Japan’s GMO to Launch BTC, BCH Cloud Mining Service in August

Japan’s GMO to Launch BTC, BCH Cloud Mining Service in August

Japanese technology conglomerate GMO Internet is about to launch a new cloud offering for mining BTC and BCH. If you have at least $5 million that you want to invest in such a venture, and don’t want the hassle of opening your own mining farm, applications start next month.

Also Read: Coinbase Develops Bitpay Competitor Supporting BTC, BCH, ETH and LTC

Japan’s GMO to Launch BTC, BCH Cloud Mining Service in AugustGMO Internet Group (TYO:9449) has announced the expansion of its recently launched cryptocurrency business with a new cloud mining service, which will be launched in August 2018 if everything goes as planned. The Z.com Cloud Mining service will focus only on two cryptocurrencies based on the SHA256 algorithm, meaning bitcoin (BTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH).

Starting March 1, the company will start accepting priority applications from potential customers who wish to use the new service, and it has already been approached by interested parties. To present the new service to investors GMO Internet will hold information sessions about it in nine major cities across the world, including: Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, Zurich and Dubai.

The company also explains to green-conscience prospectors that “In terms of power supply, we operate a next-generation mining center utilizing plentiful renewable energy in the region, which has allowed us to secure clean and inexpensive power supply.”

Aiming Big

Japan’s GMO to Launch BTC, BCH Cloud Mining Service in AugustContractually wise, GMO Internet will rent out part of its mining farms equipped with its own next generation 7nm mining chips, as well as manage the facilities, all of which are operated through its European legal entity.

Rather than appeal to small players, the service seems to target bigger businesses who still find it difficult to invest in and manage mining equipment on their own. Customers will pay $5 million (or about 550 million JPY) per contract upfront for a 2 years contract, with no cancellation option and an extra charge to cover operational costs such as electricity, real estate, maintenance, security and more.

“With the cryptocurrency mining business, GMO Internet Group will aim to become No. 1 worldwide in the cryptocurrency service.”

The Tokyo-headquartered conglomerate, comprising more than 60 individual companies domiciled in 10 different countries, first announced its entry to the cryptocurrency mining industry during September of last year. In January, GMO Internet succeeded in developing a 12 nm semiconductor for mining, which was a significant milestone for the group. It is currently working on research and development of its 7nm chip technology.

Is the GMO cloud a good option for more big players to get into bitcoin mining? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’s Wiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

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The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server Will Give Users the Full Node Security They Need

The Electrum Personal Server promises a resource-efficient, secure and private way to use bitcoin with hardware and software wallets, connected to full nodes. Developed by open-source programmer Christian Belcher, best known for his contributions to JoinMarket, the Electrum Personal Server directly addresses vulnerabilities with the popular Electrum Bitcoin wallet, while sparing users the significant resource usage of an Electrum server.

According to Belcher, connecting Electrum with the Electrum Personal Server is the most resource-efficient, secure and private way to use a hardware or software wallet connected to a full node. It is important for all users to connect their wallets to full nodes for the Bitcoin network to maintain long-term security, he maintains.

“If bitcoin is digital gold, then a full node wallet is your own personal goldsmith who checks for you that received payments are genuine,” explained Belcher in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine.

Full Nodes vs. Thin Clients Refresher

In the Bitcoin blockchain, full nodes are programs that validate transactions and blocks on the network. Full nodes assist the network by accepting transactions and blocks from other full nodes, validating them and sharing them with other full nodes. Essentially, full nodes are the referees of the Bitcoin blockchain –– they check to see that chains are following the rules of the network and ignore chains who break them. As an example, Belcher noted that “[transactions] printing infinite money would be rejected by [full nodes] as if they never existed.” In this way, Bitcoin can ensure that no more than 21 million coins are ever minted.

While full nodes are the most secure, they are are also more resource-intensive. A full node takes up around 156 GB of disk space (a number which is growing by more than 50 GB per year), can take days to sync when used for the first time, requires significant amount of bandwidth each month, and takes up CPU power validating all transactions and blocks on the network.

Thin clients (also known as lightweight clients), however, do not download the entire Bitcoin blockchain. Instead, they only download a copy of all the headers for the blocks in the blockchain. Thin clients are able to achieve increased efficiency and speed by receiving notifications when a transaction affects their wallet specifically. But this does mean that thin clients must tell a third party which addresses belong to them, which is bad for privacy. Additionally, thin clients trade full validation and security for efficiency, placing their trust in full nodes to verify that rules are being followed on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Electrum

Since 2011, the Electrum wallet –– a light client –– has been among the community favorites. It features a pleasant user interface, hardware wallet connectivity, “forgiving” seed recovery phrases, cold storage solutions, decentralized servers to prevent downtimes, and multi-sig permissions. However, similar to other thin clients, the Electrum wallet’s lightweight connection with the Bitcoin blockchain comes at the cost of privacy, validity and scalability.

