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Did you know Binance wants 400 BTC to list a token?

News like these and many more interesting ones, below.

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Mass Adoption

There was quite a bit of mass adoption progress this week, too. While Google is desperately jumping head-first into the blockchain waters, America is actively thinking about making up for lost time and keeping blockchain innovation healthy on their turf.

What’s in a name?

The Ethereum Name Service team - the people responsible for the smart contracts which let you register Ethereum addresses like bitfalls.eth rather than 0xbE2B28F870336B4eAA0aCc73cE02757fcC428dC9 - signed an agreement with MMX. MMX is a top level domain authority in charge of such TLDs as .com, .co.uk etc. MMX will be dedicating .luxe domains to Ethereum, and will make them blockchain-friendly from the get-go in that they will be able to resolve to Ethereum addresses, but also as regular domains as well for use in email or web sites. This is currently not possible with the ENS unless you somehow also obtain a real .eth domain. The pre-sale for the .luxe domains is starting on October 30th 2018.

The ENS also has a Gitcoin bounty program for all developers who implement ENS into their decentralized applications.

Bondi, James Bondi

The World Bank has mandated Commonwealth Bank of Australia to arrange the world’s first blockchain bond. This bond will be the first in the world to be created, managed and transferred with DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology - the phrase banks and institutions use to avoid the dirty word “blockchain”). The bonds will be traded on a blockchain platform run by the World Bank and CBA.

Starbitcoins

Because of a relatively unclear announcement on Starbucks’ website, rumors began to circulate about Starbucks accepting cryptocurrency. It’s worth explaining that this is not the case.

NYSE: ICE (Intercontinental Exchange) formed Bakkt. Bakkt is a new company which will offer centralized custody of cryptocurrency for individuals and offer changing this cryptocurrency to fiat. It will begin by offering only Bitcoin, but plans are in place to include other cryptocurrencies. Bakkt is the new Coinbase. While this is indeed generally positive news for mass adoption of cryptocurrency, the announcement on Starbucks’ website merely means that Starbucks will be partnering up with Bakkt and offer on-location exchanging of crypto assets (held by users in their Bakkt accounts, not in their personal wallets) into USD which can then be used to pay for lattes.

Crypto Thaiphoon

The Bank of Thailand announced that despite the previous ban of banks dealing with cryptocurrencies still stands, their subsidiaries can now be ICO issuers, brokers and traders. The services must not be offered to private individuals, nor can the subsidiaries offer investment advice to private individuals in relation to cryptocurrency, so this announcement’s usefulness is dubious and somewhat paradoxical, but it certainly sounds good. According to some redditors from Thailand: “There is a big difference between what’s illegal and what is enforced”.

Boerse Stuttgart

The second largest stock exchange in Germany announced its cryptocurrency adoption plan. They will be developing an ICO platform, a trading platform, and a custody service. Their ICO platform will also allow founders to create their own ICOs and tokens, which will have them immediately listed on their trading platform - a huge advantage. Looks like the age of legit ICOs is still ahead of us, not behind us as many of us thought. We’ll see how they tackle the regulatory issues.

Government Adoption

Ohio is the last in a line of US states to recognize blockchain data as valid and permanent. This includes digital signatures, making an agreement signed on the blockchain by two identified parties legally binding.

However, it is not clear which blockchain they mean when they use that word. We mustn’t forget that it’s technically trivial to run your own blockchain at home, and some public blockchains are so cheap to attack that changing their global state is almost trivial.

Nearby in West Virginia, blockchain-based mobile voting is planned, designed specifically for dislocated troops and people unable to cast ballots locally. The test period revealed no problems and the system is slated to go live in a few months.

On the other side of the world, Turkey and Ukraine are both adopting blockchain in different ways. Ukraine is testing voting on the blockchain with a private version of the NEM blockchain, while Turkey - a country more and more famous for scientific backtracking - is establishing its own university-level blockchain learning center.

China

One of the biggest social networks in China, Tianya Club, is launching its own private blockchain through which it intends to distribute its TYT tokens to loyal members.

Hypercorporate

Hyperledger Fabric, IBM’s aggressively pushed private blockchain solution is now powering a consortium of 90 companies, all of which opted to use it to track the transfer of their physical goods. Maerks, the shipping company, is at the forefront of this effort in direct partnership (and vendor lock-in) with IBM.

Crypto Browsers

The news about Opera adding a crypto wallet to their browser was heard far and wide all over the internet, causing waves of positive sentiment. But this story, just like the Starbucks one, needs clarification.

