Darryn Pollock

Lightning Network Quadruples in Size Despite Less Need for it

Lightning Network was seen as a viable option for Bitcoin when the cryptocurrency was over capacity and slow; now, there is less need, but big growth
Lightning Network Quadruples in Size Despite Less Need for it
Contents

The Lightning Network has always been closely watched as a potential scaling solution for Bitcoin, and at the stage where Bitcoin needed it the most, there was a lot of interest in this off-chain solution.

Lightning is its own solution, and has been implemented on many different blockchains, but it is still largely seen as a great option for Bitcoin with its ability to take transactions off the chain and thus make them far cheaper and quicker.

The issue is, the need for Bitcoin scaling has come way down as has the price of the cryptocurrency. Yet, the growth of the network supporting the Lightning solution has grown exponentially this year, and has made massive gains in this last month alone.

It is interesting to see how alternative blockchain and cryptocurrency projects are moving along with little concern over the financial market of the cryptocurrency side of things. This is a real indication that the cryptocurrency and blockchain space is not solely dictated by the price of Bitcoin, and that there is a lot of forethought going on for the future.

4 X Bigger

Last month alone saw the Lightning network top 4,000 nodes and then explode in capacity to over $2 million value of Bitcoin. Though the value of Bitcoin has since fallen, in terms of BTC the capacity has nevertheless continued to rise.

There has also been a big increase in the number of open channels, breaking 16,500, while nodes have increased to 4300+.

Steady growth

The growth of not only the project that is Lightning network, but also its actual network is impressive. The Lightning Network really only launched on MainNet back in January and is rising steadily.

It is interesting to note that the growth of the Lightning Network, which is most effective when there is a full and busy Bitcoin blockchain, has still been growing even with the decline in price, and thus a decline in transaction fees and a speeding up of transaction times.

It is indicative of a project that is looking to become solid and sustainable, as well as effective for when the Bitcoin blockchain indeed does become full again and in need of scaling.

Many projects linked to the cryptocurrency financial side of things have felt a real pinch in the growing lack of enthusiasm in the market. ICO projects, for example, have not been faring well in this bear market, and in fact, the entire ICO ecosystem has all but fallen flat after its highs of January.

Inverse correlation

The inverse correlation of the growth of the Lightning Network to that of the ICO market is hugely positive as it show that ICOs, with their speculative nature, are not ones for the future and does coincide with the downturn in sentiment. But, projects with sustainable and promising futures have continued to grow devoid of the market’s influence.

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Alex Morris

ZCoin and MOAC See Massive Surge in Wikipedia Page Views: Report

New Datalight report shows that the majority of tokens are losing page views on Wikipedia, but does it matter?
ZCoin and MOAC See Massive Surge in Wikipedia Page Views: Report

The data provided by a crypto analytics company Datalight shows that ZCoin (XZC) and MOAC (MOAC) witnessed a substantial increase in Wikipedia page views. The report covers information collected from Aug. 23 to Aug. 30.

 
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Notably, Ripple (XRP) is also among the few coins that appeared in the green. Ethereum (ETH) remains in the neutral territory while Bitcoin (BTC) declined by a small margin. In general, the page views of the majority of tokens have decreased, which reflects the prolonging bearish market sentiment. Vertcoin (VTC) has suffered the most– its Wikipedia popularity plunged by nearly 17 percent in only one week.

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Does Internet popularity reflect the price?

 
U.Today earlier reported about two prominent Yale economists who came up with a prediction model that is able to accurately (or at least almost accurately) determine Bitcoin price and other cryptocurrencies. A part of their research was devoted to studying the ‘investor attention effect’ that is based on Google searches. As a result, they came to the conclusion that more searches lead to an increase in Bitcoin price. 

In addition, there has been another research that specifically focuses on Wikipedia that also shows a direct correlation between the Bitcoin price and the amount of Wikipedia views. 
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However, it is not advisable to solely rely on Wikipedia or any other Internet platform in order to make your investment decisions. It can be a useful tool for traders, but there are plenty of other factors that can be taken into account. 

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Speaking of ZCoin, a massive 37 percent increase in popularity did not seem to affect the token’s price. Over the last seven days, it hovered around in the $13 region without any major fluctuations.   

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About Datalight 

Datalight is a soon-to-be-launched platform that performs an in-depth analysis of different crypto-related data. Apart from covering the market (current prices, exchange volumes, etc.), Datalight also tracks Google searches, Wikipedia page views and helps to determine the target audience by monitoring site traffic. The fledgling startup will also collect information from major social media communities in order to find out the general public’s attitude towards a specific project. 

