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MultiChain Feeds for Database Integration

Getting data out of the blockchain and into the wider world With the first public release of MultiChain, way back in 2015, we saw interest in blockchain applications from a surprising direction. While we had originally designed MultiChain to enable the issuance, transfer and custody of digital assets, an increasing number of users were interested… Read more »

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Getting data out of the blockchain and into the wider world

With the first public release of MultiChain, way back in 2015, we saw interest in blockchain applications from a surprising direction. While we had originally designed MultiChain to enable the issuance, transfer and custody of digital assets, an increasing number of users were interested in using it for data-oriented applications.

In these use cases, the blockchain’s purpose is to enable the storage and retrieval of general purpose information, which need not be financial in nature. The motivation for using a blockchain rather than a regular database is to avoid relying on a trusted intermediary to host and maintain that database. For commercial, regulatory or political reasons, the database’s users want this to be a distributed rather than a centralized responsibility.

The Evolution of Streams

In response to this feedback, in 2016 we introduced MultiChain streams, which provide a simple abstraction for the storage, indexing and retrieval of general data on a blockchain. A chain can contain any number of streams, each of which can be restricted for writing by certain addresses. Each stream item is tagged by the address of its publisher as well as an optional key for future retrieval. Each node can independently decide whether to subscribe to each stream, indexing its items in real-time for rapid retrieval by key, publisher, time, block, or position. Streams were an instant hit with MultiChain’s users and strongly differentiated it from other enterprise blockchain platforms.

In 2017, streams were extended to support native JSON and Unicode text, multiple keys per item and multiple items per transaction. This last change allows over 10,000 individual data items to be published per second on high-end hardware. Then in 2018, we added seamless support for off-chain data, in which only a hash of some data is published on-chain, and the data itself is delivered off-chain to nodes who want it. And later that year we released MultiChain 2.0 Community with Smart Filters, allowing custom JavaScript code to perform arbitrary validation of stream items.

During 2019 our focus turned to MultiChain 2.0 Enterprise, the commercial version of MultiChain for larger customers. The first Enterprise Demo leveraged off-chain data in streams to allow read permissioning, encrypted data delivery, and the selective retrieval and purging of individual items. As always, the underlying complexity is hidden behind a simple set of APIs relating to permissions and stream items. With streams, our goal has consistently been to help developers focus on their application’s data, and not worry about the blockchain running behind the scenes.

The Database Dilemma

As MultiChain streams have continued to evolve, we’ve been faced with a constant dilemma. For reading and analyzing the data in a stream, should MultiChain go down the path of becoming a fully-fledged database? Should it be offering JSON field indexing, optimized querying and advanced reporting? If so, which database paradigm should it use – relational (like MySQL or SQL Server), NoSQL (MongoDB or Cassandra), search (Elastic or Solr), time-series (InfluxDB) or in-memory (SAP HANA)? After all, there are blockchain use cases suited to each of those approaches.

One option we considered is using an external database as MultiChain’s primary data store, instead of the current combination of embedded LevelDB and binary files. This strategy was adopted by Chain Core (discontinued), Postchain (not yet public) and is available as an option in Hyperledger Fabric. But ultimately we decided against this approach, because of the risks of depending on an external process. You don’t really want your blockchain node to freeze because it lost its database connection, or because someone is running a complex query on its data store.

Another factor to consider is technology and integration agnosticism. In a blockchain network spanning multiple organizations, each participant will have their own preferences regarding database technology. They will already have applications, tools and workflows built on the platforms that suit their needs. So in choosing any particular database, or even in offering a few options, we’d end up making some users unhappy. Just as each blockchain participant can run their node on a wide variety of Linux flavors, they should be able to integrate with their database of choice.

