1) You buy it from a regulated reputable exchange. 2) You buy it from your friend who got it as payment from a recent extortion.Immediately you are faced with two fundamental problems:
1) Clean BTC should actually be more valuable then dirty BTC, since you would obviously want the BTC that can not be backtraced to any criminal activity. (Note that what China defines as criminal activities for instance may not be the case in another country) 2) BTC could be confiscated at any point in time since it’s origin can be traced, even when it hasn’t been blacklisted straight away. You could be facing serious consequences.We see this already today, addresses that hold coins related to criminal activities are closely being monitored. When they move, it gets noticed and all eyes are on them.
“This proposal seeks funding to renew our annual funding commitment to ASU’s Blockchain Research Lab and specifically to fund a research project which would investigate methods to apply zero-knowledge proofs to blockchain identities. It is possible Dash could leverage this research to apply zero-knowledge proofs to identity functions within the Dash network.”
@ 1:06:13 DT: “Well, I’ll just tell you my use case for dash, right. You’re talking about your use case. My use case for dash is, well, I’m not going to worry about the coffee guy thinking I have a whole bunch of money because I’m going to pay with my phone and I’m only going to keep a small amount on my phone, right? So that right there, they would have trouble you know, they have to go a few steps back and then they’re not even sure if it’s mine if there’s no Private Send. Um, if I don’t use Private Send. And if, let’s say, if I did want to take some money and put it into Coinbase. Well, if I don’t use Private Send and they’re asking “where’s the money came from?” - and that’s what they’re going to do - it’s going to be a little bit easier to say, “this is where it came from”, right?. I mean, I wouldn’t lie to them, I’d tell them the same thing no matter if I used Private Send or not, but I just think I’m going to have less problems with the bank and stuff if it wasn’t so obfuscated. So yeah, I think there’s a kind of, I think there needs to be room for both on chain. There needs to be.. I mean, I’m glad you’re enjoying Private Send. I think there are some improvements that can be made to Private Send. Umm, but I mean, there were some discussion of MimbleWimble and there is, no, we do not do that. No no no. But like, I mean, if you want to bring over some improvements, maybe start reading about the Cash Fusion that’s on the Bitcoin Cash. Umm, so err and like, I believe if you read Cash Fusion, their paper, I believe we can do Private Send in a way where the masternodes doesn’t know which output corresponds to which input. So, right now we trust that the masternodes aren’t paying attention, aren’t going to, you know… they’re... yeah I mean, and they have the word trust in it, they have a vested interest in the network working so that Private Send works the way it’s supposed to work. But, you know, at the same time, if you can do some small little cryptographic thing for no real cost on your processors and stuff like that, umm, why wouldn’t you? So that’s one thing I think that can be brought in. I think Cash Fusion also might do a better job of keeping the balance separate or something like that, but err., I would definitely be in favor of improving Private Send. Umm, but also at the same time, I’m glad that I’m given a choice if I want to use it or not. And pretty much anything when I’m interacting with the banking system, which I know you’re doing a fiat-free, so you don’t need to worry about that Joel.. but when you’re interacting with the banking system, the easier it is to explain to them, the better off, the easier time they’ll give you. That’s the way it is.”
“Btw, we have, both of us have a compliance background. My last job was with [inaudible] bank, before that within a banking compliance department”
“As more people will be interacting online now and potentially in the future, it will be increasingly important to provide transparency so people can trust those they cannot see,”
“The thieves didn’t move the funds right away. A couple months after the initial theft, they started to move the funds to multiple wallet addresses across the world. During their hundreds of transfers, the thieves converted the Dash into other cryptocurrencies. We were able to track their every transfer, whether it was from one Dash address to another, or from a Dash address into another cryptocurrency. In the end, the thieves had transferred the stolen Dash into hundreds of different wallet addresses and exchanged the Dash for Bitcoin, Ether and Bitcoin Cash.
We collaborated with the FBI and traced the funds to an exchange in Asia. Through our connections with that exchange, law enforcement was able to obtain details of the account owner, which led to a bank account. By September 2018, three months after the theft, our tools and collaboration with law enforcement had identified a person involved in this theft. At that point, the victims, law enforcement and us at BlockchainIntel were hopeful there would be some recovery of stolen funds. But that’s when things slowed down. A lot.”
“Over the past few years, Iranian visa-holders resident in the United States have seen their bank accounts at U.S. financial institutions shuttered as a result of U.S. sanctions. The most recent case is that of Chase Bank, where NIAC has learned that Chase is closing the bank accounts of Iranian visa-holders. NIAC is deeply concerned that U.S. banks are denying financial services to Iranians in the United States on the basis of their national origin and calls on Chase Bank and other U.S. financial institutions to cease and desist from such discriminatory policies. At the same time, NIAC believes that the repeated nature of these account closures makes it incumbent on the U.S. administration to take immediate steps to provide clarity as to the scope of existing U.S. sanctions laws — none of which bar U.S. banks from opening and maintaining accounts for Iranian visa-holders resident in the United States.”
