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On a blockchain platform, all the participants are free to check the transactions. This transparency level provides the much security to the users. Basically, it is a public verification process, where the cheating percentage is fall to its minimum level or zero. Unfortunately, it is not also good in privacy matters.

To improve the privacy terms, confidential transactions are its potential solution. Whereas, these transactions hide the transacted bitcoin which is using in test environment and academia.

A number of bitcoin core developers discover the confidential assets. These transactions are categorically designed for the bitcoin.  Confidential assets carry a level to any blockchain asset such as ownership paper, stock etc.

Blockstream engineer Gregory Sander says, “With Confidential Assets, we can generate multi-asset transactions where both the amount and the asset type itself are encrypted”.

Confidential asset

Basically, confidential assets are not a new born concept in the technology world. It is increasing in two ways.

The first part of this puzzle is planted on confidential transactions, which was introduced by the current Blockstream CEO Dr. Adam back. Blockstream developers Gregory Maxwell, Dr. PIETER Wuille and mathematician Andrew Poelstra further work on this and expand it to blockchain’s alpha sidechain.

According to these transactions, only receiver and sender will come to know the transacted amount. A public verification process, that is the rest of the world-where the transactions were created between the sender and the receiver. But the transacted amount is masked.

Whereas, in confidential transactions are masked in a programmed way that public verifier will able to perform a certain type of math on them.  If they cancel out the transaction, anyone is capable to add up the committed amount on the sending end. And, add up all amounts on receiving end. In addition, if they don’t cancel, means no amount was created out. In that way, a public verifier will fail to know how much was transacted. They have the idea that system wasn’t cheated.

The second part of the puzzle is quite new, which boost up the masking to assets themselves. Confidential assets include blockchain based assets not only bitcoin.

Sanders says, “While the sender and receiver would know that, say, a gold certificate was transacted, a public verifier would only know that ‘some asset’ was transacted — in ‘some amount”. “And if multiple assets are transacted at once, the public verifier would see that multiple types of ‘some assets’ changed hands, and he can verify that no ‘some assets’ were created out of thin air. But he would still not know what was transacted exactly, or how much of each ‘some asset”.

Projects

Confidential assets advanced in two different projects.

For one, it may be associated with the existing sidechain such as a liquid. This is an organize blockchain fix to the bitcoin. Where the blocks confirm by the service provider. which permits the transactions at little cost without troubling the main blockchain. Exchanges use this to let the customers move the bitcoins among different accounts without confirmation from the blockchain. Confidential assets allow to move the fiat currency as well.

In addition, Blockstream start a teamwork with Japanese IT company Digital Garage.

Sanders explains, “Digital Garage is working on a loyalty points blockchain” and “This means that all types of companies can issue their loyalty points, and customers can use them or trade them atomically for other assets using market makers. Privacy is huge here because you do not want to be showing the whole world how many points are outstanding on your books”.

Furthermore, confidential assets sidechain is a private decentralize exchange. This elementary setup can expand to mediators that act. Sanders says, “For the Digital Garage demo we have implemented a trustless, blinded swap of multiple assets through peers already. If we can deploy fiat currency on the blockchain, we can make similar arrangements between Bitcoin and U.S. dollar, euro or yen”. Blockchain use case complexity matrix

 

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Xcoins Review

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Today we’ll be reviewing Xcoins, which is a new peer-to-peer lending platform that was launched recently.

Xcoins Review

Buying bitcoins is risky business for everyone, especially due to the possibility of a chargeback. However, Xcoin claims to have found a way around this, since they loan you bitcoins instead of selling them to you. Here’s how it works:

Visit the site and select to “loan” some bitcoins. You’ll be asked to verify your ID and requested to deposit the USD equivalent of how much you’d like to borrow + credit card/ PayPal processing fees + a fixed amount that will be acting as the interest rate on the loan.

Fortunately, there is no ongoing interest on the loan since it is just a one-time payment. Usually, these fees go up to more than 20%.

Selling (or lending) Bitcoins on Xcoins

Xcoins even gives the option to lend bitcoins. You can decide how much you wish to loan in USD and deposit that amount in your Xcoins account. The system automatically matches you with suitable buyers and they will deposit money directly to your PayPal account.

Xcoins Review

In this scenario, you are lending .5 BTC. You would make 15% profit and Xcoins would make 10% profit.

Xcoins put the risk of the transaction on the lender that wants to make money from the premium. There is currently a 15% premium on the bitcoin lending as seen above. So as long as you get a fraudulent customer for less than 15% of the time, you’d end up with a profit.

Xcoins claims that they thoroughly screen all the people that want to buy bitcoins, to reduce the amount of fraud. Also, new users can only withdraw a limited amount of bitcoin and the limit only increases after the user develops a good reputation over time.

What are the benefits?

The main benefit for any seller is obviously to earn around 15% interest when selling bitcoin on the platform.

For the buyer, the advantage is that you don’t need to wire money to an exchange. You can get bitcoin instantly through PayPal or credit card by just paying a slightly higher premium.

What are the risks?

