Archives for September 2019
- A deep test of support pushed the bitcoin market down $600 over the course of an hour. Ultimately, after testing weekly support, the market managed to retrace the entire drop and push a new high.
- At the moment, we are retesting macro support/resistance at $10,300 and if we can manage to close our weekly candle back above the support, it will be a strong bullish signal that we are likely in for a continuation of our uptrend.
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Abra, creator of a cryptocurrency investment app, wants to bring bitcoin to retail users across the Philippines.
In a blog post published on September 18, 2019, Abra announced that it would be partnering with ECPay, a payment processing service, to provide cash-to-crypto options at over 6,000 retail outlet locations in the Philippines, including all 7-Eleven convenience stores in the country.
The Philippines is an active cryptocurrency community which has been aided by a friendly central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), that has granted operational permits to over 13 exchanges in the country.
“Using new digital tools that open up financial access shouldn’t be hard,” Abra noted in the announcement. “And they shouldn’t be complicated. Moving cash to crypto and other digital assets should be simple and fast. That’s why we are really excited to announce our new partnership.”
By collaborating with ECPay, Abra will now be listed on the “Bills Payment” option on all CLIQQ ECPay financial service kiosks in the Philippines, as well as on the app. Customers can now deposit money into their Abra wallet.
Abra notes that the minimum deposit value is PHP 500 (about $9.59), and there is a PHP 100,000 ($1,917) daily cap on how much can be deposited.
All transfers will provide a receipt, which can now be used to complete transactions at checkout posts. Abra adds that funds will be accredited within one to two business days.
Continuing Bitcoin Adoption
Over the years, Abra has been at the forefront in the fight for bitcoin adoption. In February 2019, the company shook both the cryptocurrency and financial industries when it launched a new feature that allowed traditional investors to purchase stocks with the use of bitcoin.
Essentially, this allowed cryptocurrency investors in all of the countries where Abra maintains its operations to make stock trading investments, buy shares from companies which issue stocks on public markets and purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs), all from the comfort of their smartphones.
In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine in June 2019, Bill Barhydt, the company’s chief executive, noted that within a few weeks of the feature’s launch, Abra had been able to get over 14,000 equity wallets. As he pointed out, the feature’s biggest selling point is the fractional investing capability, which allows investors to purchase stocks with as little as $5.
The post Bitcoin Now Available at Every 7-Eleven Store in the Philippines appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Zap wallet will soon let you buy bitcoin in the app and deposit the sats directly into your Lightning wallet after each buy.
“If you want, you can buy bitcoin inside of Zap with a bank account, debit card, Zelle, whatever — and it will give you the bitcoins, from purchase to spending on Lightning, in less than five seconds,” Zap founder Jack Mallers told Bitcoin Magazine.
Mallers said he and his team have been working on the feature, aptly dubbed Olympus, for about a year. It’s similar in function to SparkSwap’s desktop application, which also allows for direct-to-Lightning wallet buys, though in technical structure, Zap’s “a little bit more complex,” according to Mallers. His wallet uses something called Turbo channels to settle the transactions. And, more notably, Zap’s iteration can be integrated by other Bitcoin companies and service providers as well.
Third-party integration would mean more liquidity, for both Zap’s service and the Lightning Network as a whole. The idea, Mallers told us, is to weave a sturdy web of liquidity by creating an easy access point for onboarding users onto Lightning. He doesn’t want people to have to wait for well-entrenched services like Coinbase or BitPay to integrate the secondary network for users to have a convenient on-ramp to use the technology.
“This is really designed to get some of the licensing and regulatory relationships and advanced exchange infrastructure for Lightning into the hands of the good guys,” he told us, adding that Zap’s endgame is to get Lightning into the hands of millions of new, less-technically tolerant users. “Zap has this ambition of getting a million Lightning nodes running on individual devices all around the world. Lightning doesn’t have a mainstream track yet, and I want to be able to tell no-coiners to download Zap, enter a debit card and get the Lightning payment instantly.”
Cash for Sats
Mallers stressed that Olympus is a completely opt-in “standalone service.” He made this distinction because the buying option will require a degree of KYC (name, email and home address), though Zap’s wallet will still be KYC-free for baseline Lightning functionality, he assured.