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The Federal Reserve and the United States government are pumping extreme amounts of money into the economy, already totaling over $484 billion. They are doing so because it already had a goal to inflate the United States Dollar (USD) so that the market can continue to all-time highs. It has always had this goal. They do not care how much inflation goes up by now as we are going into a depression with the potential to totally crash the US economy forever. They believe the only way to save the market from going to zero or negative values is to inflate it so much that it cannot possibly crash that low. Even if the market does not dip that low, inflation serves the interest of powerful people.
The impending crash of the stock market has ramifications for Bitcoin, as, though there is no direct ongoing-correlation between the two, major movements in traditional markets will necessarily affect Bitcoin. According to the Blockchain Center’s Cryptocurrency Correlation Tool, Bitcoin is not correlated with the stock market. However, when major market movements occur, they send ripples throughout the financial ecosystem which necessary affect even ordinarily uncorrelated assets.
Therefore, Bitcoin will reach X price on X date after crashing to a price of X by X date.
Stock Market CrashThe Federal Reserve has caused some serious consternation with their release of ridiculous amounts of money in an attempt to buoy the economy. At face value, it does not seem to have any rationale or logic behind it other than keeping the economy afloat long enough for individuals to profit financially and politically. However, there is an underlying basis to what is going on which is important to understand in order to profit financially.
All markets are functionally price probing systems. They constantly undergo a price-discovery process. In a fiat system, money is an illusory and a fundamentally synthetic instrument with no intrinsic value – similar to Bitcoin. The primary difference between Bitcoin is the underlying technology which provides a slew of benefits that fiat does not. Fiat, however, has an advantage in being able to have the support of powerful nation-states which can use their might to insure the currency’s prosperity.
Traditional stock markets are composed of indices (pl. of index). Indices are non-trading market instruments which are essentially summaries of business values which comprise them. They are continuously recalculated throughout a trading day, and sometimes reflected through tradable instruments such as Exchange Traded Funds or Futures. Indices are weighted by market capitalizations of various businesses.
Price theory essentially states that when a market fails to take out a new low in a given range, it will have an objective to take out the high. When a market fails to take out a new high, it has an objective to make a new low. This is why price-time charts go up and down, as it does this on a second-by-second, minute-by-minute, day-by-day, and even century-by-century basis. Therefore, market indices will always return to some type of bull market as, once a true low is formed, the market will have a price objective to take out a new high outside of its’ given range – which is an all-time high. Instruments can only functionally fall to zero, whereas they can grow infinitely.
So, why inflate the economy so much?
Deflation is disastrous for central banks and markets as it raises the possibility of producing an overall price objective of zero or negative values. Therefore, under a fractional reserve system with a fiat currency managed by a central bank – the goal of the central bank is to depreciate the currency. The dollar is manipulated constantly with the intention of depreciating its’ value.
Central banks have a goal of continued inflated fiat values. They tend to ordinarily contain it at less than ten percent (10%) per annum in order for the psyche of the general populace to slowly adjust price increases. As such, the markets are divorced from any other logic. Economic policy is the maintenance of human egos, not catering to fundamental analysis. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is well-known not to be a measure of actual growth or output. It is a measure of increase in dollars processed. Banks seek to produce raising numbers which make society feel like it is growing economically, making people optimistic. To do so, the currency is inflated, though inflation itself does not actually increase growth. When society is optimistic, it spends and engages in business – resulting in actual growth. It also encourages people to take on credit and debts, creating more fictional fiat.
Inflation is necessary for markets to continue to reach new heights, generating positive emotional responses from the populace, encouraging spending, encouraging debt intake, further inflating the currency, and increasing the sale of government bonds. The fiat system only survives by generating more imaginary money on a regular basis.
Bitcoin investors may profit from this by realizing that stock investors as a whole always stand to profit from the market so long as it is managed by a central bank and does not collapse entirely. If those elements are filled, it has an unending price objective to raise to new heights. It also allows us to realize that this response indicates that the higher-ups believe that the economy could crash in entirety, and it may be wise for investors to have multiple well-thought-out exit strategies.
Economic Analysis of BitcoinThe reason why the Fed is so aggressively inflating the economy is due to fears that it will collapse forever or never rebound. As such, coupled with a global depression, a huge demand will appear for a reserve currency which is fundamentally different than the previous system. Bitcoin, though a currency or asset, is also a market. It also undergoes a constant price-probing process. Unlike traditional markets, Bitcoin has the exact opposite goal. Bitcoin seeks to appreciate in value and not depreciate. This has a quite different affect in that Bitcoin could potentially become worthless and have a price objective of zero.
Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a now famous mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto and its’ open source code was released in 2009. It was the first decentralized cryptocurrency to utilize a novel protocol known as the blockchain. Up to one megabyte of data may be sent with each transaction. It is decentralized, anonymous, transparent, easy to set-up, and provides myriad other benefits. Bitcoin is not backed up by anything other than its’ own technology.
Bitcoin is can never be expected to collapse as a framework, even were it to become worthless. The stock market has the potential to collapse in entirety, whereas, as long as the internet exists, Bitcoin will be a functional system with a self-authenticating framework. That capacity to persist regardless of the actual price of Bitcoin and the deflationary nature of Bitcoin means that it has something which fiat does not – inherent value.
