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Tor Digital Privacy Project Accepts Donations in Cryptocurrency

Digital privacy project Tor is now accepting donations in cryptocurrencies.

Tor digital privacy software is now accepting donations in various cryptocurrencies, as a new crypto donational portal appeared on the project’s website on March 18.

The site now accepts nine major cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), Stellar Lumen (XLM), Augur (REP) and Zcash (ZEC).

Tor’s crypto donation page encourages users to “stand up for the universal human rights to privacy and freedom and help keep Tor robust and secure.” The page also specifies that users can contact the project if they would prefer to donate in a cryptocurrency not listed there.

The Tor Project is a non-profit that offers free and open-source software made for onion routing, the technology of anonymous information exchange. In addition, Tor has two official versions of its browser: Tor Browser and TorBro. The main purpose of using the Tor Browser is to remain anonymous and circumnavigate censorship by disguising an IP-address.

At press time, the Tor Project has not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment on the addition of crypto donations.

Countries wherein the internet has been heavily censored, such as Venezuela, Russia and China, have all introduced bans on Tor and similar tech, such as virtual private networks.

Earlier this month, the head of the Finance Committee of France’s National Assembly suggested a ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies, or so-called privacy coins, such as ZEC and XMR.

The Tor community and crypto community both share an ethos of privacy and decentralization. In 2017, Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada and Concordia University in Quebec introduced a blockchain-based system which uses onion routing techniques to facilitate anonymous deliveries.

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Japanese Company Launches New Stablecoin Pegged to the US Dollar

A Japanese company has launched a ERC-20-compliant stablecoin that is pegged to the U.S. dollar and supported by major Ethereum crypto wallets.

A Japanese company has launched an ERC-20-compliant stablecoin that it says offers “absolute decentralization, maximum security and a reliable source of stability in the face of volatility.”

As its name suggests, USDDex is directly pegged to the United States dollar, helping traders to move their money into crypto without exposing themselves to the erratic price movements seen in other major digital assets such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The company believes that its stablecoin could become a viable alternative to fiat and trigger the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, giving employers a safe way of paying their workers’ salaries while enabling consumers to make purchases with confidence.

USDDex firmly believes that 2019 is going to be the year of the stablecoin, citing research that suggests that the monthly trading volume of the first five such coins in the market has now exceeded $100 billion. Indeed, even major corporations are getting in on the action, with reports suggesting that Facebook is engaged in a top-secret project to launch its own.

The fixed rate of USDDex means that one of its tokens equates to $1. Adaptable to both centralized and decentralized exchanges, the firm says that its cryptocurrency is supported by most major Ethereum wallets, including MyEtherWallet, MetaMask, Ledger and Parity.

Presently, the company is also preparing to list on 20 exchanges, including HitBTC, Stellar, Bibox and Changelly.

Reliable and stable

The company says that every USDDex stablecoin is collateralized in excess, meaning that those who own this cryptocurrency are inoculated against wild price swings, irrespective of how the market behaves.

More than 800 trading pairs are also supported, enabling users to switch from Ethereum, Bitcoin, XRP, EOS, Litecoin and hundreds of others to USDDex with ease.

USDDex is available here

In a video explaining its vision, USDDex executives argue that stablecoins are essential if crypto is going to be used on a widespread basis, as right now, prominent coins and tokens only prove beneficial to speculative traders.

Ayako Nakamura, the company’s chief marketing officer, explained: “USDDex introduces the breakthrough technology and the possibility to develop an independent, transparent and potentially more stable monetary policy than ever before. The priority in the corporation is interaction with leading decentralized exchanges.

“The highest level of estimated reliability is provided by open-source code — proved by a repeated comprehensive security audit as well as open information of each USDDex token. Everyone can review this information.”

