Ethereum Classic Successfully Completes Hard Fork Upgrade

The team behind Ethereum Classic (ETC) has successfully activated the Atlantis hard fork upgrade which brings additional functionality and compatibility with Ethereum (ETH).

With the hard fork completed at block 8,772,000, all software users are required to upgrade their clients in order to continue using the main chain.

Afri Schoedon coordinated the upgrade process and congratulated everyone involved for a job well done.

“And we are on Atlantis. Congratulations, everyone,” said Afri Schoedon during a public dev call.

This hard fork was implemented to improve security, add opcodes, precompiled contracts and zk-SNARKs, as well as introduce compatibility with the Ethereum blockchain, making it easier to collaborate between the blockchains.

Ethereum Classic was itself a fork of Ethereum following the DAO hack, which at the time split the community. While the projects remain separate, they still share many of the same goals.

While ETC Labs worked together with Chainsafe System and ETC Cooperative to go through with the hard fork, Atlantis was well-received and backed by the whole community.

Data shows that over 60 percent of nodes and over 75 percent of hashing power had confirmed the upgrade. Following the hard fork announcement, ETC has received support from an array of industry players, including major cryptocurrency exchanges.

ETC Lab’s president Terry Culver also stated that Atlantis is a step forward for collaboration with Ethereum. Many of Atlantis’ Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP) have been on Ethereum for some time. With the improved compatibility, the two platforms can now benefit from a cross-over collaboration.

“The hard fork clearly shows we are committed to compatibly and working with ethereum,” Culver said. “What we would like to do is find ways to make the two chains support one another.”

The team behind Ethereum Classic said they are not finished and they will continue to strive to make improvements to the blockchain with upcoming upgrades Agharta and Atzlan. The results of Atlantis fork are set to be reviewed along with ETC’s future at the ETC Summit, scheduled for the beginning of October.

CasperLabs Raises $14 Million to Work on Scalability with Zamfir as a Researcher

Blockchain startup CasperLabs announced it has raised $14.5 million in a series A funding round, which was led by Terren Piezer, an International financier and chairman of Los Angeles-based investment company, Acuitas Group Holdings.

According to the news published on September 10th, CasperLabs is an open-source blockchain that seeks to achieve scale without sacrificing decentralization and has recently raised $14.5 million in a Series A round. CasperLabs stated that the new funds will be used for product development and hiring of new engineers.

The startup launched in February with Ethereum Foundation researcher Vlad Zamfir acting as lead consensus protocol architect. The platform is said to remove barriers that prevent mainstream blockchain adoption and is powered by the first implementation of Zamfir’s CBC Casper proof-of-stake protocol.

Currently, it is working to solve the trilemma of scale, decentralization and security  as well as building a developer-friendly platform to build and operate decentralized apps (dApps), based on a version of proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus protocol – specifically Zamfir’s Correct-by-Construction (CBC) Casper PoS.

Mrinal Manohar co-founder and CEO of CasperLabs’ parent firm ADAPtive Holdings has shared his has stated that several technical updates are to be expected in the coming months. He further noted that they welcome any and all feedback via their open source code repository on Github.

Medha Parlikar, CTO of CasperLabs said that the company will be investing in their core technical team, as well as important initiatives including ecosystem support, usability and experience, and more.

“We have been working hard to build the first concrete protocol implementation of CBC-Casper that is provably live and safe. The CBC-Casper whitepaper doesn’t define the complete protocol, so we’re excited to share some big news on this topic soon,” concluded Parlikar.

The funding round was led by financier Terren Peizer, dubbed the “Zelig of Wall Street”, through his personal holding company – Acuitas Group Holdings. Piezer has a long track record in the investment banking world having worked at Goldman Sachs, First Boston, Drexel and more.

Peizer said he had been following and studying the blockchain space since its early days and had been waiting for a company that could build the strength and decentralized aspects of a public chain with the speed, security, and scalability of a next-gen platform.

He further added:

“Scalability of a product and company is the leading driver of value creation. Consistently, the most proficiently scalable company becomes the industry leader.”

Other investors who took part in the funding round include Arrington XRP Capital, Consensus Capital, Axiom Holdings Group, Digital Strategies, MW Partners, Blockchange Ventures, Hashkey Capital, and Distributed Global.

Deloitte Launches Blockchain-In-A-Box Platform

Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” auditing and consulting firms, has announced the launch of a new mobile blockchain-based platform designed to help businesses showcase their blockchain solutions to clients.

According to a press release, the consulting giant has revealed the launch of the Blockchain in a Box (BIAB) platform – the mobile, self-contained technology platform which has been designed to provide intuitive, tangible blockchain demonstrations and experimentations.

The new platform is designed to host blockchain-based solutions across four small-form-factor compute nodes and three video displays, which can be linked to external services such as traditional cloud technologies and storage.

Secure Digital (SD) cards can be used with each of the compute nodes to allow companies to quickly demonstrate and share demo solutions tailored to specific client needs. The approach provides developers with a tool for creating and sharing dapps with a minimal amount of hardware.

Linda Pawczuk, principal at Deloitte Consulting and U.S. blockchain lead, has commented on the product launch and stated that the solution has been developed in response to growing client interest in understanding blockchain capabilities in live interactions.

She further added:

“What’s often misunderstood about blockchain is that it is an entirety of a technology solution – when in reality, it’s a technology component that enables larger business applications and approaches. Our mobile demonstration is practical, tactical and most importantly, tangible to clients.”

The company revealed that the solution has already been showcased to a number of clients as well as the broader blockchain and emerging technology community at multiple conferences, including Consensus 2019.