Bitcoin is based on a distributed database known as the “blockchain.” Blockchains are essentially decentralized virtual ledger books, replete with pages known as “blocks.” Each page in a ledger is composed of paragraph entries, which are the actual transactions in the block.
Blockchains store information in the form of numerical transactions, which are just numbers. We can consider these numbers digital assets, such as Bitcoin. The data in a blockchain is immutable and recorded only by consensus-based algorithms. Bitcoin is cryptographic and all transactions are direct, without intermediary, peer-to-peer.
Bitcoin does not require trust in a central bank. It requires trust on the technology behind it, which is open-source and may be evaluated by anyone at any time. Furthermore, it is impossible to manipulate as doing so would require all of the nodes in the network to be hacked at once – unlike the stock market which is manipulated by the government and “Market Makers”. Bitcoin is also private in that, though the ledge is openly distributed, it is encrypted. Bitcoin’s blockchain has one of the greatest redundancy and information disaster recovery systems ever developed.
Bitcoin has a distributed governance model in that it is controlled by its’ users. There is no need to trust a payment processor or bank, or even to pay fees to such entities. There are also no third-party fees for transaction processing. As the ledge is immutable and transparent it is never possible to change it – the data on the blockchain is permanent. The system is not easily susceptible to attacks as it is widely distributed. Furthermore, as users of Bitcoin have their private keys assigned to their transactions, they are virtually impossible to fake. No lengthy verification, reconciliation, nor clearing process exists with Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is based on a proof-of-work algorithm. Every transaction on the network has an associated mathetical “puzzle”. Computers known as miners compete to solve the complex cryptographic hash algorithm that comprises that puzzle. The solution is proof that the miner engaged in sufficient work. The puzzle is known as a nonce, a number used only once. There is only one major nonce at a time and it issues 12.5 Bitcoin. Once it is solved, the fact that the nonce has been solved is made public.
A block is mined on average of once every ten minutes. However, the blockchain checks every 2,016,000 minutes (approximately four years) if 201,600 blocks were mined. If it was faster, it increases difficulty by half, thereby deflating Bitcoin. If it was slower, it decreases, thereby inflating Bitcoin. It will continue to do this until zero Bitcoin are issued, projected at the year 2140. On the twelfth of May, 2020, the blockchain will halve the amount of Bitcoin issued when each nonce is guessed. When Bitcoin was first created, fifty were issued per block as a reward to miners. 6.25 BTC will be issued from that point on once each nonce is solved.
Unlike fiat, Bitcoin is a deflationary currency. As BTC becomes scarcer, demand for it will increase, also raising the price. In this, BTC is similar to gold. It is predictable in its’ output, unlike the USD, as it is based on a programmed supply. We can predict BTC’s deflation and inflation almost exactly, if not exactly. Only 21 million BTC will ever be produced, unless the entire network concedes to change the protocol – which is highly unlikely.
Some of the drawbacks to BTC include congestion. At peak congestion, it may take an entire day to process a Bitcoin transaction as only three to five transactions may be processed per second. Receiving priority on a payment may cost up to the equivalent of twenty dollars ($20). Bitcoin mining consumes enough energy in one day to power a single-family home for an entire week.
Trading or Investing?The fundamental divide in trading revolves around the question of market structure. Many feel that the market operates totally randomly and its’ behavior cannot be predicted. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that the market has a structure, but that that structure is not perfect. That market structure naturally generates chart patterns as the market records prices in time. In order to determine when the stock market will crash, causing a major decline in BTC price, we will analyze an instrument, an exchange traded fund, which represents an index, as opposed to a particular stock. The price patterns of the various stocks in an index are effectively smoothed out. In doing so, a more technical picture arises. Perhaps the most popular of these is the SPDR S&P Standard and Poor 500 Exchange Traded Fund ($SPY).
In trading, little to no concern is given about value of underlying asset. We are concerned primarily about liquidity and trading ranges, which are the amount of value fluctuating on a short-term basis, as measured by volatility-implied trading ranges. Fundamental analysis plays a role, however markets often do not react to real-world factors in a logical fashion. Therefore, fundamental analysis is more appropriate for long-term investing.
The fundamental derivatives of a chart are time (x-axis) and price (y-axis). The primary technical indicator is price, as everything else is lagging in the past. Price represents current asking price and incorrectly implementing positions based on price is one of the biggest trading errors.
Markets and currencies ordinarily have noise, their tendency to back-and-fill, which must be filtered out for true pattern recognition. That noise does have a utility, however, in allowing traders second chances to enter favorable positions at slightly less favorable entry points. When you have any market with enough liquidity for historical data to record a pattern, then a structure can be divined. The market probes prices as part of an ongoing price-discovery process. Market technicians must sometimes look outside of the technical realm and use visual inspection to ascertain the relevance of certain patterns, using a qualitative eye that recognizes the underlying quantitative nature
Markets and instruments rise slower than they correct, however they rise much more than they fall. In the same vein, instruments can only fall to having no worth, whereas they could theoretically grow infinitely and have continued to grow over time. Money in a fiat system is illusory. It is a fundamentally synthetic instrument which has no intrinsic value. Hence, the recent seemingly illogical fluctuations in the market.
