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Litecoin's SegWit Activation Imminent: BTCManager’s Week in Review April 17

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It has been another interesting week for the cryptocurrency community. Litecoin is coming closer to activating SegWit, which, if successful, could act as a powerful use case for a potential SegWit soft fork for bitcoin in the near future. Stellar has also expanded its footprint and galvanized its place in the world of blockchain, pioneering a way to pay coffee farmers fairly and in real-time.

The price of bitcoin continued to rally at the start of the week before dropping from $1229 down to $1141 as bitcoin bears took over the momentum for the remainder of the week. However, those shorting the cryptocurrency are left exposed to a sudden upsurge shown by Bitfinex’s margin traders’ open short interest exceeding the long interest and exemplified by the attempt at $1200 on April 17.

This week’s review is compiled from contributions by Christoph Bergmann, Evan Sixtin, Jamie Holmes, Joseph Young, Michael Scott, and Nigel Dollentas.

SegWit and Litecoin: Is Activation Imminent?

SegWit is on the verge of a breakthrough to activation on Litecoin. Chief developer Charlie Lee announced to push it through with an UASF if push comes to shove. However, it seems that this will not be necessary after not only F2Pool but also BW.com started to signal readiness.

Lee’s commitment to an UASF raised enthusiasm both in the Litecoin as in the Bitcoin community. While the Bitcoin community also started to promote UASF and the first companies show a willingness to participate, it seems that Litecoin will not need to become Bitcoin's test field for an experimental soft fork activation.

Currently, over 80 percent of Litecoin blocks signaling support for SegWit in the current activation period, so an activation will happen soon.

Bext360 and Stellar Team Up to Pay Coffee Farmers Fairly using Blockchain Technology

With a majority of coffee growers being small-scale farmers who sustain themselves on less than $2 a day, Bext Holdings Inc. through their Bext360 app looks to enable farmers by making it easier to get a fair price and be paid instantly.

Bext’s robot allows buyers to quickly scan the weight and quality of farmers coffee bean is on location by utilizing optical sorting to determine a percentage of the product which is spoiled or ready to go in a batch. Bext360 will offer instant payments to farmers, and these machines will pay for themselves as while they analyze and collect goods, they make digital payments for loans and interest directly to lending organizations.

Russia Follows Japan, May Legalize Bitcoin in 2018

Russia looks to move to legalize cryptocurrencies by 2018 according to a report by Bloomberg. The article frames the acceptance of bitcoin as a way to clamp down on money laundering but could be a way for Russia to escape from a punitive financial system over the long run. This move comes amidst close ally Iran dumping the US Dollar and Tehran Stock Exchange being the beneficiary of bitcoin, with a Swedish investment firm using the cryptocurrency to evade sanctions. The drift toward the acceptance of bitcoin in Russia is perhaps related to part of a wider drive to reduce American dominance in the fields of geopolitics and economics, with the BRIC nations setting up their own version of the World Bank in 2015, the BRICS Development Bank.

CME Group and Royal Mint at Final Stages of Blockchain-Based Gold Exchange Testing

CME Group, the world’s largest gold futures exchange in North America via COMEX, is at its final stage of blockchain testing which will allow investors to trade gold on a platform inspired by Bitcoin. In collaboration with the U.K.’s Royal Mint, CME Group plans to launch a distributed ledger-based gold exchange for the public market toward the end of 2017.

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Using its blockchain platform, Royal Mint will introduce a crypto asset called RMG, which stands for Royal Mint Gold. Each RMG token will be equivalent to one gram of gold secured in the vault and gold reserve of Royal Mint.

Matchpool To Offer A Way Out For Investors But Will Push On With Project

The Matchpool ICO raised 125,000 ETH or about $5.5 million in less than two days, but immediately after the conclusion of the crowdsale, co-founder Philip Saunders announced in a Matchpool Slack channel that he was leaving the project and alluded to the implication of an exit scam by the CEO, Yonatan Ben Shimon.

In reply, Ben Shimon posted a Medium article with the BTC address and the ETH address holding the entire funds from the crowdsale. The Medium article reveals the bitcoin and ether addresses containing all the funds from the ICO and explains the conflict between Saunders and Ben Shimon. It also links to an article by another team member, Max Richardson, posted on April 3 just as the Matchpool crowdsale was winding down, explaining that they were in the process of moving funds from ETH to BTC with screenshots of the transactions. So all funds have been accounted for and are visible to investors.

Given the messy situation, Matchpool is offering refunds to investors. "The resale option is offered to any contributor wishing to resell their entire contribution and must be put into effect by April 22 at the original crowdfunding ETH price. After all, requests will be made, Alphabit will buy the tokens as soon as they will be transferable and will be transferred to them on April 30."

A Security Threat to the Bitcoin Blockchain?

In a report to be featured at the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in May, Aviv Zohar of The Hebrew University present findings on how an attack to the Bitcoin Blockchain can occur via the Internet's routing infrastructure. In this paper, Zohar and his collaborators Maria Apostolaki and Laurent Vanbever, show off two ways a Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) can attack Bitcoin through either a partition attack, or a delayed attack.

Hyperledger Approves Intel's Smart Contract Blockchain Platform Burrow: A 'Friendly Rival' for Ethereum?

Following the momentum of its enterprise-grade blockchain platform Fabric, Hyperledger is ready to target yet another blockchain project. Burrow, a project proposed by engineers at Monax and Intel, was approved by the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) and is currently under development.

Burrow is an Ethereum-derived codebase inspired by a technology called eris-db developed and open sourced by Monax in 2014. The project was proposed by Intel and Monax to offer a smart contract-based platform for commercial companies and organizations to utilize. Relying on Ethereum’s strong development framework and flexible ecosystem for decentralized applications, Behlendorf explained that Burrow would provide a necessary infrastructure for companies and members of Hyperledger looking to utilize blockchain-based smart contracts for commercial operations.

Charting FERMAT’s Next Leap Forward

Fermat, the decentralized, open-source project is fueling a movement called the “Internet of People (IoP),” has released a new distributed governance model inspired by the cryptocurrency known as Dash. It features an embedded voting system, which includes community-cancelable contracts. Launched in April 2016, Fermat is building an infrastructure with a global map of everyone within the community with verified proof of how they are related.

Fermat’s contribution contracts element enables any individual or entity interested in offering their services, whether that is software development, marketing or business development support, to submit a proposal to the community of token holders. Each token holder is then able to vote 'yes' or 'no' on each contractor submission, ultimately accepting or declining proposals.

Fermat’s vision is to facilitate direct device-to-device communication, independent of any entity or web server. Data will be stored on end user devices and applications will be built to interact with each other directly and will be enabled via Person-to-Person apps as part of a new IoP technological paradigm.