Algorand Is Now Supporting Smart Contracts that Are Non-Turing-Complete

On Thursday, the Algorand Foundation has launched an update for its blockchain protocol.

Algorand has added features for decentralized finance (DeFi) and smart contracts to its Algorand 2.0. This is the largest expansion for the network, after its June 2019 launch. The company’s CEO Steve Kokinos said about the release:

“With this release, new features and simple developer resources enable new use cases and broader adoption of blockchain overall.”

Algorand Employees Were Talking about the Development for Months

The company’s employees have been sending hints about the new development for months. This is the first time Algorand is supporting smart contracts, which are contracts driven by code that tracks and executes the formal agreements’ terms over time. The ASC smart contracts from Algorand are different from the ones powered by other blockchains. This is due to the fact that Algorand has an in-house programming language that’s non-Turing-complete. The language is called Transaction Execution Approval Language or TEAL.

Algorand’s Technology is Quite Unique

Turing completeness is measuring how able a programming language is to simulate another language and to manipulate its instructions. While all programming languages are Turing-complete, Algorand’s isn’t. What makes TEAL different is a feature and not a bug, as it makes the contracts developed on it safer to execute and to write. However, it’s quite limited when it comes to functionality because it doesn’t support recursive logic.

On the other hand, this means increased security and a more direct path to make sure that ASC contract coders are not inadvertently losing assets. According to Hacker Noon, a smart contract can be more easily and rapidly checked for errors when it’s written in a programming language not based on recursive logic.

Additional Upgrades to Algorand 2.0

Algorand has also introduced a function for standard asset issuance (ASA), which brings more various tokenization features and is a powerful DeFi tool. On the foundation’s developer page, it’s being claimed that any asset can be stored on-chain and digitized with ASA. The company has also introduced the Atomic Transfers feature for batch transactions. This new tool allows users to perform the most complex token transfers, including account settlements and circular trades, with only one transaction.

It was mentioned that Algorand 2.0 doesn’t interfere with the company’s sharia compliance certification because its key features haven’t changed. The market cap of Algorand is $108 million, ranking the foundation on the 48th position in the largest blockchains list.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Monolith Partners with Digix and MakerDAO to Make Tokens Loadable Visa Debit

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, London-based, Ethereum-powered banking alternative, Monolith reported on its recent partnership with smart asset company, Digix (token: DGX) and stablecoin project, MakerDAO (token: DAO). The reason for said alliance stems from the latter two’s aim of getting their tokens loaded on the Monolith Visa debit card.

Commencing this very same day, Monolith users will be able to load Digix and MakerDAO coins onto their cards via the former’s mobile app. Said loading can be used towards paying day-to-day transactions, whether this is to pay, send or receive funds.

As a way to celebrate the trio’s involvement, Digix is offering the first 1,000 users who activate their Monolith card with 0.1 grams of Gold in DGX tokens. Digix is a firm that used blockchain technology to create DGX, a token that represents 1 gram of gold stored in recognised precious metals vaults in Canada and Singapore.

This move is especially big for Monolith, as the firm can watch its contributions grow within the e-payment space. This is mainly due to its debit card being accepted anywhere Visa typically does, with high anticipation for coverage in the time to come along with newer partnerships.

According to the CEO of Monolith, Mel Gelderman, there has been a “fantastic response from [their] beta users and are now ramping up for growth.” Gelderman further added that

“Rebranding to Monolith helps us achieve our mission of democratizing finance and bringing the Token economy to everyone while providing a unique service to our customers.”

It seems like the reason for picking Digix and MakerDAO stems from their accredited nature. More specifically, he said,

“MakerDAO and Digix are some of the most recognized and earliest Ethereum-based projects. For TKN holders, these partnerships mean that DAI, DGD and DGX are now eligible for usage in the TKN Asset Contract.”

The CEO of Digix, Kai C. Chng mentioned that the partnership was forced by nature, emphasizing that it is due to the commonality between the duo, i.e. bringing together blockchain assets and “democratizing access to cryptos”.

Cointelegraph also reported on this matter, in which CEO of MakerDAO, Rune Christensen’s viewpoint on said endeavor was disclosed. In particular, the CEO was quoted saying:

“Monolith’s solution provides a powerful way for token holders to extend the usefulness of their crypto-holdings […] Their cards create a critical bridge from the world of DeFi (decentralized finance) to the more traditional world of retail.”

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Author: Nirmala Velupillai

Bitcoin Privacy At Risk As Battle Between Wallets Intensifies with Samourai and Wasabi

Bitcoin-Privacy-At-Risk-As-Battle-Between-Wallets-Intensifies

Samourai, a Bitcoin privacy wallet, came out last Thursday and announced that Wasabi Wallet, it’s the biggest competitor, is the target of an ongoing network attack. The announcement by Samourai becomes the latest in a string of allegations the wallet provider has put out against their competitor.

According to Samourai Wallet, the attach resembles a Sybil attack. A Sybil attack is when a few users create new false identities to create the illusion that there are large numbers on the network. This would mean that the anonymity set in which Bitcoin transactions can be hidden is not as large as the wallet provider suggests. If one person in a particular set has their identity uncovered, the privacy of all the others is put at risk because most of the accounts in that pool belong to one person.

Samourai says that the attacks on Wasabi’s network go back as far as January 2019. Wasabi has hit back refuting the claims made by Samourai with their allegations against the rival wallet. This back and forth between the two Bitcoin wallets has led to users questioning the ability of either to maintain the privacy of their users.

Two Sides of The Same Coin

The two wallets were the same application before, and their similar core design shows the relationship between the two wallets. The lead designers for Samourai (TDevD) and Wasabi (nopara73) worked together on the building of Zerolink, a long-standing Bitcoin privacy tech.

