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Bitcoin is devaluing China’s currency but the country won’t do much about it – Salon

Its been a volatile year so far for bitcoin. The value of the cryptocurrency jumped 20 percent in the first trading week of the year to a record high of $1,161 per virtual coin. Its value then plunged by more than a third over seven days, to $750, before climbing back up to top $1,200 on Friday.

Traders said the main cause of this roller coaster ride has been China, where the countrys central bank put domestic bitcoin exchanges on notice early last month that they needed to do more to tighten foreign exchange controls. China has been trying to curb the practice of using bitcoin to circumvent rules limiting the amount of money Chinese mainlanders can send abroad, which is currently capped at $50,000 a year.

This capital flight has caused a drop in the value of the renminbi and Chinese regulators have connected the dots between last years drop in the value of the countrys currency and a corresponding rise in the value of bitcoin. Bitcoin bought in renminbi accounted for a staggering 98 percent of all bitcoin trading activity in the last six months of 2016, according to bitcoinity.org.

Eager to convert the Chinese currency into a more stable global currency and stash that wealth abroad, many Chinese mainlanders have been buying bitcoin locally in renminbi and then, using bitcoins blockchain technology, which allows users to safely transmit bitcoin through the Internet, theyre sending bitcoin to other countries where recipients (family members, friends or other contacts) convert bitcoin back into a local currency which can then be used to make investments outside of the country.

But why isnt China simply clamping down hard on the whole bitcoin thing?

You have a government that likes to retain control, and bitcoin is a decentralized currency outside of the control of any nation-state, Christopher Burniske, blockchain products analyst at New York-based ARK Investment Management, told Salon. So that right there is a bit threatening, but at the same time China is working to be recognized as a global leader in technology and economics and the political fallout from outright banning or confiscating bitcoin is arguably too great.

Burniske said China may have other motives for not taking a hardline stance, such as working to develop its own form of digital currency, informally known as ChinaCoin. Early last year, the countrys central banksaid it was mulling a rollout of its own digital currency.

Theamount of bitcoin bought using the Chinese yuan has plummeted to less than 5 percent this week, thank to efforts by domestic exchanges to cool bitcoin trading activity with a one-month ban on making withdrawals and per-transaction fees that went into effect this month. Traders expect Chinas central bank to eventually impose regulations on local bitcoin trading, too, which helped to push the price of bitcoin down. Currently the market is unregulated in China, but traditional financial institutions are barred from dealing in bitcoin.

With so much less bitcoin trading activity from mainland China, why has the value of the currency bounced back to a record high?

Some of it has to do with traders betting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will approve at least one of three proposed exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin trading before a March 11 deadline. Though its uncertain whetherU.S. regulators would actually allow trading securities based on the fluctuation in the value of bitcoin, some less cautious investors are buying bitcoin hoping the value will jump after an announcement is made. The other reason is that bitcoin has become a alternative safe-harbor investment, like gold or U.S. Treasury bonds. U.S. inflation is expected to rise this year and bitcoin is being used by some to hedge against a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar. Global political uncertainty may also be playing a role.

Whatever the case may be, bitcoins quick rebound from the China scare could be a sign that the cryptocurrency is becoming more mainstream, according to Burniske, being used more frequently to buy goods and services from merchants that accept it.

This is a sign of global traction for bitcoin, he said. You now have more bitcoin being transacted as a means of exchange than traded as astore of value. Im seeing this as a positive indication of bitcoins globally distributed support, that its not as reliant on China as many people believed it was just a few months ago.

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Bitcoin Tracker: Up, Up And Away? | PYMNTS.com – PYMNTS.com

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Is there an alternative, profound French phrase or two that can describe what investors have seen this week with bitcoin? Because dj vu no longer seems to cut it.

Bitcoin is quickly headed toward fresh three-year highs after jumping up over $100 in value since last weeks tracker. After breaking through the $1,000 mark (again) at the beginning of February, bitcoin decided to stick around.

Though the cryptocurrency flirted with higher numbers, bitcoin mostly settled just above or below $1,000 for the first half of the month likely while investors waited to see how the whole Chinese exchange investigation storyline would pan out.