By default, the Electrum wallet sends all its bitcoin addresses to an Electrum server, which sends back a user’s history and balance. According to Belcher, “This means that the Electrum server knows all the user’s bitcoin addresses and could spy on them, essentially seeing everything a user does.” Users should note that anytime their bitcoin addresses are stored on a thin-client server, their transactions can be monitored.

Like other thin clients, if Electrum servers do not properly verify the rules of the Bitcoin blockchain, wallets can be deceived. For example, a compromised Electrum server could lead the Electrum wallet to accept a fake transaction for USD $1000 worth of bitcoin that would not have been validated by a full node.

Electrum servers also store records of every address ever used on the Bitcoin network, which, as user-base increases, poses a hindrance to scalability.

In the Electrum ecosystem, the only way for a user to avoid these vulnerabilities inherent to the Electrum thin client is to run their own Electrum server and connect it to their wallet. This fix is more resource-intensive than running a Bitcoin full node; it requires the unpruned Bitcoin blockchain, the full transaction index and extra address index. Electrum Servers are also more RAM and CPU intensive than full nodes, and are not made to be turned on and off efficiently.

Electrum Personal Server Solution

The Electrum Personal Server provides bitcoin users with increased efficiency, security and privacy. In this implementation of the Electrum server protocol, users seeking a full node connection can interact with all traditional Electrum wallet features while running a Bitcoin full node, instead of downloading an Electrum server.

Efficiency

From an efficiency perspective, connecting an Electrum wallet to a full node allows users to take advantage of resource-saving Bitcoin Core features such as pruning, disabled txindex and blocksonly. These features are not available to an Electrum server.

Users also benefit from the traditional Electrum wallet user experience/user interface and functionality such as hardware wallet integration, offline signing, recovery phrases and multi-signature wallets.

Security and Privacy

Because users are connected to a full node, they aren’t prone to any of the aforementioned privacy and security threats posed to thin clients.

There is a caveat –– users lose the popular “instant-on” feature of the Electrum wallet when using a full node such as the Electrum Personal Server. The full node must synchronize first, before displaying a wallet’s bitcoin balance. Depending on connection speeds and time since last connectivity, this process could take a few minutes or hours.

For users seeking to connect their wallet to an Electrum Personal Server, the process is fairly straightforward. According to Belcher’s blog post, users must:

  1. Download the alpha version;
  2. Configure the Electrum Personal server with their master public key. Those addresses are then imported into Bitcoin Core as watch-only;
  3. Rescan the wallet if it contains historical transactions. There is no need to rescan, however, if a new, empty wallet is created.

Why Should the Average Bitcoin User Care?

Belcher outlined that since the inception of the Bitcoin network, the basic security model has relied on most of the economy using full node wallets, not thin clients that are vulnerable to manipulation. This way, legitimate Bitcoin transactions are always accurately verified, nefarious transactions are always rejected, and the hard limit of 21 million bitcoins (which are really just bits and bytes) is enforced.

Belcher believes that “bitcoin is dead in the long term” if most of the Bitcoin economy does not use full node wallets.

He hopes that the Electrum Personal Server can serve as a framework for other lightweight Bitcoin wallets to connect to full nodes run by users, rather than (centralized) servers. For instance, a Samourai Wallet or Breadwallet can utilize a script similar to the Electrum Personal Server to connect to a full node.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Nuclear Engineers Arrested for Mining Cryptocurrency Using Government Supercomputer

Russian Nuclear Engineers Arrested for Secrectly Mining Cryptocurrencies

Russian nuclear scientists working at a top-secret nuclear center have been arrested for allegedly using the center’s computer facilities for the purpose of mining cryptocurrencies.

Also Read: Russia’s Largest Bank Caught Employees Mining For Crypto 

 Russian Nuclear Engineers Arrested for Secrectly Mining Cryptocurrencies

Russian Nuclear Engineers Arrested for Secrectly Mining CryptocurrenciesEngineers working for the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics at the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov have been arrested for using the power of a supercomputer to mine cryptocurrencies. The Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov is a restricted area, with the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapon having been developed at the facility.

It has been reported that the engineers commandeered a supercomputer which is not meant to be connected to the internet in order to prevent intrusion. Upon connecting the computer to the internet, the nuclear center’s security department was immediately alerted. The unnamed scientists are now in the custody of the Federal Security Service.

