields trust, and confidence. And as I mentioned “trust” is pivotal in leadership.

There need to be no “secret meetings”, back-door deals, uncompromising positions on roadmaps, and scalability efforts.

Sadly, with the current Bitcoin Core dev team, cries for change, or compromise in scaling, fall on deaf ears. Recently CEO of BitPay Stephen Pair tweeted “a typical #bitcoin transaction costs $1.80 now, >200k unconfirmed transactions, time for a hard fork to larger blocks … 8mb please”.

In today’s modern age, leaders cannot be dictators. Leaders need to listen, sometimes compromise, adapt to changing conditions, and ultimately unite a community. Monero dev’s approach is truly an example to the greater crypto-community. One that we hope can be learnt from.

Eli Afram M.IT
Developer/Analyst
@justicemate

Deloitte Signals Intent By Joining Hyperledger and Ethereum Alliance

‘Big Four’ professional services firm Deloitte has today announced it has joined two blockchain development projects, as it becomes the latest global company to recognize the benefits of the technology.

The company will be joining Hyperledger, a consortium of over 100 companies working to develop an open-source framework for blockchain standards and compatibility, as well as becoming a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which was founded earlier this year to help advocate commercial developments on the technology.

Following an announcement from the firm at this year’s Consensus Conference, the partnerships see Deloitte formalizing what were already existing relationships with both of these projects.

In joining these groups, Deloitte has joined the likes of IBM, Microsoft, American Express, Daimler, BBVA, UBS, Intel, JP Morgan and countless others across various industries and sectors, all working collaboratively to develop the promising technology.

Analysts expect blockchain development to be hugely significant in the world of commerce, improving efficiencies and removing cost barriers in a number of different industries, with applications from finance to farming.

Prior to the announcement, Deloitte had already demonstrated its capabilities with the technology, assisting several clients to develop proofs-of-concept that could clear the path for viable commercial solutions in future.

According to principal Eric Piscini, the decision from Deloitte came from a drive to help form and shape the industry, rather than as a response to client-side pressures.

“We’ve done projects on Hyperledger and ethereum for a long time. What’s new to us is we want to be part of those organizations and structure. We want to drive some of the activities in the consortium…Our client is not looking for Hyperledger or ethereum. They’re looking for something that’s working.”

The move will be welcomed by existing members of the Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance projects respectively, providing additional know-how and resources in helping shape the future direction of the technology.

It comes at a time of growing optimism around these core technologies, as companies, governments and central banks worldwide begin to examine the implications of the blockchain in more depth.

Deloitte Signals Intent By Joining Hyperledger and Ethereum Alliance

‘Big Four’ professional services firm Deloitte has today announced it has joined two blockchain development projects, as it becomes the latest global company to recognize the benefits of the technology.

The company will be joining Hyperledger, a consortium of over 100 companies working to develop an open-source framework for blockchain standards and compatibility, as well as becoming a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which was founded earlier this year to help advocate commercial developments on the technology.

Following an announcement from the firm at this year’s Consensus Conference, the partnerships see Deloitte formalizing what were already existing relationships with both of these projects.

In joining these groups, Deloitte has joined the likes of IBM, Microsoft, American Express, Daimler, BBVA, UBS, Intel, JP Morgan and countless others across various industries and sectors, all working collaboratively to develop the promising technology.

Analysts expect blockchain development to be hugely significant in the world of commerce, improving efficiencies and removing cost barriers in a number of different industries, with applications from finance to farming.

Prior to the announcement, Deloitte had already demonstrated its capabilities with the technology, assisting several clients to develop proofs-of-concept that could clear the path for viable commercial solutions in future.

According to principal Eric Piscini, the decision from Deloitte came from a drive to help form and shape the industry, rather than as a response to client-side pressures.

“We’ve done projects on Hyperledger and ethereum for a long time. What’s new to us is we want to be part of those organizations and structure. We want to drive some of the activities in the consortium…Our client is not looking for Hyperledger or ethereum. They’re looking for something that’s working.”

