Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum has No Non-L2 Path for Scalability in Medium Term with ETH 2.0 Years Away

“Base-layer scalability for applications is only coming as the last major phase of eth2, which is still years away,” wrote Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in the Ethereum roadmap update.

But Buterin doesn’t like that crypto media is putting it out there. Buterin’s saying that the media “selectively sound-bites” him and he’s just going to ignore it all has been in response to a crypto community member‘s remarks on the co-founder “comments not helping ETH.”

On ”A rollup-centric ethereum roadmap,” Buterin proposed a full focus on the second layer method because the base layer is nowhere near becoming a reality yet.

Buterin may not like what the media is publishing, but it has been just his words. About a year back, he had also talked about scalability being a “big bottleneck” for Ethereum blockchain, which is “almost full” and “keeping people from joining.”

“No Choice”

Over the past few months, the DeFi mania took over the Ethereum network sending the fees to an all-time high, breaking new records every month, pushing the small players out, and making it a big players game.

“The L1 is nearly unusable for many classes of applications, and there’s no non-L2 path that can get us to scalability in the short-to-medium term,” are exactly Buterin’s words this time.

He further talked about how the high fees on prediction platform Augur made it “very much “for the niche people and not for the world.”’

“If you are not convinced to go “all the way” on the “phase 1.5 and done” direction, there is a natural compromise path to take,” — which is to have a small number of execution shards and more data shards.

He has also been a staunch supporter of Layer 2 solutions, which he suggests building into the wallets like Metamask or Status. But more work needs to be done on cross-L2 transfers.

With most of the applications on layer 1, they would need to be migrated to layer 2 solutions. Some of the popular DeFi projects like Compound, Sunyetix, and Uniswap have already announced support for one such solution, Ethereum Optimism, which recently launched the first stage of their testnet.

Though there is “no choice” but to go with Layer 2 solutions, that will still take time.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Exchange Raises $52 Million in Series A Round to Offer Access to Stock Markets

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitpanda has raised $52 million in its first major funding round, Series A led by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures. Other backers included Austrian Speedinvest and other unmanned investors.

As part of the investment, Valar Ventures’ founding partner Andrew McCormack will also join the board of the centralized exchange.

Founded in 2014, the Vienna-based company boasts of 1.3 million users and 300 employees. It is focused on trading digital assets along with tokenizing precious metals. This year, the exchange expanded to France, Spain, and Turkey and further plans to enter other European markets as well.

The new funding round will be used for this expansion to offer users access to stock markets next year and recruit 70 new employees.

With this move, the digital investment platform is expanding into real-world assets joining the likes of eToro, Robinhood, and Revolut, which came from the traditional assets’ world and now entering the world of crypto assets.

Interestingly, 2020 has been a good year for trading assets, with retail investors pouring money into apps like Robinhood thanks to the government stimulus program to counter pandemic.

“The Robinhood movement in the U.S. helps a lot, but we want to be more customer-friendly,” said Eric Demuth, co-founder, and co-chief executive officer of Bitpanda.

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Author: AnTy

Parity Releases Substrate 2.0 to Build Custom, Scalable Blockchains Interoperable with Polkadot

Substrate has achieved a major milestone; the blockchain framework has released version 2.0, which is also compatible with Polkadot, which, along with Kusama, is already running the latest version.

Polkadot (DOT), built on Substrate, is currently the 6th largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $3.74 billion, currently trading at $4.40.

Polkadot blockchain developer, Parity Technologies announced the launch of the second version of its blockchain building kit on Wednesday. This blockchain framework basically allows you to create and customize the blockchain “precisely” for your application or business. The new release provides the developers with additional tools to do just that.

With an aim to develop a Web 3.0, Substrate acts as a tooling kit for developers making their own blockchains that are interoperable with Ethereum’s co-founder Gavin Woods’ Polkadot.

The new release comes with 70 composable “modules” called “pallets” to play with various design ideas. These pallets, which can be developed using FRAME, help add basic and extended functionality.

“Substrate 2.0 comes with many new pallets that will help you quickly and easily build and deploy your blockchain runtime with the right properties for you and your network.”

Version 2.0 also includes modules for getting off-chain data on the blockchain. This new feature called off-chain workers communicates with the main chain to keep all network participants up to date and remove the massive data sets and intensive processes. Parity states,

“Substrate 2.0 comes with a suite of pallets to make data integration much more efficient for blockchains that depend on existing and/or real-world data.”

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Author: AnTy

Switzerland Passes Blockchain Legislation Unanimously; Will Take Effect Early 2021

  • Switzerland has finally approved legislation for blockchain and digital assets, making it one of the major financial hubs to have a formal regulatory reference point for the upcoming crypto market.
  • The country’s parliamentarians voted unanimously for the ‘Blockchain Act’ that had been passed earlier in summer.