Introducing MultiChain Feeds

Today we’re delighted to release our approach to database integration – MultiChain Feeds. A feed is a real-time on-disk binary log of the events relating to one or more blockchain streams, for reading by external processes. We are also offering the open source MultiChain Feed Adapter which can read a feed and automatically replicate its content to a Postgres, MySQL or MongoDB database (or several at once). The adapter is written in Python and has a liberal license, so it can be easily modified to support additional databases or to add data filtering and transformation. (We’ve also documented the feed file format for those who want to write a parser in another language.)

MultiChain Feeds Diagram

A node need not subscribe to a stream in order to replicate its events to a feed. This allows MultiChain’s built-in stream indexing to be completely bypassed, to save time and disk space. Feeds also reflect the retrieval and purging of off-chain data, and can report on the arrival of new blocks on the chain. In order to save on disk space, you can control exactly which events are written to a feed, and which fields are recorded for each of those events. In addition, feed files are rotated daily and there’s a simple purge command to remove files after processing.

Why are MultiChain feeds written to disk, rather than streamed between processes or over the network? Because we want them to serve as an ultra-reliable replication log that is resilient to database downtime, system crashes, power loss and the like. By using disk files, we can guarantee durability, and allow the target database to be updated asynchronously. If for some reason this database becomes overloaded or disconnected, MultiChain can continue operating without interruption, and the database will catch up once things return to normal.

Getting Started with Feeds

Feeds are integrated into the latest demo/beta of MultiChain Enterprise, which is available for download now. Get started by reading the documentation for the MultiChain Feed Adapter, or reviewing the feed-related APIs. We’d love to hear your feedback on this feature and how we can expand it in future.

With the release of feeds, version 2.0 of MultiChain Enterprise is now feature complete – see the Download and Install page for a full comparison between the Community and Enterprise editions. Over the next couple of months we’ll be completing its testing and optimization, and expect it to be ready for production around the end of Q1. In the meantime, for information about MultiChain Enterprise licensing or pricing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Please post any comments on LinkedIn.

 

Source: https://www.multichain.com/blog/2020/02/multichain-feeds-for-database-integration/

Blockchain

China aims to let foreigners use digital yuan at Winter Olympics in 2022

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China’s central bank is looking to enable foreign athletes and visitors to use the country’s digital currency during the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, according to a top central bank official.

Li Bo, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said that the upcoming Winter Olympics could potentially become the first test of China’s central bank digital currency, or CBDC, by foreign users.

“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we were trying to make e-CNY available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and like visitors,” Li said Sunday at a CNBC panel at the Boao Forum for Asia. The bank previously announced its plans on testing the digital yuan at the event in August 2020.

The official said that the PBoC doesn’t intend to replace the United States dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency. Li reportedly noted that the central bank is focused on the domestic use of the digital yuan.

“For the internationalization of renminbi, we have said many times that it’s a natural process and our goal is not to replace the U.S. dollar or any other international currency. I think our goal is to allow the market to choose and to facilitate international trade and investment,” he stated.

Despite the PBoC’s focus on the domestic digital yuan, China’s central bank is still exploring cross-border CBDC use. “At the same time, working with our international partners. Hopefully, in the long term, we have a cross border solution as well,” Li said. At the forum, Li also said that China’s central bank now views the major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) as an “investment alternative.”

After launching its first domestic digital yuan tests in 2020, China started cross-border CBDC pilots in collaboration with central banks in Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates in February 2021. On April 1, PBoC director of research bureau Wang Xin announced that China’s central bank completed the first cross-border pilots of the digital yuan with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Chinese authorities have stressed multiple times that the government is not seeking to replace existing fiat currencies including the U.S. dollar with the digital yuan. “We are not like Libra and we don’t have an ambition to replace existing currencies,” Zhou Xiaochuan, the president of the Chinese Finance Association and former PBoC governor, said in late 2020.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the U.S. has taken a careful approach toward CBDCs due to the U.S. dollar’s status of the world’s reserve currency and other CBDC-related challenges like privacy. The European Central Bank is also still deciding whether Europe needs a digital euro, with ECB President Christine Lagarde expecting the digital currency to be adopted in four years, at the earliest.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/china-aims-to-let-foreigners-use-digital-yuan-at-winter-olympics-in-2022

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Blockchain

UK government establishes central bank digital currency task force

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Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Bank of England have begun preliminary central bank digital currency studies that could result in the creation of a national digital currency.

