Dear BlockExplorer users,

BlockExplorer.com will be supporting Bitcoin Cash over Bitcoin, which we feel currently has a negative momentum path when it comes to utility. Going so far as to change the default BlockExplorer.com to show Bitcoin (Cash) over Bitcoin Legacy. BlockExplorer CEO, Rick Falkvinge, wrote in the announcement:

In August 2017, Bitcoin forked into two variants. These have taken radically different paths.

Looking at the situation one quarter later, it is clear to us that the Blockstream fork of bitcoin diverges so radically from the ideas presented in the Bitcoin white paper, that it is an evolutionary dead end. While it may still have high trading value, as a mere collectible of curiosity, the Blockstream fork of bitcoin is not part of building any future financial infrastructure, which is what Block Explorer is about.

A currency of the future has subcent optional usage fees and instant transactions. The Blockstream fork of Bitcoin (“Bitcoin Legacy”) is at $20 usage fees and rising, with no end in sight, and can take days to confirm, despite unfulfilled promises to the contrary on both points when Segwit activated in what can only be described as a community fistfight. We are therefore making the decision to consider the Blockstream fork deprecated, and support it as legacy technology only.

Rather, we have made the decision to support the only bitcoin fork with a postive utility momentum, which is Bitcoin Cash. We took an early decision to deploy a Bitcoin Cash block explorer and will continue to roll out related services. We are also deploying tools for other cryptocurrencies we find on a positive momentum path, such as ZCash, which have increased privacy value.

We will not add future support for the Blockstream fork of bitcoin (“Bitcoin Legacy”), and will be deprecating it entirely at some future point in time to be determined. Developments have revealed it to be a dead end. At such a time, we will refer to Bitcoin Cash as Bitcoin only, but will make some effort to not break API calls by changing URLs of legacy automated systems.

Developers: Note the BlockExplorer API is changing

BlockExplorer’s API and website will change, so if your site references BlockExplorer for Bitcoin Legacy, please take note of the following changes:

  • https://blockexplorer.com will be switched over to displaying Bitcoin Cash data.
  • https://bitcoinlegacy.blockexplorer.com will display Bitcoin Legacy data.
  • https://blockexplorer.com/api will continue to serve data from Bitcoin Legacy for now until we feel confident we can deprecate it, in which it will then serve Bitcoin Cash data.
  • https://bitcoinlegacy.blockexplorer.com/api should be used immediately to use the Bitcoin Legacy API.
  • https://bitcoincash.blockexplorer.com/api should be used for the Bitcoin Cash API for now, until it is switched over to https://blockexplorer.com/api

blockchain voting

Internet retail giant Overstock.com has invested heavily in a mobile blockchain-based voting platform called Voatz. The funding was committed through a subsidiary of Overstock called Medici Ventures, which focuses solely on the use of blockchain technology to “solve real-world problems,” a Voatz press release explains. Voatz raised more than $2.2 million in seed round funding, led by Medici Ventures and including investments from Oakhouse Partners, Urban Innovation Fund, Walt Winshall, Joe Caruso, Michael Dornbrook, members of the Walnut Ventures angels group, and others.

Voatz Offers a Blockchain Voting System

The Voatz platform enables voting on secure tablets or smartphones. The company states that it feels it has solved many of the challenges that have beleaguered internet-based voting systems in the past, including security, anonymity and auditability. It bases this claim on its use of biometric security measures and its blockchain-based ID-authentication, record-keeping and auditing capabilities.

“Democracy will benefit greatly from critical improvements blockchain technology can bring to voting systems. For example, providing secure, immutable record keeping will bring greater confidence in accurate results, and ease of use will lower the barrier to entry for citizens to participate in elections,” Medici Ventures President Jonathan Johnson says. Similarly, Julie Lein, Managing Partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, says Voatz’ mobile-first strategy can improve voter participation rates and “democratiz[e] voting.”

Voatz has already been implemented by state political parties, universities, labor unions, nonprofits and religious institutions. More than 70,000 voters have used it so far. It is based in Boston and is now working on deploying its system for Massachusetts town meeting votes.

Overstock Is Pro-Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Overstock continues to be at the forefront of online retailers embracing cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology – in 2014 it became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin, and in 2017, it adopted the use of the major alt-coins Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Dash and Bitcoin Cash. Medici Ventures has made multiple investments in blockchain tech and in 2016, its majority-owned fintech company t0.com executed the first blockchain-based stock offering.

Microsoft has temporarily removed the ability to directly buy products from its store with bitcoin. However, the ability to credit an account with bitcoin is still active (for some, though it could be a sign of the rollout of removing Bitcoin payment options). The decision is reportedly due to the extremely large fluctuations bitcoin has experienced recently and the ever-increasing transaction costs. It is unclear whether or not this is an indication that Microsoft intends to suspend all bitcoin transactions in the future. Notably, by accepting Bitcoin for deposits, they don’t have to deal with the volatility in the Bitcoin price. If users feel the fees are too high, they just won’t top up their accounts with BTC during that time. Back in 2016, a similar scare occurred where Microsoft temporarily removed Bitcoin as a payment option. They denied doing so after – no such denial has been forthcoming this time.

