Bitcoin Mining: Network Congestion, Fees Uptick, China Ban, & Russian Hash Power in Play

In the world of Bitcoin mining, the hash rate of the network, the computing power used to validate BTC transactions has taken a drop following the positive difficulty adjustment of 8.8%.

The 7-day average hash rate of the network is currently at 131 EH/s, down from the all-time high of 146.8 EH/s, as per Blockchain.com.

A decline in the hash rate resulted in a sudden jump in the total number of unconfirmed transactions in the mempool to over 91.2k today only to get back down to 43k shortly.

This clogging of the network happened as the Bitcoin price broke new ATH’s yesterday. This led the crypto exchange Coinbase to experience delays in BTC withdrawals.

Before the issue was resolved less than five hours after the incident was first reported, Coinbase stated, “We are currently experiencing delays in processing BTC withdrawals due to Bitcoin network congestion.”

This, as usual, had the fees on the network jumping to $5.3, up from around $2 on Nov. 22nd. Miners are enjoying this spike in fees and price with their 7-day average revenue pushing above $18 million.

China is at it again

Amidst this came the report from China that crypto miners located in Baoshan, Yunnan have received a notice of the ban on November 30. As per the document, the power station is asked to stop supplying power to the miners.

After Sichuan and Xinjiang, Yunnan is the third-largest mining place in China.

According to Chinese publications, the attitude of Chinese local power companies continues to change towards crypto mining. It is reportedly more of a demand for economic interests than because of political pressure.

“China rolling out all the old tricks. Bull market confirmed,” commented Alistair Milne on this.

Siberia Dominates Russia’s Hash Power

According to a report by HASHR8 Inc., Russian bitcoin miners rank among the top three countries for contributing hash rate to the largest network.

It further reveals that Russia’s Siberian region accounts for the dominant portion of the country’s mining facilities. It is the “significant energy surplus from advanced hydropower infrastructure in the region” that enables the miners to “secure extremely competitive electricity rates.” The report stated,

“The estimates indicated that Russia’s share of hashrate was comparable to that within the United States. Recent estimates by industry professionals in Russian mining put Russia’s energy draw from mining at ~800 to 900 MW.”

The report mentions that the federal law passed in the country this year “clearly defines Bitcoin mining as an economic activity.”

It further noted that pooling activities must be carried out with a “foreign entity.” While the mining hardware imported is subject to a 20% tax, those imported indirectly through Kazakhstan only involve a 12% VAT charge.

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Author: AnTy

Ethereum Classic Network Announces Latest Hardfork; ‘Thanos’ Upgrade Scheduled for Nov 29

The Ethereum Classic network is set to undergo a network upgrade on November 29, according to an announcement by ETC Core developer and Ethereum Classic Labs, the teams behind ETC’s blockchain ecosystem. Dubbed ‘Thanos,’ this hardfork is an Ethereum Classic Improvement Proposal (ECIP 1099) and is part of developing a stable ecosystem that can withstand 51% attacks.

Notably, ETC’s blockchain experienced three 51% attacks over the summer, calling for the need to upgrade its technical fundamentals. Per the estimated timeframe, the Ethereum Classic community’s consensus decision to initiate the Thanos hardfork will happen in a week.

Once this milestone is achieved, Ethereum classic stakeholders are optimistic that the network will continue to ‘drive innovations that will support existing miners and attract new ones while maintaining compatibility with Ethereum (ETH).’

Prior Solutions to the ETC 51% Attacks

While the Thanos hardfork is anticipated to mark a big milestone, Ethereum Classic had already launched some initiatives to counter the 51% attacks. One of these solutions is dubbed Modified Exponential Subjective Scoring (MESS) and goes by the ticker ‘ECIP 1100’. Ideally, this innovation makes it harder for 51% attacks by increasing the costs associated with chain re-organizations.

Ethereum Classic Labs Founder and Chairman, James Wo, commented that,

“After the successful implementation of MESS, the finality algorithm that provides 51% protection, we continue to see Ethereum Classic innovate and grow in a way that distinguishes itself and increases functionality for its users.”