The service promises noncustodial, instantly delivered purchases of bitcoin directly into a user’s Zap wallet by way of a special technical workaround called Turbo channels. Bitrefill was the first to leverage this tech with its Thor Turbo channels. Through Bitrefill, users can purchase a channel with bitcoin, a few alts, their Coinbase account or with their Bitrefill balance. Mallers said that Zap’s solution is the first to allow direct bank-to-bitcoin cash trades for Turbo channels; additionally, the team had to adapt the concept, originally coded in the eclair Lightning language, for the more popular LND implementation.
This pioneering channel creation mechanism allows users to spend purchased funds in their Lightning wallet immediately without waiting for the transaction that funded their wallet to be confirmed on chain. (When you set up a Lightning wallet, you first have to make a “funding transaction” to create a payment channel with another party, and traditionally, you need to wait for this funding transaction to be confirmed on the blockchain to start transacting on Lightning).
Turbo foregoes the need for immediate onchain validation. It works like this: If you were buying sats from Zap, the wallet provider creates a channel for you and “pushes” bitcoin to you in the channel. So, if you bought 10,000 sats through the app, Zap creates the payment channel and “pushes” the 10,000 sats to your side of the channel in exchange for cash. This creates instant liquidity on your end of the channel, and the funds can be spent immediately.
“Previously, the user story read like this: take fiat, buy bitcoin, wait until you’re allowed to withdraw, withdraw and wait for confirmations, deposit bitcoin onto the Lightning Network, open channels, wait for more confirmations, scan QR code. Not anymore,” Mallers said in a blog post announcing Olympus.
As with Bitrefill’s Thor service, when you use Olympus, you’re actually buying a turbo channel from Zap that is preloaded with sats, “which is basically a more complicated way of saying that you’re buying bitcoin on Lightning,” Mallers said. As such, the service requires “a certain level of trust,” because Zap acts as a central hub of liquidity (though this isn’t much different from Lightning wallets and other services offering their nodes as routing hubs and setting up bidirectional payment channels for their users).
There’s also the trade-off of not waiting for on-chain confirmations to begin transacting, though Mallers said that users can choose to “wait for the channels to reach however many confirmations they like.” Zap may also offer alternative modes of delivery, such as regular Lightning invoices or, in the case that the buyer wants on-chain settlement, submarine swaps.
Global Liquidity and Massive Adoption
Zap is tapping into a Chicago liquidity provider — and by proxy, a network of some of the industry’s top exchanges — to supply Olympus with a steady pipeline of bitcoin.
Mallers’ aspiration is that Olympus will expand well beyond Zap’s influence to other Bitcoin services. Chief among these, he says, the wallet’s been working with Square’s Cash App and BTC PayServer to spur Lightning adoption among merchants. This follows fresh news that Cash App has allocated a grant to fund future BTC PayServer development. The capital pledge is a welcome windfall for the payment processor, as it has subsisted on purely open-source development and funding throughout its two-year lifespan.
If all goes as planned, Zap, Cash App and BTC PayServer synergizing their services could set the stage for a breakthrough in Lightning merchant adoption. A common hangup for processing Lightning payments for vendors has been converting to fiat to mediate bitcoin’s volatility. Currently, no solutions exist to offer a reliable on-/off-ramp from Lightning to fiat, though if Mallers’ vision comes to fruition, Zap’s new product may have finally produced a solution.
And this doesn’t stop at Cash App. Other Lightning wallets, exchanges and Bitcoin services can integrate Zap’s solution without even running their own node to provide channel liquidity. Zap’s got the sats; all they need to do is open a channel with Zap’s node and support the LND version of Turbo, which Mallers’ plans to open source over the coming weeks.
“Everyone building on Lightning should be able to leverage the infrastructure work we’ve done to get here. So, Olympus will be available to any external app, product, business, etc. to use,” Mallers wrote in the post.
For now, the service will be available as a closed beta, for which you can register here. Mallers hopes to open it to the public in the coming months, but he wants to ride out a recently discovered bug in Lightning’s software before injecting more liquidity onto the network. Once enough Lightning developers give the all clear, he’ll take it out of beta. To start, Olympus is only available in the U.S., though Zap hopes to expand to other countries in the near future.
He also plans on upping channel limits to accommodate wumbo channels (yes, that means very big channels) which could hold up to 1 BTC, but for now, Zap’s turbo channels will play within the boundaries of accepted channel limits (about 0.04 to 0.05 BTC).
