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Ethereum Constantinople Hard Fork to Come in Mid-January, Based on Dev’s New Agreement

Ethereum core developers have decided to activate the Constantinople upgrade at block 7,080,000.

Ethereum (ETH) core developers have agreed to launch the long-awaited Constantinople  hard fork at block 7,080,000, as decided in a bi-weekly developers meeting on Friday, Dec. 7.

The new agreement follows the previous decision to delay Constantinople fork for late January 2019 due to a “consensus issue” that occurred during the upgrade trial on Ropsten testnet in October.

Given the press-time ETH block time of 14.3 sec, and the number of remaining blocks of around 234,745, the Constantinople upgrade is likely to become active in around 38 days from press time, or around Jan. 14, 2019, according to the data from the Ethereum blockchain explorer Etherscan.

ETH

Ethereum’s last block and blocktime at press time. Source: Etherscan

The upcoming Constantinople hard fork encompassses five separate Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) in order to soften the transition from proof-of-work (PoW) to more energy efficient proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm.

Once activated, the upgrade is supposed to fundamentally change the Ethereum blockchain, with the synchronous nodes update to the entire system.

Ethereum is a public, open-sourced blockchain platform featuring smart contracts and its native cryptocurrency Ether. Launched on July 30, 2015, Ethereum is now the third biggest cryptocurrency by market cap at around $9.7 billion and is trading at $94.67 as of press time, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

Recently, Ethereum co-found Vitalik Buterin was granted an honorary doctorate from the Switzerland’s oldest university, the University of Basel, for “outstanding achievements in fields of cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and the design of institutions.”

In November, analysts from Northeastern University and the University of Maryland claimed that the alleged existing lack of diversity in Ethereum smart contracts threatens the whole Ethereum blockchain ecosystem.

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Microsoft Rolls Out 'Proof-of-Authority' Ethereum Consensus on Azure

Microsoft has just rolled out an additional consensus mechanism for clients building ethereum-based apps on Azure that does away with mining.

Called “proof-of-authority,” the mechanism notably replaces the proof-of-work mining process that is common in public blockchains. However, it is only applicable in a permissioned network scenario – that is, on private or consortium blockchains where only invited parties may participate as nodes, Azure software engineer Cody Born wrote in a post on Tuesday.

The addition of proof-of-authority allows Arure’s institutional clients to verify transactions more efficiently and maintains high levels of security, Born said, although “the underlying ether has no value.”

He explained:

“An alternative protocol, Proof-of-Authority, is more suitable for permissioned networks where all consensus participants are known and reputable. Without the need for mining, Proof-of-Authority is more efficient while still retaining Byzantine fault tolerance.”

Proof-of-authority consensus essentially requires the presence of invited parties as a proof of their participation in the decentralized network.

To that effort, the post said the mechanism allows “each consensus participant to delegate multiple nodes to run on their behalf” – the goal being to ensure that even if one node goes down, a consensus authority can still maintain its presence on the network.

It should be noted that proof-of-authority is not new, and was first conceived by developers from ethereum client Parity. It has also been deployed on the VeChain blockchain.

The addition follows Microsoft’s May launch of the Azure Blockchain Workbench – a tool designed to streamline the process for enterprises building decentralized applications on the cloud computing platform.

Microsoft image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Fundstrat’s Lee Admits Poor Prediction of Bitcoin Rally, Still Expects $25k Price by Year End

Co-founder and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, Thomas Lee has admitted that his prediction of a Bitcoin rally after the Consensus conference was wrong. Lee has claimed that the crypto market still “faces significant internal resistance and hurdles within traditional financial institutions,” Bloomberg reports May 18

Having accurately predicted the growth of crypto markets after the US tax day in April, Tom Lee made another Bitcoin prediction on May 7, saying that the cryptocurrency will rally during and after the Consensus conference takes place in New York May 14-16. “We expect BTC and cryptocurrencies to behave similarly to prior years and rally during Consensus,” Fundstrat’s co-founder stated back in the beginning of the month.

In a report to his clients Friday, Tom Lee explained his forecast was based on such factors as the crypto community coming together in a “centralized place,” as well as the “growth in attendance.” These factors were expected to have a positive effect on cryptocurrency prices and “strengthen the crypto-community’s conviction.”