Mainnet Activation

ETC’s Mordor Testnet, which went last month, has already implemented the Thanos upgrade, ahead of the Mainnet activation scheduled for block 11,700,000. This will happen around November 29, although the timeframe might change as the network narrows closer to the activation block (currently at block 11,672,555). Wo was keen to note that Thanos hardfork is the next natural thing after MESS,

“The Thanos hard fork is the natural next step for the network, reducing the DAG size to help cultivate a more distributed and healthy mining ecosystem, increasing hash rate, and allowing for miners to continue mining ETC and for new miners to join the ecosystem.”

Ethereum Classic has since advised its consumers to upgrade their software nodes to fork compatible versions ‘if they have not done so already to Core-geth v1.11.16 or later.’

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Stellar Network Rolls Out Protocol 15 Upgrade, Adding Two New Payment Features; XLM Surges

Stellar blockchain network has upgraded to protocol 15, according to a blog post announcement on Nov 23. The publication was sent out by Stellar Development Foundation Ecosystem lead, Justin Rice; it highlights two new features: ‘make it easier than ever to build user-friendly apps on Stellar.’ The new functions are Sponsored Reserves and Claimable Balances.

According to the blog post, these new features are already changing Stellar’s ecosystem when it comes to hosting user-friendly DApps,

“We’ve already seen both deployed to great effect on the testnet, and we’re excited to see what you can do with them in a production environment.”

Notably, Stellar skipped protocol 14 after a critical bug was discovered in this update while in the testing phase. The previous protocol ‘13’ had been voted for by the validator nodes in June; improvements in this upgrade included fee bump transactions and advanced asset authorization control.

Stellar’s Protocol 15 Upgrade

This milestone was first announced in October, although the project had been a work in progress for several months. The upgrade went live on Nov 23 at 1600 UTC, and users have since been advised to install software that supports the latest protocol. According to the blog,

“Stellar Core will immediately throw an error if it’s not up to date, but Horizon and the Stellar SDKs may function as normal for a bit until they encounter — and are baffled by — one of the new operations.”

The value proposition in claimable balances can split payments into two by creating a new ledger entry. Stellar users can create a balance and claim a balance, which means that they can send an asset, regardless of the receiving account’s state.

On the other hand, Sponsored Reserves open up the window for funding innovations with Lumens (XLM) while maintaining control. An earlier blog post highlighted that,

“It also adds new extensions to account entries and ledger entries to record pertinent information about sponsorships.”

XLM Price Bullish

Meanwhile, the XLM price is currently bullish, having gained 72.6% within the past 24 hours. The coin is currently trading at $0.189 while its total market cap is well over $3 billion, according to metrics site Coingecko.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Matic Network Integrates Chainlink’s Decentralized Oracles And VRF for Growing DeFi Demand

  • Matic Network successfully integrates Chainlink decentralized price oracles.
  • At launch, Chainlink will offer five key price feeds, including MATIC, ETH, USDC, USDT, and DAI.
  • Chainlink’s VRF is set to launch on MATIC blockchain in the future.

Matic Network became the second native blockchain to integrate Chainlink’s decentralized price oracles after Ethereum. At launch, Chainlink will offer trusted price feeds on five cryptocurrencies against the dollar, including MATIC/USD, ETH/USD, and three stablecoins (USDT/USD, DAI/USD, and USDC/USD).

Matic Network’s integration of Chainlink oracles aims to boost decentralized finance (DeFi) projects on the blockchain. Chainlink provides DeFi developers with “access to high-quality data, decentralized oracle infrastructure, and Sybil resistant oracle nodes,” allowing them to monitor and manage the platform’s prices and node functions in real-time. Matic statement reads,

“The result is highly available, accurate, manipulation resistant, and transparent oracle networks for getting any off-chain resource necessary for success,”

Several DeFi projects built on Matic have already started to use the decentralized price feeds to execute their key functions. Chainlink’s decentralized oracles are being used on the under-collateralized lending platform, EasyFi, and predictions and betting markets, PlotX enhancing functions such as,

“checking loan collateralization, minting and swapping synthetic assets at fair market prices, and settling up the prediction markets.”