According to trade theory, the unending purpose of a market or instrument is to create and break price ranges according to the laws of supply and demand. We must determine when to trade based on each market inflection point as defined in price and in time as opposed to abandoning the trend (as the contrarian trading in this sub often does). Time and Price symmetry must be used to be in accordance with the trend. When coupled with a favorable risk to reward ratio, the ability to stay in the market for most of the defined time period, and adherence to risk management rules; the trader has a solid methodology for achieving considerable gains.
We will engage in a longer term market-oriented analysis to avoid any time-focused pressure. The Bitcoin market is open twenty-four-hours a day, so trading may be done when the individual is ready, without any pressing need to be constantly alert. Let alone, we can safely project months in advance with relatively high accuracy. Bitcoin is an asset which an individual can both trade and invest, however this article will be focused on trading due to the wide volatility in BTC prices over the short-term.
Technical Indicator Analysis of BitcoinTechnical indicators are often considered self-fulfilling prophecies due to mass-market psychology gravitating towards certain common numbers yielded from them. They are also often discounted when it comes to BTC. That means a trader must be especially aware of these numbers as they can prognosticate market movements. Often, they are meaningless in the larger picture of things.
Trend Definition Analysis of BitcoinTrend definition is highly powerful, cannot be understated. Knowledge of trend logic is enough to be a profitable trader, yet defining a trend is an arduous process. Multiple trends coexist across multiple time frames and across multiple market sectors. Like time structure, it makes the underlying price of the instrument irrelevant. Trend definitions cannot determine the validity of newly formed discretes. Trend becomes apparent when trades based in counter-trend inflection points continue to fail.
Downtrends are defined as an instrument making lower lows and lower highs that are recurrent, additive, qualified swing setups. Downtrends for all instruments are similar, except forex. They are fast and complete much quicker than uptrends. An average downtrend is 18 months, something which we will return to. An uptrend inception occurs when an instrument reaches a point where it fails to make a new low, then that low will be tested. After that, the instrument will either have a deep range retracement or it may take out the low slightly, resulting in a double-bottom. A swing must eventually form.
A simple way to roughly determine trend is to attempt to draw a line from three tops going upwards (uptrend) or a line from three bottoms going downwards (downtrend). It is not possible to correctly draw a downtrend line on the BTC chart, but it is possible to correctly draw an uptrend – indicating that the overall trend is downwards. The only mitigating factor is the impending stock market crash.
Time Symmetry Analysis of BitcoinTime is the movement from the past through the present into the future. It is a measurement in quantified intervals. In many ways, our perception of it is a human construct. It is more powerful than price as time may be utilized for a trade regardless of the market inflection point’s price. Were it possible to perfectly understand time, price would be totally irrelevant due to the predictive certainty time affords. Time structure is easier to learn than price, but much more difficult to apply with any accuracy. It is the hardest aspect of trading to learn, but also the most rewarding.
Humans do not have the ability to recognize every time window, however the ability to define market inflection points in terms of time is the single most powerful trading edge. Regardless, price should not be abandoned for time alone. Time structure analysis It is inherently flawed, as such the markets have a fail-safe, which is Price Structure. Even though Time is much more powerful, Price Structure should never be completely ignored. Time is the qualifier for Price and vice versa. Time can fail by tricking traders into counter-trend trading.
Time is a predestined trade quantifier, a filter to slow trades down, as it allows a trader to specifically focus on specific time windows and rest at others. It allows for quantitative measurements to reach deterministic values and is the primary qualifier for trends. Time structure should be utilized before price structure, and it is the primary trade criterion which requires support from price. We can see price structure on a chart, as areas of mathematical support or resistance, but we cannot see time structure.
Time may be used to tell us an exact point in the future where the market will inflect, after Price Theory has been fulfilled. In the present, price objectives based on price theory added to possible future times for market inflection points give us the exact time of market inflection points and price.
Time Structure is repetitions of time or inherent cycles of time, occurring in a methodical way to provide time windows which may be utilized for inflection points. They are not easily recognized and not easily defined by a price chart as measuring and observing time is very exact. Time structure is not a science, yet it does require precise measurements. Nothing is certain or definite. The critical question must be if a particular approach to time structure is currently lucrative or not.
We will measure it in intervals of 180 bars. Our goal is to determine time windows, when the market will react and when we should pay the most attention. By using time repetitions, the fact that market inflection points occurred at some point in the past and should, therefore, reoccur at some point in the future, we should obtain confidence as to when SPY will reach a market inflection point. Time repetitions are essentially the market’s memory. However, simply measuring the time between two points then trying to extrapolate into the future does not work. Measuring time is not the same as defining time repetitions. We will evaluate past sessions for market inflection points, whether discretes, qualified swings, or intra-range. Then records the times that the market has made highs or lows in a comparable time period to the future one seeks to trade in.
What follows is a time Histogram – A grouping of times which appear close together, then segregated based on that closeness. Time is aligned into combined histogram of repetitions and cycles, however cycles are irrelevant on a daily basis. If trading on an hourly basis, do not use hours.
Evaluating the yearly lows, we see that BTC tends to have its lows primarily at the beginning of every year, with a possibility of it being at the end of the year. Following the same methodology, we get the middle of the month as the likeliest day. However, evaluating the monthly lows for the past year, the beginning and end of the month are more likely for lows.
