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A Look at What It Was Like to Operate the Lightning Network’s Largest Node

July 31, 2018 |

A Look at What It Was Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node

About two weeks ago news.Bitcoin.com reported on one guy who controlled the Lightning Network’s (LN) biggest node when he commanded 49 percent of the total funds held within the network. Since then, Andreas Brekken, the owner of the blockchain review website Shitcoin.com, wrote four reviews about his node that held 35.24 BTC and his daily experiences using the LN protocol.

Also Read: Market Caps for Privacy-Centric Currencies Have Dropped Significantly

Compiling a Lightning Network Node

The Lightning Network is a second layer payment protocol that many people believe can solve Bitcoin Core’s (BTC) scalability problem. The reason for this is because the LN system works on top of the BTC chain and because of this factor there would be fewer on-chain transactions. Essentially the system comprises a great number of participating nodes that can send transactions through bidirectional payment channels. Alongside this, there’s been a ferocious debate over the years because people have touted LN as the solution for BTC’s congested mempool, even though the network is very much in its infancy.

Just recently we reported on the owner of Shitcoin.com, Andreas Brekken, when he initially freaked everyone out with a couple hundred grand worth of BTC sitting within his LN node. Both the BTC and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) communities had discussed the subject heavily during the first few days, and Brekken’s story made headlines in multiple news publications and podcasts. Since then Brekken wrote four reviews about his experience being the largest node on the Lightning Network. In Brekken’s first review “Lightning Network #1 Can I Compile and Run a Node,” the review gives some comprehensive insight to successfully installing and configuring the ‘lnd’ protocol. The author notes that the ‘autopilot’ feature helps establish a connection and provides funding to the payment channels.

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node
Brekken compiling lnd, bitcoind, and bitcoin core.

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node

Brekken explains there are a few reviews online that detail the Lightning Network’s probability of finding routes, but people who experience issues may be making a simple error. Furthermore, even though the installation process took a lot of time because it requires compiling a BTC full node installation, Brekken details the process was fairly simple to configure.

“Writers critical of Lightning Network claim the probability of finding routes between two random nodes is very low for amounts over $ 10. I suspect this is because they are choosing random nodes and not peering properly,” Brekken explains.

Compiling, installing, and running Lightning Network Daemon, lnd, was straight forward. I look forward to using payment channels for sending and receiving bitcoin.  

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node
Brekken makes headlines for being the largest LN node.

Shitcoin.com Becomes the Lightning Network

In part two of Brekken’s review, he says maintaining a payment hub is becoming stressful and routing doesn’t make that much money. “When I started writing the review the total capacity of the Lightning Network was slightly over 20 BTC (around $ 130,000) — I decide to shake things up,” Brekken notes. “Reactions to my experiment on social media are mixed. The increase in capacity of the Lightning Network is celebrated by some.”

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node
Brekken’s Shitcoin.com node held 35.24 BTC.

“My Lightning Network node has established over 200 payment channels with 250 peers. The node capacity is exceeding 40 bitcoin. The month_fee_sum comes to 4289 satoshis, or 0.00004289 bitcoin ($ 0.31). I also wonder how any payments have been routed,” he adds.

The node has routed 260 payments for other users, averaging a profit of $ 0.0012 USD per transaction. I doubt that this will cover the costs of running the node, but leave the node running for now.

LN Impractical Even for Highly Technical Users

Brekken’s third review, called “Lightning Network #3 Paying for Goods and Services,” shows his experiences sending payments through the network. First Brekken heads over to a website called Satoshitweet to pay a small microtransaction for a posted tweet on the platform. However, after clicking the ‘Pay 2020 satoshis’ to tweet button he gets an error. “I click the button a few more times — The error remains the same — I look in the Google Chrome network inspector and SatoshiTweet is returning a generic 500 Internal Server Error response.”

