Australian Stock Exchange Will Become World’s First to Adopt Blockchain
The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) announced today that it intends to implement Blockchain technology to replace its current system for processing equity transactions. ASX — in partnership with Digital Asset, who are providing the technology — will be the world’s first stock exchange to adopt Blockchain technology in the operation of its core services.
The exchange is implementing Blockchain technology to replace its current clearing and settling system, CHESS (Clearing House Electronic Subregister System). The distributed nature of Blockchain is an upgrade, as it provides an opportunity to transact faster and more securely, reducing costs across the board.
The ASX came to this decision in partnership with Digital Asset, a consulting company that helps financial institutions adopt distributed ledger technology.
The Australian exchange has spent the past two years researching and testing distributed ledger technology, which included two independent third party security reviews of Digital Asset’s solutions. ASX expects to transition to the new system at the end of March 2018.
This move marks a significant moment for Blockchain tech adoption, putting Australia in the lead in the traditional financial sector’s race to understand, experiment with and implement distributed ledger technology.
Digital Asset CEO, Blythe Masters, stated that:
“Together, DA and our client ASX have shown that the technology not only works, but can meet the requirements of mission critical financial infrastructure.”
Australia’s main stock exchange now joins a relatively short list of global exchanges taking brave, concrete steps towards adoption of Blockchain technology, which includes Nasdaq, The London Stock Exchange, and the Japan Exchange Group.
Written by CoinTelegraph
Apple Patent Filing Hints at Blockchain Use
A new patent application from U.S. electronics giant Apple points to the potential use of blockchain within a prospective system for creating and verifying timestamps.
In an application released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple details a program able to certify timestamps by combining aspects of blockchain technology with Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) tools.
The use case in question involves tying a piece of information to a particular transaction on a blockchain, establishing the state of that data at a particular point in time. Should that information be changed, additional transactions can be created that detail changes to the data.
Apple’s application describes three possible methods for establishing timestamps, with one of these scenarios centering around a blockchain platform.
The program would generate a block containing a timestamp, with every subsequent block being added as miners verify each transaction conducted on the chain. This system is part of what Apple is calling a “multi-check architecture,” meaning that another system would confirm the timestamp after the block is generated but before it is added to the chain.
According to the application, Apple would consider using a blockchain due to the decentralized security features it offers.
As the document notes:
“If any party attempts to alter a node some time earlier in the blockchain, each hash puzzle solution for block subsequent to the altered block becomes broken or incorrect. Each participant can see that such a broken blockchain does not agree with their own copy of the blockchain. The broken blockchain is thus not recognized by the nodes.”
The benefit of using a decentralized ledger to store timestamps is two-fold, according to the application. Not only can the proper time be maintained permanently, it states, but the network is also protected from corruption if a single node is compromised by malicious actors.
Image Credit: View Apart / Shutterstock.com
Written by CoinDesk
Cat Fight? Ethereum Users Clash Over CryptoKitties
Ethereum users are calling for a solution to the protocol’s CryptoKitties invasion.
As profiled by CoinDesk, the cat-trading game had grown so popular earlier this week that it was clogging the ethereum network, slowing down transaction times. Now, however, congestion is reaching unprecedented levels, with a record-breaking 30,000 transactions stuck and waiting to be processed at press time.
“Can we please increase the gas limit?” pleaded one user on a Reddit thread, itself a chorus of agreement on the issue.
“Is the blockchain completely frozen?” asked another user.
Indeed, despite facilitating nearly $7 million-worth of ether trades and winning new users to the platform, the game is attracting a level of vitriol: “Fuck cats. When will they solve this problem? I have been waiting for 20 hours now,” said another user on ethereum’s Gitter channel.
That’s not to say there aren’t ways to relieve the issue, and, so far, arguably the most likely solution is increasing the network’s “gas limit” – a metric that puts a cap on the number of transactions and smart contracts that can happen across the network.
Christian Reitwiessner, an Ethereum Foundation engineer and the co-founder of scaling protocol, Truebit, is one developer who agrees this approach might be an easy solution.
He told CoinDesk:
“The miners raising the block gas limit is the only short-term solution against our new feline overlords for now.”
Not so easy?
Yet, while that’s good news for beleaguered users who haven’t been shy about their frustrations, it turns out that the change could have unpleasant side effects, making some developers more hesitant to embrace the concept as the best path to a quick fix.
Helping the cause is that there’s already precedent for the approach.
