14 March 2015

C4 Announces Steering Committee; Invites Community Input

On Friday, March 13, the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium (C4) announced that Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Mike Belshe of BitGo, Eric Lombrozo of Ciphrex, Joshua McDougall and Michael Perklin of C4, Sean Neville of Circle and John Velissarios of Armory Enterprise have agreed to form the steering committee for C4’s CryptoCurrency Security Standard (CCSS).

The mission of the steering committee is to “ensure the CCSS remains up-to-date, neutral and relevant in establishing security standards in the fast changing world of cryptocurrencies.”

John Velissarios, co-founder and CISO of Armory, commented on the newly formed steering committee., “Keep in mind, the wider security world in financial services, telecoms and public sector have been solving similar problems for many years and the experiences gained in these industries are equally, if not even more applicable to the problems facing cryptocurrency companies. The CCSS, supported by C4 Steering Committee members, has a mix of skills, that together provide very wide and deep coverage and I’m confident we can tackle all the challenges that will come our way.

In the same post on its website blog, C4 issued an open invitation to the community to contribute to the CCSS.

What is the CCSS?

The CryptoCurrency Security Standard is an open standard repository for a set of requirements for any information system that utilizes cryptocurrencies. It’s mission is to enable people and companies using cryptocurrencies employ best practices that will protect them from security attacks and minimize risk.

“CCSS is a set of guidelines to help two sets of people,” says Michael Perklin, President of C4. “Newcomers find it immensely valuable because it pulls all of the things you need to do into a single checklist. It makes it easier for them to benefit from the experience/knowledge of the many peers that came before them.”

“Established services will benefit from it when the standard is ratified in Q4 2015 by being able to post completed assessments against the standard so their customers know without a doubt that they are a Level I, II, or III system.”

“Bitcoin started out as an experiment,” says Eric Lombrozo, co-CEO & CTO of Ciphrex. “Initially, the most significant concerns were pertaining to the protocol and the ability for the network to achieve consensus, not scaling it to manage accounts worth millions or hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, Bitcoin was from the start a disruptive concept for the existing financial industry – as such, not many early Bitcoiners had had much experience in existing financial security practices.”

A Call for Collaboration

Both Lombrozo and Perklin emphasize the importance of community involvement in the development of the CCSS. “CCSS is a collaborative effort,” says Perklin. “ It’s not some decree written by a centralized committee that the world must follow.”

Velissarios agrees. “The wider community can bring a multidisciplinary approach to the crypto currency world and bring decades of experience, which will be immensely helpful to crypto currency startups.”

“I’ve been working on enterprise security software for nearly 20 years,” says Lombrozo of his own involvement in CCSS. “While cryptocurrencies bring many additional challenges to security, many basic concepts carry over from earlier projects. I hope to bring some of that experience into this space.”

Anyone with an interest in cryptocurrencies is encouraged to participate in the project. The post lays out a number of ways that people can contribute.

“While security experts have an obvious avenue for contributing, the standard also needs help from graphic designers, language translators, and proofreaders too, just to name a few.

Access to the project can be found on its Github repository as well as via the C4 Slack site #ccss-discussion channel. Interested participants can join the channel by emailing a request.

Image via Freepik

March 14, 2015 at 03:43PM

13 March 2015

OKCoin Reveals Security Policy: Sets Standard for Operational Transparency

On Friday, Star Xu, CEO of trading platform OKCoin, published his company’s security policy in a Reddit thread.

“OKCoin has decided to openly share [its] cold wallet security information. Through this transparency, OKCoin aims to assure users of the security of their funds,” the post stated.

Xu then encouraged members of the community to contribute feedback.

He began by outlining the company’s security design philosophy, focusing on key vulnerabilities inherent in Internet connections, USB drives and reliance on centralized management.

He went on to explain how the company’s security design protocol addressed concerns surrounding private key generation and backup, depositing bitcoin from an online hot wallet to an offline cold wallet, and retrieving bitcoin from an offline cold wallet.

The post listed key highlights of the OKCoin security protocol:

  1. The cold wallet addresses can only hold a limited amount of bitcoin.

  2. Private keys are stored on completely offline computers.

  3. Certainty that the private key never had any contact with the Internet or USBs.

  4. Encrypted private key paper document requires offsite backup, and is controlled by different people in different places.

  5. AES private key password shall also be controlled by different people in different places, and shall not be the same person with the master of the private key.

  6. Holders of the AES private key password and those with the ability to retrieve the encrypted private key are different people and in different places.

  7. Once a private key has been used to transfer bitcoin out of the address, the address is no longer to be used again for deposits.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Michael Perklin, president of the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium (C4) and president of Bitcoinsultants Inc., commended Xu.