Once you turn over your bitcoins to the buyer, they can choose to challenge the PayPal transaction and unfortunate to the seller, PayPal almost always sides with the buyer. So, the buyer would end up with both the money and bitcoins and you’d be left with nothing else than remorse. This is why you get paid a premium.

 

Conclusion – Will I be using Xcoins?

Being a buyer: Xcoins still seems a little unstable to be used for large purchases since it is very new. Although, if the only way you can acquire bitcoins is through PayPal and you’re willing to pay the price, this might be a substitute to VirWox.

Being a seller: No one would want to risk being flagged by PayPal, thus I wouldn’t recommend this to others as well. However, if you want to try it out, go ahead and please share your experience with us right here in the comments section. We’d love to hear all about it!

In case you’re looking for other platforms where you can purchase Bitcoins, be sure to check out Wirex, VirWox, LocalBitcoins, Cryptonit and Paxful.

 

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Bitcoin Escrow Service – Multisignature

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An escrow service provides safer transactions especially since bitcoin transactions are irreversible. It holds the buyer’s coins in escrow and releases them after the satisfaction of both the parties. Escrow protects sellers from fraudulent buyers and likewise, buyers are protected if the seller turns out to be a scammer and doesn’t deliver the goods.

bitcoin escrow service

Bitcoin Multisig

Multisig aka Multi-signature is a technology that takes care of bitcoin wallet address. The basic principle is very simple: more than one person must sign the transaction in order for it to be valid. Bitcoin has a built-in feature that lets you choose as many signatures as you like, and then choose how many signatures in total must be provided for a valid transaction.

Use Bitcoin Multisig for Escrow

How to Use Multisig to Escrow Bitcoin?

The most common use of Multisig would have to be bitcoin multi-sig escrow. Multi-sig escrow provides consumer protection without the need of a central escrow provider to hold the coins on your behalf. Instead, an address is created which requires ‘2 of 3’ signatures from the buyer, seller and a third person who provides arbitration in case there is any disagreement. This address holds the payment until the product or service is delivered, and then can be used to pay the seller or refund the buyer.

Multisig can strongly benefit both individuals and organizations in improving security, establishing access controls, and enabling the delegation of partial trust. The additional signature proves that the transaction process is complete when both parties are aware that the terms of the transaction have met.

Bitcoin Escrow- Specialized Services

There are some specific platforms present for providing bitcoin escrow service to bitcoin users.  When you use one of these services, you are able to choose a third-party arbitrator from a list. If this list isn’t available in the event of a disagreement, they will act as a mediator.

  • Bitrated – Costumers choose from a list of independent arbitrators registered on a platform. After confirmation, the buyer secures bitcoins into a multi-signature address and the payment is secure until two of the participants agree to release them.
  • Escrow My Bits – This Bitcoin escrow service charges 1% escrow fees which provides possible dispute resolution. Storing your funds in a secure 2 of 3 multi-signature transactions where they hold one key.
  • StrongCoin- It’s an online wallet with built-in escrow with 1% fee on bitcoin cryptography. Use this service to buy items as they are able to offer escrow where no single party holds bitcoins. They hold one vote and to release the coins, you require two votes.

While in escrow, coins cannot be stolen unless two of the users also sign the transaction. This is much more secure and is highly recommended for anyone dealing with a large number of bitcoins.

Bitcoin Escrow Service

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Atlanta Hack! Hackers Demand Bitcoin by Shutting Down Government Computers

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On 22nd March, a cyber-attack was discovered in the US city of Atlanta. In the attack, hackers shut down the main computer systems and demanded $51,000 in Bitcoin for re-enabling the affected systems. It was noted that this disruption was affecting systems through which some consumers used to pay bills and access information related to court. Computer hacking isn’t something new to hackers as cryptocurrency related hack has been attempted by them many times before.

bitcoin demand

According to some reports, the officials of the city are working with the US Department of Homeland Security FBI, and Microsoft to discover the extent of this violation and to find ways to resolve it. City officials invigorated citizens on 23rd March, in order to check their personal accounts and information, if any of them think that their personal information could be conceded in the hack.

Public Announcement of The Attack

The attack was announced by the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, in a press conference on 22nd March. The members of the press were told by her that the officials still don’t have any idea about the extent of the attack or if bank accounts or personal data of anyone will be compromised as she stated:

“All of us are subject to this attack.”

Is there anything done to resolve the situation?

However, the situation still needs to be resolved. The price of Bitcoin is trading at $8,469 at this very moment, which shows that the demanded ransom is going to cost the city around 6 bitcoins as this is not the very first attempt of hackers to hold municipal computer systems as a hostage in exchange for the cryptocurrencies.

Former Attacks Linked to Bitcoin

Back in November 2017, Sacramento Regional Transit system was attacked by a hacker for a ransom of 1 bitcoin demand, and bitcoin had the worth of $8,000 at that time. Another malicious example of ransom for Bitcoin is from December 2017, when a parcel bomber in Germany demanded a €10 million ransom to be paid in the form of Bitcoin as he sent this in a message to a Potsdam Christmas market. However, the package failed to explode and had a QR-code for depositing bitcoins, as well as explosive material that was derived from nails and fireworks.