Chainlink is pushing blockchain technology into the mainstream, as explained in a previous article. The DeFi field has been one of the biggest beneficiaries, with over $4 billion in assets secured using Chainlink’s price feeds. Matic aims to witness a similar effect following the integration of Chainlink by “accelerating their go-to-market and avoid the pitfalls faced in building their own data oracles,” the statement read.

“We’re confident that Chainlink Price Feeds are an optimal solution for Matic DeFi developers needing secure, reliable, and ready-made oracle solutions that can easily be integrated into their protocols.”

Apart from the decentralized price data feeds, Matic Network will also welcome Chainlink’s Verifiable Random Function (VRF), enhancing fairness across gaming and gambling platforms. Chainlink will also be available as a general-purpose oracle solution allowing connection to an off-chain API.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Oasis Network Launches Mainnet, Enabling More DeFi Privacy & Data Tokenization

Top cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced it will list privacy-focused Oasis Network on its platform. The listing will enable Oasis Network to make it easy for under-collateralized loans in DeFi.

Binance announced this on its blog, with plans to offer Oasis Network on its platform with three pairs, which include ROSE/USDT, ROSE/BUSD, and ROSE BTC.

Yesterday evening, Oasis Network mainnet was live with over 75 independent validators already registered.

According to the Network, it is set up to provide decentralized applications, and it can provide about 1000 transactions per second.

In 2018, Oasis Network raised $45 million from top crypto ventures such as Binance Labs, A16z, Pantera, and Polychain.

The funds helped the company to grow bigger, offering more efficient services to its users. The company ensures the encryption of data and ensures the enforcement of privacy policies via smart contracts.

According to Oasis Labs, the ‘confidential compute’ functionality helps encrypt data to ensure several processes’ privacy, from genetic research to credit history check.

By default, the Oasis Network respects the user’s data preference and supports new sets of privacy-preserving applications. Users can earn rewards when they stake their data with apps that control how the services they use consume their most sensitive information.

Oasis Labs collaborated with Binance in August this year to launch CryptoSafe, a decentralized platform designed to fight crypto fraud.

Oasis platform will offer a wider capacity

The Oasis platform’s integration offers a much wider network capacity to ensure credit checks and privacy of sensitive personal or sensitive data. It also helps loan applicants to establish their creditworthiness to creditors.

Most existing DeFi loan products provide over-collateralized lending, but plans are in place to also introduce under-collateralized loans.

Based on the post, Binance decided to collaborate with Oasis Labs to offer a platform where exchanges can reduce the industry’s number of frauds. While ensuring safety, the platform will also protect each participant’s sensitive data confidentiality in a decentralized environment.

Oasis Labs has hundreds of DeFi projects

The announcement also noted that the DeFi industry leaders such as Balancer and Chainlink recently joined the Oasis Network.

Oasis Labs has also assured participants that its security architecture can improve private decentralized exchange platforms’ operations, such as automated market maker Uniswap.

Oasis Labs says several partnership projects are already ongoing on the network, including Binance-led CryptoSafe Alliance and the privacy-first genome sequencing partnership with Nebula Genomics.

Just last month, Oasis Lab revealed that Nebula Genomics would use “Parcel,” its data governance API product, to enhance the platform’s capabilities. And there are hundreds of projects the company is presently working on, according to the report.

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Author: Ali Raza

Bitcoin Cash Node (BCHN) in the Lead with 123 Blocks Following the Hard Fork Chain Split

The Bitcoin Cash Network, a hard fork of the largest network Bitcoin, has yet again split into two new Blockchains.

Out of the total hash rate, Bitcoin accounts for the majority at 98.1% while Bitcoin Cash has a share of 1.2%, and a mere 0.7% goes to mine Bitcoin SV, which was the result of the hard fork from Bitcoin Cash in Nov. 2018.

During this upgrade, Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCH ABC) received no hash power making it possible for Bitcoin Cash Node (BCHN) to become the dominant software of the Bitcoin Cash network.

