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Ripple CTO Reveals the Genesis of XRP, Bitcoin’s Secret Sauce and the Potential of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

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Ripple CTO David Schwartz says a realization about Bitcoin’s “secret sauce” led to the creation of XRP. At SXSW in Austin, Texas, Schwartz expanded on what brought him to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the first place.

“When I first saw Bitcoin it was one of those things where you could almost call it love at first sight. I saw the technology and I thought wow, there’s really something here. And I wanted to learn everything I possibly could about it, and I found the communities, looked at the source code.

And I happened to be a little bit lucky that there was a problem at the time. This was just around the rise of mining pools and the software was never designed to handle mining pools. So a lot of people were complaining about performance issues in the software, and one of the things I specialized in was improving the performance of software. And I saw these bounties. Mining pools were like, ‘I’ll pay 10 Bitcoins if someone can fix this problem. I’ll kick in 15 Bitcoins if someone can solve that problem.’ And they were worth about $15 a piece, so that was real money…

So I explored for the direction of solving that problem that mining pools have. So I solved the problem, and they paid the bounties. And it’s kind of funny – when I went to buy a house in Oakland, I used the bounties as the deposit. And it was the first time Wells Fargo ever had to do the provenance of funds. It actually went to the posts on the Bitcoin forums, where people had offered the bounties and I claimed it.”

According to Schwartz, the epiphany that led to the creation of the XRP Ledger centered on the notion that the public ledger is the core innovation that makes Bitcoin revolutionary.

“When we looked at Bitcoin, I think a lot of people in the community thought that proof-of-work was the secret sauce, or the magic element of Bitcoin. And what I and a few other people – Jed McCaleb realized this first – and that was the key insight of his that led to the formation of the XRP Ledger and ultimately Ripple – was his insight that proof-of-work was not the secret sauce.

The secret sauce of Bitcoin is that all of the state information is public. The ledger is completely public. You can see every transaction, every balance. Everything is public. And what that means is you don’t have to take anybody else’s word for anything. If someone submits a transaction, you can check if it’s valid. You can figure out what it does all by yourself.

And that was the sort of decentralization magic, and that proof-of-work was just the way that it solved the double spend problem, the idea that if I have one Bitcoin, what if I try to send it to two different people? And that kind of led to this idea that there might be other ways to solve the double spend problem that might have different characteristics from Bitcoin.”

As for the biggest use cases for blockchain and cryptocurrency, Schwartz says cross-border payments are clearly a killer app.

“Use case fit? We have that in payments. Make no mistake, these things work for particularly international or cross-border payments because domestic payments in most parts of the world work pretty well.

Although there are exceptions. I’m sure most of you have heard of PayPal or Venmo. They’re owned by the same company – they don’t interoperate. Clearly, that’s an example of domestic payments that don’t work. But I think the cases where they don’t work are the exception. International payments are where we really have product market fit right now.”

As for additional uses for blockchain and crypto, Schwartz says it may take a minute before companies wake up to the true benefits of the technology.

Centralized databases are expensive. I was talking to some pharmaceutical companies who are looking for a database application that involves tracking the movement of their goods. And they were quoted many millions of dollars by companies whose job is to provide centralized databases. Well, you can stand up a private Ethereum node if you want. A couple of them. It’s much cheaper and the reliability is higher.

And I think also the security difference – people will say there are applications where security isn’t super critical. But what I think they miss is the fact that certain types of attacks are fundamentally impossible on blockchains. Any attack that involves injecting fake data is absolutely impossible on a blockchain, where it’s possible on a database.”

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The Case $7.5K Could Become Bitcoin’s New Price Support

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Amidst a decline in the price of bitcoin, the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency could find support at $7,500 – that is if it follows past patterns on the charts.

Bitcoin has faced selling pressure over the last few days, despite an impending golden crossover on the three-day chart – a bullish crossover of the 50- and 200-candle moving averages, as discussed last week. As of writing, the 50-candle moving average (MA) is on an upward trajectory and looks set to cross above the 200-candle MA in the next few days.

It is worth noting, however, that a similar golden crossover on the three-day chart was observed in early February 2016, when a bitcoin bull market was then in its nascent stages.

More importantly, BTC was heavily offered in the run-up to the confirmation of the golden crossover. Prices dropped to the 200-candle MA support days before the bull cross happened and that level was never put to test again, as seen in the chart below.