The review then discusses trying to use an LN-based dice game called ‘Lightning Spin’ but Brekken has issues with the site glitching and invoices changing rapidly. After resetting his browser and getting a stable invoice Brekken sends some funds. “The payment will be sent through two hops and pay 1800 msats (0.00000002 BTC or 0.000135 USD). Back in the web browser the spin has been detected and I have won 400,000 sats (0.004 BTC or $ 30 USD).”

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node
Brekken wins $ 30 bucks on Lightning Spin.

After playing around with Lightning Spin, Brekken tests out various other LN web portals like the Blockstream store, Bitrefill and Satoshi’s Place while experimenting with both the Eclair and Zap wallets. Minus an order for Reddit Gold on the website Bitrefill and Brekken’s win on Lightning Spin, most of the attempts had errors. Brekken concludes in his third review:

Sending payments using the Lightning Network is cheaper than the regular Bitcoin network, but suffers from routing errors and wallet bugs that make it impractical even for highly technical users.

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node
Shitcoin.com makes its mark on the pixel site Satoshi’s Place.

Stressing Out About a Possible Lightning Network Exploit

Brekken wraps up his final review in his Medium article called, “Lightning Network #4 What Happens When You Close Down Half of the Lightning Network Capacity?” Brekken says operating the largest nodes within LN was fun, but also “terrifying” at times. Brekken’s node has routed 389 payments in total which added up to a profit of USD$ 0.34 cents. But a portion of the funds didn’t come from routing as Brekken notes, “I suspect the increase is mostly from the recent increase in bitcoin’s price.” Brekken also tries to close the connected channels manually but ran into some more errors making some channels unable to close.

A Look at What Its Like to Operate the Lightning Network's Largest Node

So Brekken ‘force closed’ all his channels unilaterally which locks up his funds until a predetermined amount of time ends. “The amount of time the funds are locked up depends on the channel policy — This policy is negotiated when the channel opens. Most channels will release the funds to me in between 1440 and 20180 minutes,” Brekken emphasizes.

The Shitcoin.com owner concludes his fourth review by saying he looks forward to trying LN when it matures more and says that leaving funds on the network can be trying.   

“Running a large Lightning Network node has been quite stressful — An exploit such as we saw with heartbleed could allow an attacker to drain all funds from the node while I’m sleeping. It’s time to end the experiment,” Brekken concludes.   

Operating the largest node on the Bitcoin Lightning Network has been educational, frustrating, fun, and at times terrifying. I look forward to trying it again once the technology matures.

What do you think about Brekken’s reviews of the Lightning Network? Do you think the technology will help scaling issues? Or do you think the technology will be centralized and not efficient enough to help with scaling? Let us know what you think about Brekken’s reviews in the comment section below.


Images via Shutterstock, Pixabay, Bitcoin Exchange Guide, Twitter, Shitcoin.com, and Andreas Brekken. 


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.

The post A Look at What It Was Like to Operate the Lightning Network’s Largest Node appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going Crypto

July 30, 2018 |

Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going Crypto

Thailand’s largest movie theater chain, Major Cineplex, is reportedly integrating crypto payments to allow customers to pay for its services and products with cryptocurrency, including movie tickets and popcorn. Thailand recently began regulating crypto businesses. This week, the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission started accepting license applications from crypto operators.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Largest Cinema Chain in Thailand to Accept Crypto

Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going CryptoThe largest operator of movie theaters in Thailand is building a digital payment ecosystem in the country through a partnership with Swiss payment company Rapidzpay, the Nation Multimedia recently reported.

Founded in December 1995, Major Cineplex currently lists 143 theaters throughout Thailand on its website, 43 of which are in the greater Bangkok area. The group owns “678 screens, including 7 in Cambodia and 9 in Laos, and plans to expand to 1,000 screens by 2020,” Forbes reported in May last year.

Among the group’s properties is Thailand’s largest multiplex, the Paragon Cineplex, with 16 screens, 5,000 seats, and an Imax theater. It is located in one of Bangkok’s most prestigious shopping malls, the Siam Paragon, known for its luxury goods, floors of restaurants, an aquarium, an art gallery, a large bowling alley, a karaoke center, and a concert hall. It was also at the Paragon Cineplex that Major Group and Rapidzpay signed their partnership agreement.

Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going Crypto
Rapidzpay iOS app.

Merchants can use Rapidz point-of-sale system to accept cryptocurrencies as well as fiat currencies, the Nation detailed. “Major and Rapidzpay will integrate cryptocurrency payments into established payment gateways to make payment for Major products and services more seamless, secure and efficient.”

While Major Group has not announced which cryptocurrencies will be accepted, the coins supported in both the iOS and Android Rapidzpay apps currently include BTC, BCH, and LTC.

Chanya Tamrongweenichai, the director of marketing at Major Cineplex Group, was quoted by the Nation saying the group believes “Rapidzpay will expand to our other businesses and lead the change for Thailand’s financial ecosystem to be cashless,” noting:

You’ll be able to buy any services and products from us, such as movie tickets, popcorn and other different products with cryptocurrency.

Thailand’s Crypto Regulation in Effect

Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going Crypto
Rapee Sucharitakul.

Thailand’s cryptocurrency regulation recently went into effect with the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as the primary regulator of crypto businesses. The SEC announced last month that it will allow seven cryptocurrencies to be traded at exchanges in the country: BTC, ETH, BCH, ETC, LTC, XRP, and XLM.

The SEC’s Secretary-General, Rapee Sucharitakul, was quoted explaining this week that “the SEC is (now) open for application approval for operating a digital asset business, as the Finance Ministry’s announcement on digital asset licenses has come into force,” the Nation further detailed:

Rapidzpay is targeting a million active users in Thailand within its first year by attracting both existing and new crypto-enthusiasts who are looking for a simple and convenient platform to convert between fiat and cryptocurrency.

What do you think of Major Group adding crypto payments? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Thai SEC, Rapidzpay, and Major Group.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Largest Movie Theater Chain in Thailand Going Crypto appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Largest Cannabis Community Market in Israel to Accept Bitcoin Payments

July 29, 2018 |

Largest Cannabis Community Market in Israel to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Before it was turned into an investment asset, the invention of Bitcoin promised to usher in a world where anyone can pay for anything they like without a need for getting prior approval from the powers that be. The demand for uncensorable transactions still exists, and the latest example of this comes from Israel where the largest cannabis community market has turned to bitcoin payments.

Also Read: The Weekly: Muskbots Blocked, US Candidate Accepts Bitcoin, Herd of Institutional Investors

Telegrass to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Largest Cannabis Community Market in Israel to Accept Bitcoin PaymentsTelegrass, an Israeli community-based cannabis marketplace with over 100,000 members, has announced earlier today on social media that it will start charging merchants for some services, offering discounts for bitcoin payments. The community works to promote the legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Israel and offers a platform to connect buyers and sellers via the Telegram network. Merchants can still list their products for free in one city but will have to pay in order to expand their coverage.

The new funds raised with bitcoin are meant to help pay the Telegrass staff, which have been working as volunteers so far, and further public legalization efforts. The marketplace has been the target of continued police attention for working to provide anonymity to buyers and greater security for sellers, offering client verification methods that are meant to weed out undercover cops.

A Growing Demand Among Investors

Largest Cannabis Community Market in Israel to Accept Bitcoin PaymentsWhile the recreational cannabis market in Israel has been going through a slow decriminalization process, the legal cannabis market has been growing fast in recent years. “Canna Tech” startups have sprung up, agricultural companies have established sophisticated farms to supply pharmacies around the world with medical marijuana, and Israeli investors have been clamoring to get in on the action. Stocks related to the field have experienced stellar performance, and analysts often compare them to investing in bitcoin-related ventures as the two hottest trends.

We recently reported about Fantasy Network, a company traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: FNTS), that has ended all the plans it previously had to enter the “blockchain” space and turned to the legal cannabis business.