According to a report by the international unit of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SWI, this legislation on DLT’s and blockchain is likely to come into effect at the beginning of 2021. The milestone will open up doors for Swiss crypto-savvy investors to participate in the latest tech, including decentralized finance (DeFi); companies will also be able to tokenize shares within the law amongst other assets.

These new blockchain-oriented laws for Swiss crypto companies define several events and the probable course to follow, should such situations arise. Given the new dynamics underpinning crypto ecosystems, some underlying laws on bankruptcy and security trading have been amended to accommodate the digital assets.

The legislation goes to the extent of providing clarity on trading security tokens as well as due diligence procedures by service providers. The clarifying is an effort to curb money laundering and terror financing activities that appear to be thriving in crypto networks. Speaking to Decrypt, Urs Bolt, a leading Swiss FinTech influencer, noted that the new laws would be a big boost for the country’s burgeoning crypto space. He commented,

“Overall, it will create one of the most favorable regulatory environments in the world. It will allow the financial center to lead in the digital asset space and hopefully attract new business into CryptoValley.”

Interestingly, this latest legal advancement comes just after Switzerland’s Canton of Zug decided to accept tax payments in crypto. The town, which has earned a nickname ‘Crypto Valley’ due to the high blockchain and crypto activity, said that residents can now pay their taxes in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) via QR codes; the initiative will roll out in Q1, 2021.

It is quite noteworthy that Switzerland joins its neighbors Malta and Liechtenstein, which had already enacted comprehensive legislation for blockchain-related tech. However, the country’s position on a CBDC remains unclear despite global hype and China’s debut of its digital yuan.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Coinbase and Circle Launch Major Upgrade in USDC 2.0; Stablecoin Sees ‘Unprecedented Adoption’

Coinbase and Circle, the members of the Centre Consortium, has announced a major upgrade to the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) protocol and smart contract.

Launched in September 2018, this regulated stablecoin saw an “unprecedented adoption” during the pandemic, surpassing $1.4 billion, up from about $450 million at the beginning of March, and recording more than $90 billion in on-chain transaction volume.

With the latest upgrade, USDC will become “significantly easier for people to use USDC in payments, commerce, and peer-to-peer transactions,” besides adding additional security to the smart contract.

More importantly, Centre says USDC 2.0 is introducing “gasless sends.” Transaction on the Ethereum network involves “gas fees” and in order to pay this, most digital wallets are required to purchase and hold a balance of Ether (ETH).

Now, with the latest upgrade, the idea is to remove the barrier to “mainstream adoption and broad usage of digital dollar stablecoins for internet payments.”

The official announcement states USDC 2.0 enables users to delegate the payment of the gas fees to another address, giving the developers the option to either pay the fee on behalf of the customer or deduct the fees in USDC.

As such, customers will be able to send and receive USDC payments on a peer-to-peer basis using only USDC.

“These simplified and improved user experience flows will accelerate the virality of making and receiving payments using USDC on the internet.”

Another thing USDC 2.0 introduces is a new set of on-chain multiple signature contracts which means administrative operations can be managed on-chain, in a result, improving the “security, auditability and in turn resilience.”

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Author: AnTy

Ethereum Classic Labs Proposes New Security Plan To Prevent Future 51% Attacks

  • After suffering two major 51% attacks, Ethereum Classic (ETC) developers released a robust “Security Plan” to prevent future attacks.
  • The security plan will take three to six months to implement fully, the statement reads.
  • The plan short term changes, including tactics such as defensive mining and increased network monitoring
  • Plan also outlines long term changes, including changing the consensus algorithm and introduction of a treasury system.

In a published document on August 19, the ETC accelerator, Ethereum Classic Labs, released proposed solutions to further secure the network after two successive 51% attacks earlier in the month. The proposed plan, as mentioned before, will roll out in the next three to six months, with some of the security measures coming immediately.

Immediate changes to guard 51% attacks

The first immediate change to guard against these attacks is the implementation of ‘defensive mining.’ This will work through miners and mining pools cooperation to prevent attacks by raising the hash rate and maintain a consistent mining hash rate making it harder to pull off 51% attacks.

An enhanced monitoring service across the network will also harmonize the mining of ETC to prevent spikes in hash rate and keep in check prices across the mining pools. Monitoring the blockchain will further assist in quick identification of anomalies on the network. Notwithstanding, ETC Labs will closely work with exchanges in whitelisting services and work on implementing longer and safer confirmation times.

