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Breez Launches a Bitcoin Payments App Powered by Lightning for iPhone Built on Neutrino

Breez, a payment management platform based on Bitcoin’s Lightning Network technology, is launching its app service on iOS as well. iPhone users can now make use of the app for all kinds of purchase and pay with crypto, the company announced. It is the first such payment application to be built on Neutrino, the bitcoin […]
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Watchtowers Are Coming to Lightning

“The Eye of Sauron casts its gaze upon the Lightning Network.” This is how Lightning Labs CTO Olaoluwa Osuntokun (aka, roasbeef) has heralded the coming of Watchtowers to the Lightning Network. Though comparing the technical feature to the demonic gaze of Tolkien’s primary antagonist sounds disconcerting, the analogy holds up on the surface: Watchtowers, as the name implies, will keep an eye on Lightning Network channels and potential bad actors. Why the need for them? Well, if you’re using a custodial Lightning wallet, there isn’t one. But if you’re running your own channels with your own node, then there’s the slim but conceivable chance that the party on the other side of your channel could cheat you when the channel is closing. For instance, say Molly has a channel with Angela and they each deposit 10,000 sats into it, for a total of 20,000 sats. During the channel’s lifetime, Angela pays Molly 5,000 sats, bringing the total to 15,000 sats for Molly and 5,000 for Angela. But suddenly, for whatever reason, Molly is unable to access her Lightning wallet (maybe her node is offline, her computer has a malfunction or she’s on vacation), so Angela decides to be a bit mischievous — when it comes time to broadcast the final state of the channel to the blockchain, she decides to broadcast the first state of the channel (the original 10,000 sat balances that they both deposited) to cheat Molly out of what she was paid. Since Molly is on a remote island in the Gulf of Mexico and not at her computer, she can’t check Angela’s bad behavior and verify the actual state of the channel, so she loses 5,000 sats. Not the end of the world but still a bummer. A Check on Bad Behavior Watchtowers effectively neutralize this threat by monitoring payment channels and the blockchain to make sure acts of fraud don’t slip through unnoticed. They work like this: Every time a channel’s state is updated, the payment produces an encrypted “blob” for each channel user, which is basically a secret signature that corresponds to the user’s public key, and sends it to the watchtower. At the same time, the watchtower receives half of the transaction ID of the channel’s previous state, and this acts as a decryption key for the blob. The watchtower stores all of these blobs and decryption keys within its database, so if an impish actor tries to broadcast an older state to the mempool, the watchtower will see that the transaction ID matches up with the other transaction ID half it holds. Now that it has both halves of this transaction ID, the watchtower can decrypt the corresponding blob and punish the bad actor by sending the funds to the honest channel user’s wallet. All of this can be done without the watchtower knowing who the channel users are and how much is being transacted in the channel beforehand (obviously, once the transaction is broadcasted on-chain, the public key and the fund amount is revealed). “They don’t know anything about a client’s payment history; instead, the client sends them an encrypted blob that can only be decrypted if a breach actually happens,” Osuntokun told Bitcoin Magazine. Technical innovators have floated the concept for a while, but Lightning Labs’ Lightning Network Daemon (LND) implementation of the technology is the first production-ready iteration available, though Osuntokun said that it is still very much in its infancy. “It can be used on mainnet as is today, but it’s still at an early phase. We’ve been running the set of changes on our nodes for