Blockstream Launches Lightning Node Service For Bitcoin Newbies

Blockchain technology company Blockstream Corp has rolled out a Bitcoin Lightning node service called Greenlight, per its blog post. This service enables users to easily set up a node on the Bitcoin Lightning Network while using the company’s cloud infrastructure.

Users Retain Full Control Of Funds

The Lightning Network is a “second-layer solution” built on top of the Bitcoin network.

It’s run by a network of nodes that process payments and transactions are made using QR codes on its Jade platform. It is designed to boost faster transactions with lower fees.

Greenlight would enable users to maintain complete control over their funds while setting up a Lightning node.

This is because the private keys for both on-chain and off-chain transactions will remain in the custody of the user. Users can instead interact with their nodes through a simple user interface overseen by Blockstream.

Greenlight is built on top of c-lightning, a standard-compliant implementation of the Lightning Network protocol optimized for performance and extendibility.

The blockchain firm aims to make the Greenlight service user-friendly to educate amateurs and potential Lightning users.

Christian Decker, the core tech engineer at Blockstream, said that the new Greenlight service is aimed at helping users get started with Bitcoin and the lightning network. Decker added in the blog post,

“Onboarding Lightning adds another layer of complexity because of the need to operate channels and liquidity as well as manage backups and watchtowers. New users often opt for custodial services where these technical challenges are managed for them but at the cost of trusting the service operator with their funds.”

Blockstream disclosed that the service is already available on Sphinx Chat, a browser for the Lightning Network, and Lastbit, a technology Lightning payment platform. The firm plans to release Greenlight for the greater public after the initial beta phase.

Founded in 2014, Blockstream is a firm that focuses on providing blockchain technologies and crypto-financial infrastructure based on Bitcoin.

Blockstream Increasing Mining Colocation Deals

Blockstream’s Mining arm has signed a couple of partnerships this year amid the calls for clean energy usage in Bitcoin mining.

Last month, Blockstream announced it inked a deal with Bitcoin and crypto lender BlockFi to host BlockFi’s new mining machines in a facility in Georgia, USA.

The mining facility, which supports up to 300 megawatts of capacity, was deployed to BlockFi thttps://bitcoinexchangeguide.com/cryptocurrency-news/wallets/blockfi/o expand its service offerings and accumulate more Bitcoin.

Blockstream also disclosed a partnership with Square last month to build an open-source, solar-powered Bitcoin mining facility. This was in line with Square’s Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative.

The partnership also saw Square invest $5M into the facility with Blockstream to provide infrastructure and expertise to build and manage the project.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Ripple Rolls Out XRP Ledger Updates to Boost Software Efficiency

Ripple Labs has rolled out new upgrades to its asset’s ledger to improve functionality. The company continues to deal with the fallout of the SEC’s probe into its affairs.

Top blockchain company Ripple Labs continues to make progress with its XRP asset and other affiliated projects despite the looming lawsuits against it.

In a recent update, the company has announced operational developments that will improve its XRP Ledger’s efficiency.

Improved Speed, Reduced Bandwidth

Yesterday, the Silicon Valley firm published a press release confirming the launch of version 1.7.0 of its XRP Ledger. In the release, Ripple confirmed that the updates would go a long way in bolstering the ledger’s security, efficiency, and operational decentralization.

RippleX, Ripple’s open payment integration platform, has been working to improve the XRP Ledger’s resources and compatibility with various server configurations.

David Schwartz, Ripple’s technology chief, was given the most credit for this, following his work to reduce several caching layers. With his move, the payment platform has reduced execution time and memory by 50 percent.

Along with the optimizations, the latest update will also provide enhanced proposal routing, and transaction validation, and validator manifests, which will improve visibility into operators’ work across the XRP ecosystem.

There is also the introduction of forward ledger replay, which will enhance security on the XRP Ledger and improve server synchronization with the rest of the network. This way, the Ledger can reduce bandwidth and work faster.

On its plans, Bharath Chari, a member of the XRP Ledger Foundation, explained that they would be working to support the broader XRP ecosystem even more. For now, their focus will be on expanding the validator list and enhancing the XRP Ledger’s core code.