But now that the major exchanges have halted withdrawals for upgrades and it appears, at least for now, that no catastrophic changes to the crypto-status quo are coming from the PBoC its off to the races once again.

First, bitcoin has managed to stay above $1,000 for a record 10 days, leading some to speculate that the cryptocurrency could be developing a new, $1,000 price floor though it may still be too early to tell. The rise in value is likely due to speculation that the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will, in fact, receive approval from the SEC.

On Thursday (Feb. 23) morning, bitcoin had broken $1,150 in value, reaching a high of $1,153.04. At the time of writing, bitcoins price sat at $1,149 even, up 2.39 percent over Wednesdays close. The bitcoin market cap was over $18.5 billion. The cryptocurrencys maximum value, reached on Nov. 30, 2013, was $1,165.89, according to CoinDesk.

In stateside bitcoin news, Coinsource, the largest network of bitcoin ATMs in the U.S., recently announced the placement of three new machines in St. Louis, Missouri, the companys first foray into the Midwestern market.

Including the three new machines, Coinsource now has 80 machines in nine U.S. states up from 73 when PYMNTS interviewed CMO Bobby Sharp this past December. Founded in Feb. 2015, Coinsource debuted its first kiosk in the Miracle Mile Shops in Las Vegas.

Coinsource CEO Sheffield Clark saidthe company hopes to have 100 machines installed in the U.S. by the end of Q1, adding: In 2016, we were installing bitcoin ATMs at an average of 1.2 machines per week. We hope to double that this year.

Locations on the radar for new Coinsource ATMs in 2017, according to Sharp, included in Maryland, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis.

By the end of 2017, I think we could potentially be in 1520 states, Sharp said. Possibly even a couple of other continents by 2018. We definitely have some company goals to explore outside the United States.

In addition to expanding into new markets, Coinsource has made it a goal to augment the functionality of its current and new machines in 2017. The company is looking to add more financial services and platforms, as well as to increase the number of two-way machines nationwide.

In the international market, the past few weeks have also seen a number of propositions and efforts by various global governments, financial regulatory bodies and other organizations to work toward bitcoin regulation.

The big news as of late has come out of the Philippines after the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), announced itwould actively regulate the bitcoin industry as a means to combat money laundering and terrorist financing schemes.

Earlier this month, the BSP published guidelines for entities that offer exchange services, including a registration requirement with both BSP and the nations anti-money laundering organization. Bitcoin exchanges will also be subject to annual fee services.

While not an endorsement of cryptocurrency by any means, the move is a step forward in the country of nearly 100 millionand could work to combat the seedier elements at work in the bitcoin ecosystem, while protecting consumers and increasing financial stability for citizens using the digital currency for legal payments and remittances.

Last month, the central bank and government of the United Arab Emirates had drawn up regulatory frameworks for FinTech and digital payments at large.

Additionally, The Cointelegraph reported that government officials and political leaders have also come together to discuss the potential of bitcoin and blockchain technologies for the future of the financial industry and ecosystem in the UAE.

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PascalCoin Is A Cryptocurrency With a Deletable Blockchain – The Merkle

Every now and then, cryptocurrency developers come up with a rather intriguing concept. PascalCoin is a great example of one such project, as this cryptocurrency offers a deletable blockchain, effectively solving one of the data storage problems bitcoin has been facing for several years now. It is time we take a closer look at this altcoin, as it shows a lot of promise.

It is not difficult to see why PascalCoin has been seeing a boost in popularity as of late. Although the project was announced in August of 2016, it looks like its potential is finally coming to fruition After all, PascalCoin is the first cryptocurrency that does not require a blockchain of historical operations to be downloaded by the end user. Despite this odd function, there is no way to double-spend ones coins.

Rather than using the blockchain as found in the bitcoin ecosystem, PascalCoin makes use of a technology called SafeBox. This hash mechanism is modified every time a new block in generated by the PascalCoin blockchain. SafeBox is updated with the new block operations, after which it generates a new Safebox hash. Even if the blockchain up to that point were to be deleted, there is still a proof of all transactions and wallet balances.

Controlling the Safebox hash is of the utmost priority for the PascalCoin team. A total of five new accounts arecreated per network block, which effectively helps to keep the hash size as small as possible. For those who want to find out more, it is well worth checking out the projects white paper on GitHub. By removing the need to download and store an entire blockchain, the PascalCoin developers could be onto something.

