Top Crypto News – 18/01/2018

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in March


Cryptocurrencies Soon To Be Legal

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in March
Alexander Lukashenko.

The decree which legalizes cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings (ICOs) and smart contracts in Belarus will go into effect on March 28. Entitled “On the development of the digital economy,” it was signed by President Alexander Lukashenko on December 21, as previously reported.

“The decree entitles legal entities and individual entrepreneurs who are residents of the High Technology Park (the HTP) to perform operations with tokens (including cryptocurrency),” explained Iryna Chelyshava, an associate attorney at the Belarusian law firm of Vlasova Mikhel & Partners. “Others can use tokens in the territory of Belarus through residents of the HTP,” she elaborated on Jurist.

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in MarchThe HTP is a special economic zone with a special tax and legal regime in Belarus, analogous to Silicon Valley in the US. According to its website, 192 companies that develop software products and provide IT services to customers from 67 countries worldwide are residents of the park, 35% of which are enterprises with 100% foreign investments.

The park describes itself as “the main experimental site for the implementation of pilot projects,” including those based on cryptocurrencies. According to its announcement this week:

The HTP Administration draws your attention to the fact that Decree No.8 ‘On the development of the digital economy’ comes into force on March 28, 2018.

No Restrictions and No Taxes

“The new decree legalizes ICOs, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts,” the HTP explained. It “does not imply any restrictions and special requirements for the operations of creation, placement, storage, alienation, exchange of tokens, as well as the activities of crypto exchanges and crypto platforms.” Furthermore, the park clarified:

Activity such as mining, acquisition, alienation of tokens, carried out by individuals, are not entrepreneurial activities, and tokens are not subject to declaration. At the same time, until 2023, activities related to mining, the creation, acquisition and alienation of tokens are not taxed.

Cryptocurrency Activities Will Be Legal and Tax Free in Belarus Starting in MarchChelyshava explained that the decree provides the definition of tokens, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts. “The definition given in the decree for cryptocurrency lists it as a version of the token,” she conveyed, adding that “for now the decree does not provide the criteria of cryptocurrency that would distinguish it from tokens.” As for smart contracts, the definition “is broad enough to encompass various approaches to the understanding of smart contracts that exist now,” she emphasized. For tokens, she wrote:

The decree does not specify the nature of the certain civil right, and therefore the concept of ‘token’ is provided with a high degree of flexibility.

By making smart contracts legal documents, “Belarus becomes the first country in the world to legalize smart contracts at the country level,” the HTP noted.

Anton Myakishev, the head of Microsoft’s Belarus office, told Reuters that “the decree is a breakthrough for Belarus,” adding that “it gives the industry the possibility to make a leap forward in its development and allows foreign capital the possibility to come to Belarus and work in comfortable conditions.”

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Austrian Bitcoin Miner May Seek an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2018


Bitcoin IPO

Austrian Bitcoin Miner May Seek an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2018Hydrominer GmbH, An Austrian cryptocurrency miner, is reportedly considering an initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange AIM during 2018. This is meant not just to capitalize on the current ‘blockchain mania’ in the markets but to actually be used as a way to fund its global expansion plan beyond Austria.

The company already raised about $2.8 million in an initial coin offering (ICO) in November 2017, but now believes that listing its shares on an exchange will provide a more suitable venue to raise finds safely. “I want investors to be able to invest in a company that is genuinely risky but that operates within a framework which is secure,” said Hydrominer Chief Financial Officer Davies Guttmann.

AIM is the LSE’s venue for smaller companies to float shares with a more flexible regulatory system than is applicable on the main market. The Vienna-based miner plans to raise a “double-digit million” sum, according to its CFO. “We will not be able to raise nearly enough money than we could use.” He also added that a leading auditor has been invited to review the business and that it is profitable.

Green Bitcoin

Austrian Bitcoin Miner May Seek an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in 2018Austria’s has over 2,000 small hydroelectric power stations, many of them derelict, making for energy cheap if you can tap into this unused potential. Hydrominer operates its mining rigs within modular shipping containers near the stations in the Alps. The company thus reportedly pays only about 4.5 cents a kilowatt-hour, estimated to be 85% lower than the average in the EU.

Hydrominer also claims to be in advanced negotiations to form joint ventures in Austria, Canada and eastern Europe. A partnership deal could be announced within months, according to the CFO. Longer-term, Hydrominer plans to be an infrastructure provider for others in the cryptocurrency industry, offering hardware, software and skills.

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Blockchain Bloat: How Ethereum Clients are Tackling Storage Issues


24,270 tokens. 27,358 pending transactions. 463,713 digital kittens.

Ethereum has hosted a lot of activity recently, and while many crypto enthusiasts see that as a positive sign, as the network’s usage soars, its history gets longer and its blockchain more unruly.

And although network congestion leading to transaction backlogs and rising fees has taken the spotlight, there’s another issue this scale causes – a growing database that puts significant storage costs on users wanting to run a full node.

That database, called the ethereum state, hold all the computations that need to be memorized by the computers supporting the platform and the ethereum blockchain itself. And with the costs (both in time and money) of storing the state increasing, fewer and fewer people are choosing to run full nodes, which many worry will centralize the network into the hands of only a few arbitrators.