In his tweet May 18, Tom Lee confirmed the fact the crypto markets have instead lost up to 10 percent during Consensus, although the conference counted 8,700 participants, which is “more than a tripling of attendance in the prior year.”

Tom Lee suggested that the crypto industry needs a “trifecta of progress” in the form of institutional tools, support from banks, and regulatory clarity.

“Crypto still faces significant internal resistance and hurdles within traditional financial institutions… But it is encouraging, nonetheless, that a large share of incremental attendance are financial institutions.”

According to Bloomberg, Fundstrat still expects Bitcoin’s price to go as high as $25,000 by the end of this year. Earlier this month, Tom Lee himself predicted Bitcoin to be worth $36,000 by the end of 2019, “based on the historical average 1.8x P/BE multiple.”

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Volatility is not a Worry for Ripple (XRP): David Schwartz

For a very long time now, Ripple is one of the most popular and talked-about cryptos in the network. However, the price of its token did not gain parallel as its development did for the last months. Which is why, the team behind the platform made sure during the Blockchain Week they would not let down the enthusiasts that believe in Ripple.

David Schwartz on Ripple XRP During the Event

Based on statements that XRP team did over time, it is looking like they are concentrating more on showcasing real life uses and utilization for Ripple and its solutions than attempting to hoist its value.

It is very positive and promising to see that the team running the Ripple show, sees XRP as a digital asset that has all of its value come from its technological potential.

During the Blockchain Week, one of the most important events was Consensus 2018 which grouped many crypto-lovers. But, the numbers were lower than expected.

Co-founder of Ethereum – Vitalik Buterin, boycotted the Consensus with many reasons to support his stand. One of them is that the attendance fee of $2,000 – $3,000. Not too many Crypto-enthusiasts can afford to ‘cough out’ that amount of money. Buterin had this to say about the attendance charge at the event:

4. And by the way, the conference costs $2-3k to attend. I refuse to personally contribute to that level of rent seeking.

For those who went, Ripple held a live demonstration of its xRapid product. It was showcased how the liquidity service delivers a very smooth user-end experience with the credit to its technology. Tech that allows secure and speedy exchanges to take place.

One of the original architects of the Ripple consensus network and present Chief Cryptographer at Ripple – David Schwartz talked about volatility.

Mr. Schwartz explained how users of Ripple’s xRapid product are not obligated to by Ripple to use it. That not-existing condition equals to volatility possibly seizing to exist for Ripple at least.

Users don’t have to worry about the volatility, claims Schwartz, as users don’t have to invest in XRP in order to use Ripple’s services.

Ripple Coil Business Model

Ripple’s CTO – Stefan Thomas, has announced via twitter a new startup building micropayment apps on interledger and XRP.

To have better rewards for individuals using the platform while producing better incentives for digital content and apps, the business model will use Ripple’s interledger protocols. Evans Schwartz and Chris Larsen from Ripple joined the team of the model.

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New, Redesigned Tron (TRX) Website Unveiled

As the focus and attention in the Crypto-verse is on the Consensus Summit currently ongoing in New York City, The Tron (TRX) Main Net launch is still cruising along to the May 31st launch date and is firing on all cylinders. The Tron Website has received a new overhaul as we edge towards the the set date that is exactly two weeks away.

The new website design was launched just yesterday and announced on the Tron medium page. Once you open the new Tron Website, you are met with the new chosen color by the Tron foundation: red. The color has been chosen over the previous blue because red represents the project’s technological culture of passion, dedication, exploration and persistence. Red traditionally has been associated with energy, passion, desire and love: qualities the Tron team and project has exhibited from day one.

Also to note from the new website design is that the minimalism has been retained in the fonts, icons and buttons. The countdown to the MainNet launch has been reduced to the number of days at the center of the site. This further portrays the minimalism theme of the site.

Simpler MainNet Countdown

The new design also features linear elements and angular letters found in the entire site. There is an enhanced interactive user experience with an easier feel as you navigate throughout the pages. There is a real time notification on the progress of the project on the site including a map of where the global nodes (111 in total) are located. A real time update of the token’s performance in the markets with a tally of the number of users/owners of the tokens (1,083,598 at the moment of writing this) is also available.