An experienced team

USDDex’s CEO and founder is Hitoshi Shibata. The entrepreneur — who is part of a working group on blockchain integration into Japan’s banking sector — started the business after leaving a 15-year career at Mizuho Financial Group. According to the company’s website, he “successfully developed and implemented complex economic projects for governmental and private organizations” while serving in this role. He believes that decentralized stablecoins are going to represent the next big breakthrough in the crypto industry — and in the past, he has invested in blockchain projects including 0x and Binance Coin.

He is joined by Naoki Sakamoto, the chief operating officer; Masaki Hatano, chief technology officer; Jiho Hong, chief information officer; and Ayako Nakamura as CMO. Tatsuo Okuda, Naoki Tamura and Satoko Kudo all serve in an advisory capacity.

The company raised funds in a closed round in December 2018, and says this initiative exceeded expectations after achieving its target in a matter of hours. An additional sale of limited amount of USDDex stablecoin with 45 percent bonus is launching on March 19, one month before the stablecoin is officially offered to the public. The company says its main goal “is the open and active participation of the crypto community in the life of the project.”

Learn more about USDDex

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Token 2049: Vitalik Buterin Says Non-Financial Blockchain Use Cases Are a ‘Harder Pitch’

Vitalik Buterin says that blockchain applications outside of finance face more difficulty gaining traction.

Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin says that blockchain applications outside of finance face more difficulty gaining traction, as the primary added value they offer is decentralization. Buterin made his remarks during a speech at crypto event Token 2049 in Hong Kong on March 13.

Buterin began by noting that finance is “realistically the first blockchain [application] that will probably achieve wide scale adoption,” and that even though he is a self-declared huge fan of other applications:

“The problem is that decentralization is basically their value add. With finance you’re competing with banks that take five days to do something interesting. With anything that’s not financial, chances are there is some internet thing that does what you want, that’s just centralized. So it’s a bit of a harder pitch.”

As examples of areas where blockchain can catch on beyond finance, Vitalik isolated digital identity, reputation and digital certificates in particular — all of which have use cases that are not necessarily confined to the use of cryptocurrencies or financial markets.

In his further discussion on the current state of blockchain adoption, Buterin appealed to event attendees to identify real-world applications that are developing “not just in theory, but on the ground.” Audience examples included micro-insurance, non-fungible tokens and gaming.

On the latter, Buterin said that while many people are committed to blockchain innovation from their conviction that it can tackle real-world problems with positive social impact, entertainment use cases such as gaming are valuable areas where the technology can draw high numbers of early adopters.   

Speaking of his personal commitments, Buterin highlighted decentralized applications (DApps), which allow multiple actors to share and cooperate on applications that are based on an underlying, decentralized blockchain protocol.

He proposed that the DApps use case can potentially redraw the existing technology and power landscape by leveraging a decentralized ecosystem to allow smaller players to compete with tech giants’ monopolies.

In a recent interview, Buterin stated he was trying to solve Bitcoin’s (BTC) limited functionality with the creation of Ethereum. He compared Bitcoin’s ability to do one thing and do it well, with the aspiration to make Ethereum more like a canopy for apps that can do almost anything.

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Decentralization First: Privacy Coin Monero Cuts Out ASIC Miners to Stay Independent

On March 9, Monero was successfully upgraded via a hard fork.

On March 9, Monero (XMR) network was successfully upgraded via a hard fork. The new code curbed application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)-powered mining with a new proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm. Additionally, new dynamic block size algorithm and improved privacy — which is considered to be Monero’s key feature — were introduced.

Once the ASIC miners were taken out of the equation, the network’s hash rate dropped over 80 percent — which, however, might be positive for the cryptocurrency in the long term.

Anonymity above all: Monero’s main principle

Monero is a privacy coin, meaning that it is anonymous and untraceable by design. It was originally created in April 2014 under the name of BitMonero. Eventually, BitMonero was forked and became an open-source project dubbed “Monero” (which means “coin” in Esperanto).