Other than the SafeBox feature, PascalCoin focuses on being a cryptocurrency that can appeal to the masses. It offers quite a few similarities to how bank accounts work, with easy to remember account names instead of wallet addresses. This is another intriguing development that makes cryptocurrency more approachable by the average person on the street. It remains to be seen whether or not PascalCoin can achieve its goal, though.

Looking at the PascalCoin trading charts, it is evident this cryptocurrency has become the new hot commodity among altcoin traders. That being said, the fact its blockchain can be deleted and its convenient wallet addresses are the only proper features for the time being. There are no merchants or platforms accepting PascalCoin as a payment option, indicating this altcoin still has a long way to go before it can rival bitcoin.

One final thing that sets apart PascalCoin fro other altcoins is how it seemingly favors mining with an NVIDIA GPU. Most altcoins use algorithms which make using an AMD graphics card far more convenient. PascalCoin is doing things a bit differently, although a new miner for AMD cards was released not too long ago. An intriguing take on things, although it remains to be seen whether or not PascalCoin will still be relevant a few months from now.

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Top 5 Cryptocurrencies Under Development By Central Banks The … – The Merkle

In most cases, imitation is the ultimate form of flattery. For Bitcoin, that is not always the case, even though many projects aim to imitate the cryptocurrencys success to date. Various central banks are working on creating their own cryptocurrencies, none of which are decentralized or subject to a free market. Below is a list of such coins which may see the light of day sooner than people think.

As the name would suggest, Citicoin aims to become a bitcoin rival developed by none other than Citibank. Citigroup claims they have built this digital currency based on blockchain technology, although most of the specifics remain unclear to this very day. Judging by the name, it appears Citicoin will only be usable for internal transaction between customers of this particular bank. That has not been confirmed by Citigroup, albeit not much has been heard from this project since July of 2015.

When this collaborative project between UBS, Deutsche Bank, Santander, and Bank of New York Mellon was announced in 2016, the world was taken a bit by storm. Four of the worlds largest banks openly admitted they envy bitcoin and its technology. All four institutions have been researching the technology and decided to create their own cryptocurrency, going by the name of Utility Settlement Coin.

Considering how all of these banks are a member of the R3 blockchain consortium, the move to develop their own cryptocurrency seems a bit strange. Then again it is believed the Utility Settlement Coin project will launch in 2018, albeit no specific date has been announced so far. It remains to be seen if such a project can survive and what type of blockchain it will use, though.

Not to be confused with the previous entry, SETLcoin is a project developed by the Goldman Sachs Group. A patent for SETLcoin was filed back in 2014, which labels it as a cryptographic currency for securities settlement. This type of cryptocurrency will not be a competitor to bitcoin by any means, as it focuses on one specific niche. Goldman Sachs wants to facilitate the exchange of assets over a peer-to-peer network, yet its capabilities are seemingly limited at this point.

The Bank of England, together with various computer scientists, feel they have cracked the code to dethrone bitcoin as the top cryptocurrency. Under the RsCoin banner, the cryptocurrency will be used for P2P transactions all over the world. It would allow the BoE to keep a tight grip on the money supply and would no longer allow for the creation of money out of thin air. Then again, with no fixed coin supply, value can still be created out of nothing. An intriguing type of cryptocurrency to keep an eye on.

One of the more worrisome cryptocurrency projects in development goes by the name of RMBCoin. This cryptocurrency, developed by the Peoples Bank of Chinaaims tobecome the new national digital currency in time. However, users will not have full control over their digital wallet, similar to how bank accounts are not controlled by the customer either. Not much else is known about RMBCoin, as there is no white paper, release date, or comprehensive list of specifications available today.

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BitConnect Cryptocurrency Exhibits Steady Growth – newsBTC

BitConnect, the young cryptocurrency is showing steady growth within a month of its successful ICO. BitConnect Coin (BCC)is following on the path of the crypto heavyweights like Bitcoin and Ethereum as it showcases significant growth within the digital altcoin community. It continues the trend of the exponential rise as set by the two cryptocurrencies since 2015. The upcoming feature additions to BCC throughout 2017 are further expected to boost its value.