3-day chart (2015-16)

As seen above, BTC took a beating in six weeks leading up to the golden crossover confirmed on Feb. 3, 2016. Prices topped out at $467 seen in mid-December 2015 and almost tested the 200-candle MA support line of $348 in three days to January 19.

Over the next couple of months, BTC largely traded in the range of $360 to $450 before breaking higher. Essentially, the 200-candle MA served as a base ahead of the golden crossover and the level was never tested again throughout the rally from $450 to $20,000.

Also, it is worth noting that BTC rallied more than 140 percent from the August lows near $200, before topping out above $460 in mid-December.

The price action seen over the last few months looks eerily similar to the one discussed above.

3-day chart (2019)

Placed in recent context, BTC rose to a 17-month high of $13,880 last month. At that level, the cryptocurrency was up nearly 250 percent from lows near $4,000 observed at the end of March.

As of now, the cryptocurrency is changing hands at $9,600, representing a 30 percent drop from recent highs. Essentially, the cryptocurrency is losing ground in the run-up to the golden crossover the way it did before the bull cross of February 2016.

If history is a guide, then the ongoing pullback could be extended further to the 200-candle MA, currently flatlined $7,448. Also, prices may bounce back strongly from that level and resume the bull market.

Will history repeat itself?

History is known to repeat itself in financial markets and the bitcoin market is no exception.

The top cryptocurrency now appear to have bottomed out in December 2018 – i.e. a year and a half ahead of the mining reward halving due in May 2020 (reminding the crypto community of the seller exhaustion ahead of the reward halving and that took place in August 2016).

Over the last five months, a number of technical indicators have produced patterns similar to those seen before the onset of the bull market in late 2015.

For instance, the 50- and 100-week moving averages produced a bearish crossover in February – two months before BTC broke into a bull market and two months after the cryptocurrency bottomed out near $3,100. A similar bear cross was observed months before BTC’s bullish breakout of October 2015.

All-in-all, there is a strong case to believe that BTC would drop to the 200-candle MA, currently at $7,448, before the confirmation of the golden crossover on the 3-day chart and then rise back sharply.

source:coindesk

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Bitcoin (BTC) Loses a Month’s Worth of Gains, Falling Back Below $10k as Facebook is Questioned

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The spectacular gains that Bitcoin made during the last few days of June have all but been lost as the cryptocurrency crashes back down below $10,000. Despite the huge losses, Bitcoin remains the only top 10 coin trading in the green over 30 days, still up 3.2 percent since this time last month. Ethereum (ETH), XRP, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and EOS are all down by between 24 and 45 percent, with EOS suffering the worst losses.

The Facebook effect?

Many believe the June rally and resulting crash were driven by news that Facebook would be launching its own cryptocurrency in 2020 – an announcement that was met with stern disapproval by financial regulators.

Now, Facebook is facing a series of questioning by the United States Senate Banking Committee and has postponed the launch of its cryptocurrency until regulatory approval is granted. 

Democratic senator Sherrod Brown has lambasted the plans, calling them ‘delusion’ and reiterating concerns from the general public that Facebook lacks integrity following last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw the private data of millions of its users compromised. Joining the call for regulation on Facebook’s crypto plans are EU nations Germany and France, whose finance ministers today requested that the company pause its plans for the new development.

“I am convinced that we must act quickly and that it cannot go ahead without all legal and regulatory questions being resolved,” said German financial minister Olaf Scholz in an interview with financial news outlet Reuters. David Marcus, the Head of Calibra, the company formed to facilitate the distribution of the currency, has assured congress members that the company will not launch anything until regulatory approval is granted.

Can Bitcoin recover from the knock?

Bitcoin has lost key support at the $10,000 level and now, looking at the charts, lacks any decent support until $7,500. The majority of 5-, 10-, 20- and 30-day short-term moving averages all suggest further losses for the asset, with the MACD at 49.31 joining the bearish sentiment. However, long-term recovery is likely as the cryptocurrency industry continues to draw interest from large financial institutions looking to join the next wave of fintech innovation.

Tradingview trader Alan Masters envisions a slow descent to the $7,500 level by late October before any decent recovery ensues. While there is a good chance we will see this year’s $13k highs again, it may not be until early 2020. 

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US Lawmaker Says There’s No Way to Kill Bitcoin – But Will Congress Try to Stop Coinbase?

