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Why Bitcoin is Not Truly Anonymous

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The notion that Bitcoin is completely anonymous is a widespread one. It is also incorrect even though transactions involving Bitcoin do not involve the transmission of personal information. It is possible for Bitcoin owners to protect their identity to a certain extent, but not completely. An individual can spend Bitcoin without using their name but their transactions can be connected to the addresses whereby they receive Bitcoins. If those addresses are ever tied to their personal identity, all the transactions associated with them will be tied to their identity as well.

It is widely recommended that Bitcoin owners use a new address for each transaction. While this method does help with anonymity, it is flawed. For a better understanding of why Bitcoin cannot be truly anonymous, it is important to know how the cryptocurrency works.

Bitcoin Overview

Each Bitcoin transaction involves inputs and outputs with inputs being the addresses from which Bitcoin is sent. Each of the addresses has a private key and the Bitcoin can only be transferred using the private key from the address. The outputs are the addresses that receive the Bitcoin. Usually, a transaction requires Bitcoin to be moved from one or more inputs to one or more outputs.  

Most transactions involve the merging several smaller inputs and outputs. If an individual controls two inputs of one Bitcoin each and they want to buy an item for 1.5 Bitcoin, then those inputs will be merged to make up one transaction. The transaction will also involve multiple outputs since a change address will be necessary. In the above example, the extra 0.5 Bitcoin will be sent to the buyer’s change address.

Ways in Which Bitcoin Anonymity Can be Compromised

  • Connecting Nodes

The Bitcoin peer-to-peer network is not completely secure. It may be possible for attackers to connect multiple nodes and thus discover the origin of a transaction.

  • Using Personal Identity

If a Bitcoin owner uses their personal identity in a Bitcoin transaction, this can also result in a loss of anonymity. For example, a delivery address for something ordered in an online store could connect the buyer’s name and home address to their Bitcoin. If any of the input addresses in the aforementioned Bitcoin transaction are tied to the buyer’s identity, all of the other addresses will be as well.

  • The Transaction Ledger

Bitcoin transactions are open to all, which means that addresses can be traced. This allows for a group of different Bitcoin addresses to be tied to a particular user. If just one address is tied to an individual’s identity then the others in that group can also be tied to their identity.

 How to Enhance Bitcoin Anonymity

  • Use More than One Wallet

Having multiple wallets can be compared to having several identities. There is a software that Bitcoin owners can use to control several wallets from the same interface (we will come back to that in a later guide).

  • Use One of the Mixing Services

Mixing services blend users’ Bitcoins together. They send them out randomly to make it impossible to figure out the connections between inputs and outputs. While this works, it also requires Bitcoin owners to place a significant amount of trust in the mixing service. There is nothing to stop them from recording the transactions or absconding with all the Bitcoin.

  • Use Online Wallets

Since these services store all the Bitcoin that has been entrusted to them together, it is possible to hide the original owners. This can only work if the wallet service is active. There is also a risk for losing the Bitcoins if the service shuts down or gets hacked.

As Bitcoin evolves, it is expected that there will be upgrades to improve anonymity. These upgrades include ways to keep addresses from being connected during a transaction. Researchers are also working on methods of combining random transactions as a means of enhancing privacy.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Crypto Capitulation Is Upon Us

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Capitulation: kuh-pich-uh-LEY-shuhn (noun) the action of surrendering or ceasing to resist.

From their December peak, cryptocurrency assets have given back over $400 billion. This amounts to more than the GDP of many countries.  If this were values lost in the stock market whose worth is in the trillions, it would be called a minor correction. In crypto terms there is only one word to describe the carnage: capitulation.

As painful as it is, the point to be made here is the capitulation is a good thing.  Read on and I will share some thoughts for you to consider.

Mass Media Mania

First let’s take a look at some of the news that is causing such despair. Most recently the selling mania has been in response first to Facebook and more recently to Google.  Both of these mass social media giants have ban cryptocurrency advertising. Read closely and you won’t be shocked to realize that the target of their ire are the many ICOs.

The problem is not that Facebook and Google are the only advertising platforms.  The problem is that they are considered mainstream media and without these two, the trend of cryptocurrencies gaining legitimacy is delayed.  That is right, I said delayed not blocked or prevented.

The World Has Changed

Five years ago, when bitcoin was unknown to most people, this might have been a fatal move. Today is a different story. I recently traveled to a remote mountain town in the interior of Mexico.  Everyone I met had heard about Bitcoin and eyes lit up with excitement when I ask if I could pay for lunch with bitcoin.  

Today are dozens of websites dedicated to cryptocurrencies, either holding them, exchanging them or just writing about them.  Probably the most effective advertising remains on Google, it is called Google Search and it is free.

If someone wants to learn about owning bitcoin or any other currency, there is a ton of educational information.

Of course it would be far better all around if Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt had taken a different approach such as banning only advertisements for ICOs, but that didn’t happen so supporters of crypto aren’t comforted in their beliefs that bitcoin is going mainstream in 2018.

The Flipside Is Being Ignored

Every argument has a flip side.  If the removal of ads contributes to cleaning up ICO scams, that is a good thing.  We can all agree on that point. And let’s be honest there is more than one problem the crypto community needs to clean up.

This adds to the ongoing regulatory news including March 7th ruling in US Federal District Court that cryptocurrencies are commodities.  As such they can be regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC).

On the same day the Securities & Exchange Commission issued the following order:

“If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration,” the commission said in its “Statement on Potentially Unlawful Online Platforms for Trading Digital Assets.”

Not All Regulation Is Inherently Bad

The mere hint of added government regulation typically sends stock market investors heading for the exits and the same holds for investors in crypto.  But this raises the question, is some regulation of crypto a good thing?