One can also find the latest and best Tron news on the website and also links to the various social media pages of the project.

Current market analysis puts TRX at the number 10 slot according to market cap as demonstrated on coinmarketcap.com. TRX has also been hit by today’s decline in value of the crypto-markets and is trading at $0.0653 and down 9.64% in 24 hours.

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DNV GL Buys A Stake In VeChain (VEN) To Develop New Digital Assurance Solutions

News reaching Ethereum World News indicate that top Risk Management and Quality assurance firm,  DNV GL, has just bought a stake at VeChain (VEN). The extent of the buy-in has not been fully disclosed, but this adds to the PwC investment in VEN that was made back in May 2017 to accelerate the development of the VEN project.

            DNV GL – Business Assurance CEO Luca Crisciotti and VeChain CEO Sunny Lu [Source, dnvgl.com]

With this partnership and stake in VEN, DNV GL aims at collaborating with the blockchain project on ways the company can expand its blockchain privilages through the VeChain Thor platform after becoming an Authority Masternode Owner. This will enable DNV GL to have the sole authority to validate and produce blocks. DNV GL will consequently offer more solutions to businesses on the public blockchain.

VeChain and DNV GL worked together to develop its My Story digital assurance solution that tracks each stage of a product’s manufacturing cycle and gives purchasers greater insight into the characteristics and sustainability footprint at each stage of the production of a particular item and guaranteeing the information is genuine.

The CEO of DNV GL, Luca Crisciotti, had this to say about the announcement:

VeChain has helped us realize our digital assurance ambitions through the launch of new revolutionary assurance products in the market.  The acquisition of a stake in VeChain is a natural progression of our relationship and the investment will allow us to transform our existing business model and bring Digital Assurance to a wider audience, including consumers.

DNV GL is a  global quality assurance and risk management company that is driven by a purpose to safeguard life, property and the environment, all in a bid to enable their customers to advance the safety and sustainability of their businesses. The firm operates in over 100 countries and has clients in the industries of oil and gas, maritime, power and renewables and other top notch industries geared towards a safer, smarter and greener future.

This buy-in by DNV GL, indicates a growing trend by ‘big firms’ showing more interest in blockchain technology, partnerships with major crypto projects, as well as cryptocurrency investing.

Current market analysis puts VEN at a value of $4.93 and up less than a percentage point in the last 24 hours.

Great things beckon for VEN in the future.

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Zilliqa (ZIL), EOS, NEO and IOST; the Ethereum Competitors Gaining Ground

Ethereum (ETH) is the pioneer platform for smart contracts. The team and project has weathered so many storms in terms of FUD, security issues on the platform and congestion on the network due to Crypto-Kitties. One event that almost toppled the Smart Contract giant, was the discovery of vulnerabilities in the smart contracts on the platform. The research that was carried out, noticed around 34,200 smart contracts that were vulnerable to exploitation by rogue hackers or even ETH miners.

Concurently, there were 4 other projects tackling the industry of smart contracts and have been working tirelessly to improve on what was started by Ethereum.

Zilliqa (ZIL) is one such project with smart contract capability. It also solves the scalability issue that caused the Crypto-Kitty debacle by introducing sharding. This concept divides the mining network into shards that can process transactions in parallel. As the network grows, so does the through-put in terms of transactions per seconds.

ZIL has been doing tremendously well in the markets since its introduction. Only a month ago, ZIL was priced at $0.038. Now the token is valued at $0.162 – a gain of 326% – as ZIL fans anticipate the release of the MainNet version of the platform later this year.

EOS (EOS) is also hot on the heels of Ethereum, not only in the smart contract industry, but also in terms of market capitalization. EOS is slated to release the MainNet of its blockchain at the beginning of June. This has propelled the token to the number 5 spot on coinmarketcap.com, and edging out Litecoin in the process. Although the difference in marketcap between ETH and EOS is a cool $60.63 Billion, EOS can gather enough momentum to catch up to ETH with the release of a solid MainNet.

