The long-awaited Constantinople fork of the Ethereum network has been delayed due to potential security issues identified by ChainSecurity. An innovation of the Constantinople update was the introduction of cheaper gas cost for certain SSTORE operations. The Swiss blockchain security company warned that this would enable reentrancy attacks.
Don’t Worry – Update and You Won’t Be Sorry
Following ChainSecurity’s revelations, key stakeholders within the Ethereum community decided to postpone the Constantinople fork, initially scheduled to launch January 16, 2019.
[SECURITY ALERT] #Constantinople upgrade is temporarily postponed out of caution following a consensus decision by #Ethereum developers, security professionals and other community members. More information and instructions are below. https://t.co/p2znO8HGxf
Downgrade to Parity Ethereum 2.2.4-beta (not recommended)
If you are simply interacting with Ethereum (you do not run a node), you don’t need to do anything!
Ledger, Trezor, Safe-T, Parity Signer, WallEth, Paper Wallets, MyCrypto, MyEtherWallet and other users or token holders that do not participate in the network by syncing and running a node can remain calm. The change that would introduce this potential vulnerability won’t be enabled.
Snapshot of Ethereum Constantinople Update. Image Source: Consensys
Vulnerability of Smart Contract
The analysis by ChainSecurity dives deep into the potential risk of the Constantinople fork and how smart contracts can be checked for their vulnerability.
EIP-1283 introduces cheaper gas cost for SSTORE operations. But their findings show that some smart contracts already on the chain may utilise code patterns that would make them vulnerable to a reentrancy attack after the Constantinople upgrade took place.
Contracts that increase their probability to being vulnerable are contracts that utilise a transfer() or send() function followed by a state-changing operation. Take for example a contract where two parties jointly receive funds, make a decision on how to split these funds and trigger a payout of those funds.
Don’t Jump the Gun – Wait and See
There is a non-zero risk that some contracts could be affected, according to ChainSecurity.
Out of an abundance of caution, stakeholders of the Ethereum network decided to delay the update. There was not enough time to clear away all security risks before the planned fork on January 16, 2019.
Security researchers, Ethereum client developers, smart contract owners and developers, wallet providers, node operators, Dapp developers and media were involved in the discussion leading up to the decision.
Changing how the energy market works is quite a challenge to take on. But it’s a challenge we might see happening sooner rather than later, with companies like Enosi leading the way.
For this instalment of Women in Crypto, we sit down with Enosi’s Fleur Edwards to discover why she left her academic career to join the global blockchain energy revolution.
Solar panel usage is on the rise in Australia, as the sun-soaked country finally moves away from non-renewable energy sources. And it’s not slowing down. A recent report has estimated six solar panels are installed every single minute. Amazing right?
But now, as Australia reaches 2 million solar panels installed nationally, homeowners are looking to take a step further. They are now looking to gain an alternate source of income, by selling excess solar power directly to their neighbours.
Australian Solar rooftop systems pass the two million mark. Source: Clean Energy Regulator/Sunwiz
From Academia to Disrupting the Energy Market
So how exactly will Australians sell their solar power without going through energy companies, providers or the infamous GRID? That’s where companies like Enosi come in, who are creating a peer to peer network for everyday Australians. We spoke to Enosi’s Director of Marketing Fleur Edwards to find out how.
We want to give communities a choice on where they buy their green electricity or where they sell it.
“It’s removing the old monopolistic power of energy,” Fleur explains. “Energy companies are creaming all this profit from Australian consumers.” And Fleur is part of a team who are trying to stop this.
Fleur Edwards (middle) and the Enosi team are changing the way Australians will buy and sell energy.
Leaving what she describes as a secure job at one of Australia’s top universities, Fleur took the plunge and has since immersed herself in the blockchain revolution. And it certainly has paid off. Fleur describes her work as “invigorating” and beams with pride as she speaks about her role with Enosi. This has led to a “fascination” with blockchain technology, as Fleur is incredibly excited about how her work will impact everyday Australians.
“The energy market is so complex – it’s mind-blowing,” Fleur explains. “There are so many inefficient middlemen and profit seekers.”