Opera released an Android version of its browser in July 2018. which contained a built-in Ethereum wallet. What the most recent news means is that Opera for Windows can now communicate with this wallet, not that it has a wallet built-in. Much like with Whatsapp, in order to use the wallet on a Windows-based Opera browser you need to have your smartphone nearby, internet-connected, and an Ethereum wallet configured in the Opera browser you need to install first.

The Brave browser, on the other hand, plans to release support for a micro-economy of their ecosystem at the end of 2018. The idea is to let users of Brave who have BAT (Basic Attention Tokens) in their Brave account to tip Twitterers and Redditors for good content. The recipients can then sell the BAT on exchanges, or give it to others as tips. If you’re not familiar with it, Brave is headed by Mozilla’s ex-boss and inventor of JavaScript Brendan Eich, and disabled ads by default giving privacy and user experience the priority.

Misc

London’s House of Fine Art will be putting its entire collection up for sale and will accept cryptocurrency.

Launches

From games to e-commerce solutions, this week has also been plentiful in launched products.

Games

BMBY (Buy Me Buy You) is a game which lets you generate a unique ERC721 token for your Facebook identity, and then this token can be bought and sold by other people. The idea is banal, but the implications are epic. By allowing the game to generate a token from your Facebook ID, you’re effectively publishing your real identity on the blockchain and combining it with the Ethereum address from which you launched the BMBY function for creating the token. This means anyone interested now knows one of your addresses. You may consider this address burned - I hope you didn’t have a lot of Ether on it.

Etherships is battleship on the blockchain but with state channels - something akin to Lightning network on Bitcoin. This allows Ethereum to execute almost free and instant transactions while only syncing the result with the main chain, allowing for a wonderfully fluent experience. The game is open source so please fork it and make your own version of things with Ethereum state channels! This 50 line code for making a payment channel might help, or maybe even this video about creating payment channels over IPFS.

The POA Network, an Ethereum sidechain, is now host to Everdragons, a relatively unimpressive game. The fact that something was launched on an Ethereum sidechain, however, is definitely worth looking into in more detail.

Some other games that were released:

Applications

CoinFairValue sorts coins by their fair value rather than USD price. The fair value theorem is an economic principle in which an asset is evaluated based on its supply, demand, and use among other things so you won’t be surprised to learn that most coins in this list have a value far below that of their represented value on Coinmarketcap.

Vault is MyEtherWallet for the VeChain blockchain. There is also a new version of the VeChain Thor mobile wallet.

A new (more precise) Bitcoin mining calculator.

An android application which shows where one can spend cryptocurrency.

E-Commerce

Coinbase launched a Woocommerce plugin, among other things, to help with integration of crypto payments into webshops. Now all it takes is a few lines of code to get your shop to accept cryptocurrency. We’re expecting a massive boost of adoption due to this, considering the payment platform Square processed 71 million USD worth of bitcoin transactions in 2018 so far.

Enterprise

Microsoft extended its offering by adding a Parity-based Proof-of-Authority version of Ethereum to its Azure platform. Proof-of-Authority is the alternative phrasing of “private blockchain” in that the nodes in such a blockchain are validators who have identified themselves to the owner of the network in order to become authorities. They then validate transactions, and there’s no mining taking place. For a detailed description of PoA vs PoS vs PoW, see this post. While this offering defeats the purpose of a blockchain (downtime of Azure means death of this system as well), it does do well for mass adoption by spreading the word.

Patent Trolling

Whether patenting blockchain technology is good or bad depends on the perspective, the patent, and the patenter. We’ll let you decide. Here are this week’s patents.

Tech

A new version of Cardano (1.3.) and its accompanying wallet Daedalus (0.11) has been released. Novelties include performance optimizations, hiding used addresses from the screen, aesthetic changes, a new exchange-friendly API, and more.

Bitcoin Cash might soon get tokens through “Recursive Smelting” or through “wormhole” (video here).

Vitalik Buterin published a new whitepaper on resource pricing. Specifically, dealing with data storage, fees, etc.

A solution for off-chain Plasma state validation with on-chain smart contract was presented, which would let people be offline when using Plasma. A very technical read. Initial reactions are positive.

Tools

Python Ethereum is a list of Python-based Ethereum tools - among others the Trinity Ethereum client. Trinity is an Ethereum node written purely in Python. The readability and simplicity of Python allows for greater adoption among developers and pushes for understanding of the Ethereum protocol itself, much better than trying to read and parse it in a lower level language like C, Rust, or Go.