a few months now, but only until this week did we put out the public pull request,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. In the initial rollout, the default version features so-called “altruistic” watchtowers, meaning that they operate without promise of payment for their services. Osuntokun said that it also features an operational “basic reward watchtower,” which would allow the watchtower to charge a fee if it acts on a breach, but this has to be activated manually. The service, Osuntokun continued, is opt-in for both clients and the watchtower operators themselves, and clients have to manually search for towers if they want to make use of them. In the future, the team plans to implement an “automatic discovery system” to streamline this process. While the initial version will rely on the good graces of watchers to keep users honest, free of charge, Lightning Labs has a three-stage plan for letting watchers monetize their service. The first is the altruistic phase, followed by a reward system, which will be variable depending on market factors like how much watchtowers charge and how much clients are willing to pay. Lastly, Lightning Labs is devising a mechanism that will allow users to prepay for a given number for backups of their payment channel states. “When it is integrated, it will probably resemble a Chaumian scheme where you pay via Lightning to acquire blinded tokens redeemable at the tower,” Conner Fromknecht, head of cryptographic engineering at Lightning Labs, told Bitcoin Magazine. This token scheme, Fromknecht continued, also has some nifty uses for whitelisting participants while maintaining privacy. If a watchtower operator only wanted to serve their friends, for instance, they could “authenticate users up front but from then on it wouldn’t be able to pinpoint which users are renewing or backing up to the tower” because the tokens are “blinded” and payments can’t be traced to a particular user. Osuntokun said that the primary cost for running a watchtower is storage, though the 1 TB hard drives users would need to run a Lightning node are fairly cheap at $40 and the blobs watchtowers need to store are “only a few hundred bytes.” Now, depending on how many channels a watchtower decides to monitor, this data burden becomes heavier; one channel obviously requires less space than 100 or 1,000 channels would. Still, storage space is a bit of a trade-off, Osuntokun said, one that sacrifices storage for privacy since “the tower doesn’t know which channel it’s watching, so it ends up using more storage space.” Another tricky piece of building the technology, he said, is finalizing the automatic discovery protocol for finding towers and devising the e-cash token so towers can be paid for each state update. Right now, they can only be paid if they catch a user cheating. Another hurdle is hash time locked contracts (HTLC), Fromknecht expressed. For the first release, only manually closed channels can be monitored for the sake of privacy and efficiency. Lightning Labs plans to add support for HTLC monitoring in the future, though, which will “prevent an attacker from claiming them after the relative timelock elapses,” Fromknecht said. Still, even with this room for improvement, the implementation is a big step toward making Lightning safer and trustless. “With what’s implemented in the to-be-merged pull request, any routing node, application or business on the network can start to run their own private tower to back up their public node. This can be a standalone instance or a more advanced deployment on dedicated hardware,” Osuntokun said. So the best-case scenario with this technology, actually, is that every user has their own Eye of Sauron watching over their Lightning channels in the future — and that’s actually a very good thing. The post Watchtowers Are Coming to Lightning appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
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JPMorgan Seeking to Hire Bitcoin Tech Experts, Says Bitcoin Futures Are ‘Understated’