Bitcoin dropped from $20, 000 to $14,000 in a matter of days. Image from coinmarketcap

Microsoft is not the first company to suspend bitcoin-based purchases

Steam took similar actions in December last year by removing the ability to purchase games with bitcoin, stating it was due to “High fees and volatility” referencing a 25% drop in price over a few days, and fees jumping from $0.20 to $20 a transaction.  Though it is unclear whether or not the high fee motivation included the large fee bitpay included on transactions.

Potential Solutions

There are a few solutions to this; Such as selecting a different currency to transact with, such as Bitcoin Cash or Ripple. As services such as shapeshift.io and changelly exist, this should not inconvenience those holding bitcoin or other altcoins, as the services allow for instant conversion from one coin to another (at a higher fee than some exchanges, unfortunately). Another possible solution is to continue to accept bitcoin no matter the fee and to convert it to fiat as quickly as possible to avoid too much network fluctuation. Though this does not protect customers from high transaction fees.

Featured image from Wikipedia

Continuing the story from the 31st of December, Reddit has stated that its mail provider, mailgun, had been compromised. Citing reports of completed password resets that account owners did not request. Reddit also stated that it has moved the password reset facility to an in-house server. The attackers gained access to the content of password reset emails, allowing them to reset passwords for any Reddit account. Mailgun’s blog stated that the attack occurred via a compromised employee account, allowing the attackers to gain access to mailgun customer’s API keys.

Accounts that have Two-Factor authentication enabled are not vulnerable to password reset attacks. Since an attacker must acquire the single-use code to change the password. KeyserSosa, a Reddit admin, stated “We paused final roll out because of the holidays since it’s not a small change and wanted full coverage before final testing on everyone.“ when asked on the status of 2FA roll out to all users. Once full rollout is complete, you will no longer need to be a moderator to use 2FA on Reddit

Protecting your accounts from attacks

This attack shows how far an attacker is willing to go if they believe they can gain from your account.  Remember to never publicly flaunt or share how much of a given cryptocurrency you own, always use secure and unique passwords, never reuse passwords, and enable Two-Factor authentication if you can.

coinbase

The Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) prices have each raced to an all time high as the two cryptocurrency heavyweights vie for the silver podium in the cryptocurrency market cap rankings.

Ethereum and Ripple Vie for Second Place in the Market Cap Rankings

Long thought to be the cryptocurrency with the best chance to supplant bitcoin as the cryptoasset king, Ethereum boasted the second largest market cap for the vast majority of 2017 (Ripple briefly achieved that mark in May, while bitcoin cash held it for a fleeting moment in November).

ethereum price
Legend: Ethereum (Purple), Ripple (Blue), Bitcoin Cash (Green) | Source: CoinMarketCap

However, in December the Ripple price entered a meteoric ascent that only seemed to intensify as time passed, and on Dec. 29 Ripple unseated Ethereum as the second most valuable cryptocurrency.

Ethereum reclaimed that position for a brief period on Jan. 2, but Ripple quickly resumed its rally and moved back into second before the end of the day.

Ethereum, Ripple Prices Race to All-Time Highs as Competition Intensifies

At this point, the competition really began to heat up as both cryptocurrencies set multiple all-time highs during mid-week trading.

On Thursday, the Ripple price reached as high as $3.53 on Bittrex, raising its circulating market cap to $148.9 billion and making Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen the eighth-richest person in the world — at least on paper.

ripple price
Source: TradingView

Ripple’s dramatic rally accompanied several partnership announcements involving banks and credit card issuers in South Korea and Japan.

Nevertheless, these blockchain trials do not involve the XRP currency itself, making the pace of the rally somewhat inexplicable, although its continuation is likely the product of the mainstream coverage it has received in the financial press — particularly at a time when the bitcoin price has been more or less stagnant

The Ethereum price, meanwhile, touched the historic $1,000 checkpoint on Coinbase, briefly lifting its market cap to a new all-time high of $101.1 billion, making it just the third cryptocurrency to achieve a $100 billion market cap.

ethereum price
Source: TradingView

Ethereum’s move is likely tied to the recent announcement that Casper, a consensus algorithm that will enable the network to transition to proof-of-stake (PoS), had entered alpha testing.

By the time of writing, both Ripple and Ethereum had ebbed significantly from their high-water marks, reducing their market caps to $124.3 billion and $99.4 billion, respectively, according to the BlockExplorer Market Cap Index.

The jostle for cryptocurrency’s silver podium, however, remains as heated as ever.

Featured Image from Pexels

This article was written with contributions from Isaac Rockett.