Litecoin Users Can Choose to Use the Privacy Tech or Not After Mimblewimble Integration

  • Charlie Lee speaks on LTC’s Mimblewimble integration.
  • The hidden inflation on privacy chains.

In a recent interview, Charlie Lee, the Founder of Litecoin (LTC), talked about the current plans to integrate the Mimblewimble privacy mechanism on the blockchain. Lee answered several questions from LTC users including the several developmental concerns that may arise on the blockchain once implementation is complete.

Furthermore, Lee explained the concept of ‘hidden inflation’ that is common on privacy-based blockchain stating users wanting privacy will not care much about it.

Charlie Lee Speaks on LTC’s Mimblewimble Integration

Some of the questions focused on the future of LTC transactions and how to integrate the privacy features of Mimblewimble on the blockchain.

Users were curious about whether the normal blockchain will take precedence or the Mimblewimble-enabled chain. According to the planned privacy enhancements, users will be able to select on exchanges whether to carry out a privacy enhanced transaction or a public one.

Responding to the confusion building up, Lee said he has talked to several exchanges on the regulatory issues that surround the privacy enhanced transactions with most agreeing to go along with it. He further said,

“Initially the use of Litecoin post-MimbleWimble implementation will be difficult; it’s going to be a learning curve. Not all wallets will support it from the start[…] Since it is a soft fork, the whole ecosystem won’t need to care about it until they want to.”

Lee, however, believes the current upgrades will benefit Litecoin’s privacy as a coin stating the privacy features may draw more users to LTC.

The Hidden Inflation on Privacy Chains

In what has become a raging topic across the privacy coins communities, Charlie said “hidden inflation” on privacy coins may not affect users willing to own privacy enhanced crypto.

In March, crypto analyst and developer, Tim Ruffing, exposed that there may be a bug on all privacy blockchains cryptography that makes “inflation undetectable” on the blockchain.

While this makes the blockchain more susceptible to attacks from hackers who may inflate the cash in the system, Lee believes this is a risk privacy-focused users are willing to take. On how Litecoin aims to prevent such an attack Lee said:

“The good thing about our ecosystem is the extension block for Litecoin; it would be kind of isolated by itself. So even if something happens to that, it won’t infiltrate the main chain because one won’t be able to withdraw more coins.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitcoin’s Transaction Volume on the Darknet Grows by 65% in Q1, 2020

Recent analysis conducted by Crystal Blockchain – the analytics unit of Bitfury – has revealed that the use of Bitcoin and other altcoins on the darknet is on the rise.

These same stats also show that the use of mixers to conceal BTC transactions has grown from 1% to 20% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same quarter last year.

This market research dubbed ‘Darknet Use and Bitcoin’ highlights some key segments in which users transfer or receive digital assets via the darknet.

Notably, the value of BTC transacted between darknet entities grew by 65% despite a plunge in the number of Bitcoins transferred. As per the report, there was a 22% and 26% drop in the number of Bitcoins sent and received through darknet channels.

Source; Crystal Blockchain

The BTC Darknet Market Outlook

Bitcoin launched about a decade ago and has been gaining popularity over the years. It is noteworthy that the darknet is among the major adoption drivers of this market.

However, recent developments in regulation by entities like the FATF aim at changing some dynamics of the darknet’s BTC operations. Most notably, more players have opted to use mixers in a bid to conceal their identities.

This has shift has caused a drop in the use of exchanges with strict KYC requirements. Stats by Crystal Blockchain show that the BTC market share of such ecosystems decreased to 13% compared to 24% back in Q1, 2019. The report reads:

“While more exchanges implement the FATF requirements, darknet users are trying to avoid the risk of unveiling of their activity by those exchanges. To veil darknet activities, they started to prefer mixing services to exchanges for withdrawal of cryptocurrency.”

Based on this market shift, there was a total of 7,496 BTC transferred through mixers compared to 790 Bitcoins last year. This translated to a surge in USD value from $3 million to $67 million in Q1, 2020.