And developers recognize the problem.

For one thing, ethereum developers are well underway engineering protocol-level changes such as sharding, aimed at minimizing the database.

But since these technologies are still in development, other stakeholders, namely those running ethereum clients – the software needed for users to communicate with the blockchain – have been under fresh pressure to cope with the growth of the state database.

“The fact that improving this stuff is critical has been known since late 2016, the ideas have been floating around for half a year to over a year. Where are the implementations?” said ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin on a developer channel recently.

The frustration is palpable with both Buterin and Afri Schoedon, who manages technical communications at ethereum software client provider Parity. Schoedon told CoinDesk:

“At the current growth rate it’s predictable that the state is going to grow very fast this year, to a point where it would be hardly manageable on small devices.”

In an effort to limit the effects of the unwieldy state, then, the two most popular ethereum clients – Geth and Parity – have recently released updates that attempt to improve the situation.


The first update, released last week by Parity, reduced storage requirements by eliminating unnecessary, temporary files produced as the software memorizes ethereum’s history.

By vastly minimizing the storage requirements, users hooking up to run full nodes then experience faster synchronization times. And with that, the company said its ethereum software could now be run on a hard drive instead of a solid state drive (SSD), a particularly notable feat since long sync times have made ethereum unable to run on a hard drive since last summer.

The update even got an excited response from Buterin, who said on a developer channel,  “Wow. How did you guys accomplish that?”

As a result of the update, users have been reporting a vastly improved experience.

At the same time, independent developer Alexey Akhunov has been working on a rewrite of the geth client, called “turbo geth.” Described by Akhunov as an “obsession,” the project aims to remove a lot of unnecessary repetition in how ethereums’ clients process the overall state.

While it’s nowhere near ready, it has opened up some interesting avenues of “speculative optimization,” Akhunov said in a recent developer chat.

For example, Akhunov suggests “hard coding” certain information about the ethereum state into the clients themselves. Ultimately, the goal is to adapt the software to simply run using random access memory, or RAM, which could make the clients much faster – allowing them to potentially synchronize with the network instantly.

Developers at Geth itself are also working on optimizations, for one trying to correct a quirk in how information is stored when a client syncs with the network in what is called “fast” mode. Described by Geth core developer Péter Szilágyi as “really horrible,” the existing code is likely to be replaced along with a whole bunch of updates that make synchronization much faster and less storage-intensive.

The limits

There’s also research being done into a client type called “stateless clients,” which only store a compression of the overall state.

Even Buterin is interested in the idea, recently undertaking a study that describes a scenario where “miners and full nodes in general no longer need to store any state.” Plus, Buterin said later in a developer channel, stateless clients would also alleviate the need to clear up the state by other measures, such as pruning old, irrelevant data, for example, empty or long-inactive accounts.

“I’m now in favor of the stateless client approach,” Buterin wrote.

And there is even speculation that stateless clients might be possible without making protocol-level changes.

Touting such clients as a possible solution to the scaling hurdles faced by ethereum following the success of CryptoKitties, Akhunov wrote in a recent blog post: “I believe (stateless clients) can be implemented already now, without any hard fork, ‘simply’ by changing the ethereum clients … This means that nodes do not need to access storage from files and block validation times should drop significantly.”

However, client optimizations can’t be the only thing the network relies on to decrease state concerns.

According to Szilágyi, eventually, client optimizations will reach their limit. And then developers will have to turn their attention to in-progress technologies, such as sharding, which splits up the ethereum database into smaller pieces stored at different nodes, in an effort to alleviate the pressure of storing the full database on individual clients.

Perhaps in response to the recent strains on the network, sharding development has advanced in recent months, with an early stage specification sketched out on Github.

“We can optimize the database and make it ten times faster and more optimal, which gives us room to grow to ten times our current size,” Szilágyi said, adding:

“But eventually, we will get to the point where we won’t be able to do database optimizations anymore, and by that time we need to be able to shard our data.”

Hard drive image via Shutterstock
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Colorado New Bill Encourages State to Adopt Blockchain for Data Security


A new state bill introduced to the Colorado Senate is looking at using blockchain technology to secure private data from cyberattacks.

Introduced on Jan. 16, Senate Bill 086 suggests that using a distributed ledger would eliminate the need for paper records and in-person updating of such data. The blockchain system would subsequently solve the State’s existing data collection and retention issues, and creates a more secure record.

If passed, the bill would direct Colorado’s chief information security officer to evaluate the costs and benefits of using distributed ledgers in various government systems, and to determine blockchain’s capability in handling cyberattacks compared to traditional computer systems.

In 2017, according to the bill, there were somewhere between six and eight million attempted breaches of the Colorado state government’s digital platforms per day.

Many of the records kept by the government are unsecured, and therefore are “valuable targets for identity thieves and hackers with the intent to steal or penetrate corporate records.” The bill went on to note that there is an increasing number of threats to steal personal information.

In addition, the bill pointed out that Colorado currently still requires citizens to visit state agencies in person to modify their information, which can be solved by a blockchain system. The bill went on:

“Blockchain distributed ledgers provide the capability of openly traceable transactions while maintaining the privacy of each person performing the transactions.”

Colorado flags image via Shutterstock
Written by CoinDesk




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