In a document published by HM Treasury, the exchequer announced the creation of a CBDC taskforce in collaboration with the U.K.’s central bank.

Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England and Katharine Braddick, director general of financial services at HM Treasury will co-chair the task force.

According to the terms of reference document, the task force will synergize the efforts of all relevant statutory bodies in the U.K. regarding CBDC development.

As part of its duties, the task force will explore preliminary issues associated with the design, implementation, and operation of a CBDC in the U.K. The task force will also interface with stakeholders across academia, fintech and other relevant industries to identify the technological hurdles involved in creating a sovereign digital currency.

The joint HM Treasury and BoE task force will also monitor CBDC-related developments on the international scene especially as other nations are actively exploring their own central bank digital currency projects.

According to a BoE press release issued on Monday, the central bank will also run its own internal CBDC unit headed by Jon Cunliffe.

The establishment of the task force is yet another indication of the U.K. government’s focus on digital currencies and fintech in the aftermath of Brexit. In November 2020, Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the Exchequer said that Brexit offered an opportunity for the U.K. to revamp its financial services sector.

Since Brexit, Sunak has overseen a significant policy shift towards harnessing novel fintech innovations like CBDC and stablecoins. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, U.K. financial services minister John Glen has identified stablecoin regulations as the major focus of the government in the area of cryptocurrency regulations.

According to a report by Reuters, the U.K.’s financial market focus is also extending towards distributed ledger technology firms. Speaking during a financial industry conference on Monday, Sunak announced that the government plans to establish a fintech sandbox for blockchain startups.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/uk-government-establishes-central-bank-digital-currency-task-force

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China ‘endorses’ BTC investment: 5 things to watch in Bitcoin this week

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Bitcoin (BTC) is beginning a new week grinding back to $60,000 as the shock of a weekend price crash settles.

After dropping to as low as $52,000 in a snap sell-off event, Bitcoin has spent the past two days slowly recovering its losses. What’s next?

Cointelegraph presents five factors to consider as a new trading week gets underway and cryptocurrency holders across the board nurse their wounds.

Stocks primed for “up only” short term 

The macro picture is fairly stable in Asia and Europe, with United States markets yet to open.

A mixed picture greeted investors at the open, but volatility has been broadly absent, with only oil showing signs of more pronounced weakness.

As such, little impact on Bitcoin is to be expected from equities moves, these forecast to continue building on record highs in the coming weeks.

Russel Chesler, head of investments and capital markets at the Australian branch of crypto-friendly investment manager VanEck, captured the mood in a note quoted by Bloomberg.

“Our current view is that with short-term interest rates set to remain low for the medium term and our expectation that earnings will continue to increase, it is unlikely that the increase in long-term interest rates will trigger an equity market fall,” he wrote.

Coronavirus concerns still linger despite stocks’ relentless surge higher, with more reported official cases last week than ever before worldwide.

Economic responses continue to vary, with a patchwork of openings and closings characterizing countries’ latest attempts to control the outbreak.

Bitcoin recovers from $52,000 crash

In Bitcoin circles, the main talking point naturally remains the weekend’s events, which saw a sudden cascade of selling send BTC/USD down by $7,000 in a matter of minutes.

Bouncing at just above $52,000, the crash echoed several similar events this year, and Bitcoin managed to regain around 50% of its lost ground within hours.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: Tradingview

Responses, however, are split between those who consider the volatility “business as usual” and more conservative voices calling time on the latest bull run.

As Cointelegraph reported, suspicions are focusing on a Chinese power blackout hitting hash rate, as well as rumored legal action by U.S. regulators against unnamed financial institutions related to money laundering.