The move will be welcomed by existing members of the Hyperledger and Enterprise Ethereum Alliance projects respectively, providing additional know-how and resources in helping shape the future direction of the technology.

It comes at a time of growing optimism around these core technologies, as companies, governments and central banks worldwide begin to examine the implications of the blockchain in more depth.

Market Share, Not Market Share

While we don’t want to come over all defensive, if only because that always looks weak, we do have a small eye roll when we read headlines lines like Bitcoin is worth more than ever, but it’s losing clout because is not really the case.

The point being made is, obviously, simply this: “Where it regularly dominated the market with about an 80 percent share, it’s down to just 47 percent in a matter of months.” But that misses the point.

Take, for instance, the UK gambling market. The bookmakers are often at pains to highlight that horseracing is losing its (percentage) grip on the market as football, golf, tennis etc etc have become popular sports for betting on. But, of course, this doesn’t mean horseracing turnover is going down, quite the opposite, in fact. It just means its (percentage) market share is going down and that is, in turn, only because, other sports weren’t available to bet on 30-40 years ago.

Bitcoin is the same, indeed you could argue, that its success is the reason why these copycat currencies have developed. Inevitably, (percentage) market share has fallen because many of the players now in the market weren’t there before. What it doesn’t mean is Bitcoin is ‘losing its clout.’

With every big player there are others who want to take a piece of the pie. McDonald’s v Burger King, Coca-Cola vs Pepsi (you get the picture). In each situation, the originator will lose (percentage) market share but not actual turnover, again, quite the opposite.

Market Share, Not Market Share

While we don’t want to come over all defensive, if only because that always looks weak, we do have a small eye roll when we read headlines lines like Bitcoin is worth more than ever, but it’s losing clout because is not really the case.

The point being made is, obviously, simply this: “Where it regularly dominated the market with about an 80 percent share, it’s down to just 47 percent in a matter of months.” But that misses the point.

Take, for instance, the UK gambling market. The bookmakers are often at pains to highlight that horseracing is losing its (percentage) grip on the market as football, golf, tennis etc etc have become popular sports for betting on. But, of course, this doesn’t mean horseracing turnover is going down, quite the opposite, in fact. It just means its (percentage) market share is going down and that is, in turn, only because, other sports weren’t available to bet on 30-40 years ago.

Bitcoin is the same, indeed you could argue, that its success is the reason why these copycat currencies have developed. Inevitably, (percentage) market share has fallen because many of the players now in the market weren’t there before. What it doesn’t mean is Bitcoin is ‘losing its clout.’

With every big player there are others who want to take a piece of the pie. McDonald’s v Burger King, Coca-Cola vs Pepsi (you get the picture). In each situation, the originator will lose (percentage) market share but not actual turnover, again, quite the opposite.

Bitcoin Not A Cause For Concern, Says US National Security

A National Security think tank in the US has said bitcoin needs to be understood, rather than feared, following growing calls for legislative action to tackle digital currencies being used by terrorists and international criminals.

The Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance has been tasked with researching how the currencies can be used to avoid sanctions, and whether there are blockchain-based solutions that could help resolve these issues.

Some have even controversially called for an outright ban on bitcoin, in an attempt to prevent these currencies being used in illegitimate activity worldwide.

While the research remains in its early phases, the project, led by former CIA analyst Yaya J Fanusie, is already suggesting that a ban is unnecessary, instead pointing to a lack of understanding of the technology among lawmakers.

Fanusie said a greater understanding of the risks and benefits of the technology would be a step in the right direction.

“What is needed is a more informed discussion about what the implications may be, because there’s so much defensiveness – there’s defensiveness on both sides, and I think we should come a little bit to the center, point out potential threats, but also point out benefits it has.”

Working alongside the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the project advises the Treasury as well as organisations around the world to diminish the risks of terrorism through financial systems.

Fanusie was also keen to point out that the recent outbreak of ransomware attacks worldwide was less a sign of problems with bitcoin, than an example of the currency’s potential.