“Having a strong security policy is one of five things that every cryptocurrency storage solution should have,” Perklin said, adding that the other four pillars include “procedures, trained personnel, secure hardware and secure software.”

According to C4’s Cryptocurrency Security Standard matrix, it appears that OKCoin’s manifesto covers many, though not all, of the points companies need to include in their security policies to earn Level II and Level III ratings.

Perklin added that by publishing its security policy, OKCoin doesn’t lose anything in terms of security. The move should, in fact, give their clients a degree of confidence.

“Kudos to OKCoin for doing this,” Perklin said.

March 13, 2015 at 08:14PM

12 March 2015

Ulbricht’s Lawyer Files for Retrial

Ross Ulbricht has not even been sentenced yet for his conviction as leader of Silk Road, the Amazon for drugs, and he’s already requesting a new trial.

Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s attorney, filed a motion that includes evidence that suggests the federal government gained access to the server that Silk Road was on without a warrant. Further, the defense argues that the government may have tried to hack into the site.

On February 4, after only 3 ½ hours of deliberation, a New York federal jury found Ulbricht guilty on all seven charges, including drug trafficking, computer hacking, money laundering, running a criminal enterprise and fraud with identification documents. Should the seven felonies stand, Ulbricht would be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.

According to a memo filed Friday evening, Dratel is looking for a new trial for Ulbricht. The defense is also looking to re-visit a motion that would have suppressed all evidence gained from the Silk Road servers. The defense argues that the evidence was obtained without a warrant, violating Ulbricht’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Further, Dratel is arguing that Ulbricht’s Fifth Amendment rights have been violated.

“Mr. Ulbricht should be granted a new trial because the government failed to provide exculpatory material and information in a timely manner, thereby denying him his Fifth Amendment right to due process and a fair trial,” Dratel wrote in his memo.

Dratel argued that 5,000 pages of material related to the testimony of Department of Homeland Security agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan were not provided in a timely manner. During cross-examination, Der-Yeghiayan revealed that his group had been looking at Mark Karpeles, the owner of Mt. Gox, as the true “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the pseudonym used by the site’s founder.

Dratel has argued that this evidence was provided only two weeks before the trial started, thus making it nearly impossible for the defense to pull together a proper argument in time for the start date.

With respect to the Fourth Amendment violations, Dratel wrote: “Mr. Ulbricht’s motion to suppress evidence should be reopened based on information produced by the government in connection with trial, and should be granted in its entirety.”

The memo went on to say that: “In the context of Mr. Ulbricht’s suppression motion, this surveillance raises some novel Fourth Amendment issues, and also provides further evidence that the government discovered the Internet Protocol (hereinafter “IP”) address for the Iceland server ending in “.49” through warrantless TOR network surveillance.”

Dratel argued before that the government had hacked into the server. But the government argued that if the FBI had hacked the Silk Road server it would be legal because the server was based in Iceland and Ulbricht had not made clear that he was the owner. In other words, there can’t be a violation of constitutional rights if no one comes forward to say that their rights were violated.

Unfortunately for Ulbricht, there were five requests for a mistrial put forth by Dratel during the trial and none were allowed by the judge. It is highly unlikely that these requests will be granted, especially since Ulbricht already has been convicted and he’s requesting the retrial from the same judge who refused a mistrial repeatedly.

And Dratel may not be truly looking for a retrial. Instead, the motion might all be part of a larger plan to file an appeal.

Ulbricht and his defense team have until April 4 to file their formal appeal.

March 12, 2015 at 04:22PM

Bter Teams with JUA.com to Upgrade Security, Repay Victims of Recent Hack

The newly rebuilt Bter.com, one of the world’s largest altcoin trading platforms, has announced that it has joined forces with JUA.com and is stepping up its security system. It has also set forth a plan for repaying all users who lost funds due to a recent theft.

On the security side, JUA.com will provide 100 percent cold wallet escrow storage of users’ funds, and will gradually take on hot wallet security for deposits and withdrawals as well. Bter has already worked with JUA.com since the hack to review all security-related code, and has completely rebuilt the trading platform’s back end.

JUA.com will also front a 1,000 bitcoin interest-free loan to Bter in exchange for shares, for the purpose of repaying losses to clients. In turn, Bter also has pledged to seek further financing from other sources to help speed up the repayment timeline.

Bter and JUA.com have indicated that they will be working together in the coming months to bring a “new profit model and more services to Bter’s users.”

Bter said that “all Bter’s future profit shall be used to pay [back] the BTC loss [to] users first until all the lost BTC is paid up.” At the same time, it is offering users one month of free trading on the site “as our thanks for your trust and support.”