Monero is based on the CryptoNight proof-of-work (PoW) hash algorithm, which entails three key features: ring signatures, which are used to mix the spender’s address with a group of others, making it more difficult to trace transactions; stealth addresses, which are generated for each transaction and make it allegedly impossible to track its actual destination by anyone else other than the two parties involved in it; and ring confidential transactions, which are used to conceal the transferred amount.

XMR’s focus on privacy helped it to stand out from more conventional cryptocurrencies and become a relatively popular means of payment within the underground economy, namely on darknet markets like Alphabay and Oasis. In 2016, partly due to being integrated on those trading platforms, XMR experienced more growth in market capitalization and transaction volume than any other cryptocurrency, skyrocketing almost by 2,800 percent, as per CoinMarketCap. Currently, XMR is the 13th-biggest coin by market cap, with equivalent of over $845 million.

Monero Price and Market Capitalization

Monero’s alleged privacy has attracted a lot of controversy. For instance, as previously reported by Cointelegraph, Monero has been endorsed by white supremacists like Christopher Cantwell specifically for its focus on anonymity.

Consequently, it has also drawn pushback from mainstream players such as Japan-based Coincheck, which chose to remove XMR and three other anonymity-focused altcoins due to Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures imposed by the local financial regulator. More recently, the Finance Committee of France’s National Assembly suggested a ban on anonymous cryptocurrencies, including Monero.

Notably, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has claimed that, although privacy coins are less liquid and more anonymous than BTC, the agency “still has ways of tracking” altcoins, including Monero specifically.

New update: ASIC resistance at all costs

The upgrade v 0.14.0, dubbed “Boron Butterfly,” was activated at block height 1,788,000 on March 9, as per the previously released schedule. Given that it was a noncontentious fork, no chain split occurred. Monero’s hard forks are normally planned every six months in order to ensure sustainability.

According to the log, Monero’s privacy was enhanced via payment ID changes, and a new dynamic block size algorithm was introduced to prevent blockchain bloating attacks.

More importantly, the upgrade introduced a new PoW algorithm, CryptoNightR, also known as Cryptonight variant 4 (CNv4). Specifically, this algorithm introduced ASIC-resistance in a bid to keep the network decentralized. Monero has been pushing out ASIC-powered mining from the XMR network since its birth, but the code has to be updated regularly to ensure that.

The Monero developer known as Binaryfate confirmed to Cointelegraph that the new algorithm is designed to render useless any existing ASIC that would have been mining XMR before the fork, as well as reduce the efficiency gap with graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) if new ASICs were designed for the new algorithm:

“The point of making Monero ASIC-resistant is to ensure sufficient decentralization of the network, since ASICs are far from being commoditized. As one of the goals of the project is to be a fungible currency, it is also important to be censorship resistant (for instance so nobody can try to enforce or be pressured to enforce only a subset of whitelisted transactions to be mined).”

“The CryptoNightR algorithm is essentially another tweak that aims to reduce the efficiency gap for ASICs. One of its features is including random code generation, which presumably makes it more difficult for ASIC manufacturers to design and build a device,” an active Monero community member told Cointelegraph via direct messages on Reddit.

ASIC resistance is currently the philosophy of the community.”

Indeed, as Mark D’Aria, founder and CEO of Bitpro, a New York-based installation and mining operation management firm, told Cointelegraph, ASIC-powered rigs are not necessarily welcome by developers because of their profit-driven nature, especially when it comes to cryptocurrencies with smaller market caps:

“Because ASICs are specialized hardware used to compete in a zero sum game for block rewards, manufacturers are incentivized to keep their development secret to protect their competitive edge. Unlike GPUs which are general purpose hardware, ASICs are basically money printing machines, and nothing more. For an ASIC manufacturer their goal is obviously to make the most money possible — and in most cases, particularly for smaller market cap coins, there’s no way to justify selling the device for less money than they project that it can print.”

Since the Boron Butterfly hard fork has been activated, Monero network’s hash rate initially dropped over a whopping 80 percent — which seems to indicate that the network was once again largely controlled by ASIC-powered rigs despite Monero’s previous efforts, as mining operations eventually get updated to comply with new algorithms.