Is this development good for the ecosystem? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the best of its kind anywhere in the world. Also, keep up with your holdings, BCH and other coins, on our market charts at Satoshi’s Pulse, another original and free service from Bitcoin.com.

The post Largest Cannabis Community Market in Israel to Accept Bitcoin Payments appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Mining Round-Up: AMD GPU Sales Decline, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Miner in Canada

July 27, 2018 |

Mining Round-Up: AMD Reports Declining GPU Sales, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Mining Company in Canada

In recent mining news, AMD has reported declining sales of mining hardware during the second quarter of 2018, Hut 8 has claimed to now comprise the largest bitcoin mining company in Canada by operating power following the construction of its second facility, and Chinese authorities have shut down what they have described as “illegal” mining operations taking place in the autonomous Xinjiang Uyghur region in the country’s north-west.

Also Read: Binance Prepares to Enter the South Korean Market

AMD Reports Declining GPU Sales During Q2

Mining Round-Up: AMD Reports Declining GPU Sales, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Mining Company in CanadaMajor manufacturer of graphics cards (GPUs), Advanced Micro Devices (ADM), has become the latest mining chip maker to report declining sales during Q2, 2018.

It the company’s latest quarterly earnings report, AMD reports a 3% quarter-to-quarter decline in revenues generated by the company’s Computing and Graphics division. The chief executive officer of AMD, Lisa Su, also indicated that roughly 6% of the company’s revenue came from mining hardware sales during Q2 – down from 10% during Q1.

The report states: “Computing and Graphics segment revenue was $ 1.09 billion, up 64 percent year-over-year and down 3 percent quarter-over-quarter. Year-over-year revenue growth was driven by strong sales of Radeon products and continued growth of Ryzen products. The quarter-over-quarter decline was primarily related to lower revenue from GPU products in the blockchain market.”

Looking forward, the report anticipates further decline in GPU sales, stating: “For the third quarter of 2018, AMD expects revenue to be approximately $ 1.7 billion, plus or minus $ 50 million, an increase of approximately 7 percent year-over-year, and non-GAAP gross margin to increase to approximately 38 percent, driven by the sales growth of Ryzen and EPYC products, partially offset by lower sales of GPU products in the blockchain market.”

Hut 8 Completes Construction of Second Facility, Claims to be Largest Miner in Canada

Mining Round-Up: AMD Reports Declining GPU Sales, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Mining Company in CanadaHut 8 Mining Corp. has announced the completion of the construction of its second bitcoin mining facility which is based in the city of Medicine Hat.

According to a press release issued by Hut 8, the new facility hosts 40 “BlockBox datacenters” at the site, representing “48 MW of operating power.” The company now claims to wield a total of “66.7 MW of fully-funded operating power.“

Andrew Kiguel, the president and chief executive officer of Hut 8, stated: “As a result of our employees’ hard work, our partners at the Bitfury Group and the cooperation from the City of Medicine Hat, our construction is complete – ahead of schedule and on budget. We are pleased to have surpassed our September 2018 completion target. With 66.7 MW of aggregate operating capacity, we believe we are the largest cryptocurrency miner in Canada and the largest publicly-traded cryptocurrency miner by operating capacity in the world. In addition, we are actively pursuing further opportunities to deliver value to our investors.”

Since beginning operation in December 2017, Hut 8 claims to have mined more than 1,900 BTC.

China Cracks Down on “Illegal” Mining in Autonomous Xinjiang Uygur Region

Mining Round-Up: AMD Reports Declining GPU Sales, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Mining Company in CanadaChinese media have reported that the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Economic and Information Technology Commission has issued a “notice on the removal of illegal mining enterprises” which demands that mining companies in the region cease operations by the 30th of August.

The notice specifically targets “Unauthorized mining enterprises that fail to go through the formalities of industrial and commercial registration, tax registration, social security and other insurances in accordance with national laws and regulations” and “non-regulated electricity use.”

The notice adds that “the main body responsible for the […] illegal use of electricity shall be the power generation enterprise.”