Therefore, we have two primary dates from our histogram.
1/1/21, 1/15/21, and 1/29/21
2:00am, 8:00am, 12:00pm, or 10:00pm
In fact, the high for this year was February the 14th, only thirty days off from our histogram calculations.
The 8.6-Year Armstrong-Princeton Global Economic Confidence model states that 2.15 year intervals occur between corrections, relevant highs and lows. 2.15 years from the all-time peak discrete is February 9, 2020 – a reasonably accurate depiction of the low for this year (which was on 3/12/20). (Taking only the Armstrong model into account, the next high should be Saturday, April 23, 2022). Therefore, the Armstrong model indicates that we have actually bottomed out for the year!
Bear markets cannot exist in perpetuity whereas bull markets can. Bear markets will eventually have price objectives of zero, whereas bull markets can increase to infinity. It can occur for individual market instruments, but not markets as a whole. Since bull markets are defined by low volatility, they also last longer. Once a bull market is indicated, the trader can remain in a long position until a new high is reached, then switch to shorts. The average bear market is eighteen months long, giving us a date of August 19th, 2021 for the end of this bear market – roughly speaking. They cannot be shorter than fifteen months for a central-bank controlled market, which does not apply to Bitcoin. (Otherwise, it would continue until Sunday, September 12, 2021.) However, we should expect Bitcoin to experience its’ exponential growth after the stock market re-enters a bull market.
Terry Laundy’s T-Theory implemented by measuring the time of an indicator from peak to trough, then using that to define a future time window. It is similar to an head-and-shoulders pattern in that it is the process of forming the right side from a synthetic technical indicator. If the indicator is making continued lows, then time is recalculated for defining the right side of the T. The date of the market inflection point may be a price or indicator inflection date, so it is not always exactly useful. It is better to make us aware of possible market inflection points, clustered with other data. It gives us an RSI low of May, 9th 2020.
The Bradley Cycle is coupled with volatility allows start dates for campaigns or put options as insurance in portfolios for stocks. However, it is also useful for predicting market moves instead of terminal dates for discretes. Using dates which correspond to discretes, we can see how those dates correspond with changes in VIX.
Therefore, our timeline looks like:
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1. What is Bitcoin (BTC)?
2. Bitcoin’s core featuresFor a more beginner’s introduction to Bitcoin, please visit Binance Academy’s guide to Bitcoin.
Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) modelA UTXO transaction works like cash payment between two parties: Alice gives money to Bob and receives change (i.e., unspent amount). In comparison, blockchains like Ethereum rely on the account model.
Nakamoto consensusIn the Bitcoin network, anyone can join the network and become a bookkeeping service provider i.e., a validator. All validators are allowed in the race to become the block producer for the next block, yet only the first to complete a computationally heavy task will win. This feature is called Proof of Work (PoW).
The probability of any single validator to finish the task first is equal to the percentage of the total network computation power, or hash power, the validator has. For instance, a validator with 5% of the total network computation power will have a 5% chance of completing the task first, and therefore becoming the next block producer.
Since anyone can join the race, competition is prone to increase. In the early days, Bitcoin mining was mostly done by personal computer CPUs.
As of today, Bitcoin validators, or miners, have opted for dedicated and more powerful devices such as machines based on Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (“ASIC”).
Proof of Work secures the network as block producers must have spent resources external to the network (i.e., money to pay electricity), and can provide proof to other participants that they did so.
With various miners competing for block rewards, it becomes difficult for one single malicious party to gain network majority (defined as more than 51% of the network’s hash power in the Nakamoto consensus mechanism). The ability to rearrange transactions via 51% attacks indicates another feature of the Nakamoto consensus: the finality of transactions is only probabilistic.
Once a block is produced, it is then propagated by the block producer to all other validators to check on the validity of all transactions in that block. The block producer will receive rewards in the network’s native currency (i.e., bitcoin) as all validators approve the block and update their ledgers.
Block productionThe Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Merkle tree data structure in order to organize hashes of numerous individual transactions into each block. This concept is named after Ralph Merkle, who patented it in 1979.
With the use of a Merkle tree, though each block might contain thousands of transactions, it will have the ability to combine all of their hashes and condense them into one, allowing efficient and secure verification of this group of transactions. This single hash called is a Merkle root, which is stored in the Block Header of a block. The Block Header also stores other meta information of a block, such as a hash of the previous Block Header, which enables blocks to be associated in a chain-like structure (hence the name “blockchain”).
An illustration of block production in the Bitcoin Protocol is demonstrated below.
Block time and mining difficultyBlock time is the period required to create the next block in a network. As mentioned above, the node who solves the computationally intensive task will be allowed to produce the next block. Therefore, block time is directly correlated to the amount of time it takes for a node to find a solution to the task. The Bitcoin protocol sets a target block time of 10 minutes, and attempts to achieve this by introducing a variable named mining difficulty.
Mining difficulty refers to how difficult it is for the node to solve the computationally intensive task. If the network sets a high difficulty for the task, while miners have low computational power, which is often referred to as “hashrate”, it would statistically take longer for the nodes to get an answer for the task. If the difficulty is low, but miners have rather strong computational power, statistically, some nodes will be able to solve the task quickly.