Starting in November 2018, MetaMask will no longer inject the Web3 object into websites. This improves privacy, but dramatically changes the user experience flow of your app, so if you’re using MetaMask to log your users into your Dapp, be prepared for some refactoring.

From now on MetaMask supports Trezor hardware wallets. We’re still waiting for Ledger support.

Crime and punishment

The top of the criminal ladder is again (or still?) John McAfee. He not only persists in his latest fraud, but is already pushing a new one.

The McAfee Corner

First his “unhackable” Bitfi wallet has been hacked several times, but neither he nor the Bitfi company accept the hacks as valid because not a single coin went missing. This is true, but the original reward was offered for the hacking of the wallet, which has been accomplished many times. The coins aren’t on the wallet anyway, they’re on Bitfi’s servers which makes the whole thing that much more appealing to hackers - or would, if anyone actually used this wallet. Articles about these incidents are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Other than deciding to stick to his (paid) guns about Bitfi, McAfee is also promoting a “noBSCrypto” paid Telegram group for investment and advice, but it’s a “public secret” that it’s nothing more than another pump and dump group. It’s worth keeping in mind that anyone with the secret to earning money will spend his time earning money with his secret, not selling the secret to you.

Apropos pump and dumps - we found a nice tool which shows active and past pump and dump operations on different coins. You’d be surprised to see how many there are. The tool is at https://pumpdump.coincheckup.com/

Malware

New malware entered the game: ZombieBoy. It uses the vulnerabilities EternalBlue and DoublePulsar created by the NSA. It creates backdoors, protects itself with some advanced methods, and mines Zcash and Monero. ZombieBoy only attacks Windows machines and all modern antivirus tools are already aware of it.

WannaCry - the good old ransomware which locks the hard drive of its victim and and demands a ransom in Bitcoin to unlock - has infected the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing plant which is a large supplier of iPhone parts. The production was stopped for two whole days, and again, EternalBlue was used. Thanks NSA!

Sophos antivirus detected an infection spreading over 500,000 Mikrotik routers. Many had unpatched software and were thus easy to turn into cryptomining zombie machines. Removing this malware is a little more complicated than just installing an antivirus, so it’s best to read the Sophos post for instructions.

Pyramid Schemes

Argo Blockchain is a company which raised 25 million pounds by getting listed on the London Stock Exchange. Counting previous investments, their valuation is now approaching 50 million. This would be excellent if it wasn’t another “cloud mining” provider: a type of business model where mining equipment is rented out to people for a share of the mined profit. As discussed in the last edition of Fintech Friday, absolutely every cloud mining company is a pyramid scheme waiting to collapse. The payments to old members are paid out from entry fees of new members. It’s only a matter of time until Argo is “hacked” like the Slovenian NiceHash was, or when they’ll just disappear completely.

Nano Rescue Fork

The authors of the NANO blockchain are being ordered in a class action lawsuit to make a “rescue fork”, that is, to return the blockchain’s state into a previous one before the Bitgrail “hack” in order to do reparations. It’s interesting that the court has no way of enforcing this, should the lawsuit pass.

Clone companies

Cointelegraph writes that the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in the UK recently published a warning for individuals and investors to avoid the company Fair Oaks Crypto as it is an illegitimate copycat of Fair Oaks Capital. The purpose of such clones is confusion, so that unsuspecting investors see a familiar name and give out their investments and savings more easily. This is hardly the only case - in fact, there are currently over two dozen companies under similar investigations.

Status Quo, Banks, and Regulation

The Spanish Central Bank published a report on cryptocurrencies and their potential effects on the country’s economy. The conclusion is that only CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) like the Croatian dKuna are a valid option, due to the fact that when using a public cryptocurrency, the national treasury is exposing itself to risk of price manipulation by third parties. They also quote the need to continuously emit new currency into the system as an important feature. It doesn’t seem like they studied cryptocurrencies properly because all this is already possible: mintable stablecoins exist and are in widespread use.

The Philippines SEC has published a new set of crypto regulations in which it essentially sees all tokens as securities unless proven otherwise. Creating ICOs will require rigorous checking of all team members and a plethora of submitted documents, which can be considered the death of the ICO scene there - it’s easier to open a company outside the country, or simply nowhere at all.

Traditional financial institutions still reject cryptocurrencies in every regard, and thus Jamie Dimon - who is essentially the John McAfee of the finance world - still claims that cryptocurrency is worthless and non-real. The Central Bank of Netherlands partially shares this sentiment in claiming that cryptocurrency is not money, but they are no strangers to blockchain as a technology.

Tutorials

More stuff

If you’ve still got the time and strength to read, here are some more interesting links.