The price of bitcoin took a dive during the week beginning June 12 from its all-time high at $2,997 to its June low at $2,212 after Chinese mining hardware producer Bitmain announced its “contingency plan” against the proposed BIP148 UASF (User-Activated Soft Fork) on August 1, which contains a new hard fork that has been coined UAHF (User-Activated Hard Fork).
The contingency plan states that Bitmain will not signal for the UASF on August 1 and instead mine a blockchain that allows for bigger block sizes (an initial limit of up to eight megabytes) should the UASF be successful. This new “Bitmain Bitcoin blockchain” would be a new blockchain with a new coin and would no longer be compatible with the original or UASF-upgraded bitcoin blockchain.
The announcement brought more uncertainty to the upcoming proposed implementation of BIP148 and sparked another chapter in the seemingly never-ending block size debate. Nonetheless, the price of bitcoin recovered later on in the week and rose back up to surpass the $2,600 mark.
This week’s review is compiled from contributions by Alex Lielacher, Christoph Bergmann, and Joseph Young.
On June 3, an insider source told Chinese cryptocurrency news agency CnLedger that two of the largest Chinese bitcoin exchanges Huobi and OKCoin are currently working on the development of an off-chain payment channel similar to the Lightning network to lower transaction fees.
The utilization of private blockchain networks and off-chain solutions is not a new concept. Popular platforms such as Coinbase and many mobile applications such as BTCC’s Mobi have utilized private blockchains to increase the flexibility of their applications.
There exist many reasons why companies including Coinbase and Mobi utilize private blockchains, but the major factor is speed and functionality. The presence of an off-chain solution and a private blockchain allows apps to operate on top of a more flexible platform.
The company Crypto Fund AG, located in the Crypto-Valley in Zug, Switzerland, wants to release a Crypto-Fund which invests in bitcoin, ether, and other cryptocurrencies. The world’s first regulated crypto fund aims to get a volume of 100 million Swiss Francs – and will make a Swiss Bank store the private keys for cryptocurrencies in their own safe.
The fund will be based on a cryptocurrency index, which is provided by an investor with a wide scope of deep stakes in a variety of virtual currencies. The index will contain bitcoin, ether, Ripple, Litecoin and other currencies. The diversification of the fund will reduce volatility while providing a pace of growth which is rarely found in traditional investment products. For the first time being the Crypto Fund will be reserved for “qualified investors,” like retirement funds, insurances, banks, wealth managers and so in. This restriction reduces the requirements of the regulation.
The Bancor Network, a blockchain project endorsed by prominent billionaire investor Tim Draper, recently raised $150 million in an initial coin offering (ICO). However, the development team behind Bancor was criticized for the abrupt extension of investment period and its untested code.
The majority of the cryptocurrency community immediately criticized Bancor for the extension as early investors who purchased BNT, the native token of Bancor, either attached incredibly high fees or rely on digital finance brokers such as Bitcoin Suisse to ensure the purchase of BNT went through.
Almost immediately after the settlement of a $150 million funding round via its ICO for Bancor, Augur founder Joey Krug stated that the core software of Bancor was tested in Augur’s beta tests a few years back. Krug revealed that Bancor’s vision did not work out in the early stages of Augur and that the market invested $150 million in an untested project. Andreas Antonopoulos brought up a similar point as Krug, criticizing Bancor’s untested code and the sheer overvaluation of its ICO.
Switzerland-based blockchain startup Melonport has announced Version 0.1.0 of its digital asset management platform.
Melonport is developing a digital asset management protocol that allows users to create their own portfolios composed of digital assets. The new release of the Melon platform lets users to test out the platform in its early stages. This version allows users to create their own funds (using the ERC20 token format) and invest in it once it is live. Trading within the first Melon Universe Module which has been made possible using five ERC20 assets (ETH, BTC, MLN, EUR, and REP). Users can then monitor the performance of these assets via first data feed module powered by Cryptocompare and Oraclize using native proofs.
The Government of Dubai has announced its collaboration with UK-based blockchain startup ObjectTech to create digital passports for quick and efficient entry at the Dubai International Airport.
Working closely with Dubai’s Immigration and Visas Department (GDRFA – General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners’ Affairs), ObjectTech seeks to create the world’s first ‘gate-less border’ through the use of the blockchain and biometric technology.
This announcement is in accordance with Dubai’s 10x strategy, which is essentially an initiative that aims to ensure all public services are ten years ahead of the rest of the world technologically, thus cementing Dubai’s position as the “city of the future.”
California-based blockchain startup Enigma has announced the creation of a cryptocurrency investment platform that allows developers to start their own digital asset investment funds based on trading strategies that they create themselves.
The platform, named Catalyst, enables developers to create investment funds where they have full control of how their digital assets are handled. Furthermore, developers are free to incorporate whatever variable they see fit into the algorithms that govern their fund.
The platform is the brainchild of Silicon Valley startup Enigma that is led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates. The Enigma team has previously created a different platform that aimed to give users control over their data, who has access to it and, ultimately the ability to sell the data at a profit while retaining their anonymity. Now, the Guy Zyskind-led team has set its sights on cryptocurrency trading.