The History of the Hack

On February 14, 2015, 7,170 bitcoin was reported stolen from Bter in one of the largest hacks in cryptocurrency history. Bter claims to have traced the stolen funds to the bitcoin mixer Bitcoin Fog, thanks to the efforts of security teams and the crypto community. It has been unable to do anything substantial with this information to date.

Since the first days of the breach, Bter has accepted full responsibility for the loss and has pledged to repay all missing funds; at one point, it even considered selling all its assets to fulfill that commitment. The new partnership with JUA.com is designed to ensure that Bter can move forward with some hope of future growth.

Besides being a specialist in digital currency financial services, security and storage, JUA.com also is also affiliated with BW.com, one of the largest mining farms and mining pools in the world, accounting for 20 percent of global hashing power.

March 12, 2015 at 05:53PM

A Conversation with Coinbase’s Adam White

Coinbase, one of the largest and fastest growing companies in the Bitcoin space, recently received a $75 million investment from high-profile backers and launched an exchange.

In addition to recently announcing their Series C funding and launching the first licensed exchange in the United States, Coinbase is focusing on continued international expansion and promoting their developer platform.

Adam White, head of business development and strategy at Coinbase, tells Bitcoin Magazine that Coinbase Exchange has been live for about a month, and it’s already one of top five exchanges in the world in terms of USD trading volume.

“The idea for our exchange came from the fact that there were exchanges around the world providing great service, but few operating in a compliant manner,” White said. “We wanted to be the first in the U.S. to do so.”

The exchange currently is available in 26 states and Puerto Rico, with licenses in 16 of those states. Coinbase is working to be licensed and able to work in all 50 states.

Coinbase is registered as a Money Service Business with the Federal Government through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN,) but is required to obtain a money transmitter license for most states in which they open the exchange.

Each state has different prerequisites, and Coinbase is working with regulators to get the exchange open in more states.

It plans to eventually launch internationally with a priority of opening an exchange in Europe.

White made it clear, however, that Coinbase doesn’t plan on launching exchanges everywhere.

“Coinbase can’t be in every country,” he said. “That would require us to have a banking relationship in each country we wish to start an exchange in. In some cases we would rather provide the tools that help other businesses spread bitcoins across national boundaries.”

Some new potential ways people can use bitcoin include remittances, microtransactions and cross-border payments.

“With Bitcoin, international transactions can be made essentially free. We have always encouraged other services to use our APIs; we want to provide the infrastructure necessary to help push the industry forward,” White said.

“Finding new use cases for Bitcoin is a priority for us,” he said. “Coinbase is aiming to be the trusted brand in the space, providing a safe, secure and trusted platform focused on customer satisfaction.”

Image via Coinbase.com

March 12, 2015 at 03:50PM

Wall Street Bitcoin Alliance Launches to Reflect Growing Institutional Interest

The Wall Street Bitcoin Alliance (WSBA) is a new organization formed by business and technology executives and leaders within the financial industry, including banks, broker-dealers, institutional investors and hedge funds.

The announcement states that the mission of the WSBA is to guide and promote comprehensive adoption of digital currency and blockchain technology across financial markets. The member-driven WSBA will interface with national and international government agencies and regulators, as well as technology innovators.

“Bitcoin and blockchain technology and protocols represent a seismic shift in how financial markets, and all aspects of the global economy, will operate in the future,” said Ron Quaranta, executive director of WSBA.

“As we work to incorporate and adapt these powerful technological advances to the world of ‘Finance 2.0′, having an organized, strategic approach will aid all participants understand and embrace the Bitcoin ecosystem,” he said. “We believe that the long-term result will be more efficient markets, more cost-effective solutions for equity ownership, investment and trading and, ultimately, greater value and wealth creation for all participants in the world of finance and trading.”

Quaranta is the CEO of Digital Currency Labs, a financial technology and strategic advisory company whose mission is to bridge the gap between the emerging world of digital currencies and Wall Street.

The executive committee of WSBA also includes James Jalil, senior partner and head of the cryptocurrency practice at the law firm of Thompson Hine; Gil Luria, managing director at Wedbush Securities’ and Christian Martin, chief executive officer of TeraExchange, which operates the first regulated U.S. Bitcoin derivatives exchange.

By reverse-merging with publicly traded company MGT Capital Investments, TeraExchange recently created the first publicly traded U.S. Bitcoin derivatives exchange.

Full WSBA membership is limited to existing financial market-based firms, including U.S.-registered broker dealers, banks, institutional investment firms and hedge funds.

While full membership criteria are quite strict, an associate membership option is open to individuals and companies providing services and capabilities within the Bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem. Bitcoin technology developers, vendors and consultants will be able to participate in the WSBA as associate members.