Though BTC remains dominant, the report noted that other altcoins are now competing for the darknet market share.

Private coins like Monero have actually found themselves in trouble with authorities for facilitating illegal activities via its private coin. Crystal blockchain is, however, optimistic that darknet crypto usage will be reduced with advanced tech and regulations.

“What is reassuring, however, is that these activities are easy to monitor and identify with analytical tools like Crystal. As a result, the impact of the strong regulations enacted by the FATF and the European Union to fight these illicit activities is already apparent.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z Launches A $515 Million Crypto Fund, Up 70% from 1st Fund

In the wake of the recent bull rally, Andreessen Horowitz has doubled down on cryptocurrencies as the firm announced its second crypto fund.

This “commitment to crypto is an investment in the long-term development of the internet,” specified the company.

Two years back, the company raised $300 million for its bet on cryptocurrency, its first investment fund that focused on bitcoin and other cryptos.

Now, they have raised $515 million for this second fund that focuses on blockchain technology. Chris Dixon, co-leader of the fund said,

“It’s very rare that major, new computing paradigms come along, and we think this is on the scale of cloud and mobile for the Internet.”

The areas the company is excited about include new generation payments, in which “payment blockchains are picking up where Bitcoin left off” and provide much-needed upgrade and modern user experience with reduced friction.

Bitcoin is still a part of it as a “modern store of value” which is “scarce, secure, durable, portable, and censorship-resistant” as another area of interest. “Gold has long played the role of a fiat substitute, but Bitcoin is a digital alternative that is gaining acceptance and adoption around the world,” read the official announcement.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) is another they are interested in along with Web 3. Though still in its early build-out, “high-performance programmable blockchains will make decentralized network development much more accessible.”

The earliest VC to believe in Bitcoin and blockchain technology, Andreessen Horowitz has been investing in crypto since 2014.

From cryptos like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), stablecoin project MakerDAO, DeFi project Compound, to mobile payments startup Celo along with Protocol Labs, crypto custodian Anchorage, and crypto exchange Coinbase.

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Author: AnTy

University of Waterloo Prof: Ripple’s XRP is More Environment-Friendly Than PoW Based Bitcoin

The recent coronavirus pandemic has brought back attention towards maintaining a cordial relationship with our environment. In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the whole world has come to a standstill as roads become empty and factories shut down.

While the pandemic for sure has created a sense of uncertainty, it has also given a pause to mother nature from constant carbon emission and pollution which in turn has resulted in clearer skies and improved conditions for our ozone layer.

While the world will not be the same once we get past these troubled times, its time for some introspection and how we take our environment for granted.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies are going to play a pivotal role in the financial future, and thus sustainability should be a top priority for the decentralized space as well. Ripple, one of the key players in the decentralized space, is at the forefront of this initiative where its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), in association with the University of Waterloo is looking into ways that cryptocurrency can be made more sustainable.

Professor Hasan and Research Associate Crystal Roma along with their team recently published a research paper on the cost of running an XRP Validator node.

The research found that running one for a year would cost around $63, which was a great contrast to the fact that mining a single Bitcoin cost anywhere between $531 to $26,170. Professor Hasan noted that:

“Energy consumption is a big issue for blockchain, and it’s important that we identify better alternatives that can replace Proof-of-work algorithms.”

Bitcoin and the Environmental Woes Associated With PoW Based Mining

Bitcoin is certainly the king of cryptocurrencies, be it in terms of monetary value, its market cap or market dominance.

However, being such a prominent name also bring a lot of criticism along with it and while there have been many controversies associated with the king coin including its scalability and price volatility issue, the most prominent one is the label of being not so environment-friendly primarily because of its mining consensus Proof-of-Work.

The debate around high electricity consumption for mining Bitcoin, and its respective carbon footprint, arose during the last quarter of 2018. It’s estimated that the amount of electricity consumed in the bitcoin mining process is equivalent to the energy footprint equivalent to the size of a country like Austria.