BitMEX’s research arm said there are no two chains because BCHN produced three blocks after the split, and not a single one was produced by BCHA.

But Bitcoin ABC took to Twitter to share that Bitcoin Cash blockchain has split into two chains, and now there are two separate coins called BCHA and BCHN. As such, people who owned Bitcoin Cash before the split now own both of those coins.

All of this has been because Bitcoin Cash went through a hard fork on Nov. 15 at 12:00 UTC, which has been contentious.

It is a regular thing for the Bitcoin Cash network, which undergoes an upgrade every six months. If the community is unable to meet consensus, the chain splits, which is what happened when BSV came into existence and exactly what’s happening this time as well.

This time, the upgrade also included a controversial new “Coinbase Rule,” which requires 8% of mined Bitcoin Cash to be redistributed to Bitcoin ABC to fund protocol development.

This was opposed by another group who removed this “miner-tax” from their source code.

With the last common block between the BCHN & BCHA networks now mined by Antpool, the chains have split at height: 661,647.

The BCHN chain is currently 123 blocks ahead.

Bitcoin Cash Hash Rates by Network Summary
Source: Coin.Dance

Even before the fork, 80% of the miners supported it, and some major crypto exchanges also announced support for BCHN.

With hash power in BCHN’s favor, if BCH ABC doesn’t attract enough hash power, the blockchain may just disappear.

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Author: AnTy

DARMA Capital Rolls Out Liquidstake Loans As An Answer To Ethereum 2.0 ‘Lockup’

The long-awaited launch of Ethereum 2.0, a proof-of-stake (POS) network, is facing a problem; the risk of locking up the holders’ ETH for several months or staying liquid and opening up various options.

In efforts to solve this issue, DARMA Capital rolled out Liquidstake on Wednesday, enabling ETH stakers to acquire USDC stablecoin loans easily. The loans will be issued against staked assets and will allow stakers to earn rewards within the new network.

DARMA, a US licensed investment fund, started by ex ConsenSYS executives James Slazas and Andrew Keys, announced that it would devote about $50 million in value of its own ETH holdings for the new Ethereum deposit contract. The firm explained that this would enable individual and institutional investors to contribute towards Ethereum 2.0 and, at the same time, remain liquid.

Andrew Keys, DARMA Capital co-founder, explained that the initiative comes with economic incentives for those who will take part in Ethereum’s upgrade. Staking will see participants earn 15% of their assets in the course of the many months it might take to finish the network’s upgrades. He explained:

“Participants will not be able to ‘unstake’ those assets. So we’ve created LiquidStake, wherein users can earn staking rewards and have their staked ETH be pledged as collateral to receive a USDC loan. This is very different from BlockFi and Celsius and other lenders because, in those cases, you can’t stake the Ether, and you can’t earn the reward.”

Ethereum 2.0 (phase zero) is forecast to be rolled out on December 1 and will involve around 16,384 validators. The validators are expected to commit at least 32 ETH ($14,768) to a deposit contract. The network seeks to enhance Ethereum’s transactions by migrating from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. Currently, the project is 10% finished, with about 53,000 ETH now deposited.

Although the network might begin validating blocks after being launched, stakers will essentially be locking up their assets for an unforeseeable future. They will not be allowed to withdraw them or utilize them elsewhere.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Tron Network Suffers A ‘Large Scale Attack’ Now Back Online After Two Hours Of No Blocks

“TRON network gets back to normal. Enjoy sending money on TRON!” said Justin Sun, founder of Tron and CEO of BitTorrent.

The tweet has been regarding the Tron blockchain halting block generation early on November 2nd at block height 24653194. It hasn’t been until just over two hours later that it resumed.

Due to maintenance, several cryptocurrency exchanges Huobi, BitMAX, and Hufu then announced the suspension of deposit and withdrawal of Tron and TRC20 tokens, as per a Chinese media outlet.

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After the network was back online again, Sun took to Twitter to share the reason behind the downtime.

“During the 4.1 version upgrade period, the TRON Mainnet was attacked by a malicious contract on 2020.11.02 at 06:14 (HKT),” said Sun.