BitConnect coin is an open source, peer-to-peer, community driven decentralized cryptocurrency that allows people to store and invest their wealth in a non-government controlled currency, and even earn a substantial interest on investment.

BCC has experienced few ups and downs since the completion of BCCs initial launch following the ICO. There was a drop in its demand and value soon after its release as is the case for any new digital or physical product. Being a cryptocurrency that is providing real value to the market, BCC has recovered to emerge bigger and stronger than ever.

BCCs chart shows a more than two-fold increase in its price during the recent weeks. Due to an increase in the BitConnect Coin mining activity, the cryptocurrency platform had to increase its mining difficulty to levels much higher than that of any other scrypt-based coin in the altcoin market. Consequently, the exchange volume has been exhibiting significant growth in anticipation of the new features that are going to be included later this month.

The BCC cryptocurrencys demand and price are expected to further increase as the platform prepares to launch the much awaited BitConnect application for Android and iOS devices. The latter half of the year will also see the cryptocurrency undergoing more innovation and also the inclusion of new convenience features. The BCC mining process will stop yielding new coins by the end of 2017.

BitConnect Coin connects its users socially and financially to a secure, protected community of investors and lenders. BCC owners can also connect with the community to increase the value in their respective wallets as the cryptocurrencys price increases. They also get an opportunity to earn interest.

BitConnect hasbecome the worlds fastest growing online Bitcoin community. It has risen from being a concept in Q1 of 2016 to a top 100K website on Alexa in less than one year.

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Dell EMC Enhances Cloud Service Provider Program, Introduces … – The VAR Guy

Dell EMCs launch of its new unified partner program a few weeks ago was just the beginning. This week, the company announced an expansion of its Cloud Service Provider (CSP) partner track, including the addition of rebates into the program, a new dedicated product business unit to build futures and functions for the market segment and an entire sellout organization to create go-to-market traction in the filed.

The programs rewards structure encourage collaboration between Dell EMCs varied solution providers and cloud service providers, which the company says includes public cloud providers, vertical market cloud specialists, communications service providers, hosting/co-location providers and consumer webtech providers.

This is a pretty serious business for us and it’s gotten more and more serious, Jay Snyder, SVP of Global Alliances and Service Providers at Dell EMC told The VAR Guy. We now have over 200 resources within Dell EMC that are focused on the solutioning and go-to-market side of the business.

Dell EMC’s additional enhancements to the track take the form of compensation benefits boosts such as revenue-based rebates and access to earned- and proposal-based marketing and business development funds. The company hopes to differentiate how Dell EMC partner providers go to market with cloud services from a growing field of competitors. To that end, its increased investments in sell-with and sell-out resources for service provider partners, building a global organization with the sole responsibility of helping partners sell.

They will only make money when our partners make money, said Snyder. We’re really putting our money where our mouth is. We absolutely know we need to win together in the market. And to do that, we need the cloud service providers more than ever.

Partners will earn based upon the spend, or “sell-in”, across service, storage and networking. In addition, Dell EMC has added accelerators for partners doing business with the company across multiple lines of business.

If you look at traditional resellers, in my opinion, [the digital transformation] certainly is changing the way that they go to market and are having to adapt, David Trigg, Global VP of Market Development and Service Providers at Dell EMC, told us. What we’re trying to do is enable their businesses as best we can, and that’s where the area of the cloud partner connect comes in.

As resellers transition to become service providers, they naturally become part of multiple partner tracks within the Dell EMC ecosystem, he explained. The vendor is happy to invest in such transitions in order to increase partner participation in the Dell EMC product lines. And its a win for the reseller, too. Becoming a service provider is not a cheap proposition, Trigg says.

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Danish Police Surveil the Blockchain to … – news.bitcoin.com

Danish law enforcement have arrested drug traffickers after an investigation that included surveilling the blockchain, according to the regional publication Berlingske. The Danish polices cyber crime unit NC3 claim they have made arrests based on criminal activity tracked via bitcoin transactions.

Law enforcement officials are indeed working with blockchain surveillance software globally, and even warning against the use of digital currency mixers.