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🎤 Interviews Katya Michaels

Crypto Art For the Crypto Wealthy: Engaging New Generation of Art Patrons

🎤 Interviews
Digital records of authenticity and unique digital art are certain to change the nature of art collecting
Crypto Art For the Crypto Wealthy: Engaging New Generation of Art Patrons
Contents

Just a year ago, fine art was one of the more obscure subjects for Blockchain application, but in recent months discussions about how this new technology can help move the venerable industry forward (and bring in new sources of revenue) have heated up, with major players like Christie’s, Art Basel and Britain’s DACS joining the conversation.

In the world of fine art and other collectibles, the investment potential of a particular piece is largely defined by its provenance and authenticity. The existence of immutable, indestructible records on the Blockchain may encourage more people to see art as a viable and trustworthy long-term investment opportunity.

Perhaps even more intriguingly, Blockchain opens the door for digital art as an investment through the introduction of digital scarcity. A piece of code representing some form of artistic expression can be certified and stored as a unique digital object– an idea which is quite a leap from the “copy-paste” digital world most are accustomed to.

The concept is quite new, and the most profitable sale of a purely digital artwork to date may have been that of an exclusive CryptoKitty auctioned off at the Ethereal conference this summer for a very respectable $140,000. The auction in question was the first practical demonstration of the Codex Protocol, a decentralized registry for assets including not just art, but also fine wines, watches and other collectibles. CryptoComes spoke to Codex CEO Mark Lurie about his impressions from the auction and expectations of the protocol’s development.

Codex– the provenance scrolls

Katya Michaels: What is the main purpose of the Codex protocol? How has this been demonstrated at the Ethereal auction?

Mark Lurie: Codex is a decentralized registry for unique assets focused on art and collectibles in particular. It's really needed because this is the only asset class without a title registry, but a system of record is very important because the value of the piece in art depends on its provenance and history of ownership. Codex is a place where that information is stored and tracked. Once you have the title, you can access insurance, shipping, artists royalties, appraisals.

At Ethereal, we launched our bidding application and gave out the first Codex titles. I think the excitement about the auction proved that the crypto people want to buy and invest in art as an asset class, especially if you give them an easy way to bid and track ownership.

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The CryptoKitty code

KM: Historically, patronage of the arts had been undertaken by contemporary elites. Today’s tech entrepreneurs seem to be in that position, but the question is how the art world can attract their interest. Will crypto and blockchain technologies encourage them to get involved?

ML: Collecting art is human nature. You just need to deliver the kind of art that appeals to the new generation of wealth. In the case of tech, maybe they don't like the same things that the traditional art industry has been selling them, but they clearly like CryptoKitties, they like digital art and they like the idea that digital art can be scarce.

When you can make digital art scarce and when you can prove original ownership of unique art, it becomes an asset class that has value. Digital art is a really exciting new category. At the auction, we sold about $190,000 worth of digital and physical art. For the crypto community, it’s exciting to see a way to buy art that is most convenient for them, as well as a way to be confident about the resale value of what they buy over time.

CryptoKitty by Guilherme Twardovski
CryptoKitty by Guilherme TwardoWski

KM: Out of those $190,000, $140,000 was brought in by the CryptoKitty. Can we consider it a win for art– that the biggest sale of the auction was a digital cat?

ML: I think we can consider it a huge win. It proves that digital art is going to be a big art investment category and that artists are going to be able to make a living producing it. It's a whole new medium. That's very exciting.

A fair share

KM: Do you believe that Blockchain platforms will facilitate not only big auction purchases but also create new revenue streams for less known artists producing smaller works?

ML: Absolutely. This is one of the things Codex hopes to make possible.

KM: Perhaps it could also enable artist “ICOs”– mechanisms through which an artist could raise money for their next project by selling shares in the work.

ML: I think the idea of benefactors or the public commissioning art is something that's as old as time. Artists could certainly do an initial art offering. This can also be done with existing artwork- we have already partnered with a few companies that will sell shares in pieces to be owned collectively. People who have a Codex title be able to easily access fractional ownership clapboards.

Garbage in, garbage out

KM: Though highly secure and immutable, Blockchain is still a database– once the information is in there we can see the chain of events, but what prevents people from putting in fraudulent information originally?