The post Zap’s Olympus Features Fiat-to-Lightning On-Ramp With Direct Wallet Deposits appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
On the first day of the 2019 Baltic Honeybadger conference, prominent bitcoiner and Bull Bitcoin CEO Francis Pouliot spoke with Bitcoin Magazine just a few hours after Bull Bitcoin announced it would be joining Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain federation.
“The first step for Liquid’s integration is to accept L-BTC payments,” said an exuberant Pouliot within the first two minutes of the interview.
Essentially, every purchase of BTC on the exchange will allow users to opt into transferring L-BTC instead, which can enable lower fees for traders and the opportunity to perform confidential transactions.
“We don’t know where Bitcoin is heading, right? We don’t know if the solution for scaling is going to be the Lightning Network, the Liquid Network, or something else. And I’m pretty curious to find out. I want to know what the market wants.”
— Francis Pouliot
Bull Bitcoin as a Liquid Member and L-CAD
As a result of this partnership, Bull Bitcoin will become a full member of the Liquid federation. This means that the Canadian exchange will have the power to peg out and peg in L-BTC without relying on any third party that is endowed with these prerogatives. In technical terms, this also means that Bull Bitcoin’s backend Cyphernode will receive upgrades that can be found in Blockstream’s Elements, its sidechain developer network.
Another major announcement for the Canadian exchange involves the listing of a Liquid asset that is based on the Canadian dollar (CAD). The new cryptographic asset differs from fiat-backed stablecoins due to its exclusive exchangeability for BTC. Through L-CAD, Bull Bitcoin’s existing gift card system can be improved to offer more freedom to those who make the purchase.
In discussing his reasons for joining the Liquid network, Pouliot highlights a balance between self-interest and altruism: On the one hand, the fact that transactions get moved to a sidechain is beneficial in terms of Bitcoin’s block space and network fees; on the other hand, a secondary layer is a great money saver when time is crucial and the resulting fees on the Bitcoin network would become too high. Through Blockstream’s federated sidechain, the fundamentals of the Bitcoin network are preserved, while actors who require faster, cheaper and more confidential settlements can simply move their operations to Liquid.
The Bull Bitcoin CEO also makes it clear that the Lightning Network doesn’t serve exchanges yet, as the amounts that can be traded are still low. In contrast, the more centralized federation of Liquid members should be more efficient in moving large amounts of money.
“Our business model is dependent on the success of Bitcoin,” said Pouliot, reaffirming his allegiance to the cause of Bitcoin.
Bull Bitcoin, Privacy and CoinJoin
Even though Bull Bitcoin is an exchange with integrated KYC measures, which has to comply with Canadian laws, Pouliot points to a prioritization of privacy in relation to intrusive third parties.
“It is the right of the user to decide whether or not his financial transactions are given to third parties,” says the CEO, as a way of justifying the exchange’s use of CoinJoin by default.
This layer of privacy should protect users from all sorts of malevolent attackers such as hackers and chain analysis investigators. If remaining anonymous in relation to the government is not possible, then at least private actors should be kept away from sensitive financial data.
According to Pouliot, a large percentage of users opt in for the native SegWit bech32 deposit address, which automatically sends bitcoin through a CoinJoin. This reflects a great demand for privacy and a quick response to innovation in the Bitcoin space. Pouliot suggests that the legacy deposit addresses will be removed sometime in 2020, in order to guarantee a greater amount of privacy for all users.
Pouliot also sends out a warning to competing exchanges that the lack of CoinJoin implementation is dangerous for the confidentiality of their operations. Having a simple deposit address is harmful for all parties involved, as a simple dust attack can help experts reverse engineer every operation taking place, thus revealing a lot of sensitive data.
“I have never seen a single regulation which forces an exchange to do chain analysis,” he said. “What I have seen is exchanges that want to please the banks. People will have to adapt to us and this is the mentality that we see at Bull Bitcoin: We’re gonna do things our way and I believe that we do the best practice, and it’s up to other people to other follow or convince us that there is a better practice. So far, nobody has been able to convince me that doing CoinJoins is a bad idea.”
The post Video Interview: Francis Pouliot on Liquid Network, Bitcoin Privacy appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.