Cryptocurrency Payment Processor BitPay Finally Announces Support for SegWit

Bitpay, the crypto payment processing giant, has finally integrated the segregated witness (SegWit) protocol, a second layer scalable solution to make bitcoin processing cheaper. The Segwit integration is currently optional for bitcoin wallet users on BitPay. However, the firm plans to make it a default feature by the year-end.

SegWit was first proposed by Pieter Wuille, a bitcoin core developer in 2015. The SegWit protocol aimed to free up block space on Bitcoin blockchain without increasing the block size.

SegWit also eliminated a transaction signature vulnerability, which allowed miscreants to manipulate transaction signatures. On the other hand, BitPay is one of the largest crypto processors and currently processes around $1 billion worth of crypto transactions every year.

BitPay had earlier passed on an opportunity to integrate SegWit on its platform almost three years back and instead opted for another protocol called SegWit2x. SegWit2x implemented segWit itself, but at the same time, it also increased the block size from 1MB to 2 MB.

The Bitcoin community was divided over the use of the two protocols, creating conflict in the community over the size of the Bitcoin block, and many believe this also led to the creation of Bitcoin Cash Network.

However, SegWit2x failed to capture on the industry support, and as of today, 63% of all bitcoin transactions are processed using SegWit.

BitPay’s Decision Surprises Many

BitPay’s staunch support for an alternative second-layer protocol over SegWit has made many wonder what changed the minds of its decision-makers.

Sean Rolland, BitPay director of the product, claimed that now is the perfect time to introduce SegWit to its users as it decreases the cost of transactions by up to 30%, and the firm believes it would reduce the fee by 5%-10% with a new update.

Bitcoin was created to provide an alternate easy to use financial tool which offered lightning-fast transaction speeds at minimal transaction cost.

However, as bitcoin’s popularity grew, the network started to show signs of fatigue as it was unable to handle the transaction volume, making it slow, complicated, and costly to use. This was when developers came up with an off-chain second layer solution in the form of the Lightning Network and SegWit.

The lightning network showed a lot of promise. Still, even after years into development, the LN protocol seems to have more complexities than it was invented to resolve. Thus, SegWit became a popular choice.

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Author: Lillian Peter

Steem Freezes $5 Million of 64 Hive Users Funds in Coordinated Hard Fork Today

  • Steem Blockchain’s hard fork on May 20th has been lauded by current Witness Group Triple A as essential to ensure network stability. However, some of the users are opined that these are punitive measures to those that did resist the Sun’s takeover bid.

The Steem project has been thrust into the spotlight yet again. This is as an oncoming hard fork on May 20th will see some users accounts frozen and lose up to 23.6 million STEEM valued to be well over $5 million.

The Tron CEO, Justin Sun acquired the SteemIt blogging site towards the end of the last year. Then was involved in a hostile takeover for the Steem Blockchain despite widespread criticism from the Steem Community.

Hostile Takeover

The Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol allowed the takeover as the SteemIt Blog owned about a fifth of the total STEEM tokens. This combined with key support from Binance, Huobi and Poloniex was enough to rally their weight (about 45.6 Million STEEM) behind new witnesses in a bid to get rid of ‘rogue actors’. This was seen as an attempt to quell the soft fork within the Steem Blockchain and resulted to some staunch Steem users retreated to their new Blockchain namely the Hive.

The witness group, Triple A recently highlighted that the imminent update will only target those that are deemed a direct threat to the Blockchain. They cited that this would be crucial in ensuring the Network was stable and improve the Steem Ecosystem.

“Publicly attacking users, collecting personal information, threatening murder… spreading fake news, and damaging network stability.”

Punitive Measures to Hive Defectors

However, some share the sentiment that these are just some of the punitive measures Sun is rolling out for those who opposed his takeover bid. This and the fact that majority of Hive’s users weren’t allocated any free token according ‘TheMarkyMark’ who was a witness prior to Sun’s takeover. A screenshot from a Steem employee stirred speculation that some user accounts would be victimized by the new update. The code that was released on May 19th confirmed this as it was seen to contain names of the supposed ‘rogue actors’.