Experts have since debunked the allegations of having a massive carbon footprint, claiming a majority of the power utilized to mine Bitcoins come from clean source energy, however, there is no denying the fact that Bitcoin mining does consume a significantly high portion of electricity without any direct output of that consumption.

While in many cold countries, miners have modified their mining rigs to use it as a modified thermostat, yet the concerns loom large.

Proof-of-Work mining consensus is considered the most secure consensus at present as it requires multiple miners to input their hashpower to mine the next block, making it difficult for hackers to gain control over the network.

On the other hand, Proof-of-Stake the second-most popular mining consensus select a miner on the network based on their on-chain activity and thus instead of hundreds of miners putting in their hashpower, which in turn leads to a lot of wastage of electrical energy, only the selected one mines the block.

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

With Rainy Season Here, China Calls for Bitcoin Miners to Use its Cheap and Abundant power

According to recent reports, local Chinese governments are supporting bitcoin mining. Now, with the rainy season here, the extra power supply has driven its prices down to 0.20 CNY or around 3 USD cents, noted 8BTC co-founder.

Yaan, a city in Sichuan known for abundant water resources prolific bitcoin mining, last week issued government advice on “the construction of a hydropower consumption demonstration zone to support the development of the blockchain industry.”

The implementation advisories were jointly issued by the Municipal Economic and Information Bureau and the Municipal Development and Reform Commission aimed at deepening the power system reform.

The idea is to enable the companies to seize major strategic opportunities for the industry’s development and promote its healthy and orderly development. Moreover, the local government aims to promote the high-quality consumption of hydropower resources and cultivate new growth points for the city’s economic development.

A Blockchain Industry hub

The city, which is estimated to account for more than half of the Bitcoin network’s computing power, in its likely first public guidance to grab the “strategic opportunity of the blockchain sector” is intent on helping the companies consume the excess hydropower electricity of the area.

Although bitcoin mining is not specifically mentioned, the report from April 20th seeks to establish itself as “an impactful blockchain industry hub,” a shift from last year’s guideline which identified bitcoin mining activities as an industry that should be eliminated.

China’s Sichuan region always goes through the issue of excessive hydropower electricity being wasted during the rainy summer season, from June to August.

With abundant cheap electricity from excessive hydropower, the city is emphasizing the blockchain companies on using the power plants integrated with the state grid.

Cheap Power may Offset Halving Woes

With Bitcoin’s halving just around the corner in less than two weeks, miners aren’t really keen on investing. After recovering from the March sell-off, the price of bitcoin has been hovering around $7,700 since the weekend with the breakeven cost at $7,300.

Halving means the miner inflow will be cut in half to 900 BTC per day while the breakeven cost rising to $15,100, as per TradeBlock. The question of whether to buy new and more powerful mining equipment or not depends on the price of bitcoin post halving.

Bitcoin at its current price could force more miners, especially over-leveraged miners to shut down their operations. But more reduction in electricity prices in the next few months could help them to keep on operating with positive margins while the price goes back to profitable levels.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto, Blockchain Regulation Heats Up as 32 Bills Were Introduced In the 116th Congress

A recent publication by Forbes has revealed that blockchain and cryptocurrency are no longer far-fetched concepts.

Within the US’ 116th Parliament, a total of 32 bills have been introduced within the past year. Despite the controversial and dynamic nature of these emerging technologies, regulators in Washington D.C appear to have a growing interest; hence the spike in discussions around them.

Looking back, most of these discussions gained momentum after the announcement of Libra by Facebook. The IT giant is currently leading several entities towards the creation of a digital currency backed by financial assets like a basket of fiat currencies and treasury securities.

However, the project has had its fair share of challenges, especially with the intervention of the U.S senate: which saw Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, summoned back in 2019.

According to the Forbes review, bills that involve blockchain and crypto have since popped up and focus on four main areas:

These include regulation, promoting blockchain use, curbing illegal activities and the possibility of a digital dollar.

