Disclaimer: This article has been updated to reflect that BTC.Top has begun signaling for Taproot activation.
The top-10 Bitcoin (BTC) mining pools by hash rate distribution are now signaling for Taproot activation with BTC.Top being the latest among them as of the time of writing.
Indeed, 90% of Bitcoin’s hash rate briefly signaled for the protocol upgrade with the figure now standing at about 73%.
Tweeting on Monday, crypto exchange giant Binance announced that Binance Pool had begun signaling for Taproot. According to the Taproot Signal Twitter bot, Binance Pool’s maiden Taproot signal occurred at block height 683,878.
Based on community feedback, #Binance Pool has begun signaling for Taproot.
— Binance (@binance) May 17, 2021
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the two largest Bitcoin mining pools — AntPool and F2Pool — were among the earliest supporters of the protocol upgrade in the mining arena. SlushPool — the 12th-largest pool by hash rate distribution — was the first to mine the first transaction block with a Taproot signal.
BTC.Top, the last of the top-10 pools to signal for Taproot, did so on block height 683,945. The mining pool had previously announced that it had completed the testing protocols necessary to begin including Taproot activation signals in mined transaction blocks.
Data from Taproot.watch, a webpage created by Bitcoin developer Hampus Sjöberg, shows there have been multiple occasions of at least 10 successive blocks with Taproot signals during the current difficulty epoch.
However, with 190 non-signaling blocks so far, Taproot activation being locked in during this current difficulty window appears unlikely. The protocol upgrade can only move forward if 90% out of the 2,016 mined blocks in a difficulty epoch include an activation signal.
At 190 blocks, the non-signaling blocks are now over 9%. At 202 non-signaling blocks, the Taproot lock-in threshold requirement will be pushed to the next difficulty adjustment in about 11 days.
Taproot activation must be locked in before Aug. 11 for the network upgrade to happen in November. If that happens, it will arguably be the most notable protocol-level improvement in the last four years for the largest crypto by market capitalization.
The Taproot upgrade will essentially mask spending conditions prescribed by transacting parties, a feature touted to have significant implications for both privacy and smart contract capabilities of the Bitcoin protocol.
Cardano Will Be On Par With Ethereum: Interview With IOHK CTO (Exclusive)
2021 has been an incredible year for cryptocurrencies as we saw one of, if not the biggest, bull markets so far.
This had the spotlight put over many projects, and Cardano was no exception – just on the contrary. The proof-of-stake blockchain platform enjoyed the attention of the entire cryptocurrency community and even celebrities and people from outside of it. After all, the legendary rock star Gene Simmons announced a $300K ADA buyback in February, attracting even more eyes to the project.
But that’s not even the cherry on top of the cake. Cardano saw a whole lot of developments going on in 2021. The team partnered up with two countries in Africa – Ethiopia, and Tanzania – and it will be working to create digital identities, mobile internet connection, and financial acceptance to the communities in these countries.
As the project prepares for the rollout of the testnet of its long-awaited smart contracts platform, its ecosystem continues to expand. On more than one occasion, Charles Hoskinson, founder at Cardano, revealed the multiple participants in it, saying that the platform is massively oversubscribed already.
Amid all this, CryptoPotato had the chance to interview the Chief Technology Officer of IOHK – the software development company behind Cardano, Romain Pellerin, during Miami’s Bitcoin 2021, which turned out to be the biggest-ever crypto conference.
2021 Bull Market Just Part of the Reasons for Cardano’s Explosive Growth
When asked whether the bull market was the reason for the project’s massive growth in 2021, Pellerin said that it’s just part of the reasons.
He argued that they had already seen serious price action in the past whenever they would release new products.
“I looked at the price movements when we released software and we had a lot of price action last summer, before this bull market – when we released the Shelley update.”
He argued that the services launched at the time, including the staking business, was a primary reason for building a huge community of over 2,000 Pareto stakeholders running the network.
“About 70% of ADA is staked. And all of this contributed to the price action. And I think we benefited from the bull market and after all, you have the amplification of the overall industry, so we benefit from that.” – Added Pellerin.
In general, the CTO said that new users are attracted by the new features of the system. He said that “every time we launch a new feature like staking or running a pool, or the ability to launch NFTs, there are more people interested in Cardano. In fact, he pointed out that there are more than 50,000 tokens now on Cardano.
Blockchains are networks and the value of the network is in the number of users. We can see a growth in terms of new users and the price is somewhat correlated to that.
Cardano vs. Ethereum: An Unfair Comparison
When discussing the competition between Cardano and Ethereum – one that’s put forward plenty of times by community members, Pellerin said that he’s not exactly sure why people compare the two projects.
“I’m not sure why Cardano is compared to Ethereum. Ethereum is a proof-of-work blockchain. We run a different ledger model.“
Nevertheless, he did add that Cardano will be on par.
“We (Cardano) have smart contracts capabilities and we will be on par with Ethereum in terms of functionality. But we are very different to Ethereum technically – proof of stake vs. proof of work, and also in the way we develop the network.
We are way more research-focused and we build slowly but our system is robust to support the open financial system of tomorrow. When you look at Ethereum, their approach is rapid prototyping and releasing fast, but at the end it’s a prototype, and we are not building a prototype.”