The targeted users have not taken the issue lightly and have threatened all those supporting the hard fork with civil suits. Targeted users such as ‘They Call Me Dan’ and ‘pharesim2’ are set to lose $600,000 and around 80,000€ respectively if the hard fork is to go through.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Healthcare Sector in Afghanistan to Experience Transformation via Blockchain

The health sector in Afghanistan is about to witness a major shift. This is coming after the country’s ministry of public health entered into an agreement with a blockchain venture. The venture is named FantomOperations and the plan is to incorporate blockchain technology into the country’s healthcare sector. This announcement was made public on the 27th of November when the Afghan Voice Agency reported it.

Big Transformation Coming

According to what was agreed upon, the healthcare sector in the country is about witness real change. In fact, the agreement is so comprehensive that blockchain technology is going to be employed in the identification of fake drugs. It is also going to be used in the establishment of medical registries in different medical centers. Even the digitization of the records of patients across the nation is also part of the deal.

While speaking on the whole deal, Ferozuddin Feroz, who is the country’s minister of public health was quite optimistic about the whole deal. He clarified that the ministry of public health was very dedicated to the idea of incorporating the latest forms of technology into the running of the health sector. He also went ahead to state that in order to achieve this goal, the adoption of blockchain technology was going to be the best bet. He also added that there are several benefits that the country stands to gain from the coming of blockchain technology. These included increased effectiveness, higher levels of transparency and even an overall increase in the speed of the various transactions.

Taking Challenges

Stakeholders of the sector on the side of the government and the general public are all worried about the several challenges ahead. One of the most prominent of these is the proliferation of fake drugs all over Afghanistan. This is a nation where so many Afghans depend on the use of traditional drugs as solutions for their several health challenges. There are reasons why they do this. Some of the main reasons are of affordability and easy access. This has been confirmed by a study from the European Asylum Support Office which made its findings public earlier in the year in April.

According to the report, the association of those importing medicines into the nation raised an alarm about a huge chunk of the medicines and medical equipment entering the country. They cried out that as much as two-fifths of these items are entering the country either illegally or they are fake. This is one of the reasons why the government is doing everything possible to tackle these hydra-headed challenges.

The United Nations is also interested in the developments made in the country. It has made it known that Afghanistan has commenced the implementation of blockchain technology-based solutions to address several issues. A good example in this regard is the one that has to do with sustainable urban development. The body is expecting that Afghanistan is going to become urbanized in the next one and half-decade. If all is to go as planned, then it has taken urgent steps now and that explains the use of blockchain.

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Author: Ali Raza

SegWit Transactions Are On The Rise; Bitcoiner Makes A Deal With Binance’s CZ To Increase Adoption

Segregated Witness (SegWit) transactions on the Bitcoin network have recently increased. According to data taken from the network, the use of SegWit has spiked to 55% in September.

This is an optional protocol that helps the blockchain transactions to lower costs because it can accommodate more transactions in a single block. The SegWit protocol creates transactions which are around 25% smaller than non-SegWit ones.

Binance To Support SegWit

The CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has also indicated that the most important crypto exchange of the world could add support for SegWit transactions soon. As the exchange has a huge volume, it could help the network a lot.

In related news, Udi Wertheimer, a prominent Bitcoin developer, has affirmed that he would change the logo of his Twitter profile if the exchange added SegWit transactions. Despite signaling interest to do it, the exchange has been postponing the change for a long time now.

One of the main reasons why the upgrade has not happened yet is because SegWit is a “low priority” for the company. Zhao affirmed that current transactions “do work”, so upgrading them is not something that needs to be done as soon as possible.

Zhao has, however, hinted that the exchange could adopt SegWit transactions by 2020. Time will tell how this story will end, but the pressure for the world’s largest exchange to use this solution is growing a lot recently.

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Author: Gabriel Machado