Therefore, the 10 minute target block time is achieved by constantly and automatically adjusting the mining difficulty according to how much computational power there is amongst the nodes. The average block time of the network is evaluated after a certain number of blocks, and if it is greater than the expected block time, the difficulty level will decrease; if it is less than the expected block time, the difficulty level will increase.
What are orphan blocks?In a PoW blockchain network, if the block time is too low, it would increase the likelihood of nodes producingorphan blocks, for which they would receive no reward. Orphan blocks are produced by nodes who solved the task but did not broadcast their results to the whole network the quickest due to network latency.
It takes time for a message to travel through a network, and it is entirely possible for 2 nodes to complete the task and start to broadcast their results to the network at roughly the same time, while one’s messages are received by all other nodes earlier as the node has low latency.
Imagine there is a network latency of 1 minute and a target block time of 2 minutes. A node could solve the task in around 1 minute but his message would take 1 minute to reach the rest of the nodes that are still working on the solution. While his message travels through the network, all the work done by all other nodes during that 1 minute, even if these nodes also complete the task, would go to waste. In this case, 50% of the computational power contributed to the network is wasted.
The percentage of wasted computational power would proportionally decrease if the mining difficulty were higher, as it would statistically take longer for miners to complete the task. In other words, if the mining difficulty, and therefore targeted block time is low, miners with powerful and often centralized mining facilities would get a higher chance of becoming the block producer, while the participation of weaker miners would become in vain. This introduces possible centralization and weakens the overall security of the network.
However, given a limited amount of transactions that can be stored in a block, making the block time too longwould decrease the number of transactions the network can process per second, negatively affecting network scalability.
3. Bitcoin’s additional features
Segregated Witness (SegWit)Segregated Witness, often abbreviated as SegWit, is a protocol upgrade proposal that went live in August 2017.
SegWit separates witness signatures from transaction-related data. Witness signatures in legacy Bitcoin blocks often take more than 50% of the block size. By removing witness signatures from the transaction block, this protocol upgrade effectively increases the number of transactions that can be stored in a single block, enabling the network to handle more transactions per second. As a result, SegWit increases the scalability of Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks like Bitcoin and Litecoin.
SegWit also makes transactions cheaper. Since transaction fees are derived from how much data is being processed by the block producer, the more transactions that can be stored in a 1MB block, the cheaper individual transactions become.
The legacy Bitcoin block has a block size limit of 1 megabyte, and any change on the block size would require a network hard-fork. On August 1st 2017, the first hard-fork occurred, leading to the creation of Bitcoin Cash (“BCH”), which introduced an 8 megabyte block size limit.
Conversely, Segregated Witness was a soft-fork: it never changed the transaction block size limit of the network. Instead, it added an extended block with an upper limit of 3 megabytes, which contains solely witness signatures, to the 1 megabyte block that contains only transaction data. This new block type can be processed even by nodes that have not completed the SegWit protocol upgrade.
Furthermore, the separation of witness signatures from transaction data solves the malleability issue with the original Bitcoin protocol. Without Segregated Witness, these signatures could be altered before the block is validated by miners. Indeed, alterations can be done in such a way that if the system does a mathematical check, the signature would still be valid. However, since the values in the signature are changed, the two signatures would create vastly different hash values.
For instance, if a witness signature states “6,” it has a mathematical value of 6, and would create a hash value of 12345. However, if the witness signature were changed to “06”, it would maintain a mathematical value of 6 while creating a (faulty) hash value of 67890.
Since the mathematical values are the same, the altered signature remains a valid signature. This would create a bookkeeping issue, as transactions in Nakamoto consensus-based blockchain networks are documented with these hash values, or transaction IDs. Effectively, one can alter a transaction ID to a new one, and the new ID can still be valid.
This can create many issues, as illustrated in the below example:
Since the transaction malleability issue is fixed, Segregated Witness also enables the proper functioning of second-layer scalability solutions on the Bitcoin protocol, such as the Lightning Network.
Lightning NetworkLightning Network is a second-layer micropayment solution for scalability.
Specifically, Lightning Network aims to enable near-instant and low-cost payments between merchants and customers that wish to use bitcoins.
Lightning Network was conceptualized in a whitepaper by Joseph Poon and Thaddeus Dryja in 2015. Since then, it has been implemented by multiple companies. The most prominent of them include Blockstream, Lightning Labs, and ACINQ.
A list of curated resources relevant to Lightning Network can be found here.
In the Lightning Network, if a customer wishes to transact with a merchant, both of them need to open a payment channel, which operates off the Bitcoin blockchain (i.e., off-chain vs. on-chain). None of the transaction details from this payment channel are recorded on the blockchain, and only when the channel is closed will the end result of both party’s wallet balances be updated to the blockchain. The blockchain only serves as a settlement layer for Lightning transactions.
Since all transactions done via the payment channel are conducted independently of the Nakamoto consensus, both parties involved in transactions do not need to wait for network confirmation on transactions. Instead, transacting parties would pay transaction fees to Bitcoin miners only when they decide to close the channel.
One limitation to the Lightning Network is that it requires a person to be online to receive transactions attributing towards him. Another limitation in user experience could be that one needs to lock up some funds every time he wishes to open a payment channel, and is only able to use that fund within the channel.