In his own breakdown of what happened, popular statistician Willy Woo highlighted both China and skittish moves by futures investors as contributing to the losses.

“We just saw the single largest 1-day drop in mining hash rate since Nov 2017. The hash rate on the network essentially halved, causing mayhem in BTC price as it crashed,” he told Twitter followers.

In a sign that the future could see fresh sustained upside, Woo reiterated the “reset” in an on-chain metric, the spent transaction output ratio (SOPR), showing that long-term investors will likely soon stop selling altogether.

“The on-chain SOPR metric near a full reset. A classic buy the dip signal,” he added.

“In simple terms, profit taking by longer term investors is completing, very little sell power left unless investors want to sell at a loss from their entry price. Unlikely in a bull market.”

Fundamentals point higher

It’s not just SOPR — a whole range of Bitcoin network indicators and fundamentals are buoying bulls’ cause, even as BTC/USD remains below even February’s high of $58,300.

For Woo and others, particularly important are the transfer of funds to investors who have traditionally hodled, not sold — another classic trait of Bitcoin’s rise in recent months.

Bitcoin liquid supply change chart showing transfers to strong hands. Source: Willy Woo/ Twitter

“Serious strong-handed holders are buying this dip. In the last 24 hours, over 200,000 Bitcoin became illiquid, a 3-year record,” fellow analyst William Clemente added Sunday.

“This illiquid supply increase is not only just dip buyers with no history of selling, but partially accumulation from 5-6 months ago of which those wallets have just crossed the ‘illiquid’ threshold for this metric.”

Lastly, around 13.5% of the total available Bitcoin supply has been active above $53,000, something which Woo says is confirming its status as a trillion-dollar asset. At around $53,800, Bitcoin’s market cap becomes a solid $1 trillion.

“This dip happened while unprecedented numbers of new users are arriving onto the network per day. There’s been a retail influx in the last 2-3 weeks,” Woo additionally noted, with total wallet numbers nearing 10 million.

Difficulty takes care of miner woes

A closer look at hash rate, which at one point dipped by almost half, shows that a recovery in line with price is underway.

According to rough estimates from on-chain monitoring resource Blockchain, Bitcoin network hash rate is already back above 150 exahashes per second (EH/s), having broken through the 200 EH/s barrier for the first time in history last week.

Bitcoin hash rate chart. Source: Blockchain

Miners leaving the network due to power problems leads to Bitcoin’s network difficulty decreasing to incentivize more to come online.

Further confirmation that the weekend’s issue was firmly temporary comes from difficulty forecasts — in two weeks’ time, when it next adjusts, difficulty will only drop by around 4%, a modest move which could yet be cancelled out altogether as miners return.

This balance between hash rate and difficulty is arguably the most important aspect of Bitcoin, one which allows it to govern itself and preserve security and functionality regardless of sudden events impacting network participants.

Chinese central bank praises Bitcoin and stablecoins

In another unanticipated event which is arguably yet to be fully appreciated by the market, China has given an unprecedented stamp of approval to cryptocurrency as an “investment alternative.”

Speaking at a conference organized by CNBC, Li Bo, deputy governor of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), broke ranks to validate both Bitcoin and stablecoins.

“We regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets… These are investment alternatives,” he said.

The comments are surprising as despite being a center for Bitcoin mining activity, China has had a blanket ban in place on trading and transacting in cryptocurrencies since September 2017.

“Every country that bans Bitcoin eventually reverses that ban. You simply cannot be competitive in the 21st century economy without it,” Charles Edwards, founder of investment firm Capriole, responded.

“China is playing 4D chess. The last 3 days have made very clear they still dominate global mining. Slowly, slowly then all at once.”

The market barely reacted to this high-level affirmation of Bitcoin’s long-term potential. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is still hovering at $57,000, as yet failing to see an attack of familiar resistance levels.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/china-endorses-btc-investment-5-things-to-watch-in-bitcoin-this-week

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