For example, this wouldn’t be the first time ethereum has become overcrowded and the network has fallen back on making adjustments to the gas limit. In the past, miners (the stakeholders that have control over setting this cap) have followed developer recommendations to do so.
Earlier this year, popular initial coin offerings (ICOs) led to a glut of transactions on the network and developers encouraged miners to raise the gas limit by about 33 percent.
But according to Ethereum Foundation developer Nick Johnson, increasing the gas limit again “isn’t likely to be practical” today.
Johnson told CoinDesk that raising the gas limit could also boost the so-called “uncle” rate, where blocks are added to the blockchain temporarily but later rejected. Currently, the uncle rate on ethereum is around 30 percent of blocks, and he believes a further increase could be to the detriment of security, since users could interact based on transactions that will later be rejected.
The operator of ethereum’s largest mining pool, Ethpool, drew the same conclusion.
“Increasing the gas limit will likely make the current situation even worse,” a spokesperson for the pool said on social media, adding:
“Without substantial improvements … I don’t think increasing the gas limit further is feasible right now.”
The arguments are uncannily reminiscent of the debates raging over bitcoin scaling. Similar to the way many bitcoin users and businesses have argued for a block size increase, ethereum users are requesting a gas limit increase so as not to ruin the user experience of quick, inexpensive transactions.
Meanwhile, developers of bitcoin, and now ethereum, argue other long-term scaling solutions are best, but could take some time.
Indicating the complexity of the situation, CryptoKitties’ head of community, Benny Giang, hasn’t yet taken a stance on the gas issue, saying the firm trusts miners to “do what’s best for the network.”
“We obviously don’t want them to do anything that will compromise the value of the network,” Giang added.
That said, developers haven’t told miners to increase the gas limit yet, and instead, they’re brainstorming other short-term solutions.
Johnson suggested that “performance improvements” might help reduce the uncle rate, even if the gas limit were raised. However, he added that those measures would require clients develop and release new software, which could take time.
Others argued that users could always increase the fees added to their transactions, which would push them through faster. But already, it costs $1 to initiate a transaction to make simple things happen within the CryptoKitties game, and users are likely to be turned off by higher costs.
Still, while this is all up for discussion, it’s possible a temporary solution could come by on its own.
Believing CryptoKitties can’t sustain its current level of interest forever, Reitwiessner said he believes the best route might be to accept it as a short-term issue.
He told CoinDesk:
“There has to be a point where the cat supply can satisfy the cat demand (I can’t believe I’m writing these words), and this will probably crash the cat prices and thus, also the interest in the game.”
BugKitty image via Nick Johnson’s blog
Written by CoinDesk
Elite Investment Bank Goldman Sachs to Clear Bitcoin Futures for Clients
According to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs will be clearing Bitcoin futures contracts for at least some clients when futures markets go live on December 10 (CBOE) and December 18 (CME). This is major news, since the soon-to-be-released futures markets are of little use without banks and brokerage firms actually using the platforms to trade.
Goldman joins brokerage firms TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest in offering clients access to the new Bitcoin futures products. Even serial-naysayer JP Morgan Chase is considering offering Bitcoin futures to clients.
Bloomberg cited an unnamed source “with knowledge of the firm’s plans,” saying that Goldman Sachs will be offering client trades on a case-by-case basis. Tiffany Galvin, spokeswoman for Goldman, wrote:
“Given that this is a new product, as expected we are evaluating the specifications and risk attributes for the bitcoin futures contracts as part of our standard due diligence process.”
Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein is reportedly cautious, but open to the idea of Bitcoin, unlike many of his banking counterparts such as Jamie Dimon. Blankfein has written:
“I read a lot of history, and I know that once upon a time, a coin was worth $5 if it had $5 worth of gold in it. Now we have paper that is just backed by fiat…Maybe in the new world, something gets backed by consensus.”
Goldman Sachs is considered one of the most elite investment banks in the world, attracting the best finance experts and the wealthiest clients. The firm is also known for its “revolving door” – wherein Goldman executives move back and forth from the bank to government service and back again. In fact, the process is so entrenched that the bank is sometimes referred to as “Government Sachs.”
Goldman executives-turned-government-employees include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Deputy Treasury Secretary James Donovan. President George W. Bush appointed former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson as his Treasury Secretary. The revolving door of Goldman appointees in government gives bankers from the firm a great deal of influence in the development of policy and regulations.
Written by Cointelegraph