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Source: Forbes

Blockchain & Crypto Regulatory Bills

The regulatory framework of blockchain and crypto has been a hot topic not only in the U.S senate but other parts of the world as well. This was inevitable given the threat of disruption in existing financial ecosystems by ‘stablecoins’ like the proposed Libra cryptocurrency. It is quite notable that the project attracted quite a few bills around the regulation of digital assets.

Some of the prominent ones include ‘Managed Securities are Stablecoins Act’ which was pioneered by Congressman Lance Gooden and Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. This bill was brought forward to ensure that projects with a similar model to Libra are regulated as securities.

Another one is the ‘Keeping big tech out of Finance’ by Rep Jesus Garcia in a bid to prevent large social media platforms like Facebook from engaging in financial activities.

Curbing Illegal Activities in Blockchain and Crypto

Digital currencies have raised global concerns on illegal activities such as money laundering, terrorism and human trafficking. This is mainly because of the anonymous nature of crypto transactions while some projects have gone to the extent of full privacy. As a result, Capitol Hill has seen the introduction of 12 bills within this regulatory scope.

Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a bill dubbed ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Act’. The initiative is basically meant to protect crypto exchanges from cyber theft with the same level of attention given to financial institutions. There are also three bills focusing on the integration of blockchain and AI to enhance the KYC/AML procedures by banks offering cryptocurrency services.

Spurring Blockchain Adoption by the U.S Government

While there may be some challenges, Capitol Hill is not short of identifying opportunities that lay within the blockchain and crypto industry. The regulators are also looking to spur the growth and adoption of distributed ledgers to enhance efficiency and output within the current processes.

A bill tabled by Senator Todd Young dubbed ‘Blockchain Promotion Act’ is already past the committee stage and should be voted on soon.

This initiative will enable the legal formation of a blockchain working group that will be reporting to Congress on blockchain-related opportunities and their feasibility. Other bills within this niche include the potential use of blockchain for hospital data security in researches done by U.S government agencies.

Digital U.S Dollar

Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) has gained popularity in the past year after several central banks showed interest in digital assets. Most of them were motivated by Libra’s threat and therefore a need to create a digital currency that could be managed through monetary policy.

China appears to be ahead in this curve having pioneered a beta test of the much-awaited digital yuan.

In the U.S, two bills were recently introduced based on the possibility of a digital dollar. These are the ‘Automatic Boost Communities Act’ and ‘Banking for All Act’. Going forward, it is likely that more bills within this area of development will pop up in the 117th parliaments as Congress seeks to clarify the oversight of such an asset.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Crypto Futures Trading Volume Hits $2.1T, Spiking 314% in Q1 of 2020: TokenInsight Report

As per a recent report titled “2020 Q1 Cryptocurrency Derivatives, Exchange Industry Report” released by TokenInsight, the crypto derivatives market trading volume spiked to 314% in the 1st quarter of 2020 against the fourth quarter of 2019. The report suggested the futures trading volume in cryptocurrency realized $2.1 trillion.

The report further revealed that the trading volume of derivative market in Q1 of 2020 grew by 8 times when compared to the trading volume of first quarter of 2019. The report included futures trading volume from some of the well-known exchanges like BitMEX, KuMEX, Binance, Binance Futures, Deribit, Bitget, Huobi DMJEX, FTX, Gate.io, BFX.NU, Bitz, and OKEx along with several emerging derivative trading platforms.

The report also found that the average daily trading volumes for derivative products skyrocketed by 274% when compared to Q1 of 2019 and the trading volume peaked at $23.3 billion. The researchers behind the study commented,

“We believe the cryptocurrency futures have already possessed some attributes of market-leading indicators, and spot market participants can refer to futures trading volume for position management.”

Futures Trading Volume Correlation With Spot Trading Volume

The study revealed that the associated factor with futures and spot trading volume saw a significant drop and came down to 0.31 when compared to 0.76 registered in the 4th quarter of 2019. Researchers believe that the declined associated factor suggested that the futures trading market participant may have been acting independently of the spot trading market.

