OmiseGo Donation for Refugees

In late March 2018, decentralized payment provider OmiseGO and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin teamed up with the nonprofit GiveDirectly to send $1 million to refugee families in Uganda. More than 12,000 households will benefit from this donation, which will be exchanged from the OMG ERC20 tokens into local currency.

“OmiseGO, with an additional generous contribution from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, is donating the equivalent of $1 million USD in OMG tokens directly to refugees living in extreme poverty, and GiveDirectly will deliver those funds,” OmiseGO founder Jun Hasegawa wrote in a blog post, adding that as successful members of the growing crypto-economy, they “see an exciting opportunity to share that wealth.”

How GiveDirectly Works

Providing unconditional cash transfers directly to people dealing with significant poverty is GiveDirectly’s central mission. They have raised over $200 million since 2013 towards this end. GiveDirectly conducts field research before enrolling individuals in its programs and provides a live feed featuring the recipients on its site. GiveDirectly also offers extensive research on its site explaining how direct cash donations both benefit those in poverty and are usually well-spent.

This group states that 88.4 percent of its donations go directly to recipients. To learn more about how charities typically spend money, the watchdog site Charity Watch from the American Institute of Philanthropy is a useful resource. Their top-rated groups “generally spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on programs,” among other factors.

Why This Collaboration Makes Sense

GiveDirectly’s work aligns with several of OmiseGO and Buterin’s goals. OmiseGO is an Ethereum-based, decentralized and disintermediated network that offers self-sovereign and peer-to-peer financial transactions. It can be of particular use to those in developing countries who do not have reliable and equitable access to banking infrastructure. It’s “financial tools do not require users to go through centralized networks, which often put up barriers and impose unnecessary costs,” Jun said.

“Refugees are a perfect population to serve through this effort … We’re excited to plug them back in, transfer funds, and let them get to work,” Jun said of the recent $1 million joint donation.  

Vitalik has often called on members of the digital money-community to find meaningful uses for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, rather than just trying to accumulate wealth. He walks the walk as well – in February 2018 he gave $2.4 million to the SENS Research Foundation, a nonprofit addressing age-related disease.

Featured photo credit: CC via UNMISS on Flickr

GasToken

A group of IC3 developers has released GasToken, an ingenious method to save money on ethereum and ethereum classic transactions — no initial coin offering (ICO) required.

On Thursday, the IC3-backed Chicago Project for the Study of Cryptocommunities released GasToken, a smart contract system that allows users to store gas — a fundamental resource used to make transactions and interact with smart contracts in the Ethereum and Ethereum Classic networks — for later use.

Like all cryptocurrency blockchains, the Ethereum network tends to have peak hours in which users make more transactions, and off hours, when they make less. Unsurprisingly, gas prices tend to run higher during peak hours, as more users compete to have their transactions included in the network’s limited block space.

ICO-related transactions and decentralized applications (Dapps) such as CryptoKitties contribute further to network congestion, making gas prices relatively hard to predict — and often more expensive than users would like.

The GasToken system exploits the “storage refund” feature of Ethereum’s smart contracts scheme. To incentivize contracts to delete storage variables when they are no longer needed, the network issues refunds of up to half of the gas used by a contract transaction whenever a storage element is deleted.

When gas prices are low, users can interact with one of the GasToken smart contracts to mint GasToken tokens (there are two contracts, either of which may be more efficient depending on current network prices).

When gas prices are high, they send their tokens back to the smart contract for destruction, which triggers the storage refund and returns a portion of the now much more valuable gas to the user. This gas can now be used to subsidize a more expensive transaction.

However, there are several things users should keep in mind before they start fracking the network for gas savings.

At present, the system is not incredibly user-friendly, so users will need to do a bit of tinkering to interact with the contracts. This will involve plugging an ABI into an Ethereum or Ethereum Classic contract interface and several other activities that non-programmers may have difficulty performing without assistance.

Additionally, the system’s utility will vary based on network congestion, so the developers created a calculator to help users figure out when it is efficient to use GasToken.

The developers also cautioned that the code has not been independently audited, though they said that it has gone through extensive on-chain testing.

Finally, the developers warned that — because GasToken “exploits a mechanism detail of the non-finalized economic model” of Ethereum, it is very likely that it will be rendered unusable and worthless in a future network update. In other words, GasToken tokens are not an investment — use them, don’t hoard them.

Featured Image from Pixabay

bratislava slovakia bitcoin

Recently a new startup, called SmartLaw has surfaced. The intention of this startup is to provide smart contract based trusts. In this case, the trust is between the current landowner and SmartLaw. In exchange for the title deed of the land, the (now ex) landowner gains certain benefits, such as a line of credit, backed by the signed over land. Prospective landowners can purchase land over time, by allowing SmartLaw to purchase the land in their place and then paying the cost of the land back over time. Though this does require that the land was already in SmartLaw’s system.

Why is SmartLaw interesting?

Like CryptoKitties, SmartLaw uses smart contracts,  specifically smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, which forces openness about dealings. And it means users can watch always be safe in the notion that (so long as they trust SmartLaw), the land cannot be stolen by SmartLaw.

What could go wrong?

SmartLaw is a new startup, whose software has not withstood mainstream usage, this means that bugs or exploits may exist. Which could cause loss of property, or loss of currency. They do not seem to state who its developers are or who owns the company itself. While this is not intrinsically a bad or unheard of thing, especially in the world of cryptocurrency, it could be an indication of a scam. Especially given that there is very little information on their site otherwise, aside from a link to chat.  There also seems to be some skepticism around SmartLaw in the Ethereum community

 

There are a large number of questions that need answering around SmartLaw. And a bit of time in the mainstream should let any exploits that may exist be discovered.

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.

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.