ML: Today, it’s not that fraudulent pieces aren’t out there, but that good pieces have good proof of provenance and evidence of authenticity. I don't think you need to stop the garbage. You need to raise up the high-quality stuff. As long as the buyer can see that there's good evidence about the authenticity of a piece, that the item has been validated by the community and that it was sold by Christie's in the past– that’s what we want to accomplish.

There’s an aspect to the Codex protocol where appraisers, artists, galleries and auction houses get rewarded with tokens for validating pieces. They are rewarded for verifying that the information about a particular piece is correct. I don't think it's necessary to prevent garbage. All that's necessary is to empower people to tell the difference between the good stuff and the garbage.

Beyond provenance

KM: What are some of the other ways, besides rewards for validation, that the token is used on the platform?

ML: The utility token is used to access and change the database. If you want to transfer a title, add a lien to a title, add insurance or request an appraisal, those all require tokens. The fees are used for rewards to validators who make sure that the items in the database are accurate and vetted.

KM: What are some examples of third-party applications that can be built on the Codex platform?

ML: There are several partners who have announced applications already. One is an appraisal application, so you can get an overnight appraisal on your piece. Another is an asset back lending application, so you can get a loan against your piece. As mentioned before, there is a fractional ownership platform, so you can tokenize and sell shares of your piece.

Another is a company called Dust that connects physical items to digital records. They spray inexpensive industrial grade diamond dust on a piece. It's invisible to the naked eye, but you can scan the crystalline fingerprint with an iPhone and prove that the piece is actually the one that's recorded on the Blockchain.

KM: How soon do you think will major players like Christie's and Sotheby’s get onboard with ledgers like Codex and crypto payments?

ML: I can't say exactly, but I think it'll be sooner rather than later. Once they see it in action,  once they see the benefits and that it's stable, they'll get onboard.

Ethereum by Terry Cook
Ethereum by Terry Cook

Portrait of the crypto artist

While traditional galleries and auction houses figure out how their business model will be affected by Blockchain art platforms, it is difficult to say where artists will emerge from the fog of rapid technological change. Undeniably, Blockchain holds a lot of promise for giving creators more control over their art and a greater share of the profits. Cryptograffiti, one of the artists who contributed work to the Codex Ethereal auction, shared some thoughts on the issue with CryptoComes over an e-mail interview.

HODL by Cryptograffiti
HODL by Cryptograffiti

KM: Do you think today’s tech elite can become the new generation of art patrons, supporting not just particular pieces but the art industry in general?

Cryptograffiti: Absolutely, however, I think to some extent it's cultural.  For example, my hometown of San Francisco is not known for being at the forefront of the art scene because people don't display their wealth as much as other cities like New York. Many of the SF/Silicon Valley tech elite have made their money while sharing a room with two other developers and another one who sleeps on the couch.  

KM: Is there a particular kind of art the crypto-wealthy audience responds to? Is crypto art more compelling for them?

Stealing the Contents by Kevin Abosch
 Stealing The Contents Of This Wallet Is A Crime by Kevin Abosch

C: I think crypto art has proved to be compelling for a number of reasons. With the subject matter being intangible, it provides identity and emotion to something people are very passionate about. Many are proud of their involvement in crypto and what it stands for and want to put that on display. Artwork, and especially limited-edition artwork, is an investment that overlaps well with the controlled supply of cryptocurrency's beginnings.

KM: What is the most important way that Blockchain changes the art industry?  Establishment of provenance? Protection from theft?  

C: These are huge. Also, democratizing investment in artwork and providing additional revenue streams for artists. And the ones we don't know about yet!

KM: Cryptographic technology makes digital scarcity possible- are you excited about the reality of unique digital artworks? What are some specific applications that you are looking forward to?

C: Yes, however, we have a ways to go.  For instance, right now if you own a digitally rare item like a CryptoKitty and the parent company goes under, what you really own are just lines of code...not the cute cat to which you've grown attached. This will change as the various platforms upon which these projects are based scale.

KM: Does Blockchain open doors to new revenue sources for artists? How about for less well-known artists, who are not participating in the big auctions and multi-million sales?

C: New revenue sources for artists were one of the reasons I was initially drawn to the space.  Several years ago, I started attaching QR codes to street art to experiment with receiving instant patronage from passersby.

While micropayments haven't yet lived up to the hype, they will be game-changing. Poets can charge by the poem, journalists by the article, musicians by the listen. People will tip a driver that lets them merge– any situation where a positive experience warrants a tiny show of appreciation.