One of the differences between the two wallets lies in the implementation of Zerolink. Samourai calls it Whirlpool, and it has a different pricing mechanism than Wasabi. According to the co-founder of Samourai Wallet, Whirlpool raises the expense for malicious actors who might want to break the anonymity of users through a Sybil attack.

Wasabi claims that using Whirlpool to protect anonymity is not the best method as it can always be broken because Samourai uses a centralized, backend server to process users’ extended public keys. Adam Ficsor of Wasabi says that the creator of Coinjoin, George Maxwell, approached the Samourai team and raised concerns about the use of a backend server but he was harassed and accused of making false claims.

There’s No Separating the Two

While the two privacy wallet providers are having a go at each other, experts say that nothing is separating the two. Hillebrand says that the issues presented by both are based on different assumptions.

Hillebrand also says that while the basics of Zerolink’s implementation in the two wallets are the same, users are required to take matters of privacy into their own hands by making sure that they stick to the best practices of the respective wallet’s protocol.

Kevin Loaec, Managing Director of blockchain consultancy firm Chairsmiths, said that any implementation of CoinJoin’s Zerolink would be vulnerable to the same kind of attacks. Any mistake from any of the mixing participants remains recorded on the immutable blockchain, and it amplifies the risks of future exposure. Loaec adds that by using wallets like Wasabi and Samourai your spending habits, consolidations you use and all your activity can be used to profile you and reduce your anonymity.

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Author: Ali Raza

Will Regulators Apply Stricter Rules on Bitcoin Upon Investigating Facebook’s Libra Stablecoin?

Will Regulators Apply Stricter Rules on Bitcoin Upon Investigating Facebook’s Libra Stablecoin?

In a tweet made out on Thursday, July 18, 2019, blockchain and crypto attorney, Stephan D Palley shared his viewpoint on Facebook’s Libra. Said activity isn’t the first of its kind, as many world leaders, countries and business tycoons have been assessing Libra’s pros and cons.

Palley tweeted his interest in understanding the cryptocurrency backed by 28 different organizations with respect to the AML compliance and its potential impact on the crypto sphere.

In the initial argument, Palley speaks heavily on regulators’ interests. In particular, this involves the latter’s preference for VASPs as opposed to “permissioned services on top of permissionless networks.”

This being said, he trusts that regulators will also not like BTC being sent to a non-KYCed wallet, which implies that scrutiny will be on the rise. Given that Libra is deemed a permissionless network, he said that this is:

“Only with regard to who can operate a validator node, and who is permitted to purchase Libra directly from the [Libra] Association.”

Despite regulators distaste for permissionless networks, Palley argues that it is what normally happens after a wallet has been created (with the same currently applied to the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum).

As per the claims made, the Association is seeking to register as an MSB and will not launch until said compliance is accepted by regulators. Palley trusts that at some point in time, the Association will be faced with pressure to rid the creation of permissionless wallets, and if they fail in their endeavors, this could mean bad news for the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum. Why? Due to “AML double-standards”.

Simply put, Palley argues that if Libra cannot promote the creation of permissionless wallets, then the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum will also be negatively impacted by stricter regulations. With stricter regulations comes a setback in mainstream adoption as cryptos will less likely be viewed as, “Stores of value or medium of exchange at any kind of scale.”

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Author: Nirmala Velupillai

Nordic Growth Market (NGM) Lists Mini Futures Cryptocurrency Contracts Backed by Vontobel

Nordic Growth Market (NGM) Lists Mini Futures Cryptocurrency Contracts Backed by Vontobel

On Thursday, 4th of July 2019, Nordic Growth Market (NGM), a Swedish stock exchange, announced that it has listed Ether-based as well as Bitcoin mini futures.

Vontobel, an investment bank, which recently launched tracker certificates on Litecoin, Ether, Bitcoin and Ripple will be backing the derivative products.

Per the listing, Tommy Fransson, the deputy chief executive at Nordic Growth Market said:

“It is with great pleasure we list Mini Futures on cryptocurrencies from Vontobel. It has a big interest among investors. This listing further strengthens the crypto products offering at NGM.”

E-mini

Mini Futures, which are often called ‘e-mini’, are quite similar to the standard futures contracts in all things apart from its value, which is a fraction of the standard futures contracts.

E-mini NGM traders can benefit both from hikes or dips in performance of an asset because the exchange allows both long as well as short positions.

In addition, Nordic Growth Market (NGM) offers cryptocurrency derivatives traders with leverage.

A Very Lucrative Market

Due to the high volatility of crypto-assets, there has been a rise in the demand for cryptocurrency backed derivatives, hence the launch of the mini futures.

This high demand for crypto-backed derivatives can be seen in the statistics report by CME Group which recently hit 1.7 billion dollars worth of Bitcoin futures in a single day as well as an increase in new user registration for trading Bitcoin futures.

Many other platforms are looking to benefit from this highly lucrative market as they look into offering cryptocurrency based services.

ErisX and LedgerX License

ErisX, a cryptocurrency trading platform was recently issued a license from the United States commodities regulator to provide crypto futures contracts to its customers.

In June 2019, LedgerX, also got a license from the US commodities regulator to provide physically delivered Bitcoin (BTC) derivatives.

Vontobel Statement

In addition, Roger Studer, the head of investment banking at Vontobel, said

“The new Mini Futures on cryptocurrencies will give investors new instruments to trade cryptocurrencies in bullish as well as bearish market environments. They will also enable crypto investors to hedge long crypto positions, Vontobel underlines its claim to deliver innovative products, liquid market access as well as best services to its customers and confirms its position as one of Sweden’s leading providers of structured products.”

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Author: Osahon Okodugha