MoneyGram Joins the Movement to Ditch Ripple

The recent updates show that Ripple Labs isn’t entirely giving up on XRP yet. The company has had a bit of a rough patch over the past few months, following a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that accused it of organizing an illegal securities offering in its XRP Initial Coin Offering (ICO) back in 2013.

Since the SEC suit came out, Ripple Labs has been faced with significant industry pushback as exchanges, investment firms, and more distanced themselves from it.

Another pushback came earlier this week as payment processor MoneyGram, one of Ripple’s high-profile partners, suspended trading from its end. In its quarterly outlook, MoneyGram reported that it doesn’t plan to see any benefits from its Ripple market development fees in Q1 2021. Due to litigation from regulators, it has chosen to close all Ripple trades for the time being.

The MoneyGram partnership is one of Ripple Labs’ crown jewels. Ripple purchased 10 percent of the company in 2019, while MoneyGram incorporated its on-demand liquidity (ODL) tool to make quicker and safer cross-border transactions. While the relationship appeared rosy, Ripple did sell off a chunk of its MoneyGram shares last November 2020.

Asides from suspending its asset, the payment processor has also reiterated that it never used the ODL tool for direct customer transfers or forex transactions. With MoneyGram further distancing itself from Ripple amid its SEC lawsuit, the blockchain company is finding itself further in need of supporters.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Binance Boosts Visa Card Incentives with Auto Top-Up, Daily Cashback & Higher Spending Limits

Binance has added some perks to its recently launched debit card rolled out in the European Economic Area (EEA) one month ago. The crypto exchange is looking to expand its footprint in the retail market as more crypto users opt to have a good part of their portfolio stored in digital assets. Binance’s Visa-branded card is designed to facilitate a seamless conversion to fiat when making payments.

With over 60 million outlets accepting Visa payments, Binance card users can leverage this service to make online payments. The exchange is yet to integrate a prepaid function for PoS payments but is currently in the product pipeline. Notably, the crypto card service by Binance is part of a growing niche as more merchants move to accept crypto payments.

Binance has now increased the incentives for using its crypto card; the exchange introduces a ‘daily cashback’ reward program instead of the ‘one-week’ initial arrangement. This means that users will be getting their rewards daily, making it more attractive to use the Binance card more frequently.

As for cashback reward rates, Binance has bumped the figure to 8% from 7%, which was initially set as the maximum amount. Binance crypto card users whose purchases are eligible for the cashback rewards can expect an 8% cashback that could be cashed out daily. It is quite noteworthy that the cashback reward program favors BNB holders, depending on the amount they hold.

Besides the cashback incentives, Binance raised its crypto card’s spending limit to €870 per day. The crypto exchange anticipates that it will further raise this limit upon scaling the physical card mainstream use in the future. An automatic top-up feature has also been integrated to make daily deposits seamless.

The Binance crypto card touts zero maintenance, subscription, and transaction fees, apart from 3rd party charges where they apply. Users can currently deposit funds into their pre-selected Binance digital wallets to use them via the exchange’s crypto card. However, it remains scanty whether Binance will ultimately feature withdrawals, contactless payments, chip, and PIN tech within the physical card.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Bermuda Govt Partners With Stablehouse to Test A Stimulus Token for COVID-19 Aid

On Tuesday, the Government of Bermuda announced that it has rolled out a pilot initiative for digital stimulus token. The program is being run in conjunction with Stablehouse, a Bermuda-based payments startup. The program is expected to offer crucial feedback on whether digital tokens can be used for buying essential goods and services in the country.

Stablehouse claims to be ‘a global virtual currency clearing house’ and facilitates the exchange of stablecoins. The startup is being advised by ex-Tether executive, Phil Potter, who will offer his expertise to the government in the provision of Bermudian Dollar Token, BMDT.

The government is seeking to collect vital information and data on whether merchants will readily accept digital tokens as a payment method. The pilot phase will also establish whether Bermudians are ready to use the tokens to buy essential goods and services.

