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Ever since Bitcoin was introduced to the world, the blockchain industry has undergone explosive growth and is set to disrupt many fields. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly seen as a viable investment option, but the industry is still endeavoring to make cryptocurrencies accessible and practical enough for widespread adoption by merchants and customers.
We have been working towards this end for over a year and are proud to announce the revealing of Exobit, our new multi-platform app that makes it easy for anyone to send and receive cryptocurrency and merchant payments.
Exobit is not just another Multi-Wallet or Point of Sale app. Unlike cryptocurrency apps that show ads or monetize user data, Exobit is an ad-free and decentralized solution that combines trustless security, privacy protection, and features that will allow any cryptocurrency novice to start utilizing cryptocurrencies in their business, spend and receive cryptocurrencies, track portfolio performance, communicate privately with P2P encryption - all from the convenience of a single app.
One of the core functions of Exobit, our Multi-Wallet will allow you to send and receive an ever-increasing variety of cryptocurrencies all while knowing your holdings are fully secured, encrypted, and only stored on your local device and backups. Even if you lose or damage your device, all your different cryptocurrency wallets in Exobit can be recovered with a single backup.
Exobit’s Point of Sale system offers the lowest barrier to start accepting cryptocurrency and merchant payments. Users will be able to transform mobile or desktop devices into fully functioning and free to use cryptocurrency POS systems. Natively create inventory lists, select goods and services, generate QR code invoices, and start accepting cryptocurrency payments- in minutes.
For all the cryptocurrency investors and traders, our app ecosystem also includes a portfolio manager to help you track your digital asset holdings. Users will be able to view graphical representations of their portfolio performance, record past trades, and create any number of portfolios and fantasy portfolios. Over time we will expand the portfolio manager with the most useful and popular features as part of our ambitious developmental roadmap to make Exobit a one-stop shop app for many.
While Exobit is an app with many parts, what ties them all together is a UI and user experience designed to assure practical usability and utility. Access to any of its features are just a few clicks or taps away, and the most involved functions such as generating QR code invoices are highly intuitive and described in built-in wallet guides. Coupled with availability on all major platforms on launch (except iOS) and future multilingual support in over 10 major languages, we seek to bring the power of cryptocurrencies to people around the globe.
There are more than 2000 crypto projects floating around on CoinMarketCap and one of these projects is PIVX. But in such a saturated market, how is PIVX any different? What is the main idea behind this project? In order to get the answers to such questions, BlockPublisher got in touch with the Chief Visionary of PIVX, who goes by the alias of s3v3nh4cks.
The following Q&A with the Chief Visionary of the project gives one a pretty compact insight into PIVX.
“The intention is to become a widespread currency, as should be the case with any coin. PIVX does differ in its approach to this though, as it remains a community-centric, community-governed coin, and stands by the flexibility it provides users in aspects like privacy and speed. The user can choose to use Zerocoin or not, or to use SwiftX or not—it’s about giving everyone the freedom to choose.”
“PIVX uses Proof-of-Stake for consensus. Unlike common PoS though, PIVX users have the ability to stake privately using Zerocoin with what PIVX calls zPoS (Zerocoin Proof of Stake). zPoS allows users to stake privately, with any rewards they gain being awarded to them privately as zPIV (Zerocoin PIVX units). PIVX was the first to achieve Zerocoin staking—a big deal as Zerocoin is one of, if not the, best crypto privacy protocol available today.”
“PIVX has the core wallet, which can do all the heavy lifting, as well as A Light Wallet which doesn’t require the full blockchain to operate, the Android wallet (which can mint and spend with Zerocoin—another world first), the iOS wallet, and the Secure PIVX Masternode Tool for managing masternodes and using Ledger hardware to do so. PIVX is also at the heart of zDEX, which is currently in open alpha. zDEX is a decentralised, private exchange that uses zPIV pairs to provide privacy on all transactions.”
“There are a number of focuses for the moment, including zDEX as I just mentioned (though it’s technically a separate entity to PIVX), and getting Bulletproofs out to the public—this implementation is long finished and tested for months, so it’s just a matter of preparing the ecosystem for the update. PIVX is also pairing up with various payment processors and outside projects wanting to take advantage of PIVX’s unique codebase. Beyond that, there’re several technical developments underway, and plenty of effort in non-English speaking nations to spread the word—particularly those with economic hardship now that could certainly use the alternative.”
