by Eliot Harkin
Ethereum captured everyone’s imagination this week with the release of Homestead, and BTCMANAGER provided readers with insight from insider experts. We also covered the expanding scope of blockchain technology: E-Coin’s growth as it rebranded to Wirex; increasing P2P torrent possibilities with the advent of Play; Factom expansion into China and BitPesa’s influx of investment from BitFury,
These stories and more were brought to you this week by our intrepid team of reporters, including Nuno Menezes, Joseph Young and Michael Scott.
Last week, E-Coin announced its rebranding to Wirex to become the world’s first hybrid personal banking solution that combines the benefits of blockchain technology with everyday finances. Wirex will be available to clients in more than 130 countries and will offer three main services based on convenient mobile money solutions via the Wirex app. BTCMANAGER spoke with Tim Frost, VP of Marketing and Business Development at E-Coin. In this interview, Frost elaborates on the company’s recent rebranding and on what the future holds for Wirex.
ZeroNet, which utilizes Bitcoin cryptography and BitTorrent technology to provide uncensored network and communication, is a shutdown-proof BitTorrent platform on a server-less peer-to-peer network.
Currently, most of the world’s most popular torrent-sharing websites and platforms are being hosted on central servers. That means government and law enforcement agencies can potentially pressure the company to gain access to their platform and legally threaten the company to shut down their services.
Play, a Bitcoin-backed P2P torrent site, recently launched on the ZeroNet network. The site can be accessed via a ZeroNet URL once the ZeroNet software is installed. Users can download content like they normally do on other conventional torrent sites and upload torrent files with ease.
In the rapidly evolving world of tech innovation, Ethereum, a decentralized model for applications that mitigate fraud, censorship or third-party interference, has taken another leap forward in blockchain technology. The first stage of the Homestead launch took place on March 1 for the Testnet. This new milestone allows for the infusion of new blockchain solutions and features, all in the spirit of decentralized collaboration.
Homestead is intended for general audiences, simple, graphical programs will be made available in the coming weeks which will allow users to manage funds or mine blocks without extreme levels of technical expertise.
Since its previous funding round in February of 2015, BitPesa focused its operations on providing a secure bitcoin service for users in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania by partnering with local payment networks and remittance networks to make bitcoin payments more accessible to the general public. Their take on bitcoin-based remittance payment services gained much attention from the mainstream media and the local market in Kenya, allowing the team to generate enough revenue to expand their services across Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania.
A recent report by the Open Bitcoin Privacy Project called for Bitcoin wallet providers to improve their privacy measures. The report suggests that while there hasn’t been much innovation, and that wallets seem to be in a holding pattern, there is a desperate need for improvements in the ecosystem.
Even though the report considers that newcomers are consistently adopting HD architecture to avoid address reuse, many of the big privacy projects focused on “stealth” addresses and Tor support started in 2014 have stalled out during 2015, and an urgent need for innovation is increasing. Following the growing privacy and security concerns, the report alerts the bitcoin community to the fact that there is an urgent need for consumers to protect their privacy and let companies know that they care about it. There are still many consumers that are not aware of privacy risks and OBPP suggests that companies and services should also increase their awareness around the topic of wallet security.
Factom’s cutting-edge solutions provide governments and business stakeholders with a means for facilitating data transactions on a massive scale in a manner that’s secure, auditable, verifiable and tamper-proof.
According to Factom co-founder and CEO Peter Kirby, the key theme undergirding recent Chinese interest in the blockchain is integrity. “What’s really interesting about China is that their billion plus people have a difficult time trusting each other. In particular, they find it difficult to trust contracts as well as the court system. That’s the core of the problem.”
The beauty of Factom’s model, Kirby said in an interview with BTCMANAGER, is its ability to integrate any system with a blockchain back-end that allows for a permanent, immutable audit trail for data. It’s through this that a country like China can realize a whole new way to ensure accountability and a tamper-proof repository for data that heretofore had been susceptible to tampering by any number of third-party stakeholders.
On February 4, the Cabinet of Japan officially approved a set of legislation which recognizes virtual currencies such as bitcoin as authorized payment instruments. Digital currencies will be accepted and regulated like normal reserve currencies and will be used as an asset-like medium in making payments and international transactions.
The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) will act as a regulator of virtual currencies and startups in Japan. As the newly passed legislation begins to take effect in the upcoming months, the FSA will continue to release more information regarding the faith of bitcoin and digital currency startups in the country. However, some predict that the government is highly likely to impose heavy restrictions and financial policies for digital currencies due to the Mt. Gox heist in 2014.