While Bitcoin’s meteoric rise of over 1,000 percent in value has made big headlines, it wasn’t one of the top five best performing cryptocurrencies in 2017. Ripple (XRP) was the highest performing, with a 36,018 percent rise in value. The other virtual currencies in the top five were NEM, Ardor, Stellar and Dash. This ranking compares the value of cryptoassets (both cryptocurrencies and tokens issued on the Ethereum blockchain). The Bitcoin price rise was ranked No. 13.

Ripple 2017 year gain: 36,018 percent

Ripple is a payment system that serves financial institutions. Its technology is designed to enable quick payment options, even across international borders. It launched in 2012 and is self-advertised as having a “five-year track record of stable technology and governance.” Public interest in Ripple increased notably at the close of 2017 as news spread about its growing list of partnerships with traditional financial institutions such as American Express.

NEM 2017 year gain: 29,842 percent

NEM (“New Economy Movement”) launched its blockchain technology and cryptocurrency XEM in 2014. The NEM “smart asset system” is designed to offer many services; it can manage financial assets or store transactions and records such as notarizations, supply chains and ownership records. It can also be used to launch new cryptocurrencies or tokens. Notably, in 2017, Hitachi partnered with Tech Bureau to adopt the NEM-based Mijin Blockchain platform to handle merchants’ membership loyalty programs. NEM’s 2017 growth was 29,842 percent.

Ardor 2017 year gain: 16,809 percent

Ardor (ARDR) is a blockchain platform built on technology from Nxt that launched in 2017. It offers a parent and child architecture in which companies can build Ardor-based services and products on the child chain that are secured by the main chain. Child chain data is “pruned to reduce the size of the blockchain,” which allows Ardor to be fast and scalable. Also, it attributes some of it efficiency to running on a proof-of-stake consensus, which eliminates mining competition. Its value rose 16,809 in 2017.

Stellar 2017 year gain: 14,441 percent

Stellar (XLM) is a global financial blockchain network that focuses on offering quick payment processing and low fees. It was founded in 2014. In 2017, Stallar.org joined IBM and a network of banks to launch a blockchain banking initiative in countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. Stellar focuses on providing innovative banking solutions and financial access, “in particular to the more than 2.5 billion unbanked people in emerging markets across the world.” It also launched the Stellar Partnership Grant Program in 2017, through which it plans to give out millions in USD grants to organizations who will use its technology to “to improve the financial landscape and promote financial inclusion.” Stellar saw a 14,441 percent increase in value in 2017.

Dash 2017 year gain: 9,265 percent

The cryptocurrency and digital money system Dash (“digital cash”) offers private, instant payments with low fees that are based on a global blockchain network. Dash launched in 2014. It’s value rose 9,265 percent in 2017, when it made headlines for launching a blockchain research lab in partnership with Arizona State University. It also partnered up with digital payments provider, Alt Thirty Six, with an aim to serve “cannabis customers, merchants and vendors,” who are often in need of additional financial programs due to a dearth of conventional banking support.

Following these top five performing cryptocurrencies were Ethereum, Golem, Binance Coin, Litecoin and Omise GO.

As the end of 2017 has passed, let us look back at the work done on the top 25 cryptocurrencies reference implementations in 2017. Most people are looking at market cap to get a good idea to see how well a cryptocurrency is doing. Another good thing to look at is the number of commits to the project, as this shows developer activity and that the cryptocurrency is being improved, which could theoretically lead to further development and market gains.

 

Bitcoin

Ticker: BTC

Commits in 2017: 1925

Commits last month: 90

Top contributor last month: Matt Corallo

 

Ripple

Ticker: XRP

Commits in 2017: 271

Commits last month: 37

Top contributor last month: Brad Chase

 

Ethereum

Ticker: ETH

Commits in 2017: 833

Commits last month: 67

Top contributor last month: Péter Szilágyi

 

Bitcoin Cash

Ticker: BCH

Commits in 2017: 1101

Commits last month: 120

Top contributor last month: deadalnix

 

Litecoin

Ticker: LTC

Commits in 2017: 1299

Commits last month: 0

 