The research paper also suggested that when there is a spike in the futures trading volume the spot trading register significant fluctuation. The report explained,

“At this time, investors need to adjust their positions. Besides, in the market downturn, only when the future volume finally shrinks, the market may experience a meaningful rebound.”

Binance Emerges as the Biggest Player in the Futures Market

Binance, the leading crypto exchange by market volume has spread its operational portfolio significantly over the past year and its futures trading platform has emerged as the largest player in the space. Even during the recent market crash on March 12th which is now infamously known as the black Thursday crash saw Binance Futures emerge as #1 amid the sell-off spree.

The Black Thursday crash saw Binance Futures register daily trading volume at a whopping $2.8 billion.which was more than that of major players like BitMEX which registered $2.1 billion in daily trading volume and Huobi with $2.46 billion.

Binance has always maintained a lead in terms of trading volume and even during these troubled times, in the first quarter of 2020, Binance registered its all-time high trading volume which the firm revealed during its token burn event.

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Author: James W

Sony’s BCDB Uses Blockchain Technology for Mobility as a Service (MaaS)

Blockchain technology has emerged as one of the most sought after emerging technology in recent times. Even though cryptocurrencies that brought the technology to the forefront is looked with scrutiny in many countries and industries, Blockchain has unanimously managed to impress one and all. Both the veteran and established tech players, as well as emerging startups, are actively investing in the technology to find new use cases daily.

Sony is one such tech firm that has been working on a blockchain-based data accumulation system for the transportation industry. According to an announcement made on 23rd May, the new blockchain-based system would integrate system and provisions across various modes of transportation be it trains, cabs, buses, rental vehicles, and many more.

The news system called Mobility as a Service (MaaS) would import data from all the types of transportation and provide the consumer with various levels of info like optimal routes for their desired commute, cost-effective service to reach the destination or the safest route to carry the commute.

The MaaS system aims to become a universal transportation solution and replace dozens of applications on user devices where they need to install a specific application for a specific mode of transportation.

MaaS Can Process 7 Million Users Data Per Day

Sony’s MaaS Blockchain system makes use of a new database developed by Sony themselves called Blockchain Common Database (BCBD) which enables MaaS to process 7 million users data per day including their anonymous travel history and revenue allocations. Sony also revealed that the MaaS is the only project which has been chosen by the Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management last year after they appealed to firms to develop a blockchain-based solution.

Sony also revealed that the BCDB database won’t be limited to just MaaS and can be utilized for a number of purposes in smart cities. These smart cities need these kinds of transparent data to feed a network of large scale sensors.

Sony is also working on a number of other blockchain ventures which include a hardware wallet technology for storing and securing digital assets, blockchain-based digital content rights management (DRM), and many more projects in the pipeline.

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Author: James W

Economist Survey Suggests Users Trust CBDC’s (54%) Twice As Much As Private Crypto’s (26%)

A recent survey conducted on crypto assets and investment by Crypto.com and The Economist saw participation from over 3,000 users.

The survey shed some interesting light on how the general public perceives cryptocurrencies. The most surprising part was that the majority of those surveyed expressed far more interest and confidence in Central Bank Issued Digital Currencies than more popular decentralized crypto assets.

The survey revealed:

  • 38% of the people did not consider decentralized crypto as a safe investment against
  • 26% of people who believed that decentralized crypto tokens are a safe form of investments while
  • 25% of those surveyed were in the middle and the remaining
  • 11% had no idea whether they are safe or not.

On the other hand, 54% of the surveyed people showed trust in CBDC and believed that a token issued by their government or central bank would be a more secure form of investment, while 14% believed CBDCs are not that safe. 23% of the correspondent was in-between and the remaining 9% had no idea.

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Source: Economist

Why People Trust CBDCs More than Decentralized Currency?

Survey respondent rating of trustworthiness

The cryptocurrency space emerged with the launch of Bitcoin after the financial crisis of 2008/9. It only gained the attention of the large public after the massive rise in 2017.

At the same time, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies received a lot of negative press, perpetuated by central banks, commercial banks and even governments who called it a mere internet bubble.

