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Spending the past week or so in Delhi in what could/should potentially be the loveliest time of the year, the onset of early winter, and the milder temperatures, making the chai and the samosas that much zippier. Unfortunately, the colder air traps exhaust gases from automobiles, and to add to this, farmers from the surrounding states start burning up harvest stubble on their fields in preparation for the next round of crops, and this smoke too gets trapped. The icing on the cake is of course the crackers that are set off around the festival of Diwali, and you have a perfect trifecta of pollution! The air quality readings, especially for the dangerous PM2.5 (particulate matter under 2.5 micrometers) go so far above the normal ranges, it is virtually a gas chamber in some parts at some times. The most vulnerable are of course the very young, the very old, or the infirm. Across the board, there is a real loss of productivity and human capital here unfortunately through this time of the year. There has to be a solution that involves, among (a number of) other things, some sort of incentivization across stakeholders through an efficient token design, coupled with some of the ‘nudge’ insights from Richard Thaler baked into some policies that actually make sense and can be implemented. Longer tangential discussion and whole different rabbit hole, but if Beijing can bring down pollution levels substantially, Delhi should be able to as well, democracy should not be an excuse…

Just when it looked like we were going to get away without a major chain-splitting fork in 2018, a major hard fork of Bitcoin Cash is now scheduled to happen. In response to the impending fork, Bitcoin Cash’s price has appreciated by almost 35-40% in the past few days. Barely a week after the first anniversary of the Bitcoin Cash fork from the legacy Bitcoin chain, Bitcoin ABC, which is the largest Bitcoin Cash client node, has proposed a contentious upgrade that involves changes to the consensus protocol. The change proposed by ABC allows for cross chain atomic contracts and the use of oracles.

The opposition in this case, the ‘establishment’, so to speak, is Craig Wright. The self-proclaimed Satoshi Nakamoto. The opposition is based on the belief that the proposed code changes will result in the BCH blockchain bloating up with non-cash transactions, which is arguably antithetical to Bitcoin’s Cash goal of becoming Digital Cash. The point of contention is the block size (deja vu all over again!). Craig & Co want to increase the block size by 4 times to 128MB, while the ABC faction feels that the current 32MB is good enough. The standoff is resulting in new client nodes called Bitcoin ABC, forking off from Wright’s Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision). It is probably too early to call the winner in this fight, and popular exchanges like Binance and Coinbase have publicly stated their support to both the chains.  

Meanwhile in Crypto Wonderland….

“$43 million in Bitcoin Revenue for Square in Q3” U.S. financial services company Square revealed it generated $43 million in Bitcoin (BTC) revenue for Q3 2018, according to its most recent shareholder note. Presenting a digest of its total earnings and financial activities, Square, which introduced Bitcoin support in its Square Cash payment app earlier this year, saw cryptocurrency revenue grow by a total of $6 million compared to Q2. Bitcoin remains a niche for the company meanwhile, with revenues resulting in only slender profits of around $500,000 after taking into account Bitcoin purchasing costs. Expansion of its interaction with the cryptocurrency nonetheless continues, with Square open sourcing its cold storage setup in October and steadily expanding its offering to new jurisdictions.

“30% Bitcoin Tax Rate in France” The finance commission in France’s lower house of parliament backed plans on Wednesday to ease tax on bitcoin sales, bringing it in line with other capital gains tax. Currently bitcoin gains are taxed at a rate of 36.2 percent while other forms of capital gains on other non-real estate assets are taxed at a flat 30 percent. The finance commission adopted an amendment to the 2019 budget bill that would subject sales of crypto-assets like bitcoin to the 30-percent flat rate as well.

“South Koreans Lobby for Cryptocurrency, Investor Protection Laws” The Korean Bar Association is urging the government to establish a legal framework for the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. Korea has been one of the most active markets for cryptocurrencies and the lobbying efforts are likely as a result of the government excluding the domestic blockchain industry from the list of recognized venture firms in the country.

“Kraken is the Safest Crypto Exchange”According to a study conducted by prominent Cybersecurity firm Group-IB and Crypto insurance CryptoIns, Kraken is the safest crypto exchange. The risk assessment for crypto exchanges takes into account factors such as technical security levels, the reliability of basic storage, passwords, as well as clients’ personal data. The framework also considers risk management, as well as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies.

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