IOTA

Ticker: MIOTA

Commits in 2017: 1167

Commits last month: 43

Top contributor last month: Alon Elmaliah

 

NEM

Ticker: XEM

Commits in 2017: 49

Commits last month: 4

 

Dash

Ticker: DASH

Commits in 2017: 385

Commits last month: 371

Top contributor last month: Wladimir J. van der Laan

 

Stellar Lumens

Ticker: XLM

Commits in 2017: 444

Commits last month: 98

Top contributor last month: Rafał Malinowski

 

Monero

Ticker: XMR

Commits in 2017: 1199

Commits last month: 129

Top contributor last month: moneromooo-monero

 

NEO

Ticker: NEO

Commits in 2017: 99

Commits last month: 27

 

 

EOS

Ticker: EOS

Commits in 2017: 1450

Commits last month: 200

Top contributor last month: Kevin Heifner

 

Qtum

Ticker: QTUM

Commits in 2017: 1233

Commits last month: 137

 

 

Ethereum Classic

Ticker: ETC

Commits in 2017: 952

Commits last month: 157

Top contributor last month: ia

 

Lisk

Ticker: LSK

Commits in 2017: 2179

Commits last month: 303

Top contributor last month: Oliver Beddows

 

OmiseGo

Ticker: OMG

Commits in 2017: 62

Commits last month: 7

Top contributor last month: Weerasak Chongnguluam

 

BitShares

Ticker: BTS

Commits in 2017: 289

Commits last month: 21

Top contributor last month: zhuliting

 

Zcash

Ticker: ZEC

Commits in 2017: 503

Commits last month: 39

Top contributor last month: str4d

 

Stratis

Ticker: STRAT

Commits in 2017: 1057

Commits last month: 90

Top contributor last month: Aprogiena

 

ByteCoin

Ticker: BCN

Commits in 2017: 10

Commits last month: 0

Image from bytecoin wiki

DogeCoin

Ticker: DOGE

Commits in 2017: 8

Commits last month: 8

Top contributor last month: Ross Nicoll

Image from dogecoin github

SiaCoin

Ticker: SC

Commits in 2017: 1493

Commits last month: 121

Top contributor last month: Christopher Schinnerl

 

Steem

Ticker: STEEM

Commits in 2017: 452

Commits last month: 147

Top contributor last month: Michael Vandeberg

Augur

Ticker: REP

Commits in 2017: 3549

Commits last month: 197

Top contributor last month: Stephen Sprinkle

Ethereum developers have launched an alpha test network (testnet) for Casper, paving the way for the cryptocurrency to eventually transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm.

Like bitcoin, ethereum currently operates on a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm, meaning that the network is secured and new currency units are issued through “mining,” whereby participants solve cryptographic puzzles to validate transactions and create new blocks.

However, PoW has attracted criticism over the years, both for its tendency to centralize mining hardware into a few pools and for the amount of electricity it consumes.

Ethereum to implement Proof-of-Stake

Ethereum aims to address these problems by transitioning to Casper, a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Under Casper, participants can become validators by locking up or “staking” ether. Validators will take turns proposing and voting on blocks, and both the weight of their votes and the size of their rewards will hinge on the size of their stakes.

According to developers, moving to Casper will greatly reduce the amount of electricity “wasted” through PoW mining. In addition to limiting its environmental impact, PoS will allow ethereum to dramatically reduce its rate of currency inflation since validators will have much lower overhead and will thus require smaller rewards to incentivize them to continue to serve as validators.

Moreover, PoS will also reduce the incentive that validators have to centralize their influence. With decreased centralization comes increased security and, importantly, resistance to dreaded 51 percent attacks.

Ethereum is not the first project to attempt to integrate a PoS consensus algorithm. However, most previous PoS implementations have been criticized because, in the event of a blockchain split, validators are incentivized to try to make blocks on top of every chain rather than resolving the consensus back to a single blockchain.

casper
Source: Ethereum/Github

Casper aims to solve this problem by imposing economic penalties on malicious validators that violate the network’s rules. This ensures that validators are properly incentivized to achieve consensus on a single blockchain in the event of a network split.