Neo (NEO) is a third project that is gunning for Ethereum’s dominance in terms of smart contract capability. The selling point for NEO is that developers do not need to learn a new programming language as is the case with Ether’s solidity. The developesr can use C#, Java and other mainstream programming languages.

Based in China, NEO has had some brilliantly good days in the crypto-markets by having a taste of greatness when it peaked to a value of $194 on January 15th. It is currently valued at $68 and up 5.90%. NEO currently has a new project at hand called the NNS (Neo Name Service) that will allow for the replacement of wallet addresses with words or phrases. Users can also create .neo domains that can be used instead of public keys as a receiving address when making NEO transfers.

The underdog in this list and the least known is IOStoken (IOST). The cool thing about IOST is that it also offers smart contract capability and sharding just like Zilliqa. But that is where the similarities end. IOST has the added aspect of being able to run on light weight infrastructure such as smart phones. This means it is also gunning for IOTA, which has similar IoT capabilities, as well as Ethereum. This is some cool stuff.

The IOST project defines itself as the Internet of Services that offers a secure and scalable infrastructure for online services providers. It has a high throughput that has been rumored to run up to 100,000 TPS made possible through the sharding capability of the network.

IOST is currently under 10 cents and trading at $0.06 at the moment of writing this and up 6.54% in 24 hours.

In a nutshell, Ether can be credited as being the pioneer of smart contracts and being first in market with this respect. But there are four equally capable projects that are gunning for the spotlight in that industry. Time will be a factor as to which of the above four projects will make an impact similar to, or greater than Ether in the Crypto-verse. .

[Photo source, the-blockchain.com]

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Ripple (XRP) Launches Xpring, An Incubator for Startups and Entrepreneurs

The crypto-markets seem to be in the green this morning as more and more attention is focused on the ongoing Consensus 2018 event currently ongoing in New York City. Last year’s Consensus event was responsible for a 27% increase in the total market capitalization of the crypto-verse. Crypto traders expect a similar reaction from this year’s event. When we look at our beloved Ripple (XRP), the coin is currently up 4.09% in 24 hours and trading at $0.74 at the moment of writing this.

At the same time the event is going on in New York, the Ripple team announced a new initiative to invest in, incubate, acquire and provide grants to companies and projects run by proven entrepreneurs and who will use the digital asset, XRP, and the XRP Ledger. This initiative has been branded as Xpring (pronounced Spring) and has already benefited four entrepreneurs as follows and from the Ripple website:

  • Scooter Braun, entertainment talent manager, entrepreneur and founder of SB Projects, who is pursuing several endeavors that will use XRP to improve artists’ ability to monetize and manage their content
  • Stefan Thomas, inventor of the Interledger Protocol (ILP), creator of BitcoinJS, co-founder of TxtBear, who just launched a new venture Coil to use XRP and the Interledger Protocol (ILP) for various micropayments applications, such as facilitating “bite-sized” purchases of media. You can learn more about Coil here
  • Thomas McLeod, serial entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of Omni, who will soon integrate XRP as a currency into Omni’s marketplace
  • Bart and Brad Stephens, co-founders of Blockchain Capital, who have the first fund to accept capital calls in digital assets with a focus on driving innovation in the blockchain sector

The initiative is being spearheaded by former Director of the Facebook Developer Network, Ethan Beard, who served at the position from 2009 – 2012. Mr. Beard will be the Senior Vice President leading Xpring and Riipple’s developer program. At Facebook, he oversaw worldwide developer relations, operations and product marketing for the Facebook API. As it so happens, Ripple’s xVia is also API based, therefore this position should be a perfect fit for Mr. Beard who had this to say about the new role:

I love helping startups leverage new technologies and developments to grow. At Facebook, we saw companies in areas like gaming, music, and news use our platform to become big businesses. Blockchain and digital assets have the ability to solve important problems and XRP – with it’s speed, scalability and demonstrated real-world use case – is a great tool for startups and entrepreneurs to build businesses around.

Therefore, if there are any budding entrepreneurs reading this who are willing to use XRP products and do not know where to start, Xpring is for you 100%.