“Bitcoin and the blockchain represent a seismic shift in how financial markets, and all aspects of the global economy, operate. In the same way that the Internet gave us a powerful way to share and access information, Bitcoin and blockchain technology now gives us a powerful way to share and access value,” notes the WSBA website. “The long-term result will be more efficient markets, more cost-effective solutions for equity ownership, investment and trading and, ultimately, greater value and wealth creation for all participants in the world of finance and trading.”

Initially, the WSBA will focus on Bitcoin regulatory frameworks such as BitLicense, tax-related aspects of digital currencies, and technological innovation in the Bitcoin ecosystem. The last category is very wide, but it seems likely that the WSBA intends to investigate interfaces and bridges between the emerging digital economy and the mainstream financial system.

The WSBA will have a strategic partnership with the Digital Currency Council (DCC), a Bitcoin consultancy and education center that offers training, certification, referrals and networking opportunities to fintech professionals.

March 12, 2015 at 03:27PM

11 March 2015

150 More MyCoin Bitcoin Scheme Victims Step Forward


An additional 150 victims of the allegedly fraudulent bitcoin exchange MyCoin have come forward to police, according to the South China Morning Post.

Accompanied by Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun, 23 victims reported their involvement with the company to police on Wednesday. The development is the latest in the ongoing saga surrounding MyCoin, a platform billed as a bitcoin exchange but that may have never dealt in the digital currency.

SCMP indicated that one victim is said to have lost $HK80,000 ($102,946 at press time), a figure that may be among the highest individual totals so far reported.

Five individuals were arrested last week in connection with MyCoin, though they have been released on bail. The investigation, led by Hong Kong Commercial Crime Bureau, continues to search for individuals involved.

Notably, the report also included revised estimates of the total customer loss experienced when the scheme went offline, with the latest estimates suggesting 80 victims have so far come forward citing losses of HK$150m ($19.3m at press time).


March 11, 2015 at 09:25PM

Counterparty and MathMoney f(x) Create Symbiont to Make Financial Markets Smarter

Counterparty founders have joined with MathMoney f(x) and its founder Mark Smith as co-founders of the new fintech company Symbiont. Symbiont will focus on fostering the symbiotic relationship between traditional financial markets and cryptographic blockchain technology.

“Since we founded Counterparty over a year ago, our focus has consistently been on the creation and positioning of this technology as a solution for structural issues in the larger financial markets,” said Robby Dermody, co-founder of Counterparty and now President of Symbiont.

“Symbiont is the next step in achieving that goal,” Dermody said.

“We’re excited about the positive impacts blockchain adoption will have in the systems that power modern finance, and we look forward to seeing this technology put into use in a way that increases transparency, liquidity and the overall functioning of capital markets,” added Evan Wagner, co-founder of Counterparty and now Managing Director of Operations at Symbiont.

“I founded MathMoney f(x) (a SenaHill Partners portfolio company) to address the severe infrastructural problems associated with the emerging math-based currency trading ecosystem,” said Smith, CEO of Symbiont. “After studying the intricacies of [the blockchain] it became clear that blockchains in general, and Counterparty specifically, could solve long-standing, previously intractable problems that exist in modern financial markets. This epiphany made the decision to join forces with the Counterparty team a logical one.”

“Mark has over twenty years of experience in finance, and was one of the core people behind the creation of several large-scale trading platforms,” say the Counterparty founders on their website. “We’re all very excited about the potential positive impacts not only to Counterparty, but to the blockchain’s adoption in the systems that power modern finance.”

Symbiont will be using Counterparty and other blockchain-based technologies to solve specific, identified issues in several segments of the multi-trillion dollar securities market.

Symbiont’s technology platform will be based on Counterparty, but the Counterparty technology itself will remain open source. The Counterparty Foundation will remain unchanged, with both community and third-party industry voices being represented, and Counterparty co-founder Adam Krellenstein will continue to serve as chief scientist of the foundation besides his new role of Symbiont chief technology officer.

Counterparty made multiple headlines in 2014. Its technology was selected as the main software backbone for a new independent stock exchange operating in bitcoin and powered by Bitcoin technology.

The new stock exchange, developed by Overstock and codenamed Medici, could sidestep traditional stock exchanges such as NYSE and NASDAQ and issue corporate stock directly over the Internet.

It was later revealed, however, that the Medici project will include a wider variety of Bitcoin technologies, protocols and blockchains.

In November, Counterparty announced the implementation of Ethereum’s programming language on the Counterparty platform, enabling users to save and execute Turing Complete Ethereum code on the Bitcoin blockchain, without having to go through external blockchains and altcoins. In the near future, Symbiont’s team plans to upgrade Counterparty’s port of Ethereum, and make it ready for operational production.