Smart contracts will also mean artists don't have to die to earn a living wage. Right now if I want to secure royalties on future sales of one of my works, it is prohibitively expensive due time, contracts and lawyers involved.  

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KM: What would be your advice to fellow artists in terms of joining Blockchain art platforms and accepting cryptocurrency?

C: My advice to fellow artists is to jump in and experiment. Recognize that much like the cryptocurrencies themselves, many of the blockchain art platforms will not survive.  Thus, do some research about the people involved and what they stand for. It's a really exciting time for art + crypto.

Punk #754 by Larva Labs
Punk #754 by Larva Labs

Redefining collectibles

Amidst the excitement generated by Blockchain applications, it’s important to keep in mind that the same principle applies as to any other database or ledger– garbage in, garbage out. An immutable record of an artwork’s provenance is of little use if the record is fraudulent or erroneous to begin with. Undoubtedly, as Blockchain protocols for art records become more commonplace, mechanisms will develop to address such challenges.

Digital records of authenticity and unique digital art are certain to change the nature of art collecting. With an increased focus on art as capital and some collectibles, such as CryptoKitties, existing without any physical manifestation, the relationship between the personal experience of art and its perceived value is likely to be redefined. At any rate, Blockchain art startups are carving out a niche in the global art market, already valued at over $60 bln– something certainly worth considering for the artful investor.

🎤 Interviews
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David Dinkins

Physical Violence Against Crypto Owners On Rise, Thefts Prevalent

Criminals are targeting crypto holders, forcing them to transfer their funds under duress
Physical Violence Against Crypto Owners On Rise, Thefts Prevalent
Contents

In December, a man named Louis Meza arranged to meet a friend known to have a substantial fortune in Ethereum. Meza and an accomplice abducted the victim, while Meza went to his home and stole the device containing his digital wallet. Meza then forced the victim to transfer $1.8 mln worth of Ether to an address belonging to Meza. Fortunately, police were able to apprehend Meza, although the accomplice has yet to be captured.

With the dramatic increase in the value of cryptocurrencies over the last year, there has also been a marked increase in criminal activity against those with large and valuable investments.

While some hackers target exchanges, online wallets and the like, others target individual crypto owners with physical violence.

Despite the existence of ultra-secure hardware wallets, safes and safety deposit boxes, owners of digital currency find themselves vulnerable to the so-called “$5 wrench” attack.

Targeting crypto holders

Owners of cryptocurrency are more susceptible to this kind of attack due to the liquidity of their investment and the lack of middlemen. Stealing from a wealthy stockholder is a much more complicated process, involving brokers and limited business hours.

Those with large bank accounts have to somehow be transported to the bank and forced to comply with the robber (in a very public venue). The robber has to hope the victim can deceive bank employees into thinking nothing's wrong. It’s complicated and challenging.

On the other hand, most crypto owners can access their wallets immediately, from home 24 hours a day. They can transfer their assets quickly under duress, without the involvement of any intermediaries and without scrutiny from prying eyes. Since digital currency is more-or-less anonymous, a well-executed heist could be covered up much more easily.

Precautions

Jameson Lopp of BitGo recommends taking greater precautions against the $5 wrench attack. He has posted images on Twitter (part) of his security measures:

https://twitter.com/lopp/status/923635945441824770

Additionally, Lopp advocates storing your digital currency in multisig wallets. This would make it impossible for a thief to force you to transfer your wallet contents to them since you don’t have sole control of your funds. Other measures, such as securing your hardware wallet in a bank safety deposit box, would provide protection as well. The key is to make it as difficult as possible to steal your money, ideally by ensuring it isn’t readily available in the event you’re held up.

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Swiss Cheese is Full of Holes: Past-ICO Review

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The Swiss are known to be masters of finance and all Delikatessen, but don’t be fooled, there are some struggling projects in the land of cheese and chocolate
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The cryptosphere is growing larger and larger and with its growth comes a swell of companies that offer to manage crypto assets and make you more money when you use their services. These companies are now a dime a dozen. While they may claim that they have a new and innovative way  to manage your funds, the details are obscure at best. For example, “Swissborg’s objective is to create a democratic, decentralized and professional ecosystem to manage your portfolio of crypto assets,” according to the white paper.