However, this does not mean he needs to create new channels every time he wishes to transact with a different person on the Lightning Network. If Alice wants to send money to Carol, but they do not have a payment channel open, they can ask Bob, who has payment channels open to both Alice and Carol, to help make that transaction. Alice will be able to send funds to Bob, and Bob to Carol. Hence, the number of “payment hubs” (i.e., Bob in the previous example) correlates with both the convenience and the usability of the Lightning Network for real-world applications.
Schnorr Signature upgrade proposalElliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (“ECDSA”) signatures are used to sign transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.
However, many developers now advocate for replacing ECDSA with Schnorr Signature. Once Schnorr Signatures are implemented, multiple parties can collaborate in producing a signature that is valid for the sum of their public keys.
This would primarily be beneficial for network scalability. When multiple addresses were to conduct transactions to a single address, each transaction would require their own signature. With Schnorr Signature, all these signatures would be combined into one. As a result, the network would be able to store more transactions in a single block.
The reduced size in signatures implies a reduced cost on transaction fees. The group of senders can split the transaction fees for that one group signature, instead of paying for one personal signature individually.
Schnorr Signature also improves network privacy and token fungibility. A third-party observer will not be able to detect if a user is sending a multi-signature transaction, since the signature will be in the same format as a single-signature transaction.
4. Economics and supply distributionThe Bitcoin protocol utilizes the Nakamoto consensus, and nodes validate blocks via Proof-of-Work mining. The bitcoin token was not pre-mined, and has a maximum supply of 21 million. The initial reward for a block was 50 BTC per block. Block mining rewards halve every 210,000 blocks. Since the average time for block production on the blockchain is 10 minutes, it implies that the block reward halving events will approximately take place every 4 years.
As of May 12th 2020, the block mining rewards are 6.25 BTC per block. Transaction fees also represent a minor revenue stream for miners.
The issues of using blockchain technologies, conducting ICOs and the use of cryptocurrencies are relevant not only for the field of law, but also for political, economic, other sciences, and are also of interest to ordinary citizens.
Labor law does not remain aloof from the development of technology, as well as globalization processes, which necessitates the conduct of relevant scientific research.
For a short time, judicial practice is changing, the approaches of state bodies in matters of cryptocurrency transactions, their theft, seizure, etc. At the same time, electronic technologies are acquiring special significance in the field of labor law. Workflow experiments, discussions about the need to introduce workbooks, electronic sick-lists, and the work of remote workers — information technologies have already found application in all these areas.
In addition, at the present time, given the globalization processes, there is a need to increase pay opportunities. It is no accident that in some countries the possibilities of a monetary form of remuneration have expanded by assuming, under certain conditions, remuneration in the currency of other states. Based on this provision, the question arises about the practical feasibility of using cryptocurrency workers as wages, as well as the use of blockchain technologies in the world of work.
Blockchain is a technology of distributed databases (registries) based on a constantly renewed chain of records. The name Cryptocurrency, meaning “cryptocurrency”, appeared in Forbes magazine in 2011. However, cryptocurrencies themselves would not have been so widespread without a blockchain system that provides all the necessary elements for circulation. Cryptocurrency is a special kind of electronic means of payment. Strictly speaking, this is a mathematical code. It is called so because of the use of cryptographic elements in the circulation of this digital money, namely, an electronic signature.
The popularity of cryptocurrencies is due to a number of factors that directly affect labor law.Such electronic money is universal regardless of the place of work, the legal form of the employer or the citizenship of the employee. Cryptocurrencies are not tied to a particular state or bank. This decentralization is one of their main advantages, which encourages many countries to start using cryptographic currencies for international payments and as reserve currencies. Bitcoin operations are increasingly being conducted on global financial markets. In the future, this factor allows creating a single world labor market, where remuneration for labor will be paid in a single form and currency, without linking this money to specific countries and existing systems. This will significantly simplify emerging issues and difficulties in relations associated with employees located abroad. This eliminates the need for multiple transfers of funds and the exchange of one currency for another.
From this point of view, I would like to draw attention to the main problems associated with the use of cryptocurrencies in remuneration.
One of the most acute problems is associated with tax legislation. Incomes of employees are taxed, while the employer, as a tax agent, performs this function for the employee. A distinctive feature of all operations with cryptocurrencies is their anonymity and lack of control. All operations occur instantly since they are not controlled by anyone and are not delayed for checks. Accordingly, the tax authorities do not know the number of funds received by the employee for the performance of his labor function, cannot personify the taxpayer and his tax burden. Similarly, the employer and employee are able to evade the payment of taxes, which is a violation of the law.
It is also important for the legislator to determine which form of labor remuneration should include cryptocurrencies. When assigned to cash, there are fewer problems with the payment and regulation of these funds, since in accordance with the above article, payments, in this case, can be made in full and the employer is not threatened with sanctions for violation of labor legislation. If you equate cryptocurrency payments to a non-monetary form of payment, then the employer has the right to pay in this way no more than 20% of the employee’s total salary per month. However, there is currently a variety of cryptocurrencies, some of which are notable for the instability and difficulty of selling by ordinary users. A wide range of cryptocurrencies at the same time can be both a plus and a minus in the issue of their use as a form of salary. The employer and employee can choose the most convenient currency for them to transfer funds. But such a variety can and can significantly interfere with the development of the institution of cryptocurrency payroll.