Monero Hashrate

Binaryfate argues that the drop is not harmful for the network, adding that the hash rate always takes a day or two to adjust, and already looks “pretty stable” at this point:

“The PoW algorithm has changed and you cannot compare the hash rate pre and post fork in terms of absolute numbers. The cost of the energy being burned for mining is a good metric for the security of the network (provided it is also decentralized), and there is no indication that less energy is burned now than before the fork.”

As a Monero community member told Cointelegraph, the hash rate was approximately 350-400 megahash per second (MH/s) before ASIC devices entered the network, and is expected to come eventually back to that level. The hash rate seems to be around 269 MH/s as of press time.

According to D’Aria, the ASICs might still take over eventually — and largely outperform GPUs as per the current PoW:

“The biggest problem of all though – one that is highly problematic for their [Monero’s] cryptonight PoW, no matter how many tweaks they make each 6 months – is that cryptonight ASICs are vastly more efficient than GPUs can ever be. Once the ASICs hit the network, they raise difficulty to such extremes that no GPU can ever be profitable,” he explained, adding how ASIC domination might undermine the token’s integrity:

“By the time of the Monero fork it was estimated that well over 80% of the hashrate was ASIC, and it would have been trivial for them to 51% attack the chain. In theory they could double spend, or even use the threat of the double spend to in essence blackmail the community into not making changes that would hurt their bottom line. Monero could not be taken seriously as a store of value if it was under the control of such entities, thus the situation undermines the entire value proposition of the blockchain.”

Therefore, by cutting out ASIC miners, Monero aims to remain a decentralized and open-source project. As for now, the most evident consequence of its recent hard fork is the shutdown of Coinhive, a JavaScript-based digital currency mining service that banks on a computer code to be installed on websites.

Once set up, the service used some of the computing power of a browser that loads the site in question. Although Coinhive was not an inherently malicious code, it had become popular among hackers for cryptojacking.

On Feb. 26, the mining service announced it will stop its operations on March 8. “The announced hard fork and algorithm update of the Monero network on March 9 has lead us to the conclusion that we need to discontinue Coinhive,” they wrote.

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Over 80 Percent of Total ETH Supply is Held by 7,572 Addresses: Research

Over 80 percent of the total supply of Ethereum’s native token ETH is held by 7,572 addresses, a new report claims.

Over 80 percent of the total circulating supply of Ethereum (ETH) is held by 7,572 addresses, claims a report released by digital asset research company Delphi Digital on March 7.

More precisely, the data contained in the report claim that over 80 percent of the total supply of ETH coins are held by addresses with a balance higher than 1,000 ETH. The number of such addresses adds up to 7,572. The research breaks down the total number of addresses by volume of ETH they contain, stating that 6,490 addresses hold between 1,000 and 10,000 ETH, 923 of them hold between 10,000 and 100,000 ETH, 155 between 100,000 and 1,000,000 ETH and only four between 1,000,000 and 10,000,000 ETH.

In the same document, the company also claims that the price of ETH has dropped an average of 19 percent after each of the past five hard forks, over the following 30 days.

Still, the most recent hard fork before last month’s Constantinople and St. Petersburg updates actually saw the price of ETH decrease by under one percent, which the report suggests is in part due to the decrease in block rewards from 5 ETH to 3 ETH.

The researchers also pointed out that as of March 3, over 2.3 million Ethereum (about 2 percent of the total supply) was present in decentralized finance apps.

Most of the ETH being staked in decentralized finance apps — reportedly 98 percent — is in MakerDAO smart contracts, which permit the creation and destruction of the Maker’s decentralized stablecoin Dai (DAI). The second decentralized finance app with the most staked ETH is the decentralized lending platform Compound, which held roughly 28,500 Ethereum as of March 3.

