This week’s summary of various cryptocurrency news and developments:
A code bug exploit knocked nearly 70% of Bitcoin Unlimited nodes offline
On March 14, nearly 70% of nodes running Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) were knocked offline, after a bug in the software’s code was found. The bug was first flagged by a BU developer, but then spread on social media, and someone decided to take advantage of it to attack. A hotfix was soon released, and on March 15 most nodes were reportedly back online. Before the attack there were as many as 780 Bitcoin Unlimited nodes online, and after the attack the count dropped to roughly 252, according to data from Coin.Dance. The bitcoin network’s global ecosystem is made out of 6374 nodes, according to data from Bitnodes.
BU’s hashrate appears to remain unchanged. A more detailed explanation of what happened can be found here.
The bitcoin scaling debate keeps heating up
The Bitcoin Unlimited node event made a strong impression on the community, which meant the bitcoin scaling debate just kept on heating up this week, to the point CoinDesk claimed it is devolving into an all-out Twitter war. While some accuse Bitcoin Unlimited developers of not being good enough, some believe these things happen, and some blame the attacker. Others, however, believe finger pointing isn’t doing any good.
Two great pieces to read and catch up are those of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin who weighted in the implications of soft and hard forks, ultimately defending a hard fork, and that of South African Bitcoin entrepreneur Vinny Lingham who, on the other hand, believes a hard fork isn’t what bitcoin needs.
A group of nearly 20 cryptocurrency exchanges have already released their contingency plans in the event the bitcoin network splits in two. Essentially, Bitcoin Unlimited would be listed as BTU/XBU,, while Bitcoin Core would maintain its BTC/XBT listing. Deposit and withdrawals would still be processed in BTC. According to the statement, the goal is to minimize potential confusion surrounding the event.
Coinbase will start charging fees for on-blockchain transactions
Bitcoin and ether exchange and wallet Coinbase has recently announced in a blog post that it will put on to users fees of so-called ‘on-chain’ transactions. The company noted it has been supporting these fees, but claims that this policy has now “become a significant cost”, and as such will be paid by users who perform these transactions. Ankur Nandwani, a product manager at Coinbase, wrote in the blog post: “Fees will be assigned dynamically based on the current network conditions and will be paid by customers when they send an on-chain transaction.”
Coinbase will also shut down the feature that enables SMS account access, remove support for bits (a way to view bitcoin in smaller units), and disable user payment pages.
PBOC director claims bitcoin exchanges can’t work without regulations
Zhou Xiaochuan, director of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), recently stated that “most bitcoin investors are young people”, adding “some platforms faked a lot of volume in order to attract investment. This behavior should be examined and regulated”. At one point, Xiaochuan even stated that, in light of the SEC’s refusal of the first bitcoin ETF, bitcoin in China “cannot work without regulations.”
The EU wants to end anonymity and identify bitcoin users
The Council of the European Union recently proposed amending a directive on preventing terrorist financing and money laundering, one that would require cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges to identify suspicious activities and bitcoin users. The proposal adds that technology created financing alternatives that go beyond the union’s legislations, and that in order to keep up with evolving trends, new measures are required. The proposal adds that terrorist groups can benefit from the anonymity provided by cryptocurrency platforms, and as such it is important to lower the thresholds for anonymous prepaid cards, and to identify users who perform remote transactions that exceed 50 euros. CryptoCoinsNews pointed out users should also be allowed to voluntarily self-declare to authorities.
Dash is the first altcoin to break the $100 barrier
Dash has seen a surge in value in the past few weeks. So much so, one unit is now worth $110,52 according to CoinMarketCap. Back when dash was still at $45, the currency’s developers even admitted the coin’s surge in value had left them unprepared. According to Cointelegraph, director of finance Ryan Taylor stated the following to Dash analyst Amanda B. Johnson in an interview: “We had a strategic plan that was really meant to take us up to around $100 to 200 mln dollars (market cap) and, at this point, we have obviously quickly moved past that so fast that we’re a little back on our heels again and having to do the next planning that gets us to $1 bln”
Ether hit a new record
Ether, the currency that powers the Ethereum platform, has managed to reach an all-time high this week, roughly $54, according to data from CoinMarketCap. At press time, one ether is currently worth $39. The price can be justified by ether now being used on social asset trading platform eToro, and by bitcoin’s ETF rejection by the SEC. Bitcoin’s scaling debate has also helped ether grow.
Bitcoin’s price tanked in light of ‘hard fork’ possibility
Bitcoin’s market cap is now at $16 billion, and one bitcoin is, at press time, worth $1,022,15, according to CoinMarketCap. The possibility of a ‘hard fork’ that could have bitcoin split into two separate networks with two distinct assets is part of the reason why bitcoin’s price has plummeted, according to experts. Nevertheless, bitcoin’s price has never been above $1,000 for so long.