Chih-Wei Yi, principal at Deloitte & Touche, said that “each time we have used the BIAB to facilitate exploration, the reaction is that of curiosity and excitement where the audience leaves with a deeper understanding of blockchain and how the use cases are implemented.”

In May, the consulting giant released its 2019 Global Blockchain Survey, which found that businesses still struggle with where to get started when it comes to developing proofs-of-concept that capitalize on the unique features of distributed ledger technology.

According to the survey, only 23% of the firms polled deployed a blockchain component to their businesses in 2019, compared to 34% the previous year. However, 53% of those polled agreed that blockchain will be critically important to their organization—a 10% rise over the previous year.

Meanwhile, Deloitte has been investing in blockchain over the past year, and the company’s efforts can be seen with a number of partnerships. Most recently, Deloitte has joined hands with IDEO CoLab, Amazon, Fidelity and several other corporations to develop a blockchain targeted business accelerator called Startup Studio.

The program will provide workshops to blockchain startups to help them strengthen a variety of skills, including product design, law and engineering, smart contract development, and finance and hiring, amongst others.

In addition to that, in May Deloitte partnered with three Irish banks develop a blockchain credentialing platform. The project aims to enable banks to have a single view of all their employees’ qualifications and learning where the employees keep control of the data in their own software wallets. The company developed the Ethereum-based tool using its dedicated EMEA Blockchain Lab.

Austria’s High-Tech Passport Maker Released Its Own Cryptocurrency Hardware Wallet

Youniqx Identity AG, a subsidiary of the Austrian State Printing House (Oesterreichische Staatsdruckerei or OeSD), has developed a cryptocurrency hardware wallet, according to a press release published on July 29th.

The Austrian printing company dates back to the early 1800s and is a safe and secure printing company that has become the country’s high-tech passport maker and provider of other secure identity solutions.

The new device is aimed to address the vulnerability of online wallets to hacking, which are a great security risk according to the printing firm. The hardware wallet — named Chainlock — will enable the offline storage of private keys with access to cryptocurrency wallets. The device is apparently capable of generating the private key in a (patent applied for) high-security enclave, meaning it cannot be viewed by any outside party including Youniqx or OeSD employees.

Whilst the wallet can be managed through an app, it is secure from unauthorized access to private keys over the internet, WiFi and NFC. Notably, crypto-stealing malware like CryptoLocker cannot access keys on the device.

Chainlock will take the form of a credit-card sized sliver of plastic which is also water and heat resistant. The wallet will be available via the firm’s partners, including Tokenize Exchange in Singapore and Coinfinity in Central Europe. Priced at €59.99 (around $67) including VAT, the Chainlock wallet is currently available for Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Although the Austrian State Printing House is traditionally a high tech paper printer, which specializes in identity document manufacturing that implements and offers personalization solutions for identity documents such as Austrian passport, it has recently moved into more high-tech digital identity and security offerings, some of which YOUNIQX was set up to develop. The subsidiary has already launched a secure video identification service MICK (My Identity Check), and MIA (My Identity App), which is an integrated identity management platform.

The new wallet is equipped with anti-fraud features that are available via Coinfinity. Some of its anti-fraud features are similar to those found on newer forms of passports or fiat currency, which have micro-printing on both sides, hologram, as well as a continuous color gradient, tactile texturing and UV and infrared-visible patterns.

Grant Thornton Reveals the Firm Audited $10 Billion Worth of Cryptoassets

Most recently, international auditing firm Grant Thornton has revealed that it has audited more than $10 billion worth in cryptoassets within the first quarter of 2019. On top of that, these audits accounted for 40 different cryptocurrencies across more than 100 million addresses.

Founded in Chicago in 1924, Grant Thornton LLP (Grant Thornton) is the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms. The global auditing firm has revenues over $1.8 billion and works with a broad range of public and private companies, government agencies, financial institutions, as well as civic and religious organizations.

Johnny Lee, national practice leader for Forensic Technology Services at Grant Thornton, has noted in a statement that

“Cryptocurrency companies must contend with an auditing challenge that is at once simple and complex. First, can you prove that you own and control the assets you are claiming as yours? And, second, do those assets really exist – and can you prove as much?

Whilst inconsistencies have been discovered between the blockchains and balance sheets, the firm was not allowed to disclose such cases.

Markus Veith, a partner in the Audit practice at Grant Thornton and leader of the firm’s Digital Assets practice, has disclosed that the firm had spent 4 years developing technology platforms and auditing methodologies which would allow creating point-in-time balances for cryptocurrencies.

Grant Thornton’s proprietary hybrid-cloud audit platform allows the firm to provide a wide range of solutions to its clients. The platform has audited for 40 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple, EOS, Monero, Zcash, USDC and all ERC20- compliant tokens.

In addition to that, Veith said the firm has also created proprietary methods for testing the ownership and existence of each of these currencies, with features that are more efficient and effective than public blockchain-explorers would otherwise provide.

To scale these capabilities to the rapid testing of tens of millions of addresses, the firm has generated proprietary forensic nodes for certain complex currencies such as ETH, BTC, BCH.

Currently, the firm serves between 15 and 20 clients that are highly leveraged in crypto assets, including prominent crypto-denominated exchanges.

Since launching four years ago with one institutional client that only held BTC, the firm had taken a risk to innovate and challenged itself to take on more digital assets. According to the firm, since the market bottomed out in 2018, the firm’s clients have diversified their portfolios. Noteworthy, Grant Thornton has also become the firm of record for Coinbase’s USDC.