Intel Wins Patent for An Optimized Mining Algorithm for Bitcoin

Announced on Tuesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has awarded global tech giant Intel a patent for a Bitcoin (BTC) mining algorithm, and namely for outlining a processor which claims to be able to conduct energy-efficient and high performance mining.

Previously, Intel has sought patents related to its work in the area of crypto mining. It was the chips from Intel that helped crypto mining operation which was run by 21 Inc. Later it was re-branded as Earn.com which is now part of Coinbase.

Usually Bitcoin miners get rewarded for their contribution by receiving transaction fees and block reward.  Generally, mining machines for the BTC network need hardware accelerations such as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), and thus they require a huge amount of energy.

It is known that the most expensive operation in Bitcoin mining is verifying the validity of a 32-bit nonce, which translates to verifying a number or strings of bits which are used only once in a transaction. Therefore, these hardware accelerators are requisite for processing 32-bit nonces. However, the current ASICs process these transactions in several stages with some redundancies.

The 32-bit nonce may be the part of a 1024-bit input message including the Merkle root, which is essentially the hash of the last block and other parameters. The 1024-bit message may be hashed by using three stages of a secure and safe hash algorithm that is SHA-256 to produce a 256-bit hash value.

The current patent is related to hardware accelerators and specifically to a processing system that includes hardware accelerator implementing SHA-256 hashing utilizing optimized data paths.

Hardwiring these parameters would lower the number of computations required, it says, estimating that such a system would reduce the amount of power needed for a chip by 15 percent. The resulting chip would also be smaller than those used for Bitcoin miners at present.

The patent also hints that changing how much of the 32-bit nonce is compared for validity could further lower power requirements.

The patent further notes that instead of differentiating the final hashing result with the target value, the Bitcoin mining application may possibly decide whether the hash out has a minimal number of leading zeros.

Amazon Web Services Is Launching Two Blockchain Services

Amazon’s tech branch Amazona Web Services (AWS) is launching two blockchain services to enable clients develop blockchain networks.

This was announced on Wednesday at Amazon’s re:Invent conference. Amazon Managed Blockchain platform is a fully managed service that makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks. Users can build platforms using either Hyperledger Fabric or Ethereum, although the latter is not yet available.

 “Amazon Managed Blockchain eliminates the overhead required to create the network and automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions,” the service’s website says.

Further, the company announced that the blockchain platform can store data on another database product, saying:

“Managed Blockchain can replicate an immutable copy of your blockchain network activity into Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), a fully managed ledger database. This allows you to easily analyze the network activity outside the network and gain insights into trends.”

The Quantum Ledger Database is not a blockchain platform, but can be used in conjunction with Amazon’s blockchain product to maintain a complete and verifiable history of changes in data. QLDB is a ledger database designed to provide transparent, immutable, and cryptographically verifiable log of transactions, which is overseen by a central trusted authority. All changes are purportedly recorded on chain, while the new product is also able to automatically scale and offer quick transactions on the network.

Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), reportedly said that the product will be scalable, will provide much more flexible and robust set of APIs for anyone to make changes or adjustments to the ledger database.

The service is currently available for preview and users can already sign up. If they get approved, they will be able to start building blockchain networks, at which point they can either invite other Amazon Web Services members or create more members in their account to simulate a multi-member network.

Amazon is one of the tech giants seeking to profit from offering blockchain services to others. The fact that it only offers centralized solutions however will only likely appeal to corporate clients that are comfortable with Amazon controlling all of their data and systems.

Coinbase Quietly Launched Its OTC Trading Desk

Coinbase opened its over-the-counter (OTC) crypto trading desk earlier this month.

Sandler, discussing the matter in an exclusive interview, noted that Coinbase recently launched an OTC desk behind closed doors to complement its existing exchange business. Explaining that this venture was motivated by the presence of valid interest, admitting that Coinbase’s OTC launch was opportunistic, stating:

“We found that a lot of institutions are using OTC to on-ramp [their fiat] for crypto trading. And so we felt that this was a huge benefit for our clients to leverage our exchange and our OTC desk. So, we’re agency-only and we have plans to expand the service to offer delayed settlement and integration into our custody platform as well.”

In an OTC transaction, a trade takes place between two parties directly, unlike on an exchange where orders are matched between third-party buyers and sellers.

