This Bitcoin Developer Is About to Take on the Mining Hardware Industry

BtcDrak, the most active pseudonymous Bitcoin Core contributor to date, is making a move into the mining hardware industry. The developer, who besides having contributed to the Bitcoin Core repository also maintains the bitcoincore.org website and the Bitcoin Core Community Slack channel, has helped set up ASIC chip manufacturing company Halong Mining over the past year. The startup has now produced an initial batch of mining hardware and plans to ship to consumers in early 2018.“We started a mining project with the aim to bring much needed competition to the market,” BtcDrak told Bitcoin Magazine. “We want to ‘make SHA256 great again.’”The MinersHalong Mining is launching a production line that consists of one machine for now: the DragonMint 16T. The miner — its name references the Dragon’s Den, an (in)famous private chat channel on the Bitcoin Core Community Slack — is equipped with newly designed chips and can produce a total of 16 terahashes per second. Importantly, BtcDrak claims that the machines are about 30 percent more energy efficient than the most efficient ASIC miner on the market right now, Bitmain’s AntMiner S9. “The DragonMint will be the most advanced miner to date,” he said.The main bottleneck to entering the ASIC market is typically capital: developing specialized chips from scratch is expensive. While BtcDrak preferred not to disclose much information about Halong Mining for now, he did note that the machines have been produced by a team with “serious expertise.” According to the developer, Halong Mining has invested $30 million in research and development so far, with over 100 people involved, including chip designers, electronics hardware specialists and software designers. “Research and development is not cheap, and we need a lot of diverse skills,” BtcDrak explained.Halong Mining has now produced an initial batch of DragonMint machines, though these are still just prototypes for testing and fine-tuning. They will not be sold to the public due to risk of reverse engineering, BtcDrak said, though he emphasized that the machines are working.“Other companies that want to enter the ASIC mining industry develop everything in simulations, and then the first presale batch tries to pay for small production. But the NRE [non-recurring engineering] and making wafers is fraught with difficulty; the first run is not easy to do well.”Halong Mining published a video of a DragonMint on YouTube today. BtcDrak thinks the first mass-produced run of DragonMint miners will happen within about four months and begin to ship in March of 2018. Apart from the DragonMint machines, Halong Mining will also be selling mining chips separately, in bulk.The CompetitionWith the introduction of DragonMint miners, Halong Mining will offer an alternative for Bitmain’s mining hardware, which has dominated the market for the past few years. An estimated 70 percent or more of the hash power on the network today is produced by Bitmain machines, and around half of all hash power is pointed to mining pools that are either owned by or closely affiliated with Bitmain, such as AntPool, BTC.com, ConnectBTC and ViaBTC.“One manufacturer as a monopoly is not good for Bitcoin,” BtcDrak said. “Centralization in mining is a problem regardless of how benevolent you are. If there is a center, then governments and criminals can attack it. Decentralization protects the entire system and all its participants. So I wanted to bring competition.” Bitmain in particular has also not made itself popular within segments of the Bitcoin community over the past years. The Chinese ASIC manufacturer was at the center of the AsicBoost and Antbleed controversies, and perhaps more importantly, some speculate that the company exerted its influence over the mining ecosystem by allowing or limiting hardware sales based on how hash power from the machines was used. Bitmain has always denied this is the case, however.Halong Mining wants to distribute ASIC miners “far and wide to help decentralize mining,” BtcDrak said, adding that the company is considering open sourcing its board designs and software. This would help new manufacturers get a foothold in the industry, building on the research already done by Halong Mining over the past year.BtcDrak concluded:“There is a lot at stake here. A lot of time and money has been invested … and we have a huge opportunity to bring more diversity to Bitcoin mining, and in turn help secure the network more.”