Lastly, the report also raises concerns over technical risks facing Ethereum in the near future. In particular, the documents points to the alleged centralization of Infura, the infrastructure-as-a-service arm of Ethereum-focused development company ConsenSys.   Infura allows DApp developers to deploy their DApps without hosting their own full node.

However, by using Infura, the report argues, developers rely on infrastructure entirely operated by ConsenSys and hosted by Amazon Web Services, which creates a single point of failure that decentralization is meant to avoid.

The report’s author, Delphi Digital, positions itself as a company aiming to produce unbiased content concerning digital assets and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and to provide analysis services to institutional clients. The company also counts Morgan Creek Digital Assets founder Anthony Pompliano as a member of its board of directors.

As Cointelegraph reported in December last year, Pompliano forecasted that Bitcoin (BTC) had still “lower to go” in the short term before it hit bottom, despite the bull run to above $4,000 that happened at the time. A month before that, he also defined Bitcoin as the world’s best-performing asset over the past ten years.

Another recent report on Ethereum, this time by crypto asset management firm Electric Capital, claimed that Ethereum has the most developers working on its base protocol of all cryptocurrencies, not counting community project developers.

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Crypto Exchange Hopes to Become Trendsetter by Scrapping Trading Fees Entirely

An exchange says it wants to “liberate crypto from the shackles of fees” by enabling traders to perform transactions without any costs in 131 countries.

A crypto exchange has announced it is launching “zero-fee trading” across the 131 countries where it currently operates.

Zebpay says it wants to “liberate crypto from the shackles of trading fees, and to reduce the friction for all those who are new to crypto.”

Many exchanges charge a small commission whenever their users make a trade. While the company says fees of 0.25 percent may seem insubstantial, it warned they “certainly add up and can eat into trading profits,” and even deter infrequent traders from participating more.

In a blog post announcing the changes, Zebpay said: “The ethos of the crypto space is all about empowering individuals through decentralization. In this scenario, we strongly felt that it wasn’t fair to tax the actions of these empowered individuals. That’s why we got rid of the trading fee entirely. No maker-fees. No taker-fees.”

A rebranded service

Zebpay has also unveiled a new brand identity to mark its shift to fee-free trading.

The company hopes to become a trendsetter and is optimistic that other platforms will follow in its footsteps, stressing that its approach “is not a marketing gimmick but a brand promise – a belief that this is where the market must go.”

Its founders say they have been involved in the Bitcoin and the blockchain community since the early days before starting Zebpay in 2014. Since then, more than three million users have come on board the platform, amassing more than $2 billion in fiat-to-crypto trade volumes.

Ajeet Khurana, the CEO of Zebpay, told Cointelegraph: “In crystallizing the zero-trading fee model, our challenge was that historically approximately 90% of our revenues came from trading fees: How would we come up with an economic model that worked?

“But what we have repeatedly seen is that players that align with the sentiment called crypto, tend to make it big in the business called crypto. That’s what we are banking upon: people will rally to a provider that allows them to freely move across crypto-fiat and crypto-crypto pairs.”

Zebpay is available here

New features, new look

Zebpay says that its zero-fees policy is complemented by how users are not required to have a minimum balance in their wallets — and the number of trades they can make on a daily basis is unlimited.

The company adds that its exchange has been given a “refreshing new look,” with the objective of being clean, intuitive and simple.

Zebpay says it invests heavily in security for its users and that it has an incident-free past. It aims to make the process of buying, selling and storing crypto stress free by ensuring that 98 percent of the cryptocurrencies it handles are kept in cold storage on air-gapped machines that have been distributed in cities around the world.

On its website, the team also explain that its infrastructure has been built so there is no single point of failure. They add: “Coins stored with us cannot be breached or accessed from one geographic location or by a single person. Apart from the cold storage, all hot wallet transactions on Zebpay are signed using systems across different cloud platforms.”

Zebpay says that it is committed to “engage, participate and grow the global crypto and blockchain community” — and to this end, it has become a member of Switzerland’s Crypto Valley as well as the Bitcoin Association Switzerland.