The Counterparty software suite has matured rapidly with more than 180,000 Counterparty transactions made, often constituting a significant fraction of daily bitcoin transactions. In addition, there have been three comprehensive security audits performed on the codebase.

Symbiont already has raised significant interim funding, which will be followed by a formal Series A round investment of preferred stock.

March 11, 2015 at 03:30PM

10 March 2015

Three Unnamed Bidders Win Latest US Marshals Bitcoin Auction

The US Marshals Service (USMS) has revealed that three bidders each took home a portion of the 50,000 BTC sold during its most recent bitcoin auction.

The winnings were divided among the unnamed individuals, with the leading bidder claiming 27,000 BTC ($7.9m at press time). The remainder of the bitcoin was split among two individuals who took winnings of 20,000 BTC ($5.9m) and 3,000 BTC ($885,801), respectively.

A spokesperson for the USMS confirmed the totals via email, adding that the transfers have been finalized.

The names of the winners have not yet been revealed, though the trading desk at SecondMarket, the bidder that claimed the highest share of the 50,000 BTC sold in December’s auction, has publicly revealed it did not enter a winning bid.

Other known participants, including hedge fund Pantera Capital and investment management company Binary Financial, have yet to comment on the news publicly.

A final auction of the roughly 44,000 remaining bitcoins in possession by the government agency is expected to be held later this year.

US Marshals

March 10, 2015 at 06:32PM

Bitcoin Anywhere: A Bitcoin to Credit Card Gateway From Abine and Coinbase

Abine announced the release of Bitcoin Anywhere, a new service that lets users spend bitcoin at all online merchants that accept MasterCard. The service, currently in an invite-only beta, permits funding of a Blur “Masked Card” from a Coinbase wallet.

Currently, Bitcoin Anywhere is available only to invited users of Abine’s Blur premium service.

Blur Masked Cards are one-time MasterCards created on-the-fly by Abine, which can be used at all online merchants that accept MasterCard, which, in practice, means all online merchants. Masked cards don’t compromise the user’s real name and address and have a built-in limit to avoid hidden charges.

“When a user makes a Masked Card, we are issuing a limited-balance, limited-duration credit card for that transaction. When you generate a masked card we charge your funding source,” said Andrew Sudbury, Abine co-founder and CTO.

Bitcoin Anywhere aims to make bitcoin payments widespread by automatically signing up all online merchants. Only the users know that they are paying with bitcoin, whereas the merchants continue to use their credit card payment systems.

The Abine announcement notes that leading venture capitalists invest in the Bitcoin ecosystem because they are persuaded that more consumers will use Bitcoin if it is accepted more broadly, while Bitcoin companies bet on wide acceptance catalyzing mainstream use.

“What we aim to achieve is to assess consumer demand for a purchasing experience that balances innovation, convenience, compliance and security,” said Sudbury. Abine plans to share the results of the beta program with other Bitcoin companies and interest groups.

Abine is a Boston-based company founded by Rob Shavell, Andrew Sudbury and Eugene Kuznetsov, focused on developing easy-to-use privacy solutions for consumers. Blur, the flagship service of Abine, is an integrated solution for privacy and online life management.

Besides masked cards, Blur offers password management, online forms auto-fill, and one-time disposable email addresses. The premium service costs $39 per year (with discounts for multi-year subscriptions), and includes extra features such as data synchronization across multiple devices, secure backup and a masked phone number.

With Bitcoin Anywhere, Abine enters the Bitcoin ecosystem with the same emphasis on privacy and ease-of-use.

In related news, Australian Bitcoin company CoinJar announced the public launch of the Bitcoin debit card CoinJar Swipe. The card permits spending bitcoin anywhere that accepts EFTPOS. That means just about anywhere since the EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) payment network is widespread in Australia and New Zealand. The CoinJar announcement is titled “Now every Australian business accepts Bitcoin.”

The card also permits withdrawing bitcoin as cash at any ATM in Australia.

Abine and CoinJar are betting on expanding the adoption of Bitcoin by making the digital currency completely transparent to merchants. That seems to make sense, because acceptance by merchants is one of the critical bottlenecks in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Once consumers can spend their bitcoin anywhere, more people will participate in the emerging Bitcoin economy.

Images via Abine.com

March 10, 2015 at 04:32PM

Serica + Factom Announce Collaboration

London, UK March 10th, 2015

Today, Serica and Factom jointly announced a collaboration wherein Serica will leverage the Factom technology to enhance their transparency & auditing strategy, and the Factom Foundation will use Serica as an important part of its asset allocation model.