At the moment, the government has recruited three merchants as well as 20 individuals who were given a stipend of free BMDTs that they use to test the initiative.

Speaking to Decrypt, chief fintech advisor to Bermudian prime minister, Denis Pitcher explained that the project will kick-off with a small number of participants but will gradually expand.

“Our ultimate goal is to end up with a wallet on every phone because wallets are the browser of the future when it comes to money and the future of finance.”

The partnership will see Stablehouse offer point-of-sale services to the merchants as well as provide its Green Wallet that enables clients to store coins while offline easily. The startup will also be handling issuance as well as redemption of the BMDT. It’s important to note that every token is backed by the Bermudian dollar, which is also pegged to the US dollar.

The token will run on Blockstream’s Liquid, which is a sidechain protocol that is designed to link together various exchanges.

The token stimulus initiative has been in the works since last year and is part of a comprehensive plan to introduce digital currency on the island.

Bermuda has implemented various crypto-friendly policies in the recent past. For instance, in October last year, the island allowed its residents to clear their taxes and fees using US dollar-backed stablecoins.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

JPMorgan’s DLT Spinoff Kadena Debuts The First Hybrid Blockchain, Adds Cosmos Network to Wallet

Kadena, a crypto startup which is a spinoff of JPMorgan’s blockchain center has rolled on its own public blockchain which marks what they termed as the first hybrid blockchain in the industry, Cointelegraph reports.

The public blockchain was released on Jan. 15 and comprises of full transactions as well as the capacity to fully write smart contracts. According to the company’s CEO Will Martino, the new product is also the inaugural sharded proof-of-work (POW) Layer 1 to hit the market.

Kadena’s hybrid blockchain network also allows the linkage between a private network with a public chain.Stuart Popejoy Kadena’s president stated that the development was an imperative milestone in enhancing blockchain capacities since the technology is marred with different limitations although it harbors great potential. Popejoy explained,

“Despite blockchain having immense potential, our experience building JP Morgan’s first blockchain showed us its limitations. Launching a fully functional hybrid blockchain which seamlessly integrates a public chain with a private network is a significant step forward in reimagining what applications can do on-chain.”

The new Kadena hybrid blockchain interoperates with Pact, a smart contract language developed by the firm. Martino also explained that Pact will be used to tackle the security concerns within the Ethereum blockchain.

The firm also announced that the Kadena Hybrid blockchain also has Kadena Kuro which was previously referred to as ScalableBFT which was rolled on Amazon Web Services last year in January.

In a tweet the firm announced that Kadena hybrid blockchain has the capability to process 750 transactions within a second. This is compared to both Bitcoin and Ether which can only process 7 and 15 transactions in every second respectively.

As per Martino, the completion of Kadena hybrid blockchain has helped to address the issues associated with core scaling while at the same time maintaining decentralization. He said,

“If we had launched with 1000 chains, people wouldn’t be able to visually grasp the magnitude of the innovation that Kadena is bringing to market. We’ll be upgrading to a larger network for more scale in Q2, likely 100 chains, but for now, 10 chains provide and illustrate our unique value.”

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Brazil Tax Authorities Impose New Regulation to Fine Crypto Traders Who Do Not Report Their Transactions

Back in August this year, the Department of Federal Revenue rolled out various provisions and stipulations that require all Brazilian citizens to report transactions that involve cryptocurrency. A recent report tabled on December 6th from one of Brazil’s most popular news outlets stated that the new codes for reporting cryptocurrency was introduced to back up the previous provisions.

Another Brazilian media outlet reported that the measures were brought on board to prevent illegal dealings such as tax evasion, money laundering, terrorism funding, and weapons trafficking.

The Department of Foreign Revenue of Brazil stated that transactions in excess of $30000 Brazilian real ($7,600) must be reported to tax authorities. These rulings target all crypto activities including private investors, brokerages as well as companies dealing in crypto. Failure to comply on the same will lead to sanctions. On the other hand, inaccurate and unfinished filings may be trimmed 1.5 to 3 percent of the total value of the transactions.