It should be noted that in many countries, judicial practice recognizes cryptocurrencies as property.The largest online resources specializing in the purchase and sale of electronic means of payment, there are about 1,500 types of various cryptocurrencies. And this number will only increase over time, as large companies of completely different industries, often not even related to technology and innovation, create their own cryptocurrencies.
Also, the difficulty in paying wages will be the instability of the cryptocurrency rate. Since one of the constituent parts of wages is salary, which means a fixed wage for an employee for performing labor (official) duties of a certain complexity for a calendar month without taking into account compensation, incentive, and social benefits. Accordingly, this component of wages cannot be changed according to the norms of labor legislation. And the cryptocurrency exchange rate for a given period of time is notable for its instability.
In this case, it is necessary to specify in the employment contract with the employee the method of calculating his salary. The first way is to fix the number of wages in a specific number of cryptocurrency units, regardless of their value. This method is unlikely and quite complicated for both employers and workers themselves, and for control and tax authorities.
A simpler way is to pay a salary in cryptocurrency with reference to a specific amount.
It is important to take into account the fact that, regardless of the concept chosen by the employer, the employee can suffer the most, since jumps in the cryptocurrency rate are possible in both cases, and it is the employee’s turnover, sale or personal use of electronic funds that will fall. The position in which the employee will be paid in electronic currency only part of the salary, and the remaining funds will be in the format of the usual money for everyone, will not be completely clear. Therefore, a potential user of cryptocurrency funds and a potential participant in their turnover can, unexpectedly for themselves and all those around them, suffer enormous losses and get rich quite unexpectedly.
The issue of using electronic money is of interest to employers in many countries. The development of regulations governing the circulation of cryptocurrency funds between an employer and an employee has begun almost around the world since the rise in the value of popular currencies.
Since April 1, 2017, the concept of “virtual currencies” has been introduced into the legislation of Japan, and cryptocurrencies have become a fully legalized means of payment. This event could not but affect the employment relationship. So, at the end of 2018, GMO Corporation planned to transfer about 5 thousand of its employees to the cryptocurrency form of payment. (Bitcoin.com “Japanese Internet Giant GMO Offers to Pay 4 700+ Employees in Bitcoin”).
The United States of America, as the state with the largest number of cryptocurrency users, is also actively developing relevant legislation. US authorities have created a favorable atmosphere for the use of cryptocurrencies. This is also confirmed by studies in the field of labor relations and the labor market. According to a recent release from Bitwage, it was revealed that 10.5% of the companies surveyed currently pay employees, at least in part, in bitcoins. Across the country, about 20 thousand employees are registered in this program, who, accordingly, receive wages in cryptocurrency funds (Legal Ramifications of Paying Employees with Cryptocurrency).
In order to ensure that the employee and the employer do not hide from taxation when paying wages with cryptocurrencies, some states create entire committees within financial ministries whose main function is to control cash flows and record the tax base of a particular subject of labor relations. One of these countries is Singapore, which in recent years has become the economic center of the world since most projects designed for worldwide use are tested here. Already in 2014, the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced the beginning of the process of legislative regulation of all operations with cryptocurrencies, including those related to labor relations. This body will regulate the process of payment of wages to the employee in this format all stages of the currency movement: from entering the employer company to paying the employee for his own purchases and services, thereby ensuring the security of cryptocurrency transactions and in every possible way helping employees quickly and safely enter the new payment system (Putting Singapore’s Dollar On Blockchain May Prove It’s The Most Crypto-Friendly Place On Earth).
In order for cryptocurrencies to become one of the forms of remuneration, it is necessary first of all to solve the main problems that impede the full use of electronic means in labor relations.The paramount task is the normative consolidation of all aspects related to the circulation of such financial resources. The assignment of electronic means of payment to cash will greatly simplify the mechanism for regulating these relations, as this will avoid introducing a large number of changes to existing legislation.
It is logical to solve the problem of taxation after legislative determination and consolidation, using Singaporean experience, creating a specially authorized committee in the Federal Tax Services. This will significantly save energy and money while deciding the whole layer in the use of cryptocurrency funds.
The existing mechanisms for accounting for taxable items and calculating the amount of legally established taxes and fees will not differ much from the existing ones. Therefore, from this side, the introduction of cryptocurrencies will not greatly complicate or change the current system.
The problem of a large number of different cryptocurrencies and their changing value can be solved in several ways. This may be the choice of one cryptocurrency, not necessarily Bitcoin, from among the existing ones. This decision will not create potential difficulties since a well-chosen currency by specialists at the time of consolidation will already be functioning for a long time, showing the real rate without sharp jumps, which will protect workers from depreciation situations and the inability to use their funds.
As for other blockchain technologies, it seems that the principles of smart contracts can be applied to the work of remote workers.
There is currently no established definition of smart contracts. In the most general form, you can define a smart contract as a contract with the automatic fulfillment of certain conditions. This automatic system will simplify the control of the employer over the employee.
In the case of a rem