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US Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, confirms why Bitcoin is shaking up governments, banks and institutional and retail investors around the globe.

Says McHenry,

“There’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin.”

Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box, McHenry gives an overview of the government’s efforts to tame Libra and its development team at Facebook by holding consecutive Senate hearings. In large part, the hearings reveal Libra’s threat as a game-changer in global finance with the power to reach billions of people overnight.

According to McHenry,

“The issue here is there’s a knee-jerk reaction to kill it before it grows. There’s a whitepaper that’s an idea and there’s a consortium of companies – some with better reputations than Facebook currently has – that are developing a digital payments platform and a digital currency. Interesting, right? Instead, we have a knee-jerk reaction to kill an idea.”

McHenry questions the role of government in private enterprise and intervention in the development of business concepts.

Slaying Facebook over its latest innovation has raised concerns about the government’s willingness to support the foundational tenets of free markets, free enterprise, product competition and the country’s history of invigorating capitalism, jobs and leadership through innovation.

Says McHenry,

“Look, in the broad sense here, I’m a friend of innovation and I’m not a friend of a missioned society where every business has to come to government with their hand out and say, ‘Can I do this? Can I bring a new product to market?’ If they comply with existing laws, have at it.

I’ve got legitimate questions that I think need to be answered, but this whole thing about yelling at Facebook about trust – give me a break. Consumers are making a choice.”

Regarding Facebook’s record on protecting data privacy, McHenry doesn’t conflate the two.

“There’s a whole slew of litigation about this. Let’s have a separate hearing about that – that’s fine.”

“The way we’ve set this up is we have guardrails. You follow the speed limit, you can drive whatever vehicle as long as it’s safe.

Host Andrew Ross Sorkin, who posits that governments have a monopoly on money, asks McHenry if lawmakers will ultimately try to stifle the crypto industry or if they’ll let it flourish.

Says Sorkin,

“Long-term, do you think that regulators and politicians like yourself will allow the emergence of these new types of currencies if they don’t look a lot like the regulations and guardrails that we currently have around fiat currency and money?”

Responds McHenry,

“Well, I think there’s no capacity to kill Bitcoin. Even the Chinese with their firewall and their extreme intervention in their society couldn’t kill Bitcoin. So a distributed ledger, full and open, in the essence of Bitcoin as a first mover in this space, the developer of this technology blockchain and digital currencies –”

When Sorkin jumped in to point out that Bitcoin’s price has taken a precipitous drop over the past 48 hours as speculators seemingly react to a slew of high-level bashes against cryptocurrency, including recent criticisms from President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the politicians conducting the Facebook Libra hearings, McHenry stayed on point about the foundations of the technology which has not changed since Bitcoin launched in 2009.

“My point here is you can’t kill Bitcoin. But new iterations of this that are trying to mimic it, that are not fully distributed, that are not fully open, there are different mechanisms to kill it.”

But regulators could prohibit businesses and services that provide support for Bitcoin – like Coinbase. While McHenry agrees that there’s room for a new financial product that could dramatically improve the flow of money around the globe by implementing a system that is much more cost-effective and technologically advanced than old legacy platforms such as SWIFT and Western Union, he avoided giving Sorkin a direct answer to a key question.

Speaking on behalf of Bitcoin investors, Sorkin asks,

“If you said right now that Coinbase could not accept money from an American citizen, if you said that any of these wallets cannot accept money, you – I’m not saying you’d shut down Bitcoin. Bitcoin would exist somewhere and it would be in sort of a dark web kind of situation. But it effectively would make it very, very difficult for the mainstream to use it…

If it ever gets mainstream, if it ever gets to escape velocity, does Congress, do regulators say, ‘You know what, actually – in the same way that you’re looking at Libra as closely as you are, and this is going to happen at the G7 meeting as well – do people say, ‘Bitcoin will live in the shadows. But boy, it’s not going to live in the mainstream.’ And that’s the question that I think I have and that’s the question that I think Bitcoin investors have and that’s why the price of it has come down, literally, in the past 48 hours.”

McHenry had no direct reply.

Dave Hodgson, director and co-founder of NEM Venturesthe venture capital and investments arm of the NEM blockchain ecosystem, tells Forbes that the rubber has met the road.

“Government and central banks are after Bitcoin and Libra because they reduce their ability to control markets and populations, while also making some of what they do irrelevant. It is uncomfortable when people ultimately realize that the emperor has no clothes.”

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