The Nuts and Bolts: How Enosi Will Energise Australia
Using blockchain technology, smart contracts and what will be known as “smart metres”, Enosi is working to reverse traditional energy consumption. Instead of relying on energy companies, Enosi hopes to empower communities to purchase sustainable energy from each other, at whatever price they decide.
The energy market is so complex. There are so many inefficient middlemen and profit seekers.
“We want to give communities a choice on where they buy their green electricity or where they sell it,” Fleur says. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Enosi is the opportunity it can provide for schools, local businesses or community centres alike. With these spaces not typically using power after 3:30pm or 4pm, solar energy can be sold back to the community as an alternate source of income.
This will be powered by blockchain; a technology offering price transparency, transaction history and accountability that no energy company to date can compete with.
The Energy Revolution and Enosi’s JOUL Token
Still not convinced? Projects like Enosi are already receiving a significant amount of attention from the Australian public. And with an estimated two million solar panels now installed in Australia, the popularity of services like Enosi is only growing.
“In the first week we started, there were 22,000 trades happening,” Fleur tells us. “It’s been amazing”. With similar projects already popular in places like Brooklyn and Perth, it seems peer to peer energy is going to be a big part of our future. And a very exciting part to say the least, as consumers will be empowered like never before.
Fleur Edwards (middle) is working to make peer to peer energy trading possible.
Now, with the Western Australian government on board, this energy revolution is truly taking off. “There are 600 million houses in deregulated energy markets worldwide,” Fleur says. “So that’s the potential. It’s beyond Australia.”
Now, things are only going to heat up for Fleur and the Enosi team as they work to release their ERC20 token this year. This is a token on the Ethereum network, which users will need to access the Enosi platform. From there, everyday people can buy, sell and trade green energy on their own terms.
The JOUL token will be released later this year, and we’re excited about the promise of sustainable energy it holds. With someone as energetic and passionate as Fleur behind the scenes, we can’t wait for the energy revolution to boom.
To stay updated on the release of the JOUL token, follow Enosi or Fleur on Twitter.
Like many things in the crypto world, the date of Bitcoin’s birthday is a subject of debate. Some start celebrating on 31st October, when the Bitcoin whitepaper was published by none other than Satoshi Nakamoto themselves. Others, however, prefer to count the Genesis Block (3rd January 2009) as the true birth of Bitcoin.
2. Australia’s Power Ledger Impresses Sir Richard Branson
The Power Ledger team take out Richard Branson’s Extreme Tech Challenge
It was a proud moment for many Aussies when its own blockchain startup Power Ledger impressed the like of Sir Richard Branson. Power Ledger came out on top of Branson’s coveted Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) and if all goes according to plan, will be rolling out blockchain powered solar energy trading in 2019. Pretty cool, right?
3. Crypto Fiend John McAfee Announces his Presidential Campaign
My POTUS run can spark a free people. But our hearts must first be free. We can only create what we are. An angry people cannot create peace. A hateful people can build no loving structure. If we accept the Blockchain as our guiding light, our hearts and our minds can be free.
If the name McAfee rings a bell, it’s probably because you have or once had the McAfee Anti-Virus software running on your computer. Now famous for his criminal activity and extreme crypto wealth, John McAfee is turning to politics to spread the message of crypto to the world.
McAfee indicates that he doesn’t truly want to become America’s next president. Instead, he’s using the campaign to show how blockchain can become the world’s “guiding light”.
4. The Tale of the Huobi Leak
Huobi will operate in Russia and provide legal advice in 2019
As some crypto exchanges celebrated their wins, others were accused of serious allegations. This includes Singaporean-based exchange Huobi, who was accused of colluding with EOS block producers after a document was leaked from an unverified source.
Whether these allegations are simply unsubstantiated commentary, the full extent may not be known, as the author of the leaked spreadsheet still remains unidentified.
For Huobi, these allegations seem to be already in the past. Recently launching an exchange in Russia and now offering much needed legal advice for the crypto community, Huobi is going full steam ahead into the new year.
5. Lightning Strikes
Visa, Bitcoin and Lightning Network Transactions per second compared
Anyone in the crypto space knows how lengthy, complicated and often timely it can be to process transactions on the Bitcoin network. This year, 2 crypto enthusiasts launched new software that can speed up Bitcoin transactions. And we mean really sped up. The pair suggests their technology can allow Bitcoin to go from 7 transactions per second to over a million per second.