If we examine the full spectrum of regulation to this point on a global scale there is one common target most everywhere.  That is the practice of exchanges. So far there has been little or not regulation, threatened or enacted, to protect investors from loss of funds due to security breaches.  

The question that needs to be ask is this.  Will SEC regulation result in better pricing and lower trading costs; if So, then this would provide a desirable outcome.  It is understandable if you laugh at the prospect of any government regulation having a beneficial outcome, but if you look at past SEC practices, you would come away with different conclusion.

So when the next regulation catches the headlines will it be to ban the existence of bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and others or to protect the investor from scams and excess costs?

Capitulation Is A Good Sign

Over the course of a pretty long investment experience, I have witnessed true misery on more than one occasion.  The pain is unbelievable, there is no perspective on the future and all you want is to take action to end the misery.  That is when you know the worst is happening and nothing is ever going to make it better. That is when major stock market bottoms are formed. It surely is painful these days for crypto investors. This is a good sign.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 82 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Altcoins

What’s Behind Cardano’s Rising Popularity in South Korea?

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Cardano, better known as ADA in South Korea, pronounced as “aeda” in the local market, is growing at an exponential rate due to UpBit.

UpBit, South Korea’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange behind Bithumb, is operated by Dunamu, a subsidiary company of Kakao, the operating company of KakaoTalk and KakaoPay. The two mobile applications, KakaoTalk and KakaoPay, have a market penetration rate of over 90 percent in their respective markets–financial technology (fintech) and messaging.

Although UpBit remains as the only cryptocurrency exchange that has integrated Cardano within the local South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market as of date, the popularity of Cardano on UpBit is increasing rapidly. According to CoinMarketCap, 75 percent of Cardano’s daily trading volume is processed in South Korea, by UpBit.

Within its debut month, more than 3 million South Korean users signed up to use KakaoPay, the country’s most widely utilized fintech app. KakaoPay operates as a mobile bank, allowing users to send and receive money, obtain loans, and conduct financial activities. KakaoPay supports UpBit because a subsidiary company of Kakao in Dunamu operates UpBit.

Given that Cardano is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies on UpBit in terms of daily trading volume, naturally, as general consumers in the traditional finance market using KakaoTalk and KakaoPay move to the cryptocurrency market, the first few cryptocurrencies they are introduced to are bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano.

Cardano is also receiving significantly more mainstream and local media coverage than other alternative cryptocurrencies, specifically because the South Korean media has portrayed Cardano as a direct competition to Ethereum. Because Cardano is a smart contracts protocol, it is structurally similar to Ethereum.

The two key differences between Cardano and Ethereum are that Cardano uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm and it also has two layers that are used for smart contracts processing and payment settlement.

In South Korea, cryptocurrency mania has swept across most major industries. 5 out of 10 people on the streets, in subways, buses, and cafes talk about bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology on a regular basis. As such, the majority of investors are more technical than other regions.

Most investors of Ethereum in South Korea understand that the Ethereum Foundation and its open-source development team has been planning a PoS update via Casper. When Cardano debuted with a PoS protocol, it led South Korean investors to believe Cardano is a more innovative platform and has a technical edge over Ethereum.

January 31

For cryptocurrencies with strong followers in the South Korean market, January 31 is an important date to keep track. On January 31, local cryptocurrency exchanges are expected to open account registrations to new users and six major local banks are set to provide banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Consequently, on January 31, it is likely that a massive amount of Korean won will flow into the local cryptocurrency exchange market. The recent cryptocurrency exchange ban fiasco, which turned out to be false, further increased the presence and popularity of cryptocurrencies in South Korea.

Cryptocurrencies like Cardano, EOS, Qtum, and Ethereum that have strong bases in South Korea will likely increase in value throughout late January and early February.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.4 stars on average, based on 3 rated postsJoseph Young is a finance and tech journalist based in Hong Kong. He has worked with leading media and news agencies in the technology and finance industries, offering exclusive content, interviews, insights and analysis of cryptocurrencies, innovative and futuristic technologies.




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Fidelity Investments is Mining Cryptocurrency

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Fidelity Investments is a multi-billion dollar brokerage  that just so happens to be mining cryptocurrency. In fact, it has been at it for three years, using its own computers to harvest bitcoin and Ethereum.

Profitable Experiment

CEO Abby Johnson recently told Fortune that its U.S.-based mining operation is “making a lot of money.” This comes despite running a relatively modest operation.

Hadley Stern, Senior VP of Fidelity Labs, described his company’s venture as an “experiment.”

The real reason we began mining, and still do, is to learn how the network works, how consensus works, how difficulty levels work,” he said in reference to the mining process.

The key to profitability has been the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency over the past year. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the world’s No. 1 and 2 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and no-one else comes close.

Well Ahead of the Pack

The fact that Fidelity has been at this for three years speaks volumes about the company. Other, much bigger players are still dipping their toes in the market, but are unsure about how to proceed. Goldman Sachs is reportedly on the fence about starting a cryptocurrency trading operation, while J.P. Morgan has already begun handling customer orders for bitcoin-based instruments.

Fidelity is doing a lot more than just mining tokens. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with Coinbase to let customers view cryptocurrency prices alongside other assets on their Fidelity homepage.

Coinbase is the world’s most funded cryptocurrency exchange with more than 7.4 million users.

Cryptocurrency Prices

The cryptocurrency market ended the week on a firm note, with bitcoin (BTC/USD) reaching a session high of $4,425.00. At press time, the index was up 1.6% at $4,368.

Ether is also trading higher against the dollar, with the ETH/USD rallying more than 3% to $305.

Ripple (XRP) lost momentum on Friday, but still managed a weekly gain of 21%.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.6 stars on average, based on 462 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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