“The lesson here is that those concerned about illicit finance need to be familiar with these cryptocurrencies, not to fear this technology, but to work in what is an increasingly digital and cyber world.”

The news comes on the day Congress is set to mark-up a new bill aiming to delve further into blockchain and altcoin markets, which could eventually lead to legislation designed to prevent bitcoin in particular being used in similar incidents in future.

As legislators and regulators worldwide make concerted efforts to come to grips with the technology, it remains to be seen how this will translate into policy response.

Bitcoin Not A Cause For Concern, Says US National Security

A National Security think tank in the US has said bitcoin needs to be understood, rather than feared, following growing calls for legislative action to tackle digital currencies being used by terrorists and international criminals.

The Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance has been tasked with researching how the currencies can be used to avoid sanctions, and whether there are blockchain-based solutions that could help resolve these issues.

Some have even controversially called for an outright ban on bitcoin, in an attempt to prevent these currencies being used in illegitimate activity worldwide.

While the research remains in its early phases, the project, led by former CIA analyst Yaya J Fanusie, is already suggesting that a ban is unnecessary, instead pointing to a lack of understanding of the technology among lawmakers.

Fanusie said a greater understanding of the risks and benefits of the technology would be a step in the right direction.

“What is needed is a more informed discussion about what the implications may be, because there’s so much defensiveness – there’s defensiveness on both sides, and I think we should come a little bit to the center, point out potential threats, but also point out benefits it has.”

Working alongside the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the project advises the Treasury as well as organisations around the world to diminish the risks of terrorism through financial systems.

Fanusie was also keen to point out that the recent outbreak of ransomware attacks worldwide was less a sign of problems with bitcoin, than an example of the currency’s potential.

“The lesson here is that those concerned about illicit finance need to be familiar with these cryptocurrencies, not to fear this technology, but to work in what is an increasingly digital and cyber world.”

The news comes on the day Congress is set to mark-up a new bill aiming to delve further into blockchain and altcoin markets, which could eventually lead to legislation designed to prevent bitcoin in particular being used in similar incidents in future.

As legislators and regulators worldwide make concerted efforts to come to grips with the technology, it remains to be seen how this will translate into policy response.

Bitcoin Tops $1800 As Market Continues To Rise

The price of bitcoin has risen beyond $1800 for the first time, as the currency continues to push new boundaries.

The archetypal blockchain-based cryptocurrency, bitcoin has enjoyed strong performance over the last couple of weeks, with investors buying up the market beyond the $1700 and now $1800 price barriers for the first time.

Following last week’s growth to $1700, some analysts had suggested the currency was reaching unsustainably high levels. Their concerns appeared to be validated with a correction earlier in the week, which saw the market fall back to levels of around $1650 per bitcoin

But having gained over $100 in the day’s trading at the time of writing, it seems like investor appetite for the currency remains strong, and could continue to influence the market in the weeks and months ahead.

It comes at a good time for blockchain protocols in general, with similarly strong trading across other currencies including the Ripple XRP and the ethereal ether – both up 6,000% and 1,000% on the year respectively.

As the world’s best performing currency over the last two years, bitcoin in particular has always attracted the bulk of speculation on cryptocurrencies.

With the most established infrastructure surrounding bitcoin, it remains the natural choice for most investors looking to capitalise on the growth of the altcoin sector.

But now, with rival currencies developing their own unique value propositions, and an increasing number of blockchain-based currencies rolling out their system protocols, it may not be long before others come to rival bitcoin’s current levels of success.

Currency broker Anycoin Direct said that the current buying frenzy was affecting some other altcoin markets even more heavily than bitcoin, albeit from a lower base.

According to co-founder Bram Ceelen, investors were ‘pretty much buying everything’, a statement that would seem to be reflective of current buyer optimism in altcoin markets.

While the news will no doubt be warmly received by bitcoin speculators, some remain concerned that a further, more significant correction could lie in wait, particularly if prices continue to rise at this rate.

It remains to be seen whether the current growth is sustainable for the currency long term.