When do you think that demand for mining hardware will again show growth? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, hut8mining.com


Express yourself freely at Bitcoin.com’s user forums. We don’t censor on political grounds. Check forum.Bitcoin.com.

The post Mining Round-Up: AMD GPU Sales Decline, Hut 8 Claims to be Largest Miner in Canada appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

July 17, 2018 |

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

CFA Institute, with over 150,000 members, is adding cryptocurrency topics to its curriculum for the first time. The course material will be released in August. A record 227,031 people in 91 countries and territories reportedly registered to take CFA exams this year.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Crypto Added to CFA Curriculum

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to CurriculumThe world’s largest association of investment professionals, CFA Institute, “is adding topics on cryptocurrencies and blockchain to its Level I and II curriculums for the first time next year,” Bloomberg reported.

A global, not-for-profit organization, CFA Institute offers a range of education and career resources including the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) designations. Its membership stood at 156,800 at the end of FY2017.

Citing that a majority of the candidates came from Asia, the news outlet elaborated:

A record 227,031 people in 91 countries and territories registered to take CFA exams in June…Material for the 2019 exams will be released in August, giving candidates their first opportunity to start logging a recommended 300 hours of study time.

Crypto – ‘Not a Passing Fad’

The CFA curriculum is organized into three levels. Level I tests “knowledge of the ethical and professional standards.” Level II tests how these standards are applied to situations analysts face. Level III tests how they are applied “in a portfolio management and compliance context.”

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum

Each level currently consists of 10 topics such as quantitative methods, economics, corporate finance, equity management, fixed income, derivatives, and alternative investments.

Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to CurriculumThe crypto addition is part of a new reading called Fintech in Investment Management, Bloomberg conveyed. The institute decided to include it “after industry participants showed surging interest in surveys and focus groups.”

Stephen Horan, the institute’s managing director for general education and curriculum in Charlottesville, Virginia, explained that “the CFA material on crypto and blockchain will appear alongside other fintech subjects including artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and automated trading.” Citing that “more crypto topics, such as the intersection of virtual currencies and economics, may eventually be added to the curriculum,” he asserted:

We saw the field advancing more quickly than other fields and we also saw it as more durable…This is not a passing fad.

A 27-year-old financial economics student at Columbia University who took the CFA Level I exam in June, Kayden Lee, was quoted by the news outlet saying that “it will be beneficial for us since there’s been a huge expansion and adoption of crypto in our investment universe.”

What do you think of CFA Institute adding crypto topics to its curriculum? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and CFA Institute.


Need to calculate your bitcoin holdings? Check our tools section.

The post Largest Association of Investment Professionals Adds Crypto to Curriculum appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

How one Chinese businessman became the largest fireworks supplier in the U.S.

July 3, 2018 |

Roughly 70% of all Chinese fireworks entering the United States come here under the control of a Chinese businessman who has used his influence to raise prices and block competitors, leaving many U.S. executives fearful of losing access to their most important Fourth of July inventories.

Ding Yan…


L.A. Times – Business

CNN

The United States begins the world’s largest naval exercises in the Pacific as it seeks to impress allies and counter China

July 1, 2018 |

The Pentagon kicked off the world’s largest naval war games last week, the biennial, month-long Rim of the Pacific exercises, known as RIMPAC, bringing together 46 ships and submarines, 200 aircraft and 25,000 troops from 25 nations.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

Largest US Nail Manufacturer ‘On Brink of Extinction’

June 28, 2018 |

Mid-Continent Nail laid off 60 of its 500 workers on June 15, and says it could be out of business by Labor Day, reports CNN . Located in Poplar Bluff, Mo., the nation’s largest manufacturer of nails says that it was forced to raise prices due to the new 25% tariff…
Newser

Stock Award to Xiaomi CEO Is One of Largest Ever

June 23, 2018 |

Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker whose value may hit $ 70 billion, gave its founder and chief executive a token of its appreciation: $ 1.5 billion in stock, no strings attached, in one of the largest corporate paydays in history.
WSJ.com: What’s News Asia