“Scaling is something PIVX has always been mindful of, but currently is not a pressing concern as far as technical capability goes, where there’s still plenty of wiggle room. As you will know, most crypto is currently held, rather than actively traded with. Even so, PIVX has a number of mechanisms already in place. One of those is the dynamic cap: PIVX burns its transaction fees. Although these fees are small, in the event a block hosts many transactions, zPIV mints,and/ or SwiftX spends, the amount of PIV burnt outweighs the amount created with the block reward. This results in deflationary pressure. Otherwise, PIVX has plans for a further, smaller zPIV denomination should the need for it become present. That would require a very large uptick in market cap and spending to necessitate, but the contingency plan is already set and ready to go. Better to be prepared!”
“PIVX doesn’t have a main use-case! The freedom to choose how PIVX is used is an integral part of PIVX’s identity. If people want to use it to accept payments at their cafe, they can use PIV without Zerocoin and freely do so, the records there for when the tax is due. If they wish to move money across borders without paying huge fees to specialised service providers, it’s as easy as can be. If they want to store their money away from prying eyes, and still enjoy the benefits of interest, all they need to do is stake with zPoS. The possibilities are limited only by imagination, and if something’s not currently feasible, users can develop a plan and propose it for people to vote on, growing PIVX in the process. That’s the beauty of PIVX and what it hopes to be.”
PIVX is a community-centric project with the main focus on its users. The project uses PoS instead of PoW at its core which saves one from the hectic procedures of setting up a mining rig if one intends to participate in the network. The project also gives its users freedom in terms of what they want to do with the currency as it is not a specialized currency with the main focus on just one niche of the market.
As we move forward in time and the market saturates further, it will be interesting to see how PIVX tackles the trials of time and makes itself stand apart from the rest of the swarm.
You can find more details about the project here.
Different groups of individuals are drawn to cryptocurrencies for various reasons. Their censorship resistant nature, as well as the non-inflationary nature of truly decentralized cryptocurrencies, have led to their embrace by many. The absence of these features in the traditional banking sector have made truly decentralized cryptocurrencies even more popular and the majority of 2017 was spent pondering the how blockchain and cryptocurrency would upend the traditional banking sector.
Central banks preside over inflationary fiat currencies, and largely operate in clouds of secrecy. Even worse is the fact that banks, which are often the cause of economic downturn in many countries, tend to receive government initiated bailouts at the expense of taxpayers when in crisis but in times of economic prosperity they keep the profits for themselves. As the popular saying goes, they “privatize profits and nationalize losses.”
Banks have long been considered the safest place to store funds as clients get to protect their funds from theft while earning some interest as well. Central banks also offer varying forms of deposit insurance to safeguard depositors’ funds. However, in recent times, there have been concerns with regards to the safety of banks as places to keep funds.
Key tools of the banking system like fractional reserve banking and deposit insurance are often criticized for being unfair at best and fraudulent at worst. Fractional reserve banking, which is at the core of the existing banking system virtually creates new money out of thin air and often depletes the purchasing power of currencies. Central banks guaranteeing deposits also tends to incentivize risky behavior as well as malpractices by banks.
Analyzing the recurring collapse of banks en masse in various countries clearly shows cracks in the existing financial system and the majority of such cases throughout history have been caused by poor governance on the part of banks and poor monetary policies and regulatory oversight by central banks. The Cypriot financial crisis of 2013, the Greek debt crisis and hyperinflation in Zimbabwe and Venezuela are relatively recent examples of situations in which depositors found themselves wanting and became aware of the illusion ‘security’ that one believes comes from central banks guaranteeing deposits.
Consumers, as well as the general public, suffer the most in the dire economic conditions caused by the repeated failures of the banking sector. Additionally, they almost always bear the cost of reconstructing and reviving financial systems. It is therefore not surprising that individuals are beginning to notice the problems with the traditional banking sector. This phenomenon, coupled with the emergence of quality crypto-banking products could lead to the growth of crypto-banking in the future.
The lack of transparency in the traditional banking sector can engender recurring malpractice. For instance, prior to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and the following global economic crisis, a complete lack of transparency in the market prevented market participants from knowing that their funds were at risk. The true state of the housing market only became known when it was already too late.
Unsurprisingly, a number of key players in the traditional banking sector believe transparency is key when it comes to financial stability. During a 2011 speech delivered at the London School of Economics, American economist and former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Donald Kohn, explained how more transparency in the banking sector could lead to financial stability.