However, in the following years, these critics realized that cryptocurrencies, like any other new asset, are volatile and not just an internet bubble and thus a lot of them changed their stance including governments.

These cryptocurrencies have been advertised as an alternative form of currency by many proponents. But because of their high volatility (which has come down significantly) it still cannot be used as a direct form of exchange.

Thus a majority of the people use it as an instrument for investment diversification. Along with the volatility issues, and passive regulatory stances of governments, even in developed nations, it makes it tough for the common public to look at it as a safe bet.

The lack of knowledge among the broader public, whose only aim is to see Bitcoin rise to 2017 level highs as a quick profit maker, in addition to evolving scams involving crypto, wreaks havoc on the underlying trust in digital asset classes.

On the other hand, Central Bank Issued Digital Currencies (CBDC or DC/EP) offer that sense of security that at least their asset won’t be under the scanner of authorities.

Apart from that CBDCs are basically digitized fiat that runs on the common credit system of the country and thus people won’t have to worry about high volatility or their investment getting to zero.

Apart from that, a majority of the countries are looking to launch their own CBDCs. China currently at the top, having already started trials for its national digitized yuan. Other countries, meanwhile, have either started research for the same or are looking to study the pros and cons of launching CBDCs.

The Rate of Crypto Adoption in Developed Nations Are High

The survey found that there is a 20% deviation in the rate of adoption between developed and developing nations. Meaning that the chances of consumers in developed nations of adopting crypto was 20% higher than developing nations.

The survey revealed that 23% of the surveyed consumers in developed nations owned cryptocurrencies, while only 19% of people in developing nations had already invested in digital assets.

The study also revealed that 60% of crypto owners were aged between 18 and 38 years old while only 40% above 39 years owned crypto.

Digital Currency Survey By Economist.com

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Author: Rebecca Asseh

Venture Capitalist Tim Draper Reveals Why Bitcoin Will ‘Flourish’ in Times Like This

“Bitcoin is going to really flourish in a time like this,” said Tim Draper in his recent interview where he talked about the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the economy and how “crisis is a good time for innovation and venture capital!”

The venture investor and Bitcoin adopter has gone through times like this before, big recessions where “people start thinking for themselves.” Also, this is the time when “some of the best entrepreneurial ideas,” and technologies that people have been reticent to bring into their fold comes out. “This tends to be a very good time for innovation,” he said.

With consumers having wide-open eyes, there is an opportunity as they start to innovate but the drawback is there is always a recession, a tightness of cash, and liquidity that can have a detrimental effect. Also, a lot of people lose their jobs during times like this, in the US an unprecedented nearly 10 million people filed for unemployment claims in two weeks, and that’s very tough, but it’s a part of the refreshing that happens to an economy.

As such, people are asking the question of how to use Bitcoin, smart contracts or artificial intelligence.

Hold on to your seats

In this crisis, bitcoin will flourish because governments are taking all this money and then they’re printing super amounts of money.

Central banks have trillions of dollars to give out but Draper said they can’t put them into the economy very easily. They have to do it through the SBA and there’s all sorts of friction to getting the money so it’ll be years before that money actually permeates the economy, so “this is going to be a really interesting time where people say well why don’t I just use Bitcoin.”

With only 21 million BTC to be there ever, “people don’t have to worry about whether a government is diluting their currency by printing tons of it. We can instead just use a currency we all agree on and it’s all a part of the economy and it’s already frictionless and open and transparent and global but why bother with these other ones, so that’s an exciting thing,” said Draper.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ and a bitcoin proponent also shared that instead of cash, gold and bitcoin are the best options at a time when the central banks have taken to printing money.

After bitcoin and crypto prices crashed in a recent sell-off, both retail and institutional buyers are taking a special interest in Bitcoin.

“The global macro environment has never before aligned the stars to highlight the value proposition of crypto quite like what we’re about to see in the next 24 months. Hold on to your seats,” said Brendan Blumer, co-founder and CEO of Block.One, the company behind EOS.

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Author: AnTy