Currently, the OTC service is available for Coinbase Prime customers – that is, financial institutions looking to trade with business funds. Unlike Coinbase’s competitors, Coinbase will not only trade on a proprietary basis, but will also match client orders. This bodes well for users of the service, resulting in lower fees and lower settlement times.

Going forward, the service is likely to be integrated with Coinbase Custody – its institutional product available for hedge funds and other high-net-worth clients that was launched in July.

Coinbase first revealed its plan to offer an OTC trading desk in June, when Asiff Hirji, its chief operating officer and president said that acquiring regulatory licenses would help the firm take a path to offer future services that include crypto securities trading, margin and over-the-counter (OTC) trading.

Recently, the exchange received approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services to form a qualified custodial firm for cryptocurrencies.

With the launch, Coinbase joins other notable crypto firms in offering OTC services. Circle also has an OTC desk called Circle Trade, available for both individual and institutional investors with a minimum ticket size of $250,000.

Also, back in April, U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Gemini, founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, unveiled block trading in Bitcoin and Ether, which allows customers to make high-volume trades that won’t appear in the exchange’s order book until they’ve been filled.

The Hacked Japanese Crypto Exchange Coincheck Has Reinstated Their Services

Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck has now returned and resumed its activities after suffering a security hack, reinstating services for all listed cryptos on its platform.

Coincheck became a victim of hackers back in January, as a result of their attack the exchange lost funds worth over $530 million in NEM tokens. The attack was later considered to be the biggest crypto theft in the history and resulted into increased regulatory scrutiny of crypto exchanges in the country. Subsequently, Monex Group, a Japanese online brokerage firm had acquired Coincheck for around $33.5 million following the hack.

Announced on Monday, it has been revealed that as of now Coincheck is resuming trading pairs for XRP and Factom (FCT) tokens.

The news of Ripple (XRP) and Factom (FCT) token trading means Coincheck is now operating services for all “tradable cryptocurrencies” on the platform. These include, aside from the two mentioned above: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), NEM (XEM), lisk (LSK). According to the report, two weeks ago Coincheck had resumed trading of NEM (XEM), the token which bore the brunt of its losses, while further functionality was restored at the end of October.

At the same time, the exchange has also started accepting new account signups for customers based in Japan, which had been previously suspended and blocked as regulator-mandated improvements at the exchange were underway.

Following this, the exchange seeks to resume several other features, which include leveraged transactions, Japanese yen depositing through convenience stores and a scheme that lets users pay power bills with crypto, according to its Monday announcement.

Last month, Coincheck reported a loss of $5.25 million (588 million Japanese yen) for the third quarter period (Q2 in the Japanese financial year) as a result of the hack. Currently, according to data taken from CoinMarketCap the exchange has assisted about $31 million in trading volume on its platform within the past 24 hours.

Ohio Becomes the First U.S. State to Accept Bitcoin Payments for Taxes

Ohio appears to become the first U.S. state to accept Bitcoin (BTC) as a form of paying tax bills, thus showing support for the cryptocurrency industry that has garnered lots of hype.

Published by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, a report states that starting this week, operating businesses within the Ohio state will be able to pay with BTC a variety of taxes, ranging from tobacco sales tax to employee withholding tax to public utilities tax. According to the article, it is currently available only to businesses, however there are plans to extend the offering to individual taxpayers in the future.

The filing process will proceed through a portal called OhioCrypto.com. Businesses are required to register with the Office of the Ohio Treasurer via the portal and respectively enter their tax details such as payment amount and tax period, and ultimately the due amount is paid in BTC using a “compatible” crypto wallet, which include the Bitcoin Core client, Mycelium and BreadWallet, and others that are compatible with the Bitcoin Payment Protocol. The tax payments are reportedly set to be processed through the Atlanta-based crypto payments service BitPay.

This act is of significant importance as lawmakers in other U.S. states (Illinois, Arizona, Georgia) have considered in the past, the idea of allowing tax payments in cryptocurrencies. However, many have discarded the possibility due to insufficient votes for the proposal or the lack of understanding how to use cryptocurrencies.

Nonetheless, Ohio has been working to bring other aspects of blockchain technology into law as well. Over the summer, the state legally recognized data stored and transacted on a blockchain, which means that electronic signatures obtained through blockchain technology have the same legal standing as any other electronic signatures. Lately, Ohio lawmakers have been advertising their state as a future center for blockchain, hoping to attract companies in the space and as well as blockchain talent to the jurisdiction.