Tatyana Zalesskaya, the head of the research institute’s press service, stated that “There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining,” adding, “As far as we are aware, a criminal case has been launched against them.” Zalesskaya noted that similar attempts have been made by the employees of Russian private companies possessing large computation power, describing such as a “criminal offense.”

Crimean Officials Previously Fired for Mining Cryptocurrencies

Russian Nuclear Engineers Arrested for Mining CryptocurrenciesIn October 2017, two officials of the Crimea Council of Ministers were fired for mining cryptocurrencies using government computer facilities. The Russian Federal Security Service identified the unsanctioned activities and fired the officials before they were able to realize their profits.

The Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Committee of the Republic of Crimea, Alexander Akshatin, stated at the time that the culprits “put malicious software on the server of the Crimean government, which opened access to the information stored on it. Concurrently, more than a dozen computers in the basement of the building were also used which gave this same access.”

Do you think that employees using their employers’ computer facilities and power to mine crypto will become a widespread issue in future? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock


Want to create your own secure cold storage paper wallet? Check our tools section.

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Japanese Exchange bitFlyer Approved to Operate in Illinois

Japanese Exchange bitFlyer Approved to Operate in Illinois

Japan’s largest Bitcoin and blockchain company, bitFlyer, has now received an official license to operate in the state of Illinois.

After receiving a “BitLicense” to operate as a virtual currency exchange in New York in November 2017, the Tokyo-based company has now received approval to operate in 44 states and territories. On January 22, 2018, bitFlyer announced its expansion into Europe, after being  granted a Payment Institution (PI) license to operate in the European Union. This announcement made bitFlyer the first cryptocurrency exchange to be regulated in Japan, the U.S. and the EU.

“bitFlyer has a culture of compliance and took an aggressive approach in obtaining money transmitter licensure,” Hailey Lennon, bitFlyer’s U.S. Director of Compliance, told Bitcoin Magazine. “We successfully launched last November in 42 states and are very excited to add Illinois to that list. Big picture, bitFlyer aims to be a global exchange and allow cross-border trading. This means our various entities’ compliance programs need to reflect evolving regulatory requirements both locally and abroad.”

Chicago, Illinois, is a hotbed of cryptocurrency activity and home of the Chicago Blockchain Center, founded by Matthew Roszak. Furthermore, financial markets company CME Group and Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe), two companies that started bitcoin futures trading in December 2017, are located there.

bitFlyer was founded in 2014 and has raised $36 million in venture capital funding. While it supports only Bitcoin in the U.S. and Europe, it also supports Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Monacoin in Japan. In addition to bitFlyer’s work in fintech and blockchain research, the company is working on its own original blockchain, miyabi.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Sora Foundation Wants to Build a Better Blockchain Community in Asia

Sora Foundation Wants to Build a Better Blockchain Community in Asia

Ask most, and you’ll hear the opinion that Asia is a minefield when it comes to cryptocurrency. The mere mention of regulatory action on the already-volatile markets sends the price of bitcoin (and consequently altcoins) into a nosedive. One need only look at the recent South Korean dilemma or China’s ongoing aversion to cryptocurrency to confirm this. Clearly, the continent’s role in this emerging digital realm should not be underestimated.

The attempts by certain governments to ban the exchange of cryptocurrencies have not worked quite as intended, instead pushing the scene into the underground, where crackdowns have occurred (while more tolerant countries, such as Japan or Hong Kong, watch them flourish legally).  

Jason Feng is Managing Partner at Sora Ventures, Asia’s first crypto-backed venture capital firm dedicated to blockchain and digital currency investments, and CEO of the new Sora Foundation. In conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Fang explained some of the intricacies of Asian-based blockchain initiatives and how this new Foundation, in cooperation with Sora Ventures, hopes to unite them to promote cooperation and development of the Asian blockchain community.

The Sora Platform is comprised of three entities: the Sora Terminal, where community members can get unbiased, free and reliable information on the latest blockchain deals from credible investors; the Exchange Alliance, which helps members access tokens and investment opportunities; and the Sora Network, which acts as a bridge for resources between blockchain communities, as well as a gateway for non-crypto resources entering the space.

Fang pointed out that Asia’s highly political environment presents a particular challenge to blockchain projects, especially regarding regulation.

“In Asia, most of the communities in the blockchain space cluster into ‘clan-like’ structures,” said Fang. “That is to say, they are hostile toward others: if one VC invests in a given project, others won’t. They’ll openly attempt to discredit each other on social media, and refuse to share resources.”