Swiss clocks are expensive, these tokens...not so much

While Swissborg’s ICO raised $50 mln between Dec. 7, 2017 and Jan. 10, 2018, its market cap is only at $5.9 mln, and the token price has lost 98.9 percent of its value starting at $0.91 per token and shooting straight down to $0.01 per token at the time of writing. It has not been very impressive. CoinMarketCap has it ranked at 496. Remember that not all that glitters is gold.

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Team

Cyrus Fazel- CEO & Founder

Fazel has a formal background in business and finance and has held senior and executive roles within various wealth management institutions before starting Swissborg in June 2015.

Anthony Lesoismier- CSE & Co-founder

Lesoismier has a background in fintech and finance. He has held various positions within this industry in several countries.

Micha Roon- Smart Contract Expert

On first glance, it seems he is part of the core team, however, when looking at the LinkedIn site, he is really just an advisor: “My role at Swissborg is to make sure the Blockchain is used securely and efficiently.” His main role is a senior Blockchain developer at Sweetbridge.

Tomas Hanak- IT Operations

Has more than 15 plus years experience in IT and IT operations management. He is leading the IT charge at Swissborg.

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One hand, too many cookie jars

There are many various projects that Swissborg is tackling. The major difference is in the scope.

A focused company is likely to have a product built more quickly than one that is looking at everything. Swissborg is too spread out and that might make them slow to develop a working platform.

The roadmap on the website has three major milestones, but no expected completion dates. There is a second link that takes visitors to a Trello page with a so-called timeline, but that just happens to be a mess of weeds.

Not really sure what they are trying to communicate on the Trello platform.

Another major roadblock Swissborg faces are that banks are highly regulated and it will be very difficult for Swissborg to operate internationally across multiple jurisdictions. There is nothing in the whitepaper to describe how they will solve this challenge.

Consider alternatives

Yodling, cheese or chocolate making these are all very focused endeavors. Swissborg is all over the place on how it intends to manage wealth and grow. It faces a highly regulated industry with not much direction. There is not much else to say, but “Good luck!”

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SONM From Russia with Love Red Flags: Past ICO Review

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Fog-computing platform is opaque when it comes to answering questions; cries of “scam” abound
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The race for supercomputers has been a paradigm that has run from the 1950s through the present day. The Soviets sent the first satellite and the first man into space, but the Americans sent the first man to the moon.

It has always been one trying to outdo the other. This time, in the race to create a cloud-based (or “fog” according to the website) supercomputer, the Russians have come up a bit short and with a few red flags.

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Got some spare change?

SONM’s one-day ICO on June 15, 2017, raised a surprising $26 mln and entered the token trading market one month later at $0.03 per token. At the time of writing, it has risen to $0.21 per token.

In the interim, if it had experienced a surge to a max of $0.70 in January 2018 as many other tokens did during the tumultuous times around the holidays.

A fistful of change will get you a few tokens, but it is uncertain how this token will fare because there are a few red flags that make the tepid investor stop and wonder.

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Waving red flags

When you speak the truth, there is no need to make up a story with holes in it. When you like you change details or terms, such as percentages. According to a story on Reddit, The dividend percentage, which is something that should be decided very carefully and shouldn't change at least after pre-ICO. That's what a reliable company would do. SONM did not.

Furthermore, they did not use escrow, but rather the team had multi-sign contracts that the team held themselves, this raises some suspicion, because a third, neutral party should be involved with kind of financial instrument due to the ease of committing fraud.

Moreover, the communications with the public, investors and potential investors  are filled with unanswered or vaguely answered questions which adds more to the bad public image the company already gave itself.

On a final red note, there were many accusations of scam floundering about, while, it seems some people might have gotten burned, SONM did not close up shop and run away with the money, it is still up and running and on the boards to trade.

But with a shaky start and foggy background, many would be leery about investing money in something that might just shut down overnight.

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What is it supposed to do anyway?

Glad you asked, SONM is akin to Golem, and a direct competitor too. According to the Somn website:

SONM Customers (consumers, clients, buyers) are people and companies, that have a demand of computing powers- hardware PCs, servers or virtual machines of different kind. Customers define what resources and capabilities are required and what price is acceptable for them on the global decentralized marketplace of SONM.

Tight-lipped and shadowy

After scouring the Reddit boards, there appear to be some angry people that seem to have gotten burned, or who feel ripped off in some way after investing.

Despite all this, the company continues on and so does the trade, albeit the price has not risen much since January 2018.

Flat activity could be some indication that there is a lack of interest and general wariness towards this company.

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