A report released earlier on Brazil’s cryptocurrency market is expanding at a fast and exponential rate. The report continued to say that at that time crypto had gained more investors than B3, the country’s second-oldest stock exchange. At that time, the number of investors using B3 stood at 800,000 customers.

Funds for the Department of Federal Revenue were Low

In late summer of this year, FinTech news outlets reported that tax authority RFB expected the government to unlock financial resources.

The agency noted that it would terminate contractor agreements as well as stop the paying of income tax refunds if the requirement was not met. To further the regulatory understanding of the cryptocurrency industry in Brazil, a regulatory platform for financial and blockchain technology is essential.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Telegram Introduces A Desktop Test Wallet For Its GRAM Token Amid Ongoing SEC Case

Encrypted messaging app giant Telegram has rolled out a desktop test wallet for its testnet of the yet to be released crypto network, Telegram Open Network (TON).

According to CoinDesk, the test app is now available for download for Linux, macOS as well as Windows. Interested individuals can access the app from Telegram’s website and they will be able to create a wallet as well as a set of private keys. In addition, users will be able to get and send test Grams, however, at the moment, the wallet will not hold anything of value.

Currently, the test wallet can only accept Grams as it is not indicated whether other cryptos are supported. Users are awarded from 5 to 20 Gram tokens by a bot to transact.

Telegram started a blockchain project and dubbed it TON and went ahead to get funding of $1.7 billion through a private token sale in 2018. Telegram went ahead and told the investors the network would be launched before Oct.31. In this case, the releasing of the Test Gram Wallet seems like a plot to beat the deadline.

Telegram’s plans to launch TON has been put in jeopardy by SEC after it was sued by the regulator saying that the token was equivalent to security. The regulator pleaded with the courts to stop the selling of the Gram token. Telegram has insisted that the token is not a security and has asked the court to set aside the ban.

In the recent past, Telegram and the regulator have come into an agreement where Gram tokens will not be distributed until the court has heard and determined the case which will take off in February.

Telegram has since received relief from investors after they agreed to postpone the selling of the Gram token to April 31, 2020, giving the company enough time to settle issues with the SEC. it turns out that Telegram has a lot to do to convince the regulator that Gram is not a security token or risk returning the $1.7 billion to investors.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Binance DEX Adds BNB/BUSD Trading Pair, Burns $36.7 million worth of Binance Coin

The decentralized exchange rolled on by crypto exchange giant Binance earlier this year is now offering it’s clients a new service to purchase and sell Binance’s new USD-pegged stablecoin with BNB.

On Oct 17, on its official Twitter platform, Binance DEX announced a new listing on its platform, BNB/BUSD Trading Pair. the pairing means that traders will now have the option to buy and sell BUSD using the Binance Coin (BNB).

BUSD Gets Regulator’s NOD

In the recent past the crypto space has witnessed a significant growth in the number of stablecoins. These are assets which are pegged or backed by physical or touchable assets and, in most cases, the US dollar, the world’s reserve currency. Some of the most popular ones include Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), Gemini Dollar (GUSD), among others. Recently, Binance joined the fray as one of the coin emitters with its Binance USD (BUSD).

Recently BUSD was approved by the New York State Department Of Financial Services (NYDFS). According to Binance, the launching of BNB/BUSD trading pairs will help in adding liquidity in the market to the advantage of the customers. At the moment BUSD is ranked number 287 among the most popular cryptos in the market.

Binance Burns More BNB

Meanwhile, Binance CEO Chaopeng Zhao popularly known as CZ, has announced that the company has burned 2,061,888 BNB worth about $36.7 million. This is the ninth BNB burn and represents about 1.1% of the total BNB supply.

According to U Today, coin burning can be described as the permanent removal of coins from circulation, thereby reducing the amount of coins in circulation. Binance burns BNB coins on the basis of the volume of trades made within its exchange over the last 3 months. Therefore, in every quarter, the crypto exchange giant burns some BNB coins.

According to CZ, the high amount of BNB burn shows significant growth and he credits it to the launching of fresh services like margin trading and futures trading.

Binance plans to keep on burning BNB within its possession until there are only 100 million left.

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Author: Joseph Kibe