The ETC Core development team is also advocating for the immediate implementation of the ‘Permapoint’ finality arbitration system aiming “to inhibit chain reorganizations while maintaining consensus among nodes aggressively.”

The long term strategy

The long term security plan will be more community-driven as it will impact the core of the blockchain, the statement reads.

First option circles around increasing the resistance to 51% attacks with the Pirl Community proposing an introduction of ‘penalty blocks’ through ECIP 1092. This states that instead of the standard auto synchronizing of any offline pre-mined chain branch, “the new protocol should require peer proposing the longer and heavier chain to mine the penalty blocks.” This makes a 51% attack through chain reorganization more expensive and time-consuming. This could take up to 3 months to implement.

Secondly, a total change of current proof-of-work (PoW) system to either Keccak-256 or RandomX is proposed. Currently, ETC uses the same mining algorithm as Ethereum – Ethash – and a move to a new algorithm could help the blockchain “step out of the shade of the Ethereum network.” This is estimated to take up to 6 months to implement if the testnet works.

Also Read: OKEx Considers Delisting ETC After $5.6M Loss Due to a 51% Attack

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Author: Lujan Odera

Top Bitcoin Mining Firms Bitmain, Ebang, and Canaan Shift Focus to the Development of AI Chips

  • Major Bitcoin mining firms are focusing on the development of high-powered AI equipment to stay ahead of the curve and bring in new revenue streams.
  • This follows the high volatility experienced in mining revenues and costs across the first half of 2020, a report by TokenInsight Analysis states.

The Bitcoin mining industry is facing an overhaul in mining equipment production as three of the top mining pools – Bitmain, Ebang, and Canaan – all aim at introducing AI chips in the future. Since the launch of Bitcoin, miners have pocketed over $14 billion in rewards, but this revenue is slowly diminishing as new, higher-powered mining rigs outperform older machines.

Bitcoin mining firms are aiming to further the technological progress in chip research and development by introducing AI or Artificial Intelligence.

Across the first half of 2020, newer and more powerful machines, including Bitmain’s S19 and S19 Pro, WhatsMiner M30 series, and Canaan’s A1146 Pro and A1166 Pro have launched, improving the power consumption and optimization to earn sufficient rewards. According to the report, older machines are seeing a rise in costs of mining BTC since the halving in May hence lowering their profitability as and “putting their revenue at stake.”

In a bid to beat the ever-advancing mining rigs, Samsung and Taiwan’s Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) are testing 3nm chips with a mass production plan in 2022. However, these chips are already reaching the physical limits, and the latter plans to launch 2nm chips in 2024.

Bitmain, Ebang, and Canaan are, however, focusing on the next level – AI-powered chips. According to the report, AI chips offer a broader and faster prospect than its predecessors, ensuring “a high degree of overlap with mining machine chips in terms of design and manufacturing.” Additionally, these chips will offer high calculation speeds, in the millions per second, and “can also be quickly transplanted to the field of AI chips.”

As such, BTC mining firms will be fighting to lead the manufacturing of these AI chips to provide mining manufacturers with a new revenue stream as we head into the next halving.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Chiliz Onboards Spanish eSports Franchise Team Heretics; Will Launch Their Own Fan Token

Chiliz has added another major esports team to its roster in the form of a famous Spanish esports team called Team Heretic. Chiliz’s Socios.com, a fan token platform, revealed the latest addition to its platform through its official twitter handle on August 18. The Spanish esports team, in association with the fan token platform, would create and distribute fan tokens $TH for €2 apiece during the initial offering period.

Chiliz has an ambitious plan of adding 50+ brands to its socios.com platform, and the addition of Team Heretic comes months after back-to-back Dota 2 champions OG joined the platform back in March. The first sale of the fan token would begin on March 25.

The fan token, $TH, is built on top of Ethereum and allows the fans to participate in official polls on the Socios.com platform. The first event that the $TH holders can vote on would be to decide which Fortnite player would lead the team in a deathmatch.

And later, the team would also pick six $TH holders to join them in the match. Apart from these utilities, the token holders in the future would also get a say in the decision-making process. Pablo Canosa, Team Heretics Commercial Director, commented on their recent association with the Socios.com and said:

“It’s essential to us that our fans are involved as much as possible with the organization. Now—thanks to Socios.com—our fans can have a real voice and the opportunity to vote in important team matters. Not only this, but fans can also look forward to exclusive rewards and experiences too,”

$TH Token Distribution

The beginning phase of the token sale would see a distribution of 125,000 of the $TH Fan Tokens, where 90,000 of the 150,000 would be sold on Socios.com, and the remaining 35,000 would be sold on Chiliz.net where each individual could buy a maximum of 50 $TH tokens. The next sale and price of the token would be determined by the supply-demand and the mining of 5 million tokens.