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The Code for Ethereum's Consensus Change Is Now Ready for Review

New code written to change the way the ethereum network reaches consensus is now ready for review, developers said Friday.

Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) 1011, known as Hybrid Casper FFG (short for “Friendly Finality Gadget”), would implement the first step in a long-planned shift away from the energy-intensive mining process and toward towards a greener method sometimes called “minting.”

Ethereum’s current consensus protocol – the way the network agrees to add a new block to the chain – is called proof-of-work and requires resources to be expended as its “proof.”

Ethereum’s creator Vitalik Buterin and other developers have discussed eventually moving to a proof-of-stake model, in which users lock ether up in special wallets and risk losing these “stakes” if they don’t follow the consensus rules. That planned transition to proof-of-stake is known as Casper.

EIP 1011, if implemented, would bea first, partial step toward the full move to Casper, introducing a hybrid system that combines proof-of-work and proof-of-stake, an approach discussed in papers unveiled last year.

Casper, while long in the making, is still controversial in some quarters – for example, a security researcher at VMware called it “fundamentally vulnerable” last month.

Yet Danny Ryan, one of EIP 1011’s authors, along with Chih-Cheng Liang, told fellow developers during a meeting Friday that the proposed code is “ready for review, community discussion, etc.”

Ryan added that development work for ethereum clients could begin soon and that he was corresponding with the formal verification engineers.

“As these pieces of the puzzle are getting closer to being completed,” he said,  “I’ll signal that it’s time to start talking about fork block numbers.”

As Ryan suggests, the change will not be compatible with existing ethereum software, meaning that the network will have to undergo a hard fork to be implemented. That said, there’s still some way to go before that happens.

“In terms of testing … I don’t know when exactly that happens,” Ryan continued, adding that he would “leave the EIP up for discussion a little bit longer before we start doing testing on that side.”

Code image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Early Bitcoin Buyers Talk Bubbles and Origin Stories at Consensus: Invest

“I think it’s very important to make a distinction between a bubble and a fraud.”

So says Glenn Hutchins, the co-founder of private equity firm Silver Lake and one of the panelists this morning during CoinDesk’s Consensus: Invest event.

Appearing alongside Galaxy Investment Partners CEO Michael Novogratz and Brian Kelly Capital founder Brian Kelly, his remarks came during a wide-ranging discussion that touched on the valuation of tokens, the future of the industry and how both Hutchins and Novogratz first became involved with bitcoin.

For Novogratz – a long-time investor in bitcoin and ethereum who has predicted significant price gains over the next year – the “eureka” moment occurred once he and his partners began to investigate the technology more deeply, after initial purchases.

“So we went from owning BTC to investing in the ecosystem,” he said.

Hutchins quipped that he “bought BTC only as a last resort,” noting that he initially looked at the mining space as a possible place to invest – but in his own words, he “couldn’t figure out who was going to win.” Hutchins, as reported last year, later went on to become a board member for industry investment firm Digital Currency Group.

Yet the bulk of the conversation turned on two approaches to investing in cryptocurrencies: either the assets themselves or the companies working to build products and services around them. As Novogratz noted, it’s “hard” to find a firm working in the space that would have generated as much as a return compared to simply buying the assets themselves.

Novogratz went on to predict that the ecosystem is set for more proliferation of projects, though he posited that there won’t be many “winners” for each use case, citing examples like decentralized cloud storage and ride sharing.

“I don’t think you’re going to have lots of winners in each use case, but you’re going to have lots of different blockchains,” he said.

As might be expected, the conversation later turned to the argument that cryptocurrencies are either a bubble or a “fraud” – the latter argument being advanced most notably by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

For Hutchins, the “fraud” moniker is one that shouldn’t be tossed around so lightly.

“I think it’s very important to make a distinction between a bubble and a fraud. Even when there was a bubble, if you bought the best you would have made money,” he told attendees, adding: “I did not say this is a bubble.”

“I think this is going to become the biggest bubble of our lifetime by a longshot,” Novogratz said in reply, prompting Hutchins to say:

“I want the record to show I didn’t say that.”

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group.

Image by Nikhilesh De for CoinDesk

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.