Serica Proof of Audit

Serica uses Factom for global custodian auditing

Serica’s token transaction transparency strategy focuses on eliminating trust through cryptography. The Factom technology uses the same cryptography behind Bitcoin to mathematically prove the existence of any data it receives by hashing that data and embedding the resultant traces into the Bitcoin blockchain. This creates a provably time-stamped record keeping system capable of maintaining a near real-time, unforgeable audit trail of Serica’s asset inventory reports, published by its custodian partners.

“With Factom integration, Serica wallet users can take comfort knowing that their assets and the published custodian records, surrounding the chain of ownership will be forever secured by Bitcoin’s blockchain in a way that doesn’t bloat the system” said Taariq Lewis CEO of Serica.

Factom Hedging Plan

Factom selects Serica as part of its asset allocation strategy

Factom has selected Serica to be one of its partners on its asset allocation model. More details will be announced in the coming weeks, along with a breakdown of the best practices Factom will employ in its software sale. Since Serica can offer digital tokens tied to the value of physical Gold and Platinum coins that have massive liquid markets and historically stable prices, this shields the value the Factom Foundation collects from the volatility associated with market price swings and preserves the value contributed by Factoid purchasers.

Peter Kirby, Factom Foundation’s President, stated “It’s important that Factom is able to preserve the value users contribute to our token sale and precious metals are a proven way to achieving that type of stability”.

Who is Factom?

Factom is a generalized data layer for the blockchain that allows users to publish and verify any kind of digital information. The Factom technology is especially compelling for those who want to build trust with users by providing complete transparency and real time audit ability of their systems of record, while at the same time maintaining user privacy. Blockchain based authenticity verification and auditing of document and offers significant value for any business process one wants to make honest and accountable. Check out examples and videos that explain how different companies can use this new platform: Factom.org

Who is Serica ?

Serica is disrupting the legacy financial system’s approach to asset management by offering a more modern approach physical asset acquisition and trading that no longer requires a trusted 3rd party or intermediary. Serica created the world’s first blockchain-enabled platform that creates digital tokens representing real world assets fully reserved, 1-to-1 backed by physical commodities including precious metals, soft commodities, and real estate. Serica’s mission is to allow all Bitcoin companies and individuals to trade any physical asset as if it were digital money. With a commitment to full transparency, audits, and compliance, Serica is the most secure, fast, and low-cost way to buy, sell and trade precious metals, anywhere in the world using bitcoin. Serica digital tokens can be obtained at Sericatrading.com.

March 10, 2015 at 03:00PM

9 March 2015

Talk about  Tipping: This Week on Decentral Talk Live


This week on Decentral Talk Live, hosts Ethan Wilding and Anthony Di Iorio have a new slate of guests covering topics like tipping, the ways companies get financing and pay employees in the bitcoin space, and the latest developments at Kraken.

We’ll start with Justin Maxwell of Tibdit who will answer the questions: What’s a “tib” and what’s a “dit”? And how will Tibdit help to level the playing field, by making the internet more of a meritocracy for content providers?


Similarly, Toronto-based http://cryptiv.com/ seeks to make tipping and microtransactions through its online wallet simple and fun. This crypto-agnostic system is designed to work across various social media platforms. Founder Mat Cybula drops in to Decentral Talk Live to chat about the potential cultural impact that social tipping could play in supporting content creators.

Finding the right system for paying employees is a challenge for all companies from the smallest start-up to the largest multinational. Adding digital currencies into the mix might seem like just one more headache. But is it really? David Shin from Paywise tackles the ins and outs of salary packaging and outsourced administration services on this episode of Decentral Talk Live.

Getting the money to start your new business venture is another financial challenge for new companies. Seedcoin is the world’s first seed-stage Bitcoin and Blockchain start-up virtual incubator. Eddy Travia discusses the ways that new Bitcoin and blockchain businesses can get the support they need to get off the ground. The objective of Seedcoin is “to invest in the creative entrepreneurs of the Bitcoin and Blockchain space and help them develop future services, products and applications” that will re-shape the way people manage and exchange financial and intellectual assets.

Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken, will also stop by to talk about the latest news from Kraken, the cryptocurrency exchange based in Japan. Last November, Kraken was tasked with assisting authorities in their investigation of Mt.Gox and with helping to redistribute recovered assets to its creditors.

Decentral Talk Live is a daily talk show hosted by Anthony Di Iorio and Ethan Wilding, along with a rotating panel of guest hosts. It airs on decentral.tv, Monday through Friday, at 3:00 pm, EST.

March 09, 2015 at 06:00PM

Tether + Factom Announce Collaboration

HONG KONG and London, UK March 9th, 2015.

Today, Tether and Factom jointly announced a partnership wherein Tether will leverage the Factom technology to enhance their transparency and audit strategy, and the Factom Foundation will use Tether as an important part of its asset allocation strategy.