This is where the Lightning Network comes in. Originally proposed by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja in 2015, 2018 saw the Lightning Network being implemented for the first time. One of the most famous examples? The Chilean exchange Buda, who integrated the Lightning Network in October this year.
6. The First Blockchain Phone Call
Pundi X make the first blockchain phonecall with the XPhone
Imagine being able to call a friend, family member or colleague without going through a phone service provider. That’s exactly what Pundi X did earlier this year with the first blockchain phonecall at the XBlockchain Summit.
With a mission to “make cryptocurrency accessible to everyone”, the team at Pundi X have taken this even further by using blockchain technology to give consumers greater control over their data. And with the Cambridge Analytica scandal putting us all on edge earlier this year, 2019 could be the year when secure blockchain technology allows consumers to be the sovereigns of their data.
Perhaps one of the biggest and most exciting things to happen in 2018 was Bakkt; a product born from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Built on Microsoft technology and already backed by the likes of Starbucks BCG Consulting, Bakkt has plans to make crypto more accessible to businesses and investors not already in the market.
More importantly, Bakkt represents an important step into the mainstream adoption and understanding of crypto. Like many, we’re waiting in anticipation for how Bakkt shakes up the crypto space in 2019. And with the way Bakkt’s taken off, you may just be able to pay for your Starbucks with crypto very, very soon.
8. All Eyes on Fintech and Bitcoin
While some may have spent the weekend worrying, the G20 spent the weekend legitimising crypto. Milestone event.
Just like any other year, 2018 saw global leaders come together to debate the next steps for our changing world. But this year, Bitcoin was in the picture. The IMF-World Bank Meeting saw Bitcoin literally on the agenda, whilst World Bank President Jim Yong Kim praised the potential of blockchain technology.
Later in the year, we saw the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires tackle the issue of crypto regulation. This has opened up a new, exciting between the G20 and The Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In 2019, both bodies will work to provide a secure crypto future for all.
9. Introducing the Petro
President Maduro hopes to solve Venezuela’s economic woes with the Petro cryptocurrency
2018 didn’t always call for celebrations in many countries, with those like Venezuela still in the grips of an economic and political crisis. In an effect to provide some sort of relief, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made history by releasing the first state-owned cryptocurrency, the Petro.
Backed by petroleum to replace the almost worthless Bolivar, this centralised cryptocurrency is raising eyebrows, to say the least. And as the embattled country are set to open the first central bank for cryptocurrency, the world will be watching to see if crypto can save Venezuela from its dire economic crisis.
10. Bitcoin Tops Google Search Queries
“What is Bitcoin” tops Google search queries in 2018
Topping the charts alongside the Royal Wedding, the Thai Cave Rescue and Marvel’s Black Panther, “What is Bitcoin” was the number 1 Google Search for Australia and the UK. Also in the top 10 was “What is Blockchain”, proving that people are becoming more and more curious about what the crypto world holds.
That’s a wrap! If you simply can’t wait for that clock to strike midnight, get in early to discover the future trends expected to come out of 2019.
From all of us at Bitcoin Australia, we wish you a safe and happy New Year!
A distributed ledger Proof of Concept (PoC) has already begun with the goal of “future-proofing” the UAE’s Central Bank.
However, the project is still in early stages. “It is just a study between UAE and Saudi Arabia,” al Mansouri explained. “[We] have not gone deeper into it.”
A World First?
Not too long ago, the UAE Central Bank condemned cryptocurrencies as risky and unregulated. The Khaleej Times reported in October 2017 that al Mansouri warned people of the perils of “digital coins.” Clearly, the bank chose not to follow this advice.
In fact, the UAE is doing the opposite.
While remarkable, that is hardly groundbreaking. But proposing a joint digital currency between national governments certainly is.
“This is probably the first time ever that witnesses the cooperation of monetary authorities from different countries on this topic.” – Mubarak Rashed al Mansouri, CEO of Emirates Investment Authority
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a kingdom and a federation of 7 emirates respectively, have historically held close economic bonds. The nations share a border and both face onto the Persian Gulf.
If successful, this latest venture will bring them closer than ever and set an important precedent. Al Mansouri hopes that this achievement will encourage similar collaboration in the region.