Bitcoin Exchange Globitex Granted European Electronic Money License

Globitex, a new bitcoin exchange co-founded by former Bitcoin Foundation Executive Director Jon Matonis, is announcing that its parent Globitex Holding (Latvia) group company NexPay UAB has been granted an Electronic Money Institution (EMI) license by the Bank of Lithuania, a regulatory authority in the European Union, to carry out payment services and e-money issuance in the EU.
The acquisition of the EMI license will allow Globitex to integrate with the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) euro payment system directly through the central bank of Lithuania. This will enable NexPay to clear euro payments directly, without the involvement of commercial banks, and to issue IBAN accounts to Globitex clients just as banks issue accounts to their clients, which is could be an important step forward in terms of accessibility. According to the company, this regulatory development opens the way for the institutional- grade bitcoin exchange to deal with EUR fiat payments globally and sets a new level of legitimacy for the cryptocurrency industry overall. It also represents a significant step toward widespread adoption of Bitcoin as a unit of account suitable for global trade, with no geographic, political or monetary restrictions. Eventually, Globitex wants to allow producers to purchase exchange-listed products for bitcoin, and trading firms, and speculators to hedge their risks in bitcoin with derivatives trading.“Globitex is looking to set new cryptocurrency trading standards not only technologically, or by commodities linked product offering, but especially in Globitex’s legal setup, ensuring safe passage to the digital age,” said Liza Aizupiete, Managing Director of Globitex, who recently participated in a panel discussion on the future of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies at e-com21 in Riga, Latvia.While Bitcoin offers enormous advantages for international settlement due to its speed and low cost compared to legacy money transfer services, order-book depth and liquidity cannot yet support very large trades; therefore, bitcoin cannot yet serve as a currency of international trade settlement across the world’s financial markets.Globitex wants to tackle this challenge by dramatically increasing bitcoin trading volumes and facilitating bitcoin’s use across the spectrum of money and commodity markets, thereby allowing financial instruments and commodities like crude oil, gold and coffee to be priced directly in bitcoin.Physical-Settlement Futures Contracts as Important Enabling Factors“I look forward to this evolution of digital currency trading platforms that ensure futures contracts with a physical delivery component,” Matonis told Bitcoin Magazine. “Strong connection to the spot markets, including contract limits and physical delivery that is linked to provisioned commodities, will serve as the market standard for price integrity."Matonis outlined some risks associated with cash-settled bitcoin futures contracts. He pointed out that the price index is too easily gamed, for example, and that there is no physical commodity (private keys) for integrity of short positions, maintenance margins could potentially approach 100 percent so there is no real leverage during volatility, and there is a risk of limit-up, limit-down insolvency for certain smaller members.According to Matonis, the cash-settled bitcoin futures contract is a precursor to an exchange offering a proper physical-settlement futures contract like Globitex. In fact, decentralized crypto and physical-settlement Bitcoin markets will be more robust, Matonis explained to Bitcoin Magazine, since warehousing, open-contract limits and maintenance-margin calculations all behave differently under a digital assets class with physical settlement.Globitex is holding a token sale, to be issued on the Ethereum blockchain, for its GBX utility token to fund the scaling of its existing exchange infrastructure into a commodities spot and derivatives exchange for bitcoin.A short video explainer outlines a future where Bitcoin is the preferred medium of exchange for everything and permits cheaply settling international trades; swapping precious metals and commodities in seconds; and opening new trading options for farmers, manufacturing companies, metal miners, oil refineries and more.


Etherecash Launches ICO, Focuses on the Unbanked

Following a successful pre-ICO, Etherecash has announced a public ICO that launched November 15th and will end December 19th. Focusing on the 2.5 billion unbanked, Etherecash looks to excel in both spending and sending, as well as providing a peer-to-peer lending platform, to enable those with little or no credit history the ability to access funds.

Apple Postpones Release of HomePod Speaker

Apple Postpones Release of HomePod SpeakerApple introduced its HomePod speaker in June and had said the product would ship by the end of the year.CreditJim Wilson/The New York TimesSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is putting the brakes on the arrival this year of HomePod, its much-ballyhooed rival to Amazon’s Echo smart speaker.On Friday, the company said it would postpone the release of HomePod to early 2018. Apple introduced the speaker this year and was originally set to ship it next month, but the company said it was still working on the product.“We can’t wait for people to experience HomePod, Apple’s breakthrough wireless speaker for the home, but we need a little more time before it’s ready for our customers,” Apple said in a statement.The postponement deals a setback to Apple in several ways. The company is already behind rivals like Amazon, which pioneered the market for speakers that can be controlled with voice commands and artificial intelligence with the release of the original Echo in 2015. The Echo, along with the virtual assistant Alexa, became a surprise hit.Now Apple will also miss out on selling HomePod during the holiday shopping season, the most lucrative time of year for electronics makers. That may enable rivals to gain even more traction with their products.Amazon recently released a family of new Echo products with lower prices. The standard-size Echo speaker costs $100, significantly less than its $180 predecessor.That makes the price for Apple’s HomePod — $349 — look especially steep. Apple has said HomePod will deliver superior audio quality. Customers will be able to summon Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, to play music and control smart home accessories. In addition, people will be able to link multiple HomePods to listen to music throughout the home, similar to products from Sonos. Follow Brian X. Chen on Twitter: @bxchenNew U.S. Plan: Don’t Let North Korean Missiles Fly Very FarSenate Tax Debate Devolves Into Angry Shouting MatchTrump’s Tax Cuts Are Likely to Increase Trade DeficitAccusation of Groping Draws Condemnation of Al Franken