Also read:Basel Institute: Take Action Against Digital Currency Mixers/Tumblers

The chief of the Danish cyber crime unit, Kim Aarenstrup, has revealed authorities in the region created a tracking system that analyzes bitcoin transactions. Aarenstrup details the tool has helped police with two narcotics convictions. One arrest took place in January when Danish police arrested a young man for purchasing ketamine, cocaine, and amphetamines on darknet marketplaces. (DNM)

Bitcoin and virtual currency in general is used a lot for trafficking in weapons and drugs, ransom cases and extortion cases, Aarenstrup said. It has become a heavily used tool for criminals. We are pretty much unique in the world at this point because theyre not really any others who have managed to use these trails as evidence.

The Danish prosecutor who worked on the convictions, Jesper Klyve, explained their blockchain analysis worked because the drug traffickers had correlatedbitcoin transactions. Many services that offer bitcoin purchasing platforms follow strict KYC policies and buyers typically have to verify their identification.

Aarenstrup told the press the new blockchain surveillance system was ground-breaking.

The Danish cyber crime unit is not the only agency utilizing blockchain surveillance software to capture criminals. There are four known startups using bitcoin transaction analysis tools and collaborating with law enforcement worldwide. Companies utilizing blockchain surveillance software include Elliptic, Chainalysis, Numisight, and Skry. Both Elliptic and Chainalysis have been working with law enforcement agencies like the FBI, Interpol, Europol and KYC/AML platform providers.

Last summer, Chainalysis detailed that the company was working with global authorities to combat ransomware. Michael Gronager, CEO and co-founder of Chainalysis,said at the time, Expect to see some arrests soon as law enforcement agencies wrap up their investigations into several ransomware operations.

In January, the Basel Institute on Governance, Europol, Interpol, and officialsfrom Qatar warned against the use of bitcoin transaction mixers.

All countries are advised to take action against digital currency mixers/tumblers, theyexplained.

Alongside the rise of startups and law enforcement deploying blockchain surveillance, software developers are also creating privacy-centric transaction tools and concepts for Bitcoin. Ideas like Tumblebit, Schnorr signatures, confidential transactions, and other protocols are being developed. There are also in-production mixing services like Joinmarket, and anonymizing wallets like Samourai.

The privacy activists behind the Samourai wallet recently introduced features like Ricochet, and reusable payment codes. Samourai rebukes warnings made by bureaucrats and law enforcement against privacy-enhancing tools. In a recent blog post called The Bureaucrats Are Coming, the privacy-centric wallet developers explain they are ready to fight the state.

Samourai will not cower to these ivory tower elites We will actively work to destroy the effectiveness of any legislation or policy that is produced.

What do you think about law enforcement officials tracking bitcoin transactions? Let us know in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Danish Cyber Crime Unit, and Chainalysis.

Have you seen our new widget service? It allows anyone to embed informative Bitcoin.com widgets on their website. Theyre pretty cool and you can customize by size and color. The widgets include price-only, price and graph, price and news, forum threads. Theres also a widget dedicated to our mining pool, displaying our hash power.

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Bitcoin Price Nearing Uncharted Territory – The Merkle

After breaking its first ATH yesterday on BTC-E the oldest Bitcoin exchange still running Bitcoins price is continuing to climb further nearing uncharted territory. Not only were other exchanges ATHs broken, but this is the longest time in history where Bitcoins price stayed above the $1000 mark.

Bitcoin is nearing the last ATH left to break MtGox. In November of 2013, MtGox hit an all time high of $1242. Many users do not consider this to be a true ATH due to the fact that it was almost impossible to move funds in or out of the exchange at the time. During that period, MtGox started having withdrawal issues and users started to panic, rightfully so. Many argue that the price was pushed further by the fact that users tried converting fiat to bitcoin in the hopes that their withdrawals would go through.

No matter how much we ignore the fact that MtGox was already insolvent at the time, breaking other ATHs doesnt feel as good as reaching MtGoxs record. As Bitcons price nears $1200, the market is reaching uncharted territories. $1200 is definitely a mental wall in the market, because as the excitement builds up many traders might take profits when they see that even number. On the other hand, it is perfectly possible that new investors might also join in at that time pushing the price further.