The Middle East and Crypto
There has been a recent wave of crypto activity in the region.
According to a recent report by Delphi Digital, the main value drivers for Bitcoin are its ability to serve as a censorship-resistant store of value as well as offer the world a viable alternative to government-backed currencies.
2/ We believe the primary long-term value drivers for $BTC revolve around its ability to serve as 1) a censorship-resistant store of value and 2) a “check” on governments as an alternative, country-agnostic digital reserve currency. pic.twitter.com/C6VwbqceQh
The New York-based digital research company analysed the current use cases of Bitcoin and identified opportunities for growth. At the same time, the report presents an in-depth analysis of the potential risks associated with cryptocurrencies and offers solutions to mitigate them.
The report acknowledges that the cryptocurrency is a valid option for investors who want to protect their assets. In the authors’ opinion:
The key characteristics of bitcoin (censorship resistance, verifiable ownership, immutability, etc.) make it an attractive alternative to today’s instruments for hedging against inflation or storing one’s wealth without the risk of seizure.
Bitcoin’s Legality Around the World
Global legality of Bitcoin. Source: Delphi Digital, “The State of Bitcoin” report
The Delphi report presents a detailed look at the current status of the first cryptocurrency all over the world. Apart from 10 countries, Bitcoin is legal throughout the world. However, different countries view cryptocurrency differently.
The US IRS classified it as commodity (and not as a currency) and recently issued guidance on its taxation;
Japan has recognised it as a form of payment since March 2017;
South Korea recognised BTC exchanges as legal as long as they register with the local financial authorities;
All the European countries recognise Bitcoin as a legal tender, even though each of them has a different view on the classification.
From 1 July 2017, Australia started treating cryptocurrency “just like money“, and it is no longer subject to double taxation.
The countries that do not consider Bitcoin legal are mostly in South-East Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and South America.
A Potential Solution for Developing Economies
The nature of Bitcoin – free of the control of central bank and other traditional financial institutions – makes it a good choice for vulnerable economies. Using the examples of Venezuela and Argentina, the Delphi researchers show that the cryptocurrency is a good alternative to volatile fiat currencies.
Since Bitcoin is not valued against the socio-political stability of any particular country, people may rely on it to protect their assets and investments. Apart from this, the researchers found other strong points in favour of the cryptocurrency as a solution for developing economies:
It is accessible even to people who do not hold a bank account;
Using Bitcoin reduces transaction fees for frequent remittances;
It gives people direct ownership over their wealth, free of intermediaries (central banks);
Transactions are faster.
How Bitcoin has traded in countries currently suffering from high inflation. Source: Delphi Digital, “The State of Bitcoin” report
Aside from being a solution for the unbanked, the report also sees Bitcoin succeeding at becoming a ubiquitous form of payment over the internet.
Key Advantages of Bitcoin over Established Stores of Value
In a different section, the Delphi report compares Bitcoin against the traditional stores of value: gold and fiat currencies. The authors used the key characteristics that define a store of value and found that Bitcoin performs well for most of them.
Censorship resistance – Bitcoin is not controlled by any entity that could seize it or block a transaction;
Divisibility – BTC can be divided out to 8 decimal places, allowing micropayments;
Portability – users can perform transfers within minutes around the world and there are no limitations on the maximum amount;
Scarcity – the maximum supply of Bitcoin is 21 million BTC at global level;
Verifiability – blockchain technology guarantees the authenticity and encrypted signatures are proofs of ownership.
Key attributes of Bitcoin as a trusted store of value. Source: Delphi Digital, “The State of Bitcoin” report
Key Risks Associated with Bitcoin
Being only 10 years old, there are, naturally, still some risks associated with the first cryptocurrency. Along with 11 current risks and concerns, the report also presents their mitigants. Some of the risks the authors identified are for instance:
Bitcoin’s scalability problem is well-known. However, the community is always working on developing new scaling solutions. One of the most important ones, according the report, is the Lightning Network.
The price of Bitcoin is continually fluctuating. However, the authors expect the historical volatility of Bitcoin to decline as the broader crypto market matures. And what will drive the maturation is the gradual adoption among both individual and institutional participants.