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What Are Some Top Coins That Can Be Used as An Alternative to Bitcoin?

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An Alternative to Bitcoin

We all know that Bitcoin is the king of digital currencies, and there doesn’t seem to be any other coin that can dethrone it from the top.

Although not similar, many digital currencies can still be used as a perfect alternative to Bitcoin. Some even claim to be technically superior to Bitcoin. Whether it’s true or not is completely another debate. In this article, we have discussed the top five digital currencies that are closest to what Bitcoin offers and can be used as an alternative to the king of cryptocurrency.

Top Alternatives to Bitcoin – Ethereum:

Bitcoin vs Ethereum is the closest battle when it comes to currencies trying to overtake Bitcoin.

Ethereum is a public blockchain software which promises to offer much more than just digital currency. The developers can code the software and power it through the public blockchain.

The users can then sell their processing power and get paid in “ether” – the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization after Bitcoin.

Ethereum has a market cap of $1bn USD.

Ripple:

Emerged in 2012, Ripple has become one of the most popular digital currencies to make online transactions anonymously. The paramount aspect of ripple is that it offers instant conversion into several other currencies.

Ripple considers itself a companion of Bitcoin and converts Bitcoin to Ripple and vice versa.

The market cap of ripple is $220m USD, making it the third largest cryptocurrency in the world.

Litecoin:

Litecoin emerged in 2011 and is one of the oldest cryptocurrencies out there. Given below are some highlights of Litecoin:

  • Similar to Bitcoin, Litecoin is decentralized.
  • Litecoin is also generated through solving algorithms, which become more and more difficult over time.
  • A Litecoin block takes just 2.5 minutes, which is much quicker than Bitcoin – where it takes around 10 minutes to generate one block.
  • Due to quick generation, Litecoin supports far more transactions than Bitcoin.
  • The overall cap limit of Litecoin is set at 84 million, which is relatively higher than that of Bitcoin’s (21 million).

The current market cap of Litecoin is about $175 million – making it the 4th largest cryptocurrency in the digital world.

Steem:

With $170 USD market cap, Steem is the 5th largest digital currency. “Steemit” is the largest platform that offers the opportunity to earn Steem. The platform is filled with a huge range of stories.

Since there is no mining process, you can only earn Steem by contributing to “Steemit”, either by writing articles or rating/commenting on other’s articles.

Dash:

The last one on our list is Dash, which, in terms of features is pretty close to Bitcoin software. Here are some unique features of Dash:

  • Advanced privacy. Some even say its privacy features surpass the ones offered by Bitcoin.
  • Whereas Bitcoin transactions can take several minutes, Dash transactions are quick and instant.
  • Low transaction fees.
  • Similar to Bitcoin, Dash is P2P and decentralized

Conclusion:

Although the competition is tough, Bitcoin is leading the race by a fair margin and isn’t going away anytime soon. However, the other currencies are also there to stay and compete, which will surely play a significant role in the evolution of digital currency environment in near future.

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Requirements Get Tough for Crypto Financial Derivatives

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Before discussing the main issue, let’s discuss about the crypto financial derivatives and their role in digital payments. Crypto financial derivatives also known as bitcoin derivatives, are in fact security arrangements with a price that is dependent upon or derived from an underlying contract whereby differences in settlement are made in the form of digital cryptocurrencies.

Due to the insecurity involved in this whole process, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has toughened its requirements for CFDs in terms of cryptocurrencies. If you are investing in cryptocurrency, this update may affect your future investment plans.

bitcoin investment

Role of ESMA in Financial Decision

In fact ESMA is an independent authority which makes sure to improve investor protection and promote more stable financial markets. ESMA’s board of supervisors is solely responsible for all the policy decisions. The decisions and policies of ESMA have a direct impact upon the following areas and stakeholders:

  • Financial service providers
  • The financial services industry
  • Retail and institutional investors and consumers
  • Users of financial markets
  • The economy of general public
  • Regulators of securities markets

What are CFDs?

To be precise and to the point, CFDs are in fact arrangements made in the form of a futures contract, according to which differences arising in the settlement are compensated in the form of cash payments, rather than physical goods.

CFDs are usually assumed to be an easier way of settlement as compared to other contemporary methods. It is also preferred by majority of users because as all gains and losses are paid in cash form. The most interesting case in terms of CFDs is that without actually owning one, it gives its investors all the risks and benefits of a security.

Expected change in leverage limit

It is being expected that the leverage limit of CFDs will be changed to 2:1 at its opening by the EU regulator. According to this leverage limit, the investor must have enough funds to cover at least half of the contract value upon its opening. Previously, the leverage limit was 5:1, it allowed the investor deposit only 20 percent of the CFD’s at the time of deal.

The reason behind this sanction is only that ESMA recently highlighted in one of its statements that cryptocurrencies required a deeper monitoring due to the risks it posed in case of undergoing investment deals. ESMA is not alone to show concern in case of cryptocurrencies, even the the Austrian Finance Minister proposed to strictly regulate the cryptocurrency derivatives in order to prevent money laundering with it.

Due to its lack of protection EU regulators have also warned investors about the ultimate risks associated with cryptocurrencies.

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