Coinspeaker JPMorgan Seeking to Hire Bitcoin Tech Experts, Says Bitcoin Futures Are ‘Understated’Controversial Wall Street banking giant JPMorgan Chase has been swinging its opinion on cryptocurrencies with time. With its chief Jamie Dimon criticizing cryptocurrencies heavily to the bank launching its native crypto token JPM Coin, it has come a long way.The latest report from The Block suggests that JPMorgan is looking to hire blockchain experts with Bitcoin tech knowledge. The job posting for the Director of Blockchain wants someone who has experience working with Bitcoin’s scalability solutions like the Lightning Network.However, a spokesperson from the company clarified that it has nothing to do with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies. The spokesperson said:“It would be completely inaccurate to say or report that we are possibly exploring or considering doing any work with bitcoin or other public crypto currencies. We are not – I hope I’m being totally clear.”Note that JPMorgan operates its own private network for businesses, called Quorum. Hence, a person with a profound experience in blockchain developments can help the company for further enhancements of their network. A former payments equity analyst said:“They listed all these primitive tech solutions that developers are exploring across bitcoin. You have to assume they’ll find a way to leverage that stuff with an enterprise solution.”JPMorgan Says Bitcoin Futures Are UnderstatedIn another turn of events, JPMorgan states that Bitcoin futures are more ‘understated’ than its actual importance in the market, reports Bloomberg.Based on the data from CoinMarketCap, JPMorgan strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou found that if $725 billion trade was reported in May 2019, only 5% of it i.e. worth $36 billion would be the actual trading volume. JPMorgan notes that it compares to the estimated $12 billion combined volumes by CBOE and CME Bitcoin futures contracts.This is a significant jump from April’s $5.5 billion and 2019’s first quarter month average of $1.8 billion. Panigirtzoglou wrote:“The importance of the listed futures market has been significantly understated. The report by Bitwise credits the traded futures as an important development in allowing short exposures that enabled arbitrageurs in properly engaging in arbitrage, and that the futures share of spot Bitcoin volumes increased sharply in April/May.”In its March 2019 report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bitwise noted that exchanges inflate the trading volumes by a great margin. In another statement, JPMorgan said:“The overstatement of trading volumes by cryptocurrency exchanges, and by implication the understatement of the importance of listed futures, suggests that market structure has likely changed considerably since the previous spike in Bitcoin prices in end-2017 with a greater influence from institutional investors.”This Sunday, June 16, Bitcoin made a new 2019 high crossing $9300 levels in the overall cryptocurrency market rally. Moreover, last Thursday, June 13, ICE’s Bakkt announced that it will start testing its Bitcoin Futures contracts from the next month on July 22, 2019.JPMorgan Seeking to Hire Bitcoin Tech Experts, Says Bitcoin Futures Are ‘Understated’