Tether.to Wallet Transparency

Tether.to uses Factom for time-stamping and replication of its wallet database

Tether.to’s wallet transparency strategy focuses on eliminating trust through decentralization and cryptography. The Factom technology uses the same cryptography behind Bitcoin to mathematically prove the existence of any data it receives by hashing that data and embedding the resultant traces into the Bitcoin blockchain. This creates a provably time-stamped record keeping system capable of maintaining a near real-time, unforgeable audit trail of Tether.to’s wallet database.

“With Factom integration, Tether.to wallet users can take comfort knowing that transactions will be forever etched into Bitcoin’s rock-solid blockchain for public inspection” said Reeve Collins, Co-Founder and CEO of Tether.

Factom Hedging Plan

Factom uses Tether as part of its asset allocation strategy

Factom has selected Tether to be one of its partners on its asset allocation strategy. More details will be announced in the coming weeks, along with a breakdown of the best practices Factom will employ in its software sale. Since 1 tether USD token (USD₮) is always equivalent to $1.00 USD, this shields both the user and Factom from the volatility associated with market price swings and preserves the value contributed by Factoid purchasers.

Paul Snow, Factom Foundation’s CEO, stated “It’s important to us that the community be confident that the value contributed during the token sale will be preserved and Tether plays an important role in how we accomplish that goal.”

Who is Tether?

Tether is disrupting the legacy financial system by offering a more modern approach to money. Tether created the world’s first blockchain-enabled platform that converts fiat currency into a fully reserved, 1-to-1 backed digital currency. Tether’s mission is to allow all Bitcoin companies and individuals to transact with real-world currency as if it were bitcoin. With a commitment to full transparency, audits, and compliance, Tether is the most secure, fast, and low-cost way to store and transact with money. Tethers can be obtained at Tether.to, Bitfinex, Poloniex, Expresscoin, and Crypto Next, with more exchanges and wallets coming soon.

Who is Factom?

Factom is a data layer for the blockchain that allows users to secure and forever timestamp documents and even whole business processes. The Factom technology is especially compelling for those who want to build trust with users by providing complete transparency and real time audit ability of their systems, while at the same time maintaining user privacy.

March 09, 2015 at 05:26PM

Threshold Signatures: The New Standard for Wallet Security?

A group of researchers from Princeton University, Stanford University and the City University of New York, have announced a new ECDSA threshold signature scheme that is particularly well-suited for securing Bitcoin wallets.

Threshold signatures can be thought of as “stealth multi-signatures.” The new Bitcoin security scheme is detailed in a research paper titled “Securing Bitcoin wallets via a new DSA/ECDSA threshold signature scheme.”

The announcement follows three previous posts by Steven Goldfeder on the Freedom to Tinker blog, hosted by Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, a research center that studies digital technologies in public life. Goldfeder is a second-year doctoral student in the Department of Computer Science at Princeton, interested in cryptography, security, privacy and decentralized digital currencies.

Bitcoin wallets often are attacked by increasingly sophisticated cyber thieves. Coupled with the irreversibility of bitcoin transactions, that poses important security problems that decrease user confidence in Bitcoin and could prevent the digital currency from going mainstream if no robust and simple solution is found.

The researchers note that the Bitcoin ecosystem needs a breakthrough in security.

Banks use two or multi-factor authentication schemes: the user’s password – which may have been compromised by hackers – isn’t enough to initiate a transaction, but the user must provide at least one more authentication, often by replying to an email or using a smartphone authentication app or equivalent stand-alone device. Today, reputable Bitcoin services such as Circle and Bitstamp use two-factor authentication to provide security, but users must say goodbye to anonymity and provide proof of identity.

Even more secure three-factor authentication methods that include biometrics are emerging.

DIY-minded and privacy-conscious Bitcoin users can run their own wallet and “be their own bank,” but running a wallet has proved to be too much of a security risk. As soon as hackers gain access to the wallet, they can instantly and irreversibly take the money and run.

Cold storage – keeping the main bitcoin wallet on a device that is not connected to the Internet, and moving only the funds needed for daily expenses to online storage – often is seen as too much of a hassle.

Therefore, most security-conscious bitcoin users rely on external services, at the cost of compromising their anonymity and the “DIY spirit” of Bitcoin.

Multi-signature (multisig) wallets offer a solution. A multisig transaction, for example a 2-of-3 transaction, requires the agreement of the required number of authorized signatories, in this case two out of three. However, the paper shows that multisig transactions present significant usability problems, and serious anonymity and confidentiality drawbacks.

“Bitcoin currently lacks support for the sophisticated internal control systems deployed by modern businesses to deter fraud,” say the authors of the paper. “To address this problem, we present the first threshold signature scheme compatible with Bitcoin’s ECDSA signatures and show how distributed Bitcoin wallets can be built using this primitive.”