However, he believes that the community shouldn’t pin projects against each other but rather work together as we all “have to convince the world to use blockchain.”
When asked whether he sees a future where Cardano replaces Ethereum and becomes second to Bitcoin, the IOHK CTO said that he does not think that really matters as we are currently seeing sort of a “verticalization of blockchains to tackle a particular industry – supply chain or financial, for example.”
Moreover, he said that he can’t see what’s going to happen going forward but outlined a few things that Cardano does that “Ethereum is not even looking at.”
For example, Ethereum is not funding projects and innovation from a treasury accruing in value at each block, and a decentralized governance system like Cardano does via its Catalyst initiative. The current treasury of Cardano is about a billion dollars, according to Pellerin.
“It’s a lot of money to fund projects and create a great ecosystem, right?”
0.01% Energy Consumption of Bitcoin
Energy consumption and ESG standards have been a focal point for the entire industry ever since Elon Musk slammed Bitcoin for being too energy-intensive.
Touching on this point, Pellerin pointed out that Cardano’s energy consumption is “0.01% of Bitcoin. But it’s logical because we don’t use proof of work. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Our proof of stake system is designed not to rely on hashing power, so, in fact, we will always be greener than every proof of work blockchain.”
He also said that the energy consumption issues of Bitcoin aren’t just going to go away.
“This [hashing power] is only going to keep increasing because people are fighting for the next block. They are trying to put in more power to win over other mining pools. So, it’s sort of concerning – not for now, but for the future – imagine if most of the financial system runs on Bitcoin – how much consumption will be in 10 years?”
Pellerin also said that some networks such as Ethereum are already innovating (with the transition to PoS) and that we might be surprised that Bitcoin does something in this regard one day, and added that Bitcoin’s algorithm is not decentralizing things:
“Look at Bitcoin – it’s centralized around huge mining farms which are all concentrated in some part of the world like China and other countries. In Cardano, we have 2,000 stakepool operators scattered across the world, which are producing blocks – and it keeps growing.”
Cardano’s Marlowe: When Smart Contracts On Cardano?
Arguably the hottest topic within the Cardano community is that of smart contract capability and when it will be available on the network.
Speaking on the matter, Pellerin discussed Marlowe – the most recent network update that will introduce smart contracts to Cardano.
“First, it’s important to mention that Marlowe is running on Plutus – our smart contract virtual machine/engine, so to speak. It’s functional programming, so kind of dedicated to experts.
On top of that, we build what we call domain-specific languages that are dedicated to a particular industry. Marlowe is for the financial industry and implements ACTUS standards, which, for example, defines how you transact with escrow and how you actually write that transaction and formalize it through standards. It’s also greatly adapted to create decentralized finance applications (DeFi) while supporting the original language of institutions – financial institutions. It’s very simple for them because they are already used to that language.”
In any case, the CTO confirmed that they are fine-tuning everything through Alonzo’s testnet and that “with great feedback from the community,” they expect smart contracts to be live on the mainnet in the coming summer of 2021, without providing a specific date.
Pellerin also touched on the overall growth of the entire ecosystem, saying that there are more than 2,000 developers working on applications and attending courses in the context of the Plutus Pioneer Program.
What is Phemex’s all-new Learn and Earn program?
A decade ago, Bitcoin was merely a philosophical research paper for a new type of digital currency. Today, there is no major technology or financial publication or news portal with no cryptocurrency stories or blockchain news.
From being ridiculed as magic internet money backed by thin air to narratives of the wild west, nerdy money, get-rich-quick schemes, and gaining mainstream consciousness as we settle into 2021, the crypto industry has indeed seen it all.
Since Bitcoin’s inception over ten years ago, things have changed considerably. Industries across the world have embraced its underlying blockchain technology. Its main characteristics include decentralization, transparency, immutability, and automation that has the potential to create a multitude of use cases and replace legacy frameworks.
The digital asset industry has not been that lucky. The narrative of “Blockchain, not Bitcoin,” is still very much prevalent in several regions. Countries struggling with political instability and hyperinflation, such as Venezuela, and Argentina have witnessed a formidable interest in cryptocurrencies. The sentiment resembled the nations that have a massive unbanked local population.
Today, the great dream of cryptocurrency is still very much alive despite all its struggles. The cryptocurrency industry has not only unlocked access to financial services for users around the globe it has also opened avenues for new applications. The remittance, for one, can be a nightmare for many living in developing countries. Crypto and blockchain technology aims to settle transactions instantly with significantly lower or even negligible fees.
The main objective behind asset-backed tokens, on the other hand, is to grant ownership to assets like real estate and precious metals. In addition, stablecoins have their own use cases and have seen unprecedented growth because they trade uniformly with fiat. The list does not end there.
While pessimism has dwindled, there is still plenty of skepticism around the entire asset class.
What’s impeding crypto adoption?
There are numerous reasons for the hindrance. But one that stands out is the lack of education. It is a daunting issue that plagues the cryptocurrency industry even today, in this day and age when everything is just one click away. Many people don’t understand the industry. It is as simple as that.