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What’s the Deal With the Lightning Network?

Remember that layer two scaling solution they promised for Bitcoin back in the day? Does anyone know what happened to it? It feels like we’ve been waiting for a finished Lightning Network longer than Mt. Gox victims have been awaiting restitution. For now, Lightning is accessible to users with the skills to navigate its quirks and complexities, but for beginners, LN can be bewildering – and its challenges don’t end there. Also read: Bitcoin Trades for a Premium in Hong Kong During Protests Scaling Solution or Solution in Search of a Problem? As the first major layer two project to be built on Bitcoin Core, Lightning is literally a lightning rod for critics of offchain scaling. Building a second layer solution as ambitious as LN was always going to be a huge undertaking, even with millions of dollars of investment and the support and goodwill of a vast swathe of the BTC community. Regardless of whether Lightning sinks, swims or treads water, its development will not have been entirely in vain. At the time of publication, LN has a capacity of 949 BTC, down from its peak of over 1,000. The number of nodes and channels has also dropped in the last 24 hours, resulting in a current total of 8,780 nodes, around 60% of which have active channels. The average channel capacity stands at 0.027 BTC, while the average node capacity is 0.216. Lightning Network is presently capturing just 0.0045% of all available BTC. Critics have seized upon this as evidence that Bitcoin’s much-vaunted scaling and micropayment solution isn’t seeing use. Defenders have stressed that as an instant payment rail for small purchases, the amount of BTC locked up in the network is immaterial; provided there’s enough liquidity to easily send and receive sub-$100 payments, LN is fit for purpose. Lightning Network: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly One reason why the Lightning Network’s capacity has decreased, from its March high of over 1,000 BTC, is on account of a single provider, LNbig, closing a bunch of channels. This provider was granting the network at least 25% of its liquidity, and their channel closure and removal of BTC locked on the network did not go unnoticed. 16 of the 20 largest nodes on the network are operated by LNbig. Explaining their decision, LNbig observed: When you open a lot of channels – everyone scolds you that you are capturing the network. When you close – there are also concerns. I would be very happy if other large players would now open channels and bring more liquidity to the network. But oddly enough this almost does not happen. They added: “I would like to encourage everyone to run more nodes in the network and put their liquidity there … I will give up the place with great joy. I have a lot of open and not working channels in which liquidity is locked on my part. But for the future of the network, I do not close most of them.” Operating nodes and funding channels is currently a labor of love for LN benefactors, but the network can’t rely on their benevolence in perpetuity. LNbig, for example, claims to earn around $20 per month in commissions for transactions they route at a rate of 2-300 tx per day. The cost of opening and closing channels, on the main BTC chain, however, has been estimated to cost them around $1,000 in fees to date. Ultra-low fees are one of Lightning’s USPs, but if these fees are insufficient to cover the costs of liquidity providers, is it hard to see how LN is sustainable. Calculating the number of transactions per day that occur on LN is difficult due to its design, but LNbig has estimated this figure to stand at less than 2,000. This would suggest that LN is currently seeing just 5% of the usage of Bitcoin Cash for payments. Coming Soon Since 2016 The Lightning Network was an ambitious project from the outset, which goes some way towards explaining it being constantly “18 months away” since its inception. Lightning’s complexity extends not only to under the hood, but to the front-end as well. At present, getting started with LN calls for a degree of technical know-how, particularly if you want to set up your own node and hold your funds non-custodially. Due to problems that have emerged during the network’s lengthy development process, Lightning Labs have had to develop new components, adding additional moving parts that must be mastered and maintained. For example, watchtowers will be added to LN soon, tasked with keeping an eye out for fraudsters trying to double spend by broadcasting old transactions. While watchtowers are likely to enhance the network’s security, it adds another step to the setup process for businesses or individuals wanting to operate a routing node. Moreover, watchtowers will be data-hungry, meaning that they will likely be operated by a few major players. Creeping centralization is a recurring theme with the Lightning Network; there is nothing to suggest that influential actors will abuse their position of trust, but it’s hard to shake the sensation that the system is steadily moving away from Bitcoin’s permissionless design. … so I just need to already have a channel open and funded before I can pay a watchtower that I need before I open a channel. Okey dokey. — Gavin Andresen (@gavinandresen) June 14, 2019 A Semi-Permissionless Network In theory you can send funds to anyone on LN, but in practice there may be few channels to isolated users on the network, forcing you to go through a routing provider. It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which a U.S. routing provider refuses to have dealings with a known Iranian address for legal reasons, or where a dissident’s address is left isolated from the hub of the network for political reasons. It is evident that many of the greatest challenges facing the Lightning Network are not technical in nature. One recurring issue is the lack of incentives between participants. At present, LN’s earliest adopters are bootstrapping the network out of the good of their hearts and because they want to see the project succeed. There’s nothing wrong with this of course; Bitcoin was born the same way. But at some stage, there needs to be economic incentives for participants to secure the network. Not only do channel providers make a pittance – or potentially a loss, depending on onchain fees – for their services, but watchtower operators also lack an incentive. Lightning Labs’ solution to this is to add in yet another function to the network – the ability for people to send funds to watchtower operators. It all seems like a lot of hard work, some would argue, to solve a problem that could have been fixed overnight by increasing the block size. But to make such assertions is to veer into deeply political territory. For ideological reasons, “big blockers” and their small block counterparts took opposing forks in the road to Bitcoin scaling long ago. Now that the Bitcoin Core camp is married to Lightning, there can be no going back. The economic and emotional ties run too deep. It’s unclear if or when LN will be considered production ready, but it remains a fascinating project that will likely exist in some shape or form, whatever happens. Even if it fails, Lightning will surely inspire the next wave of second layer solutions to be built on Bitcoin. With Bitcoin Core supporters having spent the last two years arguing that BTC is a store of value and not a medium of exchange, their biggest challenge, in a post-Project Libra world, may be convincing the public to start spending bitcoin again. What are your thoughts on Lightning Network? Let us know in the comments section below. Images courtesy of Shutterstock. Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry. The post What’s the Deal With the Lightning Network? appeared first on Bitcoin News.
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XRP Spikes 10% on Ripple MoneyGram Partnership News