“Although better market discipline may not be sufficient for financial stability, it is essential, and better transparency is a necessary condition for better market discipline.” - Donald Kohn.
Regulations Are Good But Transparent Systems Would Be Better Improvements that address the issues revolving transparency could start by better educating stakeholders as well as enforcing greater government oversight on the enforcement of existing disclosure policies and regulations. Such steps would go a long way in bringing about more transparency in the banking sector.
However, the concept of crypto-banking as an alternative to traditional banking holds promise due to the fact that products offered by the crypto-banking sector are built on systems that are inherently transparent. The permissionless blockchains on which crypto-banking are based were designed to be open and there is no need for extra regulation as transactions on permissionless blockchains are visible to all. Hence, auditing and checking for malpractice can be done in real-time by any curious stakeholder. The point is that building financial products on a transparent system is more effective than enforcing policies formulated to ensure more transparency in the traditional system.
Cryptocurrency influencers such as Peter Todd and Jackson Palmer often stress on the importance of financial sovereignty and having control of private keys to one’s cryptocurrency. The common saying is “not your keys, not your bitcoins.” this serves as a reminder to cryptocurrency holders that funds kept with third-party businesses are not safe and can be lost due to theft or fraud or seizure.
Unfortunately, with traditional banks, it's impossible to have full control of one’s bank account since funds can easily be frozen or seized at any time. There are real-world examples of ordinary citizens having their life savings frozen based on mere suspicions. For people who understand the importance of financial sovereignty, this is a major drawback of the traditional banking sector.
Conversely, decentralized crypto banking solutions allow users to maintain control over their digital assets while enjoying services that previously required entrusting funds with third-party businesses. This is made possible through the use of smart contracts on inbuilt services in in-house ecosystems. The Light in-house ecosystem, for instance, keeps users in control by hosting inbuilt banking services such as a payment system and exchange.
In order to provide customers with internet banking services, almost all banks today have websites and mobile apps for their customers’ use. It has, however, been found out that majority of these apps expose users to potential hacks and theft of funds and personal data. A recent study by AppKnox, a mobile app security company, revealed that about 85% of the internet banking apps used in the Asia Pacific region did not meet basic security standards.
During the study, ethical hackers succeeded in circumventing two-factor authorization and were also successful in gaining access to one time passwords for setting up accounts on some of the apps that were tested. It was also possible to make payments without actually spending funds on some of the wallets.
The release of Firefox 51.0 and Google Chrome a year ago, exposed several banks who were running unsecured websites. Santander, Diamond Bank, and Eagle Bank were are a few of the banks with poor web security.
Reports like the ones stated above show that the institutions charged with safeguarding funds of customers are not in any way 100% safe. Apart from the potential loss of funds, customers’ personal data is also exposed. These problems can be avoided by using decentralized crypto banking solutions using blockchain technology to provide secure networks.
Apart from being secure and open, truly decentralized blockchain based systems have other advantages over the traditional banking system.
Whereas it takes days to transfer money via the SWIFT payment network in the traditional banking system, blockchains can facilitate almost instant transactions.
The minimal transaction cost associated with cryptocurrencies is another reason crypto-banking is on the rise. Improvements on blockchain technology like the Lightning network have led to increasingly small and insignificant transaction fees.
Albeit being set up to act as trusted third parties in the financial system, banks are currently more of a necessary evil as customers have learned through experience not to trust the financial institutions. New banking solutions like Revolut, Polybius, and FOTON, on the other hand, are enabling participants in the financial system to transact on more secure platforms and networks while keeping fees very low. There is no short supply of cryptocurrency projects with the goal of creating the banks of the future. Amongst the notable creators of truly decentralized banking solutions are Polybius, FOTON, Crypterium, ZODIAQ, and Mycryptobank.
The products the various entities build range from a few tools that enable individuals to control their funds to complete ecosystems of platforms, applications, and businesses.
While some projects focus on a couple of functions like transaction speed and absolute custody of funds, others provide comprehensive ecosystems where businesses can experiment with tackling the problems that plague the banking sector. Other technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Technologies (IoT) are used in conjunction with blockchain for enhanced products. Polybius, for instance, allows users to control their finances using its transparent and fast platform for managing multiple currencies.