The digital asset realm is a complex one. While there are plenty of resources to fall back on, there need to be better and more accessible vehicles, one that is perfectly curated for the newbies – simple and easy-to-follow lessons on everything crypto and blockchain. And what’s better than earning a reward for learning this groundbreaking technology? Seems far-fetched? Not anymore. Pemex’s newly launched program dubbed ‘Learn and Earn’ aims to do just that.
Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Phemex is one of the most prominent platforms in the world. Just two years since it was first launched, Phemex has already emerged as one of the most trustworthy exchanges in the industry. Its user base exploded quickly to over a million traders, thanks to user-friendly platforms and unique offerings.
It has recently rolled out an all-new educational program called “Learn and Earn,” which aims to provide users with simplified concepts on different cryptocurrency and blockchain-related concepts. This program includes an in-depth course structure coupled with intuitive lessons and interactive videos that offer a unique and fun learning process. But it does not end there.
Phemex plans to reward its users via Learn and Earn after the completion of each lesson. How? Users will have to take a short quiz to test their knowledge, and if all the answers are correct, they will be incentivized.
It is one of the most beginner-friendly and fun ways to learn more about the new financial world. Learn and Earn is put together into a few fundamental courses, each comprising its own set of sub-lessons. These cover introductory passages, explainer videos, and a final quiz for users to test their knowledge. Upon answering all questions correctly, Phemex offers a reward in the form of trading bonuses and cryptocurrencies.
Lean and Earn’s first set of courses proceed with the platform’s essential features. This program encompasses some core concepts about the workings of cryptocurrencies and the process of buying, trading, and selling them on an exchange. Rewards will be in the form of trading bonuses that participants can use with perpetual contracts on Phemex to exercise their proficiency on the subject matter.
In the days to come, Phemex also plans to broaden its course material and reward users directly in cryptocurrency assets. However, in order to receive rewards, the users are required to complete KYC protocols. As of now, the program is not widely available, but the team behind the project is working on expanding the Lean and Earn initiative on a global scale.
In short, Learn And Earn aims to cater to mainly the beginner but is also available for experienced crypto enthusiasts who seek to know more about the industry and how to trade digital assets seamlessly. This program is essentially for everyone who wants clarity and eventually wants to foray into the trading space of cryptocurrencies but does not know where to begin. It is open to anyone who wants to build a passive income stream by just learning about cryptocurrencies.
Incentivising users for learning about the technology, what a great way to spur adoption as well as trading activity! This will help more and more individuals dispel myths and filter out FUDs and FOMOs that are often endorsed by the critics and the flag bearers of centralized financial infrastructure.
What is ‘bitcoin business driving’, for MicroStrategy
The Bitcoin community has been in a feud with the centralized authorities for a very long time mainly because of the increasing restrictions and scrutiny the sector has faced. A majority of the proponents in the crypto ecosystem express a profound unease about central banks; many have equated cash to ‘trash’ and a ‘melting ice cube,’ while Bitcoin, on the other hand, is touted as “digital gold.”
Consider this industry leader, Michael Saylor, who’s been backing Bitcoin irrespective of the skepticism around it. As per Bitcoin Treasuries, the publicly traded enterprise software firm MicroStrategy made three massive purchases in less than a year. At the time of writing, the firm holds approximately 91,326 Bitcoin. According to US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing, the said firm plans to sell class A common stock, worth $1 billion to buy more of the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
— CNBC’s Fast Money (@CNBCFastMoney) June 15, 2021
“I think in the past 12 months, we have all been waiting for inflation, and I think we are seeing it now. I think investors are seeing that bitcoin is up by 330% and gold is up 7% in that period. So, bitcoin is outperforming gold as an inflation hedge by a factor of 50.”
When Saylor was asked whether Microstrategy’s investors were ok with the firm doubling down on BTC, he added:
“It’s actually an ideal situation, because our stock was trading about $120 a share with $60 a share in cash. Our investors told us that cash was trash, it was a liability on our balance sheet. If we had given it all back, we would be trading at $60 a share… The core of the business is up 10%, the bitcoin business is driving shareholder returns
Ecoinometrics’ illustration in its latest newsletter incorporates inflation as a parameter to provide data on the yield for gold vs Bitcoin.
Inflation- Gold and real yield
Inflation- Bitcoin and real yield
Bitcoin’s impressive surge as compared to Gold is one of the many reasons for its increasing institutional and retail investors. A recent addition, billionaire Paul Tudor Jones admitted his affection towards ‘Bitcoin as a portfolio diversifier’ and aims to double or triple his allocation into BTC.
Having said that, the following statement did come as a surprise to Saylor. He stated:
“I’m surprised they are not increasing their allocation by a factor of 10 because Bitcoin is 50 times better (than Gold).”
Although volatility has been an issue, Microstrategy investors and shareholders remain Bitcoin supporters for a long period as evident from their bitcoin holding activities.
Saylor, a vocal Bitcoin enthusiast, also shared his point of view on Ethereum. He said:
“ETH is a digital application that is looking to dematerialize the JPMorgan building, the banking establishments, and all of the exchanges.”
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