Big partnership announcements have been thin on the ground for many of the major crypto companies recently. That changed for Ripple a few hours ago when the firm announced a strategic partnership with one of the world’s largest money transfer companies, MoneyGram. XRP Climbs 15% in a Week Compared to bitcoin and litecoin, XRP has been asleep for the past two months. Even Ethereum has outperformed it in terms of percentage gains. That all changed a few hours ago when XRP awoke from its range bound channel at $0.42 and surged almost 10% to hit an intraday high just over $0.46. A minor pullback followed in the hours after the announcement but XRP is still one of the day’s top performers. XRP price 1 hour candles – XRP 00 has climbed almost 15% over the past week as it was trading just under $0.40 this time last Tuesday. Daily volume has just topped $2 billion as XRP market capitalization approaches $20 billion. The gap to ETH in second place is still $10 billion in terms of market cap, however. It has been one of the best weeks for XRP in terms of gains as the Ripple token has only made 27% since the beginning of the year. Big Partnership Driving FOMO The San Francisco based firm announced the partnership on its company blog late last night. It stated that the initial partnership will last two years during which Ripple will become the key partner for MoneyGram’s cross border payments and foreign exchange settlements. A substantial capital commitment of $50 million has also been pledged by the blockchain company enabling MoneyGram to draw it over a two year period in exchange for equity. Ripple’s xRapid system will be deployed for the partnership. It facilitates on-demand liquidity enabling instant transactions by reducing reliance on pre-funding. The XRP token will be used as the ‘real-time bridge’ between different currencies. Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, stated; This strategic partnership will enable MoneyGram to greatly improve its operations and enable millions of people around the world to benefit from its improved efficiency. This is a huge milestone in helping to transform cross-border payments and I look forward to a long-term, very strategic partnership between our companies. MoneyGram has a $600 billion global remittance market supporting multiple currencies in more than 200 countries. Traditional forex markets requiring advance purchases are currently used for international transfers. The partnership and leverage of Ripple’s native token are expected to reduce costs and increase transfer speeds for the firm. Alex Holmes, MoneyGram Chairman and CEO, added; Through Ripple’s xRapid product, we will have the ability to instantly settle funds from US dollars to destination currencies on a 24/7 basis, which has the potential to revolutionize our operations and dramatically streamline our global liquidity management. Will XRP hit $0.50 this week? Add your comments below. Images via Shutterstock, The post XRP Spikes 10% on Ripple MoneyGram Partnership News appeared first on

XRP Gains 5% as Ripple Forms Strategic Partnership with MoneyGram; Last Resorts for Both Firms?

Ripple bought a share issue from MoneyGram worth $30 million at $4.10 per share to acquire 8-10% of the company. MoneyGram would also have an option of infusing another $20 million over the next two years. A strategic partnership will now ensue where Ripple will become the critical service provider for cross-border payment and foreign exchange settlement using digital assets. The digital asset they will be leveraging is Ripple, using Ripple’s xRapid Product. This partnership is a massive step towards the vision with which Ripple began, and investors put money is XRP. Also Read: Ripple Fathers’ Day Gift Propels It Past $0.4400 as Bulls Return Until now, MoneyGram has had to use banking services to provide settlements for payments they initiate. Due to the difference in time of settling payments, MoneyGram has to take loans to increase the required liquidity. However, by deploying xRapid, they will now be able to leverage XRP’s liquidity to provide cheaper and faster settlements. MoneyGram Chairman and CEO, Alex Holmes noted, “Through Ripple’s xRapid product, we will have the ability to instantly settle funds from US dollars to destination currencies on a 24/7 basis, which has the potential to revolutionize our operations and dramatically streamline our global liquidity management.” MoneyGram reported a net loss of $24 million in 2018 compared to a net loss of $29.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2017. The money transmitting service provider has been working towards developing, and 2019 will be part of the roadmap. Hence, the success of this strategic partnership is crucial for MoneyGram. Also Read: Bitcoin Vs Facebook Coin: Should Bitcoin Hodlers Care About Facebook Coin? Currently, MoneyGram works independently by leveraging money from banks. Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse told the media,  “This will eliminate the need to deploy foreign bank accounts. That’s why MoneyGram has negative working capital. It will help customers and also smooth out their treasury operations,” XRP/USD 4-Hour Chart on Bitstamp (TradingView) Moreover, while XRP recorded gains around 5%, it rose from $0.43 to a reach high at $0.46. Notably, a partnership like this back in 2016 or 2017 would have likely propelled the price by 30%. This can be attributed to an apparent decrease in the use case for MoneyGram itself. Digital payment is quickly becoming more accessible than ever with major firms working on implementing or integrating digital currencies on their respective platforms. Facebook is the most prominent example of it. Do you think MoneyGram and Ripple will be able to increase their volume and user base in the current environment? Please share your views with us.  The post XRP Gains 5% as Ripple Forms Strategic Partnership with MoneyGram; Last Resorts for Both Firms? appeared first on Coingape.