In a slightly different fashion, Crypterium uses blockchain technology to provide banking services tailored to cryptocurrency users. The difference between this type of crypto-banking and that of conventional banks is the speed and security of the network. Additionally, it bridges the gap between the crypto and fiat currency worlds by facilitating instant exchanges and payments with both fiat and cryptocurrencies.
These all-encompassing ecosystems and platforms cater to the needs of financial institutions, small to medium size businesses and individuals. The capacity of blockchain products to integrate into a client’s pre-existing software infrastructure allows for the seamless grafting of client applications to new custody, exchange and settlement solutions. For instance, a project called ZODIAQ provides a crypto bank that enables transfers between cryptocurrency wallets and bank accounts. To cover all the financial needs of clients, the bank has a hedge fund, cryptocurrency exchange, and a payments system. Additionally, the exchange and payment system allow clients to use their crypto assets for payments or exchange them for a range of digital assets and fiat currencies.
By utilizing blockchain smart contracts, crypto-banks like FOTON provide banking, exchange and payment functions on a single decentralized platform. Essentially, what consumers want from their banks is a one-stop-shop for all their banking needs. Crypto and blockchain-based banks could save users money as there are fewer if any commissions that would be required for each of the services.
In 2019, banks will need to go beyond the standard set of subpar services that they provide account holders. Rather than returning to the drawing board to manufacture new regulations and oversight watchdogs, the use of digital assets, smart contracts, and blockchain technology could provide solutions to many of the problems plaguing the traditional banking sector. The secure, transparent, and trustless nature of blockchains could create a banking system that is attractive to clients. Failure to do such could lead account holders dissatisfied with traditional banks to become loyal patrons at the growing number of new crypto-banks. If traditional banks desire to retain their hegemony over the financial system, they will need to embrace new technologies that will provide an efficient, secure, and transparent financial for all users.
After a gloomy look at the state of cryptoland two weeks ago, it’s time for more of a glass-half-full assessment of the outlook.
As we’ve been hearing, one advantage of a bear market, when price is less of a distraction and competition for engineering talent isn’t so tight, is that serious projects can buckle down and start to develop real products. The question, then, is whether there are any serious projects for developers to work on?
The answer, resoundingly, is yes.
The big challenge for blockchain development is scaling: how to resolve the tradeoff between decentralization and efficiency that bitcoin and ethereum ran into once every node in the network had to process and record an ever-growing string of transactions.
Overcoming this scaling challenge, so that many more transactions can be processed without raising security risks or overly trusting specific record-keeping entities, is vital because it will pave the way for other improvements, including lower costs, more application-layer software products, and improved user experience.
The good news is that there’s a great deal of work going on. And whereas previous new blockchain projects that touted massive transaction-processing power were limited to “permissioned” networks, the work being done now goes to the heart of a more exciting scaling goal: a dramatic increase in the capacity of open, permissionless platforms.
Much of the focus has been on the work being done among bitcoin and ethereum developers to resolve this challenge.
In bitcoin’s case, scaling was the subject of an ugly dispute between those favoring a block-size increase — an on-chain “Layer One” solution backed by advocates of breakaway cryptocurrency bitcoin cash – and those, such as the Bitcoin Core developers, who preferred off-chain “Layer Two” solutions such as the Lightning Network payment channels model.
While the block size increase solution at bitcoin cash deteriorated into an ugly battle among proponents, Lightning has shown significantly more progress. According to data from 1ml.com, the Lightning mainnet now counts more than 4,400 nodes and more than 13,500 payment channels, with those two metrics having increased by 10.45% and 43.5%, respectively, over the course of the same month. Even as the bitcoin price collapsed, work just continued building the network.
The ethereum community’s approach to scaling has been more cohesive than bitcoin’s, but it has also embraced a more ambitious agenda. The scaling roadmap includes a shift to proof-of-stake consensus under the Casper project, as well as ethereum’s own layer one and layer two solutions.
For layer one, the focus is on sharding, which splits the blockchain into different, interlinked portions, so that the processing requirements for each node can be lessened. And the layer two work includes Lightning-like state channels such as the Raiden Network and the “child chain” model on which Plasma is based.
The complexity of these amendments, as well as the fact that some of these changes, especially on-chain protocol adjustments, require coordination among ethereum’s relatively large user and developer base, has meant that target dates for launch of the various stages have been pushed back repeatedly. However, a new plan aims to accelerate the introduction of the changes.