He also noted that in China there has been a significant increase in “ICO clubs” and third-party investors who charge steep membership fees (upward of 600 ETH) for access to information on the latest blockchain deals. “This leads to most Chinese tokens being highly centralized, with only 15–20 percent being made available to the community.”

Connecting disparate communities and providing access to information across the continent is a key goal of the Sora Network.

“The Sora Network acts as a bridge for blockchain communities and a gateway for non-crypto resources entering the space,” said Fang. “Since our members’ backgrounds are all in institutional funding and exchanges, we find ourselves to be more neutral, and less jaded by ideologies.”

Sora plans to build a data terminal (comparable to a simplified version of the Bloomberg Terminal) in order to compile all of the knowledge gleaned by various projects. It will provide ratings on blockchain companies, carry out analyses and provide explanations regarding the strengths and weaknesses of these companies, with input provided by the partners in the organization.

Fang hopes that the community will thus be able to access unbiased, free and reliable information, without the existing high barriers to entry.

“We’d like to see token airdrops to promote promising DApps [decentralized applications] as a benefit of joining the Sora Network,” he added.

Unlike the ICO clubs, Fang said that Sora Ventures plans to target not just Chinese investors but those across Asia. “We’re working with Japanese and Korean teams, and will make the terminal available in Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean.”

Building on the Qtum Platform

Qtum is a project that sparked a great deal of interest in 2017. Billed as “China’s Ethereum,” the Qtum blockchain is best described as a hybrid of both Bitcoin and Ethereum, possessing the former’s secure structure with the latter’s smart contract scripting functionality.

“Qtum has a very impressive community in Asia. We partnered with them so we can leverage their resources to help our portfolio companies,” said Fang. “They also have an impressive tech stack that is achievable and solves a lot of the real issues in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Hence, we would evaluate if there are ways for existing blockchain projects to work with Qtum in order to achieve higher performance.”

Overall, Fang painted a picture of a highly divided community in Asia where cryptocurrency is concerned. Government crackdowns have only served to further separate those operating in the space and erecting high barriers to entry when it comes to access to information.

The concept of Sora Ventures could be a positive step for the region. By promoting unity amongst protocols and communities that were, until now, maximalist in their visions, the organization harkens back to the vital tenets that brought to life some of the most successful blockchain technologies: transparency, cooperation and community.

The Sora Foundation website can be found here.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Physical Bitcoin Mining Hardware Store Bitmart Opens in South Africa

Physical Bitcoin Mining Hardware Store Bitmart Opens in South Africa

Bitcoin might be magical internet money, but it has a very physical side in the form of the mining equipment needed to maintain the network. And if you’re someone that doesn’t like to leave an online trail or use a credit card for all your purchases, nothing beats a store IRL. That’s why bitcoin hardware stores are popping up all over the world, and now miners in South Africa too can just walk into a shop, pay on the spot and get their rigs to go.

Also Read: NFL Superstars Like to Talk About Bitcoin Just Like the Rest of Us

Bitcoin Market South Africa

Physical Bitcoin Mining Hardware Store Bitmart Opens in South AfricaBitmart, a supplier of bitcoin mining hardware from South Africa, has recently announced the official opening of its first retail store. Besides ASICs, GPU miners, and other relevant hardware and software components, the store will also stock cryptocurrency merchandise such as branded watches, t-shirts, caps, hardware wallets, and more.

The company is aiming to create a cryptocurrency community hub around the shop in South Africa with educational seminars and also hosts a Bitcoin ATM for clients to make fiat exchanges. They accept fiat cash, EFT (a South African internet banking payment transfer service), credit cards and of course all major cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, ethereum, dash, bitcoin cash, and litecoin as payment.

Make Bitcoin Your Business

Physical Bitcoin Mining Hardware Store Bitmart Opens in South AfricaLooking at the additional services that Bitmart offers South Africans, it seems to be targeting aspiring crypto entrepreneurs, not just small mom and pop miners. These include bitcoin mining farm development, deployment and management, container-based mining solutions, and large-scale deployment and supply. Bitmart also offers a “Shepherd Service“ that will protect people or companies who wish to buy second-hand miners. It even offers to help businesses put systems in place to accept bitcoin as payment for services or products.

South Africa is of course not the only place in the world where you can buy a bitcoin miner from an actual brick-and-mortar establishment. It was recently reported that one large electronics mall in Singapore already has at least five mining hardware shops.

When do you expect it will be possible to get a cryptocurrency mining rig right off the shelf in your local mall? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Bitmart.


Do you like to research and read about Bitcoin technology? Check out Bitcoin.com’s Wiki page for an in-depth look at Bitcoin’s innovative technology and interesting history.

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