Hackers & protocol bugs
So far, three major vulnerabilities occurred in the Bitcoin ecosystem: a DDOS attack in 2018, two software versions operating simultaneously in 2013 and a value overflow incident in 2010. But, as the report states, As seen throughout its history, when there is a bug it is usually identified and patched quickly.
PoW energy consumption
Bitcoin is a heavy consumer of electricity, with a strong impact on the environment. However, miners and mining farms are already looking into environmental-friendly alternatives, such as using clean energy.
Due to cheap energy, over 68% of Bitcoin mining pools are located in China, which presents a potential threat to network security. Another concern is the large amount of control that one specific company potentially has over the network. The authors, though, mention that Game theory, among other factors, comes into play and suggests that these mining pools would also not kill their golden goose.
Sustainability without block reward
The Bitcoin block mining reward (the reward eligible miners get for each block they mine successfully) halves every 210,000 blocks, or approximately every 4 years. The reward is currently 12.5 BTC, but with the next halving it will decrease to 6.25 BTC. And eventually, sometime around the year 2140, will diminish to 0. As the report explains, At a certain point, fees will have to sustain the network by providing an economic incentive for miners.
Blockchain technology needs a stronger academic approach. This is the key message of the organisers of the upcoming Blockchain Connect conference. The conference will take place in San Francisco on January 11, 2019. Until then, the organisers also opened a call for papers on the topic of blockchain technology.
Advanced Thinking for Blockchain Technology Growth
The Blockchain Connect Conference aims to bring together “interested scholars as well as industrial members from all relevant disciplines who study and work in the space of blockchain technology”. The conference will have two distinct tracks: academic and business.
The Academic Stage
The academic track will feature blockchain core developers, scholars and university professors. They will focus on theoretical developments as well as engage in academic discussions.
Some of the participants in the academic track of the Blockchain Connect Conference are:
Dawn Song – Professor at UC Berkeley, and co-founder of Oasis Labs;
Lake Dai – Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and Venture Capitalist;
Dawn Song – Professor at UC Berkeley, and co-founder of Oasis Labs;
Elaine Shi – Associate Professor at Cornell University, and co-founder of IC3 and Thunder Token;
Ronghui Gu – Assistant Professor at Columbia University, and co-founder of CertiK;
Vitalik Buterin – the creator of Ethereum.
Blockchain Connect Conference 2018 – panel about Scaling to 10,000 TPS and Beyond – Moderator was Binance Labs Partner Teck Chia, while panelists included QuarkChain Founder & CEO Qi Zhou, aelf COO Zhuling Chen, DAGlabs Founding Scientist Yonatan Sompolinsky and BTCC SVP Denver Zhao.
The agenda for this track is still under development, but some keynote presentations are already set. They focus on issues such as:
Justin Herzig – Global Blockchain Research Lead at Accenture;
Ashley Lannquist – Project Lead for Blockchain at the World Economic Forum;
Mic Bowmwan – Principal Engineer at Intel Labs;
Aaron Cai – Head of Tencent Blockchain.
One of the keynote speeches at this track will be on the topic of the blockchain invoicing experiment conducted by Tencent in China. Other speeches will focus on use cases for the blockchain technologies in various industries, such as healthcare, finances and public services. The business stage participants will also tackle the topic of the blockchain space investment trends in 2019.
Academic Papers – a Chance to Participate in an Exclusive Closed Door Meeting
The call for academic papers on blockchain technology comes with an incentive. Authors of the best papers will be invited to participate in a closed-door meeting with the guest speakers. They will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and debate on the future of blockchain. The top 3 candidates will also get a chance to present their findings at the academic stage during the conference. Interested scholars and industrial members in the blockchain space are welcome to submit their papers on various technical, as well as economics and finance topics.
SV Insight, a full-tech media and research company, is hosting the Blockchain Connect Conference. The COO of the company, Peter Qin, spoke about the need for an academic approach to blockchain:
The short-term wealth-making effect brought by cryptocurrencies does have a huge influence, but it is only a splash in the development of blockchain technology. In the face of the bear market, the academic circle of blockchain is actually on the rise. We want to add more academic value to the blockchain space.
In case you’re interested in submitting your paper, fill out this form. However, you’ll have to be quick as the deadline is December 15.