New features are regularly being added to its apps for Android and iOS devices. At the start of the year, Zebpay unveiled plans to expand its footprint in Europe by enabling users to make deposits and withdrawals in euros, paving the way for fiat-to-crypto trading on the continent. The feature is now live in 131 countries for everyday users and corporate investors.

Learn more about Zebpay

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

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Tron and Tether Partner to Issue USDT on the Tron Network by Q2 2019

Blockchain protocol Tron and USDT stablecoin issuer Tether have announced a partnership.

Blockchain protocol Tron (TRX) and Tether, issuer of stablecoin USDT, have announced a partnership to introduce USDT to the Tron network by the second quarter of 2019. The news was shared with Cointelegraph in an email on March 4.

The forthcoming TRC20-based USDT — a term that indicates adherence to a technical token standard supported by the Tron blockchain — will be interoperable with all Tron-based protocols and decentralized applications (DApps), and allow for the transaction and exchange of fiat-pegged coins across the blockchain.

The USDT, which launched in 2014, has traditionally facilitated frictionless fiat on- and off-ramping to the crypto markets, allowing users to store and exchange value without the onus of slow fiat transfer processing times.

Tron — which positions itself as a competitor to Ethereum (ETH) by coupling decentralized finance with a wider decentralized internet ecosystem — claims that the addition of USDT will therefore “elevate its existing decentralised applications (DApps) ecosystem, improve overall value storage, and increase Decentralised Exchange (DEX) liquidity.”

The press release continues that USDT on Tron will also purportedly make the blockchain as a whole more amenable to enterprise-level partners and institutional investors.

As recently reported, Tron CEO Justin Sun had announced the imminent roll out of a hard fork, which took place on Feb. 28, designed to deliver institution-friendly functionality, alongside features such as multi-signature abilities and account management options.

The expansion of the Tron ecosystem took a significant step last year with its acquisition of popular peer-to-peer torrent client BitTorrent. The latter launched its native, Tron-based BitTorrent (BTT) token at the start of 2019, which will power the pair’s plans for an evolving decentralized content distribution platform.

As Cointelegraph has reported, the BTT initial coin offering on the Binance Launchpad platform netted $7.1 million dollars, with the sale of 50 billion tokens in under 15 minutes.

Tether, which continues to command the lion’s share of the stablecoin market, is nonetheless seeing increasing competition from a steady stream of new fiat-pegged offerings as of last year.

The stablecoin has previously faced controversy, after critics had suggested that the dollar reserves did not match the amount of tokens in circulation. Last December, Bloomberg stated that it believes Tether does have the appropriate amount of fiat reserves. Tether has not released an official audit of its holdings.

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Maker (MKR) Standing Above $600.00 Withstanding Sellers

Implemented on the second largest blockchain Ethereum (ETH) network while depended on the concept of smart contracts, Maker [native token MKR] is a case when the much criticized crypo-volatility is overcome to an extend being backed by Ether.

Despite that Tether is one of the most popular stablecoins, much doubt surrounds the coin. Lack of decentralization and transparency, emerged proof that it is backed by the dollar and the rumours that it was used to move Bitcoin’s BTC price for one’s [group] benefit could possibly make it unworthy of its fame.

On the other hand, with the use of its MKR token, the Maker balances its DAI [stablecoin planned along fractional reserve banking ideals] which is linked close to the aforementioned tokens. The dual token concept is based on the idea that MKR can not be mined but is created or the contrary as a reply to DAI price movement so it is floating approximately $1.00 against the US Dollar.

Against the US Dollar – MKR is standing strongly having one of the most positive second-month of 2019 performances out of the leading cryptocoins in the market. Going by market capitalization the 16th largest cryptocurrency – is in the green at 4.79% for the last 24-hours leading the BTC market for 4.11% making sure to position itself far upward the declining trend that has been taking place since Jan 2018.