Following three years of development, Casper has officially entered alpha testing, and the first full-featured testnet has launched. The software must still traverse several release checkpoints before it is ready to launch on the main network, but this alpha release nevertheless marks an important step toward its eventual activation on the main ethereum network.

Casper
Source: Vitalik Buterin/Twitter

Users can join the testnet by following the instructions in this guide, and once online they can send transactions and become validators, just as they would on a normal network, although the network’s performance is not indicative of how production clients will operate once the project receives an official release.

If you use Reddit, you may know that tip bots such as /u/tippr allow you to tip fellow redditors, in /u/tippr’s case, with BCH. Another Reddit bot has recently been discovered that attempts to gain access to Reddit accounts that have sent tips, and if successful, transfer out any balance the account may have with tip bots to the bitcoin cash address: 1Dn1uint1pMTrNXGyE3hQzyL6FJ8jpS1SD. Here are the methods with which you can secure your Reddit account against attackers. Obviously, protecting your Tippr BCH tips is only one benefit of having a secure Reddit password.

Use a secure Reddit password

 

https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/password_strength.png

Image from XKCD

Secure passwords will always help improve security. When choosing a password, length is better than most other security practices.  Otherwise, make sure that you do not use birthdays or things linked to you personally.

Use two-factor authentication on your account

Two-factor authentication means that when trying to log into your account, you are required to input a randomly generated, one-time use code alongside their password, this is accomplished using any two-factor authentication application that supports Time-based One-Time Password Protocol,  the Android and iOS apps Authy and Google Authenticator are recommended. You can read the full two-factor authentication setup guide here and there is a short explanation of enabling two-factor authentication below.

Enabling two-factor authentication requires you to be a subreddit moderator. You can become a subreddit moderator by creating your own subreddit. If you are a subreddit moderator you can find the option to enable 2FA on your preferences page. Reddit will ask you to confirm your email and password during the process of enabling two-factor authentication.

Featured image from Wikipedia

bulletproofs

Bulletproofs, a technological innovation proposed by Stanford University’s Applied Cryptography Group and several Blockstream developers, could enable bitcoin users to transact with enhanced privacy, even when making on-chain transactions.

Contrary to mainstream media reports, bitcoin transactions are not private. Although addresses are pseudonymous, all transaction information is publicly viewable using block explorers, and developers have created enhanced tools that allow their users to obtain a range of enhanced information and link addresses to their parent wallets.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), for instance, uses these blockchain-tracing tools to help identify and prosecute taxpayers who use bitcoin as a method for tax evasion. The presence of these tools is also why many dark web marketplaces have adopted monero, an anonymity-centric cryptocurrency, as their payment method of choice.

First presented in a paper (PDF) titled “Bulletproofs: Short Proofs for Confidential Transactions and More,” Bulletproofs promise to provide bitcoin users with the ability to make private, on-chain transactions at a more affordable rate than currently-existent methods.

Bitcoin Bulletproofs could bring privacy to Bitcoin

As described by the paper’s authors, Bulletproofs operate on a “non-interactive zero-knowledge proof protocol with very short proofs and without a trusted setup.”

This protocol will purportedly improve upon current implementations of zero-knowledge proofs, which, at a basic level, allow observers to verify the integrity of transactions while obfuscating the amount of the transaction to everyone except the sender and receiver. Although onlookers can still see what addresses are involved in the transaction, senders can create so-called “false negatives” by paying zero bitcoins to several addresses, preventing observers from identifying what address received the coins.

Critics say that the problem with current implementations of zero-knowledge proofs is that they must either utilize a trusted setup — as zcash did through its famous “Ceremony” — or they must be “prohibitively large” in size, exacerbating what many people believe are already exorbitant fees that must be paid to transact on the bitcoin network.

Bulletproofs, the paper’s authors claim, will reduce the size of confidential transactions considerably by shortening the cryptographic proofs needed to implement them. This, ultimately, will make confidential transactions  much more affordable and practical for average users without subjecting the network to the systemic risks of employing a trusted setup.

Featured Image from Pexels