In a threshold signature scheme, the ability to construct a signature is distributed among different devices (for example a computer and a smartphone), and each device receives a share of the private signing key. For individuals, threshold signatures allow for two-factor security, or splitting the ability to sign between two devices so that a single compromised device won’t put the money at risk. For businesses, threshold signatures allow for the realization of access control policies that prevent both insiders and outsiders from stealing corporate funds.

The researchers built a prototype implementation of a two-factor secure wallet, a desktop client and an Android app, and released open source code on Github. A video shows how the system works: a user initiates a transaction on the computer, and the computer then begins the threshold signing protocol with the phone. The phone will show the user the transaction details and will proceed with the transaction only with the user’s explicit approval. The computer and phone use QR codes to initially pair, and for all subsequent sessions they communicate over the local Wifi network.

If threshold signature schemes become common, private bitcoin wallets will support the same multi-factor authentication offered by major wallet providers, while continuing to offer a high degree of anonymity.

March 09, 2015 at 04:38PM

Recognizing Women in Bitcoin – The Week in Review from Decentral.TV

Sunday was International Women’s Day, when the Bitcoin community is joined with others around the world to promote awareness of women’s issues by launching its first Bitcoin Women’s Day.

Like International Women’s Day, “Bitcoin Women’s Day is not just for women,” says Sarah Boone Martin of the Digital Currency Council. The issues that women are concerned about – equal access to healthcare, to financial systems, to the world economy, to employment, to education; a sustainable environment, personal safety, security and autonomy – these are all issues that are important to the Bitcoin community as a whole.

The purpose of Bitcoin Women’s Day can be broken down into three key goals: first, to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the space; second, to raise awareness of issues and barriers they face both within and outside of that space; and third, to promote Bitcoin as a means of addressing some of the issues that women face around the world.

Leading up to Bitcoin Women’s Day, decentral.tv aired episodes that addressed some of these concerns.

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On Tuesday’s episode, Tatiana Moroz discussed her role in helping to found the Women’s Crypto Association. She noted that there are few women in venture capital, which influences how projects are funded.

“Men value things differently than women. More diversity in the venture capital space will lead to more diversity in the products that are created and the companies that are born,” she said. Moroz encouraged more women to join the Women’s Crypto Association.

“There are a lot of great women in the space,” she said, but noted that they don’t necessarily get the invitations to speak at events. “We’d like to have more of a ‘best practices’ for conferences,” Moroz said. “We don’t want anything particularly special. We want it to be noticed that we are also contributing.”

She objected to the way that many conferences relegate women speakers to a “Women in Bitcoin” type of panel.

“That’s not enough,” says Moroz. “Lots of women have experience in a variety of different topics. Offering them actual speaking engagements rather than just a panel on women is a better direction for us to go in.”

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Decentral Talk Live also featured a conversation with Connie Gallippi, whose BitGive Foundation is the first charity to receive 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. The type of projects that BitGive work on include Save the Children, which now accepts bitcoin directly; the Water Project, which brings clean and safe water to sub-Saharan Africa; and Medic Mobile, which uses mobile phones and open source software to improve healthcare in the developing world.

Gallippi recently has been to Africa to see a well that BitGive funded entirely through bitcoin donations. In co-operation with BitPesa, a short video is being produced that chronicles the Water Projects’ bitcoin-funded well and looks at the future social impact of bitcoin in developing countries.

“The technology is there but we just need to build out the infrastructure and user base,” says Gallippi.

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The week ended with an interview with Anne Connelly, director of marketing and fundraising for Dignitas International, a charity that aims to transform healthcare for the most vulnerable. Dignitas delivers frontline care in Malawi, conducts research and develops practical solutions and advocates for better health policy and practice.

Connelly recently succeeded in convincing her boss that bitcoin could be a valuable addition to their fundraising goals.

It wasn’t easy. She had to overcome the organization’s fears of the unknown, not to mention bitcoin’s notorious volatility.

Connelly had to “come up with a better way of thinking about it,” and finally, through her repeated efforts, she was able to convince Dignitas to accept bitcoin donations in the same way that it accepts stock donations.

“It’s about sharing the knowledge about what we do in the Bitcoin community now” she says, “and hopefully in the future there will be some more donations.”

Donations help the foundation keep babies HIV-free, keep young people with HIV/AIDS on treatment and boost maternal health.

All three of these women have been instrumental in raising awareness about bitcoin and the way it can have a positive impact on society – as well as the ways in which women are making a difference in the Bitcoin space.

Decentral Talk Live airs daily, Monday to Friday, at 3:00 pm EST on decentral.tv.

March 09, 2015 at 03:49PM