Source: coinmarketcap

Just recently – MakerDAO decided to raise the stability fee from 0.5 to 1 with the target to decline and easier-flow fluctuations in DAI’s price peg of the US Dollar. Many appreciated and welcomed the plan set in motion as an advancement towards better economic assurances and stability by the team. Additionally, the automated ETH exchange protocol – Uniswap, took over Ethfinex exchange platform as in the first place by trading MKR against ETH.

The post Maker (MKR) Standing Above $600.00 Withstanding Sellers appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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Blockstream Launches 5th Satellite Streaming Bitcoin Blockchain From Space

Blockchain development firm Blockstream has expanded its satellite service and is now broadcasting the Bitcoin blockchain to all of Earth’s major land masses

Blockchain development firm Blockstream has expanded its satellite service and is now broadcasting the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to all of Earth’s major land masses, Forbes reported Dec. 17.

The wider coverage — which comes via the addition of a fifth leased satellite — brings potential internet-free Bitcoin transactions and information sharing to crypto users in the Asia Pacific region. The satellite service, still in beta, had hitherto already been available across Africa, Europe, South and North America.

Blockstream has also reportedly launched a new application programming interface (API), which allows lets the satellites be used to exchange encrypted messages and pay for them using micropayments on the Lightning Network. Blockstream CSO Samson Mow contextualized the move, saying, “Bitcoin has always been about uncensorable money, and now we have uncensorable communications as well.”

As Forbes outlines, the ambitious Bitcoin space initiative aims to free crypto usage from dependency on access to the internet and make the security of the Bitcoin network maximally robust. Blockstream CEO Adam Back told the magazine:

“We see the increased robustness of the bitcoin network and the lower cost of participation contributing to helping businesses rely on the service for backup, and for emerging markets to use as their primary access to the bitcoin network at a lower cost.”

With its latest expansion, the Blockstream Satellite covers the entire globe, except for the remote regions of Greenland and Antarctica. Moreover, the data now streamed by the satellites covers all historical Bitcoin transaction data, rather than only the immediately preceding blocks, as in the project’s earlier iterations.

When it first announced its satellite project in August 2017, Blockstream pitched its aim as being to “connect everyone on the planet” in the face of limited global internet access, and even more limited online freedom.

As reported, the idea of launching Bitcoin relay satellites is not new, with Bitcoin pioneer Jeff Garzik’s BitSat scheme seeking to do just that in 2014, although the initiative has since seemingly come to a standstill.

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Blockchain Incubator Binance Labs Releases First ‘Batch’ of Blockchain Projects

Blockchain Labs has graduated its first blockchain projects from its Incubation Program.

Binance Labs, the venture wing of the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has released its first “batch” of blockchain projects from its Incubation Program, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Dec. 14.

Binance Labs is an initiative that seeks to help early-stage blockchain and digital assets projects and entrepreneurs through direct investments and technical assistance. The Binance Labs Incubation Program is an onsite program that was launched in August 2018.

Following a try-out tour with over 500 applicants, Binance Labs selected only eight projects, each of which received $500,000 in seed funding and access to necessary resources and mentors. Over the course of the 10-week program, seven projects have shipped working products and signed on users, while three of those teams have paying customers.

Among others, the eight projects selected by Binance Labs include hardware wallet SafePal, fictionless logins for decentralized apps (DApps) Torus, Internet security project Nym, and market prediction startup Deaux.

In an “Ask me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit in June, Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, said that decentralization is “the core value of Bitcoin and blockchain,” stating that the company had launched a number of initiatives in this direction.

In the beginning of October, Binance Labs reportedly invested millions of dollars in decentralized digital content ecosystem Contentos. The startup is set to develop a decentralized ecosystem, which will offer transparency and monetization of content, without third-party censorship or removal of content.

Last month, Binance launched an analysis division Binance Research to conduct “institutional-grade” research reports. The division will prepare institutional-grade research reports with the objective of increasing transparency and improving the quality of information within the cryptocurrency space.