The attacker was able to initiate malicious transactions and cause Super representatives to suspend block production by using the authority granted to the contract developer.

“As the busiest blockchain network in the industry, the attacker hopes to get profit from the suspension of block production.”

But the Tron community acted immediately and fixed the problem. At 08:29, the main Tron network gradually resumed block production, and at 9:40, it returned to normal.

Sun further ensured that the data on the 15th largest blockchain remains intact, and the assets of the users are also “absolutely safe.”

“Withstand this large-scale attack, once again proving that the TRON network is the decentralized network with the most resilience and attack defense capabilities in the industry,” said Sun.

The price of the token TRX remained unaffected by the reports of an attempted malicious attack. At the time of writing, TRX was trading at $0.0248, down 4% along with the rest of the crypto market, which is recording losses across the board in tandem with the fall in BTC price to under $13,350.

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Author: AnTy

Asia, Africa, & South America Combined Accounts for Less than 10% of Lightning Network Nodes

About 87% of all the Lightning Network nodes are LND nodes. In comparison, about 11% are C-Lightning, and only 2% of the remaining are Eclair, according to the latest report by members of the Faculty of Computer Science from the University of Vienna, Austria, and Christian Decker of Blockstream, Zurich.

Lightning Network is a layer 2 solution on the bitcoin network for scalable and instant transactions. It currently has a capacity of 1,040 BTC with 14,273 nodes running it, as per 1ML.

In the past couple of years, several implementations of LN have popped up.

In early 2018, Twitter CEO and bitcoin proponent Jack Dorsey-backed Lightning Labs’ CEO Elizabeth Stark, announced the initial release of LND for developers to make it available for testing purposes on the main Bitcoin network.

C-Lightning is Blockstream’s own implementation of the Lightning Network built in the C programming language.

Eclair is for those who want to set up a full Lightning Node, which needs a lot of computer know-how. With this approach, you are routing transactions on the network and can also make your own transactions.

Geographic distribution of LN Nodes

The report titled “Node Classification and Geographical Analysis of the Lightning Cryptocurrency Network” also found that a large share of the total Lightning Network nodes, 44.8%, are located in North America and close behind is Europe with 43.1% share.

In Europe, most of these nodes are located in Central Europe with a very high node distribution on both the East Coast and the West Coast.

The remaining nodes are located in Asia at 6.2% share, Oceania at 2.2%, and then South America and Africa, each having 0.8% and 0.6% of the Lightning Network nodes.

In Asia, most of the nodes are located on the coasts of South Korea, China, and Japan.

It has been further found that multiple node clusters are centered in metropolitan areas. For instance, in Germany, the largest node hub is located in the metropolitan area in Berlin and then Munich and Frankfurt. In Japan, this has been found true with Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe.

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Author: AnTy

FinCEN’s Updated Travel Rule Proposal for Crypto Open to Public Comment

Last week, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Federal Reserve invited comments on the proposed rule that would change the recordkeeping and travel rule regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act.

Under the current rules, financial situations must collect information related to funds transfers and transmittals of funds over $3,000. The information to be collected includes the name and address of the transmitter, the amount of the payment, its execution date, any payment instructions from the originator, and the beneficiary’s bank or recipient’s financial institution’s identity.

But as per the amendment, this limit is lowered to $250 for international transactions while the threshold for domestic transactions remains unchanged. This applies to transactions involving “convertible virtual currencies” (CVC) and “digital assets with legal tender status.” It further proposes to clarify the meaning of “money.”

The official report notices that “public use of CVCs has grown significantly in recent years.” Estimated transactions in Bitcoin alone were about $366 billion in 2019 and $312 billion in 2020 through August.

It further stated that malign actors have been using them for all sorts of illegal activities.

The proposed modifications will help them gain information in criminal, tax, or regulatory investigations and protect against international terrorism.

“FinCEN is aware that the CVC industry is working on developing systems and processes to achieve full compliance with the Travel Rule as applied to virtual currency transactions as a result of the distinctive characteristics of CVCs.”

They “welcome” comments on these efforts that will be accepted only for 30 days.

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Author: AnTy