If the price reaches $1250, Bitcoin would have officially hit uncharted territory. At no point in time in Bitcoins history has the price topped $1250, if that happens expect even more media coverage of Bitcoin.

Traders agree that one of the main reasons for Bitcoins recent rally is the upcoming ETF decision which based on the outcome could make Bitcoin an official exchange traded fund. As a result that approval would introduce more conservative investors to the scene.As traders are betting on the decisions outcome the market is showing that most are betting for a positive outcome. You can try betting for the outcome yourself on the BitMex platform which allows for the settlement of the bet in Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin P2P Lending Platform Bitbond Raises $1.2 Million in Equity Funding – CryptoCoinsNews

Bitbond, a German peer-to-peer bitcoin loan platform closed an equity funding round of $1.2 million in new capital as it looks to fuel user growth in potential markets.

As a platform to connect lenders and borrowers, Bitbond facilitates loans in bitcoin by checking the credit-worthiness of applicants while studying the purpose of the loan to determine the interest rate for the loan. Notably, the platform uses the Bitcoin blockchain for payment processing to facilitate cross-border lending.

A large proportion of Bitbonds borrowers are usually online sellers with storefronts on e-commerce sites like Amazon or eBay. The borrowed sums are used for inventory and working capital. Credit checks are performed based on the revenue data of merchants.

Berlin-based Bitbond has now raised a total of $2.3 million in funding. The latest founding round was led by ekip Can Gkalp, who formerly founded Turkish mobile ad network Mobilike. Other angel investors participating in the funding round included mobile advertising firm Fybers founders Janis Zech and Andreas Bodczek as well as Alexander Graubner-Mller, CEO and co-founder of German online lender and Fintech firm Kreditech.

Bitbond founder and CEO Radoslav Albrecht stated:

The additional resources will help us to continue realizing our mission which is to make lending and borrowing globally accessible. We are happy to have such experiences investors supporting us on this exciting journey.

The bitcoin startup received EUR600,000 in an angel funding round in mid-2015 following its launch in 2013. The company has come a long way since. Over 1,600 loans worth $1.2 million have originated on Bitbond since its launch and the platform claims to service 76,600 registered users from 120 countries.

In previous comments to CCN, Bitbond representative Chris Grundy added that the platform also follows up with measures to ensure repayment of loans. This starts with emails and phone calls, in thecase of late repayments, and can culminate in the involvement of debt collectors to regain the owed sum, Grundy revealed.

Bitbonds growth in the global bitcoin P2P lending market is in contrast to that of another lending platform BitLendingClub, which cited regulatory hurdles as the reason behind its decision to shut down a number of services. Meanwhile, Bitbond is now operating with a regulatory license issued by Germanys financial regulator BaFin, issued in October 2016. The license allows the bitcoin startup to operate independently of banks.

Image from Shutterstock.

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The Code for This Bitcoin Node Scanner is Now Open Source – CoinDesk

CoinScope, a tool that providesaggregated data aboutbitcoin nodes, has been made open source.

The code was made publicly available on GitHubon 22nd February. The project, which has been around since 2015, is somewhatakin toBitnodes, the node data tool operated by startup 21 Inc thatseeks tomap the bitcoin network by measuring the amount of nodes connected at any given time.

As detailed in a 2015 presentation by developer Andrew Miller at the Scaling Bitcoin workshop in Montreal, the tool’s aim isn’t to reduce the anonymity of nodes on the network. Rather, according to Miller, CoinScope’s purpose is to provide a vehicle to assess the health of the network itself.

The whitepaperdrafted in connection with CoinScope describeshow one using the tool cansee the bitcoin network in a new way by uncovering relationships between nodes and mining pools a process that yields intriguing data points about the network’s composition.

The paper notes:

“We introduce a “decloaking” method to find influential nodes in the topology that are well connected to a mining pool. Our results find that in contrast to bitcoin’s idealized vision of spreading mining responsibility to each node, mining pools are prevalent and hidden: roughly 2% of the (influential) nodes represent three-quarters of the mining power.”

The main technological aspectthat makes the decloaking possible through the CoinScope tool is an element dubbedAddressNode. It works by discovering peer-to-peer links in bitcoin, then applying those links to the live topology of the whole network.

Image viaShutterstock

bitcoin nodeCoinScopenetwork size

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