Ripple Partners MoneyGram to Enhance Cross-border Payments with XRP

Ripple has secured another major partnership with international money transfer company MoneyGram. This will allow the company to use Ripple’s native token XRP to provide liquidity for international payments to MoneyGram customers. This is in a bid to enhance the speed and efficiency of the payment system that MoneyGram operates. In an interview with Fortune on the partnership, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said: “This will eliminate the need to deploy foreign bank accounts. That’s why MoneyGram has negative working capital. It will help customers and also smooth out their treasury operations.” The partnership also gives Ripple an 8% to 10% stake in MoneyGram by paying $4.10 per share. This, however, does not give Ripple a voice in the dealings of MoneyGram for now as part of the agreement. MoneyGram, on the other hand, will have the opportunity of reviving its financial standing from Ripple’s investment which it direly needs after its share price crashed significantly.  It will also increase the efficiency of the payment platform, the management said. “We are very pleased with the terms of the Ripple investment which supports the Company with permanent capital and additional liquidity,” Larry Angelilli, chief financial officer of MoneyGram, said in a statement. “This partnership also provides MoneyGram with the opportunity to improve operating efficiencies and increase earnings and free cash flow,” Larry Angelilli, the chief financial officer of MoneyGram said. Ripple is the leader in remittance services as far as the blockchain industry is concerned. Its xRapid is second to none in terms of transaction efficiency and speed. With the new partnership, XRP which will be used for liquidity will be exposed to MoneyGram’s customers in over 200 countries globally. MoneyGram is the second largest provider of money transfer services in the world and while partnering with Ripple will ensure better service delivery to its customers, it is also a huge breakthrough for Ripple which has been looking to expand its reach further into the world. With hundreds of clients using Ripple’s payment platform, the company has grown significantly thus improving the international remittance settlement market by improving customer experience in conventional financial institutions. The post Ripple Partners MoneyGram to Enhance Cross-border Payments with XRP appeared first on ZyCrypto.

Ripple (XRP) enters key partnership with MoneyGram; invests $30 million

Ripple (XRP) enters key partnership with MoneyGram; invests $30 million - CryptoNinjas MoneyGram, a global money transfer company, announced today it has entered into a strategic agreement with Ripple (XRP), the provider of enterprise blockchain solutions for cross-border payments. The deal will enable MoneyGram to utilize Ripple’s xRapid product, leveraging ripples (XRP) in foreign exchange settlement as part of MoneyGram’s global payment process With an initial term […] Ripple (XRP) enters key partnership with MoneyGram; invests $30 million - CryptoNinjas

Ripple Announces Game-Changing Partnership With MoneyGram

By CCN Markets: Ripple announced a partnership with money transfer giant MoneyGram today. Two Year Exclusive Agreement, Ripple and MoneyGram According to Ripple Labs, a two-year partnership has been struck with MoneyGram which makes Ripple its exclusive digital assets partner. The purview of Ripple’s use case here might be more limited than expected. It depends on how many of the transactions are sent and received using Ripple’s technology and how much they’re worth. Whatever the case, the partnership doesn’t, for example, mean that you’ll be able to buy and sell XRP at any MoneyGram location. Something along those lines would The post Ripple Announces Game-Changing Partnership With MoneyGram appeared first on CCN Markets
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