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Author: James W

Liechtenstein’s Regulator Declines Binance Applications As Major Shareholder In Bank

  • Liechtenstein FMA denies the Binance application as a major shareholder in Union Bank AG.
  • Binance CEO, CZ, also locked out from a seat on the Board of Directors.
  • The distressed bank now looks at full liquidation.

Reports from a Swiss news outlet, Inside Paradeplatz, stated that the Liechtenstein Financial Market Authority, FMA, had rejected the Binance exchange application to take over the reigns at Union Bank as a major shareholder. The report further states, Binance CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao application to sit at the bank’s Board of Directors was also swiftly rejected in a ruling released on July 10th.

However, the world’s largest crypto exchange came out strongly at the start of the week to quash those claims stating they’ve never made an application to the FMA. In a Telegram message first reported by CoinDesk, a spokesperson from the firm said,

“Binance did not try to invest, and did not try to put CZ on the board.”

A Distressed Bank

Union Bank declared bankruptcy after a long battle with the authorities and multiple attempts to save the bank were fruitless. Notwithstanding, two of the banks’ early founders, Ukrainian-runaway investor, Konstantyn Zhevago, and another unidentified Iranian shareholder have been on the Interpol most wanted criminals list since the end of 2019 due to money laundering charges.

At the end of 2019, one of the insiders reportedly told Union Bank AG’s shareholders Binance was at the cusp of acquiring a major stake in the bank to save it from crumbling. The reports stated Binance had to pay about 15 million CHF (~$15.7 million) as well as file its approval to become a shareholder with the FMA. The Swiss news outlet reports further claims CZ was ready to convert his crypto to raise the amount needed through a newly created CL1 Foundation.

Binance denied these allegations earlier when the rumors first came about.

The last Opportunity for Union Bank, Gone…

This represents the last opportunity for the bank to find new investors to save it from collapse as the FMA also denied any expert advice on Binance taking over the distressed bank.

The Vaduz-based bank held a shareholders meeting on Aug 7th to discuss the future of the bank following Binance’s and CZ’s crushed advances. In a statement by the bank, the shareholders decided to liquidate the bank as they could not meet the capital adequacy requirements of the European Capital Adequacy Ordinance (CRR) implemented on 1 January 2020.

While not mentioning any specific investor, the bank stated the Board of Director’s search for acceptable investors was cut short by FMA rejections, hence the reason for non-attainment of the CRR. The statement reads,

“The reason for the non-attainment of the capital adequacy requirements was that no shareholder acceptable to the FMA could be found who would have contributed the necessary funds.”

No further comments were provided by FMA and the Union Bank AG. Customers’ deposits remain secure.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Mastercard Approves Wirex to Directly Issue Crypto Payment Cards To Its Customers

  • One of the world’s major payments processors, Mastercard, has announced it has approved Wirex to become its maiden crypto firm to provide payment cards to its clients directly.
  • In efforts to expand its crypto program, Mastercard is now encouraging the crypto companies to apply to become its partners.

On Monday, July 20, Mastercard announced that it was seeking to make it easy for crypto card issuers to become its partners through the firm’s Accelerate program. Now, it will take just a few weeks before applicants can be approved as partners, the firm stated.

The Accelerate programs offer partners the requisite support for their market entry, continued development as well as international expansion. The approved partners will be helped to integrate into Mastercard’s technology easily and will be allowed to benefit from the firm’s market research and cybersecurity expertise.

Although the firm is focusing on making it easier for partners to access the Accelerate program, firms wishing to be onboarded must adhere to the company’s “core principles.”

The core principles comprise of ensuring the security and privacy of the users, adherence to the requisite laws and regulations like AML rules as well as coming up with a level playing field for all the stakeholders involved like merchants, financial institutions as well as mobile network operators.

The company’s head of digital assets and blockchain, Raj Dhamodharan, explained that the crypto market is fast maturing and the firm wants to be part of this journey. He said:

“The cryptocurrency market continues to mature, and Mastercard is driving it forward, creating safe and secure experiences for consumers and businesses in today’s digital economy.”

Wirex cardholders will have a chance to instantly convert their crypto assets into different fiat currencies that can be used at a point of sale which accepts Mastercard.

Pavel Matveev, Wirex CEO, praised the partnership, saying that it shows that cryptocurrency is slowly gaining recognition and acceptance by several global bodies as well as regulators. He added that the partnership would allow the firm to reach all corners of the world as Mastercard is a global institution.

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Author: Joseph Kibe