In any case, the wider blockchain community should be thankful to ethereum for the enormous amount of thought and planning that has gone into these ambitious solutions. The Github repo for ethereum sharding work, for example, now stands as a resource for all to work on this promising solution.
It might seem a bit unfair that, as these more established blockchain communities have worked hard at these solutions, newcomers have been able to build on some of their ideas and launch new permissionless protocols from scratch that incorporate these and other scaling solutions.
There’s still a lot of catching up to do – both in terms of network size and developer engagement. As CoinDesk’s newly created Crypto Economics Explorer, or CEX, shows, bitcoin and ethereum are well ahead of all other blockchains on both those metrics.
Some of these projects have been somewhat below the radar, partly because they were excluded from the ICO mania. But that hasn’t stopped them from building and, in some cases, raising decent money – if more quietly than others.
Take Algorand. The proof-of-stake blockchain, built by Turing Award-winning MIT computer scientist Silvio Micali, uses a randomly selected committee system for validating blocks that saves on computing power and aspires to achieve a massive three million confirmed transactions per second serving 4 billion users – capacity that’s many, many orders of magnitude greater than both bitcoin and ethereum.
In October, the Algorand team raised $62 million from what it described as a “broad global investment group representing the venture capital, cryptocurrency and financial services communities.” This week it lined up a further $100 million commitment from venture firm Algo Capital to fund app developers working on top of the Algorand platform.
Then there’s Devvio, which is targeting mainstream corporate and enterprise users and is preparing a coming-out presentation for the Digital Money Forum at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.
Founded in Albuquerque by robotics pioneer Tom Anderson, Devvio has filed a number of patents for a protocol that took a lot of the ideas generated elsewhere on sharding, stablecoins, identity and custody solutions. Devvio claims to have achieved a whopping 8 million transactions per second as a benchmark result in testing its platform. Note: these claims are yet to be subjected to extensive peer review and Devvio has not published results of planned security audits.
Another under-discussed permissionless blockchain is that of Nexus Earth, whose multi-layered consensus process, known as Tritium, is designed to increase throughput by giving nodes different tasks to undertake within that process rather than doing all of them.
Nexus says that a recent test by founder and chief architect Colin Cantrell achieved throughput of almost 200,000 data requests per second and transactions of more than 4,000 per second.
While Nexus’ transaction processing claims are much more modest than those of Algorand and Devvio, they are well above those of bitcoin and ethereum, which handle seven and 15 transactions a second, respectively, and four times that of Ripple at 1,500 per second.
Importantly, Nexus is also tackling a secondary problem of network scaling. Via the involvement of former Cisco senior engineer Dino Farinacci, it is integrating the Locator/ID Separation Protocol, or LISP, which allows for identity interoperability across devices. This could engage Nexus in solutions aimed at bringing blockchain-based security to decentralized Internet of Things networks.
Other, higher-profile projects are also hard at work developing large-scale blockchain solutions.
EOS, led by block.one, attracted some bad press after its launch when elections of its 21 block producers caused tension in the community, but its record-breaking ICO, which raised $4 billion, has left it with a massive war chest with which to advance the protocol and fund application development. CoinDesk’s CEX shows a relatively large network and developer pool working on EOS.
Cardano, led by early ethereum founder Charles Hoskinson, is now developing a variety of scaling solutions that draw from ideas developed elsewhere. While it is underperforming in terms of the developer activity shown on the CEX, Cardano has managed to spur a significant academic interest in its platform, in part because of an aggressive research and development fund led by the holding company, IOHK.
Beyond these specific blockchain platforms, solutions aimed at cross-asset interoperability are also pushing ahead with development, posing an alternative vision for achieving scalability across different blockchains. These include Polkadot, led by another ethereum founder, Gavin Wood.
While the collapse in crypto prices was not good news for ICO-funded projects such as Cardano, Polkadot and EOS, research by BitMEX showed that many of them remain well-capitalized because they managed their treasuries proactively following the big fundraises of last year. So long as these projects don’t fall afoul of securities regulations, which might force them to return money to investors, these funds will continue to help pay for development, both of protocols and of applications working on top of them.
It’s a fool’s game to try to predict which of these solutions will succeed and which will fail. But it seems that one or more of them are poised to deliver some real advances in scaling